Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Dec 8 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, December 8

Second Sunday of Advent

Matthew 3: 1 – 12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Gospel Reflection:
As Christmas approaches children throughout the world are writing (or maybe texting??) letters to Santa. There are scribbled requests for video games, dolls, bikes, and so on, followed by assurances to Santa that these children have been “nice” and not “naughty”. But children are many times neither the only ones with a wish list nor the only ones who need to ask, “Have I been naughty or nice?”

As we mature in life and faith, we realize our deepest desires are never satisfied by trinkets or status. What we truly long for is a life with purpose in a world where justice and peace reign. Such a world God has promised to provide through his Son. We are invited to turn away from sin, which takes us away from God’s vision, and instead prepare a place for the coming of God’s son in our lives.

Advent is a time of hope, but it is also a time for the blessings for which we hope. This is where John the Baptist comes in. If we want to prepare ourselves, we have to listen to John. We can’t just take for granted that getting to heaven is an entitlement any more than the Jews could presume that they had it made just because they were Jews. John tells them in this week’s gospel, “…do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham for our father.’ John said God is looking for good fruits. Several times in Scripture, Jesus clarified what it means by “good fruits” by loving God and loving our neighbor.

The Church now takes up the cry of John the Baptist during the season of Advent and calls us “…to prepare the way of the Lord.” There are lots of preparations for gatherings with family and friends, preparations for giving gifts, preparations for parties etc. Lets not forget, the most important preparation of all, to prepare your heart to receive Our Lord and Savior with greater faith, hope and devotion than ever this Christmas. If you do that then this Christmas season should be pretty nice.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Dec 1 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, December 1

First Sunday of Advent

Matthew 24: 37 – 44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Gospel Reflection:
When you begin the gospel passage it seems strange that suddenly Noah’s name pops up. Matthew is writing to a primarily Jewish audience and they would recognize the reference with all of its connotations. If I said, “As it was in the days of post 9/11″ most Americans and many around the world would be able to connect to that because it is a shared history.

The backstory is that Noah tried to warn the people of approaching danger but they laughed at him and went about their daily lives ignoring all the signs of the impending disaster. When the flood came it was too late. We might liken this to the warning of the Environmental Crisis facing the world and fast approaching with dire consequences for the planet. Yet, many ignore or deny the warning signs.

When I first read it, I could get a bit paranoid waiting and watching for God to come and call me home. It is true we do not know the day or the hour when death will come but I can’t be wondering if this is the day. Advent reminds us that The Lord is always coming. The day of salvation is always near. I am invited to receive both. Yet, neither the Environmental concerns, which are of great concern to me nor the idea of my own death is what opened this gospel passage for me.

The line that drew me deep into prayer and reflection was this … “If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” The word house in scripture, almost always is a metaphor for your heart. So, it intrigued me as the “owner” of my house (my heart) have I let a thief break in because I was not vigilant or because I was neglectful? Who might this thief be? Is it the thief of resentment? Of revenge? Of laziness or indifference? Have I let the thief of complacency into my heart and slowly taken my faith for granted? Has the thief of unforgiveness broken into my heart and stolen mercy and compassion from me?

Has the thief of judging broken in and robbed my heart of understanding? I have to admit I had quite a few thieves who had slipped into my heart. They are so clever and take on many disguises and before I know it they have made themselves quite at home in my heart. Actually, if truth be told, I sometimes have helped them to feel comfortable by feeding them. So, renovation and cleaning out is in order for me.

I think Advent invites us, just as in the days of Noah, to look at the impending dangers that threaten our “house” – our heart. We can each name our own thieves that we have let into our heart. During these days of Advent, you might want to sit down and identify the thieves that have broken into your heart. Throughout Advent we will be called to repent (turn around… turn our face back to God). We will be invited to stay awake, to be prepared. A good place to start is to take time to look at your heart and find the thieves who may have broken in and get them out.

-Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Nov 24 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, November 24

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Luke 23: 35 – 43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Gospel Reflection:
This last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, before we begin the Season of Advent, is marked as The Feast of Christ the King.

What is so striking about the gospel for this feast is that it comes from the Passion Narrative of St. Luke.

