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.
When the LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth,
and how no desire that his heart conceived
was ever anything but evil,
he regretted that he had made man on the earth,
and his heart was grieved.
. . . .
Then the LORD said to Noah: “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just. . . . . Noah did just as the LORD had commanded him.
As soon as the seven days were over, the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
Even though God’s “heart was grieved,” Noah and his family and all the animals are saved. And so the ark becomes a symbol of salvation.
Then the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
He answered, “I do not know.
Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The LORD then said: “What have you done!
Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!
In 1996, I went to Washington, D.C., to take panels from North Carolina to be included in the AIDS Names Quilt that was being displayed on the Mall. As a part of my visit I went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I found myself in the Hall of Remembrance at the museum and I saw the inscription, “What have you done? Hark, thy brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” And right outside on the Mall were the panels of the Quilt with the names of all my brothers and sisters who had died from AIDS. And then I realized that we had let it happen again.
“The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
How important touch is in the ministry of Jesus with lepers! Those who were condemned to live “outside the camp” are brought in by Jesus. Today is the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Perhaps we all should be thinking about how we will celebrate this Lent. I visited Caño Cristales in October 2019. The area had seen lots of violence. Many persons that I met had lost loved ones. But they were all committed to peace and to healing the environment. My Lenten reading will be Río Muerto (Dead River) by Ricardo Silva Romero, published in 2020. Today is also the feast of Saint Valentine, priest and martyr.
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
"My heart is moved with pity for the crowd . . . . "
This expression of compassion is followed by the feeding of the 4,000. Seven loaves of bread and a few fish: Jesus took “the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd.” Please notice the “Eucharistic elements” in the passage: Jesus takes, gives thanks, breaks, and gives. And the gospel writer notes that there were seven baskets of left-overs!
When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden
at the breezy time of the day,
the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God
among the trees of the garden.
Much ink has been spilt on this passage and some church people have argued that the woman is to blame for all the ills that followed. But I prefer the Exultet from the Easter Vigil: “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a redeemer! (previous translation)”
The man gave names to all the cattle,
all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals;
but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.
Human beings need one another. It’s not a design error; it’s intentional by the creator. As Saint Augustine says: “Oh Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.” As Bishop William Curlin would say, “Who am I to judge the loves that bring you to God?” Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.
Today we begin the second story of creation. God creates humanity . . . and then decides to plant a garden so we could have something to do. Today is the feast of Saint Scholastica, the twin sister of Saint Benedict. She is considered the mother of all women religious communities. The cartoon says: “The Garden of Eden is a couple of miles down the road. This is the Garden of Morris.”