Reflections in 2008
First Reading: 2 Samuel
7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
As we get closer to Christmas, we are reminded of Jesus' divine family line. Jesus comes from the family of King David, one of the most beloved people in the Old Testament. God speaks to Nathan the prophet about David, "I have destroyed your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth." The Lord goes on to talk about the coming of his son, "I will raise up your heir after you I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me." God is telling David that he is heir to the son of God!
St. Paul emphasizes how this prophetic writing should help boost our faith in God, to make us stronger Christians by helping us be secure in the knowledge that God's divine plan has been fulfilled. No matter what our circumstances are in our personal lives this Christmas, we can be secure in our faith by knowing that God has fulfilled his promise of sending his son to earth for our sake.
The Gospel reading shows how Mary played a part in God's plan by accepting the role of being the mother of Jesus. The angel approaches Mary by saying, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you" - the first words of a popular prayer. The angel goes on to say, "the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule the house of Jacob." Though troubled by this vision, she accepts her role in history, and agrees to become Jesus' mother.
What role do we plan
in God's divine plan? We may not be in the line of David but we are
children of God. How might we say, "yes" to the Lord like
Mary? The Lord gave us Jesus on Christmas. What a great Christmas present!
What can we give back to the Lord? We can honor the Lord this Christmas
by seeking out and doing his Father's will on earth. The scriptures
tell us that this gift is most pleasing to God!
First Reading: Isaiah
61: 1-2a, 10-11
This week's readings continue to push the message that we should prepare our heart, mind and soul for the coming of the Lord on Christmas. In the first reading, it adds an interesting point, "As the earth brings forth its plants so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations." It is clear that God's plans for the world will happen. The only real question is whether we will choose to do his will in that plan.
St. Paul encourages us while we continue on our faith journey. He says, "Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit."
It can be difficult to be a follower of Christ at times. Our culture does not respect Christian behaviors about prayer, fasting, and alms giving. Christmas seems to be as much about buying and giving of gifts as it does a celebration of Christ's birth. What will you do to celebrate his birth? His birth is so important that John the Baptist was sent as a prophet to mark Jesus' coming as an adult. When asked who he was, John replied, "I am the voice of the one crying in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord." What kind of gifts can you bring the Lord on his birthday?
First Reading: Isaiah
40: 1-5, 9-11
Each year as we enter the Christmas season, Church readings emphasize the message: prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord. There are two messages in these readings. The readings themselves relate to the coming of the Lord on the final days. They also help to focus on the coming of Jesus through his birth. Preparing for Christmas, we are given another opportunity to consider a spiritual renewal which we will need in the second coming of Christ.
In the first reading, we are given a prophecy in which we are told to, "prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!" The images used in this reading make it clear that there is a lot of work to be done: "Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low " Anyone who has had to move dirt for more than a few hours understands the amount of labor that goes into a job like this one! The reward for this work is very good. The reading finishes with a reminder of what this kind of work will give us, God will join us, "here is his reward with him, his recompense before him in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom."
Advent is a time to remember that Jesus did come to earth. Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled! It took centuries for Jesus to arrive after the Old Testament prophets proclaimed that he would be coming. First, the Gospel reading recounts the prophecy about John the Baptist, "Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert."
St. Peter tells us in the second reading to be patient with our Lord. We cannot predict when he will come again. He says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar " Each Christmas we are given the opportunity to prepare our hearts for this day. Peter says, "Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God."
The Gospel focuses on John the Baptist and his message to "prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." Despite John's popularity at the time he makes it very clear that there is "one mightier than I coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals " Of course, John is referring to the coming of the savior of the world, Jesus Christ. John's role in life was to prepare for the coming of Jesus. He says, (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease. Maybe we can all adopt this attitude and spiritual posture as servants of our Redeemer. He must increase in our lives. He must fill up our lives. He must be the priority in our lives. The church again gives us an opportunity to reflect on God's goodness and gives us this time to let Jesus increase in our personal lives so that we may decrease.
First Reading: Ezekiel
34: 11-12, 15-17
What will Jesus do as king? First, he will take care of his own. The first reading says, I will look after and tend my sheep. It goes on to explain how the king will make sure that the sick and the needy will be healed while the rich and haughty in his flock will be corrected, to make them worthy of being in his kingdom. It is also clear that one of the first things he will do is sort the good sheep from the bad, those who follow his ways and those who do not. In the first reading, it says, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.
The gospel reading also addresses how the Lord will come as king, When the Son of Man comes in Glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. It goes on to talk about the final judgment of mankind, And he will separate one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will judge some people as worthy of being with God and some as not worthy.
How we are to know whether we are a ram or a goat? Jesus says the sheep are the ones that clothed him, fed him, and nursed him in times of trouble while on earth. He then explains that the king takes the form of all people on earth. Unfortunately for us, that includes some of the hardest people to love and care for because they are often unseen in society and are difficult to love the old and very young (unborn too), the extremely sick, and prisoners. Not only are these people separated from our daily lives thus hard to interact with - but they are often not the most lovable people. Who wants to befriend a criminal or someone dying of HIV? It is clear that we must pray for more of the Holy Spirit, so that we may go out of our way to love all people. First, we must take the time and energy to love those around us, our friends and family whether we like their company or not, and then find the strength to love those people that cannot find love on this earth.
Jesus promises to be
our Shepherd. He will bind up the wounds resulting from our hard work
on this earth, and he will lead us to our final home in heaven.
First Reading: Proverbs
31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
It is clear from the readings this week that the Lord wants respect from us and that respect includes fear and labor. In the first reading, it says "the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors." It also says, "When one finds a worthy woman her value is far beyond pearls she works with loving hands She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy."
In the second reading, Paul tells the Thessalonians that to beware because "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, "Peace and security," then sudden disaster comes upon them." Paul warns not to let down their guard. He encourages them to keep their faith by avoiding sin and honoring the Lord. He tells them that they are "not in darkness" and thus know the truth.
