Showing posts from 2019

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Fifth Sunday of Easter 2019

Gospel Reading: John 13:31-35

Highlight: "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Reflection: Being a follower of Christ means a lot of things. There are things we believe that the rest of the world mocks. Our faith can influence who we vote for, or where we spend our money. That's a good thing; our faith should influence every aspect of our lives. But the defining characteristic of a Christian should be the way we love. Our marriages, our relationships with family members, and even the way we treat complete strangers - all of these things should be a shining example of God's love for his people. That is quite a responsibility. How well do I live up to that in my daily interactions with people? When I am at home, or at the grocery store, or on the road, do I demonstrate God's love?

Geeky Quote: "Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential t…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Fourth Sunday of Easter 2019

Gospel Reading: John 10:27-30

Highlight: "No one can take them out of my hand."

Reflection: When I read today's Gospel, I get a sense of security. It is so reassuring to hear our Lord talk about us this way. We are so important to him, that he won't let anyone take us from his hand. Of course, he also respects our freedom, so if we freely choose to reject him, he will let us. But as long as we truly want to stay with Jesus, he will protect us.

Geeky Quote: "Yet suddenly for Faramir [Pippin's] heart was moved with a feeling that he had not known before... He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings." - The Return of the King

Prayer: Protect me from evil, Lord, and hold me ever in your hand.. Amen.

To get these short reflections every week, click the Subscribe button at the top of this page, or you can "Like" or "Follow" the GeekyC…

Everything I Never Knew I Wanted: A Review of Avengers Endgame

WARNING: This review will be full of spoilers, so do not continue until you have seen Avengers: Endgame. So first, go see the movie. I'll wait.

Did you see it? Okay, great!

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Third Sunday of Easter 2019

Gospel Reading: John 21:1-19

Highlight: "At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias."

Reflection: I didn't even make it past the first sentence of this Gospel reading when I was struck by a realization. Growing up, I always took the different accounts of the apostles seeing the resurrected Jesus as independent stories. I never considered them as part of a unified whole. So I was always assuming that each story was the first time the apostles had seen the risen Jesus. Doesn't it seem that way, based on their reactions? But then I think about how Jesus reveals himself to me in my own faith life. I will have moments of spiritual consolation ("the warm fuzzies"), and it will feel like I'm experiencing Christ's presence for the first time. But after some time, I fall into a dull sense of complacency. So just like the apostles, Jesus reveals himself to me again and again. Salvation is not a one-time occurrence. It is …

Geeky Catholic Sunday: Divine Mercy 2019

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

Highlight: "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Reflection: Poor Thomas. "Doubting Thomas." It's so easy to give him a hard time for disbelieving something that we've known about for two thousand years. But did he really have any less faith than the other ten apostles? Remember, the other ten had seen the risen Jesus. Thomas had not. When I was growing up, Jesus' words always seemed like a pat on the back for modern Christians, since we believe in Jesus and the resurrection without seeing. But what if there's more to it than that? It is reasonable to believe in Jesus, given the evidence we have, and the testimony of a millennia of believers. What takes faith is believing when things are difficult, whether that means holding onto your faith in the face of personal tragedy, or accepting the teachings of the faith even when they don't make sense yet.


Geeky Catholic Easter 2019

Gospel Reading: John 20:1-9

Highlight (from the Sequence): "Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning."

Reflection: I'm not exaggerating when I say that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important thing that has ever happened in human history. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." But how many of us take the resurrection for granted? If you've known since childhood that Jesus rose from the dead, it might not seem as amazing anymore. Easter Sunday following after Good Friday becomes just as natural as day following night.

Perhaps we can better understand Easter's significance if we try to look at it from the perspective of someone who didn't know it was coming. To the apostles, the death of Jesus on Good Friday must have been unimaginably tragic. It wasn't just the death of their friend…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: Palm Sunday 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 22:14-23:56

Highlight: "We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."

Reflection: As we prepare to enter the Easter Triduum, and meditate on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, let us take a moment to observe the contrast between Jesus and the two thieves on either side of him on Calvary Hill. When we fall - when we choose to sin instead of doing what is right - how do we react? Do we turn more fully away from Christ, or do we turn towards him? Do we become bitter because of the suffering that comes as a result of our sins, or do we turn towards the one who can relieve that suffering and forgive our sins?

Geeky Quote:
"If all was lost
There's more I gained
'Cause it led me back
To you."
               - Phineas T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner. Amen.

To get these short refle…

What Did We Just See?!? My thoughts on the Star Wars Episode IX Trailer

Thousands of Star Wars fans are gathered in Chicago right now for Star Wars: Celebration (which is a massive Star Wars convention, for those who might not know). They were just treated to an hour-long panel with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and the cast of Episode IX, moderated by Stephen Colbert. The panel was streamed live online, and will probably be available to watch on YouTube soon, if not already. At the very end, everyone left the stage and they aired the very first teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX.

Here's a link to the trailer, if you haven't seen it yet:

Below is my breakdown. For the purposes of this summary, anything in all-caps represents the text displayed during the trailer. Italics is voice-over, and plain text is descriptions of the visuals with my interpretation.

The Trailer
We start with a black screen.

Rey: [breathing, as if she had just been running.]

The shot opens up looking at Rey, standing in a desert. Is it Jakku …

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Fifth Sunday of Lent 2019

Gospel Reading: John 8:1-11

Highlight: "Then Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you.'"

Reflection: When preparing this week's reflection, I was struck by the fact that this Gospel passage does not address whether or not the woman repented of her sin. This story is not about the woman's contrition or Christ's forgiveness. But it's not because those themes are insignificant; they can be found in plenty of other places in the Gospels. This passage is aimed at those of us who would act like the crowd, heaping judgment and rejection on those we deem to be "sinners." We are not sinless, and we do not see into the souls of the people we callously dismiss as sinners. So Christ tells us that it is not our responsibility to make sure that someone suffers for their sins. I shouldn't tailgate a driver who cuts me off in traffic. Nor should I harass someone online for making a comment I judge to be insensitive or immoral. God alone is Judge. We should f…

Geeky Catholic Sunday: The Fourth Sunday of Lent 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Highlight: "'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.' . . . But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him.'"

Reflection: The message of this parable is not just that God forgives us if we come back to him and repent; it is how he forgives us. No matter how spectacularly we fail, God will not only take us back, but he will celebrate our return. Take a moment to ponder the glory of God - the glory of one who can lift us from the lowest depths of sin to the eternal heights of heaven.

Geeky Quote: "He didn't chase them away. Even though he yelled at them. And was always mean. And he stole batteries he didn't need." "Well, of course not." - Rocket Raccoon and Peter Quill, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

Prayer: Father, I have sinned against you so many times. Thank you for your infinite mercy, for always taking me back every time I stray. Amen.

To get t…

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

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.

To get these short reflections every week, click the Subscribe button…

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.

To get these short reflections every week, click the Subscribe button at the top of this page, or you can "Like" or "Follow" the GeekyCatholicDad Facebook page here.

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…