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"Normal Versus Perfect"

Today's Mass Readings

At the end of the book of Joshua (see reflection for August 18), the people had made a firm commitment and declared, “We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice” (Joshua 24:24). But as the first tells us, the “abandoned” the Lord to serve Baal and Ashtaroth, the fertility god and goddess in the Canaanite religion. Just as the Lord had promised, infidelity would lead to desolation and defeat.

"Normal Versus Perfect"

Sunday Mass Readings

Scripture and tradition hold those people in high regard who remain steadfast to the divine law even if they were in disobedience to civil authority. In today’s first reading, we hear the persecution of Jeremiah at the hands of King Zedekiah. Jeremiah’s prophecies were directed against the wealthy and ruling elite of the Kingdom of Judah. Corruption, exploitation of the poor, infidelity to the Covenant was rampant at this time. Jeremiah foretold the future destruction of and subjugation of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. For this he was accused of treason. The point for us today, though, is that, even when Jeremiah was thrown into the pit, even while he was being sucked into the quicksand, he stood by the prophecy God has commanded him to proclaim. Such fidelity is extolled in the Scriptures.

"As for Me and My Household, We will Serve the Lord"

Today's Mass readings

In continuation of Joshua’s impassioned speech in front of the people of Israel (yesterday’s reading), in today’s reading, Joshua both challenges the people to a radical commitment to the Lord and makes his own choice in this regard. In the now famous declaration, he confessed, “As for my and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

"From the Beginning it Was Not So"

Today's Mass Readings

From totally different perspectives, both the readings today call for fidelity. In the first reading the context is the entry of the Israelites into the Promised Land in the second reading the context is marriage. In other words, whether it is our relationship with God or with people we love – they must be characterized by fidelity.

Faith is the Evidence of Things Not Seen"

Today's Mass Readings

Living by the word of God is, perhaps, the most challenging task before a Christian. I make this observation not necessarily because the demands that it makes are challenging, but because God demands action from us even before we can be sure of the results. The letter to the Hebrews says that, “faith is the realization of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Living by the word of God is challenging because it demands that we do what is required of us from God and leave the consequences to God in faith.

Blessed are Your Who Believed that Everything the Lord Promised will be Fulfilled"

Today's Mass Readings

Today is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. The assumption is gift of God to Mary for her faith, her belief, her fidelity. The angel had told her at the annunciation that nothing is impossible with God. Mary believed in the God of the impossible. And so when the impossible happened, i.e., when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Mary had to be part of it. Mary who was associated with Jesus from the womb to the tomb, is allowed by God to take part even in his resurrection and ascension, for she believed all that the Lord promised her would be fulfilled. The promise made to her was fulfilled in the most extraordinary of ways, but blessed is she for she believed.

"Be Brave and Steadfast

Today's Mass Readings

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, a highly venerated priest and martyr of the Catholic church. He was arrested with several of his Fransciscan brothers on 19 September 1939 following the Nazi invasion of Poland. On 28 May 1941 he was transferred to Auschwitz and branded as prisoner 16670. In July 1941 there was an escape from the camp. Camp protocol, designed to make the prisoners guard each other, required that ten men be slaughtered in retribution for each escaped prisoner. Francis Gajowniczek, a married man with young children was chosen to die for the escape. Maximilian volunteered to take his place, and died as he had always wished - in service.

"Circumcise Your Hearts, Therefore"

Today's Mass Readings

We continue our reflection from the book of Deuteronomy. Today’s reading provides the disposition that God expected his people to have, the motivation for this particular disposition and a clue to staying firm in that disposition. Let us reflect on each of these three aspects.

The Faithful and Prudent Steward"


Sunday Mass Readings


Through the parable of the faithful and prudent steward, Jesus tells his followers that they must live prudent lives. Along with fortitude, justice and temperance, prudence is one of the cardinal virtues.

To Love God with All Our Heart, Soul and Strength"

Today's Mass Readings

In the last month or so, we have reflected on the origin and history of the people of Israel beginning with Abraham in the book of Genesis to the development of organized religion in the book Leviticus and Numbers. Today we reach the last book in this five book series – the book of Deuteronomy. The five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) together is called the “Pentateuch.” The book of Deuteronomy (meaning “second law”) is different from the other four books and contains important lessons for us.

"Whoever Loves His Life Loses it"

Today's Mass Readings

Today is the feast of St. Lawrence. He was one of the deacons and martyrs of the Roman Church of the third century. He was a victim of the persecution of Valerian in 258. Legend has it that he was burnt on the stakes. Immaterial of the manner of death, his martyrdom can be authenticated rather precisely.

One of the beliefs in the early Christian Church revolved around the “imitation of Christ.” Christians believed in the literal imitation of Christ. In other words, to die like Christ was the greatest privilege that they could ever have.

