Monthly Archives: November, 2019

First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

First Reading
Isaiah 2:1-5
Isaiah describes his vision in which all nations are gathered together by God in peace.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 122:1-2,3-4,4-5,6-7,8-9
Rejoicing, let us enter the house of the Lord.

Second Reading
Romans 13:11-14
Be prepared, salvation is near.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 24:37-44
Jesus tells his disciples that the coming of the Son of Man will catch many people unprepared. Jesus tells his disciples that they are to always be ready for the day of the Lord.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, which is also the first Sunday of a new liturgical year for the Church. The Advent season includes the four Sundays that precede Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this season, we recall two central elements of our faith: the final coming of the Lord in glory and the incarnation of the Lord in the birth of Jesus. Key themes of the Advent season are watchful waiting, preparation, and justice.

In this new liturgical year, the Gospel of Matthew will be the primary Gospel proclaimed (Lectionary Cycle A). In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus speak about the need for wakefulness, for watchful waiting, for the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew’s Gospel is dated by most scholars after 70 A.D. Most believe that Matthew wrote for a primarily Jewish community, but one that was no longer centered on the Temple in Jerusalem. These were Jewish Christians trying to come to terms with their relationship to Judaism in a new situation: Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. There may have been Christians who believed that the events of the world around them gave evidence of the imminent return of the Lord in glory.

The passage from Matthew we read today is rather straightforward. No one knows the precise time of the coming of the Lord in glory, so watchful waiting and vigilance are required. The passage speaks to the uselessness of looking for signs; there will be none. As a thief sneaks in during the night, so will the Lord’s coming in glory be.

The question for us as members of the Christian community, then, is how do we prepare for this? Today’s passage speaks more about the manner of waiting, rather than the details of the preparation. Jesus compares the vigilance required of Christians to the vigilance of a homeowner who knows the plans of the thief. If one knows that the thief’s action is imminent, one remains watchful. As Christians, we know that our Lord is coming even if we cannot know the precise timing. Jesus calls us to be watchful and vigilant, like the homeowner. If we become lax in our Christian living, we may be caught unprepared.-loyolapress.com

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time), Cycle C

First Reading
2 Samuel 5:1-3
David is anointed king.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 122:1-2,3-4,4-5
Enter the house of the Lord rejoicing.

Second Reading
Colossians 1:12-20
Hymn to Jesus as the first-born of all creation.

Gospel Reading
Luke 23:35-43
Jesus is crucified under the title King of the Jews.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today as a Church, we conclude our liturgical year and celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel we proclaim shows the great mystery of our faith: In the moment of his crucifixion, Jesus is shown to be King and Savior of all.

Luke’s Gospel has been loaded with surprises: the poor are rich, sinners find salvation, the Kingdom of God is found in our midst. Here we see the greatest surprise of all. We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, whom faith tells us is King and Savior of all. The irony is that the inscription placed on the cross, perhaps in mockery, contains the profoundest of truth. As the leaders jeer, the thief crucified by his side recognizes Jesus as Messiah and King, and finds salvation.

Jesus is King, but not the kind of king we might have imagined or expected. His kingship was hidden from many of his contemporaries, but those who had the eyes of faith were able to see. As modern disciples of Jesus, we, too, struggle at times to recognize Jesus as King. Today’s Gospel invites us to make our own judgment. With eyes of faith, we, too, recognize that Jesus, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior of all.-loyolapress.com

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Malachi 3:19-20
The day of justice is coming, says the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 98:5-6,7-8,9
Sing praise to God, who rules with justice.

Second Reading
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Paul urges the community to follow his example and to earn their keep.

Gospel Reading
Luke 21:5-19
Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and warns his followers that persecution will come before the end time.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In the context of Luke, today’s Gospel appears near the end of Jesus’ teaching in Jerusalem, just prior to the events that will lead to his crucifixion. His warnings and predictions are ominous but can be read in many ways.

To those who first heard Luke’s Gospel, those may have been words of encouragement. The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans was history (70 A.D.); Luke’s Gospel, Catholic scholars propose, was written between 80 and 90 A.D. His audience was probably Gentile Christians. Luke here tries to interpret the fall of Jerusalem for them and to locate it in God’s plans for humankind (salvation history). At the same time, Luke is suggesting to his audience that there will be a considerable elapse of time before Jesus’ final coming. Luke’s listeners have likely seen much upheaval and are anxious to know if these are the signs of Jesus’ coming. Luke is urging greater patience.

