Sunday Readings Reflections

SR-2017-05-28

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For 7th Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – May 28, 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.


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.

“We need to study the Scriptures. A structured, ongoing examination of them will
cause our faith to grow and provide what we need for life and godliness.”
(Charles Stanley )


 7th Sunday of Easter Theme: Prayerful Waiting.

Have you asked God to glorify Himself through you and then prayerfully waited for His response? The result may mean suffering, it may mean success. Most likely it will mean both. That is the commitment a true disciple of our Lord must make. It is such unconditional surrender to the purposes of God which brings Him glory and results in our good. The readings for this Sunday show the Apostles, the Holy Blessed Mother Mary, and Jesus, Himself, doing this very thing. A person with a spirit yielded to God, prayerfully waits patiently for the heavenly Father’s plans to unfold at just the right time.


  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14      After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the apostles return to Jerusalem and gather in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 27:1,4,7-8      The Lord is our Salvation.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 4:13-16      If you suffer for Christ, you will be blessed.
  • Gospel –  John 17:1-11a      Jesus prays for 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, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.)



Reading 1       Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14           (Constant Prayer)

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 –  Our first reading occurs immediately after the Ascension of Jesus. The disciples, along with the Holy Blessed Mother Mary, returned to Jerusalem to the upper room to prayerfully await the coming of the Holy Spirit. See theme – Prayerful Waiting.


After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (The Mount of Olives. Some commentators derive from this text that the ascension occurred on the Mount of Olives.), which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away (a little more than half of a mile).

When they entered the city they went to the upper room (where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. It was probably there too that Jesus had appeared to them following His resurrection.) where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and His brothers (relatives of Jesus, not blood brothers. The Holy Blessed Mother Mary was forever virgin.).


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “Mary the Mother of Jesus” – This is the last mention that is made in Scripture of the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. It depicts Our Lady’s motherhood over the whole Church, both here at the beginning of the Church and over the centuries. She lived the rest of her time with the Christians (as here she is particularly named and noted amongst them) and especially with St. John, the apostle, to whom our Lord recommended her. She undoubtedly communicated to the evangelists many circumstances relative to the actions, words, and mysteries of her divine Son.



Responsorial Psalm.       Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-8            (The Lord is our Salvation)

Today’s Psalm –  Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me.”


R. –  I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
The LORD is my light
(Light connotes understanding, joy, and life. ) and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s Refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
R. –  I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the LORD
(means to worship in the Temple  near the Ark of the Covenant – for us it means, to worship in Church near the Tabernacle) all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate His temple.
R. –  I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me. Of You my heart speaks; You my glance seeks.
R. –  I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2       1 Peter 4:13-16            (Joy in Suffering)  

Context – The First Letter Of Peter was written to encourage the church members as they experience apparently undeserved trials and suffering. Also to provide practical advice on relations with the civil authorities, and within society and families. This message (letter) which we will study as our second reading all through the Easter season, is a faithful reflection of the catechesis (religious instruction) of apostolic times.

Today’s Reading – In our final reading from this letter during the Easter Season, we hear Saint Peter speak about the spiritual value of suffering unjust persecution.


Beloved: Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted (affronted, hurt) for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer (a person who meddles in another’s business). But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the Name.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            We should not take comfort in the suffering that we bring on ourselves for sinning. However, the suffering that we experience because we take a stand with Jesus Christ will generate  blessings upon us from God.

Think about the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the Christians in Iran, and elsewhere today  who are frequently  massacred because they are practicing Christians! St. Peter’s words tell us that they will surely be glorified in Heaven. This should give some solace to their survivors, I truly hope so.

The top 10 nations where it is most dangerous and difficult to practice the Christian faith are: North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea. (From “Christianity Today”)



Gospel       John 17:1-11a           (Eternal Life)

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 –  This Gospel reading occurs at the Last Supper. What we hear  is Jesus’ prayer for Himself and for His disciples. Since the sixteenth century this has been called the “High Priestly Prayer”. At the end of the prayer, Jesus is arrested in the garden.


Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and said, “Father (The action of looking up to heaven to address and pray to the Father are typical of Jesus at prayer.), the hour has come. Give glory (adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving)  to Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify (honor with praise, admiration, or worship)  You, just as You gave Him authority over all people, so that Your Son may give eternal life to all You gave Him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know You, the only true God, and the One whom You sent, Jesus Christ (To “know” is to experience and to accept commands by obedience – “ to accept the will of God and obey. To “do whatever He tells you”.). I glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work that You gave Me to do (The Son has glorified the Father by revealing Him perfectly in all the words and deeds of Jesus’ life here on earth.). Now glorify Me, Father, with You, with the glory that I had with You before the world began.” (Now in turn the Father will glorify Jesus in the resurrection and ascension.).

“I revealed Your name (“name” is equivalent to the person) to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They belonged to You, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything You gave Me is from You, because the words You gave to Me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from You, and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones You have given Me, because they are Yours, and everything of Mine is Yours and everything of Yours is Mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to You.”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones You have given Me” –  At this time, this particular prayer of Jesus is only focused upon His apostles, the first Bishops of the Church. However, good news – later on at John 17:20, Jesus prays for all of us – “I pray not only for them (the apostles), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (that’s us – Bible readers and Bible doers!), so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.



Catechism 820 – “Christ bestowed unity on His Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” Christ always gives His Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus Himself prayed at the hour of His Passion, and does not cease praying to His Father, for the unity of His disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in Me and I am in You, may they also be one in Us, . . . so that the world may know that You have sent Me.” The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.



 

SR-2017-05-21

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For 6th Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – May 21, 2017


“The more we read the gospel, the stronger our faith becomes.”
(Pope Pius X)


6th Sunday of Easter Theme: Diversity In Unity.

For almost 2000 years the Church of Christ has continued to flourish because it was directed and sustained by the Holy Spirit, who abides within it. How can we ever show enough gratitude to the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity Who planned so lovingly and so efficaciously for our safe journey to heaven? The Father sent His Son as Man among us so that we men and women could become His brothers and sisters, and adopted sons and daughters of the Father. The Son suffered hardships, insults and misunderstandings during His temporary stay on earth, and ended like a crucified malefactor because of the sins of humankind. But He rose triumphantly from the dead and set up the Church as a society which would bring together to men and women of all races, ages and colors the salvation and exaltation of humankind, which His life and death had won for us. (“bring together to men and women of all races, ages and colors the salvation and exaltation of humankind” – See Theme – Diversity in Unity.)


  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17     The people of Samaria accept the Gospel of Jesus   proclaimed to them by Philip.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20      Sing praise to God, all the earth.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 3:15-18      Be ready to give explanation for your hope in Christ.
  • Gospel –  John 14:15-21      Jesus promises His disciples that He will send them another advocate, the  Spirit of truth.


Reading 1       Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17           (Reception of 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 –  These verses focus on the evangelization ministry of Philip, one of the first deacons. Philip’s preaching is accompanied and confirmed by signs and wonders. Also in this reading is how these desperate  communities stay connected to the Mother Church in Jerusalem – see Theme – Diversity in Unity.


Philip (a Deacon, he was called “the Evangelist”) went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. (The Samaritans were regarded as holding unorthodox views by the Jews. Nevertheless, they did share with them a belief in the coming of a Messianic figure.) With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (Philip Baptized them in the name of Jesus, only – which is not normative today. Later Peter and John completed the baptisms in the name of the Trinity and also Confirmed them by the laying on of hands.)


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            Baptism and Conformation –

The result of Baptism is the following:

  1. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our body becomes a temple for the Holy Spirit in which to reside.
  2. Forgiveness of Original Sin and any personal sin committed up to that time.
  3. The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit – Fear of the Lord, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, counsel, and courage.
  4. The 3 theological virtues – faith, hope , and love.
  5. Becoming a part of Christ.
  6. Membership in the Church.
  7. Enabling participation in the Sacraments.

The result of Confirmation is the following:

  1. Strengthens faith that is already there from Baptism.
  2. The full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost to strengthen us for our mission of spreading and defending our faith.
  3. Incorporate us more firmly into Christ.
  4. Strengthen our bond with the Church by associating us more closely with Her mission.
  5. Help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.


Responsorial Psalm.       Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20            (Glorious Deeds)

Today’s Psalm –  This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His glorious deeds. In this psalm God’s people acknowledged His deliverance and invited other people to join them in praising Him. “Invited other people” – See Theme – Diversity in Unity.


R. – Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, sing praise to the glory of His name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How tremendous are Your deeds!”
R. – Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to You, sing praise to Your name!” Come and see the works of God, His tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
R. – Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot; therefore let us rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.
R. – Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what He has done for me. Blessed be God Who refused me not my prayer or His kindness!
R. – Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2       1 Peter 3:15-18           (Life in the Spirit)  

Context – The First Letter Of Peter was written to encourage the church members as they experience apparently undeserved trials and suffering. Also to provide practical advice on relations with the civil authorities, and within society and families. This message (letter) which we will study as our second reading all through the Easter season, is a faithful reflection of the catechesis (religious instruction) of apostolic times.

Today’s Reading – This reading exhorts the Christians to continue to do well even in the face of hostility.  If questioned about their faith by authorities, they should be able to explain the hope that is in them, doing so with respect and reverence and not with antagonism. They are encouraged to be faithful Christians so that their witness will be effective.


Beloved: Sanctify (set apart to a sacred purpose or holy use, consecrate) Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear (all this is the basis for apologetics – explaining and defending Christian truth. See above, at the PAUSE for Reading 1, where we see that our Confirmation helps us with apologetics.), so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. (“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10, the 8th Beatitude.) For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that He might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel       John 14:15-21           (Eternal Presence)

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 –  Jesus is speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper, just after Judas has left and Jesus has told the remaining eleven that He must soon depart too. He reassures them that even though He will leave them, He will not abandon them. Instead He will send them the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, through whom the disciples will continue to live in union with Jesus. Jesus uses the term Advocate to describe the Holy Spirit, whom the disciples will receive. Another word used to describe the Holy Spirit is Paraclete, a legal term meaning “one who offers defense for another.” Note that Jesus says that He will send “another Advocate.” Jesus Himself is the first advocate, interceding for His disciples with the Father.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples will come to know and appreciate the unity of the Son and the Father. They will also understand that they too participate in the communion between the Father and the Son: “On that day you will realize that I am in My Father and you are in Me and I in you.”


Jesus said to His disciples: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (Our commitment to Jesus is proved by works and not merely by words.). And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the [Holy] Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows Him (Because the rest of the world had not been Baptized not Confirmed as yet. That’s why Jesus, later on just before His Ascension,  gave His Disciples the Great Commission – to go into all nations and Baptize and teach them. ). But you know Him, because He remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in My Father and you are in Me and I in you. Whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me. And whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father (“whoever loves Me” ( see Theme – Diversity) “will be loved by My Father” (see Theme – Unity). “For those who love Jesus are the aroma of Christ to God.” – 2 Corinthians 2:15), and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Catechism 788 – When His visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave His disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; He sent them His Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating His Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as His body those brothers and sisters of His who are called together from every nation.”



 

SR-2017-05-14

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For 5th Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – May 14, 2017


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


5th Sunday of Easter Theme: Service and Faith.

Reading 1 tells us how the Diaconate ministry came to be.  Reading 2 offers words of encouragement to a persecuted Christian community.  In the Gospel, Jesus offers some words of comfort to His Apostles who are sad because He has begun to speak about leaving them.


  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7      The early Christian community chooses seven people to serve at table so that the Twelve can devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33:1-2,4-5,18-19     The Lord is merciful toward those who trust in Him.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 2:4-9     Those who have faith are chosen in Christ to be a holy priesthood..
  • Gospel –  John 14:1-12      Jesus tells His disciples, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”


Reading 1       Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7           (Spiritual and Material Tasks)
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 –  This passage identifies some administrative changes that the growth of the early church made necessary. It relates to the establishment by the apostles of “the seven”: this is the second identifiable group of disciples entrusted with a ministry in the Church, the first being “the twelve”. In this passage we see one of two of Satan’s favorite methods of attacking the Church that he has employed throughout history: internal dissension (the other is external persecution).


