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Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Nov 29 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, November 29

First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13: 33-37

Gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

Gospel Reflection:

The cook is to attend to the kitchen, the stable boys to the animals, the steward to the management of the estate, and the gatekeeper to security. The master leaves each of his servants with ‘their own work’ that they are responsible for, and assigns duties based on their skills, backgrounds, and experiences. All the servants are to watch for the master’s return, but only the gatekeeper will literally be watching. The rest of the servants are called to attend to the duties before them, and in that way to be “keeping watch,” to have all aspects of the house ready for the master’s return. They will keep watch “from their duty posts,” and despite the master’s absence are expected by him to continue in their normal jobs and routines.

The master will be pleased to return to a home in the middle of night and find the pantry stocked and the pots clean, the animals bedded down and brushed, the house cleaned, in good repair, and locked up. Despite the seeming mediocrity of their respective responsibilities, each of the servants plays a role in making the sure their master’s return to his home is a happy one!

May we “mind our own business” as well—not attending through gossip or morbid curiosity or detraction to other peoples’ lives –but focusing first on keeping the “house” entrusted to us in order. We each have been given a duty to discharge, and it is there that our individual call to holiness will be fulfilled. We build up the universal Church when we attend to the demands of our respective vocations and love without reserve our own domestic church and our local parish community.

Fr. Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection Nov 22 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, November 22

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

Matthew 25: 31-46

Gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”

Gospel Reflection:

What a great coincidence that it was my turn to provide a reflection for today’s Feast of Christ the King. Earlier this week was my inaugural board meeting at Cristo Rey Columbus High School. It is a private, Roman Catholic co-educational high school. And guess what Cristo Rey means: Christ the King!! How appropriate for today’s Feast. If you are not familiar with this school, I encourage you to look it up on the internet and find out about the good it brings to the young men and women who attend this school.

Today’s reading is about making choices in how we live our lives. It is a very simple one to understand, but is it an easy one to follow? Which are we? Are we the sheep on the shepherds right, who give food and drink to a stranger, clothe the naked or care for them, visit those in prison? For the king will say, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Or are we the goats on his left? Where ‘these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’

Friends, in our lives, it is not enough to just avoid vice, or sin, but to also work toward attaining virtue and virtuous behavior. To do no harm is not the same as to help. This is what we are called to do: to not just avoid doing wrong or harm, but to go out of our way to do good as well.

May you and your families have a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving next week!!

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Nov 15 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, November 15

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 25: 14-30

Gospel:

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.

“After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

Gospel Reflection:

In November each year, the Gospels focus on the end times and provide some pointed advice of do’s and don’ts for us to ponder. Last week, we heard a parable regarding preparedness. This week, we hear a Gospel that distributes talents differently. It may be more than coincidence that in ancient times a talent was a large sum of money. Today, we can easily replace that reference of money into skills.

Some of us may be given more talents than others. Talents, regardless of the size or number, are all gifts from God. We should use them in accordance to what was given us for the benefit of others. Our talents and the benefit they serve should never be considered complete. We are to constantly use it or lose it and those talents should be given away with no requirement for repayment.

No one is given nothing. Our talents, regardless of how small or unimportant they may seem to us, are held in high esteem in God’s eyes. We might be surprised that they will be held in high esteem by those we serve as well. That is why the conclusion of this Gospel is so stark and so specific. Our hope is in reflecting on the talents we have been given and within the limits of those talents, we put them to use. All of this remains in our power to choose.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Nov 8 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, November 8

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 25: 1-13

Gospel:

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Gospel Reflection:

The end of the world has always been a great “moneymaker,” at least in the hands of fiery preachers, novelists, and screenwriters. The event itself will probably be considerably less lucrative, because even the well-to-do will not be able to buy their way out of what lies in store for all of us. But for the time being, anyone with sufficient imagination to cobble together the required elements for an end-times scenario—apocalyptic disasters, four dark horsemen, a mesmerizing Beast, and plenty of I-told-you-so’s—can start a franchise of books, movies, or congregations based on the frightening idea that everything we know and everyone we love is coming to an end. The concept sells, certainly, but the question thoughtful Christians will be asking is: What am I to believe about the last things? What does scripture and the church have to say about the end of the world?