Fear of the Lord can help us stay alert. Fear of the Lord is not a slave-like dread rather it is a posture of loving reverence of God. It is an acknowledgement of his awesome omnipotence. It prevents us from growing tired and weak in our faith and is "the beginning of wisdom". Sometimes we may allow ourselves to accept small sins or become so comfortable in our lives that we stop building the kingdom of God in the Church through evangelization or service. A healthy fear of the Lord helps us to make examination of conscience and take advantage to the sacrament of reconciliation. It also reminds us that we must take part in the growth of the Church every day of our life.
When we lose our fear of the Lord we stop using our gifts to build the kingdom of God out of fear that we may fail at it. But Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel reading that we must use our talents on earth in his service. The parable of the talents tells us of three people with different abilities. Two men with more talent doubled the money given to them. The man with very little ability on earth did not even attempt to use his talent because he had so much fear of the Lord that he was petrified. He knew that his master was "a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter."
As a result of this,
the master, God, condemned the man who did nothing with his talent.
It is clear that we must have fear of the Lord. The Lord appreciates
those who respect him. We must also have the courage to do his work
on earth - we must build the harvest for him recognizing that we may
make mistakes that even offend the Lord. We may take part of religious
organizations that fail or develop programs that do God's work on earth.
We may pray, fast, and give to people with nothing in return. We are
to remain faithful in the use of our talents all of the days of our
lives so that the master will reward us for our work in his harvest.
First Reading: Ezekiel
47: 1-2, 8-9. 12
Saint John Lateran Basilica is the oldest and main cathedral in the diocese of Rome. It is the first of four patriarchal basilicas in Rome.
The first reading from Ezekiel talks about the water flowing from temple and all who touched it were saved and made new. There are many references in the Old Testament to life giving water. As suggested in this case the water comes from the temple of God and will give life.
The second reading reminds us that, in fact, we are the temple of God. This means we are the workers for God. We humbly accept the good news to give to others as the Holy Spirit works in and through us. The foundation the Church is built on is Jesus Christ and we can not build a different foundation otherwise the temple will be destroyed. As Gods temple we are living stones and Jesus is the cornerstone.
In the Gospel Jesus states, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews were incredulous since it took over 40 years to build the temple. However, Jesus was referring to the temple of his body through his resurrection when the fulfillment for all people would mean abundant joy and eternal life.
First Reading: Wisdom
All Souls Day is a holy day of the Church in which we commemorate the faithful departed. The readings this week address this holy day by talking about our ultimate goal: Heaven. The Old Testament reading tries to instill hope of this day. It starts, The souls of the just are in the hand of God and They seemed to be dead But they are in peace. It goes on to say that our suffering, especially when it is for the sake our faith, will not go unnoticed: indeed, they may be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality they shall be greatly blessed. Our spiritual work is compared to the refining of gold, to make it pure enough for sale, so shall our work be on earth as we prepare for Heaven.
We have two optional readings for the second reading. Both come from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans and both address our ultimate salvation through Jesus Christ. In the first reading it says, How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. In the second reading it goes on to say, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. Ultimately, we will be united with Christ in Heaven.
Today, as we remember
the faithful departed, we are made aware that our future with God depends
on how we have lived out Jesus teachings in our lives. For those
who have put their own way of living ahead of Jesus way may find
that in death they literally lose everything. At that moment, the economy,
career, accumulation of goods will mean nothing. It will be a question
of how one has lived out the Gospel message of putting God first and
neighbor before self. These readings should help motivate us to live
for God. In the Gospel, Jesus says, And this is the will of the
one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me.
He came to save us, to give us the teachings that will help us follow
him. Ultimately, through faith, we will join him in the resurrection,
For this is the will of my Father that everyone who sees the Son
and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up
on the last day. Today, remember the faithful departed by interceding
to them and praying for the souls in purgatory.
First Reading: Exodus
To love God and one another is the message from this weeks short Gospel reading. This reading is simple yet so powerful. First, it emphasizes the need to love God. We do this by going to church and praying, serving and loving others.
Second, we are to love other people. If we love God, it makes this task easier because we can see God in other people, since we are his creation, made in his image. But we are also flawed members of the kingdom because we choose to avoid God by not following the first commandment and because of sin. Distancing ourselves from him makes us somewhat less lovable too.
It is clear from the first reading that we must extend this love to the least of our brothers. You shall not molest or oppress an alien You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If we do these things, the Lords wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword. Those words are quite strong it is clear that we must extend our love to our family, friends, and people around us. We must also care for the people who may be the most in need of our help in society. Today, this may still include immigrants, widows, and orphans but it also includes the sick, the needy, the disabled, and the lonely. How do you love such people? The same way that we love our friends and God: by not sinning against them and spending time with them.
to the Thessalonians is very encouraging. He tells this group of Christians
that they are doing a good job, you became a model for all the
believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. We too can share in this
message if we continue to love God and one another, making the light
of Christ shine to all of Gods creatures.
First Reading: Isaiah
45: 1, 4-6
The Gospel reading this week reviews an interaction between Jesus and the disciples of the Pharisees. They asked him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. It is clear that the primary goal of this interaction is to show that Jesus knew that the leaders were trying to trap him into making a political statement which would ultimately lead him to trouble with either secular authorities (for telling people not to pay taxes) or religious authorities (Jews who did not like the secular leaders and did not want to pay a tax to them). As usual, Jesus shows us in this reading that he knows the true motivation of the people questioning him and finds a way to cut through their deception.
If there is anything else to take from this Gospel reading, it is that we have to deal with two worlds on this earth: a religious world that deals with values and a physical world in which we must manage our daily affairs, including paying taxes and managing the problems of a less than perfect world. Which one of these worlds is more important? Jesus conclusion is that we need to manage both of them, giving to God that which is his due and still manage our worldly affairs in an equitable way.
First Reading: Isaiah
This week we are given at least two important messages through the readings. First, God is our Shepard through good times and bad times. Second, God is inviting us to be with him, to join him in a great feast and we must prepare ourselves for that feast.
In the first reading from the book of Isaiah, we are told that the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples...he will destroy death forever. We are given the image of God as protector who will reward us for our hard work on earth. One day, according to this reading, The Lord will wipe away the tears from every face. A similar theme is found in the second reading where Paul writes to the Philippians, I can do all things in him who strengthens me God will fully supply whatever you need In this reading we see God as a source of help in times of need.
