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Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Apr 30 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, April 30

Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24: 13 – 35

Gospel:
That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
Reflection:
May the blessings of Our Lord be with you as we continue this Easter Season!

It seems almost laughable that two guys would be hiking down the road together, meet up and continue their walk with Jesus – the subject of their highly energized conversation – and not recognize that Jesus was walking with them. Perhaps their combined emotions of excitement, grief, and sorrow had made them blind to that fact. They were totally focused on their grief and the awesome events that had just taken place. How could these men be that blind? We too can easily get caught up in the moment and be equally blind to Jesus’ presence in our lives.

There is a saying that you don’t see with your eyes or hear with your ears. Eyes simply diffuse light and ears simply receive audible noise. It is our brains that process what we see and hear and our intellect that determines if and how we might respond. Our brains can only process about one or two things at a time, so whatever pre-occupies us must necessarily push out other possibilities. So it might have been this way with these two men. They were so caught up in their emotions that the most important moment of their lives almost entirely escaped their grasp. Luckily for them, their brains caught up with the drama that unfolded. It was Jesus’ breaking of the bread that rattled their brains away from their grief and back into the moment. They were filled with joy as their eyes were opened with the Body of Jesus. When the disciples finally realized who was with them, Jesus left instantly. The bread, now his Body, became the suitable replacement, equal in value, equal in substance, and equal in reality. As joy replaced sorrow and grief for these men, so it should be with us.

How often and how easily can we get caught up in our daily grind and other day-to-day busyness that are of little or lasting importance. Our brain can easily be distracted with television, news, and social media – all forcing out thoughts of Jesus’ presence in our lives. He is here! He is Risen! He is with us now and forever! Do we give ourselves enough time to wrap our brains around that? His presence with us in the breaking of the bread and hearing His word remains with us today just as it did for those two guys hiking to Emmaus so long ago.

Let us continue this Easter Season with the joy that comes with His presence in Word and in Sacrament!
Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Apr 23 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, April 23

Second Sunday of Easter

John 20: 19 – 31

Gospel:
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Reflection:
This weekend when you go to Mass you will hear the familiar story of ‘Doubting Thomas’. As you are aware, Thomas the Apostle is called that because he refused to believe the other disciples when they told him they had seen the Risen Lord. On hearing of the visit he said ‘No way! ‘Or, as the text reports, “…unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger in His side, I will not believe.’ When Jesus appeared and told Thomas to put His finger and hand into his wounds, the Gospel passage says Thomas responded with “My Lord and my God!’ Of course he believed. Who wouldn’t?

Today Jesus doesn’t appear to us and tell us to touch His wounds. As He invites Thomas to do just that, He proclaims a message that may be a source of hope for all of us. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. ” Yes, Jesus was talking about us – about you and me. We are blessed because we believe in Him even though we have not seen. We are blessed.

Think of the people whom you know in your life who make Jesus the Christ known in how they live and in how they are with others. In seeing them we see Jesus. We must remind ourselves that Jesus is in these people around us. And going one step further, we must ask ourselves if others ever see or experience Jesus in us. In you. In me.

Sometime this week look into a mirror; look into your eyes reflected back at you. Ask Jesus to reflect His face, His life, and His love to others. And remember that when Jesus is with you, so much is possible.

Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Apr 16 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, April 16

The Resurrection of the Lord

Matthew 28: 1 – 10

Gospel:
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

Reflection:
I feel a bit discombobulated as I sit typing out my gospel reflection. It is Tuesday of Holy Week but I am supposed to be reflecting on the gospel offered to us for Easter Sunday, to tell again of the miracle of the Resurrection.

Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday and welcomed Jesus into the holy city of Jerusalem. Before the week was out this man to whom we shouted songs of praise gave us the gift of his Body and Blood (so that we would be forever nourished by the gift of his life) then he was crucified on a cross. By the end of the week the parade would be very different. It would be a parade of very few people taking the body of Jesus to be laid in a borrowed tomb.

As a world community, we are held in the terror of warfare. On April 4th, at least 70 people were killed in Tuesday’s attack, which witnesses described as a fog of chemicals that enveloped men, women and children, leaving many to suffocate, choke or foam at the mouth. In horror, I looked at the young father who held his twin babies. They died along with his wife, two brothers, two nephews and a niece. There is no difficulty entering the horrors of Good Friday and seeing the connection to the horrors of warfare and to again witness the inhumanity shown to each other.

