Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Apr 14 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, April 14

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Luke 19: 28 – 40

At The Procession With Palms – Gospel: 
Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany
at the place called the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, “Go into the village opposite you,
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
‘Why are you untying it?’
you will answer,
‘The Master has need of it.'”
So those who had been sent went off
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
“Why are you untying this colt?”
They answered,
“The Master has need of it.”
So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt,
and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
“Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest.”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
He said in reply,
“I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!”

Today, the Church celebrates both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. It is on Palm Sunday that we enter Holy Week and it marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem five days before his crucifixion. It is during Holy Week that we welcome Jesus into our lives, asking Him to allow us to share in His suffering, death, and Resurrection.

We commemorate and relive during this week our own dying to sin and selfishness and rising in Jesus, which result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption. We must ask ourselves, are we ready to surrender our lives to Jesus this Holy Week and welcome Him into all areas of our lives? Are we ready to become like the humble colt that carried Jesus and carry Him to a world that does not know Him? Are we willing to follow Jesus, not just to Church but in our lives? Are we willing to entrust ourselves to Him even when the future is frightening or confusing?

Friends, let us remember that this is a Holy Week, not because it is sad, but it is a Holy Week because together we walk this road with Christ. It begins as it ends, in triumph, to remind us that suffering is a journey with a goal, not a winding road that leads to nowhere. The end of the journey is the resurrection, a new kind of existence. The way to that new life is through the cross and the tomb. It is a road that Jesus himself traveled. And He accompanies us along the way today and every day of our lives. During this most Holy Week, may the time you spend reflecting on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus bring you a greater awareness of GOD’s love for you!

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection – Apr 7 + Operation Rice Bowl Week 5

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Sunday, April 7

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 8: 1 – 11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

This is a story readily familiar to most of us. We can easily relate to Jesus’ heartfelt response, first to the Scribes and Pharisees, and then, when all have left, to the woman. One lens we can apply to this Gospel story is that we are all sinners and regardless of how we might view one sin being more significant than another, all sin turns us away from Father. The woman is indeed a sinner, but she represents all of us – every person who has sinned. The Scribes and Pharisees, who are also sinners represent us as well. It boils down to who is being accused and who is doing the accusing. While we may be the former, we are more often the later, sinning both ways.

We can often find pleasure or humor in our self-righteousness at the expense of other’s bad fortune or sin. Often, we set ourselves up as superior or better than they. If we were in the crowd on that day, what would we have done? Would we have condemned the guilty woman too? How many people have we condemned in our hearts or in our words? Do we relish watching the news or reading the papers with delight as people’s lives are destroyed right in front of our eyes? And more of late, so many are so often falsely accused with no due process. How many people have we passed judgement on? On the other hand, to how many people do we extend a hand of love and compassion as Jesus does today, tomorrow, and always?

-Deacon Don Poirier


Dignity of Work and the 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 fulfill their potential. And everyone must receive a fair wage to provide for themselves and their families.

Encounter Ona
Ona always knew she wanted to be a “shining woman” in her community-and an example to her two young daughters. She studied hard and eventually earned her teaching degree from a university. But in Gaza, jobs are hard to find. Even though Ona had been a good student, she could not find work as a teacher.
“The financial situation was so difficult,” Ona says. “I started to feel hopeless.”
That’s why CRS matches workers with job opportunities. Through CRS, Ona applied for an internship as a teacher and was hired to teach math.
Ona knew she wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity. “I took time to ask questions and learn. I tried to better myself-and become a better teacher.”
Through her internship, Ona gained the confidence and inspiration to branch out on her own. She saved enough money to open a tutoring center. She now helps students of all ages with their math skills, as well as with other subjects. After one month in business, 41 children had visited her center.
“When people encourage you, you start to think in a more creative way,” Ona says.
As she thinks about the future, she thinks of her children. “I hope I can be an example to my daughters. I hope that my daughters can achieve their dreams.”


Gospel Reflection – Mar 31 + Operation Rice Bowl Week 4

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Sunday, March 31

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11 – 32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.'”

When you go to Mass this weekend we celebrate Laetare Sunday…the half way point of Lent. You will see the priest and deacon wearing the Rose colored vestments as a sign of “rejoicing” or “joy”. You will also hear one of the best known and best-loved stories in the Gospels. While it is generally called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the focus is not only on the prodigal son and his repentance but on the father and his mercy. Incidentally, the story could also be called the parable of the resentful brother, who was very indignant about the younger brother’s self-indulgence and angry with his father for showing mercy to him. The father’s mercy encompass both sons. He not only wants the younger son back, but his elder son as well..

This is not a story that separates the two brothers into the good one and the evil one. It is only the father who demonstrates goodness. He wants both to participate in his joy. The father’s unreserved , unlimited love is offered wholly and equally. He does not compare the two sons. He expresses complete love according to their individual journeys.

Lent is an opportunity for new beginnings for ourselves and perhaps we should take the opportunity to give to one another a second chance, to show mercy, learning from the father in the story. If there is anything in your life that separates you from God, Lent is a good time to be reconciled and know the freedom of coming home. Let us rejoice and be glad!

-Deacon Frank Iannarino


Rights and Responsibilities
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Rights and Responsibilities, we remember that every person has basic rights that make life truly human. Corresponding to our rights, we all have duties and responsibilities to one another, our families and the larger society.

Encounter Kumba
Waisa didn’t spend a single day in school. When she was young, no one thought girls should receive an education. Plus, there was work to do. She helped her twelve siblings at her family’s farm. She was responsible for helping her mom sell meat to their neighbors.

Now, things have changed in Sinkunia, a town in the north of Sierra Leone. Waisa knows the importance of education-especially for girls. “If there’s education, Sierra Leone will develop,” she says. “Our students will make sure of it.”

That’s why Waisa insists that her 12-year-old granddaughter, Kumba, attends the nearby CRS-sponsored school, so she can learn how to make a difference in her community and her country. And, through the nutritious lunch that CRS gives to each student every day, Kumba and her classmates can focus on their studies and not on their hunger.

Kumba’s favorite subject is math because she likes the challenge. And when she completes her education, she wants to be a nurse. A nurse, Kumba says, helps cure the sick, and if there were more nurses in Sinkunia, those who get sick wouldn’t have to leave the town to get healthcare.

Waisa is proud of her granddaughter and continues to work hard to support her. With no shade from the hot sun, Waisa cares for the family’s garden, watering eggplants, tomatoes, onions and more to be harvested and sold through the streets of Sinkunia. Kumba helps, too, visiting the garden every day after school.

“I’m happy if I can support my daughters and granddaughters, even through university,” Waisa says. With a smile, she adds, “I know that educated girls help their parents and their communities.”

To watch a video on Kumba’s story, click here:

Gospel Reflection – Mar 24 + Operation Rice Bowl Week 3

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Sunday, March 24

Third Sunday of Lent

Luke 13: 1 – 9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them-
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'”

This week my thoughts have been entangled with the recent shooting at the mosques in New Zealand, the first reading from Exodus and the Gospel passage from Luke. I, perhaps like you, were sickened and disheartened about the senseless shooting that left 50 people dead in the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was so eager to blame someone or something. The Muslims had gathered; they had taken off their shoes and entered their holy space for the regular Friday prayer. It was there that they were slaughtered. In the opening verses of the gospel for this Sunday we have a very similar situation. The people are telling Jesus about Galileans who had gone to the Temple to offer sacrifice and it was there, in their holy space, that under Pilate’s orders they were slaughtered. We can imagine that they, like us, were outraged and probably felt powerless to do anything about it. They wanted to blame someone and had a specific person to blame – Pilate. New Zealand police now have a man in custody for the mosque shootings.

All the events brought me to the first reading. It tells a familiar story. Moses and the burning bush and God’s voice, speaking from it. Yet, that is not what drew me. It was what God said, “Moses, come no further, take off your shoes you are on holy ground.” The shoes intrigued me and the command to take them off was confusing.

It seems important that the shoes have to come off. I have wondered a lot about those shoes this week, especially after the shootings in New Zealand and the irony of Muslims taking off their shoes. Why did God want Moses to take his shoes off? Yes, he is on holy ground but why take off the shoes? I wondered might the shoes have a message for us as we gather in our place and stand on holy ground — St. Brigid of Kildare?

Moses had left Egypt and had established a new life. He is living a comfortable life. He was married, had children and became a shepherd. Today we see him tending the flock owned by his father-in-law. We might say he had settled down. However, that is not what God had in mind for Moses. God’s people were suffering, God heard their cry and was concerned about them. God needed Moses to do something.

God did not want Moses wearing the shoes of complacency or indifference. He did not want him wearing the shoes of settling down, settling in and settling for. God did not want Moses to wear the shoes of the comfortable life when people were suffering. Those shoes had to go!

So, I wondered do we wear shoes of complacency? Have we settled down, settled in and settled for the comfortable life? Have we become numb to the atrocities that are happening in our world? If we have, then those shoes have to go!!

We struggle to be holy and we pray every day to gain the strength and wisdom to stay in the struggle for freedom and peace. I think we are a people who truly and deeply long for God but maybe, just maybe, we need to look at the shoes we might be wearing, that keep us from being intrigued by a burning bush that seems to call to us.

Do we wear shoes of pride … shoes of religious intolerance… shoes of mistrust of anyone who believes or thinks differently than we do? … those shoes have got to go! Do we wear shoes of bigotry or prejudice? Those shoes have got to go! Do we wear shoes of unbridled hatred or exaggerated attitudes of superiority? Those shoes have got to go! Do we wear shoes of being indifferent to the needs of others? Shoes of selfishness or thoughtlessness? Those shoes have got to go! Do we wear shoes of gossip or complaining? Shoes of indifference or self-righteousness? Shoes of conscious or unconscious complacency? Shoes of closed-mindedness or blindness? Those shoes have got to go!

I think we could all name our own shoes. We can each name those things in ourselves that keep us from drawing closer to each other, to God and the suffering in our world. Those things that keep us from being intrigued by the call of God and approaching holy ground. Those practices and beliefs and attitudes that we use to keep God and others at a distance. Those things that keep us from realizing that we are on holy ground and that God is very near and longs to talk to us. God longs to send us on a mission because people around us are suffering from violence, poverty and injustice. First, we have to get rid of whatever shoes we are wearing that keep us from drawing close enough to hear the voice of God.

I don’t think God sent Moses off shoeless, but I think God sent him off wearing the shoes of a pilgrim-disciple. Was it easy for Moses? We know it was not. Moses listened to God and responded as the pilgrim-disciple. Will it be easy for us? Maybe, but I don’t think so!

Yet, we have to look at our own lives as individuals and as members of the world community to see where we may be part of the reason that gave impetus to such a horrendous act of violence that erupted in New Zealand. We need to look to see if there is anything preventing us from hearing God’s call and responding to God’s grace. Jesus tells a parable at the end of the Gospel. It is about grace and the Gardener who will nurture faithful discipleship in us … but we must take off the shoes we wear and put on the shoes of the pilgrim-disciple.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he [she] who sees takes off his [her] shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

–Sister Teresa Tuite, OP


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 Christyan
Christyan DhathCroos is from a farming village in Sri Lanka, but he spent half of his life in India. He and his family fled there during Sri Lanka’s civil war. He was only 14 years old when they left. When he returned to his homeland 16 years later, Christyan was 30, and the family farm was in shambles. He and his father found their fields covered in trees and filled with rocks. Now with a wife and family to provide for, Christyan needed help.

For a refugee, returning home after so many years can be challenging. That’s why CRS is helping Christyan and others like him rebuild their lives. That means helping to clear overgrown sections of farmland and ensuring those farms have access to water. Christyan is now growing rice, pumpkin and peanuts. Because of the assistance from CRS, Christyan can give his family things he never had.

Things like education. Because his family was always fleeing violence during the war, Christyan never completed school. “I want to make sure my three children are educated,” he says. “That’s my dream. No one in our family has finished their education, but I know my children will.”

Christyan’s dream is coming true. With the profits from the family’s farm, Christyan can send his 4-year-old son, Godwin, to a private Catholic preschool. It’s worth the money to Christyan to help Godwin achieve his dream of becoming a scientist. And there are no doubts from Godwin’s parents or the Sister who runs Godwin’s school that he will achieve his dream.

Christyan isn’t just teaching his family that they can achieve their dreams with the help of a good education — he’s also making sure they understand the importance of helping others. “When we had nothing, CRS came and helped us, and now we have what we need. We should help others too.”

To watch a video on Christyan’s story, click here:

Gospel Reflection – Mar 17 + Operation Rice Bowl Week 2

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Gospel Reflection
March 17, 2019

Sunday, March 17

Second Sunday of Lent

Luke 9: 28B – 36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.

On each Second Sunday of Lent the Church gives us one of the gospel writers’ account of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. Although the accounts differ somewhat in their account of the vision of the Transfiguration, essentially the events are the same.

What happens here is that the three chosen apostles of Jesus, Peter, James and John are given a glimpse of the new Exodus that Jesus brings to the world. Here the old Exodus fades away as Jesus takes his place as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law as portrayed by Moses and the prophets portrayed by Elijah. The voice from the cloud, which also appeared at the baptism of Jesus, speaks again, “This is my chosen Son, listen to Him.”

What does all of this mean for us? Jesus is the One, there is no other than He. Listen to me means to follow the way of His life. How? By giving to the poor, helping the needy, clothing the naked, and living an upright life and never forget the others around you. In short, we live at Peace!

This Second Sunday of Lent gives us a roadmap to the Easter Mystery of His Resurrection and emboldens us to move through the rocky roads of life to the new life guaranteed by Christ.

Monsignor Hendricks


Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Jesus reminds us that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and a purpose. We need to care for each other so we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Annet
Annet’s youngest sister calls her Mom-and for good reason. Since their parents’ deaths 4 years ago, 16-year-old Annet has been caring for her three siblings: Gladys, 6, Irene, 8 and Emmanuel, 10.
It hasn’t been easy. Ongoing violence in their home country, South Sudan, forced Annet to take her siblings and flee south to neighboring Uganda. It was a dangerous journey, but Annet kept them safe despite threats from rebel soldiers.

For more than 2 years now, Annet and her siblings have been living in Bidi Bidi, one of the world’s largest refugee settlements. Formed in 2015, Bidi Bidi is home to nearly 300,000 people-many South Sudanese who, like Annet, fled for their lives to Uganda.

While Annet is happy to be away from the violence, life in Bidi Bidi is hard-especially for a young woman trying to raise her siblings. That’s why CRS is building houses for families like Annet’s. A place to call home means Annet can rest a little easier at night knowing her family is safe.

But that’s not all. CRS is also helping people like Annet learn to farm and is giving them the tools they need to succeed. Annet was given her own plot of land to plant on so she will be able to continue providing for her siblings.

For her, that’s the most important thing. While she wants her family to return to South Sudan one day, for now she knows that Bidi Bidi is the safer option. In the meantime, she encourages her siblings to go to school and does all she can to ensure they’ll have a bright future.

“My hope is to raise my siblings,” she says. “And I know I can do it with the help of CRS and my Catholic faith.”

To watch a video on Annet’s story, click here:

Gospel Reflection – Mar 10 + Operation Rice Bowl Week 1

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Gospel Reflection
March 10, 2019

Sunday, March 10

First Sunday of Lent

Luke 4: 1 – 13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.”
Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

I heard it said once that in this age of an over abundance of knowledge, we lack wisdom. Perhaps the same could be said about faith. With the age of fact checking, instant google searches and absolute verification, we have stunted or even incapacitated our ability to have faith not just in God but in people. Our fact obsessed minds reduce the truth about the people we know based on just that, cold hard facts and evidence, leaving no room for a genuine faith in our neighbor. In this Sunday’s gospel we hear it said three times to Our Lord “If you are…then do.” How many times have these very words been uttered by you and I to Christ himself, unaware that we are echoing the demands of the devil. So many times we demand God to prove himself to us, to do x, y or z to see if he really is who he says he is. And in doing so we implicitly ask God to prove himself to be God. But this compromises faith. If anyone of our friends kept demanding us to prove ourselves, we would become incredibly frustrated by the lack of faith they have in us. Thankfully God is more patient and truly desires for our faith to grow, because he knows that a greater faith in him will give us a firmer ground to stand on than what momentary manifestations of proof can provide. In turn, this faith has the capacity to assure us that while everything will prove to suggest otherwise, that God is very much who he says he is, he is very much present, very much kind and very much loving.

Deacon Alfonso Gamez




Life 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, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Jesus reminds us that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and a purpose. We need to care for each other so we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Norma
For young families living in the mountains of Guatemala, raising a baby can be hard. Most families grow corn and beans for a living, but a long-standing drought has caused harvests to shrink. There are few job opportunities, which means putting food on the table is a daily challenge. That’s why when Norma discovered she was pregnant, she wondered how she would manage. “When I was young, my mom and dad didn’t have money to buy much food,” she says. “My mom would split one egg among four children.” Norma wanted more for her son, Victor.

But at age 20, she didn’t have much experience beyond helping her mother around the house. So, she looked for help. She found it in a CRS-sponsored program that teaches young mothers how to raise healthy children, grow nutritious food in small gardens and manage a healthy diet. Plus, CRS provided Norma with food throughout her pregnancy and monthly medical check-ups during Victor’s first two years of life.

“I learned a lot of beautiful things,” Norma says. “I learned how to take care of my boy and what foods to feed him so that he can grow healthy and strong.”

Now, Norma is sharing what she learned with others as a “mother monitor.” “It makes me proud to share the experience I had and the lessons I learned with other women,” she says. It makes Norma proud — and makes her community a better place to raise a family.

To watch a video on Norma’s story, click here:

Gospel Reflection Mar 3 – Deacon Paul

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Gospel Reflection
March 3, 2019

Sunday, March 3

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6: 39 – 45

Jesus told his disciples a parable,
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

“You hypocrite!” I don’t know about you, but this is not a label that I would ever want associated with me or my actions, especially by Jesus. Jesus has told us in the Gospels that we should not judge, lest we will be judged. In Luke’s Gospel, he was particularly interested in showing his community the way to live authentically as followers of Jesus. In today’s reading, Jesus told His disciples a parable and He asks us “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” This is perhaps one of the most often quoted verses in Scripture…and maybe one of the most ignored.

So, what is Jesus trying to get across to us with His parable? Jesus is telling us that before we judge the actions of another person, that we should first address our own sins, which may be far greater in comparison. He is telling us not to be so prideful and convinced of our own goodness that we criticize others from a position of self-righteousness. We should instead do some introspection first and correct our own shortcomings before we go after the “splinters” in others. When we point out the sin of others while we ourselves commit the same sin, we condemn ourselves.

Today’s reading refers to wood in several ways…splinter, wooden beam, good tree, and rotten tree. Let us, however, remember the Wood of the Cross as it is the place where all the wounds of sin are healed.

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Feb 24 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, February 24

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:27 – 38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Today, power can come to us in many forms – misuse of money, influence, prestige, politics, and even bullying. We are confronted with it daily among our leaders and others around us. With expanding social media, we are experiencing a general decline in civility that now bombards us and our children today. There is a growing feeling of normalcy creeping into our behavior that, even a few years ago, would have been considered abhorrent. In general, we see the need to force others to accept what we want – without compromise or debate.

The Gospel today gives us an alternative kind of power. It is the power of love, forgiveness, and justice. Use of this kind of power provides benefit to both the giver and the receiver. This “turning the other cheek” business seems almost silly and hopelessly idealistic by today’s values. It seems perfectly natural to strike back and it seems even acceptable to strike first and often.

In reality, it requires more courage and strength to not hit back. Unfortunately, one bad act leads to another and then another until the original disagreement is lost amongst hate and retaliation. When Ireland was facing terrorism back in the 1970s, a poster was used to ask the terrorist: “You are ready to kill for peace, are you ready to die for it?” Unfortunately, leading examples of peace seem to die violently, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Even at Jesus’ moment of death, he gave us his message of peace and forgiveness. Jesus’ notion of love wants us to restore life, truth, justice, and right relationships between people.

What the Gospel is saying is far from impossible or idealistic. It is a human truth from our very creation first lost in the garden of Eden and then restored with Jesus’ incarnation. It is really a question of our attitude and commitment to the Gospel. It is difficult, but no less than what is asked of us. The view of love here is not that of emotion or feelings, but one of conviction, forgiveness, and definitive action – to restore and to maintain human dignity and justice. Forgiveness in the Gospel always implies reconciliation. It also involves our active non-violent campaigning, sticking one’s neck out, and speaking out against injustice. Jesus is not offering us an option today but the only way that makes sense out from the current self-destructive path we may be on. It is the only way that is truly human.

Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Feb 17 – Deacon Frank

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Gospel Reflection
February 17, 2019

Sunday, February 17

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:17, 20 – 26

Jesus came down with the twelve
and stood on a stretch of level ground
with a great crowd of his disciples
and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.
And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”

Every red-blooded American believes in freedom of choice and the gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit happiness. Thanks to leaders such as those we will honor on Presidents Day weekend, we are proud to declare : “I can do what I want; it’s a free country.” This weekend’s Gospel reminds us that all choices are not the same. Some bring us blessing and some bring us woe.

When you go to Mass this weekend you will hear how Jesus inaugurated his ministry in the Gospel of Luke with a Sermon on the Plain, corresponding to the more recognizable Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus begins his discourse with four Beatitudes and four Woes. Jesus has a strange idea of what would lead to blessedness: “Blessed are you who are poor, who are hungry, who weep, who are hated and persecuted.” Jesus also had a strange list of things that would bring woes: riches, having a full stomach, laughter, popularity. Don’t these things constitute the American dream? Jesus promotes a diffrent dream: the kingdom of God, a great reward in heaven.

We are all searching for happiness. Jesus calls us to work with him to build a world of peace and happiness for all. May we pray for the spirit of discernment to help us to recognize the choices we have to make if we are to be the people God wants us to be. Believing in life through death gives us a different way of looking at how we use our freedoms. It means that the American dream may not be the most important thing for us to choose.

Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Feb 10 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, February 10

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 5: 1 – 11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.


“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
–Albert Einstein

What are we to do when what we have always done is no longer working?

Today’s Gospel carries such an important message for us. It was early morning; the fishermen had been fishing all night and had little to show for it. Jesus gets into one of the boats and urges Peter to go back out and, “Put out into the deep.” They objected but, because Jesus had commanded them to do so, Peter obeyed.

“Put out into the deep” is such a challenging and critical call for us at this moment in history. What are we to do in the face of the complex global, national and religious realities embroiling us today? What are we to do as we face very fragile and volatile economies, escalating acts of terrorism and senseless acts of violence, growing misguided notions of nationalism, advancements in science progressing faster than our code of ethics can address them, explosion of technologies, rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence, climate changes that threaten the survival of the planet as we know it? What are we to do?

What are we to do when the human concerns of immigration and migration are on the rise across the world as well as religious persecution, famine, natural disasters?
What are we to do?

What are we to do when “we have worked all night and have little to show for it”? I like that image: “We have worked all night. We have worked in darkness.” It is time to work in the light for the good of all.

When we first read or heard the gospel today, we might have missed a very important little phrase: “Jesus got into their boat.” It was early morning, “probably the crack of dawn.” It was when the darkness of night was giving way to the light of day. It is time to let Jesus into the boat. It is time to be guided by the light of Christ. For surely, what we have always done is not working and, in some instances, are making things worse. There seems to be little to show for all our efforts. The issues of the day call for something new and demand of us serious thought and reflection. We need to find a newer way of deeply listening to each other. Listening from a place of respect for the other, rather than a position of defensiveness, arrogance or self-interest.

Our times, perhaps more than any other time in history, require the best of our thinking, deep prayer and serious communal reflection and discernment. It is not time to divide the people of the world, but rather, these times call for a gathering of people who have at the heart of their deliberations the COMMON GOOD, the common good for all of God’s people.

We will be building the bridge as we walk across the chasms that have divided us, as we, with Jesus in our boat, “put out into the deep” and struggle again for the deeper meaning of the Our Father. Time to live and act what we profess – God is our father and we are brother and sister to each other. Today and every day we are called to let Jesus into our boat and “put out into the deep” with faith and courage.

Take some time to reflect upon your life and our lives in the world community and ask yourself- “who is in my boat?” Is there any room in my boat for Jesus? Do I need to get rid of some stuff (things, attitudes, biases, fear etc.) to make room for Jesus in the boat?

— Sister Teresa Tuite, OP