The Gospel reading also gives us hope in our lives. Jesus tells a parable about a king throwing a wedding feast for his son but the guests refuse to come. Of course, the reading refers to the Jewish people refusing to listen to the prophets about the coming of Jesus. So, the king goes out and invites anyone who will come, referring to the invitation of salvation of the gentiles, to us. Hence, we are all given the opportunity to find salvation, to find a home with God where we will, feast of rich food and choice wines as it says in the first reading.
Jesus goes on to explain that are invited to the wedding feast, to feast on rich food and choice wines with him, but we must also be prepared for that feast. How do you prepare? Clearly, we must be pure of heart, to avoid sin and the near occasion of sin, but we must also honor the Lord, to show Him respect. We can do this by giving Him our time through prayer and our service. These things must be done with great love and vigor and a spirit of honor and respect, by focusing on God more in our lives and keeping our prayers (both personal and at church) focused on God. The reward for these efforts will be a great feast that will last an eternity!
First Reading: Isaiah
The first and Gospel readings today both address the theme of workers in the vineyard and the Lord handing the vineyard to others willing to do the work. They both address the Israelites lack of faith and how God would allow the gentiles, the rest of humanity, to share in Israel's inheritance.
In the first reading, we hear about a how a vineyard was being prepared to make grapes for wine but "Then he looked for a crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes." As a result, it says, "I will break through its wall, let it [the land] be trampled! Yes, I will make it a ruin." The author goes on to explain the vineyard is like the house of Israel.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes a situation in which a man leases his vineyard to some men. When he sent servants to pick up his produce from the vineyard, they were beaten, killed, or stoned. He eventually sent his son, thinking that they would not dare to hurt him, but in fact they killed him. This story clearly shows how God sent the Israelites prophets and his only son but they would not listen to any of them. He goes on to say that the land should be given to other tenants.
What did the prophets and Jesus want the Israelites to do? The Gospel reading says that he will "lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper time." In short, the Lord expects us to take this gift, the gift of God, and bear fruit in a way that the Israelites refused to. The fruit of the Lord lies in what is honorable and true. Paul writes to the Philippians, "whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things Then the God of peace will be with you."
We are called to be a holy race, pleasing in the sight of God. The harvest is waiting and God has given us the opportunity to work the vineyard. How will I respond?
Reading: Ezekiel 18: 25-28
This weeks readings continue the theme that the Lords ways, his ways of thinking, are not our ways. The first reading literally says, The Lords way is not fair! Rather, it says that humans have a tendency to say that the Lords ways are not fair because they do not always conform to human logic. The reading goes on to compare a virtuous man who turns to sin and a sinful man who turns to goodness. Clearly, to God, the latter of the two men will receive his reward from God.
This reading is similar to the Gospel in which Jesus quizzes the crowd by asking which son is better, the one who says no to his father about working but ultimately does it, or the one who said yes to his father but later does no work. The crowd chooses the first son. Jesus does not immediately tell them if they are correct but makes it clear to the scribes and Pharisees listening that they are like the second son. They are religious leaders, they said yes to the Lord, but they stopped doing Gods will. Jesus also points out that John the Baptist called people to be renewed but they did not listen to him. He seems to imply that they had a chance to go out in the field and do the Lords work, to do as the first son, but they did not listen. Jesus goes on to say that prostitutes and tax collectors will enter the kingdom of heaven before them because they lived a life of sin, saying no to God at first but then repented and turned to the Lord, saying yes, Lord.
These readings give us hope of our salvation, that we have the chance of turning our bad decisions into spiritual fruit in our lives. When we fail to help the needy or turn away from people that need our love and compassion, we can repent and do the Lords work either by helping these people or doing it in the future. It is clear from these readings that the Lord honors those who ultimately do the will of God.
Numbers 21: 4b-9
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross gives us the opportunity to reflect on the saving power of the crucifixion. The famous words from John 3:16 are in the Gospel reading today: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. People are so motivated by this reading that they make banners at football games with the hope that it might be seen by millions of people on television.
The gospel reading this week is linked to the first reading with the words, And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. We see in the first reading that Moses brought healing to the Israelites by having them look upon a staff which he made by Gods instruction. When people looked at the staff, they were healed.
In the second reading, we are reminded why the cross is so important to remember. Paul tells us that Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. We too share in the pain of the cross when we bear the burdens of our faith in everyday life, standing up for God in our work and home lives, choosing to be righteous in the face of judgment from others and when we try to evangelize others.
Much like the Israelites were healed by looking at the staff made by Moses, our contemplation of the cross, of Jesus suffering, we can realize its healing power. We can also see that we are not along in human suffering, that Jesus shares and understands our pain, both psychological and physical pains. Contemplation of the cross - the Way of the cross - also brings us closer to God through Jesus, by better understanding this important part of his life. Finally, contemplating the cross also gives us hope in our own salvation, remembering why Jesus took on the cross, to save our soul.
Let us take a moment to venerate the cross on this day!
First Reading: Ezekiel
We are given two stories in this weeks readings: one in which we are told that we should follow the commandments and one in which we are told to hold other people accountable for their misdeeds. In Ezekiel we are told that if we do not tell the wicked one, the one committing sin, that he is doing wrong, the Lord will hold you responsible for his death. Similarly, Jesus tells us in the Gospel, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him He goes on to say that the matter should be brought to other people, including the Church.
It can be hard to challenge ourselves and others to follow Gods laws. One way to do this is to develop a strong, loving relationship with God and other people. Researchers tell us that children who have strong relationships with their parents are significantly less likely to experiment with illegal drugs than children without such close bonds. These children tell us that they avoided temptation to do drugs growing up because they did not want to hurt their parents. Similarly, developing a strong, loving relationship with God, our heavenly Father, will help us follow and obey his the commandments.
In the second reading, Paul reminds us of Jesus commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. He adds, Love does no evil to the neighbor. Building loving relationships with other people, as Jesus did with the people he interacted with on earth, makes it more difficult to sin against them, like sinning against a family member compared to a stranger. In addition, a good loving relationship compels us to tell such a person of their transgressions because we know that it will ultimately harm them. Such relationships make it easier to accept their criticism of us.
