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Seeds and Greed


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 31, 2017

Once there lived a dog. He was very hungry. He wandered here and there in search of food. He got a juicy bone from a butcher’s shop. He felt very happy. He took the bone and ran away. He reached a bridge over a river. He saw his own shadow in the water. He thought that there was another dog with a juicy bone in his mouth. His mouth watered and he wanted to snatch that bone from him. He started barking on him and as he opened his mouth, the bone fell down from his mouth into the river. That has to be one of my favorite and earliest stories I heard, probably for the first time as a young child. As an adult, it makes perfect sense to me now when it comes to not only greed but the unhealthy attachment to possessions and money. Today in the Scriptures for this last day of the month, we have this theme brought front and center for our attention. “Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves!” (First Reading) Here, the familiar scene in Exodus shows us a prime example of the greedy person who is so passionate for riches and power that he literally helps melt down all the gold they can find and fashion a golden statue to worship. And this is witnessing all that God has done for His people. Today there are many who do not sleep well at night because they, too are worshipping the god of money. At some point, every person must ask themselves, “How much wealth do I really need?”

“Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.” (Responsorial Psalm) The problem with an unexamined life is that wisdom is lost in the shuffle and the fight for having things and control actually leads one away from the very purpose and meaning of life. It also tends to drown out the desire for what is good, holy and good to be a solid, complete and integral human being. It turns the whole world into a conquest rather than a matter of conscience, a party rather than a privilege. “They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds…”  (Responsorial Psalm) The other side of the danger of greed and avarice is what it does to the soul. The more we want things that will not last the less we long for and look for the things of Heaven, that is, time and space for our spiritual life. We become more like animals that survive in the proverbial “dog-eat-dog” world where the only value a person has is measured by dollar signs and bottom lines.

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.” (Gospel) Jesus is truly saddened over those who are greedy and money-hungry because they seem only to find their consolation and happiness in the accumulation of possessions. It is as if they allow their possessions to posses them. The goal for a human being is now redirected from this life to the next. This is the meaning of the mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds, the greatest of shrubbery. With a little faith, a little confidence, even the tiniest amount grows into a life of integrity and closeness to God. We could reformat the mission statement of humanity with “I want to see God!” Truly this is absolute freedom.

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July 31, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 32:15-24, 30-34

Moses turned and came down the mountain
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
tablets that were written on both sides, front and back;
tablets that were made by God,
having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself.
Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting,
he said to Moses, “That sounds like a battle in the camp.”
But Moses answered, “It does not sound like cries of victory,
nor does it sound like cries of defeat;
the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry.”
As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing.
With that, Moses’ wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down
and broke them on the base of the mountain.
Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire
and then ground it down to powder,
which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.

Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people ever do to you
that you should lead them into so grave a sin?”
Aaron replied, “Let not my lord be angry.
You know well enough how prone the people are to evil.
They said to me, ‘Make us a god to be our leader;
as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt,
we do not know what has happened to him.’
So I told them, ‘Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off.’
They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

On the next day Moses said to the people,
“You have committed a grave sin.
I will go up to the LORD, then;
perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.”
So Moses went back to the LORD and said,
“Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin
in making a god of gold for themselves!
If you would only forgive their sin!
If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written.”
The LORD answered, “Him only who has sinned against me
will I strike out of my book.
Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you.
My angel will go before you.
When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R. (1A) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Alleluia – JAS 1:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:31-35

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

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July 30, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 3:5, 7-12

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon answered:
“O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king
to succeed my father David;
but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”

The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him:
“Because you have asked for this—
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches,
nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right—
I do as you requested.
I give you a heart so wise and understanding
that there has never been anyone like you up to now,
and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130

R. (97A) Lord, I love your commands.
I have said, O LORD, that my part
is to keep your words.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
For I love your command
more than gold, however fine.
For in all your precepts I go forward;
every false way I hate.
R. Lord, I love your commands.
Wonderful are your decrees;
therefore I observe them.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.
R. Lord, I love your commands.

Reading 2 – ROM 8:28-30

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Alleluia – CF. MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
for you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

Or – MT 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

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Living With Buried Treasure


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 30, 2017

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field…” (Gospel) A few years ago, someone asked me, “How can you believe in God and love and mercy with all the horrible things that are going on in this world?” I answered, “How can you not?” That’s why we have to be wise and why wee need the Word. That’s why love will never die and why Jesus came.

“Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right— I do as you requested.” (First Reading) This is but one example of what it means to search, find and do everything possible to find the true treasure in this life and never let it go. We call this wisdom and with so many evil and dark elements in the world we simply need to be wise learners so that our sight may never be blocked of our view of the beauty of this world and the light that has come into it. Let us consider this quote from Pope Francis. “Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs, or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Today, let us attempt to let go of anger and worry, count our blessings, do our work honestly, and be kind to every person we meet. This way, we will understand what is meant by the awesome phrase from St. Paul. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Second Reading)

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Do You Believe This?


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 29, 2017

“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” (First Reading) Let’s first take another look at the base meaning for the word, obedience. It is from the Latin, obedire which includes the ideas that include to serve, to pay attention, to give ear, or literally, to listen to. Based on this new insight, the Scriptures reveal insights that you might not have considered before. An obvious fact that we often forget is that everybody believes in something. That belief directly affects the way that person listens, serves, and fundamentally lives their life. This is what we call obedience, listening to the voice that has weight; that choice has eternal consequences. Whoever we listen to determines where we go. If we listen to the Prince of Darkness, the destination is clear. If we listen to the Prince of Peace, Jesus clearly leads us to the Promised Land of Heaven.

