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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?

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.