In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus warns that his followers will face persecution for their beliefs. Luke presents persecution as an opportunity for the followers of Jesus for “It will lead to your giving testimony” (Luke 21:13). In persecution God’s wisdom and power will be shown in the example of followers of Jesus. Perseverance in the face of persecution will lead to their salvation.

Here Jesus is assuring his followers that God is present to all believers, even in times of trouble. Ultimately, Jesus will witness to this with his own death. As disciples of Jesus, we try to follow his example, trusting in God’s mercy and protection, even when we are facing difficulties.-loyolapress.com

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
Jewish martyrs give witness to their faith, even unto death.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 17:1,5-6,8,15
The just person will live in God’s presence.

Second Reading
2 Thessalonians 2:16—3:5
Paul encourages the Thessalonians and asks for their prayers.

Gospel Reading
Luke 20:27-38
Jesus answers a question from some Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead. (short form Luke 20:27, 34-38)

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel, we hear about an encounter between Jesus and some Sadducees. The Sadducees were a party of Judaism active in Jesus’ time, descended from the priestly family of Zadok. They were literal interpreters of the written Law of Moses, which means that they were in disagreement with the position of the Pharisees, who offered an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses.

The Sadducees are described in this Gospel as opponents to the belief in resurrection. In the dialogue presented here, we see an example of the means of disputation that was common in first century Judaism. The Sadducees use the example of Levirate marriage, found in the Law of Moses, to disprove belief in the resurrection. According to Deuteronomy 25:5-10, if a man died without producing an heir, the man’s brother should marry his wife and the offspring of this union would inherit the property and carry on the name of the man who had died. The Sadducees use this as an example to challenge belief in the resurrection.

Jesus argues from the same written Law of Moses to show that there is resurrection. Using the texts from the Book of Exodus (Chapter 3) that describe Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush, Jesus shows that God is the God of the living, not the dead. Here Jesus uses the same method and texts of the Sadducees to counter them. As the Gospel text suggests, he beat them at their own game!

More importantly, in this discourse Jesus shows the limits of our imaginations when it comes to eternal life. The Sadducees argued against resurrection because of the limits of earthly existence. They did not imagine another possibility for existence and relationship with God. Jesus proposes that the possibilities of resurrected life are beyond our imaginations. Jesus’ conclusion suggests something else as well: To spend time worrying about resurrected life is to miss the point. The point is eternal relationship with God is possible, for God is the God of the living, “. . . for to him all are alive.”loyolapress.com

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Wisdom 11:22—12:2
God is merciful because all things were created by God.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13,14
Sing praise to God, who is faithful.

Second Reading
2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2
Paul tells the Thessalonians to remain faithful to Christ until Christ comes again.

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus stays at the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In Jesus’ day, tax collectors were not popular people. They were collaborators with the Romans and were despised by many Jewish people. The tax system allowed them to charge more than what was required so that they could make a profit for themselves. Thus, they were considered sinners by their countrymen. Observers in the crowd that day grumble because Jesus dines with a sinner. Throughout Scripture, Jesus’ choice of dinner companions set him apart from other observant Jews of his time. In first century Jewish culture, to dine together was to show a bond of fellowship and peace among those at the table. Observant Jews did not generally dine with foreigners and sinners. Yet, Jesus chooses to honor the tax collector, Zacchaeus, by staying at his house.

Even before Jesus comes to his home, Zacchaeus shows himself to be someone in search of salvation. Zacchaeus, described as short in stature, climbs a tree in order to see Jesus. We know from Luke’s description that Zacchaeus was no ordinary tax collector; he was, in fact, the chief tax collector and a person of some wealth. In his search for salvation, he humbled himself by making a spectacle of himself by climbing a tree.

Jesus recognizes the faith of this tax collector exhibited in his search for salvation and calls him down from the tree. In the hospitality he extends to Jesus and in his conversion of heart, Zacchaeus is raised up by Jesus as a model of salvation.- loyolapress.com

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