Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection May 2 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, May 2

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 15: 1 – 8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Gospel Reflection:

John often uses poetic language to describe Jesus’ relationship with us by use of metaphors. In today’s Gospel, “I am the vine, you are the branches” highlights two such metaphors.

The “I am” refers back to Moses’ first experience with God at the burning bush in the desert. Moses asked “What name do I say to the Israelites when they ask me who sent me?” God gave the simple response of “I Am.” To the early Gospel readers, this was significant. If God gave his name to Moses, it meant that there was a special relationship between God and Moses and therefore with God and all the Israelites. Names were not readily exchanged between strangers as we might do today. That exchange established a personal relationship between God and his chosen people. That deep personal relationship carries through the centuries. In today’s Gospel, Jesus extends the metaphor that He is the great “I Am” in flesh and blood. God dwells with His people still and even in a more intimate way than described in the Old Testament.

The “vine and branches” metaphor would have been readily understood as how God’s new and more intimate relationship is now in a life-giving relationship. The vine feeds the branches so that the branches in turn can bear fruit. This Gospel gives us hope that we are connected to the vine in the form of Jesus. We bear His fruit by following His word and deed. Christ, who lives in us, becomes more than simply an inspiring teacher. He is to be a force in us which we participate. He is to be part of us — our very nature — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. As branches, we cannot function alone. He is not simply a teacher, not simply a philosopher, He is the Word made flesh. Everything that exists — exists through Him. God is the structure and order of the world. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. In other words, we are one with Him or we are not. Yet, so many of us wander away and reject or escape that personal encounter with Jesus. Why would we wander away? To whom shall we go? Once we have a personal encounter with Jesus, any step we might take in any other direction would be a step away from the very meaning of life and truth. But if we remain part of the vine, we can and will bear much fruit to everyone we encounter.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Apr 25 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, April 25

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10: 11-18


Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

Gospel Reflection:

The fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally called Good Shepherd Sunday. Since our church building was dedicated in 1991, whenever we come into Saint Brigid, we cannot avoid the beautiful “Thou Shepherd, Jesu, Be My Shield” mural. However, most Christians who may have never walked into our church, have also grown up with the stained-glass image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, carrying the lost lamb on his shoulders. It is a comforting, reassuring image we reiterate every time we repeat the Twenty-third Psalm.

But how many of us have honestly ever identified ourselves with that lamb and the reasons why the lamb got lost in the first place? We like to describe ourselves as “strong as an ox,” or as “gentle as a dove,” or as “courageous as a lion” … but few of us would choose to compare ourselves with a sheep. And yet that is how the Bible describes us, all of us, and thus we need a shepherd, a Good Shepherd, who is willing to lay down his life, not for just the strong, gentle, courageous, and saintly people of the world only, but for unintelligent, wandering, fall–over–the–cliff again and again, sheep. It was for sheep that he died. While we were yet helpless sheep, He gave his life for our life.

This is the whole story of Good Shepherd.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Apr 11 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, April 11

Sunday of Divine Mercy

John 20: 19 – 31


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

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

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

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Gospel Reflection:

The Second Sunday of Easter has become known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It concludes the Octave of Easter (8 Days after the Resurrection of the Lord). It was Pope Saint John Paul II who placed this Solemnity on the Roman Liturgical Calendar in the year 2001. It honors Saint Sister Faustina Kowalski, a polish sister who had a devotion to the Mercy of Christ Risen.

The opening prayer for this day reads, “Heavenly Father and God of Mercy, We no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for He is alive and has become the Lord of Life.” The devotions that take place on this Sunday stress the Mercy of Christ and the forgiveness of sin.

In the gospel of John today, we hear of the post resurrection account of the Risen Jesus visit to his disciples who are hiding in the upper Room with His mother Mary. It is important to note that his greeting is not one of condemnation for those who rejected him, even among His closest aides, but His greeting is simply, “Peace be with you.” His mercy is extended to them and to the world then and now. His message is one of forgiveness and peace as he calls each of them to a new life and new vision and given them a new mission. The Risen Lord visits them again and again and prepares them to act as ambassadors of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation to the World. In taking that step the Risen Lord extends that message of peace and mercy to us. We now carry on as His ambassadors of mercy.

I hope that this Sunday of Divine Mercy will guide us to closeness of the Risen Lord and allow us to accept and give mercy and forgiveness to others.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Apr 4 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, April 4

Easter Sunday the Resurrection of the Lord

John 20: 1 – 9


On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Gospel Reflection:

The contemplation of the Empty Tomb—how many generations of saints and mystics, theologians and pastors. have attempted to guide souls in reflecting upon this great mystery of the Faith!

The Empty Tomb, as a factual claim, is also by necessity a communal claim and a communal belief of the Church. But the Empty Tomb is also an individual exigency, a confounding reality that we must come to terms with personally. If the Tomb is empty because the disciples came and took the body; or the Roman authorities did, or sneaky agents of the Sadducess or the Pharisees, or particularly-adept hyenas who had devised a method for rolling boulders away….. or any of the other alternative explanations offered by unbelievers over two millennia, then we too can explain away that unoccupied vault easily enough. We have seen enough political spin, military psyops, institutional corruption, and social manipulation in the pages of the newspapers to say “well, it could happen” when presented with these alternatives.

But if that Tomb is empty because of what the disciples’ claimed –that Jesus is the Messiah who rose from the grave–then we are faced with a radical new facet of reality to accept, wrangle with, and contextualize. Authentic scientific breakthroughs shake their respective fields for years, as the new knowledge is tested and questioned, older theories are grudgingly revised, and new hypotheses are advanced on the basis of this new knowledge. So the Empty Tomb was a radical shakeup of the old world and its certainties; not only for believing Jews as they struggled to reconcile their expectations for the Messiah with this new revelation, but also for pagans who struggled to accept that rather than a multitude of human-like gods, there was one True God who became human in order to save His creation.

It is an irony that we live in a time when “non-belief” is claimed, but yet our contemporaries believe in all sorts of unverifiable philosophical theories and quasi-metaphysical dogmas that rival anything the Christian church has ever claimed. Our claims are in many ways less flights of theoretical and philosophical fancy than what non-believers themselves hold to be true!

What is the claim that we as Christians pronounce to be true on this Easter morning? The simple truth that the tomb is empty because “Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen!”

-Father Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection Mar 28 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, March 28

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Mark 11: 1 – 10

At the Procession with Palms – Gospel:

When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem,
to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately on entering it,
you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
If anyone should say to you,
‘Why are you doing this?’ reply,
‘The Master has need of it
and will send it back here at once.’”
So they went off
and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street,
and they untied it.
Some of the bystanders said to them,
“What are you doing, untying the colt?”
They answered them just as Jesus had told them to,
and they permitted them to do it.
So they brought the colt to Jesus
and put their cloaks over it.
And he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields.
Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!”

Gospel Reflection:

How quickly things can change!! That seems particularly true in our current times as we respond daily to the changing threat of the Coronavirus. But, as we reflect upon the events of Holy Week in Jesus’ day, we also recognize just how quickly things changed at that time as well.

Palm Sunday recalls the joyous arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem riding on the back of a colt with crowds of people waving their palm branches and shouting: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” And then in just a matter of a few days the very crowds who had welcomed Jesus to shouts of “Hosanna!” later shouted “Crucify him! Crucify him!” as our Lord stood before Pontius Pilate.

Palm Sunday is significant because it marks the beginning of Holy Week, that very important day when Jesus began His journey toward the cross. And we are to walk with Christ as He asks us to humbly offer ourselves in service to Him. This journey with Christ will not always be easy. As we each respond to Christ’s call to serve the Church, we will likely experience times when our feeling of victory and triumph are replaced with sacrifices that sometimes can seem too much to carry.

