Our first lesson today from the prophet Ezekiel reminds us of the role of prophecy within the Jewish community, but also a role that continued on among Christians. Jesus was a prophet; John the Baptist was a prophet. The disciples were called to be prophets. Most of us probably do not think of ourselves as prophets. Even the role of the prophet that Ezekiel speaks about -- comparing the prophet to a watchman for Israel -- that has no relevance for us with our super-sophisticated radar systems, our U-2 planes that oversee the Earth at all the time.
Most people associate the sacrament of anointing of the sick with a priest visiting a dying person in a hospital bed.
But the sacrament goes beyond this typical concept. According to the Catholic church's 1983 instruction on the sacrament, the optimal place to receive the rite is during Mass itself, when church members can participate. There is also room for interpretation as to who can and should receive the sacrament.
Soul Seeing: Every day is just the same but totally different. The first click is at 7:30 a.m. Someone is singing.
Today, the sacred texts put us in touch with the truth that we are not yet holy as God is holy or perfect as God is perfect. We fall short of our goals; we miss the mark; we sin. But we are not without hope, because the God who created us in the divine image loves us and wants us to be the best reflection of the Godhead that we can be. The God who loves us also wants to enter into a relationship with us from which we will draw life, true happiness and deep fulfillment.
One of the hardest things about being a Christian is the realization that we're continually called to change and to be converted. Yes, God loves us as we are, but God also calls us to be something more. That makes this weekend's readings a bit harder to digest. On first glance, it seems as though God is more interested in us changing others than in our willingness to be changed ourselves. In Ezekiel, we hear that we have a duty to correct the "wicked" ones among us.
To understand why Jeremiah is so despondent in today's first reading, it's essential to appreciate the role of biblical prophets in the history of salvation.
Contrary to popular opinion, they normally don't predict the future, certainly not the coming of Jesus. Unfortunately this false notion of their ministry is often reinforced in our liturgies. The Second Advent Preface, in the old translation, stated, "(Jesus') future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets." In the revised translation, it still says, "For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him."
Among the various Gospel readings that we have Sunday after Sunday, I think this particular lesson is one that every one of us probably feels we can easily be drawn into that situation, put ourselves there with the disciples as Jesus says, "Who do people say I am?" And I think it's easy to imagine how they must have kind of chatted with one another, "Well, what have you heard?
Soul Seeing: When Pope Francis told a reporter, "I am a sinner," I knew I was in good company. However, Francis knows that the antidote to sin is mercy.
Scripture is never simple. Even before we begin to read, we must know who is speaking, and why, and to whom, and with what agenda. To make matters even harder, the events and teachings we read about took place millennia ago in a language, culture and context different from our own. Despite this, we return to the Scriptures again and again to understand what God wants of us. We need to know what God's love is asking of us here and now in our own culture, language and circumstances.
Column: What if these "divisions" among Christians were seen not as disunity but as diversity -- a positive, not a negative?