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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.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Mustard Seed"

Today's Mass Readings

How is religion different from faith and spirituality? Faith is the human belief in God, spirituality is the private expression of it and religion is the organized expression of human faith in God. Today’s readings give us an indication of the beginnings of the first organization of Israel’s faith in God.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Mustard Seed"

Today's Mass Readings

We can approach today’s readings from multiple perspectives – from that of Moses, from that of the people, from that of Aaron, and from the perspective of the Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed. Let us lay each of these out in brief.

"Our Father"

Today's Mass Readings

Today’s gospel reading provides us the only prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. Together with the first reading in which Abraham intercedes with God for forgiveness for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, these two readings provide us with important points for our own prayer life.

“This is the Blood of the Covenant
the LORD has Made with You"

Today's Mass Readings

Today’s first reading describes the most central and defining event of the entire Old Testament – God’s Covenant with the people of Israel. Thus far, God had made covenants only with individuals – with Noah, Abraham, Jacob. But now, he has made a Covenant with an entire people.

"Lord, You have the Words of Everlasting Life"

Today's Mass Readings

Indeed, the Old Testament readings of this week have been the most important of the entire weeks in the liturgical year. Today, we have another significant episode of our salvation history being revealed – the Ten Commandments. These commandment form the core of the Covenant that God made with the people of Israel (tomorrow’s reading).

"Blessed is Your Holy and Glorious Name, O Lord God!"

Today's Mass Readings

As human beings, how much can we know God? Opinions differ on this matter. Some would claim that God is so beyond human categories that any knowledge about is both insufficient and impossible. As Christians we believe that Jesus was the Son of God and in his incarnation we do know some things about God for certain. Thomas Aquinas suggested that one can know but not in His totality of being. He also said that what we do know about God is by analogy i.e., God is not really father in the same way that we have human fathers. Rather, God is ‘like’ a father. In any case, the human capacity for the knowledge of God is the main theme for today’s reflections.

"We Hold this Treasure in Earthen Vessels"

Today's Mass Readings Today is the feast of the apostle James. James was the brother of John (possibly the Evangelist). He is known as James the Great to distinguish him from James the Less, or James the brother of the Lord, who became a pillar of the Jerusalem community, and is thought to have been the first bishop of Jerusalem (Galatians 1, 19 and 2, 9). With Peter and John, James was clearly one of Jesus' closest friends during his ministry. James was martyred at the hands of Herod Agrippa I about 41-44 A.D.

"Whoever Does the Will of My Heavenly Father is My Brother, and Sister, and Mother.”

Today's Mass Readings

The passage from the book of Exodus that we have as our first reading is one not only one of the most decisive moments in Israel’s struggle for freedom, it is also a passage that has implications for Christian living. On the one hand, this passage describes the final destruction of the Egyptian military power. On the other hand, this passage is read at every Easter vigil because of the waters of the Red Sea is a symbol of the “new life” that every Christian every experiences at Baptism.

"Something Greater than Solomon is Here"

Today's Mass Readings

The first reading from Exodus today sets up one of the most famous miracles of the Old Testament, namely, the parting of the Red Sea. For years the Israelite people had lived among the Egyptians, only to be enslaved by the Pharaoh because of his jealousy for their prosperity. During this time, many of the Israelites adopted practices of the Egyptians, such as worship of their gods rather than of their own God. Although they were enslaved, the Israelites were accustomed to that way of life. So it’s no wonder that the Israelites complain against Moses in today’s reading. They emphasize that they were perfectly willing to stay and serve the Egyptians, especially if the alternative is being killed by the Pharaoh’s army in the desert to which they had escaped. We see here the rather unsure faith of a people that have been enslaved for generations. Moses, must lead these people into developing a faith that is as sure as his own. The first reading ends by the Lord asserting that the Egyptians will know he is God by the miracle that is about to happen. God will now carry out what he had promised to Moses at the burning bush.

"He Who Does Justice Will Live in the Presence of the Lord"

Sunday Mass Readings

God promise to Abraham was fulfilled because of his generosity toward the strangers. Even though God had made the promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, this promise remained unfulfilled for many years. In frustration, Abraham even had a son through his salve woman, Hagar. But now time has come for that promise to be fulfilled. And strangely enough, God came in the form of a stranger to announce the good news. This incident makes me ask a question. What would have happened if Abraham did not receive the strangers of was inhospitable toward them? I think he would have missed God’s blessing.

“This Day Shall be a Memorial Feast for You"

Today's Mass Readings

Today's first reading is perhaps the most important Old Testament scripture from the perpsective of the life of the Church and its Eucharistc life. This is so because today's reading discribes the very first Passover. Because of the passover lamb, the people of Israel woud be spared, whereas, the first born of all Egyptians, including that of Pharoah, would face death.


Today's Mass Readings

What is God’s name? Abraham did not ask that question; Isaac did not ask that question and Jacob did not ask that question. Moses dared to ask that question, though not for his own sake but only to get the mission entrusted to him some credibility. God’s answer to him was evasive, “I am who I am.”

The inability to name God should be interpreted as God’s arrogance, but rather, God’s awesomeness. Human beings are creatures; God is Creator. There is a huge difference between the two. The Israelites realized that. They called God “Yahweh,” originally YHWH (the absence of any vowels symbolize the fact that God’s name is unpronounceable. Yahweh is a word play on the Hebrew equivalent of “I am who I am.” Translated into English it could mean “to be” or “he causes to be, ” in other words, eternal.

“The Lord is Kind and Merciful"

Today's Mass Readings

Of all ways in which God reveals his self in the Old Testament, the burning bush is perhaps the most spectacular and yet the most personal. As we read this reading, it is easy to get carried away with the burning bush, or God’s determination to save the people. However, equally significant is God’s self-revelation. God is Holy! Thus Moses is asked to take off his sandals. The cry of his people has become unbearable to God. Thus, as the Psalmist says in the Psalm response, “The Lord is kind and merciful.”

“Turn to the Lord in Your Need, and You Will Live"

Today's Mass Readings

The people of Israel finally end up becoming slaves to the Egyptians. They were slaves for almost four hundred years. But certain events must occur before they can be redeemed. Once again, as in the past, if God wanted God could free them with merely his words. But we must remember that God wants to build a Covenantal relationship with Israel. Thus God takes the first step (Moses is called into Midian). He then waits for human beings to make a free choice, so that God can redeem them.

“Our Help is in the Name of the Lord"

Today's Mass Readings

We begin our reflection in the second book of the Bible, the book of Exodus. Exodus literally means “departure.” Obviously, we are referring to the departure of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. However, the events preceding the “exodus” are the formative years of a people who develop a sense of identity, develop a relationship with God, come to know God as their redeemer, and learn to trust God in the same way that their fathers in faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had done.