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Fr. David Sellery's recent posts to audioboom.com
 
This Week's Focus - brief reflections on upcoming Revised Lectionary Texts as used for daily & weekly, seasonal worship by many Christian denominations.
 
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Don’t look for hidden meanings in this week’s gospel. Jesus gives us the punch line right up front: Pray always. This wasn’t a message he reserved for scribes and priests… for people in the ritual praying business. Pray always: is a message Jesus gives to everyone: to fishermen, to laborers, to homemakers… to people scrambling to make a living. ...…
 
What would it take to convince you that you are totally dependent on God’s love? What would it take to get you to thank him for every breath; to praise him for every sunrise? How about an instant cure of a deadly disease that had destroyed your body and made you a wretched outcaste? Think that would get your attention? Well, it wasn’t quite goo ...…
 
This is another one of Luke’s confusing, even troubling, gospels… made even more troubling by linking two apparently unconnected parables into one confusing narrative. To begin, the disciples make what seems a perfectly reasonable request: Give us more faith! And Jesus gives them a stinging reply. We can sympathize with their confusion. For cha ...…
 
“Them that has, gets.” So the old expression goes… but exactly what do they get? And what does it cost them? In this week’s gospel Jesus addresses the price of worldly wealth, its value… and its unintended consequences. The “poor little rich girl” is a familiar figure from 19th Century literature. She inherited everything, but happiness. Her ma ...…
 
Fifteen years after the atrocities of 9/11, the pain remains – intense for those closest to the victims, a dull ache for those of us further removed. Jesus reaches out from the gospel to take our pain – if not with a quick cure, surely with a sound road to recovery.
 
If you think your life can get pretty rough sometimes, think about what it would be like if you had to be perfect… all the time. No flaws. No falls. No sins. There is only one person who has ever met that standard. It isn’t you… and it sure isn’t me.
 
Hate your mom and dad? No way… Jesus can’t be serious. But he is. This is one of those Bible passages that gives fits to folks who base their faith on a literal reading of scripture. But what if the word “hate” doesn’t mean what you think it does? What if Jesus means we should love God above all else, not that we should detest our parents? If “ ...…
 
Pride is Satan’s curve ball. More souls have gone down swinging at that sucker pitch than any other. Satan throws it so well because it’s the oldest trick in his bag. He’s been practicing it since the Garden of Eden. Pride is the original sin that brought down Adam and Eve. It is the gateway sin that opens the door to a host of evil… from petty ...…
 
In this week’s gospel, Jesus runs smack into an ambush… but not an unexpected one. When he is attacked for curing a woman on the Sabbath, Jesus makes it a teachable moment. In the face of fierce criticism, he doesn’t give an inch… but stands his ground and argues that love always trumps legalism.
 
Jesus promises us a happy ending. But getting there will be another story. In this week’s gospel, Jesus tells us: Do you think I came to give peace to the earth. No, I tell you, I came to divide it. To a world awash in sin, Jesus announces he’s come to shake things up… big time. But Christ isn’t just talking tough. He’s accurately predicting th ...…
 
Besides many helpful hints about water safety, we can learn a lot from the U.S. Coast Guard. Their motto is “Semper Paratus.” But “Always Ready” is more than their motto; it is the way that they live. And it has served them well… through two centuries of hurricanes and shipwrecks, floods and wars. Living with the certain knowledge that danger i ...…
 
More and more our lives are defined by “stuff”… getting stuff, keeping stuff, always wanting more and better stuff. Whether it’s a bigger flat screen or a smarter smart phone, there is always more stuff out there that upon attainment will finally make us happy. Meanwhile attics, basements, landfills and junkyards overflow with last year’s gotta ...…
 
Busy. Busy. Busy. We’re all so busy… being busy… planning and doing, getting and keeping, fussing and fixing. Our busy selves tell us that if God wanted us to have time for him, he would have made 48-hour days and 14-day weeks. But chances are we’d still fill up the extra time with more and more busy-work. And that doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of ...…
 
My mother-in-law is one of my heroes. For thirty years she has been the principle care-giver for my brother-in-law John, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. That means thirty years of therapy and specialists, thirty years of lifting and shifting, thirty years of wiping butts and blowing noses, thirty years of bathing and shaving, thirty years ...…
 
