Our Season of the Spirit

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
March 5, 2017
The First Sunday of Lent – Year A

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

My Friends:

maxresdefaultIf you have been paying close attention to our election campaigns—at every level of government—over recent years, you will have noticed that we Americans seem to have a great hunger just now for “hope” and “change.”  Many candidates for elected office—some more strident and vulgar than others—have even made these elusive realities the explicit watchwords of their campaigns with such slogans as “Hope”; “Change You Can Believe In”; and “Make America Great Again.”  And this is hardly surprising in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; widening income inequality; amoral globalization with its random winners and losers; and the protracted and continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with ancillary military operations in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and in Iraqi Kurdistan against ISIS.  And just when we in the west thought that the “Cold War” was a thing of the distant past, the world’s two largest nuclear powers are in a stand-off once again in east central Europe—this time in Ukraine, Crimea, and the Baltic nations—in what The New Yorker magazine has just this week officially dubbed the “New Cold War.”  War, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, economic recession, environmental degradation, predatory globalization, and expanding income inequality have made it clear to all save the most obtuse that our present course is simply unsustainable at every level of world governance.  We now need deep, structural changes and a new international system as a matter of mere species survival. Continue reading

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Listening for God’s Voice

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
Fourth Sunday of Advent-Year A
December 18, 2016

Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

My Friends,

26-iosifflyerWhen I first prayed this morning’s reading from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, I was immediately struck by just how little we know about Joseph, the beloved spouse of Mary.  He is not even mentioned in the gospels according to Mark and John and, in Matthew’s and Luke’s, the two gospels with “infancy narratives,” Joseph drops out of the story entirely, well before Jesus begins his public ministry.  While all kinds of pious legends about Saint Joseph developed later in the Christian tradition, we have only these few portraits of him from the canonical gospels themselves.  This week, as I prayed these propers for today’s homily, I felt that I wanted to know more about this man who, like Mary, had acquiesced so graciously to God’s plan for the world’s redemption and salvation.  Who was he, I found myself asking in my prayer, and where did he find the astonishing equanimity to say “yes” to God’s improbable and decisive entrance once again into human experience? Continue reading

The Sound and Fury of Loving God

Sermon for Sunday, June 5, 2016
Third Sunday After Pentecost
Galatians 1:11-24

But when God… was pleased to reveal his Son to me…I went away at once into Arabia.”

Though I usually am not able to read the entire Sunday Times, I always try to read the “Modern Love” column in the “Sunday Styles” section.  “Modern Love” stories are reader-submitted, and can be about:

  • the vagaries of dating – “Dating, like insanity, is like doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.” (May 13, Sarah Moses)
  • a mother with Alzheimer’s finding comfort in her “perfect” boyfriend – “Unless she’s sneaking out of the window at night,” the daughter writes, “I’m not sure how she’s going on these dates.” (Deenie Hartzog-Mislock, April 9, 2015)
  • being a gay father on Mother’s Day – “I finally just said, ‘I’m her mom!’” (May 6, David Beach)

Last month, in a column entitled “The Sound and Fury of Silence,” Laura Pritchett told of her quiet divorce after two decades of marriage.  She and her husband divorced so quietly, in fact, that “neighbors sometimes can’t tell the difference from before the split and after…  Both of our cars are often in the driveway… We [still] like each other and always have.” But… Continue reading

Prayer in Secret to the Hidden God

When the Spirit dwells within a person, from the moment that person has become prayer, the Spirit never leaves them. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray within us. Whether we are asleep or awake, from then on prayer never departs from our soul. Whether we are eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else we may be doing, even if we are in the deepest of sleeps, the incense of prayer is rising without effort in our heart. Prayer never again deserts us. In every moment of our life, even when it appears to have ceased, prayer is secretly at work within us continuously.

One of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, teaches that prayer is the silence of the pure in heart; for their very thoughts are the movements of God. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified become voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God.

— From The Ascetical Treatises of Isaac of Nineveh (613-700)