29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Ex 17:8-13  +  2 Tim 3:14—4:2  +  Lk 18:1-8
October 16, 2016

“…be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient….”

When we were children, many of us were taught the Catholic Faith through the use of catechisms.  Most catechisms—including the classic Baltimore Catechism—have a Question & Answer format.  This format has the great advantage of simplicity, presenting the beliefs of the Faith in bite-sized pieces.  Of course—to use a different metaphor—once we have all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle on the table, we have the job of putting them together, in order to form the larger picture.

However, when Saint John Paul II decided that the Church needed a new catechism, in order to incorporate the many good insights of the Second Vatican Council, he decided not to use the Question & Answer format.  Instead, the Catechism of the Second Vatican Council uses what might be called short essays.  These essays are grouped under four headings, or to use a different image, four pillars.  These four pillars present the Church’s beliefs, sacraments, morality, and prayer, focusing on the Creed, the seven sacraments, the Ten Commandments, and the Our Father. Continue reading

29th Sunday – Ord. Time [C]

The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Ex 17:8-13  +  2 Tim 3:14—14:2  +  Lk 18:1-8
October 16, 2016

“…proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient….”

In our Second Reading, Saint Paul describes how God’s Word speaks to us through the words of the Bible.  But the “Word of God” is not limited to the Bible.  We listen to the Word of God in the Bible in order to receive an even greater gift:  the Word of God made Flesh.  Opening our selves to this greater gift is one of the most basic “moves” of the Christian life. Continue reading

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Ephesians 1:15-23  +  Luke 12:8-12
October 15, 2016

“‘For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.’”

Twice in today’s Gospel passage, God the Holy Spirit is referred to.  The first mention is somewhat ambiguous in meaning:  in its plainest sense, “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” would refer to denying that the Holy Spirit is truly and fully God.  The Church has had to combat such denial throughout her history. Continue reading

Fri. – 28th Week – Ord. Time

Friday – 28th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Ephesians 1:11-14  +  Luke 12:8-12
October 14, 2016

“‘Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna….’”

In the secular culture that surrounds modern Western man, the only image of Jesus that is acceptable is that of a spiritual teddy bear.  The idea that Jesus makes demands or sets boundaries is incompatible with modern secularism.

What to make of today’s Gospel passage, then?  Jesus declares:  “I shall show you whom to fear.  Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.”

Still, just three sentences later Jesus demands:  “Do not be afraid.”  There seems to be a contradiction.  Jesus tells us to be afraid, and then not to be afraid.

Jesus insists that we have a fully-rounded, rather than two-dimensional, view of God.  We may consider Jesus to be speaking of God the Father, or of Himself, when He describes whom one should fear.  As God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit condemn the one who is a spiritual hypocrite.  Fear of God, the Just Judge, however, is a fear that helps us shape our lives.  This is a “holy fear”, or rather, “fear of the Lord”.  This fear gives direction to our days on this earth and to each day’s choices.  But guided by this holy fear, we can trust God who guides us to Himself.

Thurs. – 28th Week – Ord. Time

Thursday – 28th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Ephesians 1:1-10  +  Luke 11:47-54
October 13, 2016

“In Christ we have redemption by His Blood….”

Today’s First Reading consists of the first ten verses of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.  We will hear from this letter at weekday Mass for just over two weeks, so an introduction to the letter is in order.

St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is known for its focus on the Church.  A passage from Ephesians is often proclaimed at a Catholic wedding.  In Ephesians, St. Paul describes how the Church is Christ’s Bride, and uses the spousal example of Christ’s love for His Bride as a means of explaining to the Ephesians what the grace they’ve received from God “looks like”.  This grace isn’t meant to flow just one way:  God means for the members of the Church to “exchange” it amongst each other, and through each other, back to God as well.

In today’s passage, St. Paul speaks directly about this love by which we share in the life of the Church.  “In love [the Father] destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ”.  This has happened for each of us through the Sacrament of Baptism.  “In Christ we have redemption by His Blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us.”  This grace was won by Christ for us on Calvary, where Jesus laid down His life for His bride, the Church.

Wed. – 28th Week – Ord. Time

Wednesday – 28th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 5:18-25  +  Luke 11:42-46
October 12, 2016

“ ‘You pay tithes… but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.’ ”

Jesus pulls no punches in today’s Gospel passage.  If the scholar of the Law who interrupted Jesus’ lambasting of the Pharisees thought he would earn an apology from Jesus, he quickly realized otherwise.  Contrary to modern notions of Jesus as a sort of “spiritual teddy bear”, today’s Gospel passage splashes cold water on our souls, forcing us to ask whether Jesus might speak of us in a similar manner. Continue reading

Tuesday – 28th Week – Ord. Time

Tuesday – 28th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Gal 5:1-16  +  Lk 11:37-41
October 11, 2016

“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

At weekday Masses, we tend to hear a continuous reading from day to day of whichever book of the Bible is being read for the First Reading, as well as for the Gospel passage.  There are jumps from time to time, but generally there is a continuity from day to day. Continue reading

Monday – 28th Week – Ord. Time

Monday – 28th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Gal 4:22-24,26-27,31—5:1  +  Lk 11:29-32
October 10, 2016

“These women represent two covenants.”

In today’s First Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle to the Gentiles uses a very direct allegory.  Abraham begat one son by a free woman, and another son by a slave woman.  St. Paul sees the slave son as an allegory for those held bound by the Law, while the free son is an allegory for those who share in the freedom of Christ. Continue reading

28th Sunday – Ord. Time [C]

The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
II Kgs 5:14-17  +  2 Tim 2:8-13  +  Lk 17:11-19
October 9, 2016

“‘If we have died with Him / we shall also live with Him….’”

You might have heard of the boy who was watching his father, a Protestant minister, at his desk, writing his Sunday sermon.  Little Billy asked, “Daddy, how do you know what to say?”  Reverend Jones replied, “Why, son, God tells me.”  “Oh,” said the lad.  Then Billy scratched his head and asked, “Then why do you keep crossing things out?” Continue reading