“Offer to God praise as your sacrifice and fulfill your vows to the Most High; Then call upon me in time of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.” (Responsorial Psalm) Today, let us make a renewed effort to listen to God and then to each other. It seems as if most people do not listen with the aim of truly understanding the other. They seem to listen just to have something to reply. In other words, there is a huge difference between truly listening to each other and waiting in line for our turn to talk. Perhaps, the more we really listen to each other, the more we can appreciate the beautiful person standing right in front of us as a precious gift from God. There is a great danger posed to our ideas of prayer as well. If all we do is talk and talk, when will the Lord have a chance to speak?

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (Gospel) Believing involves trust, a total deep and undying confidence in the words of the Lord every single days our lives. That means a deep listening which is absolutely necessary for a effective and healthy spiritual life.

If you were to re-arrange the letters in the word L-I-S-T-E-N, what word would you find? Hint: it is something you must be in order to “listen.” Did you realize that word is S-I-L-E-N-T?

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July 29, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 24:3-8

When Moses came to the people
and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD,
they all answered with one voice,
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”
Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and,
rising early the next day,
he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar
and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Then, having sent certain young men of the children of Israel
to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls
as peace offerings to the LORD,
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.
Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 50:1B-2, 5-6, 14-15

R. (14A) Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Alleluia – JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 11:19-27

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

Or – LK 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

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Perspective, Dear, Perspective


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 28, 2017

“You’ve got a broken heart, not a broken life. You’ve got a broken dream, not a broken future.”

A few years back, I read something I never forgot. I guess you could say that it’s all about perspective. We have heard the words of the Ten Commandments most of our lives, but are they just about rules and regulations? “Don’t do this and don’t do that?” Obviously not. There is great freedom and hope found in this most ancient and wonderful gift of the rich meaning of the Law. That is what the words of the Psalmist want us to enter, the mystery of hope which never leaves us disappointed or despondent. “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.” (Psalm 19) Perspective, dear, perspective. It reminded me of the verse found in John 16:20-22. “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

Today’s Readings in many ways echo the theme we have seen over the past couple of weeks. Suffering is unavoidable and obedience is absolutely necessary and the one and only effective response is to focus on God in Heaven, not ourselves here on earth. Too simple, you say? Too little and trivial, maybe? You mean like the little seeds and a dash of yeast? Exactly! “The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.” (Gospel) To live in the Kingdom of God is to understand and accept the fact that great things such as the Church and our spiritual lives start small, grow large and have a positive impact on the immediate surroundings. This definitely means that we must have strong roots that go deep especially in the face of the strong winds of problems and challenges. Much like tall trees that do not fall over in the midst of hurricane-force winds, our trust in the promises of following the Law of Love will provide a sturdy foundation with Jesus right there with us. A little goes a long way, like a tiny seed, because even though we plant and water, God makes for growth just like the phenomenal impact yeast has on the dough. But someone still has to plant, someone still has to bake, someone actually has to be present and cooperate with grace. That someone is you! Perspective, dear, perspective.

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July 28, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 20:1-17

In those days:
God delivered all these commandments:

“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
him who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68C) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Alleluia – SEE LK 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

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Truth and Consequences


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 27, 2017 

A handful of years ago, a very bright student of mine came to me with an interesting article she had discovered and had submitted to me as part of her assignment concerning physical health and eating. Without getting into the many details of the piece, I would just like to share the particular element that to this day has remained with me and stood out. Every day, the average person makes 250 choices about eating. Although that sounds a little extreme, when you think about it, those choices have not only to do with what to eat, but also what not to eat and where and when, even why you eat.

“Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Make them wash their garments and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people.” (First Reading) Imagine the scene if our selection where God is again attempting to not only sanctify the people He loves, but also give them the most ultimate choice of any human being, that is, the moral choice among the myriad of decisions we make concerning our moral life. The decisions for good, evil and all the other options that are in front us on a daily basis. These also include how we treat God, other people and ourselves. It would involve what and how we think, make judgments, and all the elements of neglect and omission that make up the fabric of daily lives.

“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Alleluia Verse) This Verse clearly calls out to us to make a very fundamental choice for the rest of our lives. Choose right now, right this moment, to do what is right and to choose what is good. To walk humbly and invite the Lord to walk and be present to us no matter what the situation or circumstance.

“To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Gospel) It is finally St. Matthew who in His Gospel brings this all together for us by painting for us “the big picture,” namely, that all these daily choices add up to determine the great purpose and end of life: where am I hoping to spend eternity and with whom? Therefore, let us take a deep breath about us, ask Jesus for His great love and mercy and consider the following. “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

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July 27, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20B

In the third month after their departure from the land of Egypt,
on its first day, the children of Israel came to the desert of Sinai.
After the journey from Rephidim to the desert of Sinai,
they pitched camp.

While Israel was encamped here in front of the mountain,
the LORD told Moses,
“I am coming to you in a dense cloud,
so that when the people hear me speaking with you,
they may always have faith in you also.”
When Moses, then, had reported to the LORD the response of the people,
the LORD added, “Go to the people
and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow.
Make them wash their garments and be ready for the third day;
for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai
before the eyes of all the people.”

