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Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Apr 5 – Sr Teresa

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Sunday, April 5

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Matthew 21: 1 – 11

Gospel: (at the Procession with the Palms)
When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Gospel Reflection:
I chose to look at the Gospel that is used at The Procession with Palms.
In my prayer I wondered what does this Gospel have to say to us in this time of a
global pandemic, in this time when all places of worship are closed, when
“social distancing,” “sheltering at home,” and “Be safe!” are new and common phrases in our everyday vocabulary?

In times such as these we hear lots of apocalyptic language. “God is trying to tell us something”. “God is giving us a wake-up call.” “God is telling us to come back to him.” They are all true BUT the bigger truth is that God is always trying to tell us something; God is always drawing us to him in good times and in difficult times. God did not cause the crisis that is shaking the world. A loving God does not do that to his beloved children. In times such as these we cling to God’s promise, “I will never leave you,” God will walk with us and give us the wisdom and courage to work through this crisis together. When we do that we relearn wonderful faith-filled things.

If all of our places of worship are closed does this mean for Christian religions that there is no Palm Sunday? Does this mean we do not enter into this most solemn week of the year, the one we call Holy? Certainly not! The church building is closed but not the church community. WE ARE THE LIVING CHURCH. Wherever we dwell is a “house Church,” and through God’s limitless power, we are united to each other. We profess our interconnection with each other when we claim the Communion of Saints. Our prayer is not limited by space or time. The power of our prayer, through God’s power, transcends human boundaries and unites us as one community.

As I sat and prayed with the scripture reading for today, the word most associated with Palm Sunday jumped right out at me. It is “Hosanna!” Hosanna is related to an Aramaic word that means “help or save us!” That is a perfect cry for today as the Coronavirus continues to race across the world. Yet, that seemed too obvious. Is there anything else this Gospel has for us? Several things made me wonder: Why Bethphage? He spent the night in Bethany, why didn’t he get the colt there? A colt? Really?!!? He wants a colt? Jesus, our Messiah, is going to enter Jerusalem on the back of a baby donkey? How weird is that! Do you know anything about a donkey colt? What words do people often associate with a donkey? Stubborn! Dumb! Beast of Burden –are some that I heard when I asked my friends. There has to be more and it has to be significant that Jesus chose a baby donkey. I have prayed a lot about that colt and donkey. I even did a little research.

Jesus chose a colt, not a powerful stallion, like the Roman authorities would have used to show their authority. He didn’t choose a war horse to show his power and military might and being ready for the victory of battle. He chose a simple donkey, the ride of a poor man, the same animal used to carry him in his mother’s womb as she and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem. Donkeys and colts are very calm, loyal and affectionate. They can bear heavy loads that are not their own.

Donkeys show excellent memory and intelligence, and a great ability to learn. Negative and painful experiences affect the donkey’s behavior for years. When they detect something dangerous or scary they will generally move away from it, to observe what the threat is before moving toward it. Then they will move with fearlessness and great determination. They are territorial and will stand their ground always in an apparently calm manner. If you ride through horse country and pass a field, it would not be unusual to see a donkey with the horses. They use a donkey as a companion animal, especially for pregnant horses to keep them calm and safe. On my community’s farm in Kentucky we use a donkey to protect our herd.

This donkey colt in our Gospel will carry Jesus … the one who carries many burdens for us, the one who protects us, the one who offers calmness and peace will be carried by this donkey colt. At our Taizé prayer service we always sing, “Come bring your burdens to God, come bring your burdens to God. Come bring your burdens to God for Jesus will never say no.” In the midst of this world crisis we certainly cry out “Hosanna! Hosanna!” “Save us, O Lord!” In the midst of this world crisis we bring our burdens to God.

Then I began to wonder who are the people carrying heavy burdens during the Coronavirus crisis? I think immediately of health care professionals and first responders. I think of the political leaders across the country trying to work with the scientists and medical people to make plans to best protect their people and try to control the spread of the virus. I recall the leaders of different religious traditions who are trying to offer spiritual comfort to their people. There are educators on every level who are trying to reach out to students and parents. Parents are trying to protect their children from the virus and from fear. The list went on and on for me.

If you had the opportunity to pray with Pope Francis on March 23rd you heard him pray: This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.”

