Those who welcome the stranger step into eternal life.
Anyone who imagines Jesus has no stake in the debate about our treatment of the stranger at our borders needs to attend more Bible study. One of his most beloved parables concerns a good Samaritan: unwelcome in Israelite territory because he wasn’t “one of them,” a descendent of despised transplants who didn’t belong. The Samaritan alone shows compassion for an injured Israelite who, if he’d been in full vigor, might well have cursed him. Jesus pronounces the Samaritan a true neighbor.
Discipleship comes in many forms.
Mark’s Gospel tells a particularly striking healing story, that of a man suffering a fate worse than death. This man is “possessed with an impure spirit,” and he has no name and no identity.
To deny God’s centrality in our lives is to deny the definition of divinity.
People become writers for all sorts of reasons. A natural reticence in the presence of others, for example. Some of us may be halting of speech or think slowly and need more time to process an idea than the average conversation can support. A few may value precision in language so highly that to risk a clumsy word choice is intolerable. And of course some prefer the anonymity of the written word, because their ideas are too dangerous to personally own up to.
Good scripture commentary helps us go deeper into the sacred stories.
Imagine someone like Yentl from the movie of the same name. She’s a Jewish teenager so enamored of the dream of studying the sacred texts of her people that she takes the dangerous step of posing as a male to enroll in a Torah school restricted to boys. Stakes are high and mayhem ensues.
Scripture tells us all things pass away but faith, hope, and love, and through God all things will be made new over time.
I’m bone tired of it, as you are. This persistent season of betrayal and reproach under which our church currently labors. Relentless revelations of clergy preying on children and bishops moving abusers around is a gnawing ache in the soul of every Catholic—as it should be.
How scripture can help you talk to your kids about pain and suffering.
Jesus came with them to Gethsemane and said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them. “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and feel prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
Scripture scholar Elaine Pagels on how the Gospel of Thomas and other noncanonical gospels renew her faith.
After Elaine Pagels’ young son died of a rare lung disease, and later when her husband was killed in a climbing accident in the Rockies, friends would often comment that her faith must be a real help in her grief. It was. Pagels was able to find hope in the midst of Christian community, ritual, and liturgy that she didn’t experience anywhere else. But when she realized that comfort had little to do with confessing belief in any creed, she began to question how Christianity came to be associated with intellectual assent to a set of beliefs.
How the Prime Directive explains the tension between human free will and divine intervention.
In the late 1960s my boy cousins were all about Star Trek. This was frustrating because, for the three years the show was on the air, our play would be unceremoniously interrupted once a week as my cousins dashed off to be with Kirk and Spock instead of me. (Note to younger readers: “On the air” refers to the way television viewing once operated. You could only watch a program when it was broadcasted and not whenever you felt like it.)
The gospels leave us desiring a host of details about Jesus’ early life.
How did you get to be who you are? It’s a question we ask of those who impress us. It’s also a question that fuels most criminal biopics. We want to know how exceptional souls get from there to there. Experience indicates that who we are now has something to do with where we’ve been.
Dancing with the devil is all too common.
The evil in the world can seem monstrous to us. That’s because we’re people of good will, or so we like to think. A short review of recent atrocities appears to confirm that a certain radical malevolence inhabits the very few of us who transgress the boundaries of civilized human behavior. On this list we pin Stalin and his ilk and Nazi Germany. Also think of Osama bin Laden and his spin-off sponsors of violence, as well as every terrorist who chooses to shoot up a school, movie theater, or concert crowd.