P1000888Gospel Reflections

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

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Gospel Reflection July 25 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, July 25

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6: 1 – 15


Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves
that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Gospel Reflection:

Today’s Gospel of John describes the feeding of the 5,000. Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John is a thorough discourse of Jesus as the Bread of Life. It is a Gospel within a Gospel of what we understand about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Bishop Brennan’s diocesan initiative, Real Presence Real Future, has as one of its objectives to renew the understanding of the Real Presence found in the Eucharist.

We will continue to read through Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel for the next five Sundays. It’s that important! Believing in the Real Presence is a pivotal belief in our Catholic faith. It might just be the litmus test for all Catholics. Other faiths may have Eucharist, but none of them fully ascribe to the belief that the elements of bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Christ through the actions of the priest at a Catholic Mass. We do. Yet, a PEW Research Study, released in late 2019, reported that almost 70% of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is symbolic rather than the Real Presence. Despite being a teaching of the Catholic Church since its earliest days, the Catholic Church seems to be facing a crisis of Eucharist as mere symbol. So, why should this matter? It is core to our faith as Chapter 6 describes the truths of the Real Presence.

Back in the 1950’s, a young Flannery O’Connor (who was a devout Catholic — writer and essayist) once said while having a discussion concerning the Eucharist, the other person described to her that the Eucharist was symbolic only. Flannery responded by saying, “If (the Eucharist) is only a symbol, then to hell with it.” Her comment was not a comment of her disbelief, but rather an indictment that reducing it to mere symbol renders it to the point of irrelevance. Mere symbol goes directly against the evidence found in Chapter 6. We can all learn from her confession of faith. Indeed, if the Eucharist is mere symbol, then why bother? Perhaps, that is why so many of our fallen away brothers and sisters of faith have concluded to hell with it. We need to be patient and reenergize our faith and understanding of the Real Presence first within ourselves before evangelizing to others the Good News found in the Eucharist.

It is deeply saddening to see so many Catholics leaving the faith. Often, it can come from a lack of understanding of the beauty and truth of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. If it were better understood as being true and not merely symbolic, why would anyone leave the Catholic faith and seek faith elsewhere? “I don’t like the Pastor. I don’t like the music. The Mass is boring. The Mass takes too long. Parking is too difficult. The church is too cold or too hot.” All of these spoken or unspoken concerns should subordinate to the tradition of 2,000 years of our very direct and real participation with Jesus at His last supper. Yes, it is mystery — not a puzzle to be solved, but a mystery to approach our participation in it with reverence and awe. Today’s Gospel begins our reading of Chapter 6. It concludes today with fragments of bread to spare — twelve filled wicker baskets. The reference to twelve suggests abundance and completion just as the references elsewhere in the bible to the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve apostles, and many other Scriptural references to twelve. This reference to twelve is to assure us that this Scripture reading achieves fulfillment.

To understand the long history of the Real Presence and the teachings of the Church, consider watching and listening to Bishop Robert Barron on his recent release on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It could be the best 75 minutes you will ever spend in deepening the Catholic teachings of the Real Presence. He walks through the history of the Real Presence and the teaching challenges over the past 2,000 years. He ends on how the Real Presence continues to be the source and summit of our faith. Use this URL to watch Bishop Barron: https://books.wordonfire.org/eucharist-book . Skip down to the bottom of the web page to open the free playing of his presentation on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

If you are already a believer in the Real Presence, Bishop Barron will reaffirm your belief and give you a deeper appreciation and understanding of our Catholic teachings of the Eucharist. If you are questioning the Real Presence like so many Catholics, Bishop Barron offers you a logical and comprehensive primer that may just move you from disbelief to belief. If you are a non-believer of the Real Presence, Bishop Barron provides a rationale as to why Catholics believe in the Real Presence and why we have consistently held this belief dating back to the earliest days of the Church. Understanding John, Chapter 6, can move you toward the belief in the Real Presence and away from mere symbol. Jesus, in His own words in this Gospel, presents the case with no ambiguity about his leaving to each of us his on-going presence in our lives through the gift of the Eucharist.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection July 18 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, July 18

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6: 30-34


The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

Gospel Reflection:

In last week’s gospel, Jesus sent his apostles out to teach, heal, cast out demons, and to call people to repentance. In this week’s gospel we are told of their return, excited over their experience but were tired and needed to rest. Jesus wanted some time off, too, but he couldn’t. The mission of Jesus and his apostles was apparently so successful that a great crowd caught up with them. The gospel says: “…His heart was moved with deep sympathy for them. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd…” – people without leadership – and he continued to teach them.

One of the important messages in the gospel, as well as all our readings this weekend, is that in love Our Lord leads us by teaching us and appointing others to teach us. We’ll never be finished listening and learning as long as our world and country suffers from many divisions, injustice, poverty, hunger, discrimination, racism, war, hatred and killing of innocent people. Christ would be put to death before he would stop teaching. It is one of the reasons we gather week by week for Mass to listen and to learn…and then be sent. Whatever unites us needs to be stronger than what divides us. Christ came to unite us in peace through the saving power of the cross and the gift of his very self in the Eucharist.

As we approach the altar this weekend to receive Christ in the Eucharist, may we realize that in our diversity and struggles, we are united in the Body of Christ. May we also welcome our newly assigned parochial vicar and thank God for sending him to us so we can continue to listen and learn as Fr. Tim Lynch celebrates the Mass, preaches, teaches, and helps guide us so we can be Christ’s disciples (a word that means “learner”) to all we meet in the days, months, and years ahead.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection July 11 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, July 11

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6: 7 – 13


Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Gospel Reflection:

The first reading is taken for the Book of the Prophet Amos. Amos was about eight centuries before the birth of Jesus. The Kingdom of Israel was for the most part experiencing a time of peace and prosperity especially for the rich. It was also a period of social, religious, and political decadence. The people were being unfaithful to God in so many areas of their lives. The leaders were not too happy with what Amos had to say, especially because Amos was not one of them. He was from the land of Judah. He was an outsider coming into their territory and delivering a message that called them to repent and transform. The people did not want to hear the voice of the prophet. They did not want to change. They sent him away. Basically, Amos responded to this rejection by saying, “Look, here’s the thing, I am a grower of sycamore trees and I was very happy doing that. I did not want this role of prophet but God called me and I have to respond to that call.”

Then we fast forward to the time of Jesus as told by Mark. Jesus has sent the disciples out two-by-two to heal the sick, preach repentance, and spread his message. He warns them that not everyone will want to hear their voices.

As we receive these readings in our time in history we wonder what might they have to say for us today in July of 2021?

A couple of weeks ago I received a package from Amazon containing a book that I did not order. The book is a copy of the poem, “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman. You may remember her as the “skinny black girl descended from slaves” who stepped to the platform to deliver her address at the Inauguration of President Biden.
I have read and reread this poem as it intertwined with today’s readings. I have prayed and reflected with all three readings. As we begin to reenter the stream of life with the lifting of COVID restrictions, I have also done a lot of reflecting on the past 16 months of COVID-time. I was motivated to do that by the words from Amanda Gorman’s poem: “ When the day comes, we ask ourselves; where can we find light in this everlasting shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade … somehow we weather and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”

In both readings of today’s liturgy, we read of people who would not hear the message; refused to listen to the messenger. Almost every preacher I have heard (including myself) reflect on these readings, remind us that not everyone will want to hear God’s message, but, as disciples, we have to keep on trying. We have to keep on preaching the message of Jesus. Yet, as I reflected on the last 16 months, I am more drawn to the ones who would not listen rather than the disciples.

If you have watched the horrific unfolding of the tragedy in Surfside, Florida you undoubtedly heard, “…not in America”, or “this can’t be happening in America”, or “these things don’t happen in America”.

Over the past sixteen months, I have heard myself say those exact same things. When day after day the numbers of people contracting COVID and dying from this virus continue to rise. The numbers for the United States are now 33,724,923 cases and 605,582 deaths (with both numbers continuing to rise). I kept saying, “no, not in America,” “this can’t be happening in America,” and I wondered why we would not listen to the voices of medical professionals, or to the scientists?”

I still cannot get the image of the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin out of my mind or my heart. I watched in utter disbelief and I said “no, not in America,” and I wonder why we do not hear the cries of racism and bigotry and listen to those who are calling for a different way so that we can heal these social injustices and begin to change?

I watched in horror as the riot in our nation’s capital unfolded and escalated into more and more violence. I keep saying, “this can’t be happening in America,” and I wonder why do we not hear the voices of hatred and implicit and explicit bias from within ourselves or outside ourselves and listen to the messengers who urge us to be part of working for peace and social justice?

I hear nightly of the rising violence and homicides in Columbus metropolitan area because of uncontrolled anger erupting in gun violence and death. I keep saying, “no, not in America,” and I wonder why we will not listen to the voices of those speaking for reasonable gun control policies. Why can’t we hear the voices calling for dialogue to get at the root causes of the anger and hatred?

I read of the pain and suffering, including loss of lives, as so much of our country is experiencing unprecedented heat waves, flooding, fires and drought. I keep saying “no, not in America,” and I wonder why we will not listen to the voices warning of climate changes and destruction of our planet?

I placed my hand on my heart as I heard the Star-Spangled Banner sung on July 4th and heard the words of the Preamble knowing that for all people this is an unrealized dream. I wonder why we will not listen to the voices that are trying to mend the divisions between us. Why we will not listen to the voices working for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people?

I witness the growing gap between the rich and the poor; the rise in homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, and other social injustices and I keep saying “no, not in America,” and I wonder why we will not listen to the voices of those who proclaim the Gospel. I wonder why we will not listen to Jesus calling us to love God, self and neighbor declaring and praying that we will remember our original oneness?

