Thurs. 1st Week of Advent

Thursday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 26:1-6  +  Matthew 7:21,24-27
December 1, 2016

For the Lord is an eternal Rock.”

Likely you’ve had a conversation with a fellow Christian who insists that the entire Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—must be interpreted literally.  The next time that occurs, offer your fellow Christian this sentence from today’s First Reading—“For the Lord is an eternal Rock.”—and ask if the Lord is literally a rock.  The absurdity of the question shows that a single Scripture verse may have multiple meanings:  including, but also transcending, the literal meaning. Continue reading

St. Andrew

St. Andrew, apostle
Daniel 7:15-27  +  Luke 21:34-36
November 30, 2016

“And how can they hear without someone to preach?”

There are many things about a man entering the seminary that are misunderstood.  One important point, that many people are not clear on, is that a man enters the seminary in order to continue to discern the calling that the Lord has made to him.  He does not enter the seminary because he has already made a decision to be a priest.  The Lord calls out to every young man, “Come after me….”  What differs from one man to another is the phrase that follows “Come after me….”  For some, the words that follow are “Be my faithful disciple, and serve me wherever you go in the world.”  To others, Jesus says those words by which we hear him calling Simon and Andrew:  “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  The prayer that a man offers while in the seminary asks the Lord for help in clarifying just which call it is that the Lord has made to him. Continue reading

Tues. 1st Week of Advent

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10  +  Luke 10:21-24
November 29, 2016

“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him….”

In today’s First Reading, the verbs “judge” and “decide” are each used twice.  The first sentence is negative, in that Isaiah describes how the “root of Jesse” will not judge and decide:  that is, “not by appearance”, “nor by hearsay”.  In the next sentence, Isaiah gives a positive description of the judgments of the “root of Jesse”.  However, these phrases describe not only how he will judge—that is, “with justice” and “aright”—but also for whom he will judge.  He “shall judge the poor”, “and decide… for the land’s afflicted.” Continue reading

Mon. 1st Week of Advent

Monday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 4:2-6  +  Matthew 8:5-11
November 28, 2016

“Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122 describes the image of “the house of the Lord”.  In this Old Testament passage, “the house of the Lord” refers not to Heaven, but to the sacred, earthly city of Jerusalem.  The passage also mentions that Jerusalem sits atop a mountain (not on the scale of the Rockies or Himalayas, but a mountain as considered by the ancient peoples of the Holy Land).  That “the house of the Lord” sits atop a mountain implies an ascent, which in turn implies personal sacrifice.  One must stretch and climb to reach His house.  We can relate this ascent both to the long course of Old Testament salvation history, and/or to our own religious practices during the Season of Advent. Continue reading

The 1st Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent [A]
Isaiah 2:1-5  +  Romans 13:11-14  +  Matthew 24:37-44
November 27, 2016

“For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”

But you do know, of course, when the celebration of Christmas will take place:  December 25th.  That never changes.  We can count on that just like we can count on the sun rising in the east every morning.  So much of our preparation for December 25th is customary, and customs are like well-worn slippers:  comfortable and without surprises.

But surprise leaps off every page of the Gospel accounts of the nine months leading up to the birth of Jesus.  Surprise also surrounds His birth at Bethlehem, and surprise follows His birth as others try to get a good look at the new-born king. Continue reading

1st Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent [A]
Isa 2:1-5  +  Rom 13:11-14  +  Mt 24:37-44
November 27, 2016

“‘… for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.’”

“Stay awake!”  Jesus shouts this to us in the Gospel on this First Sunday of Advent.  These words sum up the whole season.  These words sum up what the original Christmas was like for Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, for King Herod and the three wise kings, and for the innkeepers whose homes were full when a poor expectant couple appeared on a cold night requesting shelter.  Everything about the first Christmas was unexpected.  That’s why on this First Sunday of Advent we hear the command:  “Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Continue reading

Sat. 34th Week – Ord. Time

Saturday – 34th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Revelation 20:1-4,11—21:2  +  Luke 21:29-33
November 26, 2016

“‘For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.’”

The Responsorial Psalm on this final day of the liturgical year shows us how the Church’s year is cyclical in nature.  The psalm’s refrain is a link, tying together this final day of the year to the season of Advent with which the new year begins tomorrow. Continue reading

Fri. 34th Week – Ord. Time

Friday – 34th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Revelation 20:1-4,11—21:2  +  Luke 21:29-33
November 25, 2016

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

The last verse of today’s First Reading offers a key to understanding the entire Book of Revelation.  Mysterious as most of its imagery is, the image of “a bride adorned for her husband” is one that we readily understand.  But who is this bride, and who is the husband? Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day
Revelation 18:1-2,21-23;19:1-3,9  +  Luke 21:20-28
November 24, 2016

“‘But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads….’”

In the United States today, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  This is right in line with what the Church throughout the world celebrates in this last week of the Church year.  The Christian with his soul rightly ordered cannot meditate on the “last things” without thanksgiving welling up from his heart. Continue reading

Wed. 34th Week – Ord. Time

Wednesday – 34th Week – Ordinary Time [II]
Revelation 15:1-4  +  Luke 21:12-19
November 23, 2016

“‘By your perseverance you will secure your lives.’”

So many people grow fearful thinking about a cataclysmic end of the planet, even though the vast majority will never face it.  Perhaps you’ve seen one of those movies where there’s a dramatic end to life on the planet Earth as we know it.  Movies like that can draw a great deal of attention, and sell a lot of tickets.  Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter if you die from an ice age covering the whole continent, or from old age in your very own home:  what comes next is the same. Continue reading