Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection June 24 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, June 24

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Luke 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

We celebrate the birth of John the Baptist today. It is a solemnity and as such this feast supersedes the Sunday in Ordinary time for today’s readings. That should give you one indicator as to how important the Church regards St John the Baptist. On another note, we usually celebrate saints’ feasts on the dates of their death. This is the feast of St John’s birth – a rarity along with few others such as Jesus’ and Mary’s births. We also celebrate St John the Baptist’s death on August 29th. John is special to the Church as he belongs to both the Old and the New Testaments. Jesus praises John’s greatness but at the same time Jesus teaches us that even the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. John knew who Jesus was and tells us that he is not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. John never experiences Jesus as the Risen Lord, a privilege denied the one who baptized him and yet given to all of us who are baptized since. Even at the height of his popularity John himself reminds us that Jesus must increase while he himself must decrease.

John the Baptist’s life can have a special meaning for all of us. We are, through our baptism, also called to be preachers of the Lord. Our baptism imposes on us an obligation to share our faith and to give witness to Jesus, both in word and in action. Our lives are meant to send out an invitation to come and join us and share our experience of faith, love, and fellowship. If we are honest, we know that we do not do that nearly enough and can often give an opposite message altogether. The signals we send out as individuals, as families, and as a parish are really the way we might find meaning in our lives.

Let us ask John the Baptist today to help us make clear a path in our lives to draw others closer to knowing and experiencing the Christ through the Gospels.

Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection June 17 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, June 17

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 4: 26 – 34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

In this weekend’s gospel from Saint Mark, Jesus talks to us about the mysterious kingdom of God. This kingdom is not so easy to see with the naked eye and its power of growth can leave people unimpressed. And yet it is the strongest power of all and it’s ability to grow is certain. Explaining this mysterious kingdom to us today, Jesus reminds us how seed sowed on the ground takes root, sprouts and grows in its own mysterious way. Its power to grow and produce the food that feeds us is amazing. Even while we sleep that seed is growing.

In a second example Jesus talks about the mustard seed, how small it is and yet how large a tree it becomes. We need not be worried if God’s ways seem to be unimpressive. The power that the word of God holds is beyond our reckoning. God’s word, God’s justice, truth and love are indestructible. It may not seem like this in our noisy, argumentative and violent world. The kingdom of God is among us and it may not be easy to see. Yet look again with eyes of faith and you will see it everywhere.

May the Lord, who invites us into his kingdom, be our strength in all we do and may God bless all the Dads, Grandpas, and expectant Dads in our parish this weekend as we celebrate Father’s Day and give praise to our Heavenly Father!

Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection June 10 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, June 10

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 3: 20 – 35

Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,”
and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder the house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be
forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

His mother and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
“Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

Reflecting on the readings for this Sunday, I was pulled up short by three phrases.

In the first reading from Genesis it was the two questions presented by God.
“Where are you?” and “Who told you that you were naked?” and in the Gospel: “Jesus came home with his disciples.” Reflecting on these three caused everything else to fall away.

“Where are you?” God knows everything. He knew where Adam and Eve were, why was God asking? Perhaps there is a question behind the question. God wants to know why they are hiding from him. Why have they turned away? Why have they tried to move out of God’s presence? Adam tries to explain that they were ashamed because they were naked, God asked, “Who told you that you were naked?”

When might God ask me: “Where are you?” Is it at those times when I try to hide from God? There are times when I turn my face from God because I am ashamed of what I have done or not done. I am ashamed of my behavior, so I try to hide from God. I don’t want God to see me. I don’t want God to know what I did because, if God knew, then, perhaps God would turn away from me. However, God always comes looking for us; God never turns away from us. God does not let us hide. God is the Eternal Good Shepherd. God is never ashamed of us and never stops loving us.

“Where are you?” How would I answer God if God put that question to me right now? Where am I in my relationship with God? Am I hiding from God? Do I have my face turned away from God? Do I not want God to see me or see something in my life? Am I right there with God and things are going well in my life right now?

The second question: “Who told you that you were naked?” “Who told you, you were stupid?” “Who told you, you were no good.” “Who told you, you were ugly?” “Who told you, you were better than everyone else?” “Who told you, you were too fat or too skinny?” “Who told you, you would never amount to anything?” “Who told you, you were great?” We all have those inner voices playing the tapes of what people have told us over our lifetime. “Who told you …” underneath it is the question, “Who have you been listening to?” “Whose voice do you choose to hear?”

Today we are bombarded with so many voices. There are voices telling us what is right and wrong; what we should or should not believe or think; what we need; what is good for us, blah, blah, blah. How do we filter out the voices? How do we quiet the multitude of voices and listen for God’s voice? How do we quiet the voices in our head or outside our head and listen to what God is telling us every day?

“Where are you?” “Who told you, you were naked?” These two questions are very perplexing questions. Then we come to the Gospel. I could get no further than the first six words, “Jesus came home with his disciples.”

Home in scripture is a metaphor for our heart. Jesus comes into the heart of his disciples. I don’t need to hide from Jesus. I listen to his voice speaking in my heart. We are loved. God is absolutely crazy about us. God loves us with an everlasting love and will never leave us out or behind. When I surrender to that love, then I will not turn from God. When I surrender to that love and listen to God’s voice I will be able to resist the lure of Satan in my life. When Jesus is in “my house” my house is not divided. It is strong. It will stand. There are times when I wonder if I take Jesus home with me. Do I take Jesus into my heart?

I invite you to linger with the questions: “Where are you?” (Are you hiding from God? If so, why? Where are you in your relationship with God?) and “Who told you that you were naked?” (Whose voice are you listening to?). Then sit with the Gospel, “Jesus came home with his disciples.” Look to see who is in your house (heart)! IT makes all the difference.

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection June 3 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, June 3

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus’ last supper is a Passover meal in which he unties his followers with his passion and death for the redemption of the world. He does this the night before he goes to his own death on the Cross.

His gift of himself in the bread and wine, the body and blood which he shares is His lasting gift to the Church and t the world.

Each and every week and each time we come to celebrate Mass, we remember what He did for us and the great commission He gave to his disciples long ago and now to us is to go out and live as He lived and to speak as He spoke about justice and mercy and forgiveness.

The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ, is our unmerited gift that St. John tells us in his gospel, “the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection May 27 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, May 27

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Matthew 28: 16 – 20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

St Thomas Aquinas based his explanation of the Catholic Faith upon the principle of analogy. For Thomas, it is true that finite, limited human words can never fully capture the actual glorious reality of God. God is in that sense utterly ineffable, unable to be literally captured by human language or concepts.

But St Thomas insisted that we could still speak truthfully about God using analogical language: that God is similar to a human or created idea. When we say “God is perfect,” we can freely admit that our human word “perfect” and its human meaning is wholly insufficient in describing God’s type of “perfection.”

But the statement is still important and true! For the human idea of “perfection” is similar enough to the transcendental idea of absolute Divine “perfection” to communicate an essential truth about God to we small-brained, intellectually-limited mortal beings.

Human language similarly fails to “capture” the Holy Trinity. We can follow Jesus’ commandment to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can memorize the carefully formulated dogmatic statements of ecumenical councils. But human language is ultimately always doomed in any attempt to capture the entire reality of the Trinity. We cannot ‘put God in a box.’

But we don’t need ‘a God in a box’ in order to believe. For human language is able to communicate enough about the Trinity that we can understand enough to enter into communion with this Triune God. Just because we cannot fully explain God on this side of eternity does not mean that we can’t believe. Just because the idea of One God in Three Persons seems incomprehensible to us, doesn’t mean that such a God doesn’t exist.

On this Trinity Sunday, let us confess that our God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This truth is a great mystery, yes, but a mystery that we can understand enough about in order to love totally the magnificent Trinity.

Father Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection May 13 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, May 13

The Ascension of the Lord

Mark 16: 15 – 20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Today, we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord – the final revelation of the Paschal Mystery. Each time we make the sign of the cross, we should consider that the symbol of the cross we make represents much more than simply Jesus’ crucifixion. We should be reminded of Jesus’ entire life on earth – His birth, His young life, His adult life, His public life, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. All of these experiences of Jesus reveal to us the Paschal Mystery. As Jesus ascends into heaven, he does not leave us to our own devices. He departs, yet leaves us with His Advocate – the Holy Spirit. By doing so, He assures us we will never be alone.

Jesus spent so much time teaching his disciples, one would think he would be most careful in what words he would choose to use as a final instruction. He did pick his words with care and left his disciples with four missions:
There is the duty for us to evangelize. We need to communicate a life’s vision contained in the Gospels. It is the duty of every Christian to become disciple like.
The Church has the task of healing – body, soul, mind, and spirit – the whole person. It is our calling to do this.
Jesus promises that we will receive special power, when we do this. This power is not political or economic, but power that comes from a vibrant life to overcome day to day trials and setbacks.
Finally, the Christian community is not alone. Jesus is with us until the end of the time.
As the Easter Season winds down, we are now refueled by the Holy Spirit. This fuel should continue to be with us through the remainder of the Church year through the sacraments and recalling the totality of gifts from the Paschal Mystery.

Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection May 6 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, May 6

Sixth Sunday of Easter

John 15: 9 – 17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

In our culture we often hear a lot about love. Love is a favorite theme in the media, in popular novels, in movies and television dramas, in songs, and in greeting cards. Love is usually portrayed as an emotion, a warm fuzzy feeling, or a pleasurable attraction. This weekend at Mass you will hear from Saint John, the beloved disciple, reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus and simply sum up love by showing us that “GOD IS LOVE” and what God wants is for us to live in love just as Jesus has shown us, by loving one another. In this way we will share in the joy of God. The whole message of scripture is to be found in these eight words “…love one another as I have loved you…”

It is important to know that when Jesus talks about “love” he’s not talking about the mating instinct, which is good but which is too often exploited in our secular culture as the only kind of love that has any importance. Jesus is talking about giving ourselves for the benefit of another as he did for us. Love is the key to everything: it explains why God created us; it explains why Jesus came to earth; it explains why God wants us to live with him eternally; it explains the Mass we celebrate; and, it explains how we are to act toward one another.

As we continue this season of Easter, may we reflect on how the apostles grew in their awareness of the Risen Lord in their lives, and pray for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to know that Jesus is with us today, helping us to love one another just as he has loved us.

Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Apr 29 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, April 29

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 15: 1 – 8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

This Gospel message, at first glance, seems like a no-brainer. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We have to stay connected to the vine because without the vine we can’t bear fruit (do anything). When it seems that easy, take it as a sign that you need to go deeper into the passage. If it is taken from John you definitely need to go deeper because John’s version of the gospel is like an iceberg. We see only the top part but the vast majority of the message is deeper.

I have no question in my mind that if I don’t stay connected to Jesus (the vine), I (a branch) will lose focus and will not really do too much good (bear fruit). The challenge is to really be very honest with myself and ask, “How do I stay connected and what makes me lose the connection?” The main way to stay connected is through prayer: private prayer and communal prayer. I need to have time for private prayer every day, and when I let that slip away or I chip away at it because, “I am so busy,” that is when I start to drift from the source of life. The other need is participating in the prayer of the community, which for us is Mass. I need the faith of a community to lean on and also to allow them to lean on me.

We still have to go deeper. Again, I have no problem believing that the branches need the vine. What I struggle with is that the vine needs the branches. That is an awesome and humbling thought. God needs me to do the work of the Gospel. God needs you to do the work of the Gospel. Think about that! In God’s great design, God made us an integral part of Jesus’ mission on earth. We downplay that. We deny that. We don’t fully believe it. We claim unworthiness. We claim ignorance. We…. blah, blah, blah. Yet, the bottom line is that you and I are essential to the vine. In a couple of weeks we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. We, along with the disciples of Jesus, will be given the divine commission, “Go, and make disciples of all nations.” That’s what lies beneath this Gospel. That is what changes this Gospel passage from being a “no-brainer” to the biggest challenge of our lives. Called to take the message of the Good News out to others. “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor 5:19-20

Bring the Gospel to others. The vine needs you!!! -Teresa Tuite, OP

Sister Teresa Tuite

Gospel Reflection Apr 22 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, April 22

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10: 11 – 18

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

This Sunday is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and the Day the Church sets aside to pray for Vocations. The gospel poses Jesus as the Good Shepherd who cares for the sheep.

In this long passage form the gospel of John, Jesus speaks first to those who already are following Him, already are part of His fold. Describing His action for His flock, he first tells them that he lays down His life for them. This is the ultimate sacrifice. Then He tells them that he takes it up again, a sure acknowledgement of the Resurrection. He then goes onto speak to those not yet a part of His flock. These too will come to know that they are His own.

This Sunday we pray for Vocations for the whole Church, and we pray for ourselves, that we might know and believe in the One Shepherd who brings us to life.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Apr 13 – Deacon Chris

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Sunday, April 15

Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24: 35 – 48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

The author of the Gospel of Luke makes it clear that the disciples were encountering the Resurrected Lord and the details show us that it could not have been someone who was resuscitated. He emphasizes the touching of the hands and feet of Jesus and the fact that He eats a piece of fish in their presence. This reveals both the reality of Jesus’ presence and its difference from His former presence. The disciples reaction to this is a mixture of terror and joy. But, Jesus gives them what they needed, His peace. The first thing he says to them is “Peace be with you”.

Jesus gives each of us His peace as well. He gives it to us because the peace of the resurrected Christ is what we really need. As we grow and deepen our friendship with the Risen Christ, His healing and loving peace dissolves the stresses, sadnesses, and anxieties of life. Jesus gives us peace for our minds because whenever we look at the crucifix, we can know that His forgiveness is everlasting. He gives us peace for our hearts because whenever we see the wounds of Christ, we know that we are loved. He gives us peace for our souls because He is alive and the one who is in charge. Christ invites each one of us to personally follow Him and help build up His Church. This brings deep purpose to our lives and satisfies our thirst for meaning.

Each time that we attend Mass, we hear the same words that Christ spoke to the disciples of “Peace be with you”. The priest says, “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” Then, right after that, we have the opportunity to receive the living, resurrected body and blood of our Lord in Holy Communion. In our reception of Holy Communion, Jesus floods us with His peace, the peace that we deeply desire and need.

The peace of the Lord be with you always!

Deacon Chris Tuttle