Category Archives: Reflection

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Jeremiah 17:5-8
Put trust and hope in the Lord, not in human beings.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 1:1-4,6
Blessed are those who follow the law of the Lord.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20
Our hope for resurrection is sure because Christ has been raised from the dead.

Gospel Reading
Luke 6:17,20-26
Jesus teaches the crowd the way to happiness.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Last Sunday we heard Jesus call Peter to be his disciple. Jesus then travels with Peter and the other disciples. Luke reports acts of healing (a person with leprosy and a paralytic man) and the call of Levi, the tax collector. Jesus also replies to questions from the Pharisees regarding fasting and the observance of the Sabbath. In the verses immediately before today’s gospel reading, Jesus is reported to have chosen 12 men from among his disciples to be apostles. Apostle is a Greek word that means “one who is sent.”

Today’s gospel reading is the beginning of what is often called the Sermon on the Plain. We find a parallel to this passage in Matthew 5:1-7,11 that is often called the Sermon on the Mount. As these titles suggest, there are differences and similarities between these gospel readings.

When spoken from the mountaintop in Matthew’s Gospel, we can’t miss the impression that Jesus is speaking with the authority and voice of God. The mountaintop is a symbol of closeness to God. Those who ascend the mountain see God and speak for God; recall the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments. As Luke introduces the location of Jesus’ teaching, Jesus teaches on level ground, alongside the disciples and the crowd. Luke presents Jesus’ authority in a different light. He is God among us.

Another distinction found in Luke’s version is the audience. Luke’s Sermon on the Plain is addressed to Jesus’ disciples, although in the presence of the crowd; Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is addressed to the crowd. In keeping with this style, the Beatitudes in Luke’s Gospel sound more personal than those in Matthew’s Gospel—Luke uses the article “you” whereas Matthew uses “they” or “those.” There is also a difference in number: Matthew describes eight beatitudes; Luke presents just four, each of which has a parallel warning.

The form of the Beatitudes found in Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospel is not unique to Jesus. Beatitudes are found in the Old Testament, such as in the Psalms and in Wisdom literature. They are a way to teach about who will find favor with God. The word blessed in this context might be translated as “happy,” “fortunate,” or “favored.”

As we listen to this Gospel, the Beatitudes jar our sensibilities. Those who are poor, hungry, weeping, or persecuted are called blessed. This is, indeed, a Gospel of reversals. Those often thought to have been forgotten by God are called blessed. In the list of “woes,” those whom we might ordinarily describe as blessed by God are warned about their peril. Riches, possessions, laughter, reputation . . . these are not things that we can depend upon as sources of eternal happiness. They not only fail to deliver on their promise; our misplaced trust in them will lead to our demise. The ultimate peril is in misidentifying the source of our eternal happiness.

The Beatitudes are often described as a framework for Christian living. Our vocation as Christians is not to be first in this world, but rather to be first in the eyes of God. We are challenged to examine our present situation in the context of our ultimate horizon, the Kingdom of God. – loyolapress.com

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Isaiah 6:1-2a,3-8
Isaiah describes his vision and call from the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 138:1-5,7-8
A song of thanks to God who saves us

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (shorter form, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8,11)
Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel that he announced to them.

Gospel Reading
Luke 5:1-11
The fishermen (Simon, James, and John) leave their fishing boats and follow Jesus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Last Sunday, we heard how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth. In the verses that follow, Jesus travels to the town of Capernaum and begins his ministry of teaching and healing. While in Capernaum, Jesus cures a man possessed with a demon and heals Simon’s mother-in-law. After spending some time there, Jesus prepares to preach in other places. The fact that Jesus had previously been in Simon’s home and healed his mother-in-law suggests that this encounter is not the first between Jesus and Simon Peter. We can read today’s Gospel, therefore, as a description of the developing relationship between Jesus and Simon Peter.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches from Simon’s boat. Jesus turns to Simon and instructs him about where to lower the fishing nets. Simon and others have been fishing throughout the night and have not caught anything. Simon protests, claiming that such an effort would be futile. Simon ultimately obeys Jesus and lowers his nets into the deeper water as directed. Notice here that Peter calls Jesus by the title “master.” He already recognizes Jesus as a person of authority. They catch so many fish that the nets begin to tear; Jesus’ presence has created abundance out of scarcity, just as it did at the wedding feast at Cana, which we heard at Mass just a few weeks ago.

