Category

Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Sep 27 – Deacon Frank

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

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

Gospel Reflection Sep 20 – Sr. Teresa

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, September 20

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 20: 1-16A

Gospel:

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Gospel Reflection:

“IT IS NOT FAIR!” “THAT’S NOT RIGHT!” Oh, how many times I have said this in my life – far too many to count. I say it many times when I think that I don’t get all that I think I deserve. I also say it when I don’t think others are getting a fair shake in life. I have said it most recently, during the Covid-19 spread after learning that it seems that the most vulnerable among us are most likely to contract the virus and are dying from it. I have said it when I know people are not allowed to visit loved ones in Care Centers or in hospitals. I said it when people have not been able to mourn their dead with the sacred rituals of their faith to comfort them. I said it when I heard about and saw the murder of George Floyd and all that has followed from that horrific act. I have said it when I watch, once again, the fires in California and other western states blazing out of control. I said it when I watch the storms battering the south, eastern coast of our country and more storms already setting their eyes on the very same areas. I have said it when I see people not wearing a mask or observing a safe physical distance from others. It has all been so frustrating.

Then I looked at this week’s Gospel passage and once again the words “It’s not fair!” and “That’s not right!” sprung from my lips. The workers in this parable would be what today we call day laborers who line up hoping for a day’s work and a day’s pay. They are usually people desperate for work, their families are in need of basic things like food, shelter and health care.

One of the effects of circumstances brought on by this pandemic crisis is the high unemployment, the collapse of small family-owned businesses, the loss of homes. These along with food scarcity and money to buy the necessities is very real in the lives of so many people. A day’s pay may not sound monumental to some but for many people in our country and in our world, it can be the difference between life and death.

In the time of Jesus poverty was severe for nearly 95% of the people. Many people were desperately poor and always on the edge of starvation. A day’s pay could make the difference between eating and going hungry, living and dying.

Some employers don’t notice or concern themselves with their employees’ needs. But this parable tells of a different kind of employer. This one noticed and cared for those he saw who needed work. And he was extravagant!

No matter how many times we have heard them this parable and the parable of the Prodigal Son still rub most of us the wrong way. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son and again in this parable one of the most common responses is, “It’s not fair” or “That’s not right!” Those who say that, probably equate themselves with the older brother or the people who were the first hired in this parable. After all, we are good people who have worked hard, played by the rules so we are entitled to more – right? That’s after all what is just, isn’t it?

Maybe – if either parable was about us. Everything is not about us. It is not about what we deserve or don’t deserve. It is not about what we think is fair or just. Do we really want God, who knows everything we have said, thought and done or not done to judge us by what we think the rules of fairness and justice should be? Not me – I want that God whose mercy is limitless, whose love for me is boundless to be my judge.
This parable and the Parable of the Prodigal Son are about God. They tell in action about the abundant, endless generosity of God. They are about a God who sees the needs of his children and responds to each.

For several Sundays we have heard about the Cost of Discipleship. Each Sunday gospel has added a new dimension. It started with the Storm at Sea and our willingness to keep our focus on Jesus. It called us to get out of the boat and jump into the storm-tossed sea. Each week we learned another facet of radical discipleship: widening the space of our tent to include those who are different from us; believing that what Jesus has built will last forever; willingness take up the cross of the Gospel; settling disputes among us; forgiving others 7 times 70 and finally this parable today.
Parables turn things upside down and invite us into a new way of seeing and being. We are called to see with the eyes of Jesus. We are called to live the life-lessons Jesus teaches. We are called to treat others, not by our standards, but to treat others the way Jesus treated others. Jesus used love as the measuring stick and when that happens truth and mercy meet. Justice and Peace kiss.

There may be times when we feel we do not deserve God’s love or forgiveness. You may feel that there are certain people that you believe don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness. To use an old saying, “No kidding Sherlock!” No one deserves all that God pours out upon us. God does not love us because we are worthy. God loves us because God is God and that is what God does. It is not about us nor dependent on us. It is about God’s love and generosity. God is in charge.

If we believe in the God of this parable, a God whose love, mercy and generosity knows no limits or boundaries then as disciples should we not stop judging others? Should we not stop thinking we have the right to decide who and who should not receive God’s generosity? Stop thinking we can decide who is and is not worthy of God’s forgiveness?

For me, I just thank God that God is God and I am not!! Don’t entangle yourself in the web of judging. Don’t judge yourself and don’t judge others — leave all of that to God. It is not your job or my job to judge. We have only one job and in his Gospel reflection last week, Msgr. Hendricks’ reminded us of our one main job in this life.

