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Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Aug 20 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, August 20

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 15: 21 – 28

 

Gospel:
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Reflection:
What begins as a rejection turns into a healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman. Why, because the mercy and compassion of Jesus in the gospel and in our lives, knows no limits.

The story this Sunday is meant for all of us who doubt that we are worthy of both forgiveness and faith. The gospel makes it clear that we are worth of both. We only must ask with an open heart and with the right intention.

When we open our hearts and minds to Jesus wonderful things happen. While the story of this woman who was a non-Jew, and traditionally an enemy of the Jews during the lifetime of Jesus has her wish granted, the people who heard this story originally would stand up and take notice. Jesus tells the “O woman great is your faith!” Can we do anything less than emulate this poor woman who was in danger of losing her daughter to the forces of evil?

The moral is always ask, never give up or give in, when you petition Lord for His mercy.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Aug 13 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, August 13

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 14: 22 – 33

Gospel:
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Reflection:
Compared to our technologically precise measurement of time, both the ancient Romans and ancient Jews had a more “relative” time. The actual measurement of time lengthened and shortened due to the ebb and flow of the seasons. The day was divided into 12 equal portions, as was the night. These 24 divisions were “an hour,” even if they were 50 minutes or 70 minutes long due to the changes in seasonal daylight.

Within this system, Jews measured sunset to next sunset to constitute a single day, while the Romans gave us the standard of midnight to next midnight. The Romans further divided the night hours into four “watches” of 3hrs each, the amount of time the Roman army believed a guard could stay fully alert in darkness.

With this understanding of Roman and Jewish time, we can surmise that the disciples pushed out into the sea towards the final part of the Jewish day, before the sun had set. “When it was evening,” after sunset in the Jewish reckoning, Jesus has already made it up the mountain and started praying. “Meanwhile,” the text tells us, the disciples are miles from shore in their boat in a storm, getting tossed about. Both Jesus and his disciples are praying, but for very different reasons!

It is not until the “fourth watch of the night” that Jesus walks out to the disciples in the boat. The fourth and final watch of the night fell between 3-6am. Therefore, depending on the season, the disciples were easily on their boat for over 9 hrs being tossed about and threatened with drowning. Their lives certainly flashed before their eyes multiple times. And in the very midst of their terror, they see Jesus. He is in the last place they expected to see him: walking calmly across the waves of the storm threatening them.

The storms in our lives can seem equally endless. Many of us have kept the fourth watch, filled with anxiety or despair. But even in the darkest part of night, we must not give up hope in God’s love. We must keep watch even amid a twilight tempest, knowing that Jesus may soon appear in our lives in the most unlikely of places.

Father Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection Aug 6 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, August 6

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Matthew 17: 1 – 9

 

Gospel:
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

Reflection:
Each year we hear the story of the Transfiguration twice – once on the Second Sunday of Lent and then we hear it again on August 6th. When this event took place, it was shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and it was about one week after Jesus told his disciples that He would suffer, be killed, and be raised to life.

The purpose for the transfiguration was so Jesus’ disciples could gain a greater understanding of who He was. Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance on the mountain in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. This gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death.

The Transfiguration of the Lord is an extraordinary Feast of hope which can help us to live differently. We are invited, by reflecting on this significant event in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, to focus on the end of the Christian life. Just as the disciples lived their lives no longer for themselves but for Jesus, they began to undergo their own trials and walked the way to their own transfiguration. This is meant to become the path for all of us who bear His name.

The Lord Jesus has shown us the way up the mountain. He has invited us into a new way of living in Him through living within the communion of the Church. As we reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus today, and in the days to come, let us enter more deeply into the mystery it reveals by living in the Transfiguration now. Let us ascend the mountain of the Lord and transform our lives by following Jesus in His glory!

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection July 30 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, July 30

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 44 – 52

 

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

 

Reflection:
Each of us at least in part are hoarders. We might buy jewelry or gold and then place the items in a safe or a safety deposit box. We might collect rare antiques or family heirlooms as well. Much of what we value is valued because we view it as rare or scarce. Today’s Gospel describes that behavior through the examples of treasure and pearls. Why do we hide what we value or sell all that we have to buy it? Hoarding what is scarce to us is a natural human behavior. As we hoard various “treasures,” those treasures continue to rise in perceived value.

While this Gospel may be a human truism, it is also a very human warning to us. The kingdom of heaven is rare and its achievement for us should always be considered something worth selling all that we have to purchase it. And once purchased at a great price, we should hoard it. Seeking and achieving the kingdom of heaven should never be something we consider common or ever lacking in value. It should always be considered our pearl purchased at great price and cherished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection June 23 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, July 23

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 24 – 30

 

Gospel:
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

 

Reflection:
If you have a garden, you know how pesky weeds can be. They seem to have a strength all their own, and if left among your plants, they have a tendency to take over and maybe even kill the plants you want. It seems logical to get rid them as quickly as possible. But that is not what Jesus recommends in the Gospel parable you will hear this Sunday when you come to Mass. Jesus suggests letting the weeds and wheat grow together until harvest time. Then God will decide what is to be burned and what is to be saved.