As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. (Remember, the early Church shared all their possessions among the membership. Here a dispute arose because it was thought by some, that the sharing was not being done equitably.) So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table (to make the distributions of the possessions to all the members). Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men (They are regarded as the first Deacons.), filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen (He would later become the first Christian martyr.), a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them (Laying hands on someone is a Jewish and Christian tradition symbolizing the bestowal of a blessing. It also represents commissioning for a task and granting authority. In this passage, commissioning for a task is understood rather than formal ordination.). The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.


 PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            This is a great example of the laity helping with carrying out the mission of the Church.



Responsorial Psalm.      Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19            (Exult in the Lord)

Today’s Psalm –  This Psalm calls the godly to praise God for His dependable Word and His righteous works. The psalmist also assures the readers that God will be faithful to those who trust in Him and serve Him.


R. – Lord, let Your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You.
Exult, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting. Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant His praises.
(God is worthy of the best in expressions of praise as well as in all we do for Him.)
R. – Lord, let Your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You. Upright is the word of the LORD, and all His works are trustworthy. He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
(We can rely on everything He says and does, and He does what is right in loyal love for His people.)
R. Lord, let Your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You. See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.
(God normally chooses to bless those who fear Him and rely upon His promised love.)
R. Lord, let Your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “fear the Lord” – means to:
– Discover Him, Learn about Him, Worship Him (devotion).            – Seek His will in all matters and act upon it (service).
– Be obedient to Him in both good and bad times.                               – Love Him and give Him thanks.
– Reflect Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds.                               – Do justly, love kindness, be merciful, humble yourself.
– Tell others about Him.                                                                              – Hate evil.



Reading 2      1 Peter 2:4-9           (A Royal Priesthood)  

Context – The First Letter Of Peter was written to encourage the church members as they experience apparently undeserved trials and suffering. Also to provide practical advice on relations with the civil authorities, and within society and families. This message (letter) which we will study as our second reading all through the Easter season, is a faithful reflection of the catechesis (religious instruction) of apostolic times.

Today’s Reading – The newly baptized are like babies recently born to a new life of grace. Just as little children clamor for their food, Christians should long for the spiritual nourishment that lies in the Word of God and the sacraments. Baptism makes us members of the Church. Saint Peter uses the idea of constructing a building to explain that Christians together go to make up the one, true people of God.


Beloved: Come to Him, a Living Stone, (Even though Jesus Christ is the Church’s foundation – i.e. Stone, He is also alive – i.e. Living, in our hearts and in Heaven.) rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like Living Stones (Each Christian is one of the essential stones that enables the whole structure to fulfill its purpose.), let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (Christians are to present their lives of faith, obedience, and love as a sacrifice to God. A sacrifice is defined as giving up something that is good for something that is better. This is an example of the proper use of our Free Will.) For it says in Scripture: Behold, I am laying a Stone in Zion, a Cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in It shall not be put to shame. Therefore, Its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: The Stone that the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone, and A Stone that will make people stumble, and a Rock that will make them fall. They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. (The unbelievers are destined by God to “stumble”.)


You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own, so that you may announce the praises” of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel      John 14:1-12           (Faith in God)

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 –  Today’s reading takes place at the Last Supper – just after Judas has left and Jesus has told the remaining eleven that He must soon depart too. This reading has been called “Jesus is the way to the Father”. The reading opens and closes with the commands to believe in God and believe in Jesus. It makes the claim that, if one will not believe Jesus’ words, then His “works” should provide the grounds for knowing the Jesus and the Father are one.


Jesus said to His disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in Me (To be a Christian, you must have faith in God and faith in Christ, who is God.). In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to Him, “Master, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (Jesus is the sole Savior of the world.). No one comes to the Father except through Me (“For we are the aroma of Christ to God.” – 2 Corinthians 2:15). If you know Me, then you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to Him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father (Jesus is the icon of Divine Spirit. An icon is like a window that allows us to see what’s in Heaven.). How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who dwells in Me is doing His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” – Jesus is the Way to God because He is the truth from God and the life from God. He is the Truth because He embodies (represents) God’s supreme revelation, and He is the Life because He contains and imparts (gives) divine life. Jesus was summarizing and connecting many of the revelations about Himself that He had previously given the Eleven.



Catechism 1698 – The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ Himself, who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” It is by looking to Him in faith that Christ’s faithful can hope that He Himself fulfills His promises in them, and that, by loving Him with the same love with which He has loved them, they may perform works in keeping with their dignity:

I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head, and that you are one of His members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is His is yours: His spirit, His heart, His body and soul, and all His faculties. You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God. You belong to Him, as members belong to their head. And so He longs for you to use all that is in you, as if it were His own, for the service and glory of the Father. (St. John Eudes)

“For to me, to live is Christ.” (Philippians 21:1)



 

SR-2017-05-07

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For 4th Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – May 7, 2017


“Be optimistic no matter what comes. We don’t have to be afraid; we are in God’s hands.”

(Mother Anna Maria Dengel)


 4th Sunday of Easter Theme: The Good Shepherd.

This fourth Sunday of the Easter season is called Good Shepherd Sunday because the Gospel reading invites us to reflect on Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In all the readings, the familiar shepherd and flock figures are used to express the care, vigilance, and love of God for His people in the Old Testament and of Jesus for all humanity in the New Testament.

One of the oldest paintings of Christ, in the Roman catacombs, represents Christ as carrying the injured, straying sheep gently on His shoulders back to the sheepfold. This is an image of Christ which has always appealed to Christians. We have Christ as our shepherd – He tells us so Himself in today’s gospel – and we do not resent being called sheep in this context. There is something pure and warm about a sheep, and at the same time a lot of heedlessness! But with Christ as our Shepherd and the “Good Shepherd” who is sincerely interested in the true welfare of His flock we have reason to rejoice.



  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 2:14a,36-41       Peter and the other apostles baptize 3,000 people.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23:1-6       The Lord is my shepherd.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 2:20b-25       We have been healed by the wounds of Christ.
  • Gospel –  John 10:1-10       Jesus is the gate for His sheep.


Reading 1       Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41           (Salvation in Jesus)

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 –  This address proclaims that Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Jews crucified, is the Messiah promised by God and eagerly awaited for by the righteous people of the Old Testament; it is He who has affected God’s saving plan for mankind. God made Jesus the Good Shepherd to guide His flock.


Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord (King, Sovereign) and Christ (Messiah, Anointed One), this Jesus (Savior) whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart (with sorrow for their sins, especially against Jesus.), and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you (see below at PAUSE), in the name of Jesus Christ (Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ means becoming a member of Christ (the Church community), becoming a Christian.) for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children (the Jews) and to all those far off (the Gentiles), whomever the Lord our God will call.” He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “Repent and be baptized, every one of you”
Repentance involves a change of mind and heart first and secondarily a change of conduct. To repent is to turn away from sin (that is, turn away from the rejection of Jesus as Messiah in the case of the Jews, and idol worship in the case of pagans). Repentance is a positive concept, a change of mind and heart toward God reflected in the actual goodness of one’s life. It is in accord with the apostolic teaching derived from Jesus.

Baptism results in the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit. Luke presents baptism in Acts as the expected response to the apostolic preaching about Jesus, and associates it with the conferring of the Holy Spirit.



Responsorial Psalm.       Psalm 23:1-6             (Refuge in God)

Today’s Psalm –  In this well-loved psalm, the psalmist expresses a tremendous trust in God, our Good Shepherd.


R. – The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant
(abundant) pastures He gives me repose (peace); beside restful waters He leads me; He refreshes my soul.
R. – The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths for His name’s sake
(His name’s sake, whom He is named after, is that of the Good Shepherd.). Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for You are at my side. With Your rod (protects) and Your staff (guides) that give me courage.
R. – The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes
(This table is the Eucharist Altar  from which the devil tries to keep us away.); You anoint my head with oil (Protection – Shepherds put oil on the sheep’s head to protect them from insect bites.); my cup overflows (Friendship & companionship – A host, in Old Testament times, kept their guests’ drinking cup filled until he wanted them to leave.).
R. – The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell
(worship) in the house of the LORD for years to come.
R. – The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2       1 Peter 2:20b-25            (Christ Our Savior)

Context – The First Letter Of Peter was written to encourage the church members as they experience apparently undeserved trials and suffering. Also to provide practical advice on relations with the civil authorities, and within society and families. This message (letter) which we will study as our second reading all through the Easter season, is a faithful reflection of the catechesis (religious instruction) of apostolic times.

Today’s Reading – Peter reflects upon the passion (passion meaning both love and suffering) of Jesus and how that is a model for us to use to become Christlike.


Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted, He returned no insult; when He suffered, He did not threaten; instead, He handed Himself over to the one who judges justly (God the Father). He Himself bore our sins in His body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian (Jesus) of your souls.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “By His wounds you have been healed” –  “Jesus paid a debt He did not have because we had a debt we could not pay.”



Gospel       John 10:1-10            (The Good Shepherd)

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 –  Today’s reading takes place about four months before Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. In this passage, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will soon lay down His very life for His sheep – His followers. His willingness to put His life at risk for His followers makes Jesus a much more qualified leader than the Pharisees who are “thieves and robbers” who do not really care for the sheep and steal their opportunity to become righteous and rob their opportunity for eternal life in Christ.


Jesus said: “Amen, amen (see below at PAUSE), I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold (A sheepfold is a stone wall enclosure with a single entry way used to protect the flock at night from thieves and predators. It represents the Church.) through the gate (Jesus) but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber (unbeliever, unconverted, prideful). But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper (Holy Spirit) opens it for him, and the sheep (they are the faithful of Christ and those in the grace of God.) hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them (leads them by His instructions and example), and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what He was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the Gate for the sheep.  All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the Gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved, and will come in and go out (It simply affirms the security and freedom of those who cling to Christ.) and find pasture (Find delight in converting others, and find joy even when persecuted by unbelievers for the name of Christ.). A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life (the life of righteousness) and have it more abundantly (eternal life).”


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “Amen, amen” –  In the Old Testament, the word “Amen” connotes agreement, certainty, faithfulness. It is used at the end of some psalms, curses, blessings, prayers, and prophecies to allow the hearers/readers to say, “So be it!” or “Yes, I agree!” .  Sometimes it is repeated twice for emphasis.

Similarly in the New Testament, “Amen” is used at the end of doxologies, blessings, and other prayers.

Jesus uses the phrase, “Amen, I say to you…,” at the beginning of His own statements, rather than in response to what someone else said. Thus, it is not an expression of agreement, but a literary device for emphasizing what He is about to say subsequently. It is translated “Verily I say unto you… (KJV); “Truly, I say to you…” (RSV); “Truly, I tell you” (NRSV); etc.

In the Gospel of John, the expression is used 25 times, only by Jesus, but always with a doubled “Amen, Amen” for extra emphasis, meaning – this is important!. This is like saying “Hear Ye, Hear Ye” – as used by royal messengers or town criers in medieval England.



Catechism 754 – “The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God Himself foretold that He would be the Shepherd, and Whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave His life for His sheep.



 

SR-2017-04-30

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For 3rd Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – April 30, 2017


When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”

(Soren Kierkegaard)
It’s telling me “Jesus paid a debt He did not have because we had a debt we could not pay.”
(St. Augustine)  


3rd Sunday of Easter Theme: Word and Sacrament.

A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. The purpose of the sacraments is to make people holy, to build up the body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God; but being signs, they also have a teaching function. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and object, they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called “sacraments of faith.” The sacraments impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them disposes the faithful most effectively to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God rightly, and to practice charity.

The readings for this Sunday focus upon the preaching of the Word of God and the Eucharist Sacrament.


  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 2:14,22-33     Peter and the apostles announce that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-11     God will show us the path of life.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 1:17-21      You were saved by Christ’s sacrifice.
  • Gospel –  Luke 24:13-35     Jesus appears to two disciples who are walking to Emmaus.


Reading 1      Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33           (Reform Your Lives)

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 –  Luke, author of Acts, builds a bridge between Jesus and the Church. In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus breathes on the Apostles, infusing them with the Holy Spirit and empowering them to preach the Good News. In this reading, we witness Peter and the other Apostles doing just that – preaching the Good News about Jesus, the One sent by God to bring salvation to all of us.


Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed (Notice the change worked in Peter by the Holy Spirit – he now preaches his first sermon and argues boldly whereas previously he denied three times knowing Jesus.): “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words. You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazarene was a Man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This Man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God (see below at PAUSE), you killed, using lawless men to crucify Him. But God raised Him up, releasing Him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held by it. (Moreover Jesus also loosed us from the possible throes of death – St. Augustine) For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me, with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. (Psalm 16:8-11 – Peter appealed to this Psalm to prove that David prophesied Jesus’ resurrection in the Jewish Scriptures. Note – David himself was a prophet as well as a king.) “My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day. But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that He would set one of his descendants (Jesus) upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, He received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured Him forth, as you see and hear.” (Peter explained that it was Jesus, now at God’s right hand, who had poured forth the promised Holy Spirit from the Father. Throughout Acts, the presence of the Spirit is seen as the distinguishing mark of Christianity – it is what makes a person a Christian.)


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God” – Catechism 601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of “the righteous one, My Servant” as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free us from the slavery of sin. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had “received”, St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:7-8). Indeed Jesus Himself explained the meaning of His life and death, in the light of God’s suffering Servant. After His Resurrection He gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.

(Really, the sins of every human being put Jesus on the cross.)



Responsorial Psalm.      Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11            (Divine Security)

Today’s Psalm –  This psalm expresses confidence and trust in God that He will show us the path of life. It voices the joy David experienced in his life because of his trust in God and fellowship with God even though he faced distressing physical dangers.


R. – Lord, You will show us the path of life.
Keep me, O God, for in You I take refuge; I say to the LORD, “My Lord are You.” O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, You it is who hold fast my lot.
R. – Lord, You will show us the path of life. I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. – Lord, You will show us the path of life. Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; because You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will You suffer Your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. – Lord, You will show us the path of life. You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in Your presence, the delights at Your right hand forever.
(The psalmist counted on God giving him further revelation about what path to take so he would experience life rather than death.)

R. – Lord, You will show us the path of life.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2      1 Peter 1:17-21            (Conduct Yourselves Reverently)  

Context – The First Letter Of Peter was written to encourage the church members as they experience apparently undeserved trials and suffering. Also to provide practical advice on relations with the civil authorities, and within society and families. This message (letter) which we will study as our second reading all through the Easter season, is a faithful reflection of the catechesis (religious instruction) of apostolic times.

Today’s Reading – Today we hear Saint Peter call us to holiness. The Christian has attained the honor of being God’s child, His son or daughter. Peter summarizes God’s plan for our salvation, which comes about in Christ: from all eternity it was God’s design to save us through Christ; this design was made manifest “at the end of times”; when our Lord offered Himself as an expiation (payment) for our sins, and then rose from the dead and was glorified.


Beloved: If you invoke as Father Him who judges impartially (It is true that the Lord our God is infinitely merciful, but He is also infinitely just: and there is a judgment, and He is the judge.) according to each one’s works (Faith without works is dead – James 2-26.), conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished Lamb (Jesus the Passover Lamb). He was known before the foundation of the world (See “divine plan” discussed at Reading 1, above.) but revealed in the final time for you, who through Him believe in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of Christian faith and hope and is the main proof of Jesus’s divinity and His divine mission.)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel       Luke 24: 13-35            (Christ is Lord)

Context – Luke was a physician and a follower of Paul. His Gospel was written in 59-61 AD. He was probably the only Gentile writer in the Bible. Luke’s gospel includes Jesus words and works in Galilee, His journey to Jerusalem (which includes more episodes of Jesus’ life than do the other Evangelists), and His last week in Jerusalem. For later chapters of Luke: Jesus is now in Jerusalem for His passion. He has made His triumphal entry which we celebrate on Passion (Palm) Sunday, He has upset the establishment by cleansing the temple. The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees are all now interested in getting rid of Him.

Today’s Reading –  This is Luke’s well-known and loved Emmaus journey story.  Herein we notice a movement from the darkness of unbelief to the light of faith, a movement from despair to hope.  It is also a beautiful instruction on the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.


That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him (Throughout his gospel Saint Luke plays on the theme of seeing. Now he articulates this theme as he tells how the risen Christ opens the eyes of disciples to see His true meaning in God’s plan. But as this story narrates, the disciples’ eyes are only fully opened after they have shown hospitality to a stranger.). He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to Him in reply, “Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And He replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to Him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed Him over to a sentence of death and crucified Him. But we were hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that He was alive. Then some of those with us (Peter and John) went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the Scriptures. (Too bad for us that they did not record all that Jesus told them!) As they approached the village to which they were going, He gave the impression that He was going on farther. But they urged Him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while He was with them at table, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, but He vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            Notice that the two disciples were not at all upset when Jesus left them. In fact, they are anxious to tell the apostles of their discovery. They have discovered Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist! The person-to-person physical presence of a visible Jesus is no longer necessary because He is indeed risen and is present in the word and in the sacrament (see THEME).



Catechism 1329 – The Sacrament of the Eucharist is called:  The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with His disciples on the eve of His Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meal, when as master of the table He blessed and distributed the bread, above all at the Last Supper. It is by this action that His disciples will recognize Him after His Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with Him and form but one body in Him.

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.



 

SR-2017-04-23

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
For 2nd Sunday of Easter (Cycle A) – April 23, 2017


It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people.  The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.   (Horace Greeley)


 2nd Sunday of Easter Theme: Faith and Fellowship.

Saint John Paul II, in response to the wishes of the Christian faithful, declared that the Second Sunday of Easter throughout the Church will also be called Divine Mercy Sunday.


  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47      The first community of Christians grows as its members meet to pray and break bread.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24     God’s love is everlasting.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 1:3-9      We have new hope because of Jesus’ Resurrection.
  • Gospel –  John 20:19-31      We now hear of Jesus’ first appearance to His apostles after Easter Sunday.


Reading 1       Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47           (True Christian Fellowship)

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 –  Four characteristics are identified for the community life of the early Christians: instruction/teaching, table-fellowship, prayer, and sharing all things in common. These verses are an idealized version of how a community filled with the Spirit should live.


They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread (included the Lord’s Supper as well as eating meals together) and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.


 PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Responsorial Psalm.       Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24            (The Lord’s Goodness)

Today’s Psalm –  This is a prayer of thanksgiving to God for deliverance – “His mercy endures forever.”  As stated below: “This is the day the LORD has made”Easter!!  “let us be glad and rejoice in it” –  the victory of Easter is made wonderful in our eyes.


R. – Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love is everlasting.
Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say, “His mercy endures forever.”
R. – Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love is everlasting.
I was hard pressed and was falling, but the LORD helped me. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and He has been my savior. The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just:
R. – Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love is everlasting. The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. – Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love is everlasting.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “The stone which the builders rejected”Jesus is compared to the stone that the builders (His adversaries) had rejected. Whenever builders construct a stone building they discard some stones because they do not fit. Jesus was discarded like one of these stones, but God had restored Him to usefulness and given Him a position of prominence in God’s work.

“the cornerstone”The cornerstone of a large building was the largest and or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones were laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made Jesus the cornerstone of our salvation.



Reading 2       1 Peter 1:3-9            (Love in Practice) 

Context – The First Letter Of Peter was written to encourage the church members as they experience apparently undeserved trials and suffering. Also to provide practical advice on relations with the civil authorities, and within society and families. This message (letter) which we will study as our second reading all through the Easter season, is a faithful reflection of the catechesis (religious instruction) of apostolic times.

Today’s Reading – The God of Jesus Christ is praised for giving us, through Jesus, a new birth, a new hope, and an imperishable inheritance (Heaven). The gift offered to us is very precious and worth suffering for.  The “inheritance” of the believer is God himself.  This is cause for rejoicing even in the midst of trials.


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (This is the foundation of Christian hope, for in Jesus, God has shown what He intends to do for His people – us.) to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith (our continued obedient faith maintains us in God’s safekeeping), to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now yet believe in Him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”Our inheritance is imperishable because it is a heavenly life which neither age nor illness nor death nor plague can touch. It is undefiled because no unclean person can enter into it. It is unfading, because the heavenly blessings are such that even after long enjoyment of them the blessed never grow tired, … . (From Saint Bede the Venerable)

“the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire –  Trials do to faith what fire does to gold. They purify it and show it to be what it really is. The goldsmith, when working to purify a piece of gold, will apply very intense heat to the metal causing any  impurities to rise to the surface and then remove them. He will  continue reapplying the intense heat until he finally sees the metal is pure. How does the goldsmith know when the gold is pure? When he can see his own reflection in it. Similarly, trials, penance, and sacrifices endured by our obedient faith in this life and purgatorial suffering after death are like this fire and heat applied to the gold. These experiences refine us to remove imperfections. When God can see His own reflection in us, we are free to enter heaven.  (From Amy Carmichael (1867 – 1951) a Christian missionary in India).



Gospel       John 20:19-31            (Living Faith)

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 –  We now hear of Jesus’ first appearance to His apostles after Easter Sunday. John shares with us two Resurrection appearances of Jesus. The first appearance is sometimes called John’s Pentecost because during it, Jesus imparts His Spirit (which also occurs 50 days later at Pentecost). Prior to Jesus’ coming, the disciples were filled with fear (of the authorities, hence the locked doors), guilt (for abandoning Jesus) and depression (because of Jesus’ death).  With Jesus’ entry into their lives, the fear, guilt and depression are replaced with joy and peace. Then Jesus commissions His disciples to continue His work.  He also gives them the power to forgive sins – something the Catholic Church acts on in and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Some scholars see Jesus’ following appearance to Thomas as representing the second generation of Christians – those called to believe on the testimony of others. From Thomas, we learn how to be honest with our doubts.


On the evening of that first day of the week (the evening of Easter Sunday), when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews (After what had happened to Jesus, they feared for their lives.), Jesus came and stood in their midst  and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side (The point is that Jesus is raised with the same body that He was crucified.). The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 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. (Here, Jesus is breathing life into His creation, the Church.) Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (This is the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The apostles were not given the charisma of clairvoyance; they must hear the sins if they are to know which to forgive and which to retain.)

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later His disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this Book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.            “Jesus came and stood in their midst” –  The same power which could bring Christ’s whole body, entire in all its dimensions, through the doors, can, without the least question, make the same body really present in the sacrament; though both the one and the other be above our comprehension.

“My Lord and my God!”Thomas is the first person to properly address Jesus as “Lord and God” (this revealed to Thomas by the Holy Spirit). Prior to this Jesus was referred to only as “Teacher” or “Rabbi”.



Catechism 514 – Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about His hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of His public life is not recounted. What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  



 

SR-2017-04-16

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
    For Easter Sunday (Cycle A) – April 16, 2017


The word of God is the source of life and spirituality of the family.”
(Synod on the Family) 


Easter Sunday Theme: The Lord Has Indeed Risen.

Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is celebrated on Sunday, and marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), and is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year (our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection). Since Easter represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to humankind, it is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 10:34a,37-43      Peter preaches about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23      Rejoice in this day of the Lord.
  • Reading 2 – Colossians 3:1-4      Having been raised by Christ, be concerned with what is above.
  • Gospel – John 20:1-9     Mary of Magdala finds that the stone has been removed from Jesus’ tomb. 


Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43                   (Salvation in Christ)

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 –  What we hear of today is the inauguration of the mission to the Gentiles. Peter stressed the universal benefit of Jesus’ ministry in this message to Gentiles; it was for Gentiles as well as Jews. The power of Jesus’ ministry flows from Him being anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.


Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John [the Baptist] preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem (All the way from Galilee to Jerusalem.). They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree (they put to death on a cross the Lord of all creation). This Man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God (the Apostles) in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead (see Luke 24:41-43). He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that He is the One appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.” 


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “The cross of Christ reveals the love of God at its best and the sin of humankind at its worst.”  (Anonymous)



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23                       (The Day of the Lord)

Today’s Psalm –  This thanksgiving psalm is applied to all the great things God has done in Christ, especially raising Him from the dead.


R – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power; the right hand of the LORD is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “The stone which the builders rejected”Jesus is compared to the stone that the builders (His adversaries) had rejected. Whenever builders construct a stone building they discard some stones because they do not fit. Jesus was discarded like one of these stones, but God had restored Him to usefulness and given Him a position of prominence in God’s work.

“the cornerstone”The cornerstone of a large building was the largest and or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones were laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made Jesus the cornerstone of our salvation.



