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Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I hear a parental God in today’s readings. A very frustrated, parental God. In fact, in the first reading from Genesis, God is so frustrated with the state of the world, the “wickedness” of human kind, that God even regrets that he made human kind. And God’s “heart was grieved.” That’s pretty strong emotion. Similarly, in the gospel reading from Mark, we hear of Jesus’ frustrations with his disciples. Almost like a frustrated parent, we hear Jesus
exclaiming, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? …Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember…? Do you still not understand?”!! 

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Do you ever wonder why certain things happen? I believe completely in a God who is all love, so when I hear and see something that seems horrific- a tsunami that kills thousands of people, a bomb that explodes in a crowded marketplace, an accident where an innocent bystander is killed- whether one or many people are involved- I wonder why would God allow this to happen.   Both readings today made me stop and think about God and His role in our world. After some reflection, I realize that my tiny mind can never fully understand or appreciate God’s love and how that is expressed even in the messiness of this world.

Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s Psalm ends with the words, “Have pity on your servants!”  In the Gospel we see that petition answered by Christ as he tells the disciples, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.”  And Genesis gives us some sense of the need for that pity as we see the curses of the Fall described.  In all of this we see revealed to us, Jesus as the curse breaker.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was at a parish meeting this week, and as usual, the meeting began by reading the Sunday Gospel reading. After it was read, for about a minute, there was silence. It is as if we were all tongue-tied. It took a few quite moments to break the silence, but there still was this sense that we simply do not know what to do with Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. Unlike Matthew’s version, Luke creates a stark line of separation between the blessedness of the poor and the woe of the rich. How shall we understand Luke’s Beatitudes? 

Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There was a time in my life (my teenage years) when I was "sure" I would not get married, for a variety of reasons. Marriage seemed too scary because of its long-term commitment; marriage meant I would have to think about another person besides myself and that seemed difficult; marriage seemed too "adult." When I eventually meet someone and decide to marry, I remember having a conversation with a friend about a week before the wedding. I told my friend it was still difficult to imagine being married - the largeness and longevity of the expectations of marriage seemed overwhelming. To this day, I remember her answer word for word: "But Jana, you can imagine being married to Joel, right?" In that instant, all my fears went away and I felt at peace. My perception of marriage changed. Marriage, as an abstract institution, was indeed scary. But marriage to a specific person, the specific person that I knew and loved - that I could see. 

Memorial of Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop

Scripture Readings

Jesus is the great “uniter.”  The second story of creation today reminds us that our differences are meant for one-another’s blessing.  God has declared that it is not good for us to be alone.  We need to help each other out.  This theological truth is imprinted in our bodies as male and female, but it also shows up in the diversity of vocations serving the Church: consecrated religious brothers and sisters, priests, single people and married people all play a vital role in the Kingdom of God here on Earth.  Marriage brings new life into the world and develops incredible virtue of generosity, compassion, and unconditional love. Family is where every vocation begins.  Consecrated Sisters and Brothers offer themselves in service to the Church and the world, as a unique witness of God’s love- they enrich families, schools, and parishes by their lives.  Priests mediate between the people and God through the sacramental life, shepherding people and communities on their walk toward God.  Single people are radically available to serve God, the Church, their families, and the world in whatever way and for whatever period of time pleases the lord.  We are all better for our diverse callings, and for the ways we need one another and serve one another.

Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Almost every culture has creation stories.  The reading from Genesis today begins our second creation story.  This inspired story looks at the act of all creation as it relates to humanity.  What is so powerful from the reading’s imagery is that the original sculptor, God, forms a creature from the earth and breaths life into the unanimated form.  Thus humanity came into existence.  This breath of life may be understood as the Holy Spirit. It also might be seen as a scriptural reference for God infusing humanity with a soul.

Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We face a constant challenge. And that is to try to figure out when we are teaching human precepts as if they are God’s Word. Because we are human we are tempted all the time to confuse the one with the other. We genuinely want to honor God, yet too often our very human fears, desires, ideologies, self-interests turn God’s Word into something that is self-serving and not God-serving. Jesus rightly brings this temptation to our attention in our reading from Mark’s Gospel today. And he’s clear: when we do this, we worship Jesus in vain. We worship Jesus for ourselves, not for Jesus. When we do this, we are hypocrites. This is a harsh word and a true one.

Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Healing is a fascinating process. It engages people and transforms them. It invites us and draws us. When we bear witness to healing, we rarely come away unchanged ourselves. Healing just doesn't seem to have any clear boundaries to it.

Mark's Gospel reading is about the healings at Gennesaret. His story tells as much about the villagers as they do about Jesus and those he healed. It says "they scurried about the surrounding country" bringing others to be healed.  They brought the sick on mats and laid them in marketplaces wherever Jesus went, and they begged him to let them touch the tassel on his cloak. It sounds like these villagers were on a well-coordinated mission. They work with the same sense of purpose and urgency for their neighbor as they would if the healing was for themselves.  There is a deep interdependence and interconnectedness in them. There just doesn't seem to be any boundaries for them. In many ways, this feels countercultural to us; our communities feel different. We live farther away from one another and see most people only on Sunday. Our lives rarely intersecting outside of Mass. Even within our 'inner circles', we can find the invisible 'boundary' created by a layer of technology very convenient. It's become an acceptable choice to maintain a 'safe' distance, not engaging face-to-face. It's not something we sense in those ancient villagers.