We know the emptiness of Holy Saturday because I think we live so much of life in “Holy-Saturday mode.” It is the in-between time. The time between a sense of hopelessness and hope; between the known and unknown. Repeatedly we live the Easter Mystery of life, death and resurrection but it is the time in-between that we try to grapple with.

The celebrant could choose the passage from the gospel according to John or according to Matthew. I chose the piece from Matthew.

Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary”, two women who had been there when Jesus was placed in the tomb and the tomb sealed with a very heavy stone. When everyone else had left, it was these two women who remained and kept vigil. They witness the angel rolling back the stone. They see the guards paralyzed with fear. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were afraid but not paralyzed and were open to the mission given to them. “then go quickly and tell the disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.” They leave the tomb “fearful yet overjoyed.”

I think we know these women; we have, most undoubtedly walked in their shoes. Like them they could not prevent what happened to Jesus. We cannot change, as hard as we may try, the tragic course of events: a fatal illness, a marriage breakup, the death of a loved one, the downward decline of an addiction, a refugee crisis nor acts of chemical warfare. So often something breaks through that horror and sorrow and we are faced with a choice – be paralyzed and do nothing or work through our fear and sorrow and do what we can do to move toward new life.

These two women are the first witnesses to the resurrection and the first chosen for an Easter mission, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples.” In that one act, the history of the world was changed forever.

“The resurrection has changed the world forever.” We cannot focus on the resurrection alone – it is part of a bigger piece. It is part of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through all of this we have hope now for new life in God

Through Jesus’ resurrection we all have been raised and now the mission is ours … go out and tell others about Jesus Christ. Be witnesses to his life, to his death and crucifixion and to his resurrection. Cling to hope in the in-between-times of life. Hold fast to hope when what is taken for normal is broken and shattered. Give witness and respond to the needs of others. The Risen Jesus is in our midst especially in our neighbor, the hungry, the prisoner, the thirsty and the lonely. Do you not recognize him? He has Risen and lives and gives our mission. The resurrected Jesus sends each one of us to go out to others. SO – “don’t be afraid,” go out and spread the word!!

-Sr. Teresa Tuite

Gospel Reflection Apr 9 – Msgr. Hendricks + Rice Bowl Week 6

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Sunday, April 2

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Matthew 27: 11 – 54

Gospel:
Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
– which means Place of the Skull -,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Reflection:
Today the Church begins Holy Week. Palm Sunday marks the time when Jesus enters the Holy City Jerusalem, to begin his victory over sin and death.

Although the gospel this Sunday is an account of His Passion by St. Matthew, the real key to our understanding of this wondrous gift is in the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is here that we learn that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed of the Lord, and at the mention of His name all on heaven and earth fall down in adoration. This reminds us of the beginning of His life when the Magi come to offer their gifts to Him. They give the best they have for the new born king. We offer our best as he promised us new life with Him in heaven.

Our response is to hear and accept the message of the gospel, reflect on it this Holy Week and come to conversion as we follow Him through the valley of death to the newness of the resurrection.

Have a great Holy Week!
Monsignor Hendricks
OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 6

Global Solidarity
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Global Solidarity, Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, even though they may be different than us. That means the neighbors who live next door and also those who live on the other side of the planet. Jesus reminds us that we are all part of God’s great family.
Encounter Our Neighbors
You are born with breadfruit, you grow up with breadfruit and you die with breadfruit. This popular saying from the Micronesian island of Chuuk, thousands of miles off the coast of Hawaii, captures the importance of this starchy fruit. It’s a staple both for the Chuukese living in Micronesia, and for people like Micaela, who were forced to migrate to Hawaii due to a changing climate and rising seas.

Though Micaela moved to Hawaii seeking a better life, she instead found a community of Chuukese struggling with hunger. Through the One ‘Ohana: Food and Housing for All program, Micaela organizes groups of women to learn farming techniques. Together, they gain the knowledge to plant breadfruit trees and feed their communities.

For Micaela, the project is a way to look to the future while remembering the past. “It’s been many years since I dug my hands in the ground. We are reconnecting back to our home, even though it’s not the soil from where we came from,” she says.

