The Question


How ridiculous we can be sometimes when we argue an untenable position! Children might argue that ice cream makes them strong. Teens might argue that drugs help them feel alive. Adults might argue that cheating on their tax return is just keeping Uncle Sam from wasting their money. Taken to extremes, this way of persuasion is reductio ad absurdum—arguments showing a position cannot be true by showing its implications are not tenable. In this gospel Luke presents us with an altercation between Jesus and the Sadducees about life after death. This is an interesting reductio ad absurdum. By having seven brothers all marry the same woman and die in succession, the Sadducees are trying to show that the very concept of life after death is absurd. How wrong they are!

Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem, facing his own imminent death and resurrection. Already in Luke’s gospel Jesus has predicted his death and resurrection (Luke 9:22; 9:44; 18:32-33).Resurrection is not simply coming back to this life; it is the eternal fullness of Life. For the Sadducees, one’s immortality was contingent on having progeny (see, for example, Deut 25:5-6; Gen 38:8), the tradition and context of their argument about marrying and remarrying taken to extremes. Jesus answers them by asserting that there is no marriage and remarriage in heaven because there is no dying in heaven. In heaven, “all are alive,” in perfect union with God. The proof of Jesus’ truth is his own resurrection, his own perfect union with his Father.[Living Liturgy, 2013]

The promise of Jesus’ truth is our resurrection, our perfect union with God, our eternal fullness of Life. Belief in the resurrection brings us to encounter the God “of the living,” for whom “all are alive.” We cannot argue eternal Life because it is beyond our experience. We cannot argue eternal Life because it is mystery, promise, gift.

The basis for this belief is hope. Although hope always has a future orientation about it, when we have confidence in God’s grace to bring about change in us, when we have patience with ourselves while that change comes about, we already have something of the future in the present—we already are living this new, risen Life which is characterized by faithful relationship with God, union with God. The union enabled by risen Life is that of being “children of God” in an everlasting relationship with the living God. This is the core of our hope, borne out by the daily choices we make to be faithful followers of Jesus.

Paschal mystery living means that we live this life in a way that infuses it with the Life that is to come. The dying part of the mystery always reminds us that suffering and death pale in comparison to the categorically new Life that God offers us in Christ.

When we faithfully live our Christian life, like the brothers in the first reading we will meet with controversy. In fact, controversy may be a sign of integrity since truly living the Gospel always precipitates conflict, because Gospel values are so contrary to human selfishness and pride. This doesn’t mean that we go out looking for controversy; it does mean that when controversy happens because of the authenticity of our Christian living, we see through the controversy with hope for eternal Life. This hope is what gives us the courage of our convictions and helps us remain steadfast even to death. And through death to resurrection.

Adapted from Renew international Prayer Time Cycle C



Who Will Listen To Us?

He Qi_Easter morning

Can you imagine the conversation between these women returning from the tomb? Words and memories would have tumbled over each other as they shared their excitement. Yet surely there was a voice among them bringing them back to the reality of their situation, stating the obvious, ‘But they won’t listen to us – we are only women!’ All four Gospel accounts have their differences but one thing they agree on: the Resurrection of Jesus was first revealed to women! Women, whose testimony was discounted in both Jewish law and society. What was God thinking? Maybe that the last had become first, maybe that the lowly had been raised up, maybe that the hungry had been filled. When we look back to the beginning of Luke’s Gospel we see that it is the slip of a village girl who believes the extraordinary message of the angel, while the elderly devout priest struggles to believe and that God must go to the further lengths than the message of an angel to bring him to faith. The same thing happens with the disciples. The practical woman who stated her fears was right: the men didn’t listen to them and Jesus had to come himself before they could come to faith.

If we have problems understanding what Resurrection faith means we need to look to where there is weakness, to the rejected, to the ignored. The people who are deemed least in our society are the ones who can lead us into the mighty ways of God. This is why the poor, the sick, the weak are treasured- not because they are people upon who we can exercise our good works, or philanthropy. No, we do good to them so that we may enter into the richness of grace and faith that God will offer us through them.

Adapted from Renew International

In Christ Alone!

emptytomb1When someone whom we love dies, we begin to tell stories about them. The memories of the things they said, the images of the way they looked and acted, flood our minds in the midst of our grief. The stories begin to take shape very soon and they may live on with great vitality. In the beginning, when the grief is still fresh and raw, the stories remain inside of us. It hurts too much to express them aloud. But eventually they are spoken, and in their speaking we begin to find healing.

In our Gospel today, we meet meet Mary Magdalene and two of the disciples – Peter and ” the one whom Jesus loved” – as they come to the tomb on their early morning pilgrimage . It is difficult to know exactly what they were thinking, but they must have been deeply shaken by Jesus’ violent death. The stories must have already begun to take shape in their minds and hearts. Perhaps they were still too frightened, and too overwhelmed, to utter these stories aloud, even to one another. After all, it had become dangerous to be associated with this Jesus of Nazareth. But, in the midst of their grief and fear, the memories of who he had been and of what he had done, of the ways in which he had engaged their deepest hopes, must have cascaded over them like a powerful waterfall. [Living Liturgy 2010]

Today, rather than trying to understand,  let us simply run so that we can enter the mystery and embrace it. As we rejoice in the risen life of Jesus, we are confronted with the cost of the Resurrection – self-emptying for the sake of others. Let us be the Resurrection!

Musical Reflection

Rise Up

raisinglazarusI didn’t want to come back. My consciousness hovered somewhere above the body lying on the gurney. It was all over, I thought. The last sensation I remembered had been incomprehensible, then a tunnel, and a grinding noise as described in other “near death experiences.” But unlike other people who tell of “NDEs,” I saw no lights, no angels, no dead relatives, no friendly saints; rather, I found myself very much awake in a weightless, imageless, gray hyper reality. I experienced clarity, freedom and relief, and a stunning sense of the illusory nature of the life I’d left behind.
Then in the emergency room a nurse enforced an alternative plan for my life. Someone was shaking my body and calling me by name. No! NO! Unprepared and inept, I slipped, as if falling on ice, into that lesser “reality” in a helpless panic of anguish and anger. Suddenly I was back in the confines of that little life of mine. I came to consciousness disappointed, frustrated, unspeakably sad — and in pain.
Each year we celebrate a time to examine our own “near death experiences” in reflecting on our relationship with Christ. Each year in our Lenten Journey, three questions we face: For what do we thirst? What blinds us? What keeps us from being one with God? The Third Sunday of Lent, we met the Woman at the Well. This great story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman takes us immediately from the Matthean world into the richly symbolic world of John.
Last week, the blind man sees. Why is the man born blind? All easy answers seem reasonable next to the strange and confounding answer of Jesus: that God’s work might be revealed in him.
This week, Lazarus lives. Life came to the tomb of Lazarus, as Jesus, “the resurrection and the life,” raised him from the dead. Lazarus became an unwitting part of the Jesus play. He never seemed to seek the attention. Yet, once brought to life, he became the Elvis of his time. People traveled great distances just to get a look at him. The Pharisees plotted to kill him because he was a living symbol of Christ’s power. He was living proof of Christ’s power—even over life and death. This act paved the way for his followers to understand that Christ CHOSE to die and that death could not hold him.
I wonder if Jesus did Lazarus a favor by calling him back from the dead? What I do know is that when Christ enters our lives we are no longer our own. We move from self-control and self-direction to His control and His direction. That transformation is nothing less than the power of the Spirit of God calling each and every one of us to health — to wholeness — to realizing our full potential as children of God and to the life abundant which is our inheritance. It is a change that isn’t about making us someone we’re not but making us more authentically who we are.

Remembering Sister Teresa Winsen

On Christmas Day our Sister Teresa Winsen joined the choirs of angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest” when she died at Park Vista. She was 80 years old.
In her 57 years of active ministry, Sister Teresa distinguished herself in education and leadership in Catholic schools, parishes and for the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.  She taught at Immaculate Conception, St. Columba, and St. Patrick Schools in Youngstown.  She also served as principal at St. Patrick, Immaculate Conception, St. Brendan, and St. Joseph, Austintown.