There are people we see and only politely acknowledge every day. These encounters can remain just so, or we can change them. We can cross that invisible boundary and genuinely welcome another person to move a bit closer—even at the risk of accepting a little responsibility for their well-being or being part of one another's healing.  No matter the result, this small effort brings the Kingdom of God closer to the fullness God desires. Today, let us reflect on the many polite encounters we will have and make a choice that will magnify the Lord.

-Gail Lyman

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

A line from today's first reading from Hebrews struck me today.  It reads, "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind” (Heb. 13:16 NAB).  This seems pretty simple, right?  Any basic catechesis we received will tell us that sins of omission, failing to do something, are real.  We even say it when we recite the Confeitor with these words, “I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, … in what I have failed to do.”  So we are certainly supposed to do good and we are supposed to share.  Hebrews tells us to share what we have and that is where we should spend some time today.

Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today's readings are starkly different from each other.  The first reading (Hebrews 13:1-8) gives advice to Christians on how to live as though Jesus really matters. The list should be familiar to us: love, hospitality, keeping the prisoners and other outcasts in mind, treating your spouse well, avoid falling too much in love with money and desire for things. 

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings 

Upon first reading of today’s gospel passage (Mark 6: 7-13), one might reflect on how we, as Jesus’ disciples, are also called, like the first Twelve, to go out into the world to preach the Good News and heal those in need of healing.  And this is true, at least in our own way, in our own walk of life.  Today, however, I would like to reflect on how sometimes we are the ones in need of hearing Jesus’ words, and the ones in need of healing.  In Mark’s gospel Jesus instructs the disciples to stay in a house that welcomes them until they are ready to leave that area, and to “leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony again them” in whatever place does not welcome the disciples or listen to them.

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

Scripture Readings

The first reading at first seems a contradiction.  We know that we are all sinners.  Yet it says that anyone who does righteous deeds is righteous, and anyone who sins is a child of the devil.  Here on Earth we sadly have our feet in both worlds; we’re all “a little bit bad and a little bit good.”  From my Baptism, I have been in the family of God, a son of God and a brother of Jesus.  But certainly I have sinned since my Baptism!  So what is John trying to say here?

Christmas Weekday

Scripture Readings

Saint John’s letters and gospel are more philosophical than St. Paul’s letters and the other three gospels.  It’s helpful to keep this in mind diving into today’s Word.  From where we stand in 21st century western culture, it can be confusing when John’s letter simultaneously says anyone who acts with righteousness is begotten by God, AND that no one who sins has seen the Lord.  Aren’t we begotten by God in our Baptism?  And yet we all continue to sin.  What’s happening here?

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

Scripture Readings

Today is the feast day for two theologians, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus.  The two were friends, along with Basil’s brother Gregory of Nyssa (whose feast day we observe on March 9th).  These are saints that are more familiar to our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, but they are very important for both Eastern and Western Christianity.  Saints Basil and Gregory are particularly remembered for the ways they helped develop Trinitarian doctrine so that we could understand it better.

The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Scripture Readings

New Year’s Eve has always seemed to be a holiday I observed much more than I fully participated in. If I watched the ball drop on TV or attended a party, I could certainly witness the excitement lots of people seemed to experience when the movement from one moment to the next also signified the move from one year to the next. I just never could get all that enthused.

The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

Scripture Readings

Here we are again at the end of another year. What resolutions have we been pondering?

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Scripture Readings

Instead of a typical homily, today, I felt led to pray for families. Over the year, I get numerous requests from parishioners to pray for various needs of families. Today, it is my intention to bring these needs before the entire community, so that together we can raise these needs up to God in prayer. 

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Scripture Readings

On this fifth day in the octave of Christmas, we reflect upon the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Simeon was regarded as a holy man among the people of Israel and was blessed with the promise of seeing the Messiah. Joseph and Mary prove themselves to be good Jews also by bringing Jesus up to Jerusalem for His presentation.

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

Scripture Readings 

The Feast of the Nativity symbolizes the innocence of the incarnation as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel.   The powerful God of creation sent his only son to be a vulnerable child to dwell among us.  Never mind what the infant mortality rate was two thousand years ago.  Never mind that they did not have cars, heating or air conditioning.  Never mind that there was no electricity, prenatal care, or birthing centers with sterile and somewhat comfortable birthing conditions.  Jesus’ birth was at a disadvantage for all these reasons and one more.  Today’s gospel reminds us that he was hated for who he was almost from the time of his birth.  Yet, into this world, Christ was sent to bear witness to a loving God who wants to be one with us.