“Often in life and especially in our society today that is charged with COVID, political polarization, civil unrest, and absolute talk, we forget the main reason why we are here, to Love God above all else and to love our neighbor as our self.” (Msgr. Hendricks)

-Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Sep 13 – Msgr Hendricks

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, September 13

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18: 21-35

Gospel:

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Gospel Reflection:

In Chapter 18 of his gospel Matthew sets out the teaching of Jesus on life in the Christian Community. Remember, he is writing some 50 years or so after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In so doing, the Christian community, young and fragile, has changed from the early days of enthusiasm after the resurrection and St. Paul references the struggles in today’s second reading. He urges his listeners not to rush to judgement of one another.

Mainly, the story of the gospel today reminds us that forgiveness comes from God and this forgiveness is readily at our disposal no matter how despondent we have become, and because of our faith in the Lord Jesus we know we can always come back home to Him. There is not a sin too great, or too deep to separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8).

The problem that the servant who was forgiven much debt, when approached by one who owed him a fraction of the amount he was forgiven, is that he either forgot or chose to forget the compassion that was given to him by the Lord (for in the gospel today the king in the story is the Lord Himself). So the lesson in the gospel is the lesson we pray at each Mass, “forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Often in life and especially in our society today that is charged with COVID, political polarization, civil unrest, and absolute talk, we forget the main reason why we are here, to Love God above all else and to love our neighbor as our self.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Sep 6 – Fr. Morris

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, September 6

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18: 15-20

Gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

Gospel Reflection:

Our Gospel this Sunday reminds us of the importance of our communal Christian life. The particular sneakiness of COVID-19 is that what are usually the strengths of our Christian faith– congregational worship, praising God through music, receiving physical Sacraments, person-to-person outreach and evangelization—becomes a weakness that the virus can utilize to spread to the most vulnerable and sick among us.

I do not envy the Bishops of all the various nations around the world. They have to make prudential local decisions that balance the threat of spreading the virus to those individuals wherein it is highly lethal, against the threat of losing contact with our communal Christian faith. Like any prudential decision, it is unlikely to be the one best decision in the eyes of all people.

But thankfully, this pandemic has occurred at a time when modern technology and telecommunications allows those who are truly at the most risk to participate in the community of the parish through live streams, video meetings, and safe environments carefully-designed with modern medicine’s insights. A strong argument can be made that Catholicism is the intellectual progenitor to the scientific methodology that gave rise to “Western” technology and healthcare. Since Catholics believe in Faith AND Reason, we are always happy to utilize technology to spread the Gospel and to listen to the insights that science and other reasoned methodologies yield about aspects of God’s physical universe. (We also do not hesitate to call science and reason to account when they stray out of their proper fields and start trafficking in philosophy and theology!)

For those of our parishioners who are in strict quarantine in assisted living facilities, in self-imposed quarantine at home, or who are exercising an abundance of caution for the sake of a vulnerable loved one—know that you are gathered with us when you gather in the name of Jesus Christ. ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ You are attending at Mass not just virtually through the mediation of electronic technology, but spiritually through your unity of intention with other congregants and clergy. Unified in a common desire and intention for prayer and worship—isn’t our God smart enough to understand that, to recognize when we are truly impeded from attending Mass through no fault of our own, and to read our naked hearts and our true intentions? If our 5-year-olds can understand that Zoom or Facetime allows you to talk to people instantly across the globe, how much more does our God understand the fungibility of time and space when it comes to our prayers?

I will be the first to say it is NOT the same thing to participate in a televised Mass versus attending in person, but it IS better than the alternative—which is nothing. Something is always better than nothing, and a Mass attended virtually is better than the Mass attended not at all!

-Fr. Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection Aug 30 – Deacon Paul

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, August 30

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 21-27

Gospel:

Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

Gospel Reflection:

“Get behind me, Satan!” This statement by Jesus resonated with me when preparing this reflection, and, I am guessing it might with you as well. With all of the craziness of our world today…the pandemic, social tensions, an election year, abortions, failure of the family,…depending on how we handle these different events in our lives, do you suspect there are times when Jesus might tell Satan to get behind us?

Today, Peter was urging Jesus to do the very thing that the tempter tried to make Him do…to seek power without sacrifice. When Peter takes Jesus aside to try and dissuade Him from His Passion, he was not under divine inspiration but acting out of his impulse and his own thinking, believing that he knew better than Jesus. That may sometimes be our failing also, sometimes we too think we know better than God. We cannot understand why we have a cross.

Our society today has the tendency to be an “obstacle” to the ways of God and “think not as God does” but “as human beings do.” Isn’t it amazing how many people profess to know God and follow Him, yet their thinking patterns are just like those of anyone else in the world? Satan loves that. He wants us to be so absorbed with the ways of the world that we are clueless about what God’s Word says.

Friends, is Christ the master of your life? Have you put to death your own plans and committed yourself to His will for your life? We are invited to follow in His footsteps. Like Jesus, we are to be ready to take up our cross, whatever it might be, and carry it behind Him. Only by uniting our suffering in life to that of Jesus’ cross can we in turn carry our crosses. For it is these crosses that can become opportunities for us to grow closer to Jesus and give Him glory.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Aug 30 – Deacon Don

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, August 23

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 13 – 20

Gospel:

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Gospel Reflection:

This is a familiar passage to many of us. It is Peter’s confession (his acknowledgement of Jesus’ identity through revealed truth by our heavenly Father) — acknowledging, bravely and with no ambiguity, that Jesus is, “…the Christ, the Son of the living God.” What a marvelous moment for Peter and for all of us — so much so that Jesus gives the keys to the kingdom of heaven to Peter and establishes the Church’s authority on earth.

Since then, we have been entrusted the pivotal duty of protecting and passing on the truth of the faith to future generations since that moment. This remains our duty today. Like most times in the Church’s history, this task has not been received or accepted easily and without trouble — with on-going rejection and challenge. Nonetheless, this is our time, with all the possibility of rejection and attempts to erode the Gospel’s message of joy and hope.

The message of the Gospel may be a story of the distant past, but it is as relevant and meaningful today as it is a message of a joyful and hopeful future. Like Peter, all the apostles eventually came to the same confession as Peter. Like Peter, they acknowledged what was revealed to them by God the Father himself. When we follow the Gospel’s message entrusted to Peter so long ago, we each make that same confession. It provides us a way to follow the heavenly Father’s wishes for us and a means to join him in eternal joy.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Aug 14 – Deacon Frank

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, August 16

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 15: 21 – 28

Gospel:

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Gospel Reflection:

A natural tension exists between the familiar and unfamiliar, the neighbor and stranger, our kind and every other kind. In our Gospel this weekend, even Jesus seems initially to have limited his mission to “the lost sheep” of Israel. A clever woman, a Canaanite, persuades Jesus to think outside the box on this issue. The Canaanite woman asked Jesus to help her daughter who had a problem. At first, Christ “…did not say a word in answer to her…” St. Matthew tells us. The woman goes on to say “…even the dogs eat the scraps from the table…” Eventually, being greatly impressed by the Gentile woman’s faith, Jesus restored her daughter to normality.

What are we to think when Christ seems silent in our situation? Should we use that time to “grow” our faith? Could it be an opportunity for us to make sure that we put first things first? Christ and his Kingdom’s work should always have a higher priority than our personal desires.

We are truly the beneficiaries of that decision Jesus makes to go beyond his mission to the “lost sheep of the house Israel” only – which meant only the Jewish people. Jesus, himself, knows that he came to save and heal EVERYONE– not just a select few. These days, as we wrestle with how much we’re obliged to help protect one another’s health and safety; share our personal treasures, our gifts, and talents; our land and its richness with others, we might consider “the scraps” that fell from the table to us over the centuries and be ready to use those gifts we have been given wisely in our mission as followers of Christ.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection August 9 – Sr. Teresa

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, August 9

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 14: 22-33

Gospel:

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Gospel Reflection:

ANOTHER STORM AT SEA. Today we are by the Sea of Galilee. The passage follows the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus sends the disciples off in his boat and instructs them to meet him on the other shore. Jesus remains alone. He needs time to pray. He would take the roadway later and meet them on the opposite shore. The trip by boat should have taken two hours. Soon we learn that a powerful storm has come up. In the other storm Jesus was in the boat, albeit asleep, with the disciples. They woke him up and he calmed the storm. Matthew gives no indication that the disciples were afraid. Most of the disciples were experienced fishermen, used to handling their boats in the midst of fierce storms. This storm seemed different somehow and they found themselves in the middle of the sea, making little headway in reaching the opposite shore. Matthew makes it a point to tell us that it is the 4th Watch (3AM-6AM). It is that time when the darkness of the night is very gradually surrendering to the first glimmers of light.

