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Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

When first diagnosed with Celiac Disease several years ago, I was severely anemic, and my doctor ordered me not to engage in any strenuous exercise because I was at a higher risk of having a heart attack. This really surprised me. Obviously not being a physician myself, I had to learn about what was happening inside my body. Basically, my understanding is that this autoimmune disease was causing the lining of my intestines to be damaged when I consumed any gluten, which in turn was preventing my body from absorbing the nutrients and minerals it needed, including iron. I learned again that our bodies need iron to carry oxygen to the various organs, including the heart. This compromised my heart, apparently putting me at greater risk for a heart attack (although I was fairly young) until the iron my body needed was able to be replenished. Thankfully, once I removed all gluten from my diet, the intestines healed and I was able to absorb the iron I needed. This experience truly emphasized for me the complex interconnections within our bodies, and the important role that even small, usually unseen, parts play in sustaining the body and keeping it alive and functioning well.

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s Responsorial Psalm uses a phrase from the first reading as its refrain: “Proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again.” Sometimes as I reflect on my faith I wonder why death and suffering are such major focuses of our discipleship.  We are called to not only believe in Jesus and His death and resurrection,  but we are called to follow Him by our “dying” every day to be transformed or “resurrected.”   Although it seems difficult to understand ( and very challenging to live), Jesus shows us how the only way we can become who God calls us to be is to recognize that dying is an essential part to our salvation.  It is our faith in Jesus and His death that allows us to proclaim this great mystery of transformation and hope.

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

“Not my family, not my problem!” On the 26thof September, I am organizing an evening to share my experience with undocumented immigrants at El Paso and Juarez. I posted the information and flyer on my Facebook page. One of the actual responses on my post from someone who identified himself as a Christian was, “Not my family, not my problem!” For all the years I have been on social media, this was my first jaw-dropping, shocking moment. Immaterial of the issue, I cannot believe that a Christian could think this way. What use is faith, if it does not lead to action? What use is action if it does not originate in faith? 

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Scripture Readings

Over a decade ago, I lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania. On every Good Friday, the bishop would give the homily at the cathedral. He would always begin by saying (in a rather severe tone), “Today is the saddest day of the year.” There was something about that line that never sat well with me. I grew up praying the rosary—including the Sorrowful mysteries—as well as the Stations of the Cross and I never thought that I should be miserable doing so. I was, after all, praying with the Church, which exists precisely because of Christ’s resurrection. These prayers and liturgical actions only make sense in the context of the entire story of Jesus—we enter into His death knowing that He is risen! We die with Him, knowing that we too will rise with Him.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Scripture Readings

It is striking how, in today’s first reading, the people are made well after simply looking at the bronze serpent.  Why would simply looking at a sculpture be recorded in our salvation history as the way the people were saved from the wrath of the snakes’ bites?  In the Israelite camp, there were thousands and thousands of people, and there was only 1 bronze snake.  So, to see it, the people would need to seek it out.  The pilgrimage to go and see the snake was a sign of belief, the opposite of their unbelief that caused the snake problem in the first place.  It’s a pretty low-key miracle compared to the quail, water from the rock, walls of water, and ten plagues that the people saw earlier.  God was helping the people understand that they need a two way relationship with God; they need to seek the Lord to be saved.

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We live in an intellectual society, with an unprecedented amount of knowledge at our fingertips, thanks to the Internet.  It can seem easy to do a few minutes of searching on know a fair amount about any given subject.  We like that feeling of being right, of ‘knowing.’  As the first reading says, it ‘inflates with pride.’ Catholics are just as attracted to this as anyone, but we have another source of knowledge that is very different; our conscience.  The problem is, we all have one, and they don’t always agree, even when they are “well-formed.”  So what do we do about these disagreements?  Our readings today help answer this question.

Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The readings today are challenging on many different levels.  Paul’s letter to the Corinthians on first glance seems to be calling us to a life of celibacy.  Indeed, in this section of Corinthians, Paul suggests, “let even those who have wives, be as though they had none.”  These words were Paul’s opinion based on the reality of the situation as he understood it.

Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Judging from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, things were not going well among the brothers and sisters there. All churches have their disputes and divisions, but the brothers and sisters in Corinth had taken that to another level. They were suing one another in court. Paul is not pleased, and he lets them know it. He calls their behavior a failure. They have forgotten who they are, but he has not. He knows they were once people who engaged in vices of all sorts. They had been cleansed by baptism, but now they had lost their way.

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

These are trying days for the Catholic Church. Today's readings, especially 1 Corinthians, really hit home in relation to the ongoing sexual abuse we are (again) hearing so much about. We, the people of God, are the Church and one of the most disturbing aspects is the overwhelming powerlessness many of us feel. Powerlessness can leave us feeling so paralyzed it can prevent us from taking action…much like fear. As disciples of Jesus, there is one thing we know for certain. Jesus would take action.

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings 

Perhaps many of you know that I spent most of last week in El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico, on an immersion experience of the immigration crisis, along with 15 other priests. Our goal was to understand the immigration issue in depth, to express solidarity with the immigrants, to visit them at the various refugee shelters in El Paso and Juarez, and to pray at the border with Bishop Mark Sietz of El Paso along with other religious leaders.  

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings

I'm currently enrolled in a Christology class as I pursue my masters. During the opening Q&A of my last class, one of my classmates asked about Mary. At one point in his answer, my professor called her the "Exemplar lay person." On this feast of her nativity I want to see where that takes us.

Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Lots of studies show that multitasking isn't very good for us.  We don't, actually, think better when we do too many things at once.  We don't, in fact, learn more when we multitask; in fact whatever we think we have learned is harder to remember and more difficult to retrieve.  We don't, actually, get more done when we multitask.  When we pay too much attention to cell phones and Facebook, our IQ points actually drop!

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I’m a skeptic at heart, so when I read today’s Gospel reading I can’t help but put myself in Simon’s shoes (or sandals, or whatever).  I imagine having tried for hours to catch fish unsuccessfully and then someone telling me to go out and try again.  I’m sure I would roll my eyes and think of myself as wise enough not to give it another try.  However, Simon doesn’t do that in today's gospel reading.  Instead he seems to foolishly trust in Jesus’ command and casts his nets for another try which results in a bounty that he can hardly handle.  In the end it seems that he would have even been more foolish not to admit the limits of his own wisdom had he chosen to not trust in Jesus’ command.  Its this mentality that I believe Paul is calling us to embrace in the first reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians.  That perhaps there is a connection between foolishness and wisdom rooted in our own flawed human nature. 

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

God has a plan for you. It is a plan that only you can carry out. We assume we all know that, but rarely do we state it so plainly. I hope I’m not the first person to ever tell you this. But in case I am, I’m going to repeat myself, God has a plan for you.

Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the abuse of power – primarily in politics and, sadly, in the Church. Today’s gospel reading (Luke 4:31-37) presents Jesus as having authority and power over an “unclean spirit” to the amazement of the people who witnessed it. Although news of his power and authority spread “everywhere in the surrounding region,” Jesus remained humble; he never abused his power.  I wonder how he felt about having that power. Did it surprise him? Scare him? Was he tempted by it?  Did he feel the weight of responsibility that comes with such power? 

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

How often do we pray, “God-What do you want me to do?” Recently, I have begun to realize that God may be more interested in helping us understand who He wants us to be, so we can then realize what He wants us to do.  Both scripture readings today describe how the Spirit helps us to be filled with God’s power. It is the Spirit within that helps us know who we are, so we can be sent forth to do what God wants.

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I have received numerous e-mails or phone calls from parishioners who have been concerned about the child sexual abuse scandal. The concern is on multiple levels – for the abused, for the faith of God’s people, and also for me. I received numerous e-mails and messages enquiring about my well-being.  Thank you for all this. I would be lying to you if I said that I am not struggling. I am more than struggling. I feel despondent, discouraged, and overwhelmed. The question I am asking myself is – what now? I joined the seminary when I was 17 years old. I am fifty-two years old now. The Church is all I have known. I have loved the Church like a man would love his family. Intentionally, consciously, and even aware of her imperfections, I have given my life to the Church. What now? What does my priesthood mean now? I am wondering if you are asking yourself, “What does my Catholicism mean now?” 

Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

This past summer we hosted an inter-generational VBS at the parish. It was four evenings and I think the whole thing went rather well. While the little ones were doing various activities, the adults spent half of there session doing a communal lectio divina, or prayerful reading of the day's scripture passage. The passage we selected for the last day was today's gospel, the Parable of the Talents. Half a session was not enough time to pray and process this passage!

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I cannot remember how many times I have said to myself, “How could I be so foolish?” In one instance, I asked a rather “well-rounded” lady if she was pregnant. To my total embarrassment, she was not. But, how could I, who has a Masters in Communication and Doctorate in Theology, be so stupid? Well, today’s scriptures may have some answers.

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Years ago when I first started paying attention to the daily readings, I questioned why the Church picked so many of Paul’s long salutations to read in Mass.  ‘Where’s the message?’ I thought. ‘What’s the point of reading so many fancy hellos?’  Depending on how you read it, between half and all of today’s first reading is Paul’s greeting to the Church in Corinth.  I wanted to ‘get on with it’ and ‘get to the meat’ of what the Spirit wanted me to hear.  Ironically, this probably caused me to miss it. But reading it today, in the midst of another church sexual abuse crisis (this time with additional allegations of cover-up by the highest levels of the hierarchy), perhaps we can appreciate it in a whole new way.