Reflections

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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Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Feb. 26, 2017)

Published: March 7, 2017

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

How often have we heard someone say, especially after some failure or disappointment, "That's the story of my life?" Our life, especially when we look back on it, can seem very much like a story. In one of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, Kilgore Trout complains to an acquaintance, "Honestly, Bill, the way things are going, all I can think of, is that I'm a character in a book by somebody who wants to write about somebody who suffers all the time." Of course, the irony of that statement is that...

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Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Feb. 19, 2017)

Published: February 19, 2017

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

In our first reading, God has a message for the chosen people. The Lord says to Moses, “Tell the people to be holy.” Nothing particularly striking about the passage so far. But then God goes on to say why the people should be holy. And the reason isn’t just a thundering, “Because I said so.” Rather, the Lord says, “Be holy because I, your God, am holy.” In other words, the people are being asked to imitate God. We run into the same idea in our gospel. Jesus says, “Love your...

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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Feb. 12, 2017)

Published: February 12, 2017

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

“Set before you are fire and water; stretch forth your hand to whichever you choose. Before you are life and death. Whichever you choose shall be given to you.” Sirach makes it sound so simple. Anyone with a shred of common sense would choose life. But in practice, even with the best will in the world, it’s not so easy, because we have to figure out, and then live out the implications of our choice. And when we try to do that, we come face to face with a mystery. Sirach says, if you...

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Feb. 5, 2017)

Published: February 5, 2017

Author:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” One of the things that people find perplexing about these words of Our Lord from today’s Gospel is their implicit assertion that it is possible for salt to lose its taste. It’s hard to imagine how this could ever happen. After all, common table salt, sodium chloride, is a chemical compound that will taste salty now and...

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Jan. 29, 2017)

Published: January 31, 2017

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

“How blessed are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.” “Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land.” If there is a single theme running through all our readings today, it’s the importance of humility. Much like short skirts and wide ties, virtues go in and out of fashion. The virtue of humility is hardly fashionable these days. But you know, it’s usually when a virtue is least popular that it’s most profitable for us to go back and re-examine it. Often we’ll...

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Jan. 22, 2017)

Published: January 24, 2017

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

“From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” With these solemn words, Matthew marks the formal beginning of Jesus’ ministry. That he begins with a call for repentance indicates that Our Lord is carrying on in the tradition of John the Baptist, who had been arrested. But if the message is similar, the place where Jesus delivers it is not. John and virtually everyone else assumed that if repentance and renewal were going to occur, it...

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Jan. 15, 2017)

Published: January 17, 2017

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

To me, John the Baptist is one of the most compelling figures in the New Testament. Certainly the people of his own time found him fascinating. Great crowds of them trooped out to the Jordan River to hear this strange man dressed in camel skins preach repentance, and to be baptized by him. Our Gospel today records the moment when John's mission is finally fulfilled - the moment when he sees Jesus approaching and cries out "Look there! There is the man I have been telling you about. The Lamb of...

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