On the morning of the third day
there were peals of thunder and lightning,
and a heavy cloud over the mountain,
and a very loud trumpet blast,
so that all the people in the camp trembled.
But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God,
and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain.
Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke,
for the LORD came down upon it in fire.
The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace,
and the whole mountain trembled violently.
The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking
and God answering him with thunder.

When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai,
he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain.

Responsorial Psalm – DANIEL 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52B) Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!

Alleluia – SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:10-17

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

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Why We Complain


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 26, 2017

“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!” (First Reading) Our daily biblical feast opens with a literal complaint-fest. Tired, weary and otherwise frustrated, the chosen people cannot seem to see beyond their own noses as they lift up horrible  grievances to the great law-giver, Moses, with numbing regularity. Before you and I get too high and mighty, remember quickly that we are also the chosen people who seem to find this pettiness too easy an act to follow and one easier to repeat. Why do we complain? And why does it seem that these steady choruses of gripe overtures only produce in our marvelous Lord such kindness and forgiveness? “Yet he commanded the skies above and the doors of heaven he opened; He rained manna upon them for food and gave them heavenly bread.” (Responsorial Psalm) The simple answer is that while we are human and swarmed by a society that is totally self-absorbed, we likewise have a most merciful and loving God who never ever seems to give up on  us. Like the image of the sower in the Gospel, our Lord God just keeps going and going, sowing and sowing until the end of time. Some seeds fall onto harsh, hard and stubborn souls while others hit the target and begin a rich harvest.

Today, then, let us return to the soil of our souls and begin to plow. Knowing that Jesus is right here with us, He will assist and continue this ongoing spiritual farming with the greatest of enthusiasm. Perhaps the following will help. It is called, A Christian Confederate Soldier’s Prayer and has been alleged to have been found on the body of a fallen fighter at the Battle of  Gettysburg. As you read this prayer, think of the cleaning lady in your office who barely has enough money and lives week-to-week in order to make ends meet, but always seems to have a smile; the dying woman who offers all her sufferings for the young members of her family even as the pain increases; the man who worked all his life picking up trashcans but was able to send his four children to college with the most generous and charitable attitudes of all their classmates; the family that was once very wealthy but almost lost their daughter to drug abuse and now knows what their true priorities are by living much more simply with more time for family; and most of all, think about your life right now. Where do you want to be?

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health, that I might do greater things, I was given sickness, that I might do better things. I asked for riches, that I might be happy. I was given poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for power, that I might have the praise of all. I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life. I was given life, that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all people, most richly blessed.

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Gospel)

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July 26, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 16:1-5, 9-15

The children of Israel set out from Elim,
and came into the desert of Sin,
which is between Elim and Sinai,
on the fifteenth day of the second month
after their departure from the land of Egypt.
Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel
grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The children of Israel said to them,
“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,
“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.
On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in,
let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole congregation
of the children of Israel:
Present yourselves before the LORD,
for he has heard your grumbling.”
When Aaron announced this to the whole assembly of the children of Israel,
they turned toward the desert, and lo,
the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!
The LORD spoke to Moses and said,
“I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel.
Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.
In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert
were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.
On seeing it, the children of Israel asked one another, “What is this?”
for they did not know what it was.
But Moses told them,
“This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 78:18-19, 23-24, 25-26, 27-28

R. (24B) The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
They tempted God in their hearts
by demanding the food they craved.
Yes, they spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the desert?”
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Yet he commanded the skies above
and the doors of heaven he opened;
He rained manna upon them for food
and gave them heavenly bread.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Man ate the bread of angels,
food he sent them in abundance.
He stirred up the east wind in the heavens,
and by his power brought on the south wind.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
And he rained meat upon them like dust,
and, like the sand of the sea, winged fowl,
Which fell in the midst of their camp
round about their tents.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
All who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

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The Feast of St. James, Apostle


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 25, 2017

First, let us review some preliminary history about today’s Great Saint. James in the Gospel of today is the brother of the young St. John the Evangelist who is attributed of writing one of the Gospels and several New Testament letters. Jesus had already called another pair of brother-fishermen, such as Peter and Andrew. James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemane. James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also.” (Acts 12:1-3a) St. James is the Patron Saint of Chile, Laborers, Nicaragua, Rheumatism, Spain.

Second, let us focus on the statement from Jesus in the Gospel to help us frame the meaning and significance of this great day for us. “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The scene in the Gospel today is dramatic. The other disciples became indignant when hearing what was being requested by James and John, and their ambition was repulsive to them. It was then that Jesus took the opportunity and taught them all the lesson of humble service stating that the purpose of any power and authority, since they are derived and given by God Himself, is simply to serve rather than being served.

“For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (First Reading) Any follower of Jesus is never to impose their will on others, or abuse their power over them. By this the world will know that we follow Jesus who was the servant of all. The Lord exemplified the depth and height of this humility and love with the supreme sacrifice of his own life on the cross. This may also come in handy spiritual use when we have to confront those who have power over us and may be tempted to misuse it our detriment. It may also reminds us about the great responsibility we have should we have the same kind of authority over others.