In this weekend’s Gospel, the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus offers a story compatible with the “already/not yet” vision of realized afterlife. This story of the coming of the Bridegroom is most certainly an event for the future, and yet the implications of his coming are urgent for the present. Being prepared now means admittance to the banquet later. Time may be linear, but past, present, and future flow together in cause and effect.

When I was growing up on the east side of Columbus in Saint Catharine Parish my pastor, Good Ol’ Msgr Joe Casey, used to say, “Don’t wait till you die to go to heaven.” This is the spirit of end-times that won’t stay put at the end of the line. Purgation is something we consciously choose now, just as we might also choose the way of justice, peace, joy, gratefulness, humility, and love. We don’t have to worry about the so-called Rapture, salvation and damnation, heaven, and hell, and what’s going to happen after we die. What rightfully concerns us is the choice we’re making in the present hour, the oil we have in our lamps today, and whether we carry the Bridegroom in our hearts.

If we’re in Christ today, we’re in Christ for keeps.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Nov 1 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, November 1

Solemnity of All Saints

Matthew 5: 1 – 12

Gospel:

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Gospel Reflection:

This Feast of All Saints makes me want to stand up and sing, “O Lord, I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in!” I love that song. If you listen to the song carefully you will notice that the saints go marching in. They don’t have to wait until they get in to be saints… they are saints marching in!!!

But I wonder, is that a shared desire among us? Do we want to be in that number? Do we want to be marching saints, right now, right here in the midst of these chaotic and uncertain times? Do we want to be in that number marching along together?

I always find All Saints Day a strange feast. Where should our focus be? Is it on those who now walk in glory, seeing God face to face? Should we focus on all those named and unnamed saints who touched our lives and the lives of others down through the ages? Should we focus on those countless people who came into our lives and left lasting footprints on our heart? What about the people who played such an important part in our individual and collective lives? Are they the ones who deserve our focus today? –OR—might we shift our focus on this gathering of saints that surround us right here day after day?

We are a group of “all saints” as it were? What might be said of us … this holy, earthly living body of saints? Maybe some descriptors might be: funny, serious, demanding, easy-going, intelligent, eccentric, crazy, sad, muddled, confused, committed, frustrated, broken and whole, challenging and challenged, vulnerable, tender and brave, bumbling and sure-footed, and rarely boring. Look around you. Look at the faces of the saints around you. Don’t you find the diversity and giftedness surrounding you overwhelming?

Yes, the saints who have gone before us can indeed be a great source of strength and encouragement and we do, indeed, need to call upon their intercession for us. However, when I look around this body of earthly living saints I am tremendously encouraged. I see and find a source of hope, challenge and encouragement from them.

Every single one of us is a living saint. Yes, I know I am a sinner but that is not my identity. Acknowledging is not what keeps me going every day. It can excuse a lot of my actions. It can make my commitment to be a living follower of Jesus Christ secondary. Identifying myself as a sinner makes it too much about me. It can put me in the constant stance of trying to earn or always asking for forgiveness. I am more challenged and inspired by identifying myself and others as saints. For me, a saint is not only one who has made it into the heavenly kingdom, but also a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying –right here on this earth, day after day. All who are learning to love God, self and others more deeply, one day at a time. These saints are all around me. Let me tell you about some of the saints in my life.

This summer my freezer went out and I didn’t know it for a couple of days. On a Wednesday morning, I discovered it. I had lost everything in the freezer and I lost the freezer. Rumpke pick up is on Tuesdays. That week temperatures in Gahanna reached over 90 degrees every day. I will spare you the details of what the rubbish barrel looked and smelled like after nearly a week of very hot weather. I felt so bad for the Rumpke man. I watched for him, so that I could go out and apologize for the disgusting mess and smell. I tried to soften the blow with homemade cookies. He told me his name and told me not to worry, that it was his job. When he was leaving, he said –“Have a blessed day.” John has been getting lots of cookies during these crazy times. We were two saints who are sinners who keep on trying- right here on this earth, day after day.