The Church includes
a community of believers. Together, we can work toward sanctification
through our mutual love of God and each other.
It is clear from this weeks readings that we are to conform to Gods way of life if we are to attain eternal life. Jesus writes, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. He lists things that we must do in this world including following the commandments and doing Gods will. Ultimately, the reward for this conduct is eternal life. He says, For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Fathers glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.
In the second reading, Paul encourages us to work for perfection. He says, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
Doing Gods will may be difficult at times, but God can also give us the passion and inspiration to continue it over the course of our lives. In the first reading, Jeremiah writes about how hard it is to be a prophet, challenges he must endure because of the difficult words he must tell Gods people, the pain he feels from their anger and rebuke. He says, Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. But the Lord provides the internal strength to continue this difficult calling, I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in
If we hold on to the knowledge of salvation, it can help us through the challenges that are put before us in life. Furthermore, we have the saints and Mary as examples and the ability to ask the Lord to fill us with a passion to do his will on earth. Through prayer and fasting, we can ask the Lord for his holy vision for us. It will sustain us and keep us focused until we see him in heaven.
First Reading: Isaiah
Jesus asked his apostles, Who do you say that I am? His apostles have been with him awhile at this point and he was curious if they knew him. We can ask ourselves the question that Jesus asked his followers so long ago; who is Jesus Christ to me? How would I answer this question today in my personal life? Is he a nice man that lived long ago? Maybe we see him just as a prophet? Maybe a leader with nice teachings?
We have the benefit of over 2,000 years of history of knowing Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit (which, by the way, the apostles had not yet experienced when he asked them this question) , and the establishment of the Church. Jesus Christ has made himself available and accessible to us in a way that goes beyond the imagination. Our God became man, died for his creatures so that we may be with him for eternity, sends the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate and then makes himself available to be consumed in the Eucharist at each and every Mass.
We have the Truth that stems from the Catholic Church as our witness to hope. Today, Jesus says in the Gospel, You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the power of death shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven The power of the keys designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church).
If we live the love
that is the Truth of the teachings we may come close to establishing
the kingdom of heaven and being a beacon of Christ to others. We fall
short due to our weaknesses, however, we have the beautiful traditions
and sacraments of the Church to guide our feet back on the path. Peter,
and all popes that followed him, are expected to be a servant of the
servants of God just as Jesus showed that his life was one of service.
56: 1, 6-7
What a blessing that Jesus decided to share salvations with the Gentiles. In the second reading this week, Paul addresses the Gentiles specifically by saying, I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous. The early apostles sought to convert the Jewish people to Christianity but turned to the Gentiles, to the rest of the world, to bring the salvation of God. Paul goes on to say, For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Although most Israelites did not accept Christ as the son of God, it allowed it to come to all other peoples.
The Gospel reading shows an interesting relationship between the Jewish people and Christs relationship with the Gentiles. A Canaanite woman, a Gentile, approaches Jesus to obtain his help in healing her daughter. Jesus initially ignores her and then says, I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. However, the woman persists and through her faith the Lord relents and says, O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish! Jesus shows his willingness to share salvation to all of us who seek him in faith and humility.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if Jesus had limited himself to the Jewish people? The power of the Holy Spirit would not reign in our lives and through the lives of people around the world. The first reading, from the prophet Isaiah predicted that this would happen long before Jesus entered the world, The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Let us rejoice that the Lord has shared this great table with all humanity!
First Reading: 1 Kings
19: 19a, 11-13a
The first and Gospel readings reveal the Lord in the form of a whisper and a ghost two images of things that have a very lightness of being, that are not easily seen or captured in everyday life. It is interesting that God is presented in such a way. God can be powerful and mighty but chooses to come to us in subtle ways.
In the first reading, Elijah is told that God will appear to him. Many great things pass Elijah, a strong wind, an earthquake, a fire but the Lord was not in any of them. Instead, a tiny whispering sound passes by and upon hearing this, Elijah hid is face because he knew that it was God.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus appears to the Apostles while walking on the water During the fourth watch very early in the morning. It is clear that they thought he must have been a ghost. Jesus called to Peter to come on the water. Despite his fear, Peter went to meet Jesus on the water. He began to lose faith but Jesus saved Peter from death.
It is difficult at times to hear God but clearly he wants to save us. God can and will speak to us in our daily lives if we will take the time to listen. If prayer is part of our daily lives we will hear God. God can speak to us as we read Scripture and meditate on His Word. God will speak to us as we sit and adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. God can speak to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus comes right into us after reception of His Precious Body and Blood each time we receive Him in the Eucharist and we can have an intimate conversation with Him after Communion and listen for Him. God has created these opportunities because of His great love for us and his desire to be part of our lives.
First Reading: Isaiah
The second reading of the letter of Paul asks us, What will separate us from the love of Christ? Anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, and peril are not enough to separate us from God. How can this be true? First, the other readings for this week help to show that Jesus loves us in any condition. Second, they suggest that we should be seeking this love above all other things.
The Gospel reading tells us the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. This story gives us another miracle from Jesus. But it also shows Jesus great compassion for his people, his love of humanity. He does more than just care for their spiritual life but goes on to heal their sick and gives them a meal. It says, When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them. After they finished their meal it goes on to say, They all ate and were satisfied.
In the first reading from the book of Isaiah we are encouraged to seek God in higher things. First Isaiah writes, All you who are thirsty, come to the water! But he later writes, Why spend money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?
These readings make
it clear that God cares for both our spiritual and material lives. While
he is willing to heal and feed us, he also seeks to build a deeper relationship
that will continue to nourish us. Isaiah gives us encouragement in our
journey; if we seek this type of life he says, You shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare God will give a great spiritual
treasure. If we seek this life, as St. Paul writes, the bad things that
happen to us in this world; death, distress, violence, and hardships
cannot separate us from the love of Jesus.