These readings from today’s liturgy gave me much to reflect upon and to realize that I am often a member of the household that will not listen. I wonder why I will not listen. Is it because I do not want to have to change how I live my life? Do I not want to come face to face with my own racism or bigotry? Maybe I don’t want to face my own “unclean spirits” or the “unclean spirits of my country” that the Gospel wants to drive out: the unclean spirit of addiction, bigotry, environmental abuse, rejection of immigrants, greed, abusive power, complacency, indifference, white privilege, my comfortable lifestyle, my implicit biases, or unhealthy isolationism or whatever “unclean spirit” that has hold of me and keeps me deaf to the messengers of social, political, environmental and religious change that God has sent to me, to us, in our time and in our age.

As much as I would like to think that I’m one of the messengers, I have to face it –Deafness and rejection of God’s messengers is in America, it is in me and maybe in you, too. I am all too often among those who will not listen and I wonder what I will do about that?

Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection July 4 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, July 4

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6: 1 -6


Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Gospel Reflection:

Independence Day stirs up many emotions, prayers, and thoughts as we as a country recover from the pandemic of 2019-20 and 2021. Life changes so quickly that we sometimes struggle to keep up. What remains constant however is the delights of our freedoms as a people and nation. We need to celebrate and rejoice in that blessing as so many others in our world do not share in the same freedoms given to us and so often taken for granted.

In the gospel today Jesus, having been praised earlier for His healings and miracles, now comes back to his hometown, the place where everyone knew his name and his family. Hoping to find comfort there and welcome, he is roundly criticized and rejected. The question arose, “Who does He think He is”? His rejection by the hometown audience must have been stinging to him and he leaves there without performing all He might have planned.

The moral of the story is, we do not have to look very far for people whom we know have wisdom to share and kindness to offer. It is Jesus, the Christ who can fulfill our needs but not necessarily all of our wants.

We are asked each day and each week at Mass to put our trust and faith in Him. We are asked to draw near the familiar Jesus who knows us through and through.

The freedom He gives us in knowing Him is lasting and the more we know the more we want to follow Him even when times get tough.

Enjoy Independence Day and enjoy the presence of the Risen Lord and the freedom He brings and the blessing He has bestowed in placing us here.

Msgr. Hendricks

Gospel Relfection June 27 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, June 27

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 5: 21-24, 35b-43


On the first day of the week, when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.

He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Gospel Reflection:

In our Gospel this Sunday, St. Mark both quotes the Aramaic words of Jesus and immediately provides a translation of those words. Mark does this several times in his Gospel.

His editorial choice to do this is odd. His Gospel is composed in Greek, to a presumably Greek-speaking audience. Aramaic and Greek do not even share a common alphabet, so to include these phrases, Mark is both transliterating (representing Aramaic’s “sounds” with the same “sounds” in the Greek alphabet) and providing a translation of the Aramaic meaning into Greek. Why does he go through all the effort and bother to include these “foreign” sayings in his text at all?

It is perhaps not surprising that biblical scholars offer various answers to this particular question. But one that I always found persuasive holds that Mark is specifically, carefully including what he believes are the actual words that Christ spoke on these occasions. Whether by eyewitnesses’ testimony, the early Christians’ oral tradition, or perhaps even from the preaching of St Peter, Mark is careful to preserve in as original a form as possible several particularly poignant utterances of Jesus Christ in the commoners’ tongue of Aramaic.

Without our English translation (of Mark’s Greek translation!), we would not know what ‘Talitha Koum’ means. But WITH Mark’s translation in mind, we can then go back and read Jesus’ words and fill in the intimacy, gentleness, and mercy with which they would have been said.

Far from academic or linguistic concerns and ends, these “foreign” words help us to understand the human side of Christ’s ministry. Without an ability to read or speak Aramaic–can we not hear in those words something of the simplicity and compassion of Christ? To raise this young girl, Christ makes no grand speech, no showy gestures, not even a quote from the Old Testament. He gently takes her hand, and softly says two everyday, common words– talitha koum– and that young girl is miraculously restored from death to life.

Fr. Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection June 20 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, June 20

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 4: 35-41


On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Gospel Reflection:

“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Life can certainly be overwhelming and out of control from time to time. Circumstances can seem too much for us to handle. The sea of life can be rough, and the wind can be strong causing our boats to take on water and sink. The disciples in today’s reading clearly were fearing for their lives…even with Jesus in the same boat with them.

When we have fear in our lives, our faith can be on a stormy journey. We can perhaps make the storm about Jesus. “Jesus, do you not care that we are sinking? Can’t you do something to make it all better? Can’t you make it go away?”

Storms will happen in our lives and faith will not eliminate these storms from our lives. “Faith does not take us around the storm, but it takes us through the storm.” It is faith that will allow us to see and to know that Jesus is truly with us. Faith is what allows us to be still…to be peaceful…much like Jesus asleep in the stern of the boat in the midst of the storm. Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us.

Friends, the power of God is stronger than any wave that beats against us. The love of God is deeper than any water that threatens to drown us. The lesson that Jesus teaches us today, both with His words and with His actions, is simple…when Jesus is with us, we are safe. Have a life based on faith…do not be terrified!!

Also, this weekend, let us be thankful for the fathers in our lives and the love they have shown us. May all fathers follow the example of Saint Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. God Bless you all.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek