Doubting Thomas. That title is a reminder, if ever there was one, that nicknames stick, even if the nickname isn’t necessarily warranted or fair. Sure, today’s Gospel tells us in black and white that Thomas the Apostle said he would not believe in the risen Lord unless he could see and touch the marks from the nails of the crucifixion and the wound where the soldier’s lance had pierced Jesus’ side. But what we tend to gloss over is that all the other apostles had already been treated to that visible proof the first time Jesus was in their midst. Jesus’ core group wasn’t exactly packed with quick believers. Remember how they initially doubted Mary Magdalene’s news of the resurrection. Remember how afterward, in the scene just before today’s Gospel, Jesus appeared to them, showed them his hands and his side—and then they rejoiced.Read more
I love how Peter tends to respond to Jesus with such pure emotion. As in today’s scene, when he leaps out of his boat and races through the water toward Jesus; as on the Mount of the Transfiguration when he wants to erect three tents; as he answers without hesitation that he believes Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”; as he tries to convince Jesus that his Passion doesn’t need to happen, causing our Lord to say, “Get behind me Satan”; as at the Last Supper when he wants Jesus to wash not only his feet but head and hands; as in the Garden at Gethsemane when he cuts off the ear of a servant; as he warms his hand by the fire and denies even knowing Jesus.Read more
One of my favorite places in Rome is Ponte Sant’Angelo — the Bridge of Angels — where gorgeous winged creatures line the path as you make your way toward Castle Sant’Angelo and turn toward St. Peter’s Basilica. If you take the time to climb up Castle Sant’Angelo, which once served as an escape and fortress for popes under siege, you’ll find St. Michael the Archangel at the very top, looking out over the Eternal City with his sword at the ready should protection be necessary. This is a place where angels are everywhere — carved in marble, painted on ceilings, holding out holy water as you enter a church. Around every corner, there are visible reminders of the beings that exist unseen in our world and in our lives.Read more
Right about this time in the Easter season, I begin to slip into complacency. The enormity of the resurrection starts to seem “ordinary,” one more thing I take for granted. Yesterday’s readings provide the spiritual equivalent of cold water thrown in my face, which is exactly what I need. Read more
My reflection today in the January issue of Give Us This Day:
If you’ve ever had a serious fight with your spouse or parent or child, you know the pain of a house divided. The silence or rage—depending on how you process anger—seeps into everything until even sitting at the kitchen table together sipping coffee becomes too much to bear. If you don’t heal the wound, it festers until permanent destruction and division sets in.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus cuts to the chase on that topic with what feels like the spiritual equivalent of cold water thrown in our face. We have to reconcile and unite, believe and follow the Spirit, or risk a house so divided it cannot stand. How appropriate that this message comes up on a day dedicated to prayer for the protection of unborn children, the plight of whom has divided houses—both State and private—for more than four decades.
St. Teresa of Calcutta once famously said that “the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion,” because if the most vulnerable among us are not safe, none of us are safe. If a mother does not feel secure enough to bring her baby into the world and in desperation chooses the unthinkable, none of us are secure, and the unthinkable becomes the acceptable.
My reflection on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene in the July issue of Give Us This Day:
St. Mary Magdalene has a feast! A new addition to the Church’s liturgical calendar as of only last year, our first reaction to the celebration might be, “What took them so long?” How is it possible that the “Apostle to the Apostles” was last in line when it came to official recognition of key witnesses to the resurrection? It’s a good question, because clearly Jesus Christ saw fit to put Mary Magdalene first. While the others were locked away in fear, she was at the tomb looking for the Lord, and she was not disappointed. Shocked? Certainly. Confused? At first. But disappointed? Never. Because she trusted in the Lord from day one and did not waver. Not once. Read more
“For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” I take such comfort in these closing words of today’s Gospel. Because even amid the joy and celebration — the Alleluias sung at full volume and the flowers so fragrant I could swoon from the scent — there is a little piece of me that still doesn’t understand, that probably will never understand the resurrection, at least not this side of heaven.
My reflection from Give Us This Day today:
Truth and trust. I’m guessing that for most of us these two words stir up powerful emotions, whether close to the surface of our souls or buried deep within. Perhaps we still feel the sting of a trust that was betrayed, a truth that was twisted, leaving us devastated and permanently scarred. Or perhaps, just as painful but in a completely different way, we were on the other side of the equation, bringing damage and destruction to a relationship or even our own inner peace because of a sin or a weakness that caused us to choose omission over honesty, betrayal over loyalty, lies over truth. Read more
My brief reflection from Give Us This Day earlier this week:
Whenever we take our children to Manhattan, we are confronted by the reality of “these least brothers” Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel. On subways and street corners they hold out battered cups in battered hands. Our kids look to us to gauge whether we should be doing something, and if not, why not? We tell them we can’t give to every street person. And even as we explain, we fight our own guilt over ignoring those with the least who live among those with the most.