Tam and Don are two friends of mine and also members of our parish. They recently signed up to be part of the Red Cross volunteers who are willing to be deployed to areas experiencing some sort of catastrophe. There are currently 34 active disasters being addressed by Red Cross in the US. I asked them why they signed up, they said “We are both fairly healthy, strong and able. It just seems like the right thing to do now.” Tam and Don, two saints who are sinners who keep on trying – right here on this earth, day after day.

Louise and Bob are grandparents who live in Michigan but their grandchildren are scattered. Each week they use ZOOM to connect with a grandchild. They stay on for about an hour and during that time they may play a game, read a story, do some simple exercise or cook something with that particular grandchild. This is their way of giving mom and dad a break and keeping in touch with their grandchildren. Louise and Bob, two saints who are sinners who keep on trying – right here on earth, day after day.

Every morning at 7:30, Jackie along with her five sisters get on ZOOM to begin their day by praying together. Six strong women from Philly, six saints who are sinners who keep on trying- right here on earth, day after day.

Andrea and Kathy and many others who spent hours and hours planning and working out all the details to ensure that our children would receive their First Holy Communion, Confirmation and soon First Reconciliation in a holy and memorable way. Then there is Jake and his crew who set up a physically safe environment for everyone. Andrea, Kathy and Jake – three saints who are sinners who keep on trying – right here on earth, day after day.

There are so many saints around us – the first responders, and health workers, the protesters seeking justice, law enforcement risking their lives for others, parents and teachers trying to do what is the safest way to continue the children’s education, people living alone and trying to reach out to others, Peter and Susan who deliver meals on wheel, Rich who continues to mentor men released from prison and trying to build a new life, Msgr. Hendricks and Staff trying to “do the right thing” for the parish, those who are trying to figure out how to work from home. They are all saints- sinners who keep on trying right here on earth, day after day. Each of you is a saint who is a sinner who keeps on trying right here day after day.

It matters how you think of yourself. Is being a sinner how you view yourself or how you identify yourself? Or are you a saint who is a sinner who keeps on trying right here day after day. Psychologists tell us that we live out of our self-identify and often live into it as well. Jesus already told us – “you are a beloved child of God” (never identified us as a sinner). I choose to identify myself as a saint who is a sinner who keeps on trying right here on this earth, day after day.

The gospel passage today offers us suggestions for this saintly living. It presents us with the beatitudes (BE-attitudes). They are the attitudes we need for moving along in this life. I would add two — which for me when coupled together, hold the essence of what it means to be a saint who is a sinner who keeps on trying. “How blessed are they who know and acknowledges their need for God” and “How blessed are they who know and accepts God’s need for them.”

That, it seems to me is the heart of the matter on this great feast! A saint is one who knows how much he or she needs God and has come to humbly accept God’s great desire and need for her or him. God is what we, this gathered body of earth-living saints, can hold on to in life. Yes- we need the named and unnamed saints who live in glory, but we also need this body of earth-living saints who have thrown their lot in with each other. We are in that number– we have been counted. We are all engaged in mission together. All saints struggling together to live and understand life in and flowing out of the Gospel. In all humility we acknowledge God’s need for us to be witnesses to God’s love, to be Christ for one another.

We are in that number… we march with the undocumented, we walk with those who suffer from violence and natural disasters. We live on an Earth desperate for healing; we touch and are touched by the lives of the elderly and the young, the homeless, the churched and unchurched. The paths we walk in our lives are vast and various, but we walk together. We are numbered together. Marching alongside each other as companions on this great and glorious journey. Face it and own it we are all saints — sinners who keep on trying- right here on earth, day after day.

—Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Oct 25 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, October 25

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 34-40

Gospel:

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Gospel Reflection:

The teachings of Jesus are meant to focus our eyes and hearts on God and away from any self-serving need or desire. The reply of Jesus to the expert in the Jewish Law, (and this expert is not a disciple of Jesus) simply quotes part of the prayer that each of the Jews would say several times a day. The prayer is called the SHEMA. It reminds the person praying it to love the Lord their God wholly and fully, and to commit their whole being, and everything that makes them who they are–to God. The second part of the great commandment asks to commit to the love of neighbor over self. But the neighbor is not simply the ones you know. Love of neighbor extends to the global community of anyone who is suffering from emotional, material, or physical needs.

The gospel goes on to say that the whole Law and the prophets depend on these two essential commandments.

As we draw ever nearer to the national elections, trying to deal with the ills of society, the pandemic, racism, violence and gang shootings, we may want to stop and reflect what Jesus says in the gospel today, and write it on our hearts. A disciple of Jesus cannot deny this basic identity to help change our world, even a little bit by our actions and see in the other, whatever neighbor comes your way, the face of Christ Jesus.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Oct 18 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, October 18

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 15-21

Gospel:

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”

Gospel Reflection:

Immersed as we are in the final weeks of the election year, we can appreciate in a special way Our Lord’s deft political answer in this Sunday’s Gospel. In the political landscape of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Herodians, the Zealots and the secular Hellenists would have been at odds with each other, fighting amongst themselves on a range of policy topics: Should they accede to the Roman Empire’s governance or rise up in armed rebellion? How much of the Greco-Roman culture should Jews adopt? And they were also divided on religious topics: What constituted Divine Revelation, just the writings of Moses or later books like the Prophets? Was the current Temple priesthood descended from a valid Levitical succession line? Was the Greek-translation (the Septuagint) of the Scriptures valid, or only the Hebrew original texts?

Whilst these groups would rail at each other on these topics and more, in Jesus they seem to find a common opponent. In the spirit of “the enemy of my enemy…”, we find some very odd coalitions sprinkled throughout the New Testament where the Sadducees and the Pharisees (or the Pharisees and the Herodians as in this Sunday’s Gospel) put aside their partisan squabbling to attack Jesus together. Their trap in this Gospel is especially dastardly, because they were trying to literally “take out” their theo-political opponent by making him say something that would incriminate him to the Roman civil authorities. Less we forget, the “Cancel Culture” of the Roman Empire didn’t mean you lost your job and social media reputation– you were going to lose your life. And you were going to lose it slowly, publicly, and painfully. Being exceedingly efficient, the Imperial authorities combined their capital punishment sentences with their public service messaging, providing a clear and concise visual of why acceptance of continued Roman rule was advantageous to one’s own person.

Jesus of course is well-aware of His enemies’ ends, and replies in such a way that He not only sidesteps the trap while adhering to the Truth, but He also shuts down this line of attack to His accusers in the future. Any inquiry from a Roman civil official investigating future accusations that Jesus was saying “don’t pay Imperial taxes” would now find numerous witnesses that would say “No, no, we all clearly heard Jesus say publicly, “pay to Caesar what is owed to Caesar.”

As Christians are called to be “in” the world but not “of” the world, we are called to be participants “in” politics and civic life, but not to be “of” politics. We participate in politics to actualize the principles of our Faith, not to replace our divinely-revealed Faith with political ideologies created by mere human intellects. We must render unto Caesar, we must respect Caesar, we must work with Caesar to achieve good ends–but unlike those august pagans, the Roman Senators of old, we must never agree that we will worship Caesar as a Divinity.

-Fr. Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection Oct 11 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, October 11

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 1-14

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

Today’s Gospel includes a pair of parables…The Parable of the Wedding Banquet and The Parable of the Wedding Garments. And the story is obviously more than just a story about a king and a banquet, but it is the story of salvation history in which God sent his prophets and evangelists with Good News, but many of them were rejected.
We heard in the parable that when the king entered the wedding hall, he noticed that one of the guests clearly stood out from all the others because he was not wearing a wedding garment. Upon seeing this, the king told his attendants to “bind his hands and feet, and to cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Friends, God invites all of us to the banquet of salvation, but we have to prepare ourselves for the event when it comes…we have to look for that invitation and we have to be open to its call…preparing ourselves to receive it. The man in this parable remained clothed in “his sin and his iniquities,” not realizing that such a call would come at that moment. This particular man had not been prepared for such a call from the king, and he had clothed himself in a way which demonstrated his unfitness for such a feast.