Let us Pray:  Cleanse us, Lord, by the saving baptism of your Son’s Passion, so that on the Feast of Saint James, whom you willed to be the first among the Apostles to drink of Christ’s chalice of suffering, we may offer a sacrifice pleasing to you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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July 25, 2017


Reading 1 – 2 COR 4:7-15

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Alleluia – SEE JN 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 20:20-28

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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Pharaohs and Whales


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 24, 2017

“Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (Gospel) Keep in mind that everything written in the Old Testament is preparing us for the New. Everything. The Bible is the complete, composite, Word of God is Jesus. Therefore, what is the relationship between Jonah and Jesus? There are several clues. First is the mention of the belly of the whale, beten in Hebrew which is also the word for womb. Israelite creation stories use three important metaphors to indicate the connection between birth and death, which are womb, tomb, and dungeon. The womb is the primary key word because the grave and the dungeon are all considered as wombs from which new life emerges. The fact that Jonah is in the dungeon of the whale for three days clearly prepares us for the three days that Jesus spent in the belly of the earth. We all know that a whale could never hold the body of a man so the actual whale here is more like a dragon or monster, something evil, in Hebrew.

Moses stood before the powerful Pharaoh and with the power of God all around him, walked right through the Red Sea and watched as the soldiers of the evil Egyptian tyrant were swallowed up by the raging waters. “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.” (First Reading) Some of us are facing pharaohs and whales and seemingly unsurmountable challenges today. If we are not, they will soon appear, make no mistake. But we have Jesus and that is our only hope. Cling to Him today. Make your prayer of remarkable hope and trust every moment you have. Sing with the Psalmist, “My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.” (Responsorial Psalm)

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July 24, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 14:5-18

When it was reported to the king of Egypt
that the people had fled,
Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about them.
They exclaimed, “What have we done!
Why, we have released Israel from our service!”
So Pharaoh made his chariots ready and mustered his soldiersB
six hundred first-class chariots
and all the other chariots of Egypt, with warriors on them all.
So obstinate had the LORD made Pharaoh
that he pursued the children of Israel
even while they were marching away in triumph.
The Egyptians, then, pursued them;
Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers,
caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea,
at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up
and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them.
In great fright they cried out to the LORD.
And they complained to Moses,
“Were there no burial places in Egypt
that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert?
Why did you do this to us?
Why did you bring us out of Egypt?
Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said,
‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’?
Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians
than to die in the desert.”
But Moses answered the people,
“Fear not! Stand your ground,
and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.
These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.
The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

Responsorial Psalm – EX 15:1BC-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (1B) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Alleluia – PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here.”

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July 23, 2017


Reading 1 – WIS 12:13, 16-19

There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

R. (5a) Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O LORD,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
give your strength to your servant.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

Reading 2 – ROM 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.

Alleluia – CF. MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Or – MT 13:24-30

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

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Good Seeds, Mixed Harvest, and a Fresh Loaf of Bread


Reflection on Mass Readings for July 23, 2017

“And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.” (First Reading) We have been treated today with a beautiful mixture of colorful images lodged and folded into a powerful message about life and love for the week that awaits us all. Ask yourself right now, either before you are on your way to Mass, afterwards or just as you prepare for the challenges that your life presents at this very time. They can all be answered and addressed with the grace and mystery of the very words of Jesus in the Gospel and supported by the other offerings of Sacred Scripture.

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field…is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field…is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” (Gospel) The Kingdom of Heaven is that existence and grace-filled life that we long for. Jesus tells us that is close in similarity to planting good seeds (even the tiny mustard seed) everywhere with mixed results. That means that the potential of spiritual growth is everywhere. We are the ones who can make the planting successful or not. If I am truly expecting and positioning myself to learn and grow and believe then it will happen. Jesus’ presence will be so obvious, so overwhelming, so beautiful that we will feel like singing. Realistically, we all know, that it is not always like that, is it? I am sure that all of our readers have the same kind of friends and associates as I do. One of the most successful, loving and gifted people I know has been going through quite a bit lately. He was feeling frustrated and angry about several things. The minute he realized that he could not do this alone, everything changed. The seeds that were planted, the yeast that was added and the forgiveness that was shown to him all bore fruit and he surrendered to God with all his soul while asking forgiveness and a chance to start again.

“The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Second Reading) Have you ever been in the kitchen when someone is making bread? It is truly amazing. The yeast is added to the dough and then set aside only to make the new mixture not only ready for baking but also well prepared for an awesome loaf for sandwiches, snacks or just eaten and enjoyed hot and buttered. You hungry yet? That’s what spiritual hunger is like. A little faith goes a long, long way, and the result is miraculous. Speak with Jesus today. He is waiting, and He loves you.

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I Have Seen The Lord


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 22, 2017

The Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

“I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves.” (First Reading) I have often wondered what significance there might be between the incident in St. Luke’s Gospel when Joseph and Mary lost Jesus and later found Him in the Temple and the experience of St. Mary Magdalene in the Gospel today. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”  (Luke 2:41-51)

“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” (Gospel) What the two Scriptural references clearly have in common is the simple fact that finding Jesus has everything to do with where you look for Him. Mary and Joseph thought that their Son was among all the crowds with whom they were travelling and only at the end of their frenetic search did they actually find him in the Temple. St. Mary Magdalene thought only to look in the tomb for her Risen Lord when it would have been the very last place to find Him, that is, among the dead.

