Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Feast of the Holy Family, 2014

The first Sunday after Christmas Day is reserved for the Feast of the Holy Family.By Church standards this a relatively modern celebration, established in 1921, first celebrated the first Sunday after Epiphany, but later moved to first Sunday after Christmas in 1969.Coming as it does at this time of year, it crystallizes for us the importance of family life in our creation and formation.Jesus, as the Incarnation, was born into a family and raised by that family.Mary and Joseph may have had a sacred trust in parenting the Son of God, but it is also growing up in that ordinary family structure that brings Jesus closer to us.Our readings this week offer a number of alternatives, but all focus on the importance of family life.As it is most likely you will be hearing the first of all our selections, I will focus on these...
The Word for the Feast of the Holy Family Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3 Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 or Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 Colossians 3:12-21 or Colos…

4th Sunday of Advent, 2014

This 4th Sunday of Advent we focus on the Incarnation… God made manifest through the birth of Jesus.  Nothing captures this moment better than our Gospel, but as we will see, our other readings would suggest that this meeting between God and his people has been coming for some time…

The Word for the 4th Sunday of Advent 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27-29
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

To better understand our readings for this week, I think we should first look at our Gospel.  In a story that is unique to Luke’s Gospel, we here the of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary to announce God’s plan for the birth of his Son.  It’s not hard for us to imagine Mary’s amazement in this moment.  Not only is this humble girl from Nazareth (already likely anxious over her betrothal to Joseph) being approached by an angel, a messenger for the Lord, but the angel’s message is almost unbelievable:  God has chosen her to bear his Son.  Mary isn’t naive, however, and challenge…

3rd Sunday of Advent, 2014

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.

The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in the Nativity…

2nd Sunday of Advent, 2014

This is the clarion call we receive for this 2nd Sunday of Advent.  Preparation is indeed the message that’s in the air as we are bombarded with all sorts of advertising right now... to find the perfect gift, create the perfect meal, decorate the perfect home, all the while surrounded by the perfect sense of family.  Trouble is, when we seek this type of perfection, we often find ourselves disappointed.  Not only have we missed the point of the season, we’ve allowed the secular world to obfuscate our understanding of the Gospel message…

The Word for the 2nd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

We open with one of the finest songs of forgiveness and triumph from the Prophet Isaiah.  There is an established pattern in all of our worship… that before we ask for something from God, we first must ask him for forgiveness for our sins.  We see this every time we celebrate the Mass as we begin with the Penitential Rite.  Preparation, in the true…

1st Sunday of Advent, 2014

With the 1st Sunday of Advent we welcome a new Liturgical Year, but unlike our secular celebration of the new year, we don’t do it with champagne and noisemakers. Instead the Church begins her new year with a season of solemn reflection. One secular new year’s tradition that does carry over well with our season of Advent is that of making new year’s resolutions, an opportunity to look how well we are following through with following Christ, and ask ourselves if we are ready for his return.

The Word for the 1st Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

The beginning of the new Liturgical Year also brings with it a new Lectionary cycle. Last year, Cycle A, we spent with the Gospel of Matthew, but now we transition to Cycle B with a focus on the Gospel of Mark.

Our first reading comes from the Prophet Isaiah… in this case, from third Isaiah. Here we have a vision that has us begging for God to take us back, to make us his o…

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 2014

The phrase, "to judge the living and the dead" comes from our Creed, but has its origins in scriptures like this Sunday's Gospel.  It reminds us that God alone determines our fate after death, but that fate is also determined by our own choices in life... our free will to follow a path of righteousness or selfishness.  In one of Jesus' final sermons to his Apostles (a continuation from last week's Gospel), Jesus gives us concrete examples to follow.

The Word for Christ the King
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Matthew 25:31-46

Our first reading comes Ezekiel, the exiled priest who found his prophetic voice in Babylon.  At a time where the exiled Jewish community is feeling abandoned by God, Ezekiel is called to bring a message of hope.  He speaks of God as a shepherd who seeks to bring back his lost sheep.  It’s a powerful image that we Christians easily recognize from Jesus’ teachings.  This message of the caring shepherd …

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

God the Father has endowed us with many gifts.  Not only does scripture recommend that we give thanks for these (as in our readings from Proverbs and Psalms), but it recommends that these gifts must be put to use for the greater good and the love of God.

