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4th Sunday of Advent 2013

During this fourth and final Sunday of Advent, our scripture reminds us of how it is that our Savior, Emmanuel, Jesus (Yehoshua, which means “God saves”) will come into the world… born by virgin.

The Word for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24

Our first reading, from early Isaiah, give us the prophecy of how this “Emmanuel”, this “messiah”, will come into the world… “the virgin will conceive and bear a son.”  While our Christian ears recognize this as the prophecy of Mary, this was not the case for those who first heard and read these words.  At the time, King Ahaz was under threat from the Assyrians, and fearing the fall of Jerusalem, actually aided in the fall of the Northern Kingdom.  In this excerpt of the story, the Lord is upset with Ahaz, and is trying to give him one last chance to repent… to “ask for a sign from the Lord your God.”  While God sees this as an opportunity for reconciliation, Ahaz doesn’t take the bait, which ca…

3rd Sunday of Advent 2013

The third Sunday of Advent is also referred to as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin “to rejoice”.  This Sunday we put away the violet color of Advent and put on the rose color vestments and light the rose colored candle to mark this festive moment.  So why are we rejoicing now?  Advent isn’t over yet.  First, because the 3rd Sunday marks that we are past the halfway point of our Advent fast.  While the practice of fasting for Advent was done away with in the early 20th century, we still recognize the day as a brief moment of celebration as we wind-down our period of penitent reflection.  It is also an opportunity to recognize that Jesus’ coming, both the first time, and the second time yet to come, are moments of great joy and celebration.  As such, our readings this week take a more joyous tone.

The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
        Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
        Psalm 146, 6-7, 8-9, 9-10
        James 5:7-10
        Mathew 11:2-11

Our first reading, again from Isaiah, speaks of a glory t…

2nd Sunday of Advent 2013

Most of the time our readings for a particular week give us a fairly clear message that threads itself through our Sunday readings, but looking at our readings this week, I find very challenging to find that common thread or theme.

The Word for the 2nd Sunday of Advent
        Isaiah 11:1-10
        Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
        Romans 15:4-9
        Mathew 3:1-12

We open with a reading from the prophet Isaiah.  Here he describes for us a vision of the ideal king… the one who will “fear the Lord” and be a just judge.  His words will be his only weapons and his reign will bring universal peace.  It will be so glorious that all nations will seek it out.  To our Christian ears, it sounds as if he is describing Jesus himself.  While this would not  be incorrect, neither would it be completely correct.  First we need to consider where Isaiah is coming from… The previous chapters just before this verse are a long and scathing oracle against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  Kingdoms …

1st Sunday of Advent 2013

This Sunday marks the beginning of the new Liturgical Year with the First Sunday of Advent.  Advent is the season wherein we ask ourselves, “Are we ready for the coming of Christ?”  While our secular culture is frantically running around making sure that everything is ready for Christmas (which they think is just one day), the Church is asking us to slow down, take a pause, and look into our own hearts to make sure that we are ready to meet the Lord when he comes again.

The Word for the 1st Sunday of Advent
        Isaiah 2:1-5
        Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
        Romans 13:11-14
        Matthew 24:37-44

Our first reading comes from the second chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah.  The book of Isaiah is one of the longest of all the prophets, and spans a period from before the Assyrian attack on the Northern Kingdom, all the way through (and long after his death) to the end of the Babylonian Exile.  This Sunday’s reading opens with a vision of Zion… the ideal, Heavenly Je…

Solemnity of Christ the King 2013

This Sunday marks the end of our Church year with the Feast of Christ the King.  By church timelines, this feast day is very much born in the modern era.  In response to the growing nationalism and secularism of the early 20th century, Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas.  At the time the world was still recovering from the Great War (World War I), but as we all know, the turmoil that followed created the economic and social instability that would eventually bring on the Great Depression and World War II.  Revolutions in Russia, China, and Spain were sparking unrest worldwide, and calling into question the their models of governance and economics.  It is in this chaos that Pope Pius understood the need to refocus our attention on who it is that we must serve.

The Word for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
        2 Samuel 5:1-3
        Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
        Colossians 1-12-20
        Luke 23:35-43

While some …

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

As we near the end of the Liturgical year the church takes a pause to focus on the most basic of questions:  “what’s all this for anyway?”  The simple answer is, eternal life… but to me that answer is kind of a cop-out, because life itself is rarely simple, especially when you consider that our lives our played out in the context of our environment.  For some people, that environment is so difficult that all hope can be lost.  It is out of that reality that divine justice is best understood:  That all will be made right in the end.

The Word for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Malachi 3:19-20a
Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

This week’s readings continue our topic of the afterlife, reminding us that God, the just judge, will make everything right in the end.  Those who do evil in this life will be destroyed, and those that are on the side of light will be saved.  ,

Starting with a short reading from the prophet Malachi, literally “my messenger” in Hebrew (becau…

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

For these past weeks and months as we've been traveling through this long stretch of Ordinary Time, we've been following Jesus through Luke's Gospel as he began his ministry, traveled all around Galilee, and ultimately heading for Jerusalem.  As we wind down this season Jesus has finally made it to the city of Jerusalem, but we also see the forces of opposition are pushing hard to find fault in Jesus and his teachings...

The Word for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
        2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
        Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
        2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
        Luke 20:27-38 or Luke 20:27, 34-38

This week our readings focus on the afterlife.  We start with a story from 2 Maccabees, a book written about 100-150 years before Christ, which tells the story of a family being tortured and killed by their Greek Seleucid overlords.  The reading shows their valiant desire to keep God’s law, which is in itself, noble, But that’s not the point of the story.  Yes, being willing …

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

The theme for this week is Justification… but what exactly does that mean?  According to Merriam-Webster, "justification" is “the act, process, or state of being justified by God”.  Looking more closely at the root word, “justify”, means “to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable.”  So it begs the question… what is right or reasonable by God?  How do we justify ourselves before the Lord?  Let’s see what our readings have to say…

The Word for the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time
       Wisdom 11:22-12:2
        Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
        2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
        Luke 19:1-10

Our first reading this week comes from the Book of Wisdom.  Similar in style and teaching to the Book of Sirach (which you may recall dates to about 150 BCE), the Book of Wisdom is newer (dating to about 50 BCE), and comes from the Jewish community in Alexandria instead of Jerusalem.  What makes Wisdom stand apart from Sirach, however, is its perspective from a people who are being op…

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

As you may be aware, Halloween is next week.  While some of our Christian brothers and sisters have developed a disdain for the holiday, we Catholics choose to join in the celebration while also reminding ourselves of the holiday’s uniquely Christian origins.  What was called All Hallow’s Eve is celebrated the night of October 31st as the vigil celebration of All Hallow’s Day… what we now call All Saints Day… which is celebrated November 1st.  This is followed by All Souls Day on November 2nd.  These three celebrations together form the triduum of Hallowmas, a celebration that honors the dead (saints, martyrs, and all the dearly departed).  Our neighbors in Mexico celebrate this time as Dia de Muertos… Day of the dead.  All these traditions have their origins in pagan mythology, but as with many pagan celebrations, they translate to Christian theology in a way that enlightens our faith, while maintaining certain cultural heritages.  But for now, we still have our session for this week…

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

As for this week’s readings... we  continue our theme of prayer.  Last week we focused on prayer of thanksgiving.  This week we focus on petition and intersession… in other words, making requests of God, either for our benefit, or the benefit of others.  There are actually two types of intercessory prayer:  One is praying directly to other souls to intercede on our behalf to God, such as in a prayer to Mary or one of the saints.  The other is us praying on behalf of others, such as what the lector or the priest does at Mass during the “prayers of the faithful”.  In this second case, we are the soul interceding on behalf of someone else.  So as you can see, we can serve both as the intercessor, and the intercessee in this type of prayer.

The Word for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
        Exodus 17:8-13
        Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
        2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
        Luke 18:1-8

As for our readings, we open with Exodus.  Moses and the Israelites are pushing into the Southern Canaan…

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

Thank you.  It’s a phrase we (hopefully) hear and/or express daily.  Sometimes it’s used so often it tends to lose its meaning.  Similarly, there are times when it should be or could be used, but doesn’t, diminishing its importance.  This week our readings remind us of the power and importance of the need to give thanks...

The Word for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
        2 Kings 5:14-17
        Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
        2 Timothy 2:8-13
        Luke 17:11-19

We open with a reading from 2nd Kings.  Naaman, a Syrian military commander, seeks to thank Elisha for curing him of his leprosy (an act that King Joram of Israel is not too keen to happen).  Not only does he wish to give thanks to Elisha, but also to his God.  This is nothing short of a complete conversion for Naaman, who not only sees the glory of God, but recognizes the importance of the land in this covenant relationship.  He asks for two mule loads of dirt to take back to his homeland in order to worship God on his la…

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

Much of what we read in the Bible is where the Lord (through the prophets) tells us how special we are... God's chosen ones, a people he has taken unto himself.  Sounds pretty good, right?  But then there are those other parts of the Bible where the Lord tells us that we have no right to claim any special privileges... even though we've been chosen.  What's going on there?  Sounds to me like our Scripture is giving us mixed messages... is it?  Let's see what our readings tell us this week... 

