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"To Be For God or Against God"

Today's Mass Readings

Jesus’ tone in the gospel is rather serious. He gives his followers only two options: to be for God or against Him, to gather people for Him or to scatter His people. There is not middle path when it comes to our choices of God. Every day we face numerous choices, but seldom do we think that every choice we make reflects that we are either for or against God. Yet some among our tradition, like Thomas Aquinas, have argued precisely this.

Acts by Law or Acts of Love?"

Today's Mass Readings

Both the readings deal with the role of laws in spirituality. However, before we reflect on this theme it seems very interesting to draw a parallelism between the two readings. It might be interesting to note the Matthew was writing to a predominantly Jewish audience. Thus, he constantly strives to present Jesus as the new Moses, but only far more superior than Judaism’s greatest prophet; hence, the parallelism in today’s readings as well.

"To Forgive is Divine"

Today's Mass Readings

The Gospel reading for today is perfect for the season of Lent. In many ways it can be seen as a commentary on the line from the Lord’s prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel, Peter asks Jesus if we should forgive someone even if they have sinned against us seven times.

Athirst is my soul for the living God"
Today's Scripture Readings

Today’s first reading tells a dramatic story of a non-Israelite who receives healing from the Jewish prophet Elisha. This story seems improbable for several reasons, one of which is that everything happens upon the advice of a servant girl! Secondly, Namaan is not an Israelite and does not want to follow Elisha’s instruction. And yet, there is enough belief in this story from the people surrounding Namaan that he does get healed of his leprosy.

"Human Desires"

Today's Mass Readings

Desire is a neutral human quality. It is what one desires and how one chooses to fulfil these desires that make it either good or bad.

Today’s readings are a great commentary on human desire. The Israelites in today’s first reading were thirsty. They “desired” water. When they saw that there was no water they should have known that the same God who had miraculously rescued them from the mighty Egyptians could also provide them with water. Instead, they grumbled to such an extent that Moses was scared they would stone him.

"You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins."

Today's Mass Readings

It is during lent that we get to hear the prophecies of some of the minor prophets of the Old Testament. For example, we get to hear from the prophecies of prophet Micah in today’s first reading. He prophesied around the same time as Isaiah. But while Isaiah came from the upper echelons of society, Micah came from rural Judah. As a result, his message is specially connected to the land and the poor who work in it.

"The New Exodus"

Today's Mass Readings

In today’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus preaching an important but often overlooked aspect of salvation history in the form of a parable. He is basically telling certain Pharisees that God has been trying to reunite His scattered family by sending prophets, and now His Son, Jesus, God in the flesh. God’s people beat and killed the prophets, and now the Son of God will also be killed. Although it will be the Romans who kill Jesus, some of the religious leaders will consent to His death, and in fact seek it out.

"As You Sow, So Shall You Reap"

Today's Mass Readings

The United States, is in many ways a place of great excesses, especially when we compare ourselves to our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world. Today’s powerful gospel reading has Jesus telling a parable regarding a nameless rich man who lived at the cost of others’ lives, particularly the life of a poor and afflicted man named Lazarus. When it was too late – that is, when the rich man had died – he realized the error of his ways.

"Deliver us from Evil"

Today's Mass readings

The book of the prophet Jeremiah is a rather poignant piece of prophetic literature. On the one hand, Jeremiah was a courageous and credible prophet. On the other hand, he often felt that God was letting him down by letting his enemies have an upper hand. He struggled to understand why his enemies could not be simply destroyed by God so that God’s own message preached by Jeremiah could reform the corrupt monarchy of the time and thus escape the impending disaster at the hands of the Babylonians. We see both these sentiments in today’s first reading. While his enemies are plotting to destroy him, Jeremiah asks a very basic question: “Must good be repaid with evil?”

Christmas Weekday

Scripture Readings

Saint John’s letters and gospel are more philosophical than St. Paul’s letters and the other three gospels.  It’s helpful to keep this in mind diving into today’s Word.  From where we stand in 21st century western culture, it can be confusing when John’s letter simultaneously says anyone who acts with righteousness is begotten by God, AND that no one who sins has seen the Lord.  Aren’t we begotten by God in our Baptism?  And yet we all continue to sin.  What’s happening here?