In this week’s gospel, Jesus treats his disciples to a harsh dose of reality. Jesus is telling us that to be an open, active Christian means to be set among wolves. They have vicious teeth and claws, but we are armed with the grace of all-mighty God. It’s as true now as it was then. And the perils are not limited to the media reports of mass-ma ...…
 
If you ever needed convincing that Christ’s love is not just syrupy sentiment, this gospel gives you more than enough proof. On his journey to the cross, Christ is demanding of himself and demanding of us. He’s very clear about what he expects from us: Following him… being a Christian… is not just something we fit into our schedule. It is our s ...…
 
As miracles go, casting out demons is probably my least favorite. The blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lame walking: they are all familiar, even conceptually comfortable, miracles. Raising the dead, while obviously a much higher order of miracle, is still relatively easy to visualize. Conceivably a faith healer could cure psychosomatically i ...…
 
I can remember as a kid what a great comfort it was to live on the same street as a legendary neighborhood ne’er-do-well. Whatever my transgressions, they always paled in comparison to the misadventures of that wild kid down the block. And this convenient reference point always made it much easier to inflate my self-worth and go on to claim at ...…
 
This week we are back into the bread and butter basics of the gospel. We have celebrated the Resurrection and its aftermath. The Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday are receding in the rear-view mirror. With this week’s gospel, we return to the familiar round of Christ’s sermons, parables and miracles. And therein lies both an opportunity a ...…
 
Jesus may really have gone too far this time. He’s been reaching out to tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, even Samaritans. But in this week’s gospel, it looks like Christ is stretching the limits of tolerance… well beyond the breaking point. At the urging of the elders, he responds to an urgent call for help from one of his country’s hated o ...…
 
Like their view of the world, the art of the Middle Ages was flat. The Bayeux Tapestry, the windows of Notre Dame, the early Giotto’s… they are lovely. But they are flat. Their renderings have height and width, but they lack depth. The Medieval mind’s eye could not convey to the hand the three dimensional reality of the world around it. With th ...…
 
This week our Easter joy climaxes in the glory of the Ascension and the triumph of Pentecost. The risen Christ has returned to the Father. But we are not abandoned. We are empowered. We are commissioned. We are inspired. And the church of Christ is born… all by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
This gospel is Christ’s last prayer before his Passion. And what does he pray for? Not for himself. Not even just for his friends. He prays for you and for me, for: those who will believe in (him.) He does not pray for a laundry list of blessings. He simply prays: …that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they al ...…
 
When we flip a switch and light fills a room, few, if any of us, contemplate the awesome, unseen power of electrons coursing through filaments to produce that light. We don’t give a thought to the massive power grid of transformers, cables and boosters that surrounds us and makes modern life possible. The generators that turn carbon and sunligh ...…
 
Loving Jesus is the easy part. Loving each other: that’s the hard part. That’s because Jesus doesn’t cut you off on I-95 or beat you into the last parking space. Jesus doesn’t lose the remote or snore. He doesn’t borrow money and never pay it back. He doesn’t have bad breath and really, really need a bath. He’s not addicted. He’s not handicappe ...…
 
Just in case you’re still confused about exactly who Jesus is, he connects all the dots for us in this brief passage from John. His questioners want to know if he is the Messiah. And Jesus takes their inquiry and hits it out of the park, telling them: The Father and I are one. It doesn’t get any more succinct or definitive than that. Not only i ...…
 
In this week’s gospel, Christ’s time on earth is rapidly running out. He has so much to do and so little time to do it. He knows that he’s leaving many extraordinary things to be done by a just a few, very ordinary people. And what are those ordinary people doing? They’re out fishing. It’s what they know best.…
 
In this morning’s gospel Thomas wants proof. And who can blame him. Things had been going so well. Just a few days ago, Jesus had entered Jerusalem. And Thomas found himself swept along in the entourage of a super-star. Then suddenly the whole world collapsed.
 
