Commentary

Body and blood

While they’ve been acquainted for almost two years, the relationship between my neighbor and Jay has been awkward. At first, they would casually talk in the neighborhood when my neighbor, walking his dog, would encounter Jay on the street.

Gradually, Jay began stopping at my neighbor’s door, asking to use his cellphone, requesting a ride, and eventually asking for money.

George and Georgia on my mind

A bit over 40 years ago, when I was a “20-something” seminarian in Rome, I was asked to help out with a retreat for American Catholic high school students whose parents were assigned to the American base in Heidelberg, Germany. Every year, a fairly large group would travel over the Alps to Rome, where they were usually based at the Holiday Inn on the Via Aurelia. (Yes, there is such a place.) American seminarians from the Pontifical North American College would assist the youth ministers in putting on a memorable retreat, which included tours of Rome.

Model teacher in our midst

I was out to lunch with my daughter, Katie, when she encountered, working in the restaurant, a former student she had taught in her high school English class. As the young man seated us at our table, he turned to me and said, “Your daughter is a terrific teacher.”

The ISIS Crisis

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or just as the Islamic State, seemed to come out of nowhere in 2014. By mid-2015, ISIL controls areas of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nigeria. ISIS has proclaimed itself a “worldwide caliphate” that “claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.”

The Brothers Tsarnaev and Sister Helen

The ancient Babylonian law code attributed to Hammurabi dates back to approximately 1754 b.c. This code contains the famous Law #196 (the lex talionis or “law of retaliation”): “If a man destroy the eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye. If one break a man’s bone, they shall break his bone.”

This same Law of Retaliation is found in the Law of Moses, in Leviticus 24:20: “Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured.”

Meting judgment and mercy

The other day I was waiting in line at a fast-food restaurant. Without a system in place to sort out the line, patrons had formed an orderly single-file queue.

While I was waiting, a group of people entered the restaurant and failed to notice the line. Before they could interrupt the queue, an elderly gentleman behind me barked, “The line is over here!” Startled by his gruff tone, the group realized their mistake and headed to the back of the line. “Thank you for correcting us,” one of them replied as they walked to the back.

Seventy years after the victory in Europe

I am writing this editorial on May 8, 2015, the 70th anniversary of VE Day — Victory in Europe Day — celebrating the end of the Second World War in Europe. The Allies’ victory over the Axis powers of Germany and Italy, followed a few months later by their victory over Japan, ensured the end of the last world war to be fought and the demise of three of the bloodiest regimes in human history. But these victories did not exactly usher in an age of world peace and happiness.

Beautiful imperfection

When my oldest daughter celebrated her First Communion, as a volunteer, I was tasked with teaching her class and preparing the children. The communion class was small, less than a dozen children, but I was large – nine months pregnant with my fourth child. I wasn’t even certain I would make it to the First Communion Mass, but I did. Self-conscious, I waddled through the church, shepherding the children into position. That was 24 years ago.

Entering through the Door of Mercy

Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee (Holy Year) of Mercy, which will begin on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. In the Bull of Indiction (Misericordiae Vultus, “The Face of Mercy”), formally proclaiming the Holy Year, the pope writes, “On the following Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome – that is, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran – will be opened.

Anticipating grace

As I write this, I am in a state of profound anticipation. Any day now, my first granddaughter (my daughter’s second child) will be born. In a matter of weeks, my son will return from war. I am living in a wonderful limbo between patiently waiting and celebration. Soon I’ll be a part of two homecomings. My granddaughter will be welcomed into her home, her family waiting eagerly for her. My son will be welcomed home by his wife and our extended family. In both cases, we will be grateful to God for their safe passage into our arms.

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