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 Oct 20 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, October 20

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 18: 1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Gospel Reflection:
CAUTION– don’t make God the judge in this parable. By his own admission, he neither fears God nor has any respect for any human being. This certainly is not the God of Jesus’ words and teachings nor the God of our faith. A better God-image would be the widow. She is persistent in seeking justice, just as God is persistent and never grows weary of seeking what is lost; never goes weary of seeking ways for peace and justice.

It helps to know the BACKSTORY for today’s passage. With that in mind, let’s look at the characters in the parable for today.

THE JUDGE: Nearly every village had a judge and if anyone had a dispute they would come, usually to the city gates, and the judge would listen and give his or her decision. The judge is unwilling to do so in this case. Jesus puts the focus on the judge by telling us to pay attention to his words. ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'” His decisions, although right, seem to be made in his best interest and reputation.

THE WIDOW: Widows in the ancient world were extremely vulnerable. Frequently in scripture widows and orphans are always mentioned as the two most vulnerable and needy groups. A widow was dependent on her sons or some other male relative for her basic needs. If the responsible male did not exist or if they were indifferent to her needs, she would have no other recourse than to take her case to the local judge. It was part of a judge’s responsibility to ensure the rights of widows, orphans and the poor.
The widow in the parable today does that, but she is at the mercy of an unjust judge. She is persistent (she had to be if she were to survive). This judge, again by his own admission, has no regard for the two great commandments of loving God and neighbor.

The judge does relent and says he will do the right thing because the woman might strike him. This translation dilutes the original meaning. A more literal translation of the judge’s fear is that the “Woman is giving me a black eye.” It might well be physical, but more likely it meant that to be unresponsive to her, would give him the black-eye of public shame. Shame in this culture was to be avoided at all cost. The judge’s relenting does not mean he has had a change of heart toward the widow. The judge wants to shut her up, get rid of her and thus protect his reputation.

This parable gave me an opportunity to pray and reflect over these two characters. As I look at the world we are living in, I wondered – Who today are the people like the widow who are searching for justice? Who are those searching for basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, health care, survival? Who are those seeking sanctuary from lives that have known only tyranny and war brought on by greed and inordinate lust for power? I prayed about the poor in our own city and in the world: the immigrants, the homeless, trafficked human beings, infirmed, aged and very young. Are the voices of the powerless and poor heard today?

I wonder if the widow in Luke’s parable is not her own voice, but the voices of those who are speaking for justice around the world? There is so much goodness in our world, but we cannot be blind to the enormous amount of wrongs in our homes, in our church, in our community and in our world.
Maybe we are like the judge – we are tired of hearing about the injustices, the poor and the needs of others. Maybe we think the injustices are so complex that we can do nothing about them. Maybe we have a case of “compassion fatigue,” or indifference or paralysis.

Such feelings of indifference tempt us to quit our efforts at praying for and working for God’s kingdom here on earth. I think Luke might be warning us not to take that route. It will bring us “a black eye.” It will bring a shame that goes right to the core of a disciple of Jesus. In Luke’s version of the parable, Jesus is worried about that possibility, too. “The Lord hears the cry of the poor” and, as the Lord’s followers we, too, must have our eyes and ears open and be persistent in seeking and working for justice for all our brothers and sisters.

Yes, the issues facing us today are serious, complex, overwhelming, and at times seemingly insurmountable. Jesus knows how powerful the forces against us are and seems to worry about the effects on his disciples in his day and his disciples in our day. He asks, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” As disciples we have hard work and persistent, relentless prayer to do until the Lord returns. He is with us! He promised he would be! Anchored in that belief, even though we do not always or rarely see signs of “success,” we continually rely on the Spirit of God within us to not let disillusionment threaten or deter us.

Yes, we will get weary of praying. We may get tired of working for justice, just like Moses did in the first reading. Others had to be called upon to hold his arms up, for when Moses’ arms began to drop, the Israelites began to lose the battle. We can’t work for peace and justice alone. We need others to hold us up when we get tired and weary. We need to hold others up, when they get weary and tired. I hope that you and I will be like the widow in her persistency, and never stop seeking justice.

Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Oct 13 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, October 13

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17: 11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
Gospel Reflection:
These are great stories, in the First Reading Naaman, a foreign leader, was cured of his leprosy, and in the gospel 10 lepers are cured by Jesus. In both accounts no one saw the actual cure, but both foreigners came back to give thanks for the cure. It is interesting to note that Jesus, who is still making his way to Jerusalem to suffer there, still has his mission in mind and does the work and the will of God along the way.

This story in the gospel is unique to Luke, and develops several important themes for the Lune. He explains again the role of Jesus as a powerful prophet, he cures the incurable. He shows that the mercy and power of God is at work in Jesus. The cured who return to him to give thanks show that God is the one to whom thanks is due. Most importantly it shows that the net is now thrown open to include all people into the kingdom of God.

Think and pray on this gospel this week and see how the mercy and healing of God has been extended to you in small and large ways.

Gospel Reflection Oct 6 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, October 6

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17: 5 – 10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

Gospel Reflection:
Imagine you are in a foreign country trying to buy lunch at a food cart or booth, but neither you or the cook speak the same language. One of the hand gestures you might instinctively use is to put your thumb and index finger together so that they are almost-but-not-quite touching each other. While pointing at the gelato or fries or whatever, you would make this “small amount” hand gesture while saying over and over: a little bit, un poco, ein bisschen, un petit peu, or whatever. And 9 times out of 10, the merchant is going to understand this communication about the amount you want of that particular item.

Although most of us suburban Americans hear “mustard” and instantly visualize a yellow squeeze bottle, when we actually see a mustard seed held between two fingers, we realize Jesus is invoking this same common imagery that we utilize in the “small amount” hand gesture. Jesus’ original audience, living much more farm-to-table, hand-to-mouth than we are typically, would have often held unground mustard seeds in their own hands.

Our Lord’s analogy communicated clearly to them that “just a ‘tiny bit’ of faith is needed to achieve great things.” This is part of the core teaching of Christianity. We can do a little good on our own, yes, but nothing like the good that results when we have faith in God and cooperate with His grace. Not in regards to our eternal salvation alone, but even in ordinary life and our outreach ministries and apostolates.

In the language of modern organizations, God’s grace is the ultimate “force multiplier” that can take the tiniest, itty-bitty, nascent shred of faith and amplify its’ abilities and results beyond all earthly expectations! All we need to bring to the table is just ‘a little bit’ of faith!

-Fr. Morris

Gopel Reflection Sep 29 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, September 29

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 16: 19 – 31

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied,
‘My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'”

Gospel Reflection:
Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is about the fate of two individuals after their deaths, which are very much tied to their experiences of wealth and poverty in this life. The Gospel writer, Luke, stresses the way the status of the rich and poor are reversed in the Kingdom of God. Also, make note that the rich man has no name, whereas, Lazarus is the only name given to anyone in Jesus’ parables, and it means “God has helped.”

In his lifetime, the rich man proudly displayed his wealth with beautiful clothes and lavish feasts. Conversely, Lazarus was covered with sores, was hungry, and had only dogs to lick his sores. However, after his death, Lazarus is carried away to an honored place beside Abraham. By contrast, the rich man finds himself in the netherworld, a place of torment and eternal punishment.

Even though he did not have very much when he was on earth, Lazarus trusted in God to take care of him. The rich man, on the other hand, didn’t think he needed anyone. He sure didn’t need God. He had everything that he needed. At least, that is what he thought.

Friends, what does today’s parable say to us? First, we know that God is concerned about the poor and He expects us to also be concerned. We are to help the poor, feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit prisoners, and work for justice because that’s simply who and how God’s people are to be. The question isn’t what’s in it for me, but what’s in it for them.

Second, there is a relationship between this life and the next life. The choices we make, the words we speak, and the actions we take in this life have consequences in the next life.

Today’s parable is not a judgment that rich people go to hell and poor people go to heaven. It isn’t so much about our future but more about our present lives. It’s about how we live here and now. So, how are you doing?

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Sep 22 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, September 22

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 16: 1 – 13

Jesus said to his disciples,
“A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

Gospel Reflection:
This weekend, St Brigid celebrates ministry weekend. It has become our parish’s signature annual event to give us a chance to celebrate our short, but deeply blessed history. It is a chance to inform the parish of the many ways each can offer our gifts of time, talent, and treasure to the parish. The weekend looks forward to the future with Pope Francis’ message of profound hope.

Our Gospel today is about stewardship. A steward is a person who is responsible for the goods and property of their employer. The steward mentioned today was a bad steward because he was wasteful of his employer’s property. Since he knew he was going to be fired, he manipulated the situation to secure a future with those he owed. Oddly, the master praises the dishonest steward, not for his bad management, but for his awareness of the situation. Jesus tells this story not to encourage dishonesty but to focus on the steward’s foresight and actions.

We need to be constantly reminded that we are only the stewards of what we possess. Everything we own will someday be owned by someone else or in the dumpster. It is how we use our possessions for the good of others in which we are measured. As we heard from Monsignor in a homily just a few weeks ago, “A shroud has no pockets.” Regardless of how much or how little we may have, we are asked to consider how we share our surplus with others. Whether a little or a lot, whether in small things or large, we can make a difference. It is a challenging Gospel but does clue us in how we might better serve our families, our friends, our shared faith, and by doing so, we help serve the world around us.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Sep 15 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, September 15

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 15: 1 – 32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Then he said,
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns,
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Gospel Reflection:
In this weekend’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells three stories to the Pharisees – and to us – so that they – and we – might better understand God’s forgiveness.

The first is a shortened version of the parable of the lost sheep. A shepherd with one hundred sheep loses one and searches and searches until it is found. So, too, God searches for the lost sheep and rejoices in the sinner who returns to the fold.

The second parable is about a woman who searches by lamplight for a lost coin. Though we may feel insignificant – like a single lost coin – God, like the woman, celebrates when we are found.

The third story is the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal asks for forgiveness and is forgiven. When his brother, the other son, is stunned and appalled, the father invites him to the celebration and asks that all be forgiven.

All the readings this weekend ask us to recognize our sins, give them up, and return to God. There we will find forgiveness and joy. No matter where we go or how we are lost, we can always come home.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino