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Chris Mazon

Gospel Reflection August 2 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, August 2

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Matthew 14: 13-21

Gospel:

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

Gospel Reflection:

One of the lines in the gospel that is sometimes overlooked or not really heard by the listener, is that first verse from today that reads, “When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself.”(Matthew 14:13)

John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. When Mary went to visit his aunt Elizabeth, upon entering the house, the gospel tells us that John the Baptist whom Elizabeth was carrying in her womb, leapt for joy, as he recognized the Savior in the womb of Mary. Later it is John who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, and calls out that Jesus is the Lamb of God. John goes on to say that he is not worthy to untie the sandals of the foot of Jesus.

The two intersect time and again in the gospel and although John preaches a baptism of Repentance, it is Jesus who brings the fire of the Holy Spirit forward at Pentecost.

It is not surprising then that Jesus is shaken when he learns of the death of his cousin and the one who had become so influential in His life. Afterall, it is John who Jesus calls the greatest of the prophets.

After the murder of John by Herod due to the jealously of his wife, Jesus faces the question of what comes next for him. Does he retreat, give up his mission, or simply ignores the warning of the Roman appointed King Herod?

I think that the death of John, and the warning to Jesus that this would also happen to him emboldens Jesus to move forward very publicly with his caring and healing of others. Jesus is reaffirmed in his convictions that God is alive with Him and he is doing rightly the will of the Father.

The lesson for us? Do the same. In spite of hardships and troubles, roadblocks and threats, we should become more emboldened in our commitment to Jesus and the Church and live as He lived in hope and in confidence.

-Monsignor Hendricks

 

Gospel Reflection July 26 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, July 26

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 44-46

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

Many people enjoy television shows like “Antiques Roadshow” or “American Pickers.” I think a major part of these shows’ enduring popularity is that vicarious thrill of finding out that a garage sale purchase or inherited piece of kitsch is worth thousands of dollars! What looks like worthless junk to the layman is recognized by the astute eye of a long-time antiques dealer and appraiser as being a priceless heirloom.

Something that had been festooned with cobwebs and dust in an attic or the corner of an old barn quickly finds itself ushered into the museum, the curated personal collection, or the environs of a historical home. There it can be seen by eyes that truly appreciate its value, by people well-versed in the subject who can recognize it for what it truly IS, rather than what it appeared to be. The cost of transportation, of restoration, or display mounting—these costs are gladly incurred because the appreciator of antiques knows they are insignificant amounts in contrast to the value of the historical piece itself.

Our Catholic faith is old–really old– and in certain places it has been relegated to a forgotten corner or out-of-the-way place. People snicker at how out-of-date, out-of-touch, and obsolete it appears to their eyes. But for one with the eyes of faith, the priceless treasure of Christ can be seen underneath the surface dust and grime.

In wine, in antiques, a little age is a good sign, yet another indication that what is underneath is quality, it was built to last, and it has survived the passing of fads, and years, and generations, and centuries. And when it comes to the great treasure of the Catholic Faith, we should rejoice in the fact there is a little dust on this most priceless vintage.

-Fr. Morris

Gospel Reflection July 19 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, July 19

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 24-30

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

“Where have the weeds come from?” I am guessing you have asked this from time-to-time if you have a garden. How did it get to this point? But how about the weeds in our lives? Maybe you have been reading or watching the news lately and wondered to yourself, “How did our world get in this shape?” “How did we get to this point?” It is one headline after another.

Maybe you have even questioned your own life’s circumstances and asked: “How did my life get like this?” “What has become of my life?” There is the sadness and the wounds of our lives, the betrayals and resentments, the addictions, fears, the loneliness, an illness, the loss of a spouse…a child…a parent…a very close friend; a broken marriage or relationship. “Where did these weeds come from?”

In our lives, we might think that if we do good, work hard, and be nice to everyone, that everything should work out the way we want them to. However, that is not necessarily how life works out for us, does it? And it is one of the challenges for us with today’s Gospel from Matthew. It is a challenge for us to become more than who we think we are, and it arises every time we face the weeds of our lives and the world we live in.

According to Jesus, our lives and our world are a vast field in which good and evil, life and death, joys and sorrows, grow and live side-by-side. But Jesus’ advice is to leave the weeds in the field; for any attempt to root out the weeds will only do more damage to the crops.

Friends, in the world we know and live in, weeds do not become wheat. However, in today’s Gospel we can hold out hope for those who do stumble in life, if only we will work to follow Jesus’ teachings the very best way we can. Hopefully, we will all strive to be the harvest of wheat for Him and not be the weeds in our world.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

 

Gospel Reflection July 12 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, July 12

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 1-9

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

Today’s Gospel is that of the sower. This brief passage is filled with symbolism starting with Our Lord as the sower and the seed being spread apparently everywhere is the Word. To people listening to Jesus speak this passage, they would have concluded that the sower is a pretty bad farmer. No competent farmer would be so careless with the sowing of seeds — the lifeblood of a farmer’s livelihood. Yet, the sower does just that. So, Jesus offers the Word to everyone with the hope of each person hearing it will bear its intended fruit. The burden then remains with each of us in how we shall receive the Word — and act upon it. Within each of us, we can accept or reject His Word to us. Seed sown on the path is heard, but is readily rejected because it appears to be too difficult or too unpopular. Seed sown on rocks is heard, understood initially and received with joy, but soon it is rejected because we lack the moral courage to follow through in the face of challenge. Seed sown on thorns is heard, but is rejected due to the many distractions of the world around us that prevents us from letting it sink in and act upon.

The many difficulties that prevent the seed from growing within us are often creations of our own making. Jesus makes no claim that it is an easy path. The challenges are real enough in the world in which we live today. That is why this parable is loaded with so much truth and so much difficulty. For each of our lives can be filled with ground made up of paths, rocks, and thorns. But, we also have the capacity of having good ground. Our journey is to let the seed sown on our own good ground to dominate our yield. That yield is sufficient to fill us with the joy of the Word and it will overcome the lack of yield from the seed that is lost to the paths, rocks, and thorns.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection July 5 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, July 5

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 11: 25-30

Gospel:

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

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

Gospel Reflection:

As we gather to celebrate our wonderful country’s independence this weekend, I happened to tune in to the classic film called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. For those who may not have seen it, Mr. Smith was played by the late actor, Jimmy Stewart. He portrayed Mr. Smith as an every man “aw shucks” kind of guy who makes his way into the U.S. Senate. In fact, it is his very character as a meek and humble guy-on-the-street that throws the corruption and ambition of DC politics into sharp relief. Such political values as meekness, humility and lowliness, have not always been so prevalent. For many throughout history, the demonstration of power – rather than humility – has been the key to political success. Modern day politicians feel they have to portray themselves as someone in charge who would get things done, be aggressive, and lead their people into victory.

In the Scriptures, the Old Testament prophets exposed the leaders for exercising power without justice. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles proclaimed a new kingdom altogether that will be one of love, meekness and humility. “Meek” is not a word we often use, but in this week’s Old Testament reading from Zechariah the prophet writes that “…the king…will be a just savior…meek…”and in the Gospel we see it come up when Jesus says ” Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened. Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”

Such a message should indeed provide relief in our acrimonious political atmosphere. Not that Jesus would run for the US Senate, of course – his kingdom is not of this world. But when we feel exhausted by politics, this pandemic, the sorry state of our world, the different issues that divide us and our failure to communicate with one another civilly, we may find solace in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus, although he was God, exercised and modeled humility for us all. And in that humility, we may rest from our own pretensions to greatness. God is not on our side over against their side; he is on the side of the poor and powerless against their oppressors. And in that we may find our rest.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection June 28 – Sr Teresa

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Sunday, June 28

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 10: 37- 42

Gospel:

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

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

Gospel Reflection:

I am going to shift our focus from the gospel passage because this weekend is significant for the community of St.Brigid of Kildare. On March 15, 2020 the last public Mass was celebrated in our Church building. We have had a Eucharistic Fast and Abstinence for 95 days. This weekend (June 27 and 28, 2020), the church building will be opened to the public but not without limits. In order to continue to do all that we can to keep people safe and help them to keep others safe, only 200 people will be allowed to attend each Mass. These precautionary measures present a continued challenge to the faithful. How do we practice our faith and continue to find spiritual nourishment away from church services and reception of Holy Communion?

We know that Bishop Brennan has extended the “obligation” of Mass attendance into September, but most celebrate Mass, not out of obligation, but because of a deep hunger to receive the gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus in Communion and out of a desire to share with the community.

It has been a strange 95 days. Many have taken advantage of watching Mass via the live stream. They have done this from St. Brigid or from other parishes. I attended Mass at Old St. Patrick’s in Chicago and realized that I was attending with over 8000 people. I attended an In-home Bread Service with the people of a church I use to attend in Louisville, KY. I joined with a group of other sisters and we, each in our own home, attended Mass together from Yale in New Haven, CT. Sometimes we have muted the homily and shared our thoughts on the readings and them rejoined for the remainder of the Mass. I have found it very difficult to stay focused when I am not actually participating in the ritual with the community face-to-face.

It has been 95 days reflecting on what it means to be Church and finding creative ways of celebrating with others so that we do not lose our sense of community. It has been 95 days of learning new ways to talk with each other and share experiences of how God is present to us, even in the midst of crisis. We have to keep telling ourselves, that the church never closed just the church building closed. The Church is not a building, it is a living, faith community. We are called not to attend Church (though we will rejoice when we are all able to do that again). We are called to be Church. How have you been Church during these pandemic times? How will you continue to be Church?

There is a reciprocity between liturgy and everyday life—the effectiveness of our Eucharist and the power of Christian witness are directly related. It is impossible to celebrate Eucharist meaningfully, if our lives are not Eucharistic–blessed, broken and shared with others. If our lives are not part of something greater than our individual selves, we miss out on the fullness and depth of meaning of Eucharist. St. Augustine use to say to those receiving Communion, “Become what you eat.” Those words have rung out loudly during these times of global pandemic. We must be bread for one another. We must be a source of nourishment for each other. We must be the Body of Christ in the world.

For those who are able to attend Mass, we all rejoice with you. It has between a long 95 day fast and abstinence period. For those who will not be able to attend or should not attend Church yet (myself included), I encourage us to keep searching for new and creative ways to be Church for each other. Keep reaching out to others. Keep being hungry for the gifts God offers us in a myriad of ways. Keep being bread for others. Keep being church for others. Keep being Christ for one another. “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another and to walk humbly with God.” Micah 6:8 When we do this then we are a living, breathing CHURCH. We truly are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

-SIster Teresa Tuite, OP

 

Gospel Reflection June 21 – Msgr Hendricks

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Sunday, June 21

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 10: 26 – 33

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

The Gospel of Matthew quotes Jesus as saying to the twelve apostles, “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” In hearing that, one wonders is that all there is? Am I worth nothing more than a bird, and not even a rare breed of bird? But like in all gospel passages there is a deeper meaning and context to the statement.

The poor in spirit and the poor financially were tasked with finding food that was both plentiful and inexpensive enough to keep them fed and alive. So they began to capture and eat sparrows. They were filling and an essential staple for the poor. They could purchase them cheaply and find them on their own. They could take them to the temple to offer as a sacrifice and thus remain connected to the Jewish Faith.

So it is actually encouraging to hear Jesus tell the twelve, “you are worth more than many sparrows,” because they would know that Jesus values them for who they are and the mission he has entrusted to them. That mission is to proclaim Him in the light of day, and not to be afraid of those who reject or persecute them on account of His name and teaching. Jesus is encouraging the twelve to hide out no longer, no hedges, just the message that He is the Lord of Life who has come to save the world.

Think about that message this week and when you see a sparrow remember their value too. They praise the Lord by their birdness, and we by our humanity.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection June 14 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, June 14

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

John 6: 51 – 58

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

When Catholic priests were finally allowed back into Japan in the 1860s, they discovered to their shock that the Faith had endured in the land– without priests or Mass– since the seventeenth century. Despite Christianity having been criminalized and ardently persecuted, the Kakure Kirishitan, or “hidden Christians,” practiced their faith secretly, transmitting orally essential prayers and Bible passages, and performing lay Baptism.

It has been tough for so many of us to be absent from the Mass during this pandemic, to be removed physically from the Sacred Liturgy. And while as a priest, I am one of the few who HAVE had access to the Eucharist, I have also only been able to impart Holy Communion to a limited number of people: the assisting deacons, and the gravely ill. The nature of the priest’s vocation is that he is used by God to administer the Sacraments. And so part of the priest’s own personal relationship to the Sacraments is bound up in the fact that he is privileged to witnesses the reception of Jesus’ Sacraments by the other members of the Church. As a typical guy, feelings are not easy for me to put into words… but please just know that, while all of you may be disappointed from not having been able to receive the Eucharist, at the same time the clergy are disappointed that they have not been able to distribute the Eucharist to all of you!

When we compare ourselves to the Japanese Catholics who survived for centuries on just the Sacrament of Baptism and the bare prayer essentials of the Faith, we know that what we have had to endure this spring is a relatively brief trial. We will all soon be gathered again at Mass, receiving the Eucharist. But maybe this brief desert sojourn, separated from Jesus Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, will ensure that for the rest of our days, we will not create our own spiritual desert by missing Mass. We will attend Mass not because we have to, but because finally we get to! We will rejoice in the fact that we do not have to live a “hidden Christianity,” we can go to Mass and receive openly Jesus Christ present in the most Blessed Sacrament.

-Fr. Morris

Gospel Reflection Dec 10 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, December 10

The Second Sunday of Advent

Mark 1: 1-8

Gospel:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Reflection:

It is with vivid image that Saint Mark chooses to begin his Gospel we will hear at this Sunday’s Mass by describing the coming of Jesus, God’s Son and anointed one. Isaiah’s prophesy that will be proclaimed in the 1st reading is being fulfilled in a new way: one more powerful than John the Baptist is coming to lead God’s people home, to set them free from the tyranny of sin and death to live in the homeland of God’s kingdom, which, Jesus, proclaims, is breaking into the world.

As we light the second candle of our Advent wreath, both within our own homes and here at St. Brigid of Kildare Parish, may we realize that the timeless message of Advent is that our patient God is the God who comes to us not just at Jesus’ birth, and not just at the end of time. God comes to us in our time of need, our time of exile, whenever we are lost in the wilderness of sin, fear or suffering. We are called simply to respond to the Good News that in Jesus Christ we meet the God whose coming sets us free and brings us home to our true selves.

May the Lord, who comes to us set us free, walk with you closely this day and in the days to come, so He may lead you in the paths of holiness.

Deacon Frank