The Word for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30

We open with a reading from the book of Proverbs.  This book falls within the category of “wisdom literature” in the Bible.  Like it’s other wisdom book counterparts, it is a collection of wise sayings used as a type of “catechism” to teach right living.  Proverbs is thought to originate during the period of the Monarchy, but doesn’t reach its final form until the post-exilic period.  Our passage for this coming Sunday gives us the example of the value of a “worthy wife,” and how we should honor that value.  “Wisdom” in this period is considered more practical than theological, but to us modern Christian…

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, 2014

November 9th marks the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.  Why are we celebrating the dedication of a church?  Well, because this is perhaps the most important church in all of Western Christianity.  The official title of this church is:  The Cathedral Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist at the Lateran.  “The Lateran” in this case refers to the Lateran Palace which belonged to the Laterni family, an ancient noble Roman family.  The palace was acquired by Constantine and donated to the Pope in order to be the cathedral of the city of Rome.  This is where the cathedra, the Bishop’s Chair, sits.  Contrary to popular belief, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is not the Pope’s Cathedral.  The Pope is foremost the Bishop of Rome, so therefore his Cathedral Church is in the City of Rome (not Vatican City, which at the time of Constantine was little more than a hill outside of Rome).  This is the oldest church in the W…

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day), 2014

This coming Sunday is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, or more commonly referred to as All Souls Day.  As this special day falls on a Sunday this year, we put aside our readings for the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time to focus our attention on those who have passed on before us.

The Word for All Souls Day:
Wisdom 3:1-9
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Romans 5:5-11 or Romans 6:3-9
John 6:37-40

What happens after we die?  This is the question that our first reading from the Book of Wisdom tries to answer.  Here the passage states that “the souls of the just are in the hand of God.”  In other words, those good people who have passed on are in good hands.  The book of Wisdom comes to us about 50 years before the birth of Christ from the Jewish community in Alexandria.  In many ancient cultures sickness and death were equated to sin, so those who were passing before their time, that is, those who didn't die of old age, must have done something to anger God.  Our passage from Wisdo…

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

What is the measure of a person? From a Biblical perspective, it’s how you treat others. In fact, the Scriptures are quite consistent on this point. From the Mosaic Law Code in Exodus, to the teachings of the prophets, to the parables of Jesus, to the teachings of Paul and the Apostles, we are constantly reminded about how a God-loving people are expected to act toward one another. Our readings for this coming Sunday provide us the best examples of this most important teaching:

The Word for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
Matthew 22:34-40

We open with a reading from the book of Exodus. When we think of the Exodus, we always remember the Ten Commandments, but we tend to forget that these Ten are just the beginning of the Law Code. Just as with the preamble to the Constitution for the US, there’s a whole lot more that follows, providing the nuts-and-bolts (the context and applications) of how this new Covenant with God is goi…

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

Sometimes it can be aggravating when someone answers a question with a question, but when looking for the theme of our readings this week, that’s what I get.  Who is God and what do we owe him?  The answer to both questions is “everything.”  This theme has its origins in the 1st Commandment, “I am the Lord your God… there is no other.”  But what does that mean to us on a practical level?  In short, it is God whom we thank for everything we have, and because of this, it is only to God whom we owe our allegiance.

The Word for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Matthew 22:15-21

We open with a reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah… in this case, “Deutero” or Second Isaiah.  The Exile is coming to an end.  The Babylonian Empire has fallen to the Persians and now Cyrus, whom we know as Cyrus the Great, has been, according to Isaiah, anointed by God.  Cyrus?  A pagan?  A foreign king?  Yes.  How could this be?  Simple… God …

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

Invitation.  This is the theme that resonates through our readings for this 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  And not just any invitation… an invitation to the Lord’s house.  Who wouldn’t want to go?  Who would turn down this invitation?  Let’s explore our readings to see what we might be missing…

The Word for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 25:6-10a
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14

We open with a reading from Isaiah at a point where he sees great hope for Israel (for a brief time as King Hezekiah begins his reign).  In this poem of praise for God, he describes what it is like to live on the mountain of the Lord… a paradise with rich food and choice wines… a place where God’s people rejoice under the umbrella of his protection.  Our Psalm echoes this joy with its chorus “I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”  Who would want to leave?

Our Gospel from Matthew has Jesus using this image of a Heavenly banquet as he confronts the…

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

This week we continue with our series on morality.  While our readings give us examples of what could be considered “bad behavior”, the focus is not so much on the behavior but the consequences of that behavior.  Bad consequences for bad behavior is indeed a motivation for right behavior, but it is not, and should not, be the only motivator for taking the right path.  God wants us to see the right path, but we sometimes miss the opportunities that are right in front of us...