Reading 2     Colossians 3:1-4                         (Seek Heavenly Things)     

Context – Members of the congregation at Colosse had incorporated pagan elements into their practice. The Epistle to the Colossians, written by Paul in 61- 63 AD., declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading error in the congregation are opposed.

Today’s Reading – Christians have been raised to a new kind of life, a supernatural life, whereby they share, even while on earth, in the glorious life of the risen Jesus. This life is at present spiritual and hidden, but when our Lord comes again in glory, it will become manifest and glorious.


Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (The right hand of God is a metaphor for the place of supreme privilege and divine authority.). Think of what is above (think of our spiritual blessings and hope, our Savior’s desires, etc.), not of what is on earth. For you have died (In baptism, we die to sin and are raised in Christ.), and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory. (Although St. Paul’s main emphasis throughout has been on the present resurrection with Christ in baptism, this is a reference to the future resurrection at the end of time.)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel     John 20:1-9                         (Renewed Faith)

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 – Our Gospel today tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, the details provided are not necessarily meant to offer proof of the Resurrection. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is faith in Jesus and His Resurrection.


On the first day of the week (Sunday), Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved (John), and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in (John defers to Peter, the leader of the Apostles, by letting him enter first.). When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered His head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture  that He had to rise from the dead. (Scripture = Resurrection passages in the Old Testament: Psalm 16:10, Hosea 16:2, Jonah 2:1,2,10. Peter was still ignorant that Jesus was to rise from the dead. For although the apostles had so often heard their divine Master speak in the most plain terms of His resurrection, still being so much accustomed to parables, they did not understand, and imagined something else was meant by these words. – St. Augustine)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s ‘receipts’ telling us that the debt has been paid.” (Pastor Dr. Warren Wiersbe, theologian)



Catechism 2174 – Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish Sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from        darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.  



 

SR-2017-04-09

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
    For Palm Sunday (Cycle A) – April 9, 2017


LENT:
Liturgical Color – Violet or purple is used as a sign of penance, sacrifice and preparation.
Purpose – Lent is the forty day period before Easter, excluding Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). It includes the Sacred Triduum – Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper with foot washing, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan, and preparing to begin His ministry. Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter.
(Cycle A) – Matthew’s Gospel is used primarily during the Sunday Mass, Liturgy of the Word’s Gospel Reading.


            “Those that aim at holiness constantly look into sacred writings to examine their lives, to scrutinize  their deeds. In
addition, if they find anything reprehensible, inordinate, or out of keeping with their state, they at once use every effort
to amend and set it right, according to the light they have received.”
   (St. Augustine)


Palm Sunday Theme: Death and Life.

Today we begin Holy Week, the days during which we journey with Jesus on His way of the cross and anticipate His Resurrection on Easter. These days are indeed profound and holy. The events of Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection are called the Paschal Mystery.

  • Passion – The readings for Palm Sunday revolve around the two meanings of the word “passion.” Paul’s letter to the Philippians illustrates how these meanings intertwine.  Christ felt such passion (love) for humanity that he took on our human condition and endured the most extreme passion (suffering) we can imagine as the servant of God.
  • Paschal – Pascal means – of or relating to Easter or Passover. Jesus was the Pascal Lamb sacrificed for our redemption. Jesus is referred to as our “Paschal Lamb” or “Lamb of God” because His crucifixion echoes the Jewish ritual sacrifice of their Passover lamb.

  • Reading 1 – Isaiah 50:4-7      The Lord’s Servant will stand firm, even when persecuted.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20 ,23-24      A cry for help to the Lord in the face of evildoers.
  • Reading 2 – Philippians 2:6-11      Christ was obedient even to death, and God has exalted Him.
  • Gospel – Matthew 26:14—27:66     Jesus is crucified, and His body is placed in the tomb.


 Reading 1     Isaiah 50:4-7                (Christ’s Suffering)

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. The Book is divided into 66 chapters. It prophesies doom  for a sinful Judah and Israel and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. Then, it prophesies God’s restoration of the nation of Israel, including Judah, and is interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Christ.

Today’s Reading –  This reading is about the life of a servant of God. In Isaiah’s mind, this servant spoken about may have been an individual or the nation of Israel. For us Christians, this reading prophesizes about Jesus as this Servant of God. The servant is entrusted with a special mission on behalf of God’s people. The servant is, first of all, portrayed as a disciple who listens to God. Unlike the Israelites in the desert, the servant is not rebellious, nor does he turn back. Because of his faithfulness to God, the servant undergoes all kinds of humiliations and sufferings. In the midst of his sufferings, the servant displays great trust in God.


The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue (a disciple’s tongue), that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear (The tongue filled with the appropriate word for ministry is the product of the ear filled with the word of God.); and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting (the greatest indignity).

The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint (denotes steadfastness), knowing that I shall not be put to shame. 


 PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24             (Christ’s Abandonment)

Today’s Psalm –  This is the moving psalm that Jesus prayed on the cross – “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”.  It is a combination of lament in a time of great suffering and thanksgiving for God’s deliverance. The imagery used is very powerful and vivid. The opening verses describe the suffering and derision that the psalmist endures from onlookers. Among other things, they mock him for placing his trust in God.  But the mockery and brutality of the onlookers cannot undermine the devotion of the psalmist who remains steadfast in his trust in God.  The psalm ends on a positive note with the psalmist proclaiming God’s goodness in the midst of the assembly.


R. –  My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: “He relied on the LORD; let Him deliver him, let Him rescue him, if He loves him.”
R. – My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs
(enemies) surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.
R. – My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. But You, O LORD, be not far from me; O my Help, hasten to aid me.
R. – My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?
I will proclaim Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You: “You who fear the LORD, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R. – My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Reading 2     Philippians 2:6-11                      (Humility)    

Context – St. Paul founded the church in Philippi (in northern Greece) in 50 AD and this letter was written about ten years later. Philippians is a letter of thanks and encouragement to a congregation of dear friends of Paul. They supported the imprisoned apostle with their prayers and financial assistance. Much of this letter challenges the Philippians to grow in spiritual maturity and imitating both their Savior and their founding apostle. He holds up Jesus Christ as the model of humility and selfless love  and himself as a model of patient endurance.

Today’s Reading – Because Christ emptied Himself and because of His humility, God raised Him up and exalted Him. Like the servant in the Reading 1, God came to the help of Jesus, the servant par excellence, and gave Him the name “Lord,” a name given only to God in the Old Testament.


