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Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

This world keeps moving faster and faster.  Do you ever feel like it’s tough to keep up?  There is always another urgent task getting added to the list.  Is this the way it was meant to be?  The Lord has something to say about the ‘forced labor’ that humanity gets caught up in.  For the Israelites, it became literal slavery.  They came to Egypt as a free people, but were caught up in the fears of the powerful.  After enslavement, their time, energy, and hard labor didn’t benefit them.  We are similarly enslaved by sin.  Some sins are obvious because we have clear rules against them: lying, stealing, violence.  But a common modern sin that is less obvious (while enslaving many) is the sin of ego, of failing to rest in God because of something that seems ‘more important.’

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

If you’re like me, you tend to think of biblical figures like Moses as giants of the faith. People like Moses, King David, Deborah, Isaiah, Esther, Jeremiah, St Paul, the Twelve Apostles – they seem like spiritual super-heroes. I think we often view the saints the same way; somehow, they seem larger than life. Sometimes we place godly priests, religious, and other professionally trained religious leaders on the same pedestal. If we’re not careful, we begin to feel inferior, like we can’t measure up. It’s good to have role models to respect and desire to emulate, but we have to recognize that these mentors are frail, fragile humans who fall short just like we do. We share the same weaknesses, we suffer the same hardships, we face the same challenges. We also share a common calling: to love God and love neighbor and follow God’s summons to serve.

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s first reading from Exodus recounts the story of Moses’ life being spared as an infant. A familiar story, you may recall that at that time Pharaoh was ordering that every boy born to a Hebrew woman be killed. Being a mother, and having two sons, I cannot imagine the fear and heartache that would bring about. Moses’ mother was very clever and guided by God, I trust, in hiding her baby boy as long as she could, and then devising a risky plan with the hopes of saving his life, which worked, but still meant being separated from him most of his life. We know the rest of the story, and what a tremendous role he played in God’s plan to deliver the Israelites out of slavery, although not without hardship. What I really hear in today’s passage are echoes of the heartache the mothers (fathers, too) and children being separated at our borders are feeling today.

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure

Scripture Readings

Today's Scriptures remind me of a long-time friend of mine. No matter where she is or who she's with, she truly flaunts her Christianity. Though we often disagree on matters and methods, it's hard not to admire her fearlessness when it comes to verbally expressing her faith in every situation. Of course, she endures her share of rejection and hurt. But my friend really expects rejection in the world as much as she expects God's help to make it through.  She always says, 'with God's help', just as Psalm 124 says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord".

Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Reflecting on today's readings, I found myself focusing on one common theme: fear.  If we had to be honest with ourselves, all of us are probably afraid of something.  Perhaps take a moment to reflect on what you're most afraid of.  Or, in the words of one of my favorite Catholic speakers, Ennie Hickman, what's your worst case scenario?  Since the time we were kids trying to determine if we should climb the tallest tree in the neighborhood or ask a certain girl or guy to the school dance, we begin our discernment by thinking to ourselves, "What's the worst thing that could happen?"  Maybe we fall from the tree and break our arm.  Maybe she says, "No."  Sometimes our fears are unfounded, but often we do have legitimate fears and concerns.  My worst case scenario is easy to pinpoint- losing my wife and son.  There's a legitimate fear that I have in my worst case scenario.  Initially, it can be somewhat crippling to think about, but there's also a great sense of freedom and peace in bringing my worst case scenario to God (and hopefully that's your experience as well).

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I can't count the number of times the following has happened to me: I'm afraid to go to a party because I don't know anyone, or I'm afraid to try something new, because it's scary, and so on.  When I was a kid, I would have given in to that fear - as indeed, my own daughters struggle with their fears.  The adult in me knows by now that most of the time facing my fears leads to great joy - new friends discovered, exciting new things happening.  

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot

Scripture Readings

As a historian I have been trained to be very careful in making generalizations. Individuals are very particular – living in a very particular time and place -- and so we have to be very careful about using the word “everyone,” as in “everyone is motivated by this” or “everyone has experienced that.” (This is also why historians reject the popular notion that “history repeats itself,” but I will spare you that lecture!)

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. What hopeful, promising, and exhilarating words from our Lord, and yet mysterious, too. What is the Kingdom of Heaven, and what does it mean that it’s at hand? The phrase Kingdom of Heaven shows up 25 times in St Matthew’s Gospel, so it’s clearly an important concept in our understanding of discipleship. John the Baptist paved the way, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near” (Matt. 3:1-2). Jesus began his ministry, preaching the exact same message (Matt. 4:17). Jesus describes the Kingdom to us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1-10) and through many of his parables. Sometimes those stories seem a little abstract and confusing. How do we translate them into practical action steps for our lives? 

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was talking with a friend recently about prayer.  A formulation about prayer that I've enjoyed is ACTS: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  Reflecting on my conversation and the Psalm, I've been convicted that my prayer life tends to look more like CTS with Adoration being my weakest component.

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I'm finding an interesting phenomenon in social media and the papers these days. There are more and more people quite willing to say that we live in dark times, that the world is going to hell, that "stuff like this wouldn't have happened in my day."

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

On this Independence Day, it is no accident that the psalm and each reading contain the word “peace.”  These readings were selected for this day to remind us all of God’s call to be a nation of peace.  We, as individuals, Daytonians, Ohioans, and Americans are called to live and act peacefully.  What does peace mean for us today?  Today’s readings inform us of God’s plan for peace.

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Scripture Readings

Today’s Gospel text is all about believing. St Thomas had to establish the basis for his belief in the Risen Lord and so do we. This passage comes toward the end of John’s Gospel. Today’s reading does not include verses 30-31, but they form an important ending to our selection. “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that be believing you may have life in his name.” We are reborn to eternal life by placing our belief, our faith, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Today’s Gospel invites us to examine our own belief. Thomas needed tangible proof – he needed to see and touch the Risen Lord. How about you? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? What is the basis for your belief and how would you articulate and express that to someone else? This Feast of St Thomas presents an excellent opportunity for each of us to work on our personal testimony! What is your “elevator speech” to describe or explain your belief in God? St Peter tells us, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have . . .” (1 Peter 3:15). Today is a great day to become more prepared to share our faith with others!

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In both the old and new testament readings for today, we encounter significant upheaval seen in nature, namely “earthquakes” called by other names. Scripture scholars identify the “sulphurous fire” that God “rained down” on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that God “overthrew” as likely the fire resulting from earthquakes in that region. And in today’s gospel reading, we hear of a “violent storm” that came upon the sea, which scholars explain would be literally translated as “earthquake” (apparently a word commonly used in apocalyptic literature for the “shaking of the old world” when God brings about the Kingdom). These powerful acts of nature in our readings may stand out more as our city and surrounding areas continue to recover from the ravaging tornadoes of just over a month ago.

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today's readings reminded me of a book I read several years ago. It was written by author and spiritual director William Barry, SJ and is entitled A Friendship like No Other.  The title really says it all, bu how comfortable do we feel approaching Jesus in friendship. Do we see Jesus as our friend? 

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles - Mass during the Day

Scripture Readings

The Church issues a challenge to each of us today in her choice of readings. Certainly, on this day that we remember Peter and Paul we could hear numerous readings. Paul easily has more books attributed to him than any other New Testament author. Peter on the other hand is one of the most mentioned figures in the New Testament after Jesus. With all that we have at our disposable we should be attentive to what the Church offers.

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 

Scripture Readings

The verse that struck me as I was reading today's first passage (Ezekiel 34:11-16) is this one: "the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly."  I wondered what that was about, since I had always thought that shepherds wanted strong, sleek (aka healthy) sheep.  I understood why God would want to seek out lost sheep, but why would God want to destroy any sheep, especially the most healthy?  

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s gospel reading from Matthew is one of those that makes us pause and reexamine our faith. Many people undoubtedly think that they are doing the will of God; many people believe themselves genuine in their prayer. But are we really doing God’s will? And are we really praying in earnest? Jesus calls us, as his disciples, both to listen to his words and to act on them. If we can do this then we are like a man who built his house on rock – a solid foundation. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Just look at our first reading. Here is the man who becomes known as Abraham, a patriarch, honored as a great father in our tradition. Our readings this week from Genesis have showed him to be a man of solid faith, a man who worships well, a man who is generous, a man who listens to the word of God and acts on it. How, then, can we explain the drama in our first reading today?

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The Lord remembers his covenant forever . . . What a great promise and surety we have in the psalm refrain today! God is indeed a faithful, covenant-keeping God; we can have absolute trust and confidence in God. The covenant with Abram (Abraham) is one of five major covenants (several others are recorded in scripture, too) enacted by God with God’s people (Covenant with Noah, Covenant with Abram, Covenant with Moses, Covenant with David, and the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.) In today’s first reading, God enters into covenant with Abram (and hence with us), whom God later renames Abraham when he establishes the Covenant of Circumcision with him. God promises Abram that he and his wife Sarai will not only bear children, but that Abram will become the father of many nations. Our scripture tells us, “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness” (another translation says, “and he credited it to him as righteousness”). God accepted Abram, not because he lived a perfect life or that his works were deemed righteous, but because of his responsiveness to God’s promises. This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23), underscoring the fact that our faith is salvific. Abram believed in God’s faithfulness, and so he placed his trusting faith in God. Righteousness is all about “right relationships,” and this encounter between God and Abram illustrates God’s desire for us in our relationship with God. We come to God in faith trusting in God’s faithfulness to receive us, to save us, and to bless us.

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As I reflect on the texts before us today, I am struck by the simple yet powerful wisdom God offers us for living well with one another. If only we all could follow that wisdom. Our world would be utterly transformed.

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist - Mass during the Day

Scripture Readings

Today is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist.  John certainly plays an important part in announcing Jesus’ coming, but the readings today are reminders that God calls each of us by name and sends us out to be His Hands and Feet for the world around us.