Jesus made it to the shore before them and looking out to the sea saw the boat being tossed and buffeted by the storm. He made no move to calm the storm. REALLY!!! HE MADE NO MOVE TO CALM THE STORM!! Instead he starts walking out on the water with an outstretched hand urging them to come to him. Each must take the risk and get out of that boat. Just as he directed them to use what they had to feed the vast hungry crowd; he now indicates that they must again use what they have and take that first leap of faith.

WHAT!??! GET OUT OF THE BOAT!!! “I don’t think so!!” Even though this boat was being tossed and buffeted by storms, these experienced fishermen knew what to do in the boat but were very reluctant to get out of it and throw themselves into a wild sea. Peter is the only one who dares to take the risk. It is the 4th Watch and the darkness of Peter’s faith surrenders to the first ray of God’s light. Faith always involves a call, fear, reassurance, a decision and a transformed life. It is a cyclical journey that is repeated over and over again in the life of a disciple.

As I prayed with this passage, I remembered the different storms I have encountered in my lifetime. The storms when I felt tossed and battered by life. At times I chose to stay in the storm rather than risking the danger that would follow if I “got out of the boat.” The active alcoholic or other addicts who live in the storm of their own addiction or those suffering from domestic abuse are often reluctant to risk giving up that “boat”. They prefer to stay in the danger of what they know rather than risking the danger of the unknown. The person who is grieving the death of someone they love, very much knows the storm of grief. No matter how much support and love others offer, the first step is getting out of that boat of grief and moving towards life is one they must make alone. Take time today to identify the storms you have had or maybe you are in the midst of right now. No matter who is stretching out a hand to offer help, there is a reluctance to let go of what you know and moving toward the outstretched hand. Yet, only you can take the first step. Recall the story of Jesus standing outside the tomb of Lazarus, urging him to come forth. That first step must be taken by you. It is that fearful moment when you realize you have left the boat. This is the moment, even in the midst of a raging storm, that the possibility for transformation begins.

Jesus is always stretching out his hand to us. He is always inviting us to walk toward him. He always desires for us to choose life. However, you have to get out of the boat. When we, like Peter, say “YES!” it will set off a power that is already within us and we, too, will be able to walk on water. I believe that God is always calling us to walk to and with him. When we say yes to his calling, it sets in motion a divine spirit far beyond mere human power. It will not be easy. You may have to face your deepest fears. You may have to risk leaving the false safety of the boat to move into the dangers of the sea. It will take an act of faith and a surrender to the power inside of you. In my life, and I imagine in yours also, I have known what seemed like impenetrable darkness. I have also known the 4th Watch. I have known those moments when the darkness of the night slowly (even reluctantly) surrendered to the first rays of light and I began moving to new life.

As a global community, we are in the midst of a great storm. The waves of many pandemics (COVID-19, racism, economic uncertainty and collapse, fear, unhealthy nationalism, myopic sense of personal rights and freedoms… name your own dangerous wave) are tossing and threatening our boat. Like the storm at sea, it is wildly sweeping across the world. We may feel that Jesus is off by himself praying and does not see what is happening. We may want to wake him up and insist that he calm this raging storm.

Jesus isn’t going to calm this storm. However, his hand is always outstretched, and he is always calling to us. Jesus insists that we use what we have, strengthened by deep faith and trust in God and faith and trust in each other, to reach the other side. Don’t let fears or doubts or unhealthy pride pull you and us down. Reach out to one another, let the deep and basic goodness God embed in our soul from all eternity rise to the surface. Use what you have to care for each other. Jesus is not going to calm this storm for us. He will reach out his hand and encourage us to use what we have (collectively) to do what needs to be done for the good of all.

I want the world to be in the 4th Watch but I don’t think it is there yet. The darkness of this time is very reluctant to surrender. Yet, that stubbornness will slowly surrender to the first rays of daylight and we will make it to the other shore. However, we will never make it to the other if we rely only on self (individual, city or country). Go back to the tomb of Lazarus, as soon as Lazarus took the first step and came out of the tomb, Jesus turned to the community and said, “Unbind him, let him go free.” It calls for an act of faith, it calls for a community working together. It calls for each of us taking the first step (wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands). It will take each of us and all of us responding as a community before we begin to navigate through this storm and move toward the breaking of the day. We are stronger when we work together for the good of all because God created us with original oneness. However, it takes getting out of the boat and walking on water.

-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection August 2 – Msgr. Hendricks

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, August 2

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Matthew 14: 13-21

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Monsignor Hendricks

 

Gospel Reflection July 26 – Fr. Morris

By | Gospel Reflections | No Comments

Sunday, July 26

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13: 44-46

Gospel:

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

Gospel Reflection:

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

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

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

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

-Fr. Morris