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Showing posts from 2019

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Third Sunday of Lent 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 13:1-9

Highlight: "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?"

Reflection: Jesus gives us some great insight into the role of suffering in our lives. The fact that bad things happen to us does not necessarily mean that God is punishing us for something we've done. (The "problem of suffering" is a much larger issue, one which I have personally grappled with, and which I wouldn't be able to explain in a short reflection.) However, that does not mean that there is no punishment for sin. In other words, we shouldn't let suffering keep us from the righteous path, but we also shouldn't think that it is arbitrary, and act as if there will never be consequences for our actions.

Geeky Quote: "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." - The Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to persevere t…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Second Sunday of Lent 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 9:28B-36

Highlight: "But he did not know what he was saying."

Reflection: Peter was so amazed by what he saw, that he started spouting off the first thing that came into his head. The experience was so wonderful that he didn't want it to end. So he proposed building tents so they could stay there on the mountain forever. I think that Peter, James, and John were given a taste of heaven on that mountain. Not just the image of Jesus in his glory, but the sensation of pure happiness and contentment. But it was not destined to last forever. They had to come back down the mountain. Jesus would go on to be arrested, tortured, and killed. The good news for us is that, if we are so blessed to experience a joy like the Transfiguration at the end of our lives, it will last forever. We can build all the tents we want, because we will never have to descend from the mountain.

Geeky Quote: "Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to co…

Higher, Further, Faster: A Review of Captain Marvel

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Last weekend, I braved a winter storm to go see Captain Marvel. I absolutely loved it, and I have a bunch of things I want to say about it. If you haven't seen the movie yet, don't worry. I start off with a spoiler-free review. After that, there's a spoiler warning and a poster of Goose the Cat you'll have to scroll past before I get into any spoilers.

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The First Sunday of Lent 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 4:1-13

Highlight: "When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time."

Reflection:  Try as we might to live a life of holiness, we will inevitably be tempted to sin. Even if we are able to resist at first, it seems like the trials will never end. And we only have so much willpower, right? The first problem with this approach is thinking that we have the power to resist temptation on our own. But the other thing to consider is that these trials come in waves. They don't last forever. The devil wants us to think that our two choices are succumbing to temptation right now, or white-knuckling it for the rest of our lives. But all we have to do is pray for the grace to make it through that one trial. We just need to take it one temptation at a time, like Jesus did. And if we fall (which, since we are human, will happen from time to time) we go to confession, ask forgiveness, and try to make it through the next temptation (with Go…

Geeky Catholic Ash Wednesday 2019

Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Highlight: "When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden."

Reflection:  As far as I know, the Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday is the same every year, so it is probably one of the most heard Mass readings in all of Scripture. I assume everyone is familiar with the message not making a big show of fasting. We're not supposed to spend the whole day complaining about how hungry we are, in order to show off how "holy" we are being. But doesn't the practice of wearing an ashen cross on our foreheads all day contradict this message? As I prepared this reflection, I've come to the conclusion that the two messages do not contradict each other, and here's why. The ashes represent our mortality. "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return." They are a sign for us to let go of earthly attachments and draw closer to Christ. …

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 6:39-45

Highlight: "Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye."

Reflection:  I think the lesson a lot of people take from this parable is that we shouldn't judge others, because we aren't perfect. But if you read carefully, that's not exactly what Jesus is saying. True, he does say that it is hypocrisy to point out the splinter in your brother's eye while ignoring the beam in your own. But Christ's solution is not to ignore the splinter; it is to remove the beam, and then assist your brother with the splinter. To continue ignoring the beam is not only hypocritical, it is also ineffective. You won't be able to see clearly with the beam in your eye, so you won't be any use to your brother in trying to remove the splinter. If I go out binge drinking every night, I won't be able to help my friend attain sobriety. We are called to help our neighbors turn…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 6:27-38

Highlight: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Reflection:  Am I as merciful as God the Father? Certainly not. I do not forgive the way God forgives. When someone apologizes to me, I am quick to say I forgive them. But am I really totally forgiving them? Or will some part of me still hold that sin against the person who wronged me? I may never be able to offer pure, perfect forgiveness, but I can make an act of the will to let go of grudges. When a memory of someone's offense against me comes into my head, I can consciously decide to dismiss that memory, instead of dwelling on it. I can mentally repeat, as many times as I need to, "I forgive you."

Geeky Quote: "Mercy is the mark of a great man. I guess I'm just a good man. Well... I'm all right." - Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to forgive as you forgive. Amen.

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Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 6:17,20-26

Highlight: "Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied."

