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Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man—robbed, beaten, and 'half dead’—by the side of the road is ignored by a priest and Levite while a Good Samaritan goes out of his way to attend and provide ongoing care for him. Let's take a moment and think of each of the characters in this parable—the robbers, the ones who pass by, the Samaritan, the victim. Can we not identify with each of them? Have we not each passed by someone in need and overlooked an 'other'? Helped someone in trouble? Experienced being the 'other' passed by, disdained, rejected? Have we not, at times, been the cause of someone else's suffering or misfortune? Each one of us have played these roles at times. It is a mixture of seeing someone as neighbor and seeing them as 'other'.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It is not uncommon for me to receive calls about troubled domestic life. Sometimes these calls are about children, but most of the time, it is about a troubled marriage. I am not a professional counselor, hence, most of the time, after initial conversation, and some spiritual guidance, I point them out in the right direction for help. On the other hand, for every couple that encounters marital discontent, I know another family that is blissfully happy. I am sure you too know families that both have marital discontent and those that are content. In reality, there are no perfect families and there are no perfect marriages.  Most of the time bliss is experienced amidst imperfections, and imperfections amidst bliss. What shall we say about families, since, the liturgy compels us to reflect on marriage and divorce?   

Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

People who know me would agree that I am easy to sidetrack.  Students and friends know that I am one derailed train of thought away from twenty minutes of tangential, and likely trivial, conversation.  This tendency sheds light on my affinity for blazes.  I don’t mean fires, I mean trail markers.  I love that purple square painted on a tree or the cairn (small pile of rocks) that guides your hike through the wilderness.  It is these trail markers that keep you on track.  They are a sign reminding us how we got here, where we are going, and why we are on this journey in the first place.

Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Won't hurt us? Will kill us? Would fill a bucket? 

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi

Scripture Readings

All week we have been hearing the familiar story of Job – the one who loses everything and calls upon God for answers. God’s answer to Job is a three chapter long an assertion of His power over everything, which illustrates how God’s ways are not the ways of humanity. In today’s first reading we see Job’s response to God’s speech. Let us note the profound humility with which Job responds to God. Confronted with the utter majesty of God, Job realizes that he does not know and cannot do all that God knows and does, therefore he respectfully withdraws his challenges to God (Jb 42:2-6).

Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Feeling that God is on your side is easy when things are going well.  When life seems to be one difficulty after another God’s loving support seems not so clear.  Still we are reminded in the readings that we are to follow the Lord completely, even when the going gets tough.  The dialogue in Job goes back and forth between understanding God’s power and then asking the question is it wise to challenge God’s wisdom.  This discourse is a response to Job’s friend Bildad who says that God is a God of knowledge whose justice is fair.  For Job who has lost much, and yet has a clear conscience, God’s justice feels more like divine anger.  Job’s suffering feels not as a “just” reward for sin, but more as a recipient of an arbitrary allocation of God’s power.  Job realizes that the person (God) to whom he wishes to complain may in fact be responsible for his pain.  Job’s catch twenty-two leaves him feeling powerless.

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Scripture Readings

Do you believe in angels? What about guardian angels? We’ve probably all heard stories of people having “close calls” and “near misses” which one may attribute to the work of their guardian angels. But we’ve also heard (or said) “his/her guardian angel must have been sleeping that day.” We may make light of it, but today’s readings and memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels gives us reason to pause and consider serious questions.

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

Today’s first reading about Job reminded me of a book that I recently read.  The book (“Everything Happens for a Reason and other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler) is about a 35 year old married mother who finds out that she has stage 4 colon cancer. Kate (the author) was raised as an evangelical Christian whose faith was heavily influenced by the prosperity gospel mindset-a belief held by some Christians which asserts that by having a strong faith, God will deliver security and prosperity. Kate tries to come to grips with her devastating diagnosis through the eyes of faith. Even though Kate had been taught that if she had great faith all would be well, in the end what she realizes is that God’s love and His presence in the suffering are truly what provides hope for the journey.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Who is the richest person in the world today? It’s Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Whole Foods fame. His net worth is more than $164 billion. Recently, he made news when he created a $2 billion fund to help the homeless and set up a network of schools. Jeff Bezos has often been criticized for taking a back seat on philanthropy. So when he made news with his new philanthropy, there were skeptical reactions. Imagine that I had $164 in my wallet. Now imagine that a very hungry family approached me for food. Imagine that I gave them $2. What would that look like? Even though $2 billion is a lot of money, not only did most influential people see Bezos’ action as too little, but also questioned whether his charity was meant to create a positive image in society. Either way, this story is a good starting point for my homily.

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Scripture Readings

Perhaps no part of our Christian faith today is so extracted from its original Christian context as angels. Angels! We see them as statues, on stationery, and in books. Those who do very little to practice Christianity are often drawn to the cute little cherubs. Those who do practice Christianity often take very little notice of angels, other than accepting this sentimentalized and sanitized version of winged figures flitting about doing good.

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Living in society today we often expect our lives to follow a particular timeline.  We expect ourselves to achieve certain life goals by a certain age: marriage, children, job promotion, retirement, etc.  It is easy to fall into this way of thinking.  Yet it is a mistake to think that everything has to be wrapped up and neatly decided by a particular time.  The scriptures for today emphasize the idea that we often need to wait on the Lord and that God often works more slowly than we might expect or even desire.  Nevertheless God does have a plan, and we need to trust in it even if we do not completely understand what it means for us at the time.  

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

Scripture Readings

Sounds like poor Qoheleth is having a bad day.  He’s tired, he’s bored, and he feels like he has seen it all again and again.  ‘What’s the point,’ he wonders.  Boredom was described by one minister as ‘the self, stuffed with the self.’  How often prosperous people feel this way!  We consider what we’re going to do, what we have done, what we could have done.  Whether your disposition is to think of the great things you’ve accomplished, or how little you have done well, the outcome is the same; excessive self-focus. We grow tired, thinking of ourselves. 

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In the first reading from Proverbs, the writer is asking God for two things.  The first is protection from falsehood and lying and the second is to be provided with only what is needed.  The writer desires to trust fully in God and in God’s ability to provide, not of their own doing. 

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There are a lot of things that the Bible says that I just don’t get. Sometimes that’s because what the Bible says is strange. I can find a lot of those places in, for instance, the Book of Revelation. There is so much there that is just baffling. But then there are other places in the Bible that seem so clear. I think, for instance, of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says that people who make peace are blessed. That just makes sense, especially coming from Jesus.

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Luke relates the parable of the lamp (Lk8:16-18). This is part of the section of Luke’s Gospel that deals with the theme of how we hear and respond to the Word of God; it is preceded by the parable of the sower and followed by Jesus’ explanation of who truly are members of his family—those who hear the word of God and act on it. Jesus tells us, “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light” (Lk8:16). Our 'yes' to God’s invitation to enter life with God, Son, and Holy Spirit is meant to benefit the entire world. When we respond to the Word as God intends, we are very much like a lamp—attracting people and radiating light, warmth to all those around us. And light sheds itself indiscriminately—as does the light of God's Grace.

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Friday morning, just as I was looking for a start to this homily, a mother of a young man who plays for the Carroll High School Patriots sent me an e-mail saying, “We need a Patriot win against CJ Eagles tonight. Say a little prayer!” I replied, “For you I will pray for the Patriots, but for Fr. Bob Jones I will pray for the Eagles.” This way no matter who wins, I can say God heard my prayer. As it turns out the Eagles won! Here is another story. Today, India and Pakistan are playing a very crucial cricket match for the Asia cup. Of course, Jesus is on India’s side, right? How could he not? These are very naïve, harmless examples. However, apply the same rivalry to a job situation, to how the inheritance is shared, to sibling rivalry, to race relations, to the upcoming elections, to international politics; suddenly we have the perfect recipe for serious conflict and war. 

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

“I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone’s expectations.”  These are the words that end a Calvin & Hobbes strip as Calvin gloats about the C his school work earned.  His classmate, who earned an A, is understandably perplexed. As usual, the author of Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson, uses this devious 6-year-old and his stuffed tiger to make us think.  This particular statement brings to mind the burden of carrying other’s expectations.  The flipside of this is expressed when we lower our own expectations in order to avoid the displeasure of disappointment.  Both of these realities fly in the face of our first reading today.

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist

Scripture Readings

Wedding invitations have changed a lot in the last twenty five years.  To create a wedding invitation the main questions were “embossed or not?” and “what font?”  It was simple.  The advent of digital technology has allowed for invitations to be re-envisioned.  While this is great in that it allows for so much more creativity, it also difficult because there are so many questions to answer.  Should we use pictures? If so how many?  Which of these thousand pictures do we choose?

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, and Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

Scripture Readings

As we continue walking with the Lord in this 24th week of time, we encounter two excellent readings today. The first is from the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy, which we have been reading now for almost a week (with a few interruptions). 1 Timothy is a practical letter, and today’s excerpt contains some practical advice that is still relevant for us today. Paul instructs the readers to “set an example.” Actions are often more powerful than words, and sometimes the best persuasion of the goodness of Christianity is the example of Christian believers.

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In one of my classes at the seminary, I learned a new vocabulary word.  Pianoforte is a word that has become abbreviated and now we simply call it a piano.  Pianoforte translates from its Italian roots to mean soft and strong.  This imagery rushed upon me as I reflected on these readings from scripture. Angelic tongues, without love, are like clashing cymbals.  While a piano can be played and the notes can be rendered precisely, without love is it really music?