Scripture Reflections

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

Humility is the Key that Opens Doors

“Nice guys finish last,” says the world.   “The last will be first,” replies Jesus. My guess is that the Lord of creation knows best who really wins in the end.  And he says in this Sunday’s gospel, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). To understand why the humble get ahead and […]

"General Judgment" (detail) by Michelangelo"General Judgment" (detail) by Michelangelo

Lord, will those who are saved be few?

I once heard a comment from a friend who was preparing a homily for today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel (see Luke 13:22-30). He was finding it difficult to preach on the “fact” that there will be so few in heaven. He has no problem on preaching about death, judgment, Heaven and Hell; but, he is disturbed and sad that, in his understanding, […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

Where do you stand?

Jesus’ call to enter through the narrow door seems to conflict with the idea that God wants all to be saved, that the universal, Catholic Church means “here comes everybody.” But a deeper look resolves the inconsistency. Start small, finish big.  That seems to be God’s motto.  He begins salvation history with two people from what is now Iraq.  When […]

"The Virgin at Prayer" (detail) by Sassoferrato"The Virgin at Prayer" (detail) by Sassoferrato

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I once asked a college theology class if anyone could explain the doctrine of the Assumption.  A student replied, “yeah, that’s the teaching whereby the Catholic Church ‘assumes’ that Mary is in heaven.” There’s a bit more to it than that.  The Church does not just “assume” that any canonized saint in is in heaven.  Rather, it authoritatively declares that […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

Not Peace, but the Sword

One of the themes of Pope Francis at World Youth Day 2013 was to “shake things up.” This is quite different from the advice I was given as a child: “In polite conversation, never bring up politics or religion.”  This is quite good advice, if your aim is to be well-liked.  Politics and religion are risky because they involve deeply […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

What is Faith and Belief?

I recently visited Italy and was reminded of the religious contrast between America and Europe.  In Europe, large numbers of people consider themselves agnostics or even atheists. In America, something like ninety-five percent of the population “believes in God.”  Nearly as high a percentage also believes that there is a life after death and that people are rewarded or punished by […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

The Root of All Evil?

In his space trilogy, C.S. Lewis called him “the Bent one.”  That is really an apt name for the one the Bible is calls “Satan” or “the Accuser.”  The perverse choice he made to serve himself rather than his Creator warped his nature, and ever since his delight has been twisting anything he can get his hands on. Take sexual […]

"King David in Prayer (detail)" by Pieter de Grebber"King David in Prayer (detail)" by Pieter de Grebber

The Qualities of Prayer Taught by the Lord

In my parish ministry and work around the archdiocese, one of the questions I receive most frequently is like the question posed to Our Lord in Luke’s Gospel, “He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1) People simply […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

Why you should ask God…

I’ve often heard people say that they don’t want to trouble God with their petty needs and concerns. After all, he has more important things to attend to, like running the universe. Yet the New Testament makes God out to be a glutton for punishment. Not only does Jesus often urge us to ask for what we need, (“Ask and […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

The Distraction of Busyness

I once got a harsh letter from a Baptist lady protesting that she could not find the word “Catholic” anywhere in the Bible. True, the earliest occurrence of the term is in a letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch, written twenty years after the last book of the New Testament.  But the idea that the Church is “catholic” pops up everywhere […]