“The love of Christ impels us…so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

This day, which is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, you and I have been presented with the opportunity to experience, in a spiritual or symbolic way, the search for God that has been chronicled throughout the Old Testament, right through the Gospels and all the way to the outstanding hopeful days that followed the Resurrection of Christ. That search goes on right here, right now. “O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” (Responsorial Psalm)

All the great Saints are great precisely because they have longed for Christ more than for life itself, continued their search even though at times it may have come up empty, and found Him because they looked in the right place. May you be great in your search! Let us pray: Saint Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love. You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day
I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.

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July 22, 2017


Reading 1 – SGS 3:1-4B

The Bride says:
On my bed at night I sought him
whom my heart loves–
I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.
The watchmen came upon me,
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves?
I had hardly left them
when I found him whom my heart loves.

OR – 2 COR 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (2) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?
I saw the glory of the risen Christ, I saw his empty tomb.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 20:1-2, 11-18

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew,
“Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her,
“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he told her.

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Eyes Wide Open


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 21, 2017

“Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.” (Alleluia Verse)

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Gospel)

Over 30 years ago, there was a ship off the coast of Massachusetts that was reported lost at sea. There were a reported 45 men on board, most of whom were residents from a small fishing town near Plymouth. For the first week, wives, children and family members set up make-shift camps along the seashore to wait and watch for any signs of recovery. After 10 days, some of those grew tired and even discouraged and began to make their way back to their homes, still leaving a smaller remnant of those who would stay vigilant. Finally, on the 15th day of their disappearance, the vessel sailed back into harbor, all aboard hungry and tired, but certainly safe and alive. It was said that one of the men looked sad as he disembarked. He just shrugged and walked  his way to his little cottage of a home to the surprise of his wife and children. But he still looked upset. “What’s wrong, dear?” asked his wife. “Why weren’t you out there with the other families on the shore when we arrived?” he responded. “We were waiting for you, honey,” came his wife’s explanation. “But you weren’t watching…”

Do you think that’s splitting hairs? Maybe. However, the slight difference in the words can be of dramatic importance when we apply them to waiting for the Lord. Waiting seems to be passive, as if I can have many other priorities or concerns because, after all, when He comes He comes, right? Watching implies vigilance, continued hope and deep resolve. Watching is active, on-going and, yes, life-changing. Let’s be sure. Whether you and I are waiting or watching, it will be the same Lord. But, how will we be different? God is worth waiting for; His time is always best. Watching for Him makes our hearts ready and open and joyful to meet Him at any given moment and that makes a difference on how we live.

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July 21, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 11:10—12:14

Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders
in Pharaoh’s presence,
the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate,
and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land.

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month
every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb,
one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then,
with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole,
with its head and shanks and inner organs.
None of it must be kept beyond the next morning;
whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.

“This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 116:12-13, 15 AND 16BC, 17-18

R. (13) I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.

Alleluia – JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord,
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

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Freedom and Rest from Slavery


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 20, 2017

“Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” (First Reading) In the first reading we read the basic genealogy of faith that has been faithfully transmitted through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This may sound curious, but it is very pointed and written not by accident. Moses was clearly distinguishing the path of freedom from the horrible slavery of the pagan nations worshiping foreign and soul-consuming gods surrounding the chosen ones of God. This Covenant would be forever remembered by God to keep His people free and alive. “The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.” (Responsorial Psalm) But because of free will and the apparent abuse of our freedom with numbing regularity, we find ourselves burdened and very tired. At times, we revert to being slaves again. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What did slaves and thieves have in common in Roman Antiquity? They were both branded on the forehead with a mark, called a stigma, and thereby said to have been “engraved” like a coin or a medal. Both types of individuals were certainly known to the culture of the time when today’s Scriptures were written. (Romans around 56-58 AD and Luke’s Gospel between 80-100 AD) They also shared common punishments such as lashes and beatings, forced to carry a piece of wood around their necks, and in some cases, crucifixion. Of course, these are the same afflictions endured by Jesus as an integral part of the Paschal Mystery by which we are justified, redeemed and saved for a great future in Heaven. In Revelation 7:3-4, we read, “Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea. Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God. I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand from every tribe of the Israelites.”

These specific references can help us realize several things about living the Christian Life, being a disciple and a follower of Jesus Christ: We have been marked in this life and claimed for someone or something. Our choice now is to determine for whom by how we live. As Christians today, we can expect to be punished as was Our Savior, in the court of popularity, greed, hatred and the Godless. Remaining faithful to the end, which comes secretly or unexpectedly and without being ​seen, “like a thief in the night,” we are promised to take our place with the Lamb who has been slain and led to the “springs of life-giving water.” (Revelation 7:17)  Because the Victory is so great and the reward eternal, to those whom much is given, much is expected.

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July 20, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 3:13-20

Moses, hearing the voice of the LORD from the burning bush, said to him,
“When I go to the children of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel:
I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;
this my title for all generations.

“Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and tell them:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
has appeared to me and said:
I am concerned about you
and about the way you are being treated in Egypt;
so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt
into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites,
Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites,
a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Thus they will heed your message.
Then you and the elders of Israel
shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him:
“The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word.
Permit us, then, to go a three-days’ journey in the desert,
that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God.

“Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go
unless he is forced.
I will stretch out my hand, therefore,
and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there.
After that he will send you away.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 105:1 AND 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27

R. (8A) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generationsB
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He greatly increased his people
and made them stronger than their foes,
Whose hearts he changed, so that they hated his people,
and dealt deceitfully with his servants.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He sent Moses his servant;
Aaron, whom he had chosen.
They wrought his signs among them,
and wonders in the land of Ham.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 11:28-30

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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July 19, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 3:1-6, 9-12

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your father,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
The cry of the children of Israel has reached me,
and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh
and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
He answered, “I will be with you;
and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you:
when you bring my people out of Egypt,
you will worship God on this very mountain.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 103:1B-2, 3-4, 6-7

R. (8A) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Alleluia – SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

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When Jesus Prays


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 19, 2017

The Sacred Scriptures reveal Jesus praying a total of 25 times during His ministerial time among us. Among those were six moments in which we can read the words that Our Savior used. Today in the Gospel is one of those opportunities. “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Let us review the prayer of Jesus and discover how we can join our prayers to His.

Praise
“Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God.” (2639 Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Hidden Things
Mysteries about both the universe and our own lives which are hard and seemingly impossible to understand.

Childlike
Developing and adopting a complete trust in God without ever doubting.

Knowing the Father
Praising and believing with a childlike trust brings us ever so close to Jesus and that brings us to a deep and abiding relationship with God the Father.

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July 18, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 2:1-15A

A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman,
who conceived and bore a son.
Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months.
When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket,
daubed it with bitumen and pitch,
and putting the child in it,
placed it among the reeds on the river bank.
His sister stationed herself at a distance
to find out what would happen to him.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe,
while her maids walked along the river bank.
Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it.
On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying!
She was moved with pity for him and said,
“It is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter,
“Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women
to nurse the child for you?”
“Yes, do so,” she answered.
So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother.
Pharaoh’s daughter said to her,
“Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.”
The woman therefore took the child and nursed it.
When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter,
who adopted him as her son and called him Moses;
for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

On one occasion, after Moses had grown up,
when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor,
he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen.
Looking about and seeing no one,
he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting!
So he asked the culprit,
“Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?”
But the culprit replied,
“Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us?
Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Then Moses became afraid and thought,
“The affair must certainly be known.”

Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death.
But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

R. (see 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I am sunk in the abysmal swamp
where there is no foothold;
I have reached the watery depths;
the flood overwhelms me.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me;
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Alleluia – PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns
where most of his mighty deeds had been done,
since they had not repented.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum:

Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom,
it would have remained until this day.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

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The One Constant


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 18, 2017

There are those who believe that the one constant aspect in all the universe is change. If its a bright and sunny day, you know that it will rain and storm clouds gather. In the midst of terrible torrential rains, we know for certain that soon, maybe sooner than later, it will be sunny and beautiful again. Think of all the outstanding characters and personalities that we have come to encounter in our reading of Holy Scripture and the great way their lives formed a spectacular mosaic of life and love that reflects God’s constant and unyielding care for each and every one of us. What do Abraham, Noah, Moses, King David, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul and all the early Christians have in common? Once God approached them and they allowed Him into their lives, they were never the same, everything changed.

“When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, “I drew him out of the water.” (First Reading) We can also agree with the Psalmist that no matter how low or terrible we may have or will about to sink through the daily struggles we endure for the sake of walking the Christian path, the Lord is there to listen … “I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold; I have reached the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me.” (Responsorial Psalm) … and then to answer, “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.” So now we can appreciate and understand why Jesus fiercely admonishes and rebukes those who will not realize the great gift set before the entire human race. “Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.” (Gospel) Repent is a form of change, good change, healthy change. To resist means we become comfortable with the darkness and begin to hate the light. Today, you and I will turn to Jesus in whatever need we encounter, and yes, thanks be to God, we will live.

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Called to be Holy


sunset over grassy hill and wildflowers

With all the various temptations for the mind to stray from the path of righteousness, can anyone ever be holy in what they do? The Good News is that the word of God tells us how to be holy. We are to have our minds ready for action, to keep alert and set our hope completely on the blessing which will be given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed. Peter calls all to be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant.  Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy. The scripture says tells us to be holy because our Heavenly Father is holy. All human beings are like grass, and all their glory is like wild flowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord remains forever. This is the Good News that was proclaimed to you.

We know that we were born sinners and only by the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus, can we be cleansed from our sin. “Through him you believe in God, who raised him from death and gave him glory; and so your faith and hope are fixed on God. By your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves and have come to have a sincere love for other believers, love one another earnestly with all your heart. For through the living and eternal word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal, not mortal.” (1 Peter 1:13-25 GNT)

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.  He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me.  Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. You prepare a banquet for me, where all  my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.”  (Psalm 23 GNT)

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July 17, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 1:8-14, 22

A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.
He said to his subjects, “Look how numerous and powerful
the people of the children of Israel are growing, more so than we ourselves!
Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase;
otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies
to fight against us, and so leave our country.”

Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the children of Israel
to oppress them with forced labor.
Thus they had to build for Pharaoh
the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses.
Yet the more they were oppressed,
the more they multiplied and spread.
The Egyptians, then, dreaded the children of Israel
and reduced them to cruel slavery,
making life bitter for them with hard work in mortar and brick
and all kinds of field work—the whole cruel fate of slaves.

Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects,
“Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews,
but you may let all the girls live.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 124:1B-3, 4-6, 7-8

R. (8A) Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Had not the LORD been with us–
let Israel say, had not the LORD been with us–
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept
the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us
a prey to their teeth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
We were rescued like a bird
from the fowlers’ snare;
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Alleluia – MT 5:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:34—11:1

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

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Bitter or Better?


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 17, 2017

No matter how anyone looks at the world, and life in general, one thing is definitely for certain, rich or poor, educated or not, healthy or sickly, everyone suffers. It is part of the human condition, mixed with our history and genetic compositions along with politics and power. Sometimes the suffering is at the hands of others who have perceived advantages or fears such as in the first Scripture selection from today. “Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the children of Israel to oppress them with forced labor.” (First Reading) On the other hand, suffering also emerges from elements over which no one has any control such as disease, natural disasters and yes, even death. “The torrent would have swept over us; over us then would have swept the raging waters.” (Responsorial Psalm)

The result of our conversation is simple, but not simplistic. Will suffering make you bitter or better? Does the cross infuriate or invigorate? When you and I are faced with internal or external suffering, will we lash out or live abundantly in the graces that Jesus has so lavishly bestowed upon us? “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Gospel) My friends, can we say today, in light of the wisdom provided by the Scriptures presently that two of the more indispensable tools in our souls have to be courage and charity and not one without the other.

“If we know how to practice charity, we will know how to revere God and we will be able to journey toward eternity. Through charity, we allow God to accomplish His work in us. Through charity, we abandon ourselves entirely to God. And He is the one who acts in us, and we act in Him and through Him and with Him.”  (Cardinal Robert Sarah)

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Love Always Bears Fruit


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 16, 2017

“The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.” (Responsorial Psalm) “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Second Reading) “But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Gospel) The images of seed sown and the Word of God, spread throughout time and space, both reflect the reality of our lives. We could easily say that these two elements constitute both God’s call to each one of us and then our cooperation with His grace to do something with our lives. We are both the soil and the seed. The living Word has been sown within us, so we must cultivate the ground of our hearts in order to be transformed in the Lord and more fully reflect His image and likeness. We are called to grow in holiness and progressively reflect the risen life of Jesus Christ to the world starting with those immediately around us, our families, co-workers those who walk in and out of our lives. We accomplish with and through love, the love Jesus taught us, wherever we go.

Love given is never lost. Like dropping something into the river, we never know where it will end up. Love given to children in our family today may bear fruit in the next generation. We never know, because much of life is trial and effort. Our Lord Jesus was the same as He spread out true love from His heart like the sower throws out the seed. He knows it may fall among bad and barren places, nevertheless, he gives it away anyway. Jesus poured out love on Calvary, suffering and dying for everyone. God is like that. Our own efforts and plantings may take years to flower and yet God keeps on sowing, planting and loving. Let us consider where we are on our journey to the Father as sowers and those who love with the heart of Jesus. Our tradition has identified four categories of those who hear, reflecting four soil conditions of those who (1) did not understand intellectually, but with their hearts; (2) tripped up when faced with trouble or persecution; (3) allowed worldly concerns and the attraction of wealth to choke the word and lessen its effect; and (4) understood the word, allowed it to connect with their hearts.

“My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (First Reading)

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July 16, 2017


Reading 1 – IS 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14

R. (LK 8:8) The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,
breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
The fields are garmented with flocks
and the valleys blanketed with grain.
They shout and sing for joy.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Reading 2 – ROM 8:18-23

Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to him will have live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:1-23

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

or – MT 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

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July 15, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 49:29-32; 50:15-26A

Jacob gave his sons this charge:
“Since I am about to be taken to my people,
bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies
in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
the cave in the field of Machpelah,
facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan,
the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite
for a burial ground.
There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried,
and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah,
and there, too, I buried Leah–
the field and the cave in it
that had been purchased from the Hittites.”

Now that their father was dead,
Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought,
“Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us
and now plans to pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!”
So they approached Joseph and said:
“Before your father died, he gave us these instructions:
‘You shall say to Joseph, Jacob begs you
to forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers,
who treated you so cruelly.’
Please, therefore, forgive the crime that we,
the servants of your father’s God, committed.”
When they spoke these words to him, Joseph broke into tears.
Then his brothers proceeded to fling themselves down before him
and said, “Let us be your slaves!”
But Joseph replied to them:
“Have no fear. Can I take the place of God?
Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good,
to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.
Therefore have no fear.
I will provide for you and for your children.”
By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.

Joseph remained in Egypt, together with his father’s family.
He lived a hundred and ten years.
He saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation,
and the children of Manasseh’s son Machir
were also born on Joseph’s knees.

Joseph said to his brothers: “I am about to die.
God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land
that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued,
“When God thus takes care of you,
you must bring my bones up with you from this place.”
Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7

R. (see Psalm 69:33) Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

Alleluia – 1 PT 4:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of God rests upon you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:24-33

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“No disciple is above his teacher,
no slave above his master.
It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher,
for the slave that he become like his master.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul,
how much more those of his household!
“Therefore do not be afraid of them.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

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When Evil Seems to Win


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 15, 2017

At the very same hour that I was preparing this Reflection for you, I received a text from a very good friend of mine who is going through quite a time of struggle and attack concerning his employment and the under-handed and shabby way he has been treated. No doubt, some of our readers might be able to relate to his particular circumstance. In his inspired message he mentioned that he would treat the culprits of his peace of mind with Christ-like love and gentleness, just as the Lord responded to those “who would beat him.” It was at that time that the words of the Scriptures of today literally jumped out from the page destined for his heart and mind. “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.” (First Reading)

“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of God rests upon you.” (Alleluia Verse) “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” (Gospel) You see, we, too are called to fulfill the mandate of the Lord Jesus in terms of how we are to act toward those who mistreat us for whatever the motive. We must continue. My friend’s witness is very strong for all of us which we can renew in our hearts in dealing with our very own peace-thieves, whomever they may be. And why should we do this?