Watch a 3 ½ minute video to learn more about the One ‘Ohana: Food and Housing for All program: http://www.officeforsocialministry.org/one_ohana_food_housing_for_all/

Gospel Reflection Apr 2 – Fr. Morris + Rice Bowl Week 5

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Sunday, April 2

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33B-45

Gospel:
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Reflection:
Today’s Gospel includes the answer to a common trivia question: what is the shortest verse of the Bible? It’s a trick question if asked by a biblical scholar, because they will tell you it is Luke 20:30 in the original Greek texts. But the answer that is usually intended is the shortest verse of the famous King James Version translation, which is “Jesus wept.”

This text is interesting not only for its brevity but for its dogmatic import. There were some people in the early centuries of the Church who could not understand how Jesus could be both God and Man. They taught that either Jesus was God but not truly human, or that he was a very holy man but not divine. The Church rebutted these erroneous ideas in ecumenical council, and held faithfully to the teaching of the Apostles: no matter how hard it is for us to grasp, Jesus is truly God and truly Man.

Our Gospel passage for today affirms this great truth. In a very real and physical way, the Second Person of the Trinity, by His Incarnation, has wept tears of grief. God has truly wept for His loved ones. Even though Our Lord knew He would soon raise Lazarus, that did not stop Him from feeling the full weight of grief, of experiencing the loss of His dear friend.

Jesus not only wept, but even as He steps before the tomb to perform His miracle, the Evangelist tells us that He was “perturbed again” (“deeply moved,” “groaning,” in other translations). Jesus’ face was still wet with grief even as He prepared to call Lazarus forth from the grave. And so we can be sure that Jesus is there with us in our weeping as we lay our loved ones to rest. Even though we know they will rise again at the Last Day, we still feel the full weight of grief and loss.

We should not be ashamed of or fight our grief. In our tears, we are merely following the example of Our Lord Himself.
Father Morris
OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 5

Care for God’s Creation
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Care for God’s Creation, we remember that God created every plant, every mountaintop, every animal — everything. And God said that these things are good. We find God in these good things, and so we must take care of creation, both for ourselves and for all of our human family.

Encounter Dita
Dita, her husband and their seven children depend on the money they earn selling crops from their small farm in Ethiopia. But frequent droughts often mean that families like Dita’s who depend on home-grown crops go hungry. And amidst the current, historic drought, more than 10 million people are struggling with hunger.
But thanks to a CRS program that helps families prepare for crises like droughts, Dita was able to build a new house and open a small store. Instead of relying solely on what she can grow on her farm, she is able to sell items like pasta, shampoo and bananas. She earns a steady $400 a month.

“Before, I had to get eggs from my neighbors. Now I have 15 hens,” she proclaims. Saving money and being able to borrow not only allowed her to buy hens but also a metal roof for her new house, a rarity for families in this part of Ethiopia.

“Now we have no problems with food,” she says. Unlike families across Ethiopia that struggle to find enough to eat, Dita says her children eat three times a day, thanks to her newfound business knowledge.

And what’s more, all her children are attending school. “When I was a child, there were no education opportunities,” she says. Then, with a shy but proud smile, she adds, “That’s a big difference.”

Follow the link to learn more about CRS’ work in Ethiopia. http://www.crs.org/our-work-overseas/where-we-work/ethiopia?_ga=1.48200420.21127280.1453232487
Try a simple meal from Ethiopia: Injera with atkilt wat. http://www.crsricebowl.org/recipes/injera-with-atkilt-wat

Gospel Reflection Mar 26 – Deacon Paul + Rice Bowl Week 4

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Sunday, March 26

Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

Gospel:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” – which means Sent -.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

Reflection:
In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of the healing of the blind man. John says that as Jesus was walking along he saw the man who was born blind. Without being asked, Jesus performs the miracle.

The man was physically blind but now he sees. At the same time, there is a gradual progression from spiritual blindness to sight, or from darkness to light. The blind man’s Christological insight grew and continued to grow as the story progresses. He started out by calling Jesus a man, then a prophet. He affirms that Jesus cannot be a sinner but that He is from God.

The story does not end here with the blind man that was healed. Jesus has not abandoned him. Jesus finds him when he is at the most vulnerable point of his life and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. The blind man receives his sight, a miracle in the physical realm. But much more significantly, his spiritual eyes are opened and his darkness turns to light as he falls on his knees before Jesus and says, “Lord, I believe.”

So, during this Lenten Season, what is causing your “spiritual” blindness? How can we best sharpen our “spiritual” vision to be 20/20? Some potential ways are to go to Vespers on Sunday nights, Soup Suppers and Stations of the Cross on Tuesday nights, go to a Taize prayer service, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and most importantly receive the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist regularly. God wants us to have a very clear and bright spiritual vision, about Himself, and about each other, and about ourselves. Let Jesus perform a miracle with you this Lent so you may see more clearly the glory of God.

Deacon Paul Zemanek
OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 4

Call to Family, Community and Participation
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Call to Family, Community and Participation, we remember that human beings are social by nature — we need each other. We, like the early disciples, are called to come together and grow as a community, whether that community is in our classroom, workplace or family.

Encounter Maria
Maria de la Luz Lugo Martínez remembers what it was like growing up in Ejido Hidalgo, Mexico. “We said we were rich because we had a lot of corn, beans and animals.” But now, with few jobs and even less rain, young people — including Maria’s children — are leaving the community in search of a better life.

To help families like Maria’s, CRS launched a greenhouse project empowering women with meaningful work and community. Women visit their community greenhouses to grow cactuses to sell, but they also go for so much more. “At the greenhouses, we laugh, we talk, we spend time together. Sometimes we leave our homes angry or sad. But then we start working with the plants, and we forget. Talking, laughing, we forget our problems for a while,” says Maria.

As the cactuses grow, so too do the economic opportunities. “We didn’t believe we were going to get that far. It’s a lot of joy, a lot of excitement to see so many plants flowering.”

The flourishing cactuses aren’t the only things that give Maria pride. Even though they live far away, she still remains close to her family. “I give thanks to God that he gave me all my children and grandchildren,” she says. “They give me strength and courage to work hard. My children call and say, ‘Don’t give up, Mom. Have faith in God.'”

Watch a short video to learn more about Maria and the work of CRS in Mexico. http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-4 You might also want to try a very easy and delicious recipe from Mexico. http://www.crsricebowl.org/recipes/arroz-rojo

Gospel Reflection Mar 19 – Deacon Don + Rice Bowl Week 3

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Sunday, March 19

Third Sunday of Lent

John 4:5-15, 19B-26, 39A, 40-42

Gospel:
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” – For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. – Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.

“I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him. When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Reflection:
If the Gospel writers were modern day marketing execs tasked with promoting a new faith called Christianity, they would get low marks for the types of characters they used to promote this new faith. Often, the Gospels writers select characters that are marginalized, downtrodden, and the least of our brethren. Yet, these same characters become central to the Gospel message – that the marginalized are granted high places for all who believe in this message and live it. If we were tasked with promoting this new faith, we would more likely select the popular and successful of society to represent this faith and make it more attractive to our contemporaries. Yet, the Gospel writers chose otherwise. One can only conclude then that the Gospels writers weren’t concerned with popularity, but in the truth with which they were entrusted.

Today’s Gospel often described as the woman at the well is no exception. It is an extraordinary story of the lowly being lifted up to present an extraordinary truth. The woman at the well was indeed an extraordinary woman. She was a Samaritan – a race of people hated by the Jews. This woman was even an outcast from her own Samaritan people. This is supported by the fact she came alone to draw water from the community well. In ancient times, the community well might be considered the equivalent of our modern day water cooler – a place to gossip and socialize, but this woman comes alone and friendless.

The story of the woman at the well teaches us that God loves us despite our social status and sinfulness. Jesus seeks us out in this passage to enter into a deeper relationship with him. As a result of Jesus’ conversation, the Samaritan woman, an outcast from her own people, could understand how profound Jesus’ relationship can be. Jesus uses her and the metaphor of living water as the devices for revelation to other Samaritans as well. To be wanted, to be cared for when no one, not even herself, could see anything of value in her – this is Jesus’ grace indeed. To the first century Gospel reader and for us today, this story is too unexpected, too unworthy, to be anything else but true. All of us from time to time can feel like the woman at the well. Recognize the truth of this Gospel during this Lenten season to further our faith journey and realize the Gospel writers got it right.

Deacon Don Poirier

 

 

OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 3
Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers, we remember that Jesus spent years working as a carpenter. Work is important to help people live good lives, and so people must be paid a fair wage to provide for themselves and their families.
Encounter Fernando
Fernando dreams of becoming a businessman. He also dreams of a better future for his family, and this motivates him to sell cookbooks on San Salvador’s buses. It’s dangerous work for $10 a day — gangs frequently stop and harass drivers and passengers — but he keeps going, determined to achieve his dreams.

It was his dreams that led him to YouthBuild, a six-month, CRS-sponsored program that trains young people in business. There, he found a positive community to help him pursue his passion, despite the challenges of life in El Salvador. “When I tell my classmates that I want to do something, they tell me to try it and to not hold back.”
Training for six months with YouthBuild wasn’t easy on Fernando or his family. Without his wife to support him and care for their two young daughters, the early mornings and long days might have been impossible. “YouthBuild is a family because families help you realize your dreams,” Fernando says. It’s a fact he knows well.  Fernando is putting his newfound skills to work. After graduating from YouthBuild in 2016, he took part in a series of entrepreneur workshops organized by CRS and is currently working on a new business plan. He is also a part of the YouthBuild network of graduates, youth leaders who mentor other young people and look for new opportunities for employment and growth.  “We have a saying,” says Fernando. “Once a YouthBuilder, always a YouthBuilder.” *YouthBuild is a member of the YouthBuild International network.
Watch a 3 ½ minute video to learn more about CRS’ work in El Salvador, and reflect on the life and legacy of El Salvador’s saintly Blessed Oscar Romerohttp://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-3 

Gospel Reflection Mar 12 – Deacon Frank + Rice Bowl Week 2

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Sunday, March 12

Second Sunday of Lent

Matthew 17: 1 – 9

Gospel:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
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:
On this Second Sunday of Lent the church once again gives us the powerful account of Jesus’ Transfiguration where Peter, James and John have an experience of seeing Jesus as being truly amazing. They are able to recognize that He is amazing, for they contemplate Him for who He really is. On the mountain, Jesus shines as the true source of light that He is, and the Father affirms His delight and the trust placed in Him. Naturally, recognizing that they are in the presence of God, the disciples are frightened as they fall on their faces, but they want to stay in that presence. ‘Lord’, Peter says,’ it is wonderful for us to be here.’ Through Jesus’ transfiguration, the disciples see the true face of Jesus, and there is not a thing that they would change; for suddenly they know He is truly amazing just the way He is – fully human and fully divine.

As you go to Mass this Sunday at this point in Lent, the Gospel is also an encouragement for us to see who we really are as God’s amazing children. The manifestation of God’s glory in Jesus is a gift to us to help us see something that is very often hard to acknowledge – that in Christ we too are beloved sons and daughters of God. Lent is a perfect time to look beyond the surface and get in touch with our unique fashioned selves. Jesus, transfigured and hearing how he is the Father’s Beloved, can speak those same words to our hearts this day and in the days to come.
Deacon Frank Iannarino

OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 2

Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person, we remember that, when God created us, he made us in his image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and purpose. We need to care for each other so that we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Evelina
Evelina Banda, like generations of Zambians before her, used to survive on meals made from corn flour, usually a porridge called “nshima.” “Growing up, I’d eat porridge in the morning, at lunchtime and again in the evening,” she says. After all, it was cheap and easy to make.
Unfortunately, nshima has very little nutritional value — and relying too heavily on it has led to high rates of malnutrition. Many in Zambia have full bellies, but little nourishment. And this is particularly dangerous for children under the age of two, who need high levels of vitamins and minerals to grow up healthy and strong. That means mothers who are nursing — as well as their children — need nutritious meals.

So, CRS is teaching women like Evelina how to prepare healthier meals and grow new, vitamin-rich crops like peanuts, pumpkins and sugar cane. In many cases, these crops were already being grown in the village. Now, Evelina and others are adding more nutritious food to their children’s nshima: ground peanuts or eggs, for example. And, what the women learn, they share with their community — especially expectant mothers.

“We sing and dance during the cooking lessons because we are happy to learn how to cook different types of food,” says Evelina. Evelina is healthier, and so is her son, Steven. “I know I am taking good care of him, because he’s full of energy, he’s strong and never sick,” she says, with a smile. Watch about a 4 minute video to meet Evelina and learn about the work of Catholic Relief Services in Zambia http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-2

Gospel Reflection Mar 2 – Sr. Teresa + Rice Bowl Week 1

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Sunday, March 5

First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4: 1 – 11

Gospel:
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
Reflection:
When Allie first gave me this Sunday, I thought no problem because the first Sunday of Lent is always about the temptations in the wilderness. It is in Luke, Matthew and Mark. I didn’t give it too much thought because it is not too difficult to talk about temptations. When I finally had to sit down and put something on paper, I could not get past the first sentence. Do you remember it? Take a minute. Go back and read it for yourself:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

That never really stood out for me before. I even checked Mark and Luke to see what they had to say and each of them say pretty much the same thing. It seems like a dirty trick or at least a bit mean to me! Don’t we pray every day in the Our Father not to be led into temptation? Now, in this passage, we have the Spirit leading Jesus right into it!

So often as Lent begins we focus on what we are going to do for Lent; what we are going to give up; what spiritual practice we are going to take on to have a great and meaningful Lent. Yet, this gospel passage focuses on Jesus. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. This is a critical moment for Jesus. It marks the beginning of his public ministry. He will be thrown into life and he will be tempted.

The wilderness of Judea is not your stereotypical sand covered desert. It is rocky and desolate. It is brutally hot during the day and often bitterly cold at night. At night it is so dark, but the darkness provides a certain clarity and you can see millions of stars. There is a beauty and deep silence in this wilderness. There is also a starkness and a frightening solitude in this wilderness.

Jesus is there for forty days and in that time would have experienced hunger and thirst so why wouldn’t the devil tempt him with bread? Why wouldn’t the devil tempt him to show his powers and to claim his power? Our faith tells us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. He was a fully human being and like human beings would have wanted fulfillment. He would have wanted to be successful in his work. He would have wanted security and to be well thought of by others. But not at any cost!

Even though we pray not to be led into temptation, it doesn’t work that way, does it? Every day we go out into our own wilderness – wherever and whatever that may be and we are indeed tempted. But!! But!! Read the first line again …

led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

We never go alone.

Life is full of temptations, but no temptation is more powerful than the Spirit. The Spirit will always lead us and will always be there for us. Keep your focus on Jesus. Keep your focus on the power of the Spirit that lives within you. Jesus knew who he was. He was filled with the Spirt. He did struggle in that desert wilderness but held onto the Spirit. He held onto his principles. He held on to who he was. He relied on the relationship he had with his Father.
one does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

What is that word? It is God’s eternal promise to be with us always. In today’s language we would say, the Spirit always “has our back.” Do we believe that? Do we believe that we have within us the same Spirit that Jesus had within him as he faced his wilderness? If we do, do we live out of that belief?

Each of us has our own wilderness to go into. We have to decide if we will let the Spirit lead us or are we going to go it alone?

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 1

Option for the Poor
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Option for the Poor, Jesus tells us to give special care to those who are most in need. He reminds us of our Christian duty to give a voice to those who are unheard and to help those who are most vulnerable

Encounter the Singh Family – India
When the Malaguni River in East India floods, Megha and Raj Singh, their two children and their extended family cannot get to the nearest market–nearly five miles away–to buy and sell food. If the waters do not recede quickly, their rice fields fail, and their animals become sick from diseases spread through dirty water. The family faces financial danger.

That’s why CRS is helping the Singh family prepare for flooding with new farming tools and techniques. Now Raj plants his fields worry-free using a special type of rice that can survive flooding. He can collect and save his seeds for future use. And he now has the resources he needs to vaccinate his cows, ensuring they, too, survive the floods.

Megha grows vegetables in a kitchen garden, so her family has healthy meals even when she can’t visit the market. During past floods, the family had to survive solely on rice. But now, planting veggies in special sacks, she is able to raise the plants above flood lines, ensuring her family has reliable access to nutritious food.

Just as important, Megha has learned new ways of growing food, so that the entire family gets the most nutrition out of every meal. Now, the whole Singh family is healthier, and with these new ways of farming, they can continue to thrive, even during floods. Watch a 1 ½ minute video http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-1

Try a simple meal from India: Dalma with spinach. http://www.crsricebowl.org/recipe/dalma-with-spinach

Gospel Reflection Feb 26 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, February 26
 
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 6: 24 – 34
Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Reflection:
Jesus in the gospel of Matthew today encourages us to be free of worry and to concentrate on the matters of today.
Worry is one of the most debilitating afflictions that holds us back from freedom and joy.

If we take a moment today to reflect on what is bothering us and what we worry about most, we will discover that often our worry can do little to change the course of our lives or the lives of those around us.

The reality is, that no matter how much we tell ourselves not to worry, we do worry.

The remedy of the gospel and the words of Jesus today encourages us to put our faith in Him and give or hearts to Him and be free from what holds us back from true love and joy.

A good thought is in today’s gospel for us. Worry gets us nowhere. Faith brings us home and home with peace.

Monsignor Hendricks