The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Ez 18:25-28  +  Phil 2:1-11  +  Mt 21:28-32
October 1, 2017

“Which of the two did his father’s will?”

Surely you’ve seen those license plate frames with little sayings on the top and bottom.  I saw one that said:  “Insanity is hereditary:  you get it from your children.”  We might say that the capacity to drive others insane is something we’re born with.  The capacity for self-sacrifice, on the other hand, has to be acquired.

The capacity for self-sacrifice is the measure of authenticity in the Christian life.  By contrast, the world around us encourages us to do what?  The world that surrounds us encourages us to do what is contrary to the path Christ asks us to walk.  Instead of choosing self-sacrifice, we choose self-glorification and self-gratification.  Or in contrast to Christ’s path of self-sacrifice, we fudge a little bit:  we make sacrifices, but not of our selves.  We sacrifice things to which we have no attachment.  We’re like the child on Ash Wednesday who proudly announces that he’s giving up spinach for Lent, or homework, or fighting with his sister.

Our children receive our attention regarding the discernment of their vocations, and rightly so.  But our efforts will be of no avail if we don’t help our youth free themselves to accept whichever call God makes of them.  In other words, putting knowledge about vocations into our young people’s minds is not enough.  A vocation is also a matter of the will.  Education in any subject requires a shaping not only of the intellect, but of both the intellect and the will.  Any school that only gives knowledge about math, English, music, etc. is largely wasting its time.  If a school doesn’t also give its students a love for those subjects, then the knowledge will likely evaporate after the final exam. Continue reading

St. Jerome

St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Zechariah 2:5-9,14-15  +  Luke 9:43-45
September 30, 2017

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”

Today’s Gospel passage, from fairly early in Luke’s Gospel account (in chapter 9 of 24 chapters), helps us to focus squarely on Jesus, even if His words here confuse the disciples.  You and I have the advantage of hindsight, of course, in knowing “the rest of the story” of the Gospel.  We know perfectly well what Jesus is referring to when He predicts that the “Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” Continue reading

Sts. Michael, Gabriel & Raphael

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
Daniel 7:9-10,13-14  +  John 1:47-51
September 29, 2017

“…you will see Heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

About a month from now, the Church will celebrate All Saints’ Day, when we spend time thinking about the “lives of the saints”.  But it’s sort of difficult to read up on, and learn about the lives of today’s saints since they haven’t led “lives” in our normal sense of the word.  And, of course, their lives are still going on.  Still, these three saints—the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael—are a very important part of our Catholic prayer and belief. Continue reading

September 28, 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Haggai 1:1-8  +  Luke 9:7-9

Consider your ways!  You have sown much, but have brought in little….

Today’s First Reading consists of the first eight verses of the Book of Haggai.  While this book is found many books later in the order of the Old Testament canon than Ezra and Nehemiah, thematically the three of them are joined.  Haggai is one of the minor prophets of the Old Testament, and the book bearing his name is second to last in the Hebrew canon. Continue reading

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul, Priest
Ezra 9:5-9  +  Luke 9:1-6
September 27, 2017

He sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

The word “apostle” literally means “one who is sent”.  But the reason for being sent can vary, and this reason therefore qualifies the type of apostolic ministry.  For example, today’s Gospel passage comes from the ninth chapter of Luke (which is 24 chapters long).  Here, the apostles are not being sent to proclaim the Resurrection, because Jesus has not died yet!  At the end of the Gospel the Apostles will be sent to proclaim the Gospel and thereby build Jesus’ Church. Continue reading

September 26, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Ezra 6:7-8,12,14-20  +  Luke 8:19-21

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Today’s First Reading, like yesterday’s, proclaims the might of God’s providential Will in the context of God’s people rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.  Today’s passage from Ezra concludes by describing the dedication of the Temple and the priestly sacrifices offered. Continue reading

September 25, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Ezra 1:1-6  +  Luke 8:16-18

“‘…he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.’”

Tomorrow and the next two days, the First Reading comes from the Book of Ezra.  To put this book into context within the Old Testament and within salvation history, at least two things ought to be kept in mind. Continue reading

The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Isa 55:6-9  +  Phil 1:20-24,27  +  Mt 20:1-16
September 24, 2017

I am caught between the two.

Saint Paul is talking about a tension that all of us feel.  But the reasons for this tension differ among various persons.  “I am caught between the two”, Saint Paul says in writing to the Philippian people.  The question he’s wrestling with is whether it’s better to live down here on earth, or to live in heaven.  If Jesus appeared before you tomorrow morning, and told you that at that very moment, He would take you up to Heaven if you wanted, would you go with Him?  Or would you be tempted to remain on earth?

Saint Paul is very straightforward:  “I do not know which I shall choose.  I am caught between the two.”  So if it’s hard for a saint to choose between this world and the next, we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re torn, also.

But St. Paul’s reason for being torn is different than the reasons that some have.  If you’re a Kenny Chesney fan, you’re familiar with his song called “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven.”  One version of the refrain goes:  “Everybody wants to go to heaven / Get their wings and fly around / Everybody want to go to heaven / But nobody want to go now.”  And to explain why this is, the singer tells how after church one Sunday he told his pastor:  “Next time you got the good Lord’s ear / Say I’m comin’ but there ain’t no hurry / I’m havin’ fun down here.”  St. Paul wouldn’t have been singing this song extolling “the good life” as he walked down the country roads to preach.  Instead, his aim was to form what today we call intentional disciples. Continue reading

Saint Padre Pio

St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest
1 Timothy 6:13-16  +  Luke 8:4-15
September 23, 2017

“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

The parable Jesus preaches to us today is well-known.  Its meaning is clear because Jesus Himself explains the parable:  something He rarely does.  Given this explanation, we might apply the parable to ourselves as an examination of conscience.  While Jesus describes the different elements of the parable as relating to different groups of persons, one can reflect on these elements as relating to oneself at different times in one’s life. Continue reading