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Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today's readings reminded me of a book I read several years ago. It was written by author and spiritual director William Barry, SJ and is entitled A Friendship like No Other.  The title really says it all, bu how comfortable do we feel approaching Jesus in friendship. Do we see Jesus as our friend? 

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles - Mass during the Day

Scripture Readings

The Church issues a challenge to each of us today in her choice of readings. Certainly, on this day that we remember Peter and Paul we could hear numerous readings. Paul easily has more books attributed to him than any other New Testament author. Peter on the other hand is one of the most mentioned figures in the New Testament after Jesus. With all that we have at our disposable we should be attentive to what the Church offers.

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 

Scripture Readings

The verse that struck me as I was reading today's first passage (Ezekiel 34:11-16) is this one: "the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly."  I wondered what that was about, since I had always thought that shepherds wanted strong, sleek (aka healthy) sheep.  I understood why God would want to seek out lost sheep, but why would God want to destroy any sheep, especially the most healthy?  

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s gospel reading from Matthew is one of those that makes us pause and reexamine our faith. Many people undoubtedly think that they are doing the will of God; many people believe themselves genuine in their prayer. But are we really doing God’s will? And are we really praying in earnest? Jesus calls us, as his disciples, both to listen to his words and to act on them. If we can do this then we are like a man who built his house on rock – a solid foundation. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Just look at our first reading. Here is the man who becomes known as Abraham, a patriarch, honored as a great father in our tradition. Our readings this week from Genesis have showed him to be a man of solid faith, a man who worships well, a man who is generous, a man who listens to the word of God and acts on it. How, then, can we explain the drama in our first reading today?

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The Lord remembers his covenant forever . . . What a great promise and surety we have in the psalm refrain today! God is indeed a faithful, covenant-keeping God; we can have absolute trust and confidence in God. The covenant with Abram (Abraham) is one of five major covenants (several others are recorded in scripture, too) enacted by God with God’s people (Covenant with Noah, Covenant with Abram, Covenant with Moses, Covenant with David, and the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.) In today’s first reading, God enters into covenant with Abram (and hence with us), whom God later renames Abraham when he establishes the Covenant of Circumcision with him. God promises Abram that he and his wife Sarai will not only bear children, but that Abram will become the father of many nations. Our scripture tells us, “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness” (another translation says, “and he credited it to him as righteousness”). God accepted Abram, not because he lived a perfect life or that his works were deemed righteous, but because of his responsiveness to God’s promises. This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23), underscoring the fact that our faith is salvific. Abram believed in God’s faithfulness, and so he placed his trusting faith in God. Righteousness is all about “right relationships,” and this encounter between God and Abram illustrates God’s desire for us in our relationship with God. We come to God in faith trusting in God’s faithfulness to receive us, to save us, and to bless us.

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As I reflect on the texts before us today, I am struck by the simple yet powerful wisdom God offers us for living well with one another. If only we all could follow that wisdom. Our world would be utterly transformed.

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist - Mass during the Day

Scripture Readings

Today is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist.  John certainly plays an important part in announcing Jesus’ coming, but the readings today are reminders that God calls each of us by name and sends us out to be His Hands and Feet for the world around us.

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

At the beginning of today’s gospel Jesus offers us this insight, “No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.”  When I read these words I almost instinctively find myself perched atop my high horse criticizing those that I consider wealthy.  From my ‘elevated’ perspective I’m bewildered by how they convince themselves that their Christianity and wealth can somehow coexist.  I shake my head wondering if they have ever even read this passage or if they just skip over it.  It was at about this point that God decided to throw me off my proverbial high horse.  Here is what knocked me on my hind end.

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

Scripture Readings

One of my favorite spiritual authors these days is Fr. James Martin. In one of his books, he asks readers "to imagine being asked to serve under the banner, or 'standard' of one of two leaders - Christ the King or Satan.  If one does choose to serve Christ, it must necessarily be by imitating the life of Jesus, choosing 'poverty as opposed to riches....''  

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Sometimes I wonder, why do we follow up our petitions with “Lord, hear our prayer?”  Isn’t it kind of like asking for something, and following it up with, ‘are you listening God?’  Here on Earth it can feel like God is distant, far away, beyond hearing. Heaven seems a long way off when tornados and racists are tearing through town.  Some may feel like they need to do something special to catch God’s attention. Maybe it’s a rosary, litany, novena, or another long prayer of ‘many words.’  Maybe it’s about doing extraordinary good works. Maybe we feel a need to be loud in our prayers and actions. In our unsaid feeling of God’s distance, we may inadvertently be questioning God’s goodness.

