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Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

With the Scrutinies now behind us, our journey through Lent comes to a close as we begin our preparations for Holy Week – Palm Sunday and the Triduum.  Our Mass on Palm Sunday is a liturgy of transition, starting with the joyful celebration with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, only to experience the sadness and solemnity of his passion and death.  How quickly things can change!  The crowd that cheered his arrival into Jerusalem turns in a matter of a few days calling for his crucifixion…

The Word for Palm Sunday Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:8-9
Mark 14:1-15:47

The opening of the Palm Sunday Mass begins with the Gospel proclamation of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, with palms waving and crowds cheering.  But this triumph is short-lived once we settle into our seats for the Liturgy of the Word. 

Our first reading is from second Isaiah where we hear his poetic lament of his prophetic calling.…
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5th Sunday of Lent

Our Cycle B readings bring the theme of covenant to a close this week (as next week we celebrate Palm Sunday).  Through our readings this Lenten cycle we’ve been witness to key covenant moments that God had, first with Noah, then Abraham, then Moses, then David.  As we know, however, in all these covenants, the people fell eventually away… turned away from God.  Now it’s time for something new… what we Christians understand to be the New Covenant…

The Word for the 5th Sunday of Lent Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33

First we hear from Jeremiah, who’s prophecy covers the final days of the Kingdom of Judah.  This week’s passage comes from a time of trouble, where the end for Jerusalem is near.  Yet in the face of certain doom, Jeremiah is able to preach of a restoration… where we here the Lord's desire to make "a new covenant with the house Israel and the house of Judah."  This prophecy of the restoration is echoed in our Psal…

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.

The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

3rd Sunday of Lent

Our theme of covenant continues as we enter the 3rd week of Lent.  On the first Sunday of Lent, we heard the story of Noah reminding us of the first covenant.  Last week we heard the story of Abraham and Issac reminding us of the second covenant.  This week we hear the Ten Commandments, which are at the heart of the third covenant set with Moses and the people of Israel.

The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Exodus 20:1-17
Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 11
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25

Our first reading comes from the book of Exodus and the passage that gives us the Ten Commandments.  Most of us know the story of how God had Moses go up the sacred mountain to receive the commandments written on stone tablets, at which point we assume Moses presented these commandments to the people.  But if you follow the text we see that God gives Moses these Ten Commandments (and the subsequent 3 chapters of commandments) to Moses and the people before he climbs the mountain to receive the stone tab…

2nd Sunday of Lent

Lent is a season where, scripturally, we revisit the story of our salvation history.  It’s the story of where our great patriarchs and prophets met the Lord God, and how our relationship with God, as a people, continues to grow and evolve.  We also know from our review of the readings last week that our overarching theme for Cycle B is covenant.  After God’s covenant with Noah last week, we now visit the next great covenant, that between God and Abraham…

The Word for the 2nd Sunday of Lent Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10

Our first reading, from the book of Genesis, is one of the great stories about Abraham.   By this point in the narrative God has already made a covenant with Abraham, but now God is putting that covenant to the test.  God asks Abraham to make a sacrifice of his young son Isaac.  Isaac, as we know, is the only child born by Abraham’s wife, Sarah (a birth promised by God).  By challenging Abraham to kill h…

1st Sunday of Lent

The Season of Lent is now upon us.  When you think of Lent most Catholics will say that it’s a season of penance, for giving something up, for prayer and for giving alms.  These are right, of course, but not entirely.  According to the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy promulgated from the Second Vatican Council, “The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery.”  While those who are preparing for Baptism use this season of Lent as a period of “Purification and Enlightenment,” all Catholics are called to remember our own Baptisms, so we will be looking to see where in our readings during this season the theme of Baptism becomes apparent.

In addition to this, our readings for Lent also have an overarching theme that helps to bind the readings together.  This year for Cycle B (Gospel…

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Sunday marks the end of our brief winter’s journey through Ordinary Time, and our readings serve as an appropriate transition to the Lenten season by addressing the issue of how we treat those who are sick and in need.  While we have an obligation to protect the greater population by separating out those who are sick, we sometimes forget that we also have an obligation to care for those in need.  Our readings this week give us the opportunity to examine these issues.

The Word for the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

Our first reading comes from the Book of Leviticus.  This second book of Moses takes its name from the priestly tribe of the Levites, for whom this book is a handbook for serving the Hebrew people.  Since this book is often referred to as “priestly law,” it is easy for us confuse this book as dealing with strictly religious matters.  On the contrary, the ancient Hebrews didn’t have any…