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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.

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

Scripture Readings

I remember being in grade school, most likely as part of my preparation for confirmation in eighth grade, and learning about how to establish a prayer space within my home.  We were encouraged to envision constructing an altar and what might be necessary for such a space to create a prayerful atmosphere – pictures, candles, a Bible, some altar cloth… you get the point.  These memories came back to me as I reflected upon today’s scripture readings but on a bit of a broader scale.

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Although my mom was Jewish for much of my life I was raised Catholic.  My parents did the best they could.  We went to Church every week and attended CCD faithfully all the way through twelfth grade.  Some of this time my heart was really on fire for my faith.  I was an altar server all through high school and I considered priesthood during this time.  But for a while after high school I withdrew from my faith in part because I surrounded myself with people who did not take the faith seriously.  In the summer between second and third years of college I spent a great deal of time with a group of missionaries who taught me the profound importance of having a relationship with Christ.  Although they were not Catholic and did not believe Catholics were Christians, they helped me reclaim my Catholic faith.

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today, I want to begin by paying attention to how the text before us from the Book of Matthew appears in the Lectionary from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. It opens with a single verse wherein Jesus addresses his disciples. Below that verse is a blank line followed by verse 12. Below that is another blank line followed by verses 13 and 14. Thus, visually speaking, we have three distinct words from Jesus. Three instructions. Let’s take each in turn.

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I think a large part of our human condition includes our inability to see our own faults and a quick readiness to judge and condemn others. Jesus calls us to not judge others, and I believe that the best way for us to achieve this approach of compassion is to realize first of all that we are also in need of healing and mercy. When we accept our sinfulness, then we acknowledge we are connected to all people. Being connected by our brokenness allows us to see that we are all in need of God’s mercy.  When we understand our need for mercy and not being judged, this softens our hearts so we look at others with less judgment and greater love.

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Scripture Readings

It is not always that the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist falls on a Sunday. This year it so happens that it does. Generally, Sunday readings always take precedence over most feast day readings. However, John the Baptist is such an important figure in the Bible that the church sets aside the reading of the 12th Sunday of Ordinary time to focus on him. Since the Church intentionally gives John the Baptist this place of honor, let us reflect on his life and message. 

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s first reading is an eventful episode in Hebrew history and the Gospel is the rich center of the Sermon on the Mount.  Both of these were tempting, albeit overwhelming.  In the end, it was the Psalm that caught my eye.

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

One of the things I like to show students in my ethics courses is optical illusions: the picture of the bunny (or is it a duck?); the old woman (or is she young?). There are many others. Part of the reason I show my students these optical illusions is to press home the point that seeing - whether with biological eyes, or when looking at the moral problems they are presented with on a daily basis - isn't a simple matter. HOW you see is crucial to your sense of right and wrong and to the decisions you decide to make.