We have made it to the third luminous mystery. This is a difficult one since it isn’t a single event that we can point to as “The Proclamation” Jesus does this in various ways notably in the parables. There are a bunch of parables just focusing on the Kingdom of God, the sower, the mustard seed, the pearl of great price, the hidden treasure, the leaven, and the growing seed are all great examples. In most of these the focus is on some small object a seed or yeast or some great treasure that although is small the individual takes all that they have to get the treasure or grows into something much larger. At the Easter Vigil we see this as the Pascal Candle is lit and from that single fire every candle in the church is lit as we pass on the fire up the rows of pews. Sure we all are hoping for the Kingdom to come but perhaps it is here in our small action (works of mercy) that we need to pass on to one another. Let us all keep this in mind as we begin our Lenten journey in about a month.
This week the readings come from Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 121, Paul’s second letter to Timothy 3:14-4:2 and Luke’s gospel 18:1-8.
The main idea behind the readings this week is Perseverance. We are given several examples in all of the readings, First we have in Exodus the story of how Moses helped win the war against Amalek by keeping his hand up. In the Psalm we are reminded that our help comes from the Lord, Paul tells us to be inspired by the Bible since that is where Wisdom come from. Finally we have an interesting parable the Unjust Judge isn’t afraid of God or respected any person but this one widow continually came to the judge to ask for help. The judge continually refused but eventually he gave in and gave a judgement because he fears the widow many come and hit him eventually if nothing come of her repeated requests. This parable is often used to remind us of the importance of prayer in our lives for just as the judge eventually responded to the request of the widow so too will the Lord hear and answer our prayers. However, even when we are sitting there without hearing a reply to our prayers we need to remember to be like Moses and keep going for our strength is the Lord. We should keep this in mind when we are waiting for our prayers to be answered, to keep praying. Keep the faith even though the way we want our prayers to be answered may not be the way that the Lord will answer them.
This week the readings come from Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; Psalm 51; Paul’s first letter to Timothy 1:12-17; and Luke’s Gospel 15:1-32. These reading deal with the mercy and forgiveness.
We begin with Moses going back down from the mountain top and seeing the people who have just come from Egypt worshiping a golden calf since that’s all they known. Moses intercedes for the Israelites and the Lord relents. Paul introduces himself in the letter as a sinner and tells Timothy that Jesus came to save all sinners. In the gospel we get a bunch of parables (lost sheep, lost coin, lost son) each tell the same story something gets lost and when it is found there is much rejoicing. The Shepherd has 100 sheep and loses one, then leaves the other 99 to go look for the lost one. The woman has 10 coins and loses one who wouldn’t go into search mode to find it turning her house upside down to find it. This is told again with the father and his two sons. The younger son wants his inheritance now so his father gives it to him and the son leaves. He loses all his money and resorts to working as a hired hand for some guy but the son isn’t happy. He comes to the realization that his Father’s hired hand were well fed and treated well. So the son leaves to return home and when he is a ways off the father spies him. His father comes running toward the Son and calls they have a celebration. The older son is not a fan of this as the younger son has wasted all his money and hasn’t done a thing, but the father say they are celebrating because his son that was dead is now alive again. This is how it is with the other parables as well after the thing is found (sheep, coin) there is much rejoicing an celebration.
It seems all to often in the world today we are the thing that is lost, with all the violence and hate in the world today we can forget that it is our mission to bring love and mercy to the world. This can be difficult for us all as we remember that 15 years ago a horrible act took place in the United States with crashes in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville. This is compounded by the culture of hate that pervades the world today. Let us ask to be made into instruments of peace just like in the Prayer of St. Francis.
This wee the readings come from Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12 or 19; and Luke’s Gospel 12:32-48.
The theme this week is how Faith gives us hope. We hear about Abraham who after the Lord told him to leave Ur and his homeland with his family did so without asking why for he had faith that the Lord would provide for him. This idea is hinted at in Wisdom where we hear about the Passover and Exodus is an idea that has been known for the ages of Jewish History, Abraham, Issac, Jacob and the like all knew to have faith and hope. We continue this idea in Luke with the parable of the Faithful Servant. This is the one where the servant awaits the Master to return from a Wedding but the servant doesn’t know when this will happen. We need to be like the servant who is ready for their master to return rather then the one who beats others and drink up the wine. It’s like if we knew when a robber would come and break into the house we’d be ready, but we never know when this is going to happen so it’s best to be safe. As the motto of scouting says “Be Prepared”. We need to be ready for anything to happen and have faith that things will end up positively. I hope that we can keep all those in Rio for the Olympics (athletes, coaches, and fans) as well as everyone who is traveling in our prayers this next couple of weeks that they all are kept safe.