Reflection: There are a couple of levels on which we can take this verse. On the one hand, Jesus was talking to people who were physically hungry. But more broadly, he was talking about all of the desires we experience in this life. Our faith tells us that these desires are, at their core, supposed to lead us towards heaven. The desires are not bad, as long as they are ordered properly. Once we stop trying to satisfy our infinite desires with the finite things of this world, we realize that only God has what we're looking for.

Geeky Quote: "Organize a press conference. I want a press conference and I want an American cheeseburger. Hogan, drive. Cheeseburger first." - Tony Stark, Iron Man

Prayer: God, only you can satisfy my deepest longings. Don't let me get lost chasing after money and pleasure, but lead me to yourself. Amen.

To get these short reflecti…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 5:1-11

Highlight: "When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing."

Reflection: Once Simon Peter got over his pride and submitted to Jesus, he was met with overwhelming results. For someone whose livelihood had always depended on catching a lot of fish, I have to imagine that Peter was both excited and a little terrified. After all, if the nets tore, they would not only lose that day's haul, but they would also lose the equipment they needed to catch any more fish. God has great plans for us. Sometimes, while he is accomplishing these plans through us, we experience "tearing." Maybe it is the fracturing of relationships with people who refuse to follow Christ. Or perhaps it is the fear that comes with stepping outside our comfort zones. But if we keep Jesus in our boat, he will make sure we get through it all. And then we will be able to enjoy the fruits of our (but mostly God's) labor!

Geeky Quote:…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 4:21-30

Highlight: "'No prophet is accepted in his own native place.' . . . Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away."

Reflection: Most people have someone in their lives whom they wish would come back to the faith. A son or daughter, a sibling, parent, etc. But it seems like no matter what you say to them, they don't listen to you. In situations like this, sometimes you have to accept that perhaps you are not the "prophet" that God will use to reach your loved one. If that's the case, you will have to move on. It doesn't mean you should stop evangelizing. Jesus didn't stop evangelizing when the people tried to throw him off a cliff; he just went somewhere else to preach the Gospel. Similarly, you might have to focus your evangelization message elsewhere, and back off a bit on your efforts to bring your friends or family members back into the fold. Keep praying for them, though, and trust that God will send ano…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Highlight: "The eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him."

Reflection: Notice the content of Jesus's message at each stage of this story, and the corresponding actions of the people. The first message Jesus proclaims is a passage from the Scriptures. All the people had to do was show up to the synagogue to hear that. But the message was nothing they hadn't heard before, and it did not have direct personal significance to them. But Jesus's next message - about the Scripture being fulfilled in their hearing - required something more from the people. They were looking intently at Him. Jesus waited until he had their attention before he continued. They had to be open to Jesus's words in order to be able to understand how the Scripture applied to their lives. The more we open our hearts to Jesus, the more directly he will speak to us. We have to do more than just show up to Mass. (Not that showing up is insignificant; a…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 2019

Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11

Highlight: "His mother said to the servers, 'Do whatever he tells you.'"

Reflection: Here we have on display one of the clearest Scriptural examples of the intercessory power of the Virgin Mary. We might think it unnecessary to go through Mary, because we have personal relationships with Jesus. The only reason the servers at the wedding at Cana went to Mary with their problem was that they didn't know Jesus; Mary knew him better. Mary knew him better. And that is the reason we go to Mary.

Geeky Quote: "I didn't do it for him." - Loki, Thor: The Dark World (the implication being that Loki helped Thor for their mother)

Prayer: Mother Mary, bring me closer to your Son. Amen.

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Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Baptism of the Lord 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Highlight: "And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'"

Reflection: The first thing that comes to my mind when I read the above verse is the contrast with God the Father's words at the Transfiguration. "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." The difference is in whom God is addressing. He may be telling those gathered indirectly that He is pleased with Jesus. But he is directly speaking to Jesus. Why? Doesn't Jesus already know that the Father loves him? Surely he doesn't need these words of affirmation. But love isn't just about giving another person what they need, or even what they deserve. My wife knows that I love her, even when I'm not actively saying it or showing it. But that is no reason for me to stop saying it or showing it. The relationship between the Persons of the Trinity is one of a constant exchange of love. So we should never cease showing our l…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Epiphany of the Lord 2019

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Highlight: "We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."

Reflection: The magi, even with know direct knowledge of God's revelation, were able to find Him through his creation and their human reasoning. I'm reminded of the Greek philosophers, who - before the coming of Christ and with little to no exposure to the Israelites - broke away from the polytheistic and hedonistic traditions of their culture and described One God who desired us to live virtuous lives. The magi made their connection with God at the Epiphany. The Greek philosophers may never have personally made a connection with the God of Abraham, their teachings were united and incorporated with Christianity by great minds such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In today's world, there are many people trying to live good lives, without realizing that the best way to do that is in the Catholic faith. We have hope that they will eventually make that conn…