Expecting to see all the pomp centered around a king, we see a king who is on the Cross and dying there. Our king and His Kingship is radically different than what we expect. Why? Because He offers his life for us. He suffers for our sins and restores right order in the universe. In the gospel today it is a sinner hanging next to him that understands that in order to be really saved he must make his act of faith in the one who has the true and everlasting kingdom.

The point of this Sunday is Jesus is a King in the very best, most sacred sense of being a king. A true King who loved the people, watched over them, protected them, took care of them, and then died for them and His Resurrection is His greatest and final gift to each of us for we hope to be in His Kingdom!

-Msgr. Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Nov 17 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, November 17

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 21: 5 – 19

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Gospel Reflection:
If you are ever able to make a pilgrimage to Rome, one of the sights to see on the “main drag” of ancient Rome, the Via Sacra, is the Arch of Titus. It was built to commemorate the Emperor Titus’ victory over the First Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple. The carved reliefs depict part of Titus’ triumphal victory march, in which soldiers can be seen carrying their spoils from the sacked Temple, such as the golden menorah lamp.

The destruction of the Temple was a religious cataclysm to Jews and early Christians alike. But in Scriptural passages such as we find in today’s Gospel, Christians saw the destruction of the Temple as being foreseen and foretold. The cessation of the Temple rites was part of the unfolding of God’s plan to include even the Gentiles in His salvific plan. As catastrophic as the Temple’s destruction was, even worse calamities and events would yet occur before the Messiah’s return.

We are not called to try to predict the Messiah’s return, but rather to persevere in the Faith. The new heavens and a new earth, the eternal Jerusalem, will be established when God wills it. Our job is to be faithful in the here and now, witnessing to the love of the Holy Trinity, the God of Moses, the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

-Fr. Morris

Gospel Reflection Nov 10 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, November 10

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 20: 27-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord, ‘
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”

Gospel Reflection:
In our Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that the goal of our life is eternal happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. Back at the time of Jesus, not everyone believed in the resurrection. This was especially true of the Sadducees as they resisted the idea of the resurrection and they were trying to make Jesus look foolish when they asked him “who would be the man’s wife in heaven.” The Sadducees, in an attempt to trap Jesus into affirming their belief that there was no life beyond this world, used the example of the woman married to seven brothers to prove their point.

The Sadducees posed a situation to Jesus where a woman’s husband died. Under the Law of Moses, a man whose brother died without children was required to marry his brother’s widow. The Sadducees predicted hypothetically, that if enough husbands died, the woman could meet seven husbands at her own resurrection. So, they asked Jesus, “whose wife will that woman be?” Jesus’ reply to them affirmed that there ‘will indeed be’ a resurrection, where the new life will be much different from what we think it will be.

And so, how many of us live our lives in the here and now without any regard for the future…working toward everlasting life? If God is our God, and we are his people, death is not the end of the story. It is the beginning. When we die, the Lord will not abandon us. We have Jesus’ promise of the reality of the resurrection through his own death and resurrection. For “he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Nov 3 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, November 3

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 19: 1 – 10

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”

Gospel Reflection:
Zacchaeus is described above as a chief tax collector. If tax collectors were hated for their taxes and their corrupt methods in obtaining them, then a chief tax collector would be doubly hated. The tax collection system at that time was based on collecting quotas set by Rome. Each tax collector was given their quota by the chief tax collector. Anything collected in excess of the quota would be kept by the tax collector. One of the original pyramid schemes. It was a system driven to over collect by whatever means available to the tax collector. A chief tax collector would typically do the same to the tax collectors working under him.

Yet, Zacchaeus is drawn to see Jesus as he passes through town. To do this, Zacchaeus has to overcome several challenges. He displays courage just by showing up, surrounded by people who hate him. He has trouble seeing over the crowds and climbs a tree making himself even more vulnerable. His driven curiosity becomes the initial action as this story unfolds. It becomes an example for us of someone who comes looking to satisfy one curiosity only to discover something entirely unexpected — and yet wonderful.

Then, we have the action of Jesus. As often said of Jesus in the gospels, “He mixes with sinners and tax collectors and even eats with them.”

Then, we have Zacchaeus’ response, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” One conclusion to this story is that Zacchaeus, because of his encounter with Jesus, has undergone a radical conversion. He will give up his corrupt ways. He will share his wealth with the poor and will make restitution to anyone he has cheated.

Perhaps, we might draw another conclusion. Zacchaeus makes his claim with confidence as he knows he has not cheated others in the past. Perhaps he was a good man and has performed his job with no such corruption. He may have been mischaracterized and hated for his profession and not his past behavior. In other words, although he is a tax collector and apparently rich, he is, in fact, a good man. Under this interpretation, there is the possibility that the crowd has misjudged Zacchaeus by stereotyping him because of his profession, including his worthiness to host Jesus for dinner.

Regardless of either interpretation, we are compelled to consider how dangerous and wrong our own stereotyping can be when we ourselves carry a lifetime collection of good and bad behavior. Jesus sees through all of this in today’s gospel and he sees through it in us. He restores individual dignity by his reincorporation of Zacchaeus into the community. We can all learn from Jesus’ lesson of mercy he had shown Zacchaeus. We should do likewise.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Oct 25 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, October 27

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 18: 9 – 14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Gospel Reflection:
Have you ever felt that you had a front-row seat for an event you did not want to see in the first place? That you were watching a human train wreck about to happen? That’s the way you may feel when you hear the Gospel this weekend. Once the Pharisee in the story says in his so called prayer, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity,” you know this is a train-wreck-in-the-making. Is this Pharisee offering an open-ended prayer – or an airtight audit he can proudly take to the bank?

The Gospel shows us that true prayer is always directed to God. True prayer comes out of our awareness of our total reliance on God. If virtue goes skin deep and our relationship with everyone else is to look down on them, then pride is at work. Pride focuses our attention on ourselves and closes us to a proper relationship with God. Pride is about us exalting ourselves when we truly want to be exalted by God. To be exalted by God is to have humility to recognize that God is all in all.

We come to the Eucharist this weekend not to pat ourselves on the back or make sure that God’s records are up-to-date. No, we come because the Eucharist teaches us to pray more honestly and humbly.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Oct 20 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, October 20

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 18: 1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Gospel Reflection:
CAUTION– don’t make God the judge in this parable. By his own admission, he neither fears God nor has any respect for any human being. This certainly is not the God of Jesus’ words and teachings nor the God of our faith. A better God-image would be the widow. She is persistent in seeking justice, just as God is persistent and never grows weary of seeking what is lost; never goes weary of seeking ways for peace and justice.

It helps to know the BACKSTORY for today’s passage. With that in mind, let’s look at the characters in the parable for today.

THE JUDGE: Nearly every village had a judge and if anyone had a dispute they would come, usually to the city gates, and the judge would listen and give his or her decision. The judge is unwilling to do so in this case. Jesus puts the focus on the judge by telling us to pay attention to his words. ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'” His decisions, although right, seem to be made in his best interest and reputation.

THE WIDOW: Widows in the ancient world were extremely vulnerable. Frequently in scripture widows and orphans are always mentioned as the two most vulnerable and needy groups. A widow was dependent on her sons or some other male relative for her basic needs. If the responsible male did not exist or if they were indifferent to her needs, she would have no other recourse than to take her case to the local judge. It was part of a judge’s responsibility to ensure the rights of widows, orphans and the poor.
The widow in the parable today does that, but she is at the mercy of an unjust judge. She is persistent (she had to be if she were to survive). This judge, again by his own admission, has no regard for the two great commandments of loving God and neighbor.

The judge does relent and says he will do the right thing because the woman might strike him. This translation dilutes the original meaning. A more literal translation of the judge’s fear is that the “Woman is giving me a black eye.” It might well be physical, but more likely it meant that to be unresponsive to her, would give him the black-eye of public shame. Shame in this culture was to be avoided at all cost. The judge’s relenting does not mean he has had a change of heart toward the widow. The judge wants to shut her up, get rid of her and thus protect his reputation.

This parable gave me an opportunity to pray and reflect over these two characters. As I look at the world we are living in, I wondered – Who today are the people like the widow who are searching for justice? Who are those searching for basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, health care, survival? Who are those seeking sanctuary from lives that have known only tyranny and war brought on by greed and inordinate lust for power? I prayed about the poor in our own city and in the world: the immigrants, the homeless, trafficked human beings, infirmed, aged and very young. Are the voices of the powerless and poor heard today?

I wonder if the widow in Luke’s parable is not her own voice, but the voices of those who are speaking for justice around the world? There is so much goodness in our world, but we cannot be blind to the enormous amount of wrongs in our homes, in our church, in our community and in our world.
Maybe we are like the judge – we are tired of hearing about the injustices, the poor and the needs of others. Maybe we think the injustices are so complex that we can do nothing about them. Maybe we have a case of “compassion fatigue,” or indifference or paralysis.

Such feelings of indifference tempt us to quit our efforts at praying for and working for God’s kingdom here on earth. I think Luke might be warning us not to take that route. It will bring us “a black eye.” It will bring a shame that goes right to the core of a disciple of Jesus. In Luke’s version of the parable, Jesus is worried about that possibility, too. “The Lord hears the cry of the poor” and, as the Lord’s followers we, too, must have our eyes and ears open and be persistent in seeking and working for justice for all our brothers and sisters.

Yes, the issues facing us today are serious, complex, overwhelming, and at times seemingly insurmountable. Jesus knows how powerful the forces against us are and seems to worry about the effects on his disciples in his day and his disciples in our day. He asks, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” As disciples we have hard work and persistent, relentless prayer to do until the Lord returns. He is with us! He promised he would be! Anchored in that belief, even though we do not always or rarely see signs of “success,” we continually rely on the Spirit of God within us to not let disillusionment threaten or deter us.

Yes, we will get weary of praying. We may get tired of working for justice, just like Moses did in the first reading. Others had to be called upon to hold his arms up, for when Moses’ arms began to drop, the Israelites began to lose the battle. We can’t work for peace and justice alone. We need others to hold us up when we get tired and weary. We need to hold others up, when they get weary and tired. I hope that you and I will be like the widow in her persistency, and never stop seeking justice.

Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Oct 13 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, October 13

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17: 11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
Gospel Reflection:
These are great stories, in the First Reading Naaman, a foreign leader, was cured of his leprosy, and in the gospel 10 lepers are cured by Jesus. In both accounts no one saw the actual cure, but both foreigners came back to give thanks for the cure. It is interesting to note that Jesus, who is still making his way to Jerusalem to suffer there, still has his mission in mind and does the work and the will of God along the way.

This story in the gospel is unique to Luke, and develops several important themes for the Lune. He explains again the role of Jesus as a powerful prophet, he cures the incurable. He shows that the mercy and power of God is at work in Jesus. The cured who return to him to give thanks show that God is the one to whom thanks is due. Most importantly it shows that the net is now thrown open to include all people into the kingdom of God.

Think and pray on this gospel this week and see how the mercy and healing of God has been extended to you in small and large ways.

Gospel Reflection Oct 6 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, October 6

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17: 5 – 10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

Gospel Reflection:
Imagine you are in a foreign country trying to buy lunch at a food cart or booth, but neither you or the cook speak the same language. One of the hand gestures you might instinctively use is to put your thumb and index finger together so that they are almost-but-not-quite touching each other. While pointing at the gelato or fries or whatever, you would make this “small amount” hand gesture while saying over and over: a little bit, un poco, ein bisschen, un petit peu, or whatever. And 9 times out of 10, the merchant is going to understand this communication about the amount you want of that particular item.

Although most of us suburban Americans hear “mustard” and instantly visualize a yellow squeeze bottle, when we actually see a mustard seed held between two fingers, we realize Jesus is invoking this same common imagery that we utilize in the “small amount” hand gesture. Jesus’ original audience, living much more farm-to-table, hand-to-mouth than we are typically, would have often held unground mustard seeds in their own hands.

Our Lord’s analogy communicated clearly to them that “just a ‘tiny bit’ of faith is needed to achieve great things.” This is part of the core teaching of Christianity. We can do a little good on our own, yes, but nothing like the good that results when we have faith in God and cooperate with His grace. Not in regards to our eternal salvation alone, but even in ordinary life and our outreach ministries and apostolates.

In the language of modern organizations, God’s grace is the ultimate “force multiplier” that can take the tiniest, itty-bitty, nascent shred of faith and amplify its’ abilities and results beyond all earthly expectations! All we need to bring to the table is just ‘a little bit’ of faith!

-Fr. Morris