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

A little more than a decade ago, I applied for a faculty position at the University of Dayton. At the time, I knew that the competition for it would be very stiff. Faculty jobs were then (and remain today) a “buyer’s market”—that is, there were far fewer available teaching positions at universities than there were highly qualified people to fill them. Amazingly, I managed to get an interview. I felt good about the interview but, of course, I had no idea who my competition was or how fabulous they might have been in their interviews. Waiting to hear whether I got the job was tough. It got a lot tougher as the weeks went by. I don’t remember anymore how many weeks it was exactly. What I do remember was that there were enough of them that I knew the job had been offered to someone else. I didn’t get it. That was really tough, because I really, really wanted that job.

Monday of the Third Week in Advent

Scripture Readings

One of the best things about the holidays is remembering what Christmas was like at home as a child. We were a large family and there was always great fun, big messes of paper and presents, going to Mass and visiting grandparents and a lot of good meals. Most of my memories are good ones but I also remember some very painful holidays. There was a close relative that always seemed to be in a crisis of his own making and his behavior inevitably impacted everyone. Year after year I watched my parents feeling afraid, sad and frustrated over the behavior of this beloved relative. As a child, I did not understand these things and I remember wishing he would be gone and not come back and hurt my parents and grandparents anymore. Now I realize how much they loved him. Now I can see that, despite the pain they endured, they never stopped trying and hoping and helping because that is what families do when they love someone.

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

This week, I spent quite a few hours in the confessional. I celebrated he Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students of St. Helen School on Tuesday. On Thursday, I was at the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students at Immaculate Conception School. On the same evening, we also the Tri-Parish reconciliation service. In numerous instances, the sense of comfort and relief in the faces of the penitents is something that only I get to see. One penitent put it this way: “I just want to be this (makes a gesture connecting her heart and God above), to be OK.” Tears rolling down her cheeks, she longed to have God back in her life again. She left the confessional in total relief and peace. It’s also called joy!

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Have you ever had a wonderful evening with your spouse, children, or dear friends? Maybe it was more than an evening. It could have been a nearly perfect vacation or getaway. Or if you are like me, maybe you’ve had the perfectly made coffee, dinner, or glass of chocolate milk. In the midst of that experience, a thought always zips through my mind, “Why can’t it always be like this?” That question exists in our spiritual life as well.

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

The second candle in the Advent wreath stands for peace. Peace, in the ways we tend to use the word in our culture, refers to the fact that we agree with each other, or at least, we "agree to disagree" (aka "Let's just never ever bring up this subject again..."). We use it to refer to having harmonious relationships with family members, friends, and politically, with other nations or between political parties.

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Scripture Readings

In holding someone’s hand, we know we are not alone. I’ve been the one in need of a hand to hold and I’ve been the one able to offer a comforting hand. Whether in sickness, fear, the labor pains of childbirth, accompanying someone dying, the grief that accompanies loss, the need to steady a young child, elderly or injured person, praying with others, exchanging marriage vows, or simply sharing closeness on a walk, holding a hand connects us to another, comforts us and reminds us that we are not alone.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Scripture Readings

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the miraculous appearance of Mary to a poor Indian near Mexico City some 470 years ago. On this Marian feast, I find myself reflecting on the Mother of God by thinking about my mom, my own motherhood, and the motherhood of all the many other women in my life (including the many ways to be mothers: biological, adoptive, foster, and spiritual).

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland with my husband over the summer where we visited a sheep farm to observe sheep dogs in action. It was impressive to watch and hear the farmer use his voice and whistles to command the dogs to guide the sheep where he wanted them. One of the more difficult skills involved having the dogs separate one or two sheep from the rest of the herd. The sheep clearly did not want to be separated; there’s greater strength and safety huddled together as one flock. I got the impression that when there’s not imminent danger, however, it’s not uncommon for one to wander off, to go astray.

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Advent is now in full swing as we wait and prepare for Christmas. Although waiting typically involves patience, today’s readings indicate that maybe we are called to do more than just sit around and wait for Christ’s coming. The peace, healing, mercy and love of Christ that is described in scripture is a foretaste of what God desires for all mankind. Yes, the fullness of God’s kingdom is not here yet, but our actions and words can help hasten His arrival.

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

In today’s gospel Luke provides us with some very descriptive historical details. This kind of historical detail is rare in the four gospels, because, in terms of literary genre, they are not historical books. The gospels are a unique genre, and it is meant to inspire faith. Since Luke does give us historical data, we must pay attention to it. Luke tells us who the Roman Emperor was (Tiberius Caesar), who the governor of Judea was (Pontus Pilate), who the regional leaders were (Herod, Phillip, and Lysanias), and who the high priest were (Annas and Caiaphas), when John the Baptist began his ministry. Surely, Luke was being intentional in giving these details. What do these details teach us? I would like to suggest three things: