Sunday Readings Reflections

SR-2017-07-23

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – July 23, 2017


ORDINARY TIME:
Liturgical Color – Green (Stands for Growth, hope, life.)
Purpose –
To recall the life of Christ, reminded that God is always there to help us live as Christians.

(Cycle A) – Matthew’s Gospel is used primarily during the Sunday Mass, Liturgy of the Word’s Gospel Reading.


WHY BIBLE STUDY?
The desired end result of true study of the Bible is to hear God’s voice. That is, to find Him in His word and understand His word so that it may generate in us both gratitude and obedience. Add to this that the Christian faith is not something to be enjoyed alone, but to be shared.

“God gave us the Bible so we could know Him and live in a way that pleases Him.”
“By our attitudes, actions, and words, we have the privilege of revealing our loving Father
to a world that desperately needs Him.”
(Charles Stanley)


16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: God’s Forbearing (enduring) Patience .

Reading 1 and the Gospel reading speak of God as both patient and merciful with sinners.  Paul, in Reading 2, tells his readers that one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to help us to pray, especially when we feel inadequate and weak.


  • Reading 1 – Wisdom 12:13,16-19      God has shown Himself to be a God of justice and mercy.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16      A prayer to God for mercy.
  • Reading 2 Romans 8:26-27      The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with God.
  • Gospel Matthew 13:24-43          Jesus offers parables about the Kingdom of Heaven and explains them to His disciples.

(This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal (Themes), Loyola Press, CatholicCulture.org,  Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn,  St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.)



Reading 1     Wisdom 12:13,16-19                             (God’s Mercy)

Context – The Wisdom of Solomon (aka. Wisdom) is one of seven Wisdom Books of the Bible (including: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), Ecclesiastes, and Sirach).  It was written a century or two before Christ. It’s main lesson is God rewarding those who are faithful to His law. “Wisdom” here means not merely the practical ability to succeed well in life, or even the art of behaving ethically, but spiritual vision, understanding of God and His activity in our lives and history. To strengthen the faith of his co-religionists, to console them in their afflictions, to raise their hearts above the sordidness and immorality by which they were surrounded – this was the main purpose of the writer of the Book of Wisdom. But he also had another purpose in view. Many Jews, anxious to gain the good will of the Egyptians, had faltered in their allegiance to Yahweh and gone over to the camp of the enemy. To these unfortunates the sacred writer addresses himself time and again, warning them of the impending judgment of God and conjuring them to return to the path of true Wisdom which alone leads to perfect happiness. The Christian finds in it the highest religious and moral lessons – lessons which are of paramount importance today, just as they were over two thousand years ago.

Today’s Reading –  We are reminded of God’s tolerance and merciful patience. Though God is all-powerful, He uses His power to show mercy and clemency. By doing this, God is seeking to teach people to treat each other (including non-believers) with the same kindness and to temper justice with mercy.


There is no God besides You who have the care of all, that You need show You have not unjustly condemned. For Your might is the source of justice; Your mastery over all things makes You lenient to all. For You show Your might when the perfection of Your power is disbelieved; and in those who know You, You rebuke temerity (foolish disregard of danger). But though You are master of might, You judge with clemency (compassion), and with much lenience You govern us; for power, whenever You will, attends You (God’s power is His might as well as His ability to control it.). And You taught Your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and You gave Your children good ground for hope that You would permit repentance for their sins (Under a God of such clemency, none of us should despair.).


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          The just believer tries to imitate the God of Justice and the strong believer appreciates the danger of excessive use of power – these types of believers appreciate God for being able to engage and handle the messiest aspects of life with compassion, wisdom and finesse. Such is true wisdom. Wise believers likewise willingly wade into the fray of life and risk the chaos, the complications, the injustices, and the human foibles of all such issues. Wise believers who engage life survive and thrive even as they respect everyone concerned.

All of this is good medicine for today’s rampant political polarization and disingenuousness in America!



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16                 (Kindness and Fidelity)

Today’s Psalm –  This lament places emphasis on God’s patience and forbearance in line with the theme of Reading 1 and the Gospel reading.


R. – Lord, You are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon You. Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. – Lord, You are good and forgiving.
All the nations You have made shall come and worship You, O LORD, and glorify
(revere/venerate/ worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving) Your name. For You are great, and You do wondrous deeds; You alone are God.
R. – Lord, You are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are a God
(See PAUSE, below)
merciful and gracious, slow to anger (God’s anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted.), abounding in kindness and fidelity. Turn toward me, and have pity on me; give Your strength to Your servant.
R. – Lord, You are good and forgiving.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “You, O LORD, are a God”St. Thomas said to Jesus, after His resurrection, as he put his fingers on Jesus’ wounds – “my Lord and my God”. This phrase is mentioned some 19 times in the Bible.

Generally speaking, a Lord is not an infallible nor divine being, but a master (one of higher rank) or ruler over others to whom specific types of service and obedience are due. God is infallible and divine, the eternal being who created and preserves all things. He is the source of all moral authority, the supreme being, perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe. Our ultimate love, respect, service and obedience are due Him. So, when we say “my Lord and my God” we acknowledge God as our master relative to everyday decisions, actions, and thoughts as well as our supreme Master of our spiritual and temporal being.

For Centering Prayer, the phrase “my Lord and my God” is a great spiritual focus. Or, just try saying this phrase continuously in a prayer like manner for 1 minute, 2. … .What a great experience. It’s good preparation for the Examine Prayer. 



Reading 2.     Romans 8:26-27                        (Intercession of the Spirit)           

Context – Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the most influential of all his Epistles, and the only writing of Paul’s which is addressed to a church (congregation) which he did not establish. He addresses the grounds we have for hope in Christ. Sin and death came by Adam: grace and life by Christ. The saving work of Jesus is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans – salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s Reading – Paul reminds us that we are not alone in our prayer moments. The Holy Spirit accompanies us and is always praying in us.


Brothers and sisters: The [Holy] Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes (The Holy Spirit comes to our aid by interceding for us. “Intercede” means to pray for someone else.) with inexpressible groanings (“Groanings” expresses feelings of compassion for our weak condition. The Holy Spirit requests the Father’s help for us with deep compassion.). And the one who searches hearts ( God knows our hearts. 6 times this is stated in the Bible.) knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because He (Holy Spirit) intercedes for the holy ones (Christians) according to God’s will (It was part of God’s plan of salvation that the Holy Spirit should play such a dynamic role in the aspirations and prayers of Christians.).


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           We can have confidence that our compassionate God understands just how we feel (God knows our heart.) and what we want (The Holy Spirit knows this and helps to express this to God for us.), and God will respond according to His will. God’s response to all our prayers is either: “Yes”, “Later”, or “I have a better plan”.



Gospel     Matthew 13:24-43                            (Parable of the Weeds)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.

Today’s Reading –  Jesus is conducting His public ministry in Galilee. Matthew presents us with three more “kingdom parables” intended to teach that the coming of the Kingdom is a growth process that occurs over a very long period.  Thus, patience and tolerance are needed for the followers of Jesus.


Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest (to the day of judgment); then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters (Angels, without any biases unlike us humans, will make the decision between what is the good and what is the bad), “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘” (There are three things worthy of observation in this parable. 1st. That the Church of God on earth consists of both good (true believers) and bad (only professing believers); the 2d. that God is not the author of evil; the 3d. that God does not always punish the wicked on the spot, but patiently bears with them giving them time to repent.)

He proposed another parable to them. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'” (Jesus Christ here assures us, that when His Word (the seed) has been spread and promulgated by His ambassadors, viz. the apostles then by the priests, It shall surpass every other mode of instruction both in fame and extent.)

He spoke to them another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast (the Word of God) that a woman (the Church) took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour (the Church’s congregation) until the whole batch was leavened (evangelized congregation).” (Allegorically (symbolically): S. Bernard, says the Blessed Virgin Mary  joined and united in Her womb the three natures of Christ (i.e. the 3 measures of flour), namely soul, body and divinity to the one Hypostasis of the Word. (i.e. the yeast).    Hypostasis means the underlying or essential part of anything as distinguished from attributes; substance, essence, or essential  principle.)

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.” (Psalm 78:2)

Then, dismissing the crowds, He went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man (See PAUSE, below.), the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (From Daniel 12:3 – when the wise will be delivered  from God’s judgment and shine forever). Whoever has ears ought to hear (That is, Let those understand who have understanding, because all these things are to be understood mystically, and not literally.).”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “Son of Man”The Lord styles Himself the Son of Man, that in that title He might set an example of humility;  or  perhaps because it was to come to pass that certain heretics would deny Him to be really man;  or  that through belief in His Humanity we might ascend to knowledge of His Divinity.



Catechism 544 – The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

Catechism 545 – Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.



 

SR-2017-07-16

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – July 16, 2017


“Let us therefore yield ourselves and bow to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, which can neither err nor deceive.”
(St. Augustine)

“The deeper a tree sinks its roots into the soil the greater are its chances of growing and producing fruit.”
(Blessed Marie Ann Blandin)


15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: The Word of God .

Reading 1 and the Gospel celebrate the power and effectiveness of the Word of God which eventually bears fruit in us despite many initial obstacles.  In Reading 2, Paul calls believers to accept the Word of God with hope and confidence.  All three readings are linked by the theme of the Word of God made fruitful in us through the Holy Spirit, who is God’s pledge to us.


  • Reading 1 – Isaiah 55:10-11      The Word of the Lord shall achieve its purpose.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 65:10-14      A prayer of praise to God for His abundance.
  • Reading 2 Romans 8:18-23      Together with all of creation, we await God’s redemption.
  • Gospel Matthew 13:1-23      Jesus teaches that the kingdom of heaven is like seed that has been sown   on good soil.

(This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal (Themes), Loyola Press, CatholicCulture.org,  Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn,  St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.)



Reading 1     Isaiah 55:10-11                         (God’s Fruitful Word)

Context – The keynote of the Book of Isaiah is salvation (Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves”). He was the prophet of the southern kingdom, Judah, and lived at the time (i.e. 742 – 687 BC) when the northern kingdom, Israel, whose capital was Jerusalem, was destroyed. At this time all that was left of the old kingdom of David was Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. He prophesized for 64 years. He prophesized doom  for a sinful Judah and Israel and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. Then, he prophesized God’s restoration of the nation of Israel, including Judah, and this is interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Christ.

Today’s Reading –  Isaiah celebrates the power of God’s Word to achieve its goal. God’s Word is compared to rain and snow. Just as water and snow soak into the ground, making the earth upon which they fall fertile and fruitful, so too can God’s Word make the human heart on which it falls fertile and fruitful. God’s Word does not return back to Him void, but achieves the end for which He sent it.


Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; My word shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it. (In summary God is firmly explaining – “so shall  My  word  be.” So, we can use our Free Will to accept, reject, or be unacquainted with  God’s word. But, regardless of what we do, His word is going to be fulfilled to His satisfaction!)


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          As rain causes seeds to germinate and ultimately provides sustenance, so does God’s word cause us to grow in spirit so that we can accomplish His will for us.

 “As the rain furnishes both seed and bread, so the word of God plants the seed of repentance in the heart and feeds the returning sinner with the blessed consequences repentance produces.” (J. Alec Motyer – Renowned Old Testament pastor-scholar, 1924 – 2016.)



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 65:10-14                   (A Fruitful Harvest)

Today’s Psalm –  The use of agricultural imagery in today’s psalm illustrate God’s providence (His divine guidance and care). The response: “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest” connects this psalm to this Sunday’s Gospel’s Parable of the Sower.


R. – The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have You enriched it. God’s watercourses
(See PAUSE, below)
are filled; You have prepared the grain.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest. Thus have You prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, Softening it with showers, blessing its yield.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest. You have crowned the year with Your bounty, and Your paths overflow with a rich harvest; The untilled meadows overflow with it, and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest. The fields are garmented with flocks and the valleys blanketed with grain. They shout and sing for joy.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.


 PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.                  “God’s watercourses”Also referred to in other versions of the Bible as: “stream of God” and “The river of God” – The Catholic Catechism 1137 refers to it as ” … one of the most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.”



Reading 2.     Romans 8:18-23                        (Future Redemption of the Body)

Context – Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the most influential of all his Epistles, and the only writing of Paul’s which is addressed to a church (congregation) which he did not establish. He addresses the grounds we have for hope in Christ. Sin and death came by Adam: grace and life by Christ. The saving work of Jesus is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans – salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s Reading – Paul seeks to reassure his readers that their present sufferings, difficult though they may be, are nothing compared to the joy that awaits them in heaven. Paul further speaks of creation as also awaiting transformation. Creation (nature), just like humans, was wounded by the Fall and now looks forward to its redemption.


Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us (In tough times as in good times, don’t lose sight of the rewards which have been promised to those who are faithful.). For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the One who subjected it (The sin of Adam brought corruption not just to humankind but to nature. God cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin – Genesis 3:17.), in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God (What God is doing for us in Christ is so powerful that it will redeem not just us but the created natural world, too.). We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “first fruits” An agriculture term for the initial produce reaped at the beginning of the harvest season. Paul uses this as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit as  a guarantee or down payment on the full inheritance we expect to receive in Heaven.



Gospel     Matthew 13:1-23                              (Parable of the Sower)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.

Today’s Reading –  Jesus is conducting His public ministry in Galilee.

Today’s parable of the sower is very much based on the everyday experiences of Jesus’ audience at that time. They often saw sowers sowing seed. The main point of the parable is God’s offer of His Kingdom (salvation) to all of us – God is the Sower and we are the soil of different types.  If the seed falls on good soil (an open heart), it will likely produce an incredible harvest. Jesus encourages His audience to be good soil, receptive to His message. NOTE – we are the “soil” but of different types and at different times due to: our health, our circumstances, our social affairs, etc. that change from time to time. Sometimes our “soil” is moist and fertile as it should be – an open heart. But we change, sometimes our “soil” gets hardened, and  sometimes our “soil” gets covered with weeds, all preventing us from being Christian at that time. Our goal is to strive to always be good “soil”.

“Parable” means “to throw beside”,  “a placing of one thing by the side of another”, ” a comparison of one thing with another”.  In the Gospels a parable denotes an extended comparison between nature or life and the things involving the spiritual life and God’s dealings with people.” It is “an utterance which does not carry its meaning on the surface, and which thus demands thought and perception if the hearer is to benefit from it.” The parables do not just convey information, they challenge for a response.


On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea (sea of Galilee). Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And He spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower (Jesus) went out to sow (preach). And as he sowed, some seed (the Word of God) fell on the path (sometimes us) and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground (sometimes us), where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns (sometimes us), and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil (sometimes us), and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear (This constitutes an invitation to the listener to think reflectively on the human application of the parable. The audience must participate if the parable is to have its desired effect.).”

The disciples approached Him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: “You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them” – (Isaiah 6:9-10).

But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart (this includes those both not understanding nor accepting the Word). The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away (this includes those being unable to meet the challenges of suffering nor persecution – not being able to “carry their crosses”). The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit (this includes those who hear and accept the Word, but become distracted by their secular interests). But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold (this includes those who hear, understand, and perform according to the Word).”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           And as we find that only one-fourth part of the seed produced fruit (i.e. was understood, accepted, and followed), we may thence infer how many and great are the obstacles in the way of salvation, and how few will be the number of the elect. (George Leo Haydock – Priest and Biblical scholar, 1774-1849)

Jesus deliberately spoke in parables to conceal truth from the unbelieving crowds. Why did He speak to them in parables if He did not want them to understand what He said? He did so because a parable might be the instrument God would use to enlighten some who had not yet firmly rejected Him but were still open-minded. By concealing the truth from His unbelieving critics, Jesus was showing them grace. They were saved from the guilt of rejecting the truth, for they were not allowed to recognize it. Jesus also taught in parables because the Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would speak in veiled language (“I will open My mouth in a parable” – Psalm 78:2).



Catechism 144 – To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.

Catechism 160 – To be human, “man’s response to God by faith must be free, and. . . therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act.”  “God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus.” Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. “For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. . . grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself.”



The Parable of the Sower in pictures.

                                                                                                   

This Sower (i.e. Preacher) is sowing                                          This Preacher (i.e. Sower) is preaching
the seed (i.e. Preaching the Word).                                           the Word (i.e. Sowing the seed).

As we gather for the Eucharist this Sunday, let us ask God for the grace to be “fruitful soil”
and bring forth abundant fruit for His Kingdom on earth.



 

SR-2017-07-09

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – July 9, 2017


“The Kingdom of God (i.e. the sphere over which God rules and in which all believers live and operate) …
includes … justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

(Romans 14:17)

“Don’t be a spectator in the Kingdom of God , find something that you can do,
at-least even going to church is one of them.”


14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: God’s Kingdoms – on Earth and in Heaven .

Reading 1’s interpretation for OT people shows that God is going to recreate His Kingdom on earth after the return of the Jews from their exile. And the interpretation for NT people, shows that God is going to again recreate His Kingdom on earth with the New Covenant with Jesus Christ.
The Gospel shows us how we should  live in God’s Kingdom on earth by imitating Christ.
Reading 2 shows us how we can enter God’s Kingdom in heaven after our physical death. (Life in the flesh leads to death while life in the Spirit leads to eternal life.)
The Responsorial Psalm gives praise to God for His Kingdoms. (“Let all Your works give You thanks, O LORD, and let Your faithful ones bless You.”)


  • Reading 1 – Zechariah 9:9-10      The Lord shall come to reign in Zion.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14      A prayer of praise to God who is our King.
  • Reading 2 – Romans 8:9,11-13      Those in whom the Spirit of God dwells must now live according to   the Spirit, not the flesh.
  • Gospel – Matthew 11:25-30      Jesus prays in thanks to God, who has revealed Himself to the lowly.

Reading 1     Zechariah 9:9-10                     (Portrait of the Messiah)

Context – The prophet Zechariah belonged to a priestly family which had returned from the Babylonian exile. He was called by God in 520 B.C. He probably lived until very near the time the new Temple was finished. The purpose of this book is not strictly historical but theological and pastoral. The main emphasis is that God is at work and plans to live again after the exile with His people in Jerusalem. He will save them from their enemies and cleanse them from sin.

Today’s Reading –   This text is one of the most messianically significant passages of all the Bible, in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Judaism sees in it a basis for a royal messianic expectation, whereas Christianity sees a prophecy of the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion.


Thus says the LORD: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your King shall come to you; a just Savior is He, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass (In the ancient Near East rulers commonly rode donkeys if they came in peace, but they rode horses into war.). He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and He shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea (From the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.), and from the River to the ends of the earth (The peaceful rule of this king (Jesus) will extend far beyond Judah into the rest of the inhabited world. See THEME.).


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14               (God’s Mercy)

Today’s Psalm –  This psalm extols God’s kindness and compassion as well as His outreach to the lowly and forgotten.


R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
I will extol You, O my God and King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day will I bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger
(God’s anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted.)
and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all His works.
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
Let all Your works give You thanks, O LORD, and let Your faithful ones bless You. Let them discourse of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your might.
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
The LORD is faithful in all His words and holy in all His works. The LORD lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” God’s grace is His favor and divine enablement that He gives to those who do not deserve it. His mercy is the forbearance He demonstrates to those who deserve His wrath. He is patient with those who arouse His anger with their sinning. His loyal love is amazingly strong and long-lasting. He is good to everyone, even sending rain and many other blessings on the unjust as well as the just. Moreover He exercises His powerful works under the constraints of His mercy. Because of these things all of God’s works and people will praise Him.



Reading 2.     Romans 8:9,11-13                     (The Spirit of Christ)         

Context – Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the most influential of all his Epistles, and the only writing of Paul’s which is addressed to a church (congregation) which he did not establish. He addresses the grounds we have for hope in Christ. Sin and death came by Adam: grace and life by Christ. The saving work of Jesus is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans – salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s Reading –  Living out one’s baptism means that one will “live in the Spirit of Jesus” as opposed to “living in the flesh.” To live “life in the flesh” is to live life independent of God: self-sufficient and self-reliant with no relationship with God.  On the contrary, one who uses his/her personal Free Will to tune in and respond to the leadings of the Holy Spirit lives a “life in the Spirit” which is centered on God and His values.  Life in the flesh leads to death while life in the Spirit leads to eternal life – God’s Heavenly Kingdom.


Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you (The baptized Christian is not only “in the Spirit,” but the Spirit is now said to dwell in him or her.). Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you (When God resurrects His faithful at the Second Coming, this will complete the process of His divine adoption that began in Baptism – the infusion of the Holy Spirit into our souls.). Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die (die Spiritually, that is, since everyone dies physically regardless of how they live. This warning is for believers, who are “in the Spirit” but who can still, via our miss-use of our Free Will, submit to the flesh.)  but if by the Spirit (i.e. “by the Spirit” = by the  “fruit of the Spirit” = by “our self-control”.) you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel     Matthew 11:25-30                            (Solace in Christ)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.

Today’s Reading –  This Gospel begins with Jesus’ shout of joy, for those with humble and open hearts who accept the Good News of the Gospel.  Jesus then speaks about the special and unique relationship that exists between Him and His Father. It is really a statement about the divinity of Christ. In Jesus we find the Wisdom of God.  He reveals the mind and heart of God to us. The passage ends with Jesus’ beautiful invitation to the “heavy burdened” to come to Him in all ways in living their daily lives.


At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to You, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth (God’s Kingdoms of Heaven and Earth), for although You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned You have revealed them to little ones (Jesus gives thanks to His heavenly Father, because God had revealed the secret of Jesus’ coming to His disciples, who, according to the false opinion of men, are called children and fools, and had hid it from the Scribes and Pharisees, whom He in ridicule calls the wise and prudent. “hid it” meaning – God  allowed them to use their Free Will to not accept the Good News). Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me (A yoke is a wooden bar or frame that joins two animals like oxen or horses so that they can pull a wagon, plow, etc. together. Here it is used figuratively of the responsibilities/restrictions that a teacher or rabbi would place on his followers), for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.” (The yoke and burden of Jesus are submission to the reign of God. This imposes no further burden on those who accept it, but rather makes it easier to bear the burdens they already have.)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           The Pharisees and scribes made the Law of Moses a heavy yoke (burden) by adding to it a multitude of legalisms – a total of 613 of them! On another level, faith in Christ (i.e. His yoke) helps all of us to be able to deal with all the burdens of life.



Catechism 520 – In all of His life Jesus presents Himself as our model. He is “the perfect Man”, who invites us to become His disciples and follow Him. In humbling Himself, He has given us an example to imitate, through His prayer He draws us to pray, and by His poverty He calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.      [Note – “Mary Magdalene’s tears at the empty tomb can serve as a reminder to us that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus.” (Pope Francis)]

Catechism 459 – The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.” “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to Him!” Jesus is the Model for the Beatitudes and the Norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved You.” This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after His example.



This is the “Way” to get from God’s Kingdom on earth to His Kingdom in Heaven.
Notice that the most dangerous point on the Way is the mid-point over the valley and that’s the location of  Jesus’ heart as He hung on the cross.
We need not fear – “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You”.



SR-2017-07-02

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – July 2, 2017


Strength and courage are tied to concentrating on God’s Word. For this reason, a personal time of
meditation with God should be a priority in our life.”
(Charles Stanley)

“The most painful moment in my life also became the moment I showed the most strength and courage.” 
(Cecelia Ahern)


13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: Hospitality.

The theme of hospitality connects Reading 1 and the Gospel. The Gospel also speaks clearly about the costs and rewards of discipleship.  In Reading 2, Paul reminds the Romans that baptism into the Death and Resurrection of Christ calls them to daily die to sin and to daily allow the new life of Christ to rise in them.


  • Reading 1 – 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a      Hospitality extended to Elisha will be rewarded.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19      Sing God’s praises forever.
  • Reading 2 – Romans 6:3-4, 8-11      Through Christ we are dead to sin but alive in God.
  • Gospel – Matthew 10:37-42      Jesus outlines the costs and rewards of discipleship.


Reading 1     2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a                          (Rewards of Hospitality)

Context – Kings 1 & 2, records the events of the reign of Solomon (970 – 930 BC) and then the succeeding kings of Judah and Israel (930 – 588 BC). (When Solomon died, the 12 Jewish tribes – ie. the 12 sons of Jacob,  split into two separate Kingdoms – Judah, the southern Kingdom – made up of two tribes, and Israel, the northern Kingdom – made up of ten tribes.) After King Solomon, God no longer used the kingship to be the medium through which He governed His people but instead chose to use prophets for this function. Elijah was one of the most outstanding prophets and was from the northern Kingdom.
Remember – at the Transfiguration of Jesus, Moses appeared representing the OT Law and Elijah appeared representing the OT prophets with Jesus representing the New Covenant.

Today’s Reading –   The reason for the choice of this reading is clearly as it relates to the reference in the Gospel that those who welcome a prophet (i.e. give hospitality) will receive a prophet’s reward. In the reading, a woman’s hospitality is rewarded by the promise of a son for which she and her husband have been longing.


One day Elisha (The prophet Elijah chose Elisha to carry on his prophetic mission after his assumption into Heaven.) came to Shunem (Located about 30 miles northeast of Samaria.), where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine. So she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.” Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.

Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?” His servant Gehazi (Elisha’s servant) answered, “Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.” Elisha said, “Call her.” When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.” (Although our reading doesn’t mention it, she doubted Elisha but by the same time the following year she had a son.)


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         Prophet – “Prophets are like fingers, not faces. We are not meant to look at them but to the reality to which they point.”   (Peter Kreeft)



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19                        (Eternal Gratitude)

Today’s Psalm –  The theme of this psalm is gratitude for  the loyal love and faithfulness of God.

R. – Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever, through all generations my mouth shall proclaim Your faithfulness. For You have said, “My kindness is established forever;” in heaven You have confirmed Your faithfulness.
R. – Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. Blessed the people who know the joyful shout; in the light of Your countenance, O LORD, they walk. At Your name they rejoice all the day, and through Your justice they are exalted.
R. – Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. You are the splendor of their strength, and by Your favor our horn
(symbol of strength and power) is exalted. For to the LORD belongs our shield (ruler), and the Holy One of Israel, our king.
R. -Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Gratitude – “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  (John F. Kennedy)



Reading 2.     Romans 6:3-4, 8-11                              (Baptized into Christ)        

Context – Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the most influential of all his Epistles, and the only writing of Paul’s which is addressed to a church (congregation) which he did not establish. He addresses the grounds we have for hope in Christ. Sin and death came by Adam: grace and life by Christ. The saving work of Jesus is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans – salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s Reading – Paul speaks to us about baptism and its meaning. To be baptized is to be plunged into the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. As a result, the baptized will be able to “walk” in the newness of life. Through baptism, we share in Christ’s victory over sin. The challenge is to live out that victory in our everyday lives.


Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death (see PAUSE, below), so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over Him. As to His death, He died to sin once and for all; as to His life, He lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death”  –  Baptism joins us to Christ crucified and risen, so that united with His death, our sins are put to death, and united with His rising, our souls are filled with life. Paul is alluding to the Sacrament of Baptism, where the recipient is submerged in water as a body is buried in a grave, only to rise again to a new life with God.



Gospel     Matthew 10:37-42                            (Welcoming Christ’s Workers)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.

Today’s Reading –  This Gospel has two sections. The first contains a number of miscellaneous sayings by Jesus concerning the cost of discipleship. Jesus is conveying to us that our commitment to Him must supersede all other commitments and relationships. The second relates to the authority of the Apostles and the fate of those who welcome them. Jesus instructs us to be hospitable to those who carry the message of Christ to us. In welcoming the messengers of the Gospel, we are welcoming Christ Himself.


Jesus said to His apostles: “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me (i.e. is not worthy to be My disciple, and to enjoy My kingdom.), and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever does not take up his cross (meaning – discipleship will entail self-denial and suffering) and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives the One who sent Me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple (Disciples (like our Priests and Bishops) must rely upon the support and hospitality of others for the daily necessities during their mission.) — amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” (Those of us who give support and hospitality to Jesus’ disciples  will receive a reward because we have shown generosity to our Lord Himself.)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Crosses –  There are two kinds of crosses which our Savior here commands us to take up: one corporal, and the other spiritual. By the former, He commands us to restrain the unruly appetites of the touch, taste, sight, etc. By the other, which is far more worthy our notice, He teaches us to govern the affections of the mind, and restrain all its irregular motions, by humility, tranquility, modesty, peace, etc. “Precious indeed in the sight of God, and glorious is that cross, which governs and brings under proper rule the lawless passions of the mind.” (St. Augustine)

This is a picture of the Cross On The Hill at the Daylesford Abbey.



Catechism 858 – Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of His ministry, He “called to Him those whom He desired; . . . . And He appointed twelve, whom also He named apostles, to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach.” From then on, they would also be His “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues His own mission: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of His mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives Me.”

Catechism 77 – “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.” Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.



 

SR-2017-06-25

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
  For the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – June 25, 2017


“When you have read the Bible, you know it is the Word of God, because it is the key to your heart,
your own happiness, and your own duty.”

(Woodrow Wilson)


12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Theme: Witness and Fear.

We do experience difficulties as we endeavor to live a Christian life. Sometimes we let the opinions of others prevent us from doing what we know to be right. We need the reminder that what God thinks about us is more important. We are reassured by the promise that God cares for us and protects us.

Trust God and witness to Him in times of fear is a thread that ties all three readings together.  In Reading 1, people are trying to intimidate Jeremiah. He is able to withstand their threats because of his trust in God. “God is with me as my mighty champion.”  In the Gospel, Jesus prepares His disciples for the hostile reaction to the preaching of His message.  In Reading 2, Paul celebrates salvation in Christ as a gift which empowers us to deal with fear and free us from the only things that truly should make us fearful, namely, sin, death, and separation from God.


  • Reading 1 Jeremiah 20:10-13      Jeremiah expresses confidence that the Lord will protect him.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35      God responds to the prayers of those in need.
  • Reading 2 – Romans 5:12-15      Sin came into the world through one person; so salvation came through one person for many.
  • Gospel – Matthew 10:26-33      Jesus assures the Twelve that God cares about them.

 


Reading 1     Jeremiah 20:10-13                    (The Lord Our Champion)

Context – The Lord called Jeremiah to prophetic ministry in about 626 BC, just before and during the exile, and ended sometime after 580 BC in Egypt. He resided in the Southern Kingdom, ie. Judah. He was appointed to reveal the sins of the people, the coming consequences (i.e. exile), and hope for the future (i.e. bring his people to a state of perseverance for a better life after the exile). Jeremiah weeps for sinful Judah, and is called “the  crying prophet”. Jeremiah was viewed as a traitor and persecuted more intensely than any other Hebrew prophet ever had been.

Today’s Reading –  Today’s reading is an excerpt from what is called the “Confessions of Jeremiah” – a revelation of the personal anguish the prophet experiences in his soul (e.g., “Why is God allowing all this bad stuff to happen to me?”). Jeremiah is being persecuted by the people for his unwelcome words. They cry out: “Denounce, let us denounce him!” We can almost feel Jeremiah’s sense of rejection.  But his trust is in God, his Mighty Champion.


Jeremiah said: “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!’ All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. ‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.’ (His listeners felt someone should denounce him for speaking so pessimistically and harshly about their nation.) But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O LORD of hosts, You who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance You take on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, for He has rescued the life of the poor (i.e. the poor in spirit – those who rely upon God’s protection, those who acknowledge their desperate need of God’s salvation) from the power of the wicked!”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “let me witness the vengeance You take on them”sock it to em Lord and let me watch!” Jeremy is showing signs of being a normal human being in addition to being a great prophet!



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35                      (The Lord’s Kindness)

Today’s Psalm –  This is a psalm of lament (being distressed) used during a worship service by an individual undergoing a time of personal suffering. It clearly echoes Jeremiah’s experience of rejection.


R. – Lord, in Your great love, answer me.
For Your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my children, Because zeal for Your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme You fall upon me.
R. – Lord, in Your great love, answer me. I pray to You, O LORD, for the time of Your favor, O God! In Your great kindness answer me with Your constant help. Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is Your kindness; in Your great mercy turn toward me.
R. – Lord, in Your great love, answer me. “See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! For the LORD hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not
(The poor in spirit, the Martyrs, and those who suffer for the faith, will be rewarded.). Let the heavens and the earth praise Him, the seas and whatever moves in them!”
R. – Lord, in Your great love, answer me.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2.     Romans 5:12-15                        (The Grace of God)           

Context – Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the most influential of all his Epistles, and the only writing of Paul’s which is addressed to a church (congregation) which he did not establish. He addresses the grounds we have for hope in Christ. Sin and death came by Adam: grace and life by Christ. The saving work of Jesus is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans – salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s Reading – Adam and Christ; analogy and contrast. They are similar because their actions have had a great impact upon the world, but dissimilar because Adam filled the world with misery and Christ redeemed (set free) the world from being slaves to Adam’s sin. Christ provided more than Adam lost, He provided the righteousness of God. “O happy fault, which hath procured us such and so great a Redeemer!”


Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned (this is the doctrine of Original Sin) – for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the One who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           Original Sin – The Holy Blessed Mother Mary by special privilege from God was exempted from Original Sin by the Immaculate Conception.



Gospel    Matthew 10:26-33                           (Witness of Christ)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.

Today’s Reading –  This passage occurs during the first year of Jesus’ public ministry. He has just commissioned the Twelve and is instructing them as they are sent out. Jesus makes them  aware of the many challenges they will face and all others who choose to follow Him in faith and preach in His name.


Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops (see PAUSE, below). And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (the place of eternal destruction). Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges Me before others I will acknowledge before My heavenly Father. But whoever denies Me before others, I will deny before My heavenly Father.”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “proclaim on the housetops” – The tops of the houses in Palestine were flat, and the inhabitants were accustomed to assemble on them and discourse together in great numbers. To preach, therefore, on the top of a house, is the same as to preach where there is a great concourse of people.



Catechism 1816 – The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before others and to follow Him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So everyone who acknowledges Me before others, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies Me before others, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.”



 

SR-2017-06-18

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For Corpus Christi Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – June 18, 2017


“The growing knowledge of and the love of Christ, above all, prepares us to follow His call.”
(St Ignatius)


Corpus Christi Sunday Theme: Sharing Life With Christ.

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This day was once called Corpus Christi, which is Latin for “Body of Christ”, established in honor of Christ present in the Eucharist. Its purpose is to instruct the people in the mystery, faith, and devotion surrounding the Eucharist. The word of God and Jesus Christ nourish our souls.


  • Reading 1 Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14b-16a      Moses tells the people to remember how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15,19-20      Praise God, Jerusalem!
  • Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17       Though many, we are one body when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Gospel – John 6:51-58     Jesus says, “I am the Living Bread.”


Reading 1     Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14b-16a                (Manna in the Desert)

Context – The book of Deuteronomy (means second law, i.e. the second giving of the Law) consists of three sermons or speeches delivered by Moses (when he was 120 years old), just prior to his death, to a new generation of Israelites shortly before they entered the Promised Land.  God kept the old generation in the desert for 40 years until they died out due to their refusal to follow His way as their God. Therefore, this new generation had not experienced the miracle at the Red Sea nor heard the law (Ten Commandments) given at Sinai, and they were about to enter a new land with many dangers and temptations. The book of Deuteronomy was given to remind them of God’s law and God’s power – it is a book of remembrance. Jesus quoted from this Book the most.

Today’s Reading –  On the plains of Moab, God charges Moses, now close to death, once more to proclaim the Law (Ten Commandments) which he received through the revelation on Mount Sinai. Moses is addressing a new generation of Israelites, all those who would have been under the age of 20 when the exodus began. By having the Law read again, Yahweh is saying that His covenant with Israel is made with all generations, past, present, and future: it is an everlasting covenant. The Ten Commandments reveal God’s will for us and make us aware of our transgressions.


Moses said to the people: “Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep His commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna (Bread which the Lord has given – a prefiguration of the Eucharist.), a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty Rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           What does this passage have to do with Corpus Christi? Well, the “Rock” in “brought forth water for you from the flinty Rock” is a figure of Christ, and the water that issued out from the “Rock”, is a figure of His precious blood, the source of all our good. Plus, for the Hebrews “fed you in the desert with manna” is analogous to our “… give us this day our Daily Bread …”  where Jesus is our manna – the Body of Christ is our Daily Bread.



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 147:12-15,19-20                   (The Best of Wheat)

Today’s Psalm –  Most likely, this psalm of praise is chosen for its reference to the wheat (the Eucharist) with which God fills His people.


R. – Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you.
R. – Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat He fills you. He sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His word!
R. – Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. He has proclaimed His word to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not done thus for any other nation; His ordinances He has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. – Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “with the best of wheat He fills you”Our Eucharist host is made from wheat and when it is consecrated it becomes the Body of Christ.

“He has not done thus for any other nation”Why did God first favor the Hebrew Nation as His chosen people? I think it’s possible, though not recorded, that God put all the nations of the world to the test at that time and the Hebrews passed the test (think Abraham).



Reading 2.     1 Corinthians 10:16-17                         (Body and Blood of Christ)           

Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after he left, he composed and sent this Letter to Corinth just prior to his second arrival there. Over those five years trouble arose in the Church including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. His pastoral guidance aimed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two  vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness. His second letter to the Corinthians was written to prevent them from following prey to false prophets.

Today’s Reading – In this epistle, Paul is writing to a community that is experiencing a lot of division. In this passage, he is using the Eucharist, which is the celebration of Christian unity, to appeal to the Corinthians to work for and maintain unity. The Eucharist unites us with Christ and with each other and commits believers to work for unity with Christ and with each other.


Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation (Communion) in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Eucharist Communion unites believers with Christ and with one another. “If you have received worthily, you are what you have received.” – Saint Augustine. A good prayer following the receipt of the Eucharist is “Thank you dear Lord for what I have consumed, please help make me into what I have consumed – to become Christlike.”