"Show Forth My Sanctity"

Today's Mass Readings

“Because you were not faithful to me
in showing forth my sanctity before the children of Israel,
you shall not lead this community into the land I will give them.”These were God’s words not to the stiff-necked people of Israel, but, to Moses and Aaron. After all these years of Moses’ leadership and fidelity, Moses is barred by God to lead the people into the Promised Land. And this because, in skepticism, Moses struck the rock twice instead of once to provide water to a protesting people. God’s complaint against Moses and Aaron is more specific than mere infidelity. God complaint was that the failed in “showing forth my (His) sanctity before the children of Israel.”



Today's Mass Readings

In religious studies, there is a concept called the “personification” of God. It can either mean that, the divine, imagined merely as a “supreme power,” is given human (personal) qualities, or in the biblical context, God, who is conceived of as interacting with his people in the same way that human being interact with each other. Thus God is shown as getting angry or being jealous or using human language and expressions to communicate. Thus, in today’s first reading, in utter frustration at the faithless of the Israelites, God makes the following declaration:
Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.
Forty days you spent in scouting the land;
forty years shall you suffer for your crimes:
one year for each day.
Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.
I, the LORD, have sworn to do this
to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me:
here in the desert they shall die to the last man.” (Numbers 14:34-35).
In fact, none of the entire original people who departed from Egypt actually entered the promised land expect people like Joshua whose family remained faithful to God. Even Moses himself was barred by God from entering the promised land because he struck the rock twice at Merribah when God has asked him to strike it once. In these and other instances, (destruction of the world through the great flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God is portrayed as a human person).

"O, You of Little Faith"

Today's Mass Readings

It is not uncommon for us and for those around us to sometimes feel insecure. Sometimes we feel insecure at other people’s talents, or that someone else will assume the role we play, or simply because we do assess our own capabilities positively. Is insecurity only a psychological abnormality or is it also a spiritual problem?

"This is my Beloved Son"


Today's Mass Readings


Today is the feast of the transfiguration of Jesus. While this event parallels the baptism of Jesus in some ways, its significance is unique for other reasons. Before we proceed toward a deeper reflection on the transfiguration, we might was to remind ourselves that Pope John Paul II included the transfiguration of Jesus in the luminous mysteries of the rosary.

Please see the homily for August 5, 2007 under "Sunday Homilies" for today's reflection.
Do not Deal Unfairly, But Stand in Fear of Your God
Today's Mass Readings

I am sure most of us remember the turn of the century. The then Pope, John Paul II had declared the year 2000 as a Jubilee Year. The concept of the Jubilee Year is taken from today’s first reading from the book of Leviticus. The purpose of the Jubilee Year is most relevant today at a time when world poverty is increasing, when the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing and when the world is paying the cost of years of environmental irresponsibility. Surprisingly, the ancient Israelite society provided a just way to addresses the needs of the poor, the landless, the animals and nature.

"We are One Body, the Body of Christ"

Today's Mass Readings

Today’s reading from the book of Leviticus (The priest of the Israelites came from the tribe of Levi of which Aaron was one, thus, the name of the book, Leviticus), takes us further into the religious life of the Israelites. Unlike the society of our times, the Israelite society revolved around the Temple and certain feasts. A summary of the feasts is given in today's first reading. The Passover was the most important of feasts. Connected the Passover was the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (related with the Passover, when the Israelites in slavery eat unleavened bread), the Feast of the First Fruits (harvest festival at the beginning of harvest where the first of the seasons fruits are offered to the Lord), the Day of the Atonement or Yom Kipur (where the entire nation repented for their sins) and the Feast of the Booths/Tabernacles (celebrated in remembrance of the forefathers who dwelt in booth in the wilderness and in thanksgiving for the permanent abode given in the Promised Land).

"How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place, O Lord, Mighty God!"

Today's Mass Readings

The “Ark of the Covenant” is an important theme in both the Old Testament and in New Testament and later Christian theology. Today’s first reading describes the events that leads to the establishment of the Ark of the Covenant as the sign of the real presence of God among his chosen people. Even though God in the Old Testament is the totally other, the totally transcendent, the one who could not be named, paradoxically, the Lord dwells among his people. It was not just an abstract spiritual presence, but rather a real concrete presence. The two tablets of the Ten Commandments would be placed in the ark and it would become for the people a sign of the real presence of God in their midst.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Treasure Buried in a Field "

Today's Mass Readings

Most of Chapter 13 of the gospel of Matthew is a collection of parables of the Kingdom of God – the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the yeast, and today Jesus preaches the parable of the treasure. This parable is related to another saying in the sixth chapter of Matthew, where Jesus says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything will be yours as well” (Matt 6:33). Let us explore both these messages of Jesus.