Reflections

Second Sunday of Easter, Cycle A (Apr. 23, 2017)

Published: April 23, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

In Ron Hansen’s marvelous short story, “Playland,” an enormous pelican flaps down onto a beach and approaches one of the main characters. To quote from the story, the bird “waddled toward him, her wings amorously fanning out to a span of ten feet or more as she struck herself thumpingly on the breast with her beak until a spot of red appeared on her feathers.” When we read “Playland” in my Catholic writing course here at the University of Portland, the students realize right away...

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Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord (Apr. 16, 2017)

Published: April 16, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

Long before we arrive at our Gospel account of Christ’s Resurrection, the symbols of the Easter season, the spring flowers, eggs, rabbits and lambs, reveal to us that Easter is a celebration of new life. Easter is like our first springtime visit to a sunlit garden, when every glance at new blossoms, every breath of fragrant air, seems an extraordinary privilege. When we reflect back on such moments, we feel sympathy with the young G. K. Chesterton, who wrote in a notebook: Here dies another...

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Good Friday (Apr. 14, 2017)

Published: April 14, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

We want the truth. Our hunger for truth is a basic human instinct – an instinct that is every bit as real as the desire for love or riches. Present us with a mystery, and we feel compelled to unravel it. That’s why the works of Agatha Christie have sold in the billions. It’s why people sat through countless episodes of “Lost” or “The X-Files.” We know “the truth is out there” and we intend to find it. At a deeper level, the quest for truth is the reason there’s a university...

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Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Published: April 13, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

“He was only at his best when things were at theirs.” Years ago, when I first read those words, applied I think to some King of England or Prince of Wales, they struck me as a very harsh criticism indeed, particularly of an Englishman. After all, this was the land where, according to Kipling, a fellow was supposed to prove his mettle by keeping his head when everyone around him was losing theirs. “Then you will be a man, my son.” We all admire people who perform admirably in a...

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Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Apr. 9, 2017)

Published: April 11, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

When, at Mass on Palm Sunday, the Passion of our Lord is read in parts, the congregation often takes the role of the crowd, and calls out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And, of course, that’s appropriate, because by our sinfulness, each one of us plays a role in the crucifixion of our Savior. One of the ways we contribute, is by our persistence in judging other people. Despite our Lord’s command to “judge not, lest you be judged,” we have constantly to struggle against our tendency to...

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Fifth Sunday in Lent, Cycle A (Apr. 2, 2017)

Published: April 2, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

Our Lord loves each of us with an extravagant, unbounded, profligate love. Each of us tries to love Christ in return, to the full extent of our human capacity to do so. Mary and Martha lived their lives in just this way. Our Gospel tells us that Jesus loved them, and they certainly returned his love. After all, tradition suggests that this is the Mary who anointed the Lord’s feet with perfume, and dried them with her hair. What better example could we have of someone responding to the...

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Fourth Sunday in Lent, Cycle A (Mar. 26, 2017)

Published: March 29, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

I was pushing buttons on the T.V. remote control in our Community Room, when a woman came on the screen to announce a contest. To win, you had to answer this question: "What 'rock' is a British colony in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Spain." Now that struck me as a very easy question. I figured thousands of people must be rushing to call the special phone number in hopes of winning the contest. But then, because I’d been thinking about today's scripture readings, it occurred to me that...

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Third Sunday in Lent, Cycle A (Mar. 19, 2017)

Published: March 21, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. The woman at the well thought she was hard-hearted. She was levelheaded and unsentimental. She'd been around, and knew the score. She knew what mattered -- practical things like security, sons, flocks, water -- and a bucket to reach it with. No spiritual snake oil salesman was likely to put anything over on her. Then Jesus came along. He sat down at the well to rest, and said to her, "Give me a drink." She was shocked. It was impossible...

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Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle A (Mar. 12, 2017)

Published: March 12, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

Too often, faith is understood as a set of propositions we are required to give our assent to -- a list of assertions we must accept as true. Thankfully, there’s a lot more to it than that. Fundamentally, faith isn’t some sort of intellectual discipline up in our heads. Rather, it’s a matter of the heart, and of the gut -- because fundamentally, faith is a relationship -- a relationship with a God who loves each one of us with an unreasonable, unbounded, prodigal love, and who invites us,...

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First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A (Mar. 5, 2017)

Published: March 7, 2017

Author: Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., The Garaventa Center University of Portland

Why did they do it? Why did our first parents let the serpent talk them into eating the forbidden fruit? When the old devil reminisces about his great victory on the satanic version of the history channel, what does he say finally won the day? Oh, Eve gives us reasons enough: She saw “the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” But I’d be willing to bet that those are all rationalizations after the fact, and that the real reason Adam and Eve bit...

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