Category Archives: Reflection

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
2 Kings 5:14-17
Naaman is cleansed of his leprosy and chooses to serve the God of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 98:1,2-3,3-4
Rejoice! The salvation of God is made known to all.

Second Reading
2 Timothy 2:8-13
Those who remain faithful to Christ will share Christ’s glory.

Gospel Reading
Luke 17:11-19
Jesus heals 10 lepers, and one, the Samaritan, returns to give thanks.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we hear about how Jesus, continuing on his journey to Jerusalem, heals 10 lepers. This story is a lesson about faith and reminds us that faith is sometimes found in unlikely places. Ten people afflicted with leprosy cry out to Jesus. Struck with pity, Jesus heals all 10. However, only one is described as glorifying God and returning to thank Jesus. The one who returns is a Samaritan, a foreigner. In the Jewish circles in which Jesus lived, Samaritans were looked down upon because of the differences between the two communities in their observance of Judaism. It is significant, therefore, that Jesus commends the Samaritan for his faith, which has been his salvation. Throughout Luke’s Gospel, faith is found in surprising places.

Another lesson for us in this Gospel has to do with salvation. All 10 of the lepers were given the gift of healing, but in his gratitude to God for this gift, the Samaritan found salvation. Our salvation is found in recognizing the gifts we have been given and knowing to whom we must offer our thanks.-loyolapress.com

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
The patience of the just man shall be rewarded when he sees the vision fulfilled.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9
Sing joyfully to God, our salvation.

Second Reading
2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14
Paul urges Timothy to remain strong in the Spirit of faith Timothy received.

Gospel Reading
Luke 17:5-10
Jesus teaches the apostles the importance of faith and service to God.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus teach about faith and service to God. The context is a continuing dialogue between Jesus and his followers about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus has just finished an instruction on sin and forgiveness. There are two related teachings that Jesus offers to his disciples when they cry out for an increase in faith. The first is the familiar reminder that faith, even just a little, will enable the followers of Jesus to do wondrous things. But this uplifting and inspiring teaching is quickly followed by the second teaching, a caution about knowing one’s place in God’s plans. The disciples of Jesus are to understand themselves as servants to God and his plans. Even when God works wonders through us, with our mustard seed-sized faith, we must not seek praise. Our participation in God’s plans is God’s grace to us—nothing more, nothing less. When we are graced enough to cooperate with God, the work we do is nothing more than our obligation to God as faithful stewards. And yet, our faith enables us to believe that what we have offered in service to God, as his servants, can be made to produce a hundredfold. – loyolapress.com

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Amos 6:1,4-7
God will judge the complacency of the people and their leaders.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 146:7-10
Happy are those who find solace in God, the help of the poor.

Second Reading
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul exhorts Timothy to stay faithful to God in all things.

Gospel Reading
Luke 16:19-31
Jesus tells the parable of the reversal of fortunes between the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

A major theme in the Gospel of Luke is the importance of the care of the poor in the life of discipleship. In the parable found in today’s Gospel, Jesus contrasts the life of a rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, who lives in the shadow of the rich man and his wealth. Both die. Lazarus finds himself in heaven; the rich man in the netherworld. The rich man asks for assistance from Lazarus in his torment. But Abraham reminds the rich man of the good things he had in his life and describes the current situation as a reversal of fortunes. The rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to warn his family, but this is denied with the reminder that Moses and the prophets have warned of judgment for those who neglect the care of the poor.

In the context of Luke’s Gospel, this parable, delivered in the presence of a crowd of listeners, is part of Jesus’ response to some Pharisees. These Pharisees are described in Luke’s Gospel as “loving money.” (Note: The Pharisees were followers of a sect of Judaism active before, during, and after Jesus’ lifetime. They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses as the basis for popular Jewish piety. They put less emphasis on Temple worship and more on applying the law to everyday life. Though they are often portrayed negatively in the Gospels, they shared many of Jesus’ and the early Church’s concerns about the law.) Jesus observed that the actions of some Pharisees betrayed misplaced priorities: they spoke one way, but acted in another. The story of the rich man and Lazarus demonstrates the importance of the care of the poor and is a reminder to those who would follow Jesus of the unimportance of wealth in the eyes of God.-loyolapress.com

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Exodus 32:7-11,13-14
Moses stands up to God, recalling all of God’s great promises.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19
Once we are forgiven, we can hope for a new heart and a fresh start.

Second Reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul proves it’s never too late to repent and serve God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells three parables about losing, finding, and rejoicing. The outcasts of society, the taxpayers, and the sinners approach Jesus eager to hear what he has to say. In Luke’s Gospel, hearing is a sign of conversion. The Pharisees and scribes, still suspicious of Jesus, complain about him associating with sinners. So he tells them these three parables.

In the first story, the parable of The Lost Sheep, the shepherd leaves behind the 99 sheep to search for the 1 lost sheep. When he finds it, the shepherd rejoices not alone as in Matthew’s version, but with friends and neighbors. In the same way, God rejoices more over 1 sinner who repents—like the outcasts who have come to hear Jesus—than over the 99 righteous like the Pharisees and scribes.

The second story, about a poor woman who will not stop searching until she finds her lost coin, makes the same point. Why are the Pharisees complaining? They should rejoice when the lost are found.

Finally we come to what is probably the most memorable parable in the Gospels, the story we know as The Prodigal Son. Just as in The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin, this story (found only in Luke) is really about the seeker. The loving father is at the center of this parable. Even though his son runs off with his father’s inheritance and squanders the money, the father waits for him, hoping for his return. Upon his son’s return, the father, “full of compassion,” runs out to embrace and forgive him before the son can utter one word of repentance. At this point the rejoicing begins.

The parable does not end there. Rather, it makes one more point about the older son’s reaction. This son who never left, just like the Pharisees and scribes who feel they are righteous, refuses to enter his father’s house to join in the rejoicing. He has served his father. He has obeyed him. Perhaps it was not out of love. The father’s response teaches us that God’s care and compassion extend to the righteous and sinner alike. When we are lost, God doesn’t wait for our return. He actively seeks us out. And when the lost are found, how could we not celebrate and rejoice?-loyolapress.com

Ash Wednesday

First Reading
Joel 2:12-18
Return to the Lord for he is merciful.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-6b,12-14,17
Create a clean heart in us, O God, and be merciful.

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Be reconciled to God; now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Jesus teaches that almsgiving, prayer, and fasting should be done in secret.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the liturgical season of Lent. In this season, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the high point of our Christian life, Easter. Each year, the readings for Ash Wednesday are the same. They call us to a change of heart and teach us about the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These disciplines are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we renew our commitment to them.

The meaning behind tracing a cross on our foreheads with ashes (the liturgical sign of Ash Wednesday) is a summary of our Christian life. On one level, the ashes remind us of our origin and our death. (In the words of the prayer said when we receive ashes: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”) The ashes are also the sign of our victory: the cross of Christ. In his death and resurrection, Christ conquered death. Our destiny as Christians is to receive the victory over death that Christ won for us. We acknowledge that victory when we “[t]urn away from sin and [are] faithful to the gospel,” words from the alternative prayer when we are signed with ashes.

Today’s reading is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon, Jesus warns his followers against acting for the sake of appearance. When Jesus’ disciples give alms, pray, and fast, they are to do so in such a way that only God, who sees the heart and knows what is hidden, will know. Although our Lectionary reading omits the Lord’s Prayer, we can recall that Matthew presents that prayer as a model for the disciples’ prayer (Matthew 6:9-15). – loyolapress.com

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