The final chapter of the Book of Isaiah describes how Israel will draw all nations to itself, redeeming the entire human family.
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The stark reality of Jesus’ words in the Gospels should often shake us to our inner core. Jesus didn’t come into the world to preach the Gospel of niceness. Rather, Jesus proclaims today, “‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!’” (Lk 12:49).
The Letter to the Hebrews is a masterful restatement of the story of Israel in light of Jesus Christ. In chapter one, the letter clearly states its premise:
Intercessory prayer is a stumbling block for many people. We ask God for the healing of a friend and hear only silence. Why does it seem that God does not answer our prayers?
"Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her menstrual periods” (Gen 18:11). This is the kind of detail that frequently perplexes my undergraduates. Why does the Bible care about Sarah’s fertility?
A city isn’t just a group of people living closely together. It’s a place with pride, with a vision of what it means to belong together. New York City is the city that never sleeps. Los Angeles is the city of possibilities (and of constant outdoor recreation). They have different visions of human happiness, of what it means to live together.
The cost of being one of Jesus’ disciples in the Gospel of Luke is steep. As we learn on the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, to follow Jesus may require us to leave behind everything.
This isn’t the behavior of a Messiah. You can almost hear the crowd gathered around Jesus murmuring this to themselves. They haven’t followed this prophetic miracle-worker, this teacher extraordinaire to watch him die.
We often think about sin as extravagance. The sinner is the one who drinks too much, gambles too much, who desires pleasure too much. On the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we consider the stinginess of the sinner. The sinner who loves not enough.
During the Jubilee Year, we have often heard the word ‘mercy.’ Every time I hear it, I think about its Latin equivalent: misericordia. The literal sense of this word is the movement of the heart toward pity. The misery of the heart that causes us to reach out in love.