First Reading: 1Kings
In the readings again this week the theme is about the kingdom of heaven. The Gospel gives several metaphors as to what a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven would be like. The first metaphor says that a person finds a treasure in a field; he buries it again and sells all he has to buy the field and thus own the treasure. The second explains a merchant searching for fine pearls and he finds the pearl of great price. He goes and sells all he has to purchase it. Jesus makes it clear that when we glimpse the kingdom of heaven we will recognize the futility of everything else and embrace it. What exactly is the kingdom of heaven? It is basically our relationships with our fellow man when following the example of Jesus. It is our duty as Christians to establish this kingdom to the best of our ability today on earth. Such virtues as love, peace, patience, kindness, self control, compassion would be shown toward one another. We strive to accomplish this everyday by following the teachings of Jesus Christ and taking advantage of all he has given us through the Catholic Church.
Solomon understood this pearl of great price. God asked Solomon, Ask something of me and I will give it to you. Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. God was pleased with him because he certainly could have asked for riches or a long life, or for the life of his enemies. Solomon must have had a glimpse of what his father, David, was striving for in doing Gods will and establishing a kingdom of people living for God.
Saint Paul explains in the second reading that we are made to be conformed to the image of his (Gods) Son. If we truly live up to our calling as Christians, to follow the teachings and example of Christ we can continue to build the kingdom of heaven. When others see Christians building this kingdom, they in turn may glimpse the vision of the pearl of great price and join in the building.
First reading: Wisdom
In the readings this week we see the patience and mercy of God. In the book of Wisdom it says, But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.
The Gospel has Jesus explaining, through parables, about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven refers to the establishment of that kingdom on earth in the present time. As Christians, we strive to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth, not with bricks or mortar but fully living out our Christianity. Jesus makes it clear that living on earth, as a follower of Jesus, will be done among the evil that exists in the world. Christians will rub shoulders with evil and will have to stand strong in order not to be swallowed up or choked off by the weeds of evil.
Catholics have dozens of ways to remain strong in this world through the richness of our faith and traditions. For example, frequent participation in the Eucharist and Reconciliation, reading scripture, praying the rosary, visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, reading spiritual books, and studying the catechism
These will help strengthen us to be closer to Christ and be able to defend our faith while living among evil. Putting our faith into action via works of mercy; visiting the sick, giving to the poor, reaching out to a neighbor, volunteering at our parish and being faithful to our commitments in line with our vocation of marriage, single life, or religious life. Jesus has not left us alone in our struggles here on earth. We need only to pray, as Saint Paul says in the second reading, and the Holy Spirit will intercede.
Isaiah 55: 10-11
The Lord tells us about the importance of spiritual growth this week. In the first reading, the Lord makes it clear that He expects us to grow on our faith journey. It says, my word should not return to me void, but shall do my will. Isaiah uses the analogy of how the rain is filtered through the earth, then plants, and it ultimately produces much more than just water. We, too, are expected to yield spiritual fruit from the words of God.
This growth may be hard at times, learning to deal with common suffering in a holy way or to take on suffering, at times, for the greater glory of God. In the second reading, Paul tells us, We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now as we wait for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies. If we avoid sin and seek a greater connection with God, we will receive this adoption, our fulfillment in Christ, in heaven.
In the Gospel reading, we hear the parable about the sowing of the seed. Jesus tells us about some seeds, the word of God, that are planted in good and bad soil. The seed planted in good soul produces fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Like the first reading, the Lord makes it clear that we should seek to develop our spiritual lives, that is, become holy. Jesus later tells the apostles what this means, the seed sown on the rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it.
Understanding the word
of God can come from many sources. In the Gospel reading, he tells the
Apostles that they are blessed with this understanding. We can ask God
for a similar disposition through prayer, full participation in the
sacraments and fasting. We can also get involved in Bible studies and
our own reading of scripture and other spiritual material. Ultimately,
this work is to fertilize our spiritual soil, to let the water of Gods
word develop a garden of good fruit in our soul.
Acts 12: 1-11
The readings this week honor the work of Saints Peter and Paul. Peter was the leader of the Apostles and Paul came to join them after Jesus death. The first and Gospel readings reflect the life of Peter while the second reading is from a letter of Paul to Timothy.
In the first reading, we hear of a story in which Peter was in prison and God sent an angel to free him. Of course, there are a number of miracles associated with Peters ministry. What is interesting about this reading is that Peter was not completely aware of what the Lord had done for him until he was free from prison. Though his chains had fallen from his wrists and he was able to simply bypass the guards without being stopped, the passage says, So he followed him [the angel] out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.
Jesus knew the nature of Peter he knew that he would deny him but he still trusted Peter with the Church, our Church. Jesus said to Peter, And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
We should remember what God did for Peter despite his weaknesses. It gives us hope in our faith journey, that we may gain access to Gods trust and affection. Paul writes in the second reading, From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The examples of Peter and Paul provide the model of hope in the eternal in a world of challenges.
First Reading: Jeremiah
The readings this week extol us to have courage in living out our Christian calling. God wants us to trust Him. After all, He is our Heavenly Father. He cares about His children and is concerned about our well being. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah is trying to preach the truth of God to the people, however, he is treated as an outcast and at one point in his life as a prophet he is thrown into well, left to die. Jeremiah praises God for His goodness and says, But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In the second reading, Paul reminds us of the gift of Jesus sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection for the salvation of all. For if by the transgression of the one (Adam) the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.
The gospel starts out with Jesus saying Fear no one. He goes on to encourage his apostles to speak the truth of the good news that he is teaching them. Jesus does not want us to be afraid of speaking the truth and message of the gospel. He does not want us to be afraid of speaking about his Father. We may find ourselves, at various times, remaining silent out of charity or prudence, but he encourages not to remain silent out of fear. We probably will not face in our lifetime the hardships that Jesus, St. Paul, or Jeremiah had with persecution; however, it is the day to day life as a Christian that takes constant vigilance and care.
For example, the times
we need to steer the conversation away from scandal of a neighbor, to
avoid gossip, or to reach out to someone who annoys us. It takes courage
to invite someone to church, encourage the sacrament of confession to
a friend or to talk about how God has worked in your life recently.
Finally, Jesus makes it clear to us in the final sentence of the Gospel
with some sobering word, Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me
before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.
