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Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I have a lot of nostalgia for an old Carmelite monastery where I used to go on retreat.  It was located in my favorite place in the world, in Colorado, and the retreats I made there were always rejuvenating.  I wish I could return, and go on retreat there again, especially in times when my spiritual life is in upheaval.  I feel sure if I could just go there, things would be better.

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Our first reading reminds me of a story my wife tells about a teenager she used to mentor.  ‘What was your moment of awakening, when you really decided to make different choices?’ my wife asked the girl.  She thought for a moment and responded ‘At some point, I realized it really was easier to do the right thing.’  Spinning a complex of lies and stories was too much to remember.  When we steal or cheat, the lack of trust in our relationships makes it harder to get the help that we truly need.  Using people to get what we want leaves us in situations where we are being used and lonely. But when we tell the truth, when we keep our promises, when we love and help others, the world becomes a beautiful place, and we are not alone anymore.

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It is interesting that in three readings before us today we are presented with three very different cities. One city looks to be bound for God’s harshest judgment. Another appears to be under imminent threat of attack. And the third is the very city of God. What might we learn as people of faith from these three cities? That is what I want to consider in this reflection.

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today's passage from chapter 10 of Matthew's Gospel (Mt 10:34-11:1) is one that can easily be misunderstood. In fact, it has been used to point out the contradictions and/or defects in the teachings of Jesus. The fact is that belief in Jesus causes divisions…even in the strongest of families and between the closest of friends. Following Christ requires every ounce of grace that God provides in order to stay the course.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was in a phone conversation with a couple last week. They believe that their home is possessed. At least one of the family members is convinced that a strange presence may be controlling this person. They gave me very vivid and strange imageries of things happening in the house. The terms they used most often was “darkness.” Knowing that they were not Catholic or that any of them were baptized, I invited them to meet with me so that I could know more about them before I went into their house to bless it. The family did not honor their appointment and I feel a little concerned. I made a phone call to find out, but they have not responded. It is not very rare for me receive requests for exorcism. Whenever I receive them, I am a little cautious but also bold. I am always remined of today’s gospel reading, where Jesus gave authority over unclean spirit to his apostles. Today’s gospel tells us that with faith in the authority that Christ gave them, “The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin

Scripture Readings

“Unclean!” We might associate this with the image of a leper traveling through a 1stcentury Jewish town or the dietary laws given through Moses. However, in today’s first reading we see Isaiah declaring his own lips and the lips of his people as unclean. What does this mean? I consulted a few resources. Came to no definite conclusion but thought that maybe I can offer just a few options. 

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings 

I know a lot of people these days who really don't like Christians; one study suggests that non-Christians associate Christians with being un-loving, intolerant, and uncivil.  These views are particularly cemented this year by the issues raised in this election year - about health care and contraception, immigration, and other issues associated with religious freedom.  So, how are we to respond, as lovers of Jesus Christ, who also seek to love our neighbors?

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The prophet Hosea paints a picture of God as a loving parent (Hosea 11:1-4, 8e-9), a father/mother who is heartbroken by their rebellious child who has turned away from them.In this Old Testament book, Israel is the rebellious child who has rejected God and whom God is compassionately calling back.

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

While little is known about Hosea, a good deal is known about Israel during the time in which he prophesied. It was a time that followed peaceful rule and preceded the fall of Israel to the Assyrians. It was a time in which kings were assassinated, corruption was rampant, economic disparities were great, the rich increased their abuses of the poor, and Israel’s relationships even with its allies were rocky. To make matters even worse, as the prophet tells us, the people of Israel had taken to creating and worshipping false gods. In all of this, the people of God are about as divided from God as they can be. Naming this, Hosea promises that God will remember their sins and will punish them. 

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Every relationship needs to be revitalized over the course of time. Even though my husband and I have been married over 34 years, we both need those “special times”- weekends away or date nights- that help rekindle the fire of our love. In today’s first reading we hear how God wants to “allure” Israel back into a loving relationship with Him. These words are not just for the people of Hosea’s time, but I believe are words for our ears as well.  God calls each of us to rekindle our love with Him, so we once again can know the LORD.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I have a few questions for you? Put your hands up if at some point of your life, you found faith hard? Put your hands up, if at some point you were tempted to give up faith? Put your hands up, if at some point you doubted if God existed? Put your hands up if at one time or another you had it out with God, because a very selfless and legitimate prayer was unanswered? Put your hands up if you at one or another you looked at God and said, “That’s not fair!” Would you agree with me, if I said, “Faith is hard?”  