Friends, through the Lord’s one perfect sacrifice on Calvary is made present again at each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and victory, we are set free through Him. This is truly cause for us to rejoice and shout, “Hosanna!! Hosanna in the highest!”

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Mar 21 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, March 21

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 12: 20 – 33


Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Gospel Reflection:

This Gospel is squeezed in between two pivotal events — Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead and Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus has become something of a rock star, a revered political icon, and a religious leader all wrapped into one person. It is no surprise that Greeks and Jews alike would want to see him. At first, Jesus does not disappoint in his response, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This is exactly what they would have wanted and expected Jesus to say to them — hanging on his every word. Many who followed Jesus were developing this rock star+ image of Jesus that would bring restoration from oppression to the Jewish people. But then, Jesus says something that probably leaves his followers speechless, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” The grain, of course, does not actually die but is transformed into something completely new — roots, stem, leaves, and fruit. Jesus is here to transform us rather than transform the world around us. Jesus’ metaphor of a grain of wheat suggests we can grind it into bread and eat today or we can plant, hoe, water, harvest, and have bread for many tomorrows. We need to invest in today for many tomorrows. The path returning to the garden of Eden before the fall is a path of work, hardship, and doubt, but he leaves us with the promise of the return to the garden, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

Are we ready for that? Are we afraid of letting everything go? Is Jesus asking too much? Let us have no doubt, Jesus himself, in his fully human nature, was afraid. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” Of course, we know what Jesus does next and does not disappoint, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Lent is a season that should give us hope, but not without challenges. We all experience moments of despair and fear, especially in a year that we have had, but Jesus shows us the power of change first lies within ourselves rather than trying to manipulate the world to fit our immediate needs. The grain of wheat within each of us should be transformed to provide us bread for today, tomorrow, and forever.

-Deacon Don Poirier

CRS Rice Bowl Week 4: A Story of Hope from Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste is a small Asian country, slightly larger than the state of Connecticut. It’s on the other side of the world near Australia, and it’s one of the world’s newest countries—only 18 years old. In comparison, the United States will be 245 years old this year!

Gospel Reflection Mar 14 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, March 14

Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 3: 14 – 21


Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Gospel Reflection:

With this Sunday’s milestone of the 4th Sunday of Lent – and later next week with the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th – there is a funny story about an elderly Irishman who slipped into the confessional one Saturday afternoon. He humbly confessed his sins, but before he got up to leave the confessional, he somehow gave the impression that there was something more to say. “Is there anything else?” the priest gently inquired. “As a matter of fact,” the man replied, “there is. You see, I normally have a tot of whiskey before I go to bed. This Lent I decided I’d give up the drink till Easter Sunday. And I have kept my promise up until now.”
“Well, that’s a wonderful effort,” said the priest. “Tomorrow is Laetare Sunday, and it means that we are already halfway through Lent; it’ll soon be Easter. You must be very pleased. However, you only have a little more time to go. Why are you celebrating now?”
“I don’t know, Father, ” came the reply. “You see, if I go without me whiskey much longer, I’m afraid I might lose my taste for the stuff altogether.”

Whatever we think about that, our reason for rejoicing today is not that we have made it to the halfway mark of Lent, but rather that today we hear readings that bring us the most incredible news we could ever hear. It’s as if the Church is asking us to raise our eyes and look to the future; to think of the extraordinary events that we’ll soon be celebrating, events that from the climax of the Church’s liturgical year, the suffering, death, and resurrection of our beloved Lord. Jesus’ crucifixion was foreshadowed when Moses lifted the serpent on a pole as a way to cure the Israelites of poisonous snake bites. So, too, the cross will save us from the venom of evil.

The scene on Calvary speaks eloquently of how much God loves us. In the simple yet powerful words of John, the Gospel writer, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but will have eternal life.” Calvary is the supreme proof that our God is a God of love, a God who in the person of God’s son came into this world not to condemn but to save. Let us raise our eyes this weekend before the Eucharist to our Lord Jesus and prepare ourselves to receive him – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – Laetare – REJOICE!

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

CRS Rice Bowl Week 3: A Story of Hope from El Salvador

Some young people in Ahuachapán in eastern El Salvador think that being a farmer is a thing of the past. Their families have farmed for generations, but climate change and soil erosion have caused harvests—and therefore, their incomes—to shrink considerably.

Edwin Carlos, a 17-year-old eager to support his parents and two little brothers, did not see farming in his future. However, after a teacher told him about how new techniques and technology were changing the way farming was being done to help restore the environment, he changed his mind. Edwin Carlos decided to join a group of 220 students who are learning skills like the importance of distancing when plowing and how burning harvest residue can harm the land and air.

Gospel Reflection Mar 7 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, March 7

Third Sunday of Lent

John 2: 13 – 25


Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

Gospel Reflection:

Well, what do you think of this Gospel passage? What are your reactions?

Ironically, I was looking at this gospel passage at the same time I was listening to the news. They were reporting that the employees at Plantation Brewery walked off the job, and other employees did not turn up for their shift. They were protesting unsafe conditions and a few other issues they were experiencing at work, and I wonder how I would have felt if they said the employees waited until there were lots of customers and on their way out in protest, they overturned tables and started yelling at the customers to get out.

I come from a family that has participated in many strikes and walked picket lines, so my first tendency is to side with the workers. I have participated in protests and rallies — inside and outside churches, inside and outside of government buildings. I have walked in downtown streets, stood in front of prisons about to execute a person, to name a few. Clearly, I am not opposed to protests. I encourage peaceful protests.

It may help to have a bit of background about “money changers” in the Temple area. They were essential workers and an important part of Temple economy. Sacrifice and offerings were a required part of many Temple services. You might remember when Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the Temple, they had to buy two pigeons. Many pilgrims came to Jerusalem and to the Temple and would not have the animals needed for sacrifice. They had to be purchased at the Temple. They needed to use the services of the money changers. People used the currency of Rome which was engraved usually with an emperor’s image. This currency could not be used in the Temple. The money changer would exchange Roman coins for the Temple coins. We do this at the Currency Exchange when we travel to other countries.

Then we have this gospel. Truthfully, if indeed, Jesus did this, then I would have to say he could have handled it differently! I believe in protesting injustice in both Church and civil arenas but not by using violence or destruction of businesses or property. According to John, Jesus used a whip, turned over tables and yelled for the money changers to get out. This outburst seems like something Peter would have done, not Jesus. Throughout all four gospels Jesus is non-violent. For me this passage written by John does not fit. Also, if he had done this, then he would have been arrested and put into prison by the Temple guards. If you were using the services of a Currency Exchange and felt that they were overcharging or not giving adequate exchange and you decided to whip the agent and turn over the counter, you would be very quickly arrested and put in jail or given a fine.

Often violence is used at protests to shift the focus from the fundamental reason for the protest. Jesus had reason to be angry. There was greed and corruption among some of the money changers. They were unfair in the exchange because they knew their customers had to have Temple coins and had to have animals for sacrifice. As a result, many overcharged and many skimmed off the top to fill their pockets as well as the Temple coffers. That was the reason for Jesus’ anger and the ways he chose to show that anger. In the way John writes it, we may focus on Jesus’ angry outburst and behavior and may totally miss the reason for his anger. The needless pressure being placed on people trying to follow Jewish religious customs by overcharging them or cheating them.

That also happens today. Sometimes when some protesters resort to violent acts, we and news media focus on the violence rather than the reason for the protest. Sometimes those opposed to the protest deliberately join the protest for the sole purpose of creating chaos and diversion. They may break windows, loot businesses or even set businesses on fire. They will use whatever means they can to cause some violence. That will shift or divert the focus from the injustice.

I don’t know John’s purpose in writing this passage but I have heard many homilists and preachers justify Jesus’s actions. I would not take that position. I think Jesus’ actions (if it really happened that way) were wrong and inappropriate. I wonder if it changed anything. What about the honest moneychangers in the Temple area that day? Were their tables upturned as well? What about those who needed the services of the money changers, what did they do?

On the other hand – maybe it happened exactly as John said. Perhaps Jesus was teaching us that it is vitally important to look underneath and beyond the violent actions. Important to look underneath the protest to discover and come to an understanding of what may be causing the rage. Then honestly and seriously ask ourselves, as a society or as a church if we are in any way complicit in the root cause.

One result we do know from this incident is that the plans to have Jesus arrested and killed intensified after this. Jesus was a threat to the economy of the Temple; he was a threat to power of the religious establishment and a threat to “peace” in Roman occupied Jerusalem. This will lead him to the cross and his crucifixion.

-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

CRS Rice Bowl Week 2: A Story of Hope from Madagascar

We all need food to nourish us and keep us healthy. Without food, we find it hard to concentrate, study, do our work or even play. Jesus often shared meals with friends and even strangers, and he teaches us to be generous in sharing what we have to eat with others.

Gospel Reflection Feb 28 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, February 28

Second Sunday of Lent

Mark 9: 2 – 10


Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Gospel Reflection:

The gospel of the Transfiguration that always occurs on the second Sunday of Lent, was seen to stem from the church in the early centuries to make the point that this miraculous event takes place forty days before the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

What is being linked here is the obedience of Abraham to sacrifice his son on the altar of the mountain and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The meaning is simply that Abraham rather than cry out about the anger of God and the unfairness of his situation, finds the grace and courage to place all of his trust (including the unthinkable sacrifice of his son) in God. Jesus in turn on the Cross places all of his trust in the Father who speaks of him at his baptism as “my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”

The climb up the mountain by Peter, James, and John (among the first to be chosen as apostles) gives them and us a glimpse of the future and places Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, at the center of all Jewish and human history. Only later after the resurrection do they come to see the import of what he has done for them and later with the gift of the Holy Spirit allows them to make the very same sacrifice of their lives on behalf of the Church they so courageously preached.

As we read this gospel and link it to our lives with all that has happened in the last year, we are encouraged in our commitment of faith and the bending of our will to that of God, so that we come to know we are never alone in our struggles and strive for the obedience and courage of Abraham and Jesus to bring us home.

Monsignor Hendricks

CRS Rice Bowl Week 1: We Can Do Our Part

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Gospel Reflection Feb 21 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, February 21

First Sunday of Lent

Mark 1: 12-15


The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Gospel Reflection:

Although rather “stupid” from a strictly tactical and ‘continuity-of-command’ standpoint, we all tend to admire the leader who “leads from the front.” We respect a leader who endures personal danger in order to be in solidarity with their subordinates. The military commander who rides at the head of his troops may not be making the smartest choice, but it is certainly a courageous one. He is not willing to order the men under his command to face a danger that he himself is not willing to face.

Or — if martial imagery is unpalatable to you — then perhaps we can agree that part of the appeal of a TV show like “Úndercover Boss” is that we oddly respect a CEO who is willing—for the sake of better understanding their subordinates’ lives and work conditions — to be a good sport, and submit themselves to the comedic shtick of a reality-show.

We see in the Gospels how Our Lord “leads from the front.” He does not absent himself from the physical sufferings and temptations that all humanity experiences. When He tells us to pray, we know that He prayed long into the night. We are told to fast; He has fasted. We are told to trust in the will of God by the Messiah who sweated blood while praying in the garden about His coming Passion.

We should not be afraid to go deeper into the spiritual desert of Lent, of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, because we are following a Lord who has gone before us in the very same way. Whatever temptations we may find in this time can be conquered, for by grace we are given the strength of the Son of God who rebuffed Satan during 40 days in the actual desert.

-Father Matthew Morris