These are the people who have many similarities to real colts and donkeys and who carry heavy burdens for others. This Palm Sunday we remember them. Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem on the back of a baby donkey. How weird is that? Actually, it doesn’t seem weird at all. Jesus chose a donkey colt. The people may have wanted him to ride in on an animal of power. We might want him to ride in on a white stallion, wearing a medical coat and waving the cure for the Coronavirus. He is not going to do that. He is still riding a colt and he is arriving in the person of ordinary people, like you and like me, who are being called to do extraordinary things for each other and for the common good. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! in the highest.”

-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection March 29 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, March 29

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11: 1 – 45

Gospel:
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.

So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,

“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,

“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Gospel Reflection:
The name Lazarus, means God has helped. We see this name once more in the scriptures, of a beggar, who sits outside a wealthy man’s house. That Lazarus also dies and goes to be with Abraham in heaven. This Lazarus is a friend of Jesus and he has two sisters, Martha and Mary. Jesus was a frequent visitor to their house, and the home is located in the village of Bethany, about two miles outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where Jesus is headed shortly after his visit to the home of those three friends. It is the last time he goes there before he is killed.

Lazarus has been sick and finally he has died. The purpose of the story is to show that Jesus is the Divine Son of God, has power over sin and death, and shows this by bringing Lazarus from the sleep of death that his Resurrection is not a hope but a reality.

An early writer in the 5th century commenting on this gospel notes that Lazarus has taken a sip of the Resurrect drink, while we await the whole draft of the universal Resurrection.

Re-read this gospel passage and see all of the human emotions about sickness and death played out in the dialogue with Martha and Mary, and then place yourself with Lazarus who has been untied from death to go free.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Mar 20 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, March 22

Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 9: 1-41

Gospel:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?

Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

Gospel Reflection:
Well friends, we have certainly had our world turned upside down on us, haven’t we? For us here in Columbus, it was first the cancelation of the Arnold Classic a couple of weeks ago. Then we started to have the NBA cancel its games, followed shortly thereafter with the cancelation of March Madness. And, for you UD Flyer fans out there, the best record in 61 years and on a 20-game win streak. Then we had the cancelation of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and then the bars and the restaurants implemented closures. The closure of our schools. Even Starbucks…oh my gosh…what are we going to do now?

This truly has been a March Madness to remember…hasn’t it? Who would have ever dreamed we would be facing the effects of such a disease as the coronavirus just a short time ago?

There is an old adage…Man Plans and God Laughs! For whom really has control of our lives and our whole world? Is it us OR is it God? Unfortunately, a good portion of our society today seems to believe we have control of everything…NOT God. Perhaps this is a wakeup call for all of us that we need to have God in our lives. To really focus on what is important to us. Are the most important things in our lives perhaps earning as much money as we can? Buying the biggest house? Driving that latest sports car? Having the latest Apple iPhone? OR, is it having a relationship with God, and I mean truly a relationship with God…not just in passing, here and there in our daily lives. Not just when we are praying to Him because we need something from Him.
After all, who has control of everything around us…Is it you and me or is it God? Today, we heard in our Gospel about a blind man whom Jesus cures that was blind since birth. This man could not see Jesus, but Jesus could look into the depths of his heart. For Jesus came into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind…He came to us.

The inner darkness of our fears, our attachments, and our beliefs are what keep us from seeing. They cover our eyes like the mud on the eyes of the man born blind. Friends, where is the mud of darkness in your life? For us to truly see begins in the heart, not the eyes.

During this Lenten Season, let us focus on what is most important. Let us re-establish a relationship with Jesus and the Trinity. Let us remember those who are the most vulnerable in our society…those who are homeless and poor…those who are battling an illness in their lives…those who are unemployed or under-employed…those who are lonely due to the loss of a loved one…our families and our loved ones. These are the things that are most important in our lives and our journeys to heaven. Let us give all praise and thanks to God for the many blessings He has given us in our lives.
Perhaps out of this very serious health event and the cancelation of all our Masses, we will come to better appreciate going to Mass as a community with our families. We will come to Mass because “we want to” and because we want to give thanks to God…AND, not just because it is a precept of our Catholic Faith and “we have to”!! Are you missing the Holy Eucharist? It is the true nourishment Jesus provided to heal us and to save us.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Mar 15 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, March 15

Third Sunday of Lent

John 4: 5 – 42

Gospel:
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
Gospel Reflection:
The story of Jesus speaking with the Samaritan Woman at the well is one of the most well known in the Bible. Saint Brigid has an image of the Samaritan Woman hanging by the main doors to the church just outside the bell tower.