Simon Peter becomes a follower of Jesus immediately. He calls Jesus “Lord”—the title given to Jesus after his Resurrection—and protests his worthiness to be in Jesus’ presence. Today’s Gospel, therefore, marks a turning point in the relationship between Jesus and Peter.

Two of Simon’s partners are also named as witnesses to the event described in today’s Gospel: Zebedee’s sons, James and John. Yet Jesus’ words are addressed only to Simon. Jesus gives Simon a new job, telling him that he will become a different kind of fisherman. No longer will he catch fish; instead he will catch people. In these words, we hear the beginning of the leadership role that Peter will have within the community of disciples. Peter was chosen for this role. His task will be to bring others to Jesus. Already he is doing so; the Gospel tells us that all the fishermen with Peter also left their nets and followed Jesus.

We continue to speak of Peter’s leadership and influence in the Church today when we call the pope the “successor of Peter.” We participate in the mission of the Church when we bring people to Christ through the example and positive influence of our lives. – loyolapress.com

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19
The Lord assures Jeremiah that he will deliver him from all who fight against him.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 71:1-2,3-4,5-6,15,17
A song in praise of God’s salvation

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13 (shorter form, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
Paul describes love as the greatest of virtues.

Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we read from the Gospel of Luke, continuing immediately from last week’s Gospel. Recall that in last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and announced that this Scripture was now fulfilled. In today’s Gospel, we learn that the people of Nazareth are impressed by Jesus’ words, and yet they seem surprised. They still think of Jesus as merely Joseph’s son. They do not expect such words from someone they believe that they know.

This Gospel is about who Jesus is and who people believe him to be. The story of Jesus’ preaching and rejection at Nazareth is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels. In Luke’s Gospel, this incident is told in a way that foretells Jesus’ passion and death and helps explain the inclusion of the Gentiles in the promise of salvation. In Luke’s Gospel this incident appears at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; in Matthew and Mark, this event is placed considerably later, after Jesus has preached and taught elsewhere. Only Luke identifies the content of Jesus’ teaching in any detail, telling us that Jesus read from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue. In Mark and Matthew’s Gospels, Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth, and the townspeople take offense because Jesus is only the son of a carpenter. They reject his authority to teach them. In Matthew and Mark, it is only after Jesus is rejected that he observes times when Israel has rejected prophets.

In Luke’s Gospel, the people are surprised but not immediately offended by Jesus’ words in the synagogue. It is the words that follow his reading from the prophet Isaiah that seem to offend them. Jesus challenges and provokes the people of Nazareth by referring to examples in which Israel rejected the prophets. He also challenges them to respond to his message, the message of a prophet, in a way that is different from their ancestors. This call for a new response leads to his rejection.

It is helpful to consider the historical context of Luke’s Gospel. Luke has witnessed the acceptance of the gospel message among many Gentiles. He endeavors to explain why the Good News of Jesus has not been as well-received by his Jewish contemporaries. Luke’s report interprets the cause of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth in the context of this later Christian history. Just as the people at Nazareth did not welcome the Good News that Jesus announced, so too many among the people of Israel will not accept the preaching of the gospel.

After Jesus’ words of challenge, Luke reports that there was a movement to kill Jesus by throwing him over a cliff. This differs from the reports found in Mark and Matthew’s Gospels, where Jesus is said to be unable to perform miracles in Nazareth because of the people’s lack of faith. Luke says that Jesus walks away from the crowd that intended to kill him; it is not yet his time. The animosity of the people of Nazareth prefigures and prepares the reader of Luke’s Gospel for the cross. Luke wants all to understand that it is through his death on the cross that Jesus offers God’s salvation to all.- loyolapress.com

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Nehemiah 8:2-4a,5-6,8-10
Ezra reads from the book of the Law and interprets it for all to understand.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 19:8,9,10,15
A song in praise of the Law of the Lord

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:12-30 (or shorter form, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27)
Paul explains that all were baptized into the one body of Christ.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus reads aloud from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and announces that this Scripture is now fulfilled.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel reading combines two separate passages taken from the Gospel of Luke. First we hear the opening verses where Luke establishes the purpose of his Gospel. His style is typical of polished Greek and Roman literature. In this passage, we learn that Luke may have written to a specific person, Theophilus; but the word Theophilus may also be a general reference, functioning as the phrase “Dear Reader” might in contemporary writing. In Greek, the word Theophilus translates as “lover of God.”

