After we read the definitive Christian origin (creation) story of John 1:1-5, John’s Gospel turns our attention to John the Baptist and what an extraordinary character he must have been. We read in Matthew’s Gospel that he was a pretty wild looking man – wearing a cloak of camel’s hair (I suspect that would have been itchy!), a leather belt, and feeding on wild locusts (bugs) and honey (Matthew 3:4). John’s mission was a simple and clear one: to “testify to the light” (John 1:7), something he’d been doing since before the time he was born (Luke 1:41-45). [Read more…]
Knowing a hero’s backstory tells you not only how they got to be heroes, but what motivates them to do what they do. It helps to know that Bruce Wayne lost his parents & fell down an old well, inspiring him to become Batman, or that Superman is actually an alien from another planet. Spiderman Homecoming represents the third series of movies portraying the web-slinging superhero released since 2002. By now, you’re likely familiar with Spiderman’s origin story: Peter Parker, an awkward teenager, was bitten by a radioactive spider, and woke up with his superpowers. Because he comes from humble beginnings, Spiderman always has a soft spot for those who are weak and vulnerable (although he does enjoy kicking butt alongside the Avengers from time to time.)
The fact is that we, too, each come with our own origin stories. Each of us is born into a family and circumstances beyond our control, and our lived experiences (moving, illnesses, divorce, etc) also represent who we are and what motivates us.
What’s true for superheroes and for each of us is also true for what we believe: our faith also has an origin story. [Read more…]
— Global Edmonton (@GlobalEdmonton) October 1, 2017
Many of you may have seen or heard about the suspected terror attack in Edmonton last night which sent five to hospital – including a member of the Edmonton Police Service.
There are many reminders that will be repeated over the next few days as we process these happenings in our own community including the fact that we are so, so fortunate to have such courageous and professional men and women serving in the EPS & RCMP, looking out for our good each day. We’ll also be reminded that the actions of an individual or group do not reflect on the beliefs of an entire religion or culture.
Equally important to those reminders are reminders particular to our faith: that in face of such senseless violence (and ultimately in the face of all suffering) we have recourse both to hope and to prayer.
When it comes to hope, I’ll lean on the words of a spiritual giant. On September 12, 2001, St. John Paul II set aside his usual Wednesday catechesis to address the 9/11 attacks on the USA. A few lines from that talk seem particularly appropriate today:
“How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”
Additionally, we are called – in imitation of Christ Himself – to respond to hatred and terror with prayer. From the Cross Jesus prayed for his accusers & executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). With that in mind, I offer the following as a prayer you might use to pray for Edmonton (adapted from http://www.christiananswers.net/pray.html):
God of faithfulness,
As we come to you to pray for the victims of the recent attack on our community, we ask for your help for ourselves and for others:
We ask for your grace to center our minds and settle our hearts.
We ask for your hope to sustain our passion for justice and our will to be peacemakers.
We ask for your wisdom to help us recognize your presence dwelling within us and within every being you have made.
We ask for your courage to live as children of light, hope and love, putting away all darkness, fear and hatred.
Take from us all longing for vengeance, and fill us with compassion for victims of violence throughout the world.
Give us a love that is not withheld even from our enemies.
Be with those members of the Edmonton Police Service and the RCMP who work each day on our behalf for our protection. Grant that our leaders may act justly in response to this situation.
As we pray, help us to truly believe not only in Your abiding presence, but also in the power of prayer to move mountains.
Pull us from the grasp of violence and guide our steps in Your way of peace.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
We offer heartfelt prayers today for those hurt in the senseless attacks that occurred last night in Edmonton.
— Archbishop Smith (@archbsmith) October 1, 2017
When I first got started in youth ministry in the mid-nineties, we used to perform a skit called “Weez Chickens.” The basic premise of the skit was that a speaker would begin to talk, only to be interrupted by the rest of the team who would flood the stage acting like chickens. When the annoyed speaker would ask the rest of us what we were doing we’d reply we is chickens! The speaker would ask why do you think you’re chickens? And we’d all reply we’ve been clucking around here so long, we must be chickens! The gag would continue with us coming up with other examples such as bees=buzzing around here, eggs=laying around here, and so on… until the last sequence would have us walk in doing typical Churchy things: one person would be reading a Bible, another making multiple signs of the Cross, another praying the Rosary, etc. When the speaker would ask what we were doing this time, we’d reply: we is Christians… because we do all these holy things. It would lead into a short talk on how being a Christian is about more than just the things you do – it’s about who you are.
This old skit is one of the first things that came to mind when I finally got to read Archbishop Smith’s pastoral letter, Living in the Word of God, which was released today by the Archdiocese of Edmonton. [Read more…]