None of us knows the moment when we will be called to the feast. And so, we must always prepare ourselves by clothing ourselves in our faith. We must live the life Jesus teaches us to live in order to prepare for that call…that moment when we will find ourselves in front of the Lord.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Oct 4 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, October 4

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21: 33 – 43

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

As we enter yet another election season, all of us find ourselves in an environment where more and more behavior presses toward extreme causes and attempts to normalize that behavior to win a broader base of acceptance. In pressing these causes, unwittingly, the tactics used to win the day move toward an acceleration into more extreme behavior, which then must be justified as necessary in order to match the corresponding accelerated behavior of the opposite view.

We see this kind of miscalculation of progressively deploying more extreme actions of the tenants in today’s Gospel. The tenants move to take and then justify what is not theirs — eventually killing the owner’s own son and believing that this will win the day and inherit the land from the father. We can easily understand the twisted thought process of the tenants believing this act is a viable tactic. The clearly misguided extreme behavior made sense to the tenants. It seems that extreme behavior reduces the hope to tolerating a different view until tolerance and dialog is eliminated altogether.

It seems we have some challenges ahead of us despite all the rhetoric to the contrary and during a year of a pandemic to boot. We need to walk back the extreme rhetoric from both sides and acknowledge that all creation is the Creator’s and we are but its temporary tenants. As tenants, we must care for what we have been given and respect the messengers sent to us by the Creator. We are the workers of the harvest to function with the Creator and not be the master over the Creator. The fruits of our labor are not control over the land we have been entrusted and suppression over the loser. We are challenged to plant, hoe, water, nourish, weed, and harvest the fruits of what we have been given as tenants — not owners. Perhaps it is time to walk back our words and deeds and acknowledge what has been given to us at the peril that “…the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Sep 27 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, September 27

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21: 28 – 32

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

The two words yes and no may be deceptively small, but they are powerhouses in our vocabulary. Yes is an agreement to a fact, a deed, or a relationship. No is a refusal to accept, act, or commit. When the words came into use, they communicated their meaning in a useful shorthand. Yes was enough to count you in. No made your stance or thoughts on the issue or action perfectly clear.

In this week’s Gospel parable, we have the “story of yes and no”. Jesus tells the story of two sons who each provide a different reply to their father’s request for help in the vineyard. Of course, as we soon see, we cannot take either of these sons at their word. The one who initially refuses to do as his father asks eventually fulfills his responsibility, while the one who instantly agrees to do his father’s will never shows up. Which son gave the right answer?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said we should forget swearing oaths, even ones we fully intend to keep. Just say yes or no and claim nothing further. Yes and no serve the purpose of communicating our intentions well enough. If there isn’t integrity behind our words, all the swearing of oaths or making vows to someone won’t help.

Being faithful to God is not only about professing creeds or partaking in ritual acts of worship. We may carry the “I am a Catholic” ID card in our wallets, never miss Sunday Mass, connect the dots of our sacramental life, keep the Ten Commandments and rules of the church scrupulously, and still risk being out of the loop of God’s will. It may seem that we are doing a lot and not saying a lot when we accomplish all this, but Jesus dismissed the Herculean law-keeping of the Pharisees as so much hypocrisy.

In the end, if we fail to wind up in the arms of a loving God, then all our efforts are no more than performance art. Doing yes involves aligning ourselves with the God of love and fulfilling the law of love, broader and deeper than every other authority over our lives. Even Jesus didn’t aim for moral perfection by claiming “…equality with God…”. Instead, he emptied himself, as lovers do, for the sake of the beloved. And his “YES” was declared the PERFECT YES.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino