P1000888Gospel Reflections

Our parish sends a weekly Gospel Reflection written by our clergy.

To sign up, either stop in the parish office to let them know you’d like to sign up, or click here and make sure you check the “Gospel Reflections” box.

Scroll below to read our most recent Gospel Reflections.

Gospel Reflection Oct 15 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, October 15

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 1 – 14

Gospel:
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Reflection:
Do you know why St. Peter is bald? The story says: When Jesus walked with, ate with, and taught the disciples, Peter would frequently get a very confused look on his face, scratch his head and say, “What?” Legend has it, that because Peter did this so often, it caused his baldness!

Today we have a “What?” and “Scratch your head” kind of Gospel passage.
“The kingdom of heaven is like…” Then Jesus speaks about a king (don’t equate this king with God. I think he could use a few anger management sessions!) Sometimes, you have to go beyond the outside words of a parable and peek underneath to find the nugget of truth presented to us. Underneath all the outside words of this passage, is an invitation to come to the feast and put on a wedding garment. Each and every one of us is invited to the banquet. We all are invited to come and share in the life of God.

In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we heard what it will be like on the Holy Mountain of the Lord. It will be for all peoples, all nations, and for the whole earth. It is a global invitation. “Go out into the streets and invite people to the wedding feast.” Everyone is invited to share in the life of God: regardless of what religion we embrace, or nationality, or political persuasion, or economic standing, or gender or age, or sexual persuasion – everyone is invited to share in God’s life.

What about the wedding garment? It is a metaphor of how we will be recognized as people who have accepted the invitation. Putting on the wedding garment is an essential and non-negotiable piece of accepting the invitation. How will others know if you have accepted the invitation? What will they notice? They will know us by the wedding garment.

When you (and I) accept the invitation and put on the wedding garment then the poor are fed, the naked are clothed, the homeless find shelter, the Earth is cared for, the prisoner and the sick are visited and the dead are buried. We will be known as accepters of the invitation, when justice is pursued, forgiveness is accepted and given, and everyone is recognized as being brother and sister to each other. When we reject or decline the invitation to share in God’s life, then injustice, poverty, self-interest, extreme notions of patriotism and religious elitism abound.

If you watched any of the horrific and heroic events of the Las Vegas shooting, you most undoubtedly were moved. As the stories unfolded, we saw the invitation accepted and the invitation rejected. We saw the best and the worst of humanity.

So, what is it going to be for you? Will you accept the invitation AND wear the wedding garment so that others will recognize you? You might want to spend time with the picture. What do you notice? What feelings or thoughts does it evoke in you?

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Oct 8 – Msgr Hendricks

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Sunday, October 8

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21: 33 – 43

Gospel:
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

Reflection:
The Landowner never gives up. He sends all he has and is to the tenant farmers. Finally, he sends the very last one, his only son. Of course, it is Jesus in the parable. But even after the son is mistreated and killed, it is not the end of the story. The Son (now the Risen Christ) will become the cornerstone, the chief actor in the drama of our lives. If we can follow Him and do as he did then we will find a pathway to new life.

The insult to the Scribes and Pharisees does not go unnoticed by the audience that Jesus is addressing in the parable and it becomes a message for us. The question asked by Jesus in the parable is , “What will the owner do?” We know the answer! The owner will never give up on us, will chase us down and hold us close. That is the good news of the gospel.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Oct 1 – Deacon Chris

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Sunday, October 1

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21: 28 – 32

 

Gospel:
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

 

Reflection:
The opposition to Jesus by the religious leaders of the day was reaching it’s apex in today’s gospel. The setting is Jerusalem, shortly before these leaders arrange for Jesus’ death. The chief priests and the elders are continually trying to humiliate and discredit him. Jesus tells them this parable to break through their blindness. These religious leaders study the Scriptures, preach to the crowds, serve in the temples, and rule and govern God’s chosen people. They claim to be God’s close collaborators and to follow the Law and Commandments better than anyone else. Yet, they fail to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. On the other hand, sinners and social outcasts (prostitutes and tax collectors) do recognize Jesus as the Christ. They believe in Him and repent from their sin.

Jesus is calling out the Jewish leaders for their hypocrisy, which has blinded them from the truth. He identifies the religious leaders as the second son in the parable. Then, Jesus tells them that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are the first son in the parable, those who do the will of the Father. It is also a parable for each of us. If we are honest with ourselves, at times, we are all hypocritical to some degree. It is easy to say one thing and do another. Our lives and our Faith are not about keeping up appearances. It’s about hearing the Word of God and fully committing ourselves to Jesus Christ.

Additionally, this parable is a gift of hope to all of us. We all are sinners. Jesus tells us that if we repent, and obey and serve the Father, then heaven awaits us. God’s mercy is infinitely ready to receive us, no matter who we have been or what we have done in the past.

Deacon Chris

Gospel Reflection Sep 24 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, September 24

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 20: 1 – 16A

 

Gospel:
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

Reflection:
I assume if you are reading this, you have an internet connection. With your forbearance, I am going to channel my English Lit professors and do a “multimedia” reflection.

One of the more faithful adaptations of a book to the screen is the 1980’s BBC TV-miniseries “Brideshead Revisited.” Unlike other adaptations of Evelyn Waugh’s semi-autobiographical novel, it does not strip out the Catholic content but rather embraces it. As a result, it is not afraid to portray a powerful Catholic deathbed scene.

In this scene, everyone in the room–a dying English nobleman, his Italian mistress, his oldest daughter, and the agnostic narrator– is living in objectively grave sin. The dying English Lord has abandoned his family and the farmers and servants of his country estate, living many carefree years cavorting with his mistress in Italy. The same mistress is now praying fervently for him at the foot of his deathbed. Next to her is his neglected daughter, who rashly married a divorced man outside of the Church and is now conducting (under the same roof in which her husband resides) a long-term affair with the narrator. The narrator has coolly abandoned his own wife and infant children in his adulterous liaison with her. Into this less-than-pious milieu stumbles a common parish priest, whose decidedly un-aristocratic brogue betrays his provincial provenance.

You will find a video link below. I ask you to watch the video (you can stop at time index 6:30).

From one perspective, this entire scene is an absurdity and an affront to justice. Why should this self-centered English aristocrat, surrounded by his unearned wealth and noble privileges, his mistress and his long-neglected daughter, be saved? Why should he get to wallow in sin and selfishness his entire life and then, through sheer good fortune, live just long enough to be able to repent at the very end?

But that is not what the agnostic narrator sees in that weakly made sign of the cross, the sign of repentance of a terminally-ill milord. He doesn’t see an unjust absurdity; he sees instead that this “was not a little thing” and it revived in his cold, cynical heart a phrase learned in childhood catechism class, “of ‘the veil of the Temple being rent from top to bottom’.” The nobleman’s deathbed repentance marks the moment when the narrator’s own repentance begins.

Let us never begrudge someone their salvation. Unlike the workers in today’s Gospel, we should not be envious because God is absurdly generous. Our own salvation, like the deathbed penitent, is an unearned, unmerited gift from God. But that gift is not without a cost. Salvation may seem to come absurdly easy, whether it be the napping infant at the baptismal font or a libertine gasping out an Act of Contrition in the last moments of life. But that generously-bestowed salvation comes at the same great cost: the death of Our Lord upon the Cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father Morris

Gospel Reflection Sept 17 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, September 17

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18: 21 – 25

Gospel:
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Reflection:
I don’t know about you, but I had to get a piece of paper out and calculate what seventy seven times seven equals. Jesus couldn’t have simply just said one times seven is the number of times we should forgive someone, much like Peter asked Him. Actually, Jewish tradition limited forgiveness to three times. So, Peter thought his willingness to forgive seven times was much more generous than Jewish tradition and thus surpassing the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. But knowing Jesus, it needs to be seventy seven times seven…539 times, or in other words, we are to forgive an infinite number of times. Peter’s question indicated that he wanted to count how many times he should forgive, however, Jesus was in effect telling him not to count.

Today’s parable is not intended to just teach us that we need to forgive like the Father does, but it is also to tell us that it is easy to forgive and that it is just a choice that we all need to make. The servant was shown just how easy it was to be forgiven by the king, but he did not take that lesson to heart, he only had his own selfish interests in mind. The point of this parable is clear: Forgiveness lies at the heart of our faith in God and our love for one another. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We probably tend to pray these words with ease and familiarity, but do we live our prayer? Do our actions support our request?

So today when we recite the Lord’s Prayer, and every time we do so in the future, let us live the words of forgiveness by our actions.

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Sept 10 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, September 10

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18: 15 – 20

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

Reflection:
Matthew’s Gospel this week provides us some practical advice in resolving conflicts. With our perceived need today for quick resolutions of conflicts, we may often bypass this sound advice. With social media, cyber bullying, and in our haste to resolve our conflicts to our benefit, we can often seek quick justice in the public forum. In doing so, we achieve neither resolution nor justice. It comes from the misguided notion that placing our case before the public first jump starts public opinion in our favor. What we lose is the desire of first seeking reconciliation with the other party. Jesus outlines a more powerful approach to right a wrong. Once the wrong becomes public, parties are forced only into positioning and defending rather than resolving, and nothing is resolved.

This gospel passage contains three curious messages that can be easily overlooked without a more thoughtful, considered inspection and reflection:

  1. “…testimony of two or three witnesses.” The idea of these witnesses is that they are impartial and not witnesses that are stacking the deck on your behalf. Impartiality is a means of open concern for proper resolution and seeking true justice rather than simply winning the case.
  2. “…treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” At first glance, this may mean to treat the other with contempt – as an outcast to be hated. Rather, it actually means to treat them as an object of ministry. After all, we are instructed at the end of Matthew’s Gospel “…to go and teach all nations….” We should seriously consider that we are being asked to minister to all, even to the ones who may have wronged us.
  3. “…where two to three are gathered in my name…” We should remember that the context of this passage is in resolving a conflict rather than simply just any gathering. It does leave us with the notion that Jesus is especially present to us as we gather to resolve our differences.

Perhaps we can consider reining in our desire to be always right and to seek a quick victory. At the same time, we should restrain our need to make public the ills done to us by others without first considering Matthew’s simple prescription for resolving conflict.

Deacon Don Poirier