Jesus makes it clear that the world is not an innocent place. There will always be evil at work in it and that will frustrate the growth of the kingdom. And even for those who say they follow Jesus there will be a mixture of good and bad. Christians and non-Christians alike can be scandalized but not surprised that sin can exist in the Church. Sometimes immediate action needs to be taken to root out a poisonous cancer; there is no room for compromising with scandal. But there are other occasions when God’s forbearance must be recognized and in a sense we are called to imitate it. Sometimes it may be wiser to wait and not judge too quickly. Jesus teaches us to have a deep faith that God is in control, and that God can bring good out of the most unpromising situations.

As we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, let us praise God’s gracious patience toward that slowly maturing, mix-bag garden, that, after all, includes us.

Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection July 16 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, July 16

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 1 – 23

Gospel:
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

 

Reflection:
STANDING …. SOWER … SEED …. GROUND

Just a little scripture study tip – whenever Jesus sits down, Listen Up! He is going to teach us something. I find it interesting that the people stood along the shore. They are standing on the (shore) edge of the sea … standing on the edge of life. They are, in our way of speaking, “on-the-fence.” Disciples always sat at the Teacher’s feet when the Master was teaching but this group is standing. How often do we stand on the edge, trying to decide if we are going to jump fully into life? Sometimes, we stand on the edge, trying to decide if we are going to give ourselves over completely to what Jesus is offering us.

Jesus tells them a parable. Often when we hear a story that we know, we can do three things: 1) We could say, “I know this parable”. Then, since we already know it, we close our minds and hearts to new possibilities. 2) We might say, “I have heard this before” and we let our mind start thinking of other things. 3) or We can sit down and Listen up! and let Jesus teach us something today.

Two other things caught my imagination in this Gospel passage from Matthew besides the people standing on the shore. The sower and the ground. Usually, we think that the rocky ground represents this type of people, the path another type, the thorns another and so on. More often than not, we place ourselves in the good soil. That’s all true, but let’s take a different twist. Stand and look at the parable from a different vantage point. In a scripture passage we are everything and everyone. I wonder if we look inside our own heart we might find each type of ground mentioned. Might we find some rocky place, thorny patches, some really good places?

There are places in our heart that are like the path. We hear God’s Word but never let it have great influence on our lives. We never let it disturb our “regular” life. We never let it challenge us. If I am honest, I think that in my heart there are places where the soil is very rocky and not very deep. The hardness of heart that often develops when we get hurt. In the rocky places pieces of the teachings of Jesus, especially the ones I find most difficult, that have not penetrated my heart deeply so that good and strong roots could develop. There are parts of my heart that may be the thorny patch, where my own sinfulness, whatever that might be, tries to choke the life out of God’s Word. Then there is a part of my heart where God’s Word has found rich soil within me. I have embraced God’s Word and have tried to let it shape and influence my life. I believe that each type of the soil Jesus mentioned are found in me and you as individuals and in us as a parish.

The final piece that attracted me was the Sower and the seed. We might even call this sower, “The Extravagant Sower” who seems to be throwing seeds around with great abandon. Why throw seeds down where there is little chance for good growth? It seems a rather sloppy, wasteful and extravagant way of sowing. That’s our way of thinking, but God isn’t like that. God is always extravagant and throws out his Word in great abundance to let it fall where it might fall. Each one of us is called to be this character, and the seed, too. We are called to be extravagant with God’s Word (seeds). To speak it, to live it, to love it and to spread it with great abandon. We never know where the Word of God that we speak will fall. We never know what one little word might have a life-changing effect on someone (or at least make their day). We never know what our witness will be for another person. Really, our knowing what happens isn’t all that important. What is important is that we imitate the Extravagant Sower and when we go about our everyday lives, we choose to go out to sow the words of God, to sow the words of mercy, forgiveness, love, challenge, commitment, courage, kindness with the reckless abandon of The Sower in today’s gospel and let the Word of God fall where it may. It is time for us to stop standing on the edge and begin to sit down and learn what Jesus is teaching us. Don’t be afraid to take chances and remember it is not all about us. It is about letting God use us instruments to take sactter the seeds of God’s message.

 

 

 

 

 

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection July 9 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, July 9

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 11: 25 – 30

 

Gospel:
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Reflection:
Jesus speaks of two things in the gospel today, the little ones who share in the wisdom and knowledge of God, and the yoke which as disciples of Jesus we are asked to bear.

Contrary to the wisdom of the world, it is the little ones, meaning those who accept the words and deeds of Jesus who are exalted as opposed to the puffed up wise and clever who only parrot his words.