The Word for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
        Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
        Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
        2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
        Luke 17:5-10

Our opening reading from Habakkuk shares the same passion employed by Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah to condemn the social abuses of their day.  To put this into context, Habakkuk’s ministry started about 140 years after Amos’ ministry.  Amos, a Northern prophet born in the South, spoke of the fall to come.  By the time of Haba…

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

We continue this week with part 2 of our two-part series on Social Justice.  What is Social Justice?  Our readings last week gave us a basic understanding, first with a warning about our fate based on how we treat others, especially the poor.  Not only will the Lord remember how we treat the poor, but in our Gospel he reminded us that we must be honest stewards, both of others and the message of the Gospel.  This week we our readings give us a warning of what will become of us should we not heed the needy’s cry for justice.

The Word for the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
        Amos 6:1a, 4-7
        Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
        1 Timothy 6:11-16
        Luke 16:19-31

We open with another passage from Amos, our fiery Southern prophet giving a warning to those who have become complacent.  The imagery Amos uses speaks of excessive wealth, and while taking a jab at David, foretells of what will happen (and did happen) if they don’t change their ways.  It is a stinging indictment that is…

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

This week we begin our two-part study of Social Justice.  What does that have to do with becoming a Catholic, you ask?  Everything!  Jesus taught us that we needed to “love our neighbors,” but what exactly does that mean?  Our readings for this week should help us to understand this idea better…

The Word for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
        Amos 8:4-7
        Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
        1 Timothy 2:1-8
        Luke 16:1-13

We open with a reading from the prophet Amos… and if there ever were an example of fiery prophetic rage and divine justice, it’s Amos.  A Southern prophet during the height of the Jewish kingdoms (some 150 years before the Exile), Amos, a shepherd by trade, was called to the life of a prophet to rail against the injustice and hypocrisy he saw all around him.  Our passage this week is thick with meaning, and if not read or proclaimed correctly, can cause us to mis-understand its meaning.  This is a classic rant he’s giving to the rich (…”you who trample…

24th Sunday or Ordinary Time 2013

For many of us our busy Fall schedules are in full swing, making it harder for us to pause for a moment of prayer and reflection... to give thanks to God... to ask God for assistance... or to just be in his presence for a moment.  It is in these busy days and weeks that we need to make that time... to attend Mass, to have a moment of daily prayer... even if that moment is the walk from the parking lot to your office or classroom.  Not only does this allow us to reconnect with God, but it provides us a moment of self-reflection (the basis of the Jesuit tradition of the Examen of Conscience) to make sure we're still on the right path and still moving forward.

The Word for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
        Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
        Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
        1 Timothy 1:12-17
        Luke 15:1-32 (or 15:1-10)

All of this week’s readings scream the message of forgiveness and reconciliation.  In Exodus, God is extremely angry at the Israelites turning their back to …

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

The Word for the 23rdSundayof Ordinary Time:
Wisdom9:13-18b Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17 Philemon 1:9-10, 12-17 Luke14:25-33
Our first reading comes from the book of Wisdom.  As the name of the book suggests, this work falls into the category of Wisdom literature.  Although the authors attribute this “wisdom” to King Solomon (970 BCE), the book, originally written in Greek, actually dates to some 50 years before Christ.  Like last week’s first reading from Sirach (dating about 200 years before Christ), the book of Wisdom not only acts as an early catechism for the Jewish people, but speaks very powerfully to the early Christian community, in part because it addresses a persecuted minority.  While the book of Wisdom is fairly clear in its teachings, there are times, as with this week’s passage, where we can get lost in the language of the text, and find it difficult to discern what it is trying to teach… so don’t get discouraged if you don’t “get it” after just one reading.  Read it sev…

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

The Word for the 22ndSunday of Ordinary Time: Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 Psalm 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11 Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a Luke 14:1, 7-14
If you had to describe this week’s readings with one word… it would be “humility.”  In our first reading from the book of Sirach, the author states this very clearly in the opening lines of the passage:  “… conduct your affairs with humility.”  Why is this important?  First, it’s good to remember that the book of Sirach falls under the category of “wisdom” literature in the bible, and because of it’s relatively late writing (around the 2ndcentury BCE), has been excluded from the Hebrew and Protestant bibles.  Catholics, however, find the work to be inspired and includes it in our Canon.  Like all wisdom literature, it is a cross between popular non-fiction and catechetical text.  In today’s reading, the author reminds us that the more we humble ourselves, the greater favor we will find with God.  And this humility isn’t limited to just how we approac…