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Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Both scripture readings today describe how people choose idols (objects of extreme devotion) instead of their relationship with God.  Whether worshipping Baal, wealth, power, or honor, our human instinct seems to pull us towards being in control and away from placing our trust in God.  Despite our stubbornness and indifference, God continually calls us back as His mercy endures forever.

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I don’t need my kids help to make pancakes. In fact the whole thing is far more efficient without their help. But it is better when I let them help. I have trouble remembering that, which is why a sign hangs in our kitchen that reads, “Fat Souls are Better than Clean Floors.” My kids don’t need that sign, they don’t understand why we don’t always want batter flinging little wrecking balls trying to help. Despite our trepidation, we invite them to help. God does the same thing for us and I don’t always understand why.

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

A lot of things happened this week that were beyond my control. Today's scriptures reminded me that of course my life isn't really ever in my control. Our lives aren't wholly down to us and our decisions. 

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Mass During the Day

Scripture Readings

We see the glory and power of God’s work expressed in apocalyptic themes, in a dragon and stars and angels and birth.  The scene is set, as Paul proclaims that Jesus will finish the work he started by putting every other evil authority under his feet.  Reading that makes me want to jump up and cheer for the good guys!  Mary the virgin-mother-hero has brought God and humanity together in Jesus!  It’s the end of the old, sinful order that wounds us all and tricks us into wounding one another.

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

Scripture Readings

One of the most difficult things we deal with in life is inter-personal conflict. Many, if not most of us fear conflict and feel ill-equipped to deal with it in healthy ways and so we wind up avoiding it or even running from it. In our emotional reactivity we often try to pull other people into our difficult situations, attempting to diffuse our own anxiety by spreading it out to them. It’s easier to “triangle in” a third person who is not involved, telling them about our issue in an attempt to relieve our stress, than it is to face the person with whom we’re at odds. It’s the “herding instinct” in action – you may have seen it in cattle. One steer gets spooked and takes off running in alarm and that one’s anxiety is transmitted instantaneously to the rest of the herd. In moments, the entire group stampedes away, in reaction to the one individual’s anxiety. Forming relationship triangles are a common way that we exhibit this herding instinct. If I’m angry at someone and I tell a third party(s) about it, now I feel better, but my anxiousness is projected onto those others. Our Lord understands these tendencies in us. In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us the way to handle conflict as people of reconciliation.

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

With aging parents and the second of our three no-longer-little-ones about to head off to college, I am currently very aware of the passing of time. Not only the aging of our “kids” and parents, but that of me and my husband as well, as we recently celebrated 30 years of marriage and are just a few years away from being empty-nesters. Perhaps that’s why I was particularly attuned to how today’s readings take us from old age to “little ones.” From 120-year-old Moses in the first reading to the children Jesus calls us to become like in the gospel passage.

Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There are many dreadful things going on in our society right now. Prejudice, hate, disrespect. And just as prevalent is the blaming. It almost seems that assigning blame to others can fix the problem when it only shifts responsibility. Today's readings invite us to do something else. Rather than cast blame, they invite us to take look at ourselves and ask: What is my part in this?

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Scripture Readings

As of the writing of this reflection, my wife (Bess) and I have no idea where we are living in a couple weeks. We are in the midst of selling our home and our next step has yet to be finalized. As I read today's readings I was encouraged by a common theme, trust generosity.

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

 I love today's first reading (Deuteronomy 4:32-40) because it comes just before the passage where God gives the Ten Commandments,and it is a description of why God hopes the people will follow the Ten Commandments and take them to heart.  Usually we see the Ten Commandments listed on a wall or on the back of a prayer card, without their context, as though God simply gave them with no explanation or rationale.

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest

Scripture Readings

Often those who convert to Catholicism from another Christian denomination find opposition from family and friends who challenge Catholic beliefs. One of these beliefs is the papacy, and the Scripture passage that supports this Church doctrine is today’s gospel reading. This passage is sometimes known as Peter’s confession because he professes his belief that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah), Son of the Living God. Jesus responds by calling Peter blessed and saying that he will build his Church on Peter, a name that means rock. Nor is this the only passage that highlights Peter’s leadership and place of primacy among the apostles. Whenever the apostles are listed, Peter is always at the head of the list, and Judas is always listed last. So it is with good reason that Catholics acknowledge Peter’s leadership and the authority of the pope in leading the Church.

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Jesus had a great sense of humor. I see it shining forth in our Gospel text today. It would be easy to mis-read Jesus’ words to the Canaanite woman as harsh and demeaning. Our Lord is never like that! Instead, I see him approaching her playfully, egging her on to be the proclaimer of the Gospel that she was, and taking the opportunity to demonstrate that his mission was to the entire world – to all peoples everywhere and in every age, and to invite us to recognize and welcome each and every person as brother or sister.

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Scripture Readings

We find ourselves in a dark place whether we are here in Dayton or El Paso or any of the other locations throughout the US that have been touched by one of the more than 250 mass shootings that have occurred just since the first of this year. And with each one of them comes more loss, more fear, more anxiety, more anger. More darkness.

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I enjoy cooking. I particularly enjoy making meals and food to share with others.  The shopping, the preparation, the baking and cooking- all of it is done with a sense of giving of myself to others.  God, in a much bigger and better way likes to feed us.  Both readings today describe how God provides physically for the people of Israel and for the multitudes following Jesus. Maybe God knows that one of the best ways to a person’s heart is through the stomach! The food we prepare to share with others is given in love. In the same way, it is not the food that God gives that entices us into relationship with Him, but it is the love that is expressed through the generous giving of Himself.

Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

“Life’s not fair, and then you die” is a figure of speech you can hear repeated in my in-law’s home. It is a throwback to one of my mother-in-law’s many quips that she would say in response to her children’s normal statements. It might not be as witty as “then put mustard in your shoe,” in response to “there’s nothing to do,” but it does possess more relevance to today’s readings.

Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I found myself laughing in the middle of today's gospel story (Matthew 13:54-48) at the people who "were astonished" at Jesus.  They've known him forever, watched him grow up, maybe know some embarrassing childhood stories, saw him working with Joseph in the workshop - and now here he is, doing "mighty deeds."  They're incredulous, to say the least.  Perhaps more than one of them is thinking, "So now this guy is coming in and pretending to be all high and mighty?  Whatever."

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

I like to go camping.  There’s something about the simplicity of it that calms and strengthens my soul.  After settling on a campsite, there’s a bit of work to do to prepare a temporary dwelling.  The way I camp changed after getting married.  Now, I was not only setting up a place for me to sleep, I was also setting up a place for my wife, the royalty of my life.  While keeping it simple and portable, I also wanted the campsite to be pleasant, beautiful, and comfortable in a way that didn’t occur to me before.  I imagine Moses must have felt the same way as he set up the tent of the Lord’s Presence.  Knowing God so intimately, he wanted the Dwelling to be a place where the Lord would be eager to meet him and be visible to the whole Chosen People that were camped all around.  Generations later (as we hear in today’s psalm), they were still singing songs about the blessing and beauty of God’s Dwelling place, which had changed to the Temple. 

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Scripture Readings

As we approach each day’s readings, the context is always so important. It’s helpful to go back to the beginning of Exodus chapter 34 to flesh out the richness of today’s passage. God summons Moses back to Mt Sinai so that God can rewrite the commandments on stone tablets to replace the ones Moses broke. As Moses comes into God’s presence on the mountain, God speaks, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin” (Ex. 34:6). God continues, “I am making a covenant with you . . .” (vs 10). God makes a covenant with the people. It’s a covenant of faithful love. God goes on to describe the divine intentions and gives Moses many other directives and instructions beyond the Ten Commandments. Fundamentally, however, the covenant isn’t about rules and regulations; God’s covenants with God’s people always center in love. 

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Maybe you’ve heard of epigenetics -- the process in which the expression of genes is modified without changing the DNA code itself. It is a newer area of research, but studies have been looking at how the change in the expression of genes can be passed down to future generations. In particular, there is growing evidence that the effects of traumatic experiences such as hardship and violence from war (or perhaps severe poverty) may reverberate down through several generations, influencing physiology and mental health. This may seem a little far-fetched, but it is what came to mind for me as I reflected on today’s readings.

Memorial of Saint Martha

Scripture Readings

Reading the story of Martha and Mary, it's easy to feel a bit conflicted. Most of us can easily identify with Martha, busy and overwhelmed with 'many things'. It's her anxiety and urgency that strikes a chord. Jesus tells Martha (and us) to take a step back. Jesus reminds us 'there is need of only one thing'.

Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In the reading from Exodus, I have to wonder how many of the eager and zealous Israelites, crying out their obedience to the Lord, were looking around at one another thinking, “Yeah, right, he doesn't mean that, I heard him complaining as we came through the desert.” Despite those silent accusations, how many of them, I wonder, would find themselves worshiping the Golden Calf not long after this?  Though in all honesty, would I be any different?  Would you?  Our memories of others faults can last forever, while our foresight to see our own can be so short. In this way, we love neither neighbor nor God.