In today’s gospel reading Jesus visits his home town. The passage ends with the statement, “He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mk 6:6). One way to reflect on this passage would be to look at everything that was wrong with the people of Jesus’ town and see what we can learn from it. The approach I am taking a just little broader. I am asking the question, “Why is faith hard?” 

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Do you ever ignore the Psalms? Maybe in Mass you use that time to whisper a pressing thought to your spouse. Maybe as you read the daily Mass readings you think, "So there is the Psalm and next is the Gospel." For the books musical quality we can ironically tune them out. At least I can.

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Many of the people in my family are, or have been, farmers.  Consequently I’ve heard many farming stories in my life.  At this point, I have no idea at all what happened to which of my family members, or indeed whether the stories are true at all.  But one of them is the story of a family who went to church one morning, and while they were at church, they heard rain, then hail.  The hail, of course, would ruin their crop.  Some people left the service to go attend to their crops, but this family did not.  In fact, this family observed Sabbath-keeping, and so did no work at all on Sundays.

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It seems to be a part of our fallen human condition that we do not bear criticism well. No one wants to be told that he is failing to live a good life. Perhaps even less so do we want to hear criticism of our nation. We don’t like people accusing the United States of injustice, selfishness, materialism, or neglect of the poor and the needy. We’d like to think that we are doing alright, and serve as a model to other nations because of all the good for which we stand. 

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

"Hate evil and love good." (Amos 5:15) Most everyone believes this conventional wisdom.  When we hear such words we often nod our heads in agreement.  We agree so instinctively to this that these words often wash over us like a swiftly flowing stream.  Yet, do the waters soak in below the surface?  If we all really lived our belief in living for good, would not our homes, workplaces and communities be more peaceful places.

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Scripture Readings

It’s so easy to think that Thomas was disappointing to Jesus as a disciple. He doubted. He wanted some proof that this figure before him was really the resurrected Christ. We can imagine . . . I should only speak for myself . . . I want to imagine that I would not have been like Thomas. I would have believed. I would not have needed to put my finger in Jesus’ side. Like I said, that’s what I want to believe about myself. Whether or not it would be true is another matter.

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The subtitle of today's Gospel reading is "Would-be Followers of Jesus".  I can identify with this almost provocative phrase. My journey of following Jesus has had its share interruptions. At times the interruptions have been momentary and other times…well…it's been more ongoing. Reflecting on this, I realize most of my trouble is rooted squarely in fear. I'm afraid of the loss of control, the surrender, the abandonment necessary to genuinely follow Jesus. I get in my own way and make this discipleship thing so much harder than it is meant to be.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Every time the first scripture reading for our liturgy it taken from the book of Wisdom, we want to sit back and let the words sink in. This is because Wisdom addresses the deepest longings of the human soul. Right at the outset, though, let me provide a caution. Today’s first reading is an excerpt from Wisdom Chapters 1 & 2. Out of the forty verses that make up these two chapters, only four verses are read today. I strongly recommend, then, that this week we take the time to reflect on Chapters 1 and 2 in their entirety. I am choosing to focus on three thoughts that are contained in our very short reading.  

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

When I was in high school we were given a classwork assignment to reflect on a passage of Scripture.  I had gone to Mass nearly every Sunday of my life but I suddenly drew a blank.  I had no idea what to make the subject of my reflection.  I’m not even sure I knew what was or wasn’t in the Bible.  I probably had a dozen Saints run through my head that are after the Biblical period.  Additionally, I had no idea where to find anything.  So I popped open the Bible, chose Luke (because why not), and searched the section headings until something caught my eye.  Like many teenage boys, my search needed to go no further than centurion (I figured I wouldn’t find Gandalf, ninja, or pirate no matter how hard I searched).  Anyway, I found myself reflecting on Luke’s version of today’s Gospel from Matthew, the Healing of the Centurion’s Servant.  Almost 14 years later and I still finding this story rich.

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Scripture Readings

My chains are gone I’ve been set free my God my Savior has rescued me.  And like a flood his mercy rains, unending love amazing grace.  These lyrics to a Chris Tomlin song ran through my head as I read the readings for today.  On more than one occasion I have been with families for extended periods while their loved ones have been shackled by their own illness from which there was no recovery.  One time in particular the situation was sad but both the patient and the family were aware and ready for what I like to call life after life.  When the patient died you could sense the relief.  Although I didn’t sing it out loud my heart sang this Chris Tomlin song.  The patient was free of the body in which she had been chained.