The Word for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 5:1-78
Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 16-16, 19-20
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

We open with a lament from early Isaiah.  Remember that Isaiah is known as one of the greatest prophets, and is often quoted in the New Testament.  His prophetic book, by three different authors, takes us from a time before the Assyrian uprising, through the Babylonian uprising, through the great Babylonian Exile, and all the way to the return to Jerusalem.  In this week’s passage, Isaiah s…

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

How do we know what is right or wrong? But even when we think we have a firm hand on morality, how then do we turn that into a consistent life ethic… a way of living each and every day in a manner that reflects our beliefs? These are difficult questions… but as Christians we turn to our scriptures for some answers.

The Word for the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32

This Sunday we open with Ezekiel. You may recall that we heard a passage from this same prophet a couple weeks ago. This week Ezekiel, our great prophet from the Babylonian Exile, has a stern warning for us. This passage comes from a time just before the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel sees the “writing on the wall” and is urging the people of Israel to reconsider what is fair in the eyes of the Lord, and do what is right and just. While Ezekiel’s message didn’t help the Israelites at that time, it does provide us with a valuable lesson today.

Our Psalm thi…

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

When we talk about the Sacrament of Penance, we generally think about what is right and what is wrong… what is a sin and what isn’t a sin.  But our readings for this coming Sunday don’t so much focus on what is right or wrong in God’s eyes, but rather on what is fair in God’s eyes.

The Word for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20-1-16a

We open with a reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah… in this case, from the closing chapter of Deutero or “second” Isaiah.  This comes from a point in Israelite history where the people have been released from their Exile in Babylon.  The Lord has shown them great mercy and forgiveness, and freed them from exile.  But why?  They broke their covenant with God and they were punished.  Why now take them back?  By our human standards of fairness, this is difficult to understand.  Because, as the prophet tells us, for those who turn to the Lord, he is always near.  The people have ch…

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 2014

This week we take a break from Ordinary Time to celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  This particular Feast is fixed to the date of September 14th (marking the date of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 CE).  As this feast falls on a Sunday this year, we use the readings chosen for this feast.  We last celebrated this feast on a Sunday in 2008, but it won’t fall on a Sunday again until 2025.  The Feast itself is a celebration of the cross itself as an instrument of salvation.

The Word for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Numbers 21:4b-9
Psalm 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
Philippians 2:6-11
John 3:13-17

In order to understand this feast day, one must first understand the nature of the Cross.  Crucifixion is a pre-Roman form of execution which was adopted by the Romans during the time of Jesus.  Crucifixion was not only used as a form of brutal punishment for accused criminals, but it was meant both as a humiliation to those being crucifie…

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, 2014

This week our theme is conversion… a most appropriate topic for the opening sessions of the RCIA!  But as can sometimes happen, a quick read of the text might leave you asking where this theme is coming from.  That is because it’s not so much a story about a conversion as it is a teaching on how a converted person should act.

The Word for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 33:7-9
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20

We open with a reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, who tells us that we are not only responsible for our own actions, but for the actions of others as well.  Ezekiel is teaching us that the sins of others, if left unchecked, becomes our sin as well.  This is at the heart of issues that revolve around the idea of “social sin.”  In other words, if we know what is right, we can’t just turn out back to it.  For indeed, the mark of a civilized society are the establishment of rules of behavior that all members of that society are expected to follow. …

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

What is the cost of discipleship?  Since the beginning of their journeys together, Jesus has been teaching his disciples of the difficulties they face by following him.  They will need courage, and strength of conviction as they continue to follow him and preach the Gospel.  Our readings for this 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time reminds us that following Jesus is not only difficult, but can come at the cost of our very lives.

The Word for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 20:7-9
Psalm: 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

We open with a reading from the prophet Jeremiah.  In a passage that is typical of what I call “the prophet’s lament,” we hear Jeremiah complaining to God about how he has been duped.  His life as a prophet has brought him nothing but derision and reproach, yet he cannot help himself… he still must preach God’s message.  The pain of holding back is still greater than the pain he must endure by those who don’t care for his message.  While we feel for Jerem…

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

Who’s in charge?  Whenever we find ourselves working in a group situation this is a very fundamental question.  While all the members of the group may have certain skills they can bring to the table, it takes a leader to effectively marshal those skills (and individuals) to their goal.  In fact, it’s built into our human nature.  Think about any crisis situation… without someone to step in and take charge, chaos reigns.  Yet when it comes time for someone to step up, many people also find comfort in letting someone else do it.

When it comes to Church, however… the People of God, the question of who’s in charge is both simple and complex… and is the core question considered in our readings for this 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time:

The Word for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 22:19-23
Psalm: 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8
Romans 11:33-36
Matthew 16:13-20

Our first reading comes from a rather obscure passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  In fact, this passage is so obscure it only appears in o…

Summer Series: Catholicism

This summer RCIA will be hosting a summer series in which we will be going through the 10-episode series Catholicism by Fr. Robert Baron. For more information and to sign up please visit the Catholicism Series Page. Questions please email us at ourladyofrefugercia@gmail.com

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

Who is God for?  EVERYONE!  The answer is almost automatic for modern day Catholics… one barely even needs to think about it to know this is true, yet our scriptures for this 20th week of Ordinary Time remind us that this understanding was not always so obvious nor accepted.

The Word for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm: 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

We open with a reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah… Trito-Isaiah or 3rd Isaiah to be more precise, authored during the post-Exile period.  This week’s passage has the prophet telling us that God will accept the sacrifices of all peoples… that is, people who are not of Israel.  The God of Israel is telling his people that he’s not just the God for them, but for all others who follow his commands.  The foreigner, the Gentile, also have an open invitation to join in the Covenant.  There are two ways to look at this passage.  On one side we see this a generous offering by a generous God… A Go…

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

Revelation.  The word itself is a noun formed from the verb “to reveal,” and for Christians, the revelation is that Jesus is Lord.  This is one of the most basic truths of Christian theology, yet for the average Christian (and for many non-Christians) the word revelation is not always understood.  Putting grand theological ideas aside for the moment, revelation, simply stated, is the act of how God reveals himself to us.  To help us understand this idea of revelation, we turn to our readings for this 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

The Word for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
1Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Psalm: 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

We open with a reading from the 1st book of Kings.  We enter the passage with great prophet Elijah as he is seeking shelter in the sacred mountain in the Sinai (mount Horeb).  While in the cave God tells him to stand outside, because the Lord will be passing by.    A strong wind comes, but that was not the Lord.  An earthquake comes, but th…

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

“God will provide.”  It’s a common response by well meaning people of faith when we’re struggling with a difficult situation and we find ourselves in need.  Be these needs physical or spiritual or both, the phrase “God will provide” can be hard for us to accept, especially when our common human reason would seem to suggest otherwise.  Our readings for this 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time helps us to find faith that God will answer our needs…

The Word for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm: 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Matthew 14:13-21

Our first reading comes from the book of Isaiah, “Deutero” or “Second” Isaiah to be precise.  This part of Isaiah speaks of redemption for an Israel that finds itself in Exile in Babylon.  The Babylonian’s destruction of Jerusalem and their subsequent Exile was a deeply transformative experience for the Hebrew people, and much of that transformation is seen in our Scriptures.  Yet through that pain, they came to realize that God’s fo…

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

What is the Kingdom of God?  We hear this term so often it can lose its meaning, assuming we had any clear understanding of this idea to begin with.  The “Kingdom” is what we’ve been promised.  The “Kingdom” is what we struggle to obtain.  The “Kingdom” is why we follow Christ.  But ask your average Catholic what the Kingdom of God is, and you’re likely to get many different answers.  To help us wrap our minds around this concept, we turn our attention to our readings for this 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time…

The Word for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Psalm: 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
Romans 8:28-30
Matthew 13:44-52

Our first reading comes from the 1st Book of Kings.  King David has died, passing his crown to his son, Solomon.  In this Sunday’s passage, the Lord appears to the young king in a dream, and asks Solomon what he, the Lord, can give him.  Solomon responds humbly, addressing himself as the Lord’s servant, and asks for “an understanding heart.”  God, reco…

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014

One of the beauties of Ordinary Time is the opportunity to “play the long game” when it comes understanding Jesus and his teachings. We literally journey with Jesus and the Apostles during his mission to spread the Word, and because many of our readings pick up where we left off the previous week, we have an opportunity to learn as we go, much like the Apostles themselves.

The Word for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm: 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
Romans 8:26-27
Matthew 13:24-43

Our first reading comes from the Book of Wisdom.  This book, coming about 50 years before Christ (most likely from the Jewish Community of Alexandria) served, like most of the wisdom books, as a kind of “catechism” for the faithful. Our passage this week reminds us that God is both mighty and benevolent.  In fact, the text goes to great lengths to say that this might comes from his benevolence.  Not only has God taught us what good (through The Law), he gives us the opportunity to repent… to change …