This week the readings come from Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 69 or Psalm 19, Paul’s letter to the Colossians 1:15-20, and Luke’s Gospel 10:25-37.
The major story is this weekend is the Good Samaritan. It calls back to the first reading about obeying the law of the Lord. We have the question that still rings true today as a scholar of Jewish law asked Jesus who is his neighbor. The reply is complex as Jesus goes and tells a parable a man is stripped and beaten close to death, a priest comes to him and refuses to help then a Levite comes and does the same finally a Samaritan comes, now let’s remember that the Samaritans and Jews didn’t like each other very much, and helps the man bringing him to an inn and saying to the innkeeper that he will pay for whatever he spends beyond the two denarii the Samaritan will repay when he returns. Jesus then asks the scholar who is the neighbor and he says “the one who showed mercy.” Jesus tells him to do likewise. In this year of mercy let us all try to do likewise and show the mercy to our neighbors, and that includes everyone. As Susan Sontag said “10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and the remaining 80 percent can be moved in either direction.” Let us all strive toward the merciful or as Mother Teresa said “Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness.”
The readings this week are from Joshua 5:9a, 10-12; Psalm 34; Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 5:17-21; and Luke’s Gospel 15:1-3, 11-32. This week is also the Second Scrutiny so there is the option for readings from Year A to be used instead.
Today is Laetare Sunday it is the week in Lent which we are reminded to rejoice and be thankful. Thematically the readings this week skew towards reconciliation. This week we hear the parable of the Prodigal Son/Merciful Father, this is a story about all of us and our heavenly Father. How often do we feel like we want to just go away and do our things forgetting about the Church and the commandment. Often time I think that especially during Lent when we have all these people converting and joining or reaffirming their faith, which leads us to be like the faithful brother asking why do we celebrate them while I’ve been here the whole time. However we are really both brother in the reading at times we can be like the one who leaves and squanders everything only to eventually return and other times like the one who stayed. Most importantly let us remember the Merciful Father who upon seeing his son returning home goes running toward him greeting him with hugs and kisses. This Merciful Father is our Heavenly Father who calls us to be him in the world, let us try and show more mercy in these final weeks of Lent and the rest of this Year of Mercy.
This week the readings are from Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Psalm 103; Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12; and Luke’s Gospel 13:1-9. Unless the First Scrutiny takes place at the Mass you attend then the readings will most likely come from Year A.
The readings focus on an idea that Fr. Paul Scalia hit upon in his homily in which he eulogized his father Justice Antonin Scalia, we are a practicing Catholic, “practicing” in the sense that we haven’t perfected it yet. Starting with Moses and the burning bush where Moses is told to take off his sandals for this is holy ground and the Lord revealed himself as I AM WHO AM. This is someone who has been watching over his people and cares for them even though we do not see the signs. Paul pick up this idea that there are signs throughout the Old Testament to show up what not to do but also use this as an example in our modern day lives to try and figure out our problems through it. This is who we are as practicing Christians. We are like that gardener who pleads to save the fig tree in the parable. Living your faith take work but we have so many great examples from the past to show us the way and let our trees bear fruit.
We begin the long slog through the regular Sundays in Ordinary Time this week. The first reading comes from the Prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel was one of the prophets who lived in Babylon in exile. In the reading today we hear that The Lord will take a tender shoot off of a topmost branch of a ceder and plant it on a high lofty mountain and it will grow into a mighty ceder. This continues on with the Lord saying that all creation will know that the Lord brings low the high tree and lifts the lowly ones, withers the green trees and makes a withered tree bloom. This is symbolic of the people of Israel who although they are in exile now there are great things to come from the nation. To put it really simply it is to have hope for the Lord can do impossible things. In the Psalm we hear that it is good to give thanks to the Lord.
As we reach the epistle we hear from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Paul begins with reminding us that we are always courageous since we are away from Jesus and for we walk by faith and not by sight. There is also a continuation of the idea from the first reading for us to have hope but Paul cautions it with a clause that we will all appear before the seat of Christ where we will receive recompense for what we did in the body good or evil. As we arrive at the Gospel we hear the parable of the mustard seed, one of the great stories in the New Testament. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed for although the smallest of seeds it grows into one of the largest plants, where all the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. I like this story as from the smallest of things grows the largest of things that can support so many things. The seed is also symbolic of our faith although we have little faith it can grow into something much larger. We need to have hope and patience that we will get to the Kingdom to come, but if we want a glimpse of the kingdom to come we can change ourselves into better people and try to build the kingdom here on earth.