Christ Jesus, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself (He poured Himself out into the form of a human.  The Lord did not lay aside His form of God; He did not cease to be God. He added the “form” of  human to Himself.  Jesus now had a divine nature as well as a human nature.), taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Death by crucifixion was the most awful degrading form of criminal execution in the ancient world.). Because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Bow in submission to His authority and in gratefulness for all His blessings we have received.), and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel     Matthew 26:14–27:66                     (Christ’s Passion)

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 – The story of Jesus’ Passion and death in Matthew’s Gospel focuses particularly on the obedience of Jesus to the will of his Father. Throughout the Passion narrative, Matthew cites and alludes to Scripture to show that the events of Jesus’ Passion and death are in accordance with all that was foretold. And if the events were foretold, then God is in control. In addition, Matthew is particularly concerned that the reader does not miss the fact that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of the Old Testament. Jesus acts in obedience to the Father even in death, so that sins (Original Sin) may be forgiven.


One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand Him over.


On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with My disciples.”‘” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, He reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, He said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to Him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with Me is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” (The condemnation of Judas’ act is the most severe in all the gospels. The death of Jesus is inevitable (as Scripture says in Isaiah 53:8) but it is not inevitable that one of His disciples should betray Him.) Then Judas, His betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to His disciples said, “Take and eat; this is My body.” Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of My Father.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in Me shaken, for it is written: I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed (Zechariah 13:7); but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to Him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in You shaken, mine will never be.” Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even though I should have to die with You, I will not deny You.” And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress (After the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the devil had departed from Him until now, an opportune time – Luke 4:13. Now, with the passion, he attacks again, using the flesh’s natural repugnance to suffering.). Then He said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with Me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet, not as I will, but as You will.” When He returned to His disciples He found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing a second time, He prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without My drinking it, Your will be done!” Then He returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then He returned to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let Us go. Look, My betrayer is at hand.”

While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people. His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The Man I shall kiss is the One; arrest Him.” Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed Him (A kiss is a normal form of greeting in the eastern culture. Jesus was not that well known to the arresting party and had to be identified.). Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” (WOW! Jesus calls Judas a friend!) Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested Him. And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus (Peter) put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant (Malchus), cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and He will not provide Me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” (Isaiah 53:5, Zechariah 13:7) At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize Me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest Me. But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled. (Jesus again demonstrates that He is giving Himself up of His own free will. He knows why this is happening and He wants to make it quite clear that in the last analysis it is not force which puts Him to death but His own love and His desire to fulfill His Father’s will.)

Those who had arrested Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome. The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put Him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward who stated, “This Man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'” The high priest rose and addressed Him, “Have You no answer? What are these men testifying against You?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “I order You to tell us under oath before the living God whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.'” Then the high priest tore his robes (This was a sign of distress.) and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?” They said in reply, “He deserves to die!” Then they spat in His face and struck Him, while some slapped Him, saying, “Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck You?”

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!” As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of Them; even your speech gives you away.” At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the Man.” And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny Me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death. They bound Him, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, “It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.” After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a Man with a price on His head, a price set by some of the Israelites, and they paid it out for the potter’s field just as the Lord had commanded me.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned Him, “Are You the king of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” And when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against You?” But He did not answer him one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now on the occasion of the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed Him over. While he was still seated on the bench, his wife sent him a message, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man. I suffered much in a dream today because of Him.” The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus. The governor said to them in reply, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They answered, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!” But he said, “Why? What evil has He done?” They only shouted the louder, “Let Him be crucified!” When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood. Look to It yourselves.” And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged (Prisoners were scourged to weaken them so as to shorten their agony on the cross.), he handed Him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around Him. They stripped off His clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about Him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on His head, and a reed in His right hand (a mock scepter). And kneeling before Him, they mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon Him and took the reed and kept striking Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the cloak, dressed Him in His own clothes, and led Him off to crucify Him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry His cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha —which means Place of the Skull(Adam’s skull was buried there – hence the depiction of a skull beneath the cross in some crucifixion paintings. The Second Adam (Jesus) is sacrificed over the remains of the first.), they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall (anything bitter tasting and/or poison, narcotic). But when He had tasted it, He refused to drink. After they had crucified Him, they divided His garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over Him there. And they placed over His head the written charge against Him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Two revolutionaries were crucified with Him, one on His right and the other on His left. Those passing by reviled Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, if You are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!” (The nails didn’t keep Jesus on the cross, only thing which kept Him there was His love for us.) Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked Him and said, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. So He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He wants Him. For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” The revolutionaries who were crucified with Him also kept abusing Him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon (This was quite clearly an abnormal, literal darkening of the sky. Darkness in Scripture often represents judgment and or tragedy. This was a time of judgment on Jesus for the sins of all humanity.). And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (The opening words of Psalm 22. Jesus is praying and calling to the mind of the hearer all the prophesies of the Psalm which He is fulfilling. See, above, Responsorial Psalm.) Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This One is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink. But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save Him.” But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up His spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom (The meaning of the scene may be that now, because of Jesus’ death, all people, not just the Jewish High Priests, have access to the presence of God, or that the temple, its holiest part standing exposed, is now profaned and will soon be destroyed.). The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after His resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped It in clean linen and laid It in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest His disciples come and steal Him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go, secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Why did they give “Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall”?  In order to lessen the pains of the execution, it was customary with the Jews to offer to those who were condemned to death a generous drink of wine to which had been added benumbing opiates and sleeping potions. This had, to a high degree, the power of deadening the sensory nerves. The drink of criminals was therefore presented to the Redeemer. He tasted it, but did not empty the cup. He would not die in a condition of stupor, but in the full possession of His senses. (From catholictradition.org)

Possible significance of  laid It in his new tomb A “new tomb” means it was never defiled previously. “No room at the Inn and laid in a manger” means Jesus at birth was laid in a cradle never defiled previously. “Born of a virgin” means born of a woman never defiled previously. Throughout Jesus’ life, God ensured the sanctity  of the environment for His Son whenever it was necessary on God’s part to do it.



Catechism – The range of the number of versus in the Gospel is too long for one Catechism citation to apply.