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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

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-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

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