We are back with a regular Ordinary Time Sunday. Turning to the reading we begin in the book of Proverbs, it is a book that we don’t often read from on Sundays it is one of the wisdom books and is a part of the writings. In Proverbs we hear that a wife is far greater than pearls then it continues to go on and on about how wonderful women can be, and husbands must be able to entrust their hearts to them. In simple terms we must entrust their hearts into a worthy spouse as they are by far the most precious things in the world and we should be faithful to them at all times.
In our second reading we hear from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, the people in Thessalonica were very concerned about the second coming and Paul spends a good part of the letter taking about it. In our reading today Paul tells them that we have no idea when it will happen. “It will come like a thief at night” without warning. This is when Paul informs them to stay alert and sober, being watchful about the end times but not asking to many questions about it.
Finally as we arrive at the Gospel, once again we are treated to a parable from Matthew. A master was going on a journey and he gave his three servants talents, five to one, two to another and one to the last individual. Now when the master had left the first two servants doubled their money while the third buried the money. When the master had returned he called back the servants and praised those who increased the money they were given great responsibilities and shared in the master’s joy. Now the servant who did nothing with his talent came forward and said “I know that you are a demanding person, so out of fear I buried it and here it is back again.” The master was not happy with this and ordered that his talent be given to the man with ten, for to whoever has many more is given and the ones who have nothing even that will be taken away. It is widely believed that this will be what happens when Jesus comes again, will be like one of the good servants who doubled what was given to us or will be like the third who was thrown out to where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.
This parable gives us an interesting outlook if we look at it as talents=money it reminds us that the rich will get richer and the poor will be thrown out into the streets. However if we look at it as talents=faith we want the Word of God to be spread and the more we try to get the message of Christ out into the world the better we will be, this is similar to the talents=skills we need to be using our skills in the world and not keeping them hidden. Are we someone who doubles the talents given to us or do we hid them under a bushel basket? As we inch closer to the end of this season and liturgical year let us reflect upon our many blessing we have received this past year and how we can try and bring these blessing to other in the upcoming year.
Today’s readings all have the common thread of meals and sharing woven throughout. We once again start with the Prophet Isaiah. This week we are at a party at the end of time on Mount Zion. Isaiah writes “The Lord will provide for all people a feast of rich food and choice wine…and he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples and wipe away ever tear” This is the kingdom of God in which we are waiting. The important thing to take from this reading is if we take a look at the guests at the party it is not only the Jewish people but all people who have been invited. We will all break bread together, this is symbol of friendship is found later on at the Last Supper and the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is through the sharing of a meal that kinship develops and at every celebration of the Eucharist we share in a meal with all other.
As we turn to the second reading we are greeted with a letter from Paul to the Philippians, in his letter Paul thanks the people of Philippi for sending some money, as Paul was in prison as usual. So in this reading Paul says that I’ve known hunger and I’ve known feasts and we can do all things because of God and because there are people out there who can help. Paul didn’t ask from the Philippians to send him money to perhaps bail him out of jail but they did so out of concern for him. We must be concerned about other and share in their struggles as well as their joys.
In the Gospel once again we encounter some parables in Matthew. This is the wedding parable, a King is having a wedding feast for his son and the king sends out his servants to get the invited guests, they refuse to come, so he sent another servant to get those invited some ignored the message and other killed the servant. Then the king sent out his troops to destroy the city and murder those who killed the servant, so then the king sent out yet another servant to get whomever is on the streets to come and the hall was filled. This is where some will stop today but there is a little more to the story. The king now went out into the guests and he noticed a man not in wedding dress and he has the servants throw the man out “as many are invited but few are chosen.” This is a weird parable some scholars have take it to be some indication of how the Jewish people have missed the whole Messiah thing and it is now the Gentiles who are the lucky ones. I do not like that take on the reading, it seems like it is more about being prepared as we never know what is in store for us each and everyday, so wear some nice looking clothes. However the king, so the parable goes, only finds one person who isn’t wearing wedding clothes and throws them out, so it is more along the lines of sharing with all who come, like at the banquet in Isaiah.