Scripture Reflections

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

Protecting Our Addictions

Temperance.  For older American, that word conjures up images of Carrie Nation shattering bottles of gin to usher in Prohibition. But the word temperance does not mean abstinence from alcohol or total abstinence from anything, for that matter.  It means that the desire for pleasures of various sorts is brought into balance with other legitimate needs and obligations.  Also called […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

Responsible Generosity

Our society tolerates religion, as long as it keeps to itself.  After all, America is about the separation of Church and state, right?  Education, entertainment, employment, politics are supposed to be “religion-free.”  The removal of the Ten Commandments from an Alabama courthouse several years ago was just one sign of this misguided divorce between faith and life. Like it or […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

The Prodigal Son and the Golden Calf

Everyone knows the bible stories of the Prodigal Son and the Golden Calf.  But they don’t usually put the two together as this Sunday’s readings do.  So what do the two tales have in common? Answer: they both speak volumes about the nature of sin.  Think about it.  God sees an enslaved people in miserable bondage to the mightiest nation […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

A Gospel to Make You Squirm

When I was a kid, I got the distinct impression there existed a two-track system in Catholicism.  Some really decided to go for it.  They became priests, nuns, and brothers because they “had a vocation.”  They “gave up” lots of things.  Like marriage, family, success in business, and lots of creature-comforts. The rest of us, however, don’t “have a vocation” […]

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 […]