The unnamed Samaritan woman was surprised that Jesus was speaking with her because during that time men did not publicly speak to women and the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus told the woman he could give her “living water” that would truly quench her thirst and become in her “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus knew the woman had many disappointments in her life. She was thirsty for meaning in her life. She was thirsty for love. Her life-thirst was not being satisfied. She was unhappy. She didn’t find anyone or anything to satisfy the deep longing of her heart until she met Jesus.

Friends, Lent is a time for us to quench our thirst, to rediscover the meaning of our lives in Christ. This is a special time for us to encounter Jesus like the Samaritan Woman at the well, and to be transformed by our encounter with Jesus, like she was. The Lord wants to give us this living water too. This is why He came to earth, that we might have life and have it abundantly. Sin is an obstacle to the full life in Christ, so let us take this opportunity during Lent to establish a deeper conversion to the Lord. Please remember that Jesus also thirsts for us to surrender our lives to Him, to entrust ourselves to Him. And so, today, let the woman’s prayer be our prayer: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty.”

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

OPERATION RICE BOWL STORIES OF HOPE: WEEK 2

Home is often our place of comfort and safety—something we take care of, where we sleep, eat, and spend time with our family. As you read these stories, think about your home and how it is similar to the girls’ homes.

For Trinh, home is where her family gathers—to play, to eat, to rest. “My family is the most important thing to me,” she says.

One way she shows her family love is by doing chores around the house. She helps her family by bathing her little sister, Trang, showing her how to wash her hands and helping her with schoolwork. Trinh likes washing the teapot and cups and collecting eggs from the ducks. Often, Trinh will ride her bike to get medicine for her parents when they are sick.

Trinh likes to catch dragonflies and crickets with her sister. Since her house is surrounded by rice fields, and coconut and bamboo trees, there’s plenty of places for the sisters to play. But the house is also near a river, and when storms pass through, Trinh’s home often fills with water. “I wish I would have a house that is not wet or leaky and would not flood anymore,” says Trinh.

Click here to continue reading.

Gospel Reflection Mar 8 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, March 8

Second Sunday of Lent

Matthew 17: 1 – 9

Gospel:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Gospel Reflection:
We hear in today’s Gospel the recounting of Jesus’ Transfiguration. Jesus appears in a glorified state along with Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah, who represents the prophets. God gave Moses the law to bring to the Chosen People. Over time, they rejected the law. God then brought forth the prophets to restore the Chosen People to holiness and the law, and they rejected the prophets, including Elijah. Now God brings forth his Son and places him with Moses and Elijah on the mountain. Jesus’ presence goes beyond any previous Jewish leader — no mere priest, prophet, or king appears before Peter, James, and John, but the God/Man. Who else could possibly fulfill the law and exceed the wisdom of the prophets, but God with us!

In typical characteristic way, Peter acts and wishes to make three tents in recognition of the sacred moment they are experiencing. Just before this incident in the Gospel, Peter had declared to Jesus and the other disciples that, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This moment validates that confession of Peter.

We all need morale boosts from time to time. We need to experience something deeply meaningful in our lives that heals our spirit and brings us peace. When our eyes are opened, our hearts soon follow. The voice in the gospel says, “…listen to him.” This is directed at Peter and the others — but to us as well. Our Lenten journey is short, but long enough to experience one moment of illumination from God to listen to his Son. Give a moment to listen, to hear what he says, to accept what we hear, and to own what we accept.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Mar 1 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, March 1

First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4: 1 – 11

Gospel:
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
Gospel Reflection:
A woman was shopping for a new dress and found the most stunning creation she had ever seen. But is was very expensive: $750. She knew she couldn’t afford it, but she had to at least see how she looked in it. So she tried it on and she looked beautiful. She knew someone else would see it and buy it before she could save up for it and she knew she had to have it so she bought it. That evening as she showed her husband how beautiful it was and how stunning she looked with it on, he asked the inevitable question: “how much did it cost?” When she told him he had a fit. She explained the temptation was more than she could resist. He told her that when she is tempted she needs to tell the devil: “get behind me, Satan!” She pleaded, “that’s what I did, and the devil told me it looks fantastic from the back too.”

Temptations always attract us to something that looks good, even though it will not be good for us in the long run — that is the nature of temptation. And we are all tempted, even Jesus who was perfect, for he was also human like us in every way except sin.

