Three Roads

The Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” begins with these lyrics: “It was twenty years ago today Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile So may I introduce to you The act you’ve known for all these years Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Well, almost to the day it has been 24 years since Carol and I ...[Read More]

The Crucifixion

After an earthquake, scientists work to find both the epicenter and the hypocenter.  We know what the epicenter is: It is the point on the earth’s surface vertically above the initial quake.  It is not the origin of the quake but the spot directly above it on the surface. The actual quake begins deep below the epicenter in what is called the hypocenter. It is the point in the crust of the ea ...[Read More]

Peter’s Denial

Among the great cathedrals in Europe there are two that stand out for me. Not because of their architecture but for the stories behind them. The first is St. Mark’s in Venice. We have told the story before of John Mark, the young disciple who runs away naked from Gethsemane and then as a spoiled and privileged young man he loses his courage and deserts Paul and Barnabas and, eventually, is the cau ...[Read More]

Garden of Gethsemane

With the exception of John, all of the Gospels have an account of the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. While Luke has something of an abbreviated version both Mark and Matthew give us more detail. So, again, let’s read from Matthew’s account. Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and ...[Read More]

The Last Supper

For years, I had it in my mind this was a meal for thirteen that was relaxed and while full of symbolism was much like any other meal Jesus might have had with his disciples. They were, as was the custom, all reclined supporting themselves on cushions and not like most of the paintings portray them now sitting upright at a table. Everything had been set up ahead of time by two of his disciples out ...[Read More]

The Parable of the Tenants

Now we come to another parable with the common theme of others. The master puts responsibility in the hands of men and then goes away. He expects a return and by not getting what is rightfully his he punishes those who are unproductive.  Again, like we did last week, I want to use Matthew’s version of the parable in Matthew 21:33-46. Of course, this is a bit different from the parable of the minas ...[Read More]

The Prodigal Sons

While the text this morning is Luke 15, I started thinking about the similarities between this story and Genesis 33 where Jacob meets Esau after a long estrangement.  This is the only positive story about Esau and the Edomites in all of the Old Testament. If anything, it is a picture of forgiveness and grace. Instead of meeting Jacob with 400 men armed and ready to get even after what Jacob had do ...[Read More]

The Good Samaritan

Last week we talked about the temptation to discover secret meanings in the parables and read them as mysteries instead of reading them for what they are. They are stories that speak to the part of our minds and hearts that are not reached by proclamations and straight facts. They are torpedoes and not missiles. Until now, I had never thought about the title given to this parable. But this week I ...[Read More]

The Sower and the Soils: Luke 8

Luke 8: The Sower and the Soils I’m always reluctant to teach a parable. Flannery O’Connor, the great Catholic writer said, “In most English classes the short story has become a kind of literary specimen to be dissected. Every time a story of mine appears in a Freshman anthology, I have a vision of it, with its little organs laid open, like a frog in a bottle. I realize that a certain amount of th ...[Read More]

Jesus and Simon the Pharisee

Our story opens with Jesus being invited to have dinner with Simon and his friends. It must have been a mixture of curiosity and a court trial on their part. It was not hospitality or an invitation of a friend to dinner. They showed none of the common courtesies they would have to him. Had he been a celebrity they would have fallen over themselves making him feel welcome. But they invite him to di ...[Read More]