September 11, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Colossians 1:24—2:3  +  Luke 6:6-11

In God is my safety and my glory.

We might want to reflect at today’s Mass on our nation commemorating the anniversary of terrorist attacks against our country.  It’s astonishing that religion was a driving force in the hearts of those who committed mass murder.  We ask ourselves how the murder of innocent people could be carried out in the name of God.  It seems like religion turned completely inside out. Continue reading

The 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Ez 33:7-9  +  Rom 13:8-10  +  Mt 18:15-20
September 10, 2017

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:  “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah….”

Today’s Responsorial Psalm comes from Psalm 95.  It’s the last section of today’s Responsorial that ties most directly to the rest of this Sunday’s scriptures.  The refrain of today’s Responsorial comes from this section, and is a paraphrase of Psalm 95:7-8:  “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

One notable feature of this sentence is that it speaks in the plural.  Its command is to “harden not your hearts”, not “your heart”.  This is a “community psalm”, to use a modern phrase.  As so many of the psalms make clear, they were composed for liturgical worship, which by its nature is communal rather than individualistic.  This is good to remember when we as Christians are tempted to reduce our faith to being simply between “me and Jesus”.  Just as in Jesus both the divine nature and a human nature fully dwell, so living one’s faith in Jesus means fully loving God, and fully loving one’s neighbor.  As soon as we prefer one of these to the other, our faith is no longer focused in Christ.

This leads us to ask why Psalm 95 exhorts us to harden not our hearts when we hear the Lord’s voice.  What about the Lord’s voice could tempt us to do so?  The answer is two-fold.  The first is His command to love Him with faith.  During the Exodus, God’s people demanded signs from God of His power.  This is what Psalm 95 is referring to directly.  In our own lives each of us sins when we lose faith in God’s providential love, in which all things—even sin and evil—work together for good, in the words of Saint Paul. Continue reading

St. Peter Claver

St. Peter Claver, Priest
Colossians 1:21-23  +  Luke 6:1-5
September 9, 2017

…persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel….

Following yesterday’s majestic hymn about the transcendent Christ, Saint Paul in today’s First Reading from Colossians speaks plainly to sinners.  Just as Paul addressed the Colossians as those who had been redeemed in Christ but who were—at the time of his writing—struggling to remain faithful, so we also are addressed today:  we who know very well the experience of sin, and its consequent forms of alienation. Continue reading

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Micah 5:1-4  +  Matthew 1:1-16,18-23
September 8, 2017

“She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus….”

The story is told about a priest who had the opportunity to visit Mother Teresa of Calcutta often.  This priest was 6’1” in height, and one time, on returning again to Calcutta and seeing Mother Teresa, who was about 4’8”, he said to her, “You know, Mother, I think you grow smaller every time I see you.”  Mother Teresa said in response, “Yes, one has to grow very small indeed to fit into the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Continue reading

September 7, 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Colossians 1:9-14  +  Luke 5:1-11

“But if you say so, I will….”

In spite of Peter’s knowledge and experience in fishing, and in spite of his having been up all night long, Peter and his fishing partners had caught absolutely nothing.  Sometimes in what we do, also, we try our best, even at things we’ve done before and know a lot about, but things don’t work out for us.  That’s a natural part of life in this fallen world. Continue reading

September 6, 2017

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Colossians 1:1-8  +  Luke 4:38-44

…we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus….

Today the Church at weekday Mass begins to proclaim Saint Paul’s Letter to the Colossians.  We will hear from this letter over the next eight days, and will hear from the first three of its four chapters.

Most of St. Paul’s letters have introductions similar to one another, following a format that was common in Paul’s day for letter-writing.  But with greater scrutiny we notice unique touches with which Paul foreshadows the kernel of each letter.  One of these touches that he paints in today’s reading evokes the three divine virtues. Continue reading

September 5, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6,9-11  +  Luke 4:31-37

…they were astonished at His teaching because He spoke with authority.

Astonishment is evoked by the fact that Jesus teaches with authority.  Why is there this astonishment, and what does it mean for Jesus to teach with authority?

In the culture that surrounds us, every person believes himself to be his own authority.  In effect, this wide-spread belief means that no real authority exists.  In our society there is a great need for clarity about the meaning and purpose of authority. Continue reading

September 4, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  +  Luke 4:16-30

…the dead in Christ will rise first.

Today’s First Reading is often proclaimed at funerals.  It’s full of teaching from St. Paul about death and the afterlife.  Unfortunately, some of these teachings has been distorted, and demand clarity from the wisdom of holy doctors of the Faith, and the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church. Continue reading

The 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Jer 20:7-9  +  Rom 12:1-2  +  Mt 16:21-27
September 3, 2017

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.

The human person must stand solidly against death.  This is the truth that Peter denies in the Gospel passage we hear this Sunday.  This is the truth that the prophet Jeremiah wanted to avoid for so long.

Jeremiah had begun his role as a prophet during easy times, during the reign of a king who stood up for goodness, and who inspired others to follow him in the way of goodness.  Only years later, when a corrupt man became the king of Judah, did Jeremiah begin to realize the bigger picture of God calling him to be a prophet.  It was for the sake of a decaying society that God had called him.  He was to speak out against the evil which so many people had made their own.  Yet he was initially unwilling.  Jeremiah could only cry, “You duped me, Lord, and I let myself be duped.”  But we can be sure that God saw things differently.

Jeremiah’s frustration was similar to the frustration of Peter in the Gospel.  We heard last weekend how, after Peter confessed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus handed over to him the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  It’s easy to see how confusing Jesus’ next words to Peter must have seemed.  Jesus seemed to have given him the power to make all things right with the world.  But then Jesus tells Peter that he, the Messiah, would have to suffer at the hands of world leaders.  What kind of power was this that Peter had been given?  Not much, apparently.  We can be sure, though, that Jesus saw things a little differently. Continue reading

September 2, 2017

Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 4:9-11  +  Matthew 25:14-30

“A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.”

It’s helpful to remember that the parables proclaimed at Holy Mass yesterday and today come from Chapter 25 of Matthew.  This is the final chapter before Matthew’s account of the Last Supper and the events that follow.  The section from which these parables come is sometimes called “the Olivet discourse”, in which Jesus’ attention is fixed on the judgment of Jerusalem. Continue reading