The second image of the yoke which is normally a cross bar that ties two animals to servitude is used here as a yoke of rest meaning the other party tied with us is Jesus himself who when walking in harmony with Him gives us freedom and rest.

Reflect on your journey today with Jesus and pray to qualify by His grace as a partner yoked to Him and become His companion going down the road.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection July 2 – Deacon Chris

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Sunday, July 2

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 10: 37 – 42

 

Gospel:
Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple-
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

 

Reflection:
It’s hard to follow Jesus Christ, to be a Christian, but it’s worth it.

That sums up the message our Lord is trying to communicate to us in today’s Gospel passage and it’s a message that we constantly need to be reminded of. At first, it almost seems like Jesus is trying to discourage us from following him. He warns that friendship with him is demanding. To be a true friend of Jesus Christ means that everything else has to be put in second place. Everything has to be put on the table, even personal dreams, even family ties. The demands of our friendship with Jesus Christ will require us to carry a cross, to sacrifice self-gratifying desires, maybe even to endure great suffering. That sounds hard, painful, maybe even unreasonable.

But the good Lord knows what He is doing.

And if he calls us to this kind of life style, which he does, it’s only because he knows that this is the path to lasting happiness. If we are truly living for God, to give him glory and to build up his Kingdom in the world, then God will take care of us. We will not lose our reward. In order to share Christ’s life, the life of the redeemed soul, the new life of grace won for us by Christ’s passion and resurrection, then we must also share in His death. We have to die to self, to put to death all selfish and self-centered desires, in order to rise with Christ and to live the life of the Spirit, the life that gives true meaning and satisfaction to our lives. Yes, it is hard to follow Jesus, but it is worth it. In truth, nothing else even comes close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deacon Chris Tuttle

Gospel Reflection June 23 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, June 25

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 10: 26 – 33

 

Gospel:
Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

 

Reflection:
The vast number of politicians are boring. “Boring” in the good sense, in that they are honest civil servants raising their families while striving to enact legislation that benefits the populace. They are so “boring” that most of us cannot name our federal, state, city, or other elected representatives.

But the popular stereotype of the “sleazy and amoral politician,” is probably due to the deluge of media attention that a political scandal attracts. Scandal sells, and it sells very well. Long before 24-hr news channels arose, American newspapers were full daily of the outrageous allegations of scandal thrown about by Jackson and Adams in the 1828 presidential election. Allegations of murder, bigamy, and elitism were followed by — in an instance of “past is prologue”– questions of what exactly went on in those conversations Adams had with Czar Alexander when he was the first U.S. minister to Russia.

When we see how much attention even allegations of scandal gets, one wonders why some politicians think they can get away with actual scandal. Whether it is bribery, cronyism, or just that worn chestnut of marital infidelity, unscrupulous politicians forget the warning of Our Lord in today’s Gospel: “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.”

We can be thankful that most politicians– and most of us– are too boring to merit the attention of the entire press. All of us have parts of our life that we struggle at, or in which we suffer humiliating failures, and would like to keep private. Our spiritual life is no different. The Sacrament of Confession is done quietly in the privacy of the confessional, not in the sanctuary before the eyes of the entire congregation.

But Our Lord is reminding us of the price of true Christian discipleship. Our entire life must be Christian. We cannot wall off the person we are on Sunday morning from other aspects of our life. We must strive to acknowledge our Father and Jesus Christ before our neighbors, coworkers, and others through the way we live our lives. We must strive to do our Christian duty quietly and without fanfare. We must live our lives so that, if our actions were ever subjected to the scrutiny of the entire press, all that would be unearthed is just how Christian and “boring” our lives have been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father Morris

Gospel Reflection June 18 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, June 18

The Solemnity of the Body & Blood of Christ

John 6: 51 – 58

 

Gospel:
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

 

Reflection:
In the gospel according to John, Jesus compares himself to the manna with which God fed the people of Israel. Like manna, Jesus is the bread that comes from heaven. However, Jesus is a better food than manna. Jesus tells the people, “Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Besides physical hunger, we experience another hunger, a hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food. It’s a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity. Jesus says, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The bread that Jesus gives us is His life, His death, and His resurrection for our salvation.

In our busy lives, we are exposed all the time to other “offers of food” which do not come from the Lord and at times can appear to be more satisfying to us. Sometimes we nourish ourselves with financial wealth, other times it might be success and vanity, and at other times it might be power and pride. No matter what these other sources of food might be in our lives, the only food that can truly nourish us and satisfy us is that which is given to us by the Lord.

Jesus instructs us that the Eucharist is the “new manna,” the new bread from heaven, the new way that God gives us daily sustenance. If we truly appreciate it and understand it, we go to the Eucharist with a desire to stay alive. The Eucharist is meant to be God’s regular nourishment for us, daily manna to keep us alive within the desert of our lives.

Deacon Paul Zemanek