Sister Teresa was elected to leadership of the Ursuline Sisters in 1972, serving as Temporal Coordinator in addition to her ministry as principal at Immaculate Conception.  She was elected General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters in 1976 for a 4-year term.


After her term as Superior,  Sister Teresa began parish ministry and worked in several local parishes including St. Maron, St. Patrick, Leetonia, St. John, Campbell, St. Anthony, Youngstown, and Holy Trinity, Struthers.


In the 1980s, Sister Teresa was appointed Associate Director of the Office of Religious Education for the Maronite Eparchy of Brooklyn.  In this capacity, she helped publish a Marionite Religious Education textbook series.  In 2000, Sister Teresa was awarded the Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifce, i.e., the Cross for the Church and the Pontiff, by Pope John Paul II.  This award is given to clergy and laity who have given service to the Church.


Calling hours for Sister Teresa will be 4:00 to 4:45 pm, Wednesday December 28, 2011, at the Ursuline Motherhouse, 4250 Shields Rd., Canfield.  Mass of Christian Burial will be at 5:00 pm immediately after calling hours.


In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.

Christ Is Risen Alleluia!

This morning is so full of images – the empty tomb – the voice of angels Mary’s encounter with Jesus – the promises made through the prophets coming true it is so rich – so full – so basic to who we are as an Easter People.

Friday – sad Friday – the day we call Good Friday – is brushed aside in one glorious moment of realization one moment of startling fear and overwhelming joy – a moment of holy awe – as the significance of what is seen – and what is unseen comes crashing in.

Jesus is Risen. Death could not hold him. And if it cannot hold him, it cannot hold us.

All that Jesus said about life and death all that was understood only as idea -as a concept -as a vision is made real in that empty tomb and in that encounter in the garden.

And we today share in it.

We share in the promises made to the Children of Israel and to the entire world through the Prophets. We share in the promises made to the disciples and to all who listened to Jesus as he walked towards his death upon a cross.

We share in it -for the word that he spoke to them -and to us
— is made true and real by what we testify to this morn, it is made true by the resurrection.

What is this Easter morn?

It is God’s promise of a new day. It is God’s promise of a new life. It is God’s promise of a new world coming to pass in our midst.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

God of the Living

None of us likes to have our selves ridiculed. We don’t like our profession, our race or our ethnic background, our religious affiliation to be the butt of a joke. The Sadducees in our gospel today ridicule Jesus and everyone who believes in life after death. Rather than putting them down with a retort, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach about what is fundamental to his life and mission.

Jesus lived and ministered as one in tune with the God of the living. All his encounters with others were life-giving. His promise of new life and our own hope of sharing in eternal life are based on the very way he lived-seeing life even where others thought there was only death.

Jesus reached out to those whom others considered “dead”: lepers, sinners, outcasts. His relationship with the God of the living enabled him to bring even these people in touch with new life. Like Jesus, we also must spend our lives deepening our relationship with the God of life and sharing this with others. We do so through concrete choices and actions directed to their good. We thus attest to God’s life acting through us now – the promise and hope of future glory within us,

Gone Fishing!

If you walk into my office you will find a small sign – “Gone fishing”. This saying can either be read literally, indicating that I have really gone fishing, or it may mean that I have taken a break from the demands of my ministry. In our Gospel today, little does Peter realize that his fishing trip will end up immersing him ever more fully in the demands of a different kind of work.

It would seem that the disciples are missing the point of the Resurrection and how the Resurrection changes one’s life because Peter and the others revert back to what they know – they’ve gone fishing! The two scenes in our Gospel, the miraculous catch of fish and Jesus’ dramatic encounter with Peter capture two interrelated Easter mysteries- abundance of new life and love that overflows into following the risen Christ to the point of death. We give our lives because we have first been loved by God. Following Jesus isn’t easy for it means dying to self, even to the point of death for the sake of the other.

We share in this new life only if we are willing to share in its cost -dying to self for the sake of the other. Let us take care that our actions announce God’s blessings and God’s care.