Gospel     John 6:51-58                       (Living Bread)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of the Fourth Gospel.

Today’s Reading – The time is about one year before Jesus’ death and resurrection. These verses contain the climax of Jesus’ ‘Bread of Life’ discourse, which announced a bold promise of eternal life for all who believe in Him and partake of His presence in the Eucharist. In unmistakable language, Jesus identifies Himself with the elements of our Eucharistic sacrifice, namely, the bread and wine. We feed on Jesus by believing or “taking in” His Word and acting on it, and by believing in and “taking in” His divine presence in the bread and wine. Just as we and the substances we eat and drink become one, so Jesus and those who feed on Him form an intimate union. The reading also implies that Jesus not merely visits those who feed on Him, but He dwells there permanently.


Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will have life because of Me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this Bread will live forever.”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “whoever eats this Bread will live forever “A comparison is here implied between the Tree of Life in The Garden of Eden, which bore the fruit of immortality, and the Bread of Life, which Tradition calls the “medicine of immortality“.



Catechism 1331 – Holy Communion, … by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in His Body and Blood to form a single body. We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta) – the first meaning of the phrase “communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed – the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality, viaticum. . . .



 

SR-2017-06-11

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For Trinity Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – June 11, 2017


“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.”
(John 5:24)


 Trinity Sunday Theme: The Ineffable (difficult to explain) Mystery of God.

This week we return to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. This Sunday and next, however, are designated as solemnities – special days that call our attention to central mysteries of our faith. Today on Trinity Sunday we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity, one God in three persons. Next Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday).

In the context of today’s focus on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, God reveals Himself in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God the Father, out of love for the world, sent His Son into the world in order to save it. Through the death and resurrection of the Son, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. As three persons, God acts always as a God of love; He does not condemn the world but acts to save it. God’s love for us calls us to respond in faith by professing our belief in God’s Son, Jesus, and the salvation that He has won for us. This profession of faith is a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


  • Reading 1 Exodus 34:4b-6,8-9       Moses pleads for God’s mercy on Mt. Sinai.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Daniel 3:52-56       We praise God who is exalted above all forever.
  • Reading 2 – 2 Corinthians 13:11-13       Paul urges the Corinthians to live in peace with one another and with God.
  • Gospel –  John 3:16-18       God sent His Son into the world to save the world. 


Reading 1       Exodus 34:4b-6,8-9           (The One God)
Context – The Book of Exodus (the word “exodus” means “departure”) bears witness to God’s actions (about 1350-1200 BC) to deliver a people from bondage and to bind them to Himself in covenant. At the center of all this stood Moses who was called by God to be the agent in delivering Israel from slavery, to be the interpreter of God’s redemptive work, and to be the mediator of the covenant. This book tells of the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, the birth and education of Moses and his flight into the land of Midian, his encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Horeb) (the burning bush), Moses’ return to Egypt and pleadings with Pharaoh, the plagues of Egypt, the institution of the Passover, the passing through the Red Sea, the giving of the ten commandments at Mt. Sinai, the golden calf, and the 40 years of wandering in the desert.

Today’s Reading –  This is the story of the second giving of the Law (The Ten Commandments) after the people of Israel broke covenant with God by worshipping the golden calf. Moses is asked by God to bring a second set of blank stone tablets up the mountain. God also gives Moses a “little glimpse” of His nature.


Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the LORD had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets.

Having come down in a cloud (Holy Spirit), the LORD stood with Moses there and proclaimed His name, “LORD.” Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out, “The LORD, the LORD (“I Am that I Am.” It is impossible to define God’s name in any other way than to make this affirmation -“The Lord” and then show what it means – “The Lord” – creator and ruler over all creation.),
a merciful and gracious God
(“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy. – Exodus 33:19 ),
slow to anger
( God’s anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted.)
and rich in kindness and fidelity
(God’s faithful covenant love.).
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship
(Moses’ response to God’s gracious revelation was submission and worship). Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as Your own.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “the LORD passed before him and cried out” –  All that follows is God’s own gracious revelation, to Moses, as to who He (God) is. The text does not record what Moses saw of God’s self-revelation, but it does tell us what he heard. Here is God, Himself, telling us who He is!



Responsorial Psalm.       Daniel 3:52-56            (Praise the Lord)

Today’s Psalm –  These verses are a song of praise to God by the three virtuous young Jewish leaders in Babylon whom the King had thrown in a fiery furnace because of their refusal to worship a golden idol at his command. There is a contrast between their faithfulness to God and the infidelity of the Israelites who did worship the golden calf. More importantly the psalm is a good example of a song of praise to a God who saves His people. The three young men are protected by God in the burning furnace and sing His praises.


R. – Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is Your holy and glorious Name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
R. – Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are You in the temple of Your holy Glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.
R. – Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are You on the throne of Your Kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. – Glory and praise for ever! Blessed are You who look into the depths from Your throne upon the Cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. – Glory and praise for ever!


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2.       2 Corinthians 13:11-13           (God’s Grace, Love, and Fellowship)  

Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after he left, he composed and sent this Letter to Corinth just prior to his second arrival there. Over those five years trouble arose in the Church including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. His pastoral guidance aimed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two  vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness. His second letter to the Corinthians was written to prevent them from following prey to false prophets.

Today’s Reading – This brief reading was chosen for today’s solemnity because of its concluding verse, which contains a Trinitarian greeting – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”. The reading begins with an exhortation to the contentious Corinthians to “mend their ways” and to live in peace and harmony with each other.


Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss (The kiss is given in order to inspire love and instill the right attitude in us toward each other.). All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you (The three in one – The Trinity.).


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel       John 3:16-18           (God’s Love)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of the Fourth Gospel.

Today’s Reading – In the Trinitarian experience (of or relating to the Trinity, the doctrine of the Trinity, or adherents to that doctrine), which is Christian existence, a loving God sends forth His Son to save sinners. By the power of the abiding Spirit, believing sinners continue to know both the saving power of the Son and the loving grace of the Father and to share with them, the present joy and future promise of eternal life.


God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because He has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “whoever does not believe has already been condemned”Unbelief on one’s part, after being given the full benefit of knowing and understanding the “Good News”,  is a form of rebellion that puts offenders outside the safety of the covenant. Christians, knowingly or not, spread the “Good News” by the moral uniformity of our character, conduct, and conversation. The “Good News” suffers when our character, conduct, and  conversation are  morally lacking and/or inconsistent and that helps foster the unbelief in the unbelievers!

