P1000888Gospel Reflections

Our parish sends a weekly Gospel Reflection written by our clergy.

To sign up, either stop in the parish office to let them know you’d like to sign up, or click here and make sure you check the “Gospel Reflections” box.

Scroll below to read our most recent Gospel Reflections.

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

Gospel Reflection Sep 20 – Sr. Teresa

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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