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Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

In today’s gospel Luke provides us with some very descriptive historical details. This kind of historical detail is rare in the four gospels, because, in terms of literary genre, they are not historical books. The gospels are a unique genre, and it is meant to inspire faith. Since Luke does give us historical data, we must pay attention to it. Luke tells us who the Roman Emperor was (Tiberius Caesar), who the governor of Judea was (Pontus Pilate), who the regional leaders were (Herod, Phillip, and Lysanias), and who the high priest were (Annas and Caiaphas), when John the Baptist began his ministry. Surely, Luke was being intentional in giving these details. What do these details teach us? I would like to suggest three things:  

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings

Anticipation. Advent is the season of anticipation and today we celebrate one of the greatest fests of anticipation. In anticipation of her role as Jesus' mother, we believe that God preserved Mary from Original sin and safeguarded her from personal sin. This is a feast that I find myself thinking about frequently, not just because our parish is Immaculate Conception, but it is a belief that raises a lot of questions from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Here are two of my musings.

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

Lots of non-Christians have wanted to claim that Christians are dualistic: that is, that they separate the body and the mind.  They claim we see bodies as evil, that we don't like sex, or eating, or anything else that is bodily.  Instead, we promote fasting and abstinence and giving up things as a way of trying to make our bodies insignificant.  

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Today's gospel is one that many of us are familiar with - a house built on sand will crumble and fall, but a house built on a strong foundation of rock will be able to withstand the storms of this world.

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

“It’s still dark out, Mama,” my three-year old exclaims, as we stumble down our steps and into our car, ready to start a new workday. I will take her to her preschool and then make the trek to my office. “Yes, it is still dark,” I affirm. And, while her three-year-old mind might not yet look ahead to the end of the day, I do - and I know that when I pick her up from preschool and get dinner started for the family, it will again be quite dark. Our going and our coming home are bookended by nighttime moon and stars; for these next couple months, days will be shorter and colder.

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

It’s hard not to feel as though Jesus is talking to us in verses 23 and 24 in today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel. Like the disciples, we have seen and we have heard. No, we haven’t actually walked with Jesus, or sat at his feet to hear his teachings, or witnessed his passion. But, thanks to this Gospel and others and the writings of Paul and others, we see him. We hear him.

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Scripture Readings

My maternal grandmother lived to the age of 103. She was the daughter of German immigrants and grew up on a farm in St. Henry, Ohio in the early years of the 20th century During the last couple of years of her life, despite many days of confusion and disorientation, she continued to pray the rosary each day and took Communion as often as possible. One of the things I remember is that no matter whether she was attending Mass or receiving Communion from her bed, she always said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, only say the word and I shall be healed.” Even through all those years before the Liturgy was changed, she continued to say these words. She was not protesting or ignoring the changes in the Mass, it was just that she was used to saying this and meant it from the depths of her heart. So it is not surprising that today’s Gospel passage always reminds me of her. My Grandmother had her moments of being “frisky” and had no trouble sticking up for herself, but when it came to prayers and Mass and her devotions, she was completely serious. When it came to faith and her spiritual life, she knew who she was in the sight of God. She was a perfect example of living in humility.

First Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

 A friend of mine was telling me her experience at the stores on Black Friday. A mother was standing at the checkout line. Her two little children were giving her a harrowing time. My friend, who was also in line, decided to help her out. She pointed towards the security camera and said to the kids, “Santa is watching you from there!” The kids’ eyes grew big and they stopped dead! The mother had no further trouble with them.

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

A while ago I found a great reflection from Bishop Robert Barron on the Seven Deadly Sins.  I know that is a cheery start to this reflection stay with me.  I want to draw our attention to sloth in particular.  He mentioned that people can run around, busy with all sorts of things, but still be slothful.  He described that as being spiritually slothful.  He warned that being lethargic about our faith can be slothfulness.

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Scripture Readings

After two thousand years of Christian history, it is sometimes easy to forget what happened in the early years of Christianity.  And it is easy to overlook the importance of people in previous times.  Our lives as Christians are possible because of the witness of holy women and men throughout the ages who handed down the gospel of Jesus Christ to us.  The scripture readings for today remind us of the importance of apostles and missionaries and their role in turning people’s attention to Christ. 

Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As we come to the end of the liturgical year before the beginning of Advent, we continue to have readings from the book of Revelation as well as hear of the second coming of Christ in today’s gospel from Luke. Perhaps to the disappointment of some, the book of Revelation is not a prediction of when or even how the end of the world will come.  It was written to bring hope to the persecuted Christians through proclaiming God’s justice and ultimate victory over evil in history.  Scripture scholars tell us that the symbolic or “coded” language was used by the author of Revelation to criticize the Roman emperor and empire in a way that would not necessarily put his readers at risk of persecution or even death at that time. 

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As the liturgical year comes to a close our readings continue the theme of the end times.  It amazes me sometimes how many people think the literal end of the world is near. This morning I was talking with this Catholic family who described how now was the end times, because of the writings of some priest from 40 years ago. In contrast I stood with a patient as the doctor told them there was nothing more they do to improve the persons health.  In one case the family was afraid of the predicted doom, in the other a patient offered courageous acceptance of the real outcome of their condition. 

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We’re living in what some have called the “Information Age.” We have access to more information than ever before in the history of humanity. We can easily access most of that information with a few key pad strokes or spoken requests to our digital assistants (Siri or otherwise named). As a people, we like to know, we like to predict, we want to be able to plan for and have control over our lives and others’ lives, even if for the best. It seems to be part of our human nature. And God often doesn’t cooperate with our desires to know all, predict, and control.

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As I read the readings for today, I was particularly struck by the verse she “offered her whole livelihood.”  The word “livelihood” is often understood to mean what a person does (his or her job) and their material possessions. I believe that Jesus is speaking much more broadly when He refers to the widow in the reading.  Since God is love, and Jesus is God taking on flesh, then Jesus is love incarnate.  If we are disciples, we are called to imitate Jesus in all that we do. But He calls us to more than doing a job or the daily tasks of life- we are called to do all things with great love.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Scripture Readings

With a contentious mid-term elections barely over,  I am not sure about our appetite for the Feast of Christ the King. Often, we completely de-politicize the gospel. However, think about it. Jesus was brought before the political establishment of the time, by the religious establishment of the time, to be judged, condemned, and finally crucified. Jesus’ condemnation and death as much a political event as it was a religious event. On the other hand, perhaps the feast is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the political contentions. The Feast of Christ the King tells us that the cross was hardly was the end of the story. The feast of Christ the Kings celebrates the reality that the cross became Jesus’ throne, that strength lies in humility, and that power lies in love. 

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

Scripture readings

Today’s gospel passage is a good one.  Jesus deftly outmaneuvers the wily Sadducees, juking at the last second to deliver a slam dunk answer.  Jesus’ answer was so good that “they no longer dared to ask him anything”… wait, what? 

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The words from today’s first reading (Revelation 10:8-11) are a bit of a puzzle: how is it that God’s words can taste sweet but yet make John’s stomach sour?  It is perplexing, too, to turn from that reading to the Psalm (119), which proclaims that God’s promises are sweet to the taste!  Surely, if God’s promises and God’s words are sweet, won’t the effect be sweet as well?  

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Scripture Readings

“Do not weep…the root of David has triumphed…” In Christ we have so many reasons to rejoice.  We are in communion with people from every tribe, tongue, people, nation, and age.  We are connected around the world and across time to those whom we love, and who love us.  Jesus has made us into a righteous kingdom of peace and love.  Rejoice indeed! In the apocalyptic scene of the first reading, Heaven and Earth are both amazed at what God has accomplished in Christ.  His love saves us, transforms us, and heals us.  In a world broken by sinful greed and selfishness, Love changes us into a beloved family, a society of abundant peace and justice.  It is happening now, in each of us and all around us.  Rejoice!  God is working in us to feed the poor, to welcome the stranger, to heal the sick, to forgive injuries, to visit those imprisoned in physical jails and the chains of addiction.  God is setting this world right, and Love reigns, despite all appearances.

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings

As the liturgical year comes to a literal end, the readings push us toward an eschatological view of the world. This is important, not that the end of the World is imminent, yet the end of days, especially for us personally.  It is the circle of life. The first reading describes John’s vision of heaven.  The imagery of this vision describes the scene in a trumpet like voice.  The picture portrayed is one where an angel takes the visionary through a large door revealing a stunning scene with it heavenly court and all its attendants.

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There is so much to love about the story from Luke about Zacchaeus.