1 Corinthians 4:1 states that – “This is how one should regard (view) us – as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”



Catechism 259 – Being a work (a composition) at once [both] common and personal, the whole divine economy (that which refers to all the works by which God reveals Himself and communicates His life) makes known both what is proper to the divine persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and their one divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.



 

SR-2017-06-04

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For Pentecost Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – June 4, 2017


EASTER TIME:
Liturgical Color – White (Stands for light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory.)
Purpose –
The great 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead and ending with His sending forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

(Cycle A) – Matthew’s Gospel is used primarily during the Sunday Mass, Liturgy of the Word’s Gospel Reading.


The kingdom of God (i.e. the sphere over which God rules and in which
all believers live and operate) … includes … justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

(Romans 14:17)


 Pentecost Sunday of Easter Theme: The Holy Spirit, Gift of the Father.

The Season of Easter concludes with today’s celebration, the Feast of Pentecost (this is the birthday of the Christian Church). On Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, disciples and Holy Blessed Mother Mary (120 people in all) gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s Reading 1. The account in today’s Gospel, John 20:19-23, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Yet the event in John’s Gospel takes place on Easter Sunday. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts. In Scripture, it is the theological meaning of events that matter most and not just their historical chronology. It is enough that we know that after His death, Jesus fulfilled His promise to send to His disciples a Helper (Advocate, Standby, Backup, another Intercessor) who would enable them to be His witnesses throughout the world.

Since this is the birthday of the Church, how old is it? Well, (2017 – 33 = 1,984 years) That is, Jesus was born 2,017 years ago and He established His Church when He was 33 years old.  How old is the Norbertine Order? Well, (2017 – 1120 = 897 years).


  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11       The Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles gathered in Jerusalem.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34       God’s Holy Spirit renews the earth.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13       We are all one in Christ Jesus.
  • Gospel –  John 20:19-23       Jesus appears to His disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 



Reading 1      Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11          (C0mming of the Holy Spirit)

Context – The history of the early Church is represented in the New Testament by the Book of Acts. Luke, a physician and thought to be a companion of Paul, first wrote the “Gospel According to Luke” and then wrote the “Acts of the Apostles”. It is the only New Testament document devoted exclusively to the story of the early Church. The Catholic Church uses this book at Mass almost exclusively through the Easter season, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. According to Acts, the Church is a community entrusted with a mission to carry the “good news” of Jesus Christ forth to the whole world.

Today’s Reading –  The setting is 50 days after the first Easter, 10 days since Christ has ascended and left the disciples with responsibility for administering His Church. Before He ascended He had told them “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the Gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John the Baptist baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). So, after the ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and the Upper Room. While there, the eleven selected by lot Matthias to take Judas’ place, showing that the office of Bishop is to be a perpetual office.


When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together (Not just in one physical place together but they were also in one mind together as a result of experiencing Jesus’ life, teachings, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.). And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire (a flame in shape of a tongue)  which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues (foreign languages), as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

 

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” (Thus was the Church born. In one fell swoop, the disciples are transformed from timid persons holed up in a room to proud proclaimers of the marvels which God has accomplished.)


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “Pentecost” Jewish tradition held that the Law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) was given on this day, 50 days after Passover. For Christians , Pentecost celebrates the new law of the Holy Spirit written on the hearts of the believers which surpasses the Law of Moses which was written on stone tablets. The Holy Spirit helps free us, not from the Law of Moses, but from the total power and influence of sin.



Responsorial Psalm.       Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34             (Renewal by the Holy Spirit)

Today’s Psalm –  This is a hymn of praise to the Creator – God, the One who gives us new life in the Holy Spirit.


R. – Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD, my God, You are great indeed! How manifold
(numerous) are Your works, O Lord! the earth is full of Your creatures;
R. – Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD be glad in His works! Pleasing to Him be my theme
(meditation/thoughts/attention); I will be glad (happy/thankful/comforted) in the LORD.
R. – Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
If You take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.
R. – Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2       1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13           (Grace of the Holy Spirit)  

Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after he left, he composed and sent this Letter to Corinth just prior to his second arrival there. Over those five years trouble arose in the Church including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. His pastoral guidance aimed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul takes aim throughout this Letter at two  vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness.

Today’s Reading – Paul is advising the Corinthians about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how these gifts are to be used to promote the common good.


Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

 

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God Who produces all of them in everyone (Spirit, Lord, God – the Trinity. The unity and diversity within the Trinity is the divine model of the unity and diversity of gifts shared by believers.) To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit (These gifts are not for us to hold but for us to share. If we do not share the gifts, then the common good suffers.).

 

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. (The diversity of the Church is rooted in its unity. The Spirit is within the Church and we are called to share a common existence in Christ.)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel       John 20:19-23           (Christ Imparts the Holy Spirit)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of the Fourth Gospel.

Today’s Reading – What we hear about is Jesus’ first appearance to the apostles after His resurrection.


On the evening of that first day (the evening of Easter Sunday – the evening of Jesus’ resurrection) of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples (Thomas was not there at this time.) were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst (Jesus’ ability to pass through these locked doors of the upper room is similar to His ability to have passed through the womb of His virgin Mother which proved the forever virginity of the Blessed Mother Mary.) and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side (Jesus carries the marks of His earthly sacrifice with Him even when He ascends into Heaven. And that’s how we shall possibly see Him on our judgment day.). The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord (All was not lost after all; their Leader had returned.). Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            Jesus’ first encounter with His apostles (after His earthly time of teachings, miracles, passion and resurrection had come to an end),  involved His ordaining them with the power for handling the Sacrament of Reconciliation for our benefit, and His outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them for their benefit.

That is, the apostles became fully converted from His earthly time with them and now had the power to perform Reconciliation (they became Bishops). But they would still need His help to carry out the Great Commission. Since Jesus would no longer be physically in their midst He gave them the Holy Spirit to act in His stead.

Therefore, just like the apostles, we should equip ourselves with the knowledge, understanding, and commitment to the teachings, miracles, passion and resurrection of Jesus so that we can have a full understanding of, appreciation for, and positive reception from:

  1. The Holy Spirit’s presence and support within us, after our Baptism and Confirmation.
  2. The need for Confession.


Catechism 736 – By this power of the Spirit, God’s children can bear much fruit. He who has grafted us onto the true vine will make us bear “the fruit of the Spirit: . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” “We live by the Spirit”; the more we renounce ourselves, the more we “walk by the Spirit.”

Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God “Father” and to share in Christ’s grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.