The familiar story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is always put before us on this first Sunday of Lent to encourage us to follow Jesus’ example, to set aside time for prayer and self-sacrifice so we can have the strength to overpower the temptations that come to all of us. In all three of our readings this weekend, we are told that evil finds its source in our decision to give in to temptation, in our attempt to make our own rules, and to use our free will to say “no” to God. As we begin this season of Lent may we look to Jesus, who has come to save us from evil and has shown us how to resist temptation.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Feb 23 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, February 23

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5: 38 – 48

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Gospel Reflection:
These past few weeks we have been hearing passages from the Sermon on the Mount and they may have made us uncomfortable and called us to do a little soul-searching. Jesus used a typical rabbinical practice of presenting another opinion. He begins with, “You have heard that it was said….” then he gives an alternate way of thinking, acting and believing, that is not easy to hear or accept. “You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This was a law called lex talionis. This law was given to scale back the types of extreme retaliation and revenge that existed. In its day, it was a compassionate teaching against inordinate revenge on a mass scale. “Just an eye for an eye. Just a tooth for a tooth,” we might have said the punishment should match the crime.

This passage seems to be out of sync with the world in which we are living. “Hit me – I hit you back.” “Get them before they get us!” “Strike them before they strike us.” Except none of that is in sync with the teachings and life of Jesus. None of that is in accord with this Gospel passage today. “You have heard it said…” then Jesus comes in with a little word, a simple conjunction and everything changes. He says “BUT – I say to you.”

Jesus tells us not to offer resistance or take revenge — to turn the other cheek, to lend what we have, to go even further than people ask us to go with them. He seems to invite us to be passive and stupid.

He seems to invite us to be meek, humble, and naïve. What Jesus is demanding is tough.

I like to think of myself as a non-violent person. I don’t know that I am all the time. When I use this gospel passage as a backdrop to look at my life, I wonder if I am as non-violent as I like to think I am. Am I non-violent in the ways I respond or treat others?

I can name the ways in my own life where I am resistant to the reading today. I can also look at my own life and identify the times in my life when I have been the victim of violence. There is also the institutional violence of which I am sometimes a part both in society and in the church because of complacency, complicity or indifference.

What about this reading? Is Jesus telling us to just ignore violence and injustice, or ignore the violence done to us or the violence done to others or the violence done to the planet or the violence done to God? To be non-violent is not to be blind, it is just the opposite — to be non-violent is to be acutely aware of the violence, the injustice, the sin around us but to respond to these in ways that will bring about change. Respond to violence and injustice in ways that will bring peace and restore harmony.

Jesus is saying “you have heard it said, to return violence with violence but I say to you love your enemies do good to those who persecute you.” I think he is saying to recognize that we are brother and sister to each other and cultivate an attitude of peace and love for our brothers and sisters. History teaches us that a cycle of violence for violence can continue for thousands of years and until one side decides not to respond with violence that cycle will not end.

Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you … these words today are so hard to hear and so hard to do … sometimes it is hard enough to just keep on loving the people we love but Jesus insists that we love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Pray for our enemies? Yes, it is the bedrock of discipleship. It is core to being a follower of Jesus. Jesus does not make this a matter for negotiation or half-hearted acceptance. He is very clear on how we are to treat each other.

An old rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended, and day had begun. “Could it be,” asked one student, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the rabbi. Another asked, “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree?” “No,” responded the rabbi. “Then when is it? When will we know that the night has ended, and the day has begun.?” The old rabbi responded, “It is when you can look on the face of any woman or man, any boy or girl and see your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”

Perhaps our night will end when we will come to recognize that those who are the victims and perpetrators of what is called the war on terrorism, are seen as our brothers and sisters.

Perhaps our night will end when we draw the circle wider so that it will include those who have shut us out and those whom we have shut out.

Perhaps our night will end when we dare not give in to the sirens of cowardice and greed and hate and fear. When we strive to heal wounds not create new ones. When we strive to lift people up and not put them down. When we try to create beauty where there is ugliness, peace where there is hostility, freedom where there is oppression, acceptance where there is rejection, new life where there seem to be only dead ends. When there is no “me and mine” but only “we and ours.” When there is no “us and them” but only brothers and sisters.

Perhaps our night will end when we not only pray for our enemies, but we begin to love them as our brother or our sister.

Perhaps our night will end when we take the words of Jesus and live them.

For we are not defined by Lex Talionis – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We have been defined by Jesus … and we have been anointed and appointed chosen and set apart to bring that spirit to others and it is the spirit of non-violence and non-retaliation. It is the spirit that lives in us because God lives in us.

-Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Feb 16 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, February 16

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5: 17-37

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife – unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

Gospel Reflection:
In the first reading for this Sunday we learn that for the people of Old Testament to Keep the Commandments of God and to live faithfully would be to insure the blessing of God. Not to do so would bring loss of their relationship with God.

In the gospel for today, we see Jesus quoting from the 10 Commandments of God that were given to Moses as His Holy Word. Then Jesus does something unheard of. He moves beyond the literal interpretation of the words and extends them to how people are asked to live in the new kingdom, the one He was sent to bring and to have flourish. In short one must to go beyond the literal interpretation of what they have heard in the 10, and make them come alive by the way they live them out each day. The social aspect of the 10 commandments is the proof of their devotion to Jesus in the new kingdom he was sent to bring. The higher standards that Jesus brings in the gospel today are a challenge and an invitation to us. We are asked to simply live fully in and for Christ Jesus because of the light he brings to the human situation and because he wants us so badly to be with Him in the Kingdom of God.

Think about how His words today come alive in your heart and in your daily life.

-Msgr. Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Feb 9 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, February 9

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5: 13 -16

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Gospel Reflection:
Our Sr. Teresa Tuite is the native Bay Stater on our parish staff, but I’m sure she won’t mind if I turn your attention for just a moment to that Commonwealth. In 1630, as the English Puritans prepared to set sail for their new home, the first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, gave a famous sermon entitled “A Model of Christian Charity” to his followers. He quoted today’s Gospel and declared that their new American colony “shall be as a ‘city upon a hill.’ For the eyes of all people are upon us.” Many political scientists point to this Puritan ideal of the “exceptional society” as a foundational element of all future American political thought.

As Catholics, our dogmatic theology is far from the stark and uncompromising Calvinism of those first English settlers. We can smile at the naivete that could believe the Atlantic Ocean would be for the Elect a sufficient barrier against the intrusion of the Unregenerate masses’ brokenness and sin. But while as Catholics the Puritans may not be our theological forebears, perhaps as Americans we can draw strength from their example of courageous optimism and hope. It was an earnest optimism, a true belief in the possibility of a better world, conformed completely to Jesus Christ. That ideal led them to leave behind hearth and country, to cross a perilous sea, and to carve out a new home on the shores of a vast wilderness.

Holy Mother Church gives us her Social Doctrine, whereby we are given the tools and outlook to start working to bring about a more just, merciful, and equitable world–a more Christian world. What if we American Catholics took to heart the Puritans’ example of heroic optimism and fortitude and applied it to our living out of the Gospel and efforts to ensure the dignity of every human being? Just imagine how a vibrant and outspoken Catholic Church could help guide and lead America to live up to its loftiest Christian ideals!

God often works in ironic ways. What could be more ironic than if it was the faithful implementation of Catholic Social Doctrine which helped to create that just and exemplary “City upon a Hill” first envisioned by Calvinist refugees four centuries ago?

-Fr. Morris

Gospel Reflection Feb 2 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, February 2

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Luke 2: 22 – 40

Gospel:
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
–and you yourself a sword will pierce–
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Gospel Reflection:
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and we hear about two individuals, Simeon and Anna. The story of Jesus’ presentation in Jerusalem is one of the few stories in the gospels that have to do with Jesus’ childhood.

There is an old saying that “Good things come to those who wait.” If this is true, the story of Simeon, Anna, and the baby Jesus in the temple is a great example. The coming of Christ involved all manner of waiting on God. A young maiden, a dying man and an old widow are all models of hearts yielding to God.

As a firstborn son, Jesus was expected to be consecrated to God. This was in memory of God sparing the firstborn sons of Israel at the beginning of their Exodus from Egypt. Both Simeon and Anna had dedicated their lives to God and lived to see the Messiah before they died. So, when they encountered the baby Jesus in the temple, they rejoiced because they had seen salvation. Simeon showed that he understood that Christ was coming, not to deliver the Jews from their enemies, but instead, that this salvation was for all people and will bring revelation to the Gentiles. He would do this through suffering as a servant, dying on the cross, and then rising from the dead.
All who believe God’s promise for Jesus’ return believe He will come back one day and are waiting for that promise to come true. How are you and I going to wait for that promise? Are we living our lives in a way that is pleasing to God?

Friends let us be like Simeon and Anna and live with an attitude of worship and obeying God every day. Knowing that Jesus can come today, or tomorrow, should cause us to live with the right priorities. It should cause us to do things that will matter for eternity, rather than just for next week. With that in mind, let’s have an attitude of praising Him and thanking Him for all that He has done and will do for us as we believe Him by our faith.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek