These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face. (Is 25:6-10a)
My mom loved picnics. She thought that food tastes better outdoors, especially on a picnic table in the mountains. Of course, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us that on this mountain God will provide a feast for all peoples to celebrate that death will be destroyed forever. We find the fulfillment of this word at the Table of the Lord’s Body and Blood.
While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed." He replied, "Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." (Lk 11:27-28)
Today while so many in the Middle East are grieving the loss of loved ones, and the world is held hostage by people of violence and weapons of hate, we turn for comfort to the Mother of the Lord who faithfully stood beneath His Cross. As she said to the waiters at the Wedding Feast of Cana so she says to the disciples of her Son, “Do whatever He tells you.” And the Lord himself reminds us, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."
Gird yourselves and weep, O priests! wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all who dwell in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; Yes, it is near, a day of darkness and of gloom, a day of clouds and somberness! (Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2)
Not a very cheery passage from the Prophet Joel. And given the distressing news of the recent conflict in the Holy Land, many are despairing of any chance at peace in the Middle East. Some folks think that with all the other problems in the world (i.e. the on-going war in Ukraine) we are headed to World War III. But as the Psalmist reminds us it is the Lord who “will judge the world with justice.” We are called to pray, to fast, and to always give thanks to the Lord and sing praise to God’s name.
For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, And the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays. (Mal 3:13-20b)
The Sun of Justice with its healing rays . . . wow what a comforting image of God’s kingdom! October 12th was the birthday of my grandfather, Furman Nielsen Torp (1888-1967), and also of my father, Charles Elmer Boyd (1922-1968). May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace!
But God said to Jonah, "Have you reason to be angry over the plant?" "I have reason to be angry," Jonah answered, "angry enough to die." Then the LORD said, "You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?" (Jon 4:1-11)
God’s mercy and compassion surpasses that of Jonah and extends even to the pagan city of Nineveh. This is precisely the message that Saint John XXIII (1881-1093) taught the church when he convoked the Second Vatican Council. Mercy and compassion is the same message of Pope Francis and the Synod that is meeting in Rome.
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. (Lk 10:38-42)
The synoptic gospels are strangely silent about Jesus’ greatest miracle, the Raising of Lazarus. In fact, today’s gospel passage is the only mention of the sisters Martha and Mary outside of the Fourth Gospel. But their brother Lazarus is not mentioned at all and neither is their village, Bethany. It’s one of those intriguing questions that I would like to ask the gospel writers.
This is the word of the LORD that came to Jonah, son of Amittai: "Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish, away from the LORD. (Jon 1:1-2:1-2, 11)
The Book of Jonah is a somewhat quirky, humorous story of a reluctant prophet running away from the Lord. Of course, we can all sympathize. We’ve been there, done that. But God has a way of bringing us back to where God wants us to be. And the Scriptures are gifted with the best “fish story” ever!