First Reading: Exodus
The Lord shows his great love for us through the Mass readings this week. In the first reading, God tells Moses, Therefore if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people
The readings carry the theme of Gods love in the second and third readings. In the Gospel, Jesus shows so much compassion to the human race that he tells his disciples to go out and make believers of all nations. He does not do this for his own benefit but the Gospel says, Jesus heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a Shepard. Jesus approaches us like a child without a parent, alone and scared and out of compassion and love sends his disciples to tell the world that there is a father, the Father, who loves them and will accept them as orphans.
How are we to obtain this kind of love if we are not Jewish, the chosen people from the Old Testament? The second reading tells us that we can obtain through adoption, by following Jesus Christ. Paul writes, But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. He goes on to say, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation.
Jesus gives all humanity
access to the kind of love that we hear about in the Old Testament,
where he named the Israelites his chosen people. Through adoption in
Jesus Christ we gain access to these same tender mercies that he offers
his people, the same sense of pity and concern for us that we give to
our own family and friends. What a great gift to be part of such a holy
family of believers headed by the one true God, our loving and merciful
First Reading: Hosea
We can take a bit of solace this week as we read about the mercy of the Lord. We receive image of life coming out of nothing and spiritual renewal. In the second reading, we are reminded of how God was able to make a great nation, to produce offspring from Abraham and Sarah, a couple who were well past their childbearing years. Paul writes that He did not doubt Gods promise in unbelief. Paul goes on to tell us that we should have the same hope and faith in our lives because we have been given salvation through Jesus Christ who was handed over for our transgressions and raised for our justification.
It is this sense of renewal that Jesus brings to us no matter how far we are from God. In the Gospel, we read about the story of Matthew leaving in his old way of life to follow Jesus. When asked why Jesus spends time with sinful people like Matthew He gives them His plan for all us: to make us well again. He says, Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. God has blessed many people in history but with Jesus, we all gain access to His love and healing.
Jesus ends this weeks
Gospel reading by quoting Hosea in the first reading. It says, for
it is love that I desire, not sacrifice. What does this statement
have to do with healing the sick and the needy? Jesus seems to be saying
that Gods real plan is to bring us to Him. To truly love God we
must avoid sin and seek goodness. Through Jesus, we can obtain this
level of love.
First Reading: Deuteronomy
11: 18, 26-28, 32
Pauls letter to the Romans shows the great change that has occurred in salvation history with the death and resurrection of Jesus. He says, Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law. Jesus refocuses our attention on faith in Him for our salvation, our ability to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven through giving our lives to Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines faith as a gift of God and a human act of freely responding to the truth that God has made known. What does this look like in our daily lives? The Cathechism goes on to say, The revelation of God which the church proposes for our belief, and which we profess in the Creed, celebrate in the sacraments, live by right conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity (as specified in the ten commandments)
Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel reading that the law has its rightful place in salvation doctrine. He says, Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. Following Gods laws, His commandments to honor and respect Him and to avoid sin will help us build a faith that is everlasting, one that will ultimately bring us in union with Him in Heaven.
The Church teaches
that faith and works are not separate causes of salvation. The saying,
faith without works is dead brings together the readings
this week. Our faith relies on works, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel.
This faith, in turn, brings us salvation through Jesus Christ. The Catholic
Catechism teaches that the fruit of faith is charity, works of goodwill
toward others. Hence, as the readings show us today, faith and works
are intimately connected in our lives.
First Reading: DT 8:
The same passage also says that that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD. While God can give us life giving food and water, He also gives us spiritual life that comes from the body and blood of Jesus, the Eucharist.
The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life(Cathechism of the Catholic Church). Jesus says in the Gospel reading, I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist he gives us the opportunity to become one with Him, our ultimate spiritual goal. The second reading from 1 Corinthians also says that the Eucharist will help us become one as the body of Christ.
Jesus goes on to say,
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Acts 1: 12-14
The greatness of the Holy Spirit is revealed in this weeks readings. The first reading shows us the power of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the Acts of the Apostles there are countless stories of healings through the power of the Spirit. This week, we hear about how the Apostles were able to preach among people of different nationalities and languages. The crowds were stunned at this because they could hear them speaking in our own tongues. What makes this more astounding is the fact that the Apostles were uneducated Galileans they had no formal training in any language.
Another important message in this weeks readings relates to the great unity that comes from the Holy Spirit. The first reading brought together people of different cultures and languages, even Jews and Arabs, as they listened to Gods words through the Apostles preaching. The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit brings together people with very different skills and abilities into one body. It says, there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them Whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons we are all given to drink of one Spirit.
The Gospel reading
addresses the Apostles first introduction to the Holy Spirit. After
Christs death and resurrection, He appears before the Apostles
and breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy
Spirit. Eventually this gift led them to the great works
we hear about in the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit continues
to act in the Church, healing its members and uniting over one billion
Catholics spread about in almost every country (representing dozens
of languages) in the world today.
Acts 1: 12-14
This week we reflect on the ascension of Jesus into heaven. He has been through persecution and revealed Himself to the apostles after His resurrection. Now He goes home.
The first readings addresses the resurrection directly with the simple statement, After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath days journey away. Then the reading goes on to say that the apostles went about building the Church by devoting themselves with one accord to prayer
The gospel has many stories of Jesus revealing Gods plan for Him on earth. Specifically He predicts His own death, resurrection, and ascension. In this weeks reading He says, And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. He also refers to the coming of the Church after He leaves the world by saying, I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. Jesus clearly tells us that we are special to Him, not just as people on earth but because we are His followers. We have been given a special place, unity with Him that other people do not have.
To this end, the second reading from the first book of Peter tells us to Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. While we share a special place with Christ on earth, when we suffer, we are reminded in this reading that this suffering will be rewarded when we are brought to heaven.
First Reading: Acts
This weeks readings continue the theme of Jesus role in salvation, that He is the one through whom salvation is granted. In the Gospel reading He says, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know the father. The disciples challenge Jesus to show them the Father. To this Jesus says, Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
In the second reading from the First Letter of Saint Peter, he encourages us Come to Him [Jesus], a living stone and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house. By our faith in Jesus, Peter says, we become a chosen race, a royal priesthood. Jesus gives us the ability to come closer to God in a way that no one has been able to do prior to Him. The peoples of the world are given a way to God that they have never had before.
continues to share many of the same things with the early church. In
the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we here about the early
community anointing certain men to handle specific roles in the community
so the other apostles can devote ourselves to prayer and to the
ministry of the word. While we serve the Church in different ways,
we are united in our faith and Jesus as the son of God. Ultimately,
this faith brings us closer to God.
First Reading: Acts
2: 14a, 36-41
In the Gospel reading
this week, Jesus tells the people that he is the one who will bring
salvation to the Earth. He says, I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers
Whoever enters through
me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.
Others have come along (and continue to come along) trying to convince
people to follow them but Jesus makes it clear that those people do
not have the truth.
Finally, the first reading also provides some wisdom about how we are to enter the gate, which is Jesus. In Acts, Peter tells a crowd about what Jesus did for them by dying on the cross. When the people hear his proclamation, they ask him, What are we to do, my brothers? Peter responds, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We are not left on
our own to face the challenges of walking in the way of Jesus. Jesus
sends us an advocate, the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us. Through
prayer asking and imploring God for mercy God will give
us the Holy Spirit, to assist us along the way back to Him.
First Reading: Acts
2: 14, 22-33
Revelation is one of the themes from this weeks readings. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter reveals the lineage of Jesus from Kind David. He proclaims Jesus resurrection to the people listening, telling them that Jesus fulfilled Davids words from the Old Testament where he says, nor will you suffer the holy one to see corruption. Peter then explains how Jesus rose from the dead before His body showed any signs of decay, any signs of corruption.
The second reading is written by St. Peter. Here, he tells us, He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to sacrifice Himself for our sins that dying on the cross satisfied all of the hopes of Israel revealed in the Old Testament.
The Gospel reading shows another kind of revelation. Jesus begins walking with some men on a journey, not long after He had died on the cross and rose from the dead. They began discussing these events with Him and Jesus begins revealing the ways that the crucifixion was a realization of the Old Testament prophesies. Jesus reveals Himself to them through the breaking of the bread. It is only then that they see it was Jesus Himself who taught them how to make the connection between His crucifixion and the fulfillment of Gods promises to all people on earth. This reading reminds us of our eyes being opened as we celebrate the breaking of the bread in the Eucharist, the re-presentation of Jesus sacrifice. Finally, Gods merciful plan is completed through the actions of his only Son.
First Reading: Acts
The Gospel reading is the best starting point in this set of readings. Here we hear that Jesus is bring the power of the Holy Spirit to the apostles. He appears in a room that is locked, indicating that this is a supernatural event. Scripture says, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. In this event, Jesus empowers His followers with some of the power of God.
With Jesus breath, the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us, Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. Not only did the apostles have the power to produce great miracles producing many more followers to Christ they were able to build a community who lived and shared things in common, a great feat in-and-of-itself!
Finally, the second
reading tells us that through Jesus death and resurrection, with
the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given salvation and a way to help
us manage the hard times of life. Peter writes, through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable,
undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
First Reading: Acts
10: 34a, 37-43
Last week, we recounted the Passion of our Lord the sad tale of His death. This week the readings focus on the hope and joy of His resurrection. Instead of an Old Testament reading, the first reading is from Acts, recounting the story of the apostles lives after Jesus death and resurrection. Here, we see Peter recounting the resurrection, witnessing to His great powers on earth, ultimately leading to His greatest miracle, coming back from the dead. In the second reading, we are told that we share in this resurrection, that through Christ, we will be able to share in His glory.
The Gospel reading
reviews the events that led to the apostles discovery that Jesus
had left the tomb but they were not quite sure what had happened. The
reading says, For they did not yet understand the Scripture that
he had to rise from the dead. They had seen the empty tomb and
Jesus burial cloths but did not fully understand the resurrection
story that we see in the first two readings. As the Easter season starts,
it is an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead to more fully understand
what Jesus has given us through His death and resurrection through the
writings of the Apostles going through the same experience 2,000 years
First Reading: Isaiah
This week is Palm Sunday when we recount the Passion of our Lord. The Gospel reading is longer than usual as we recount each stage of His betrayal, conviction, and death sentence. The reading includes the following parts of this story:
This story is the saddest one in the Bible, leading to a week of sorrow and pain as we contemplate it. However, as we pray, O happy fault of Adam, it leads to the glorious resurrection of Our Lord as he promised.
First Reading: Ezekiel
Each of the readings this week addresses the issue of the resurrection in at least two different ways. In the first reading from Ezekiel, it talks about the resurrection of the body at the end times, Then shall you know that I am Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them. Then it goes on to refer to the uplifting power of God in our lives, I will put my spirit in you that you may live .
The uplifting power of the spirit is also mentioned in the second reading from Paul to the Romans in which Paul tells us that Christ is the one who brings the spirit of God to us, If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal body.
Both the physical and spiritual resurrection are highlighted in the Gospel reading about the raising of Lazarus from the dead. First, Jesus raises a body out of death. Here, also, Martha tells Jesus that, I know he will rise, on the resurrection on the last day. But Jesus tells her, I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will never die.
The Church teaches that we will be resurrected in the end times. Jesus brings us resurrection in our own lives too; through the power of Jesus we are brought from the death of sin to new life with the Spirit of God dwelling in us.
First Reading: 1 Samuel
16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a
We hear the story of the prophet Samuel choosing David, son of Jesse, as the anointed one, the one to take the throne of Israel. This reading is famous for the way that God overlooks all of Davids brothers who were considered to look more like a potential king. But God says to Samuel, Do not judge from his appearance. God shows His humility by choosing someone to be king that others might be overlooked.
The gospel reading addresses this theme of humility. Jesus heals a blind beggar by using his spit to create mud from the ground. Putting the mud on the mans eyes, Jesus tells him to wash the mud off, ultimately healing him. The church leaders questioned whether Jesus truly healed the man and, if he did, whether the power came from God or not. In the end, Jesus says to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin if they were humble, like the blind man, they may receive the vision that Jesus brings to the world but because they would not allow themselves to see the truth, they are bound in the darkness.
The second reading encourages us to seek the light, to put away the things done in darkness, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. The Lord wants to give us his light and salvation; the readings this week suggest that we have to approach him in humility and meekness if we are to receive his anointing.
First Reading: Exodus
After many days in the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land, the first reading recounts the great physical thirst of the Israelites. Moses became so fearful of what the people may do to him as a response to their thirst that he begged the Lord for help. The Lord answered his prayer by giving the people water to drink when Moses struck a rock from which it flowed.
This story is juxtaposed against the spiritual water that Jesus death and resurrection brings all the worlds people. In the second reading, Paul says that, through our Lord Jesus Christ we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint With the power of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, we carry hope with us on our journey to nourish us.
Jesus tells the woman at the well about how he has come to give people living water water that, once received, will quench our spiritual thirst for a lifetime, whoever drinks of the water I shall give will never thirst. The gospel reading gives us hope during this sacrificial time of Lent - and our entire lives - that if we turn to Jesus in prayer, we will have all of our spiritual needs satiated.
First Reading: Genesis
In the first reading this week, we hear of Gods promise to Abram: Go forth I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you In the second reading we learn that this promise extends to the Christian people through Jesus Christ. Timothy writes that He has saved us according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began
The Gospel reading solidifies the role of the Lord in salvation history through the transfiguration where Jesus is seen talking with two Old Testament prophets, Moses and Elijah. God tells Jesus disciples, in His own words, that Jesus is the son of God, one of the few times we hear God directly, like when He spoke to Moses in the burning bush.
In this time of Lent, in our time of fasting and prayer, St. Timothy reminds us to rely on the strength of God to see us through our hardship for the gospel. We are reminded that our prayers and sacrifices will not go unheard, that we too will join in Gods kingdom in the end.
First Reading: Genesis
The Scripture this week tells of the sin of Adam and Eve which brought death to the whole human race. The death was the breaking of a pure relationship that man had with God.
The second reading states, Just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all. The happy fault of Adam allowed for an overabundance of mercy and grace we can receive from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The first Sunday of Lent traditionally recalls the temptation of Jesus in the desert after his time of fasting and praying for 40 days. Satan approaches Jesus and tempts him and Jesus rebukes him with Scripture. Finally, Jesus says, Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve. What a wonderful way to start the Lenten journey by listening to these words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel. We can rebuke Satan by imitating Christ with our acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
By participating in this season the Church has provided for each of us a time to pray and renew our efforts to make our relationship with God our #1 priority. An opportunity to fast and therefore discipline our senses and ask the question: Are external things controlling my life or do I have the discipline to go without?
This season we talk about almsgiving and reflect on how we can better serve the poor with our time or money. By taking full advantage of this time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving we can gain strength in overcoming our faults and sins and become more like Christ. He is our example and he is our strength.
First Reading: Zep2:
The readings this week are centered on the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes. But a larger theme of humility ties all three readings together. In the first reading we are told to Seek the Lord, all you humble of earth perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the Lords anger.
St. Paul encourages us in the second reading by showing Gods desire for us to remain humble by saying, God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong
How do people cultivate the humility that God seeks in us? Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes that we should be, Poor in spirit, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, be merciful, clean of heart, and peacemakers. The more we seek to do these things, the more humble we become and God will be satisfied with us.
Why do Christians need to continually work on developing their humility? In the second reading Paul encourages to stay humble so that we never forget the role of God in our lives by reiterating the words, Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord so that all people will put God before themselves. This can only be done by practicing humility.
First Reading: Isaiah
8: 23 9:3
The first reading of this day is a precursor to what we see repeated in the Gospel. It is written in Isaiah, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, referring to the coming of the savior. With Jesus, sins are forgiven and redemption is possible. Jesus is to bring this relief to both Jews and gentiles, according to this prophesy: in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land of Jordan, the District of the Gentiles.
The Gospel sums up
Jesus preaching in a short sentence. From that time on, Jesus
began to preach and say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is
First Reading: Isaiah
49: 3, 5-6
This week we are told who Jesus is and his mission. These are two significant points to the followers of Jesus.
In the Gospel this week, we hear John proudly proclaiming who Jesus is by saying, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is a reference to an Old Testament story. The final plague on Egypt was the death of every firstborn male. This was due to Pharaohs stubbornness in refusing to let the Israelites free from slavery. The Israelites who smeared the blood of a slaughtered lamb on the lintel of their door were literally saved by the blood of the lamb. They were spared death. Jesus is the lamb sent by God who took on our sin and was killed in order to give us life. The identity of Jesus is confirmed when John says I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, his the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Now I have seen and testified that he is the son of God.
In the first reading,
the mission of Jesus is prophesized I will make you a light to
the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Our call as Christians is to bring all to salvation.
First Reading: Isaiah
42: 1-4, 6-7
The focus of this weeks reading is on the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. John immediately recognized the divinity of Jesus when being approached by him to receive baptism. John tries to humble himself before the Lord, begging Jesus to baptism him instead. But Jesus tells John that the baptism is necessary to fulfill the prophecy of His coming. Indeed, we hear it being fulfilled from the first reading. Here it is said, Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit. These are the words that God says of Jesus after He is baptized by John, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
In the second reading, Peter also speaks of Jesus baptism saying, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. He tells us that after the Lords baptism, he receives that Spirit that will influence the rest of His ministry healing the sick and oppressed. Jesus baptism is important both because they help to show the connection between the Old Testament prophecies and Jesus divinity and to reveal the power of baptism to help us become missionaries of the Lord.
January 6, 2008
The Gospel readings tell of the story of the magi who come to King Herod in search of the newborn King of the Jews. These men knew of the importance of Jesus and assumed that the king would help them on their journey. In the reading, King Herod turns to Jewish leaders to help him find this newborn baby using their scriptures to determine his location. This information is given to the magi.
The second reading of the day tells us that the newborn king of the Jews is also the king of the gentiles. The apostle tells us, the gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. As such, we can share in the psalms and other old testament readings that honor the Lord and the coming of His son. We too can, rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you! as it is written in the Old Testament reading for today.
Christmas brings together the whole world because through the Holy Spirit we are brought in unity with all of Gods followers through Jesus birth.
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Church, Catholic Diocese of Peoria
Reverend Monsignor Richard Pricco, Pastor
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