Author: Kathryn Getek Soltis

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Can justice be merciful and still be just?

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Wis 12:13, 16-19; Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43 In a course I teach on theology and criminal justice, my students examine various ways of approaching the familiar-though-inevitably-elusive concept of justice.  As we consider the proper response for a range of misdeeds, a retributive approach usually comes to these young men and women as second nature.  Justice requires that one gets what one deserves.  What is mercy then?  From this view, mercy appears to be the suspension of justice.  If mercy is holding back from the punishment that one deserves, then mercy...

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Sixth Sunday of Easter – Holy Spirit as Advocate

Sixth Sunday of Easter Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20; 1 Pt 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21 Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court decision that guaranteed legal representation to those men and women who are charged with a serious crime and are too poor to afford a lawyer.  The Court determined that a right to counsel is “fundamental” in a system that strives for justice and equality.  How well our nation protects this fundamental right is no trivial matter.  It is estimated that 80% of state criminal defendants are too poor to hire a lawyer...

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – On Being a Light of the World

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – On Being a Light of the World Is: 58:7-10; Ps 112: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Cor 2:1-5; Mt 5:13-16 Any child who has been in a dark room, full of fear, can relate to the idea that light brings consolation and goodness.  The hope brought by the dawn makes it easy to understand why Scripture speaks of God as light. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, the Messiah is a light: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone”...

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Third Sunday of Advent

Third Sunday of Advent Is 35:1-6,10; Ps 146: 6-7, 8-9, 9-10; Jas 5:7-10; Mt 11:2-11 Last month, Pope Francis embraced a man with a severely disfiguring disease and the photos appeared around the world. The image was powerful not only because of the profound compassion of that moment but because it drew our imaginations closer to saints like Francis of Assisi (who according to legend kissed a leper in a life-changing encounter) and ultimately to Jesus Christ.  For me, one of the greatest marvels of the Pope’s embrace was that it became such a significant headline.  With a large picture and big bold typeface, it was the featured story for a time on several news outlets.  Among others, I can recall seeing it on  Yet, what I remember there was neither the photo nor the headline, but the title of a related article there at the top of the page.  The link to the article said simply, “What God’s love looks like.”  I have read similar phrases over the years in theological texts and reflections, but never did I expect to find that phrase at the top of When it comes to public talk about religion, we often get stuck on whether there is a God and so rarely make our way to the question of what God’s love might look like.  It is exhilarating to see this...

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Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Virtue of Persistence

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Ex 17:8-13; Ps 121:1-2,3-4,5-6, 7-8; 2 Tm 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8 There is a seemingly endless array of quotes and motivational posters that praise the quality of persistence.  We are told that a successful life is within reach as long as we remain firm and endure the times of difficulty.  Persistence appears in all three of this Sunday’s readings, but it emerges as something more than mere motivational slogan.  It is perhaps best understood through the lens of virtue. In the First Reading, Moses must keep his hands raised up to maintain an advantage for...

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