Today’s Gospel reading then skips several chapters in which one would find the Infancy Narratives, Jesus’ baptism by John, the temptations Jesus faced in the desert, and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In chapter four of Luke’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth, attending the synagogue on the Sabbath, which is said to be his custom. In this account, we find another important clue that Jesus lived as a faithful, observant Jew. We will continue to read from Luke’s Gospel in sequence for the next two Sundays.

As Jesus stands in the synagogue, he reads from the scroll handed to him; it contains the words of the prophet Isaiah. At this early moment in his ministry, Jesus announces his mission in continuity with Israel’s prophetic tradition. This reading from Isaiah defines Jesus’ ministry. We will find more evidence of this as we continue to read from Luke’s Gospel throughout the year. Jesus’ ministry will include bringing glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, healing to the sick, freedom to the oppressed, and proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord.

Through this text from Isaiah, Jesus announces God’s salvation. The “year acceptable to the Lord” is a reference to the Jewish tradition of Sabbath years and jubilee. The Sabbath year was observed every seventh year. It was a year of rest when land was left fallow and food stores were to be shared equally with all. A year of Jubilee was celebrated every fiftieth year, the conclusion of seven cycles of Sabbath years. It was a year of renewal in which debts were forgiven and slaves were freed.

This tradition of Jubilee is the framework for God’s promise of salvation. And yet in Jesus, something new begins. Jesus not only announces God’s salvation, he brings this salvation about in his person. Jesus is Yahweh’s Anointed One, filled with the Spirit of God. The Kingdom of God is now at hand. It is made present in Jesus, in his life, death, and Resurrection. Jesus will send the Holy Spirit so that the Kingdom of God can be fulfilled.

The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ gift to the Church. The Holy Spirit enables the Church to continue the mission of Jesus. When we do what Jesus did—bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, healing to the sick, and freedom to the oppressed—we serve the Kingdom of God.- loyolapress.com

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Isaiah 62:1-5
God delights in Israel and will rejoice as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,7-8,9-10
A song in praise of God’s marvelous deeds

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
All spiritual gifts originate from the same Spirit.

Gospel Reading
John 2:1-11
Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. For many Sundays in this lectionary cycle (Cycle C), our readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke. Occasionally, however, we will read from John’s Gospel. This is true of today’s Gospel reading, which describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and his first miracle.

To situate today’s reading within the context of John’s Gospel, we note that John’s report of this event follows Jesus’ call of his first disciples. John tells us that Jesus and his disciples were invited to this wedding at Cana, as was Jesus’ mother, Mary. There is no parallel report of this miracle at Cana in the Synoptic Gospels.

In the Church’s liturgical history, the wedding feast of Cana is closely associated with the baptism of the Lord and the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Wise Men. In this context, the sign Jesus performs at the wedding feast is celebrated as an epiphany or a manifestation of Jesus’ divinity.

Yet awareness of Jesus’ impending passion and death is ever present in John’s Gospel. Even in this report of Jesus’ first sign, the language used anticipates Jesus’ passion. When Jesus says to his mother that his hour has not yet come, he protests against her wishes in language that John will use again when reporting Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. When introducing the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, John writes that Jesus knew that his hour had come. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is very much in command and aware of all that is to happen to him.

Here, as elsewhere in John’s Gospel, Mary is not mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as the mother of Jesus. Mary is influential in Jesus’ first sign. She will also be present at his Crucifixion, a witness to the final manifestation of his divinity.

John’s Gospel describes seven signs that indicate Jesus’ identity to his disciples. John never speaks of these signs as miracles because their importance is not in the deed that Jesus performs but in what these deeds indicate about Jesus’ identity. Here, as when John describes the other signs, the disciples are said to begin to believe, but no mention is made as to whether the other wedding guests are even aware of what has happened.

Marriage and wedding feasts are metaphors used in Scripture to describe God’s salvation and the Kingdom of God. Here at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John’s Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to re-interpret and fulfill Yahweh’s promise to Israel. Jesus establishes the New Covenant. A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in the deed that Jesus performs. Asked to do something to address the awkward situation that the absence of wine at a wedding feast would create, Jesus’ miracle produces vast quantities of wine—six jars holding thirty gallons each are filled to overflowing with choice wine.

This lavish response to a simple human need is a vision for us of the abundance of God’s kingdom. It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with human need today. We respond as best we can, fully confident that God can transform our efforts, bringing the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us.- loyolapress.com

The Baptism of the Lord

First Reading
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11 (The first reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7.)
Isaiah tells the people to prepare a way for the Lord.

Second Reading
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7 (The second reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38.)
Jesus Christ saved us and renewed us with his Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Luke 3:15-16,21-22
Jesus is baptized by John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In today’s Gospel, as in the other Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism, we hear John the Baptist address the confusion of the people who thought that John might be the Messiah. In response, John contrasts the baptism that he performs with the Baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John the Baptist says that he has baptized with water, but that someone will come and baptize with the Holy Spirit. The type of baptism that John performed was not yet a Christian Baptism; it was a preparation for Christian Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.

The baptism of Jesus is reported in each of the three Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Clearly, it was an event of great significance for Jesus and for the early Christian community. The Evangelists Mark and Luke report the story from Jesus’ perspective; the voice from heaven is addressed to Jesus. Compare this to Matthew’s Gospel in which the voice from heaven speaks to everyone. In Luke, however, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus during his time of prayer after his baptism. Through his Gospel, Luke will show Jesus to be a person of prayer who withdraws regularly from the crowds and his disciples to pray to his Father.

The baptism of Jesus is considered a manifestation of God in Jesus, another “epiphany.” On this, the last day of the Christmas season, our Gospel reveals to us Jesus’ relation to God: the son of Mary and Joseph is also God’s own Son. In Luke’s Gospel, all three members of the Trinity are manifested here: God the Father in the voice, the Holy Spirit descending, and Jesus the Son. At the beginning of his Gospel, Luke is communicating to us important information about the identity of Jesus. In the verses that follow, Luke lists the genealogy of Jesus, tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to the first person, Adam, who is also identified as the son of God. We, the children of Adam and Eve, are again made children of God through Baptism. – loyolapress.com

Epiphany of the Lord

First Reading
Isaiah 60:1-6
Jerusalem shall be a light to all nations.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13
Every nation on earth shall worship the Lord.

Second Reading
Ephesians 3:2-3a,5-6
Gentiles are coheirs in the promise of Christ.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi seek out Jesus and do him homage.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The visit of the Magi occurs directly before the story of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. Matthew’s Gospel tells a version of Jesus’ birth that is different than the one in Luke. Of the actual birth of Jesus, Matthew tells us little more than, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod . . . ” The story of the census is found only in Luke’s Gospel, but we hear about the visit of the Magi only in Matthew’s Gospel.

We know little about the Magi. They come from the East and journey to Bethlehem, following an astrological sign, so we believe them to be astrologers. We assume that there were three Magi based upon the naming of their three gifts. The Gospel does not say how many Magi paid homage to Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, they represent the Gentiles’ search for a savior. Because the Magi represent the entire world, they also represent our search for Jesus.

We have come to consider the gifts they bring as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ role in salvation. We believe the meaning of the gifts to be Christological. Gold is presented as representative of Jesus’ kingship. Frankincense is a symbol of his divinity because priests burned the substance in the Temple. Myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead for burial, is offered in anticipation of Jesus’ death.

The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth.” Historically several moments in Christ’s early life and ministry have been celebrated as “epiphanies,” including his birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, his baptism by John, and his first miracle at Cana.- loyolapress.com

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Credit Raphael Stock Photo

First Reading
Numbers 6:22-27
God gives a blessing for the Israelites.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 67:2-3,5,6,8
All the people sing praises to God.

Second Reading
Galatians 4:4-7
God sent his Son to make us children of God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds find Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading is a continuation from the Gospel proclaimed at the Christmas Mass at midnight. In it the shepherds act upon the message they receive from the angel and go to find Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. In their visit to the manger, the shepherds find things just as the angel had said. The shepherds’ visit, therefore, is a moment of fulfillment, manifestation, and the beginning of the salvation we receive through Christ.

In the context of today’s Solemnity, this reading also helps us focus on Mary as the Mother of God. The reading tells us at least three things about Mary as a mother. First, Mary is described as a reflective person, keeping the reports of the shepherds in her heart. Second, we are reminded of how obedient Mary was to God when she named the baby Jesus as the angel Gabriel had directed. Third, this reading shows Mary and Joseph faithfully observing their Jewish tradition by having Jesus circumcised.

Mary’s faithfulness to God is evident in all three of these things. Her reflection upon the events in her life indicates that she was a person of prayer. This prayer made possible her obedience to God and God’s will, even if the outcome was not clear. Finally, her faithfulness to a community of faith grounded her relationship with God and enabled her to participate in God’s plan of salvation.

Because of Mary’s faithfulness to God, she was able to receive the gift of God’s Son and accept her role in God’s plan for salvation. By doing so, she models for us the path of discipleship and is also called Mother of the Church.

Our call to discipleship also includes these three aspects. First, discipleship means prayer and reflection on the events of our lives that we might see God’s presence and work in our lives. Second, discipleship means obedience to God and God’s will. Third, discipleship includes fidelity to a community of faith. – loyolapress.com


WISHING ALL OUR VISITORS & READERS A GRACE-FILLED NEW YEAR 2019!


 

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Cycle C

First Reading
1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 (The first reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Sirach 3:2-6,12-14.)
Hannah dedicates her son, Samuel, to the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 84:2-3,5-6,9-10 (The psalm from Cycle A may also be chosen, Psalm 128:1-5.)
Those who dwell in the Lord’s house are happy.

Second Reading
1 John 3:1-2,21-24 (The second reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Colossians 3:12-21)
We are God’s children now.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. This feast is part of the Christmas season, and we should place today’s Gospel in the context of what Luke’s Gospel tells us about the birth of Jesus. Luke has been answering the question “Who is Jesus?” through his stories of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Today’s Gospel reading continues this theme. It has no parallel in the other Gospels and is the conclusion of Luke’s Infancy Narrative.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are presented in this Gospel as a faithful Jewish family. They are participating in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, an event shared each year with family and friends. When Jesus is found, Luke describes him as seated in the Temple in the midst of the Jewish teachers. Although he is young, Jesus seems not to need teaching about his Jewish tradition. In his dialogue with these learned teachers, Jesus astounds them with his insight and understanding. Jesus is a child of Israel. His Father is God.

The dialogue between Mary and Jesus contains many references to family relationships. In fact, in this Gospel reading Mary and Joseph are never identified by name. Instead they are referred to by their relationship to Jesus. Ultimately, this emphasizes Luke’s point about the identity of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, they question Jesus and express their anxiety. Jesus replies in words that many have thought to be disrespectful. Jesus says that he was never lost; he was at home. Jesus is God’s Son, and he is in his Father’s house. Luke will continue to suggest that faith in Jesus establishes new family relationships as he describes Jesus’ public ministry.

In Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s importance is even greater than her role as Jesus’ mother. Mary is the first disciple and will be present with Jesus’ disciples after his Resurrection at Pentecost.- loyolapress.com

Reflections for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

The Nativity of the Lord Christmas Eve

First Reading
Isaiah 9:1-6
To those in darkness, a child will be born who will have dominion over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,11-12,13
Sing a new song to the Lord.

Second Reading
Titus 2:11-14
God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:1-14
Jesus is born in a manger in Bethlehem as the angel appears to the shepherds.

Background on the Gospel Reading

During the Christmas season, our liturgy invites us to consider the birth of the Lord from many vantage points. As we begin this season, it is useful to remember that the stories of Jesus’ birth and childhood are found in only two of our Gospels, Matthew and Luke. Throughout this season, we will hear stories from both Gospels. Those Gospels tell different but complementary stories about Jesus’ birth, highlighting items of theological importance about the Incarnation and the salvation that Jesus brings.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2019. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.