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we want to give to God – to give God our devotion, our obedience, our worship, our adoration, our time, our talents, our charisms, our service . . . the list goes on. Giving to God becomes part of our growth in holiness, indeed in developing our relationship with God. In today’s Gospel text, we hear Jesus telling us how not to give to God. He describes specific behaviors, but he cuts to the heart of our motivation and orientation. Our Lord asks, effectively, what is the orientation of your being when you perform righteous deeds, when you pray, when you fast, when you give alms? Are you oriented more toward self or toward God? In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders would actually make a public spectacle of themselves. It was common for them to make a huge show of their religious practices, effectively demonstrating to others in the public square their extreme piety and apparent devotion to God. The louder the display, the more fervent the devotion (or so it seemed). We don’t typically stand on street corners shouting our prayers, and we probably don’t make ourselves look as haggard as possible while we are fasting in order to draw attention to ourselves, but I wonder if there are times when you and I are motivated by a desire to be noticed for our religiosity, generosity, or works of service. I think our Gospel text invites some introspection and examination of conscience today as we reflect on our personal motives around how we worship and serve God.

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Reading

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...” (Matthew 5:44).  How many times we’ve likely heard or read this challenge from Jesus in the gospels. Perhaps there’s the temptation to skim over it or think “I don’t really have enemies.” I invite you to take the time to reflect more deeply along with me on today’s readings. Especially this challenging gospel that ends with the charge to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” A tall order indeed.

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Living a genuine Christian life, really taking the Gospel to heart, should be like living in a foreign land; it is difficult. It is a mix of trying to live the Gospel and trying to fit in. It's navigating the back and forth, the push and pull—the ongoing tension—of living with contradictions that is the challenge of discipleship.

Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

What drives us?  Do we want to be known for our great contributions?  Do we wish to acquire wealth and goods?  Does it bring us satisfaction to see people following our lead?  Maybe, we are driven by a competitive desire to be or do better than others.  Are we driven by the desire for pleasure and good feelings?  Maybe I nailed your answer and maybe I didn’t.  I asked the questions though because of the driving force that Paul offers us in the first reading.  He writes, “The love of Christ impels us.”  Can we reconcile these words to our lives?

Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Historically, people have often thought that having a disability or an illness meant that you were a sinner, or that some sort of evil had touched you. So, in some ages, the hearing loss I have would have been a sign that both my parents and I were sinful people – they, because they had a disabled child, and me because I couldn’t hear or speak quite normally. Even in today’s world, I think that we sometimes have that kind of attitude. For example, obesity is often seen evidence that a person lacks personal strength to eat the right kinds of foods, perceived as their personal shortcoming. This is the case even though we know there are some other causes for obesity and weight gain, including hormonal imbalances and side effects of certain medications. But beyond that, I know that I sometimes allow my disabilities to be a reason why I “can’t” do something. Disability is limiting and it can be hard to get the nerve (or energy) to do something (for me, that would be public speaking or going to a concert with my husband) because it’s easier not to fight to hear or move or see.

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

Today’s gospel passage (Matthew 5: 20-26) is pretty challenging as we read Jesus’ teachings to his disciples about anger.  They know the command/law “you shall not kill” and now Jesus adds to that, “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment….” He goes deeper into the heart where anger lies.  Jesus wants more from his disciples than simply obeying laws and commands.  He is challenging us to transform our hearts, our very lives.

Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Confidence. That’s a difficult thing to have sometimes. We live in uncertain times. We often lack consumer confidence, economic confidence, political confidence, self-confidence, confidence in relationships . . . Confidence. Do you feel confident in your relationship with God? Or do you worry sometimes that despite your best efforts you may not measure up and be found lacking? Are you confident of God’s love for you?

Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

Scripture Readings

“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”

Christians have done it again and again. Whether we are talking about hermits who retreated to the desert and later set up monastic communities devoted to praying the Psalms every day or we are talking about 16th-century reformers who rebelled against the practice of profiteering from the sale of indulgences or we are talking about the Jesus Movement in the 1960s that sought to reignite within white Evangelicalism a true devotion to Jesus, Christians return again and again to scripture to figure out how to live out an authentic faith in the present. Or, to put it another way, Christians are challenged to ask in each present within which they find themselves—what does it mean to be called . . . Christian. That is, what does it mean to be called. And what does it mean to be Christian.

Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Scripture Readings

Our parish is currently celebrating Mary (Discipleship- Magnifying the Lord). For many Catholics, Mary holds a very special place in their faith experience, while others struggle to understand exactly how Mary can enrich their faith in Jesus.  Our small discipleship group at the parish is currently reading “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary” by Brant Pitre.  In this book, the author looks at the Old Testament to shed light on the New Testament.  Through the exploration of scripture and seeing patterns (or types), Mary’s role as mother and the “new Eve” may offer some insights in ways that we can find inspiration from Mary and her life.

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Scripture Readings

There is a priest in Erie, Pennsylvania named Fr. Larry Richards that describes himself as “loud, aggressive, and arrogant.”  It’s a flattering way to start a resume, I’m sure.  I’ve heard several of his talks and he can certainly be loud, but I also think he is good.  But why am I starting with this lakeside priest?  Because, in a conversation with some High School retreatants he captures the same thing that John presents us today in his gospel, and that Catechism of the Catholic Church offers us in paragraph 108.  They all capture this idea, Jesus Christ is both transcendent and immanent.  He is so near and yet bigger than we can ever handle.