Alleluia! He is risen! But wait a minute…Where are the angels to announce his Resurrection…Where is the dazzling white light to punctuate the miracle? Matthew, Mark and Luke, all give us lights and angels. But John only gives us an empty tomb. This year have we journeyed through Lent and witnessed the Passion only to find emptiness? Look again. ...…
 
As it does every spring, our journey towards Resurrection brings us first to the cross. And in this account of that ultimate sacrifice, the Jesus of Luke’s Passion is markedly different from the persona portrayed by the other evangelists. In Mark and Matthew, an agonized, very human Jesus is abandoned and battling despair. In John, a divine Jes ...…
 
It is amazing how much wisdom John can pack into eight verses of gospel. This week we get a character study of Mary, Martha and Judas… a portent of Calvary… and further insight into God’s love. C.S. Lewis captured the essence of this gospel, when he wrote that: “The allegorical sense dawned on me the other day. The alabaster box which one must ...…
 
Long before he was a big-time loser, the Prodigal Son was a big-time user. He played cruelly on his father’s affections to bend the rules, to jump the line, to claim a portion of the family fortune and then to blow it all on a binge. He starts out in a righteous home and ends up in a pig sty, by way of the flesh pots. Good riddance to bad rubbi ...…
 
From childhood we have been taught that Lent is a time for fearless moral inventory… for auditing our shortcomings… for recognizing our need for repentance… and for recharging our spiritual batteries. Without a truly loving and forgiving God, what a wretched time this would be. It can feel like our list of failings just never gets shorter. We s ...…
 
Get out of town, if you know what’s good for you. That’s the message the Pharisees bring to Jesus. Herod, the gangster king, has murdered John the Baptist … and now he’s got his sights on Jesus. But Jesus really does know what is good for him. And more to the point, he knows what’s good for us, too. And he’s not about to dance to the tune of so ...…
 
Knowing the divine nature of Jesus, I’ve always felt that Christ was just toying with Satan before he told him to get lost. Up against Jesus, Satan never had a chance. He gave it his best shot… bribery, flattery, trickery … and he came up empty every time. In reading this week’s gospel, we may be tempted to see Satan as a pushover. And that wou ...…
 
The God who made us, loves us. He knows every sub-atom of our being. He knows every neuron of suppressed resentment. Every synapse of reflexive anger. Every endorphin of vanity and pride. He knows our guilt and our grief; our rage and our lust. But he knows more than the machinery. He knows what will make us happy. That’s why, through the Churc ...…
 
Well this is more like it. Brilliant lights and radiant garments, a voice from the clouds, Moses and Elijah in attendance… this is what the coming of the Messiah was meant to be. No wonder Peter is ready to set up shop right on top of the mountain. Let’s get some tents up here and start the kingdom right now.…
 
I don’t handle rejection very well. I’m working on it. But it still gets to me. I always figure if I’m trying my best, that should be obvious to everyone and they should at least try to meet me part way. Most of the time, that works out pretty well. But when it doesn’t, my first reaction is to get cranky and feel sorry for myself. But with pray ...…
 
This week’s gospel shows us Jesus entering public life in full stride. He’s back from the desert and fresh from forty days of prayer and fasting. He’s put Satan’s temptations to rout. And he’s raring to go. In Luke’s gospel this is Christ’s debut as a preacher. And rather than begin his ministry by making promises, he tells us that he is the an ...…
 
Not the racist degradation of a Birmingham jail, nor his bloody martyrdom on a Memphis motel balcony could shake Martin's fidelity to Christ's message of love. Martin's immortal words inscribed on his memorial put a gentle message powerfully: "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life ...…
 
With the Baptism of Jesus our calendar year and our liturgical year are off to a powerful start. Every Baptism fulfills the hope of new life in Christ. Every baptized infant, every eager convert is a potential Aquinas or Augustine, a Mother Teresa or a Florence Nightingale. Every Baptism refreshes the vigor of the Body of Christ. This week’s go ...…
 
Comfort ye, my people: Handel’s lyric has none of the jolliness of Jingle Bells or the triumphal air of Adeste Fideles. But this plaintive cry from The Messiah strikes just the right note for this Christmas… a Christmas preceded by a season terror… set in an age of uncertainty. But how will we be comforted? Exactly, what do we want from God thi ...…
 
As the tempo of terror rises, as the menace comes closer, we look for answers. What next? What should we do now? This Third Sunday of Advent, in anticipation of Christ’s coming, it’s John’s turn to give us answers… not to counter immediate tactical threats… but how to live in times of terror and beyond. We take inspiration from John’s eloquent ...…
 
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