For that, I will leave you with a quote from St. Bonaventure, whose Feast Day is today.

“The more we love God here, the more we shall enjoy God there. Therefore, love God much in this life, and you shall enjoy him much in the next; let the love of God increase in you now, so that you may have then the fullness of His joy.”  (St. Bonaventure)

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Check, Please!


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 14, 2017

Thankfully, my brothers and I grew up in the age before cell phones, iPads and all the other technological communication devices that have helped us stay in contact with the world, albeit less able to communicate with people in the same room. The reason for this bold and humorous statement is simply to give thanks in a roundabout way for all the times we were able to actually listen to the time-tested wisdom of our grandmother who was never without a poignant comment or short sayings which helped us remember lessons of life that were and have been helpful if not life-saving at times. One of those phrases which was puzzling to me when I first heard it, but which made perfectly great sense once I finally grew into manhood was, “No one leaves this world until they pay all that they owe,” which I imagine was inspired by the warning that you shouldn’t leave a restaurant before taking care of the bill.

“At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.” (First Reading) In light of our readings today, I would even further the truth of the thought that no one leaves this earth until it’s time and that time is determined by the degree that we have accomplished, or will accomplish, all that we have been created to finish. This idea that “I can die now that…” is not isolated in the Scriptures. These final moments in people’s lives when they have seen the miracles of the Lord, and/or the Lord Himself, have also been swarmed in great joy and fulfillment as well. This is a very important clue as to how to live a happy life.

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will grant you your heart’s requests.” (Responsorial Psalm) When we place our very lives in the service of God and of each other, something wonderful happens. We realize that we are part of a much bigger and awesome universal plan for ourselves and the world around us. This would also support the notion that whatever evil is allowed to flourish is due to the sad fact that some very good people do and say nothing.

“Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Gospel) The Lord will come for us when the check for living is ready. Some are taken very early and others have to wait nearly a century before leaving the diner of life. You see, each one is different because each one has been given a different mission. Only God knows which mission belongs to which individual, but make no mistake, no one leaves until we have paid the bill with the time, energy, and love we’ve been given at birth and baptism. And that is worth remembering.

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July 14, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 46:1-7, 28-30

Israel set out with all that was his.
When he arrived at Beer-sheba,
he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
There God, speaking to Israel in a vision by night, called,
“Jacob! Jacob!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
Then he said: “I am God, the God of your father.
Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt,
for there I will make you a great nation.
Not only will I go down to Egypt with you;
I will also bring you back here, after Joseph has closed your eyes.”

So Jacob departed from Beer-sheba,
and the sons of Israel
put their father and their wives and children
on the wagons that Pharaoh had sent for his transport.
They took with them their livestock
and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan.
Thus Jacob and all his descendants migrated to Egypt.
His sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his granddaughtersB
all his descendants—he took with him to Egypt.

Israel had sent Judah ahead to Joseph,
so that he might meet him in Goshen.
On his arrival in the region of Goshen,
Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot
and rode to meet his father Israel in Goshen.
As soon as Joseph saw him, he flung himself on his neck
and wept a long time in his arms.
And Israel said to Joseph, “At last I can die,
now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40

R. (39A) The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Trust in the LORD and do good,
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will grant you your heart’s requests.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
The LORD watches over the lives of the wholehearted;
their inheritance lasts forever.
They are not put to shame in an evil time;
in days of famine they have plenty.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Turn from evil and do good,
that you may abide forever;
For the LORD loves what is right,
and forsakes not his faithful ones.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Alleluia – JN 16:13A, 14:26D

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you to all truth
and remind you of all I told you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:16-23

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
But beware of men,
for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes.”

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Joseph and Jesus


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 13, 2017

“It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.” (First Reading) The story of Joseph and his brothers in the Old Testament is clearly a pre-figurement of Jesus in the New Testament and continues to reveal the mystery of the Church for us today. Here are some highlights of how they were both (1) beloved by their Father; (2) rejected by their own; (3) sold for silver; (4) not recognized for who they really were; (5) dramatically forgave those who did them harm.

“Remember the marvels the Lord has done.” (Responsorial Psalm) These startling similarities are not by accident; they form what is called a typology, which is a special kind of symbolism. When studying and reflecting on the Scriptures we discover that a figure or character in the Bible is a person or thing in the Old Testament which foreshadows a person or thing in the New Testament. Joseph is most certainly one of these and that is very important to remember when we realize that the complete Bible, Old and New Testaments, form one single unity.

“As you enter a house, wish it peace.” (Gospel) Every home, every life, every situation longs for peace. When you and I approach the situations that are particular to our own calling and life situations, we are called to bring that same peace, starting with our very selves. When the readings of today link for us the love, rejection, pain and suffering, and final restoration of both Joseph and Jesus Christ, we can rest assured that this typology is our blueprint for the spiritual life we so desperately need and want.

Before the end of day, consider how much your Father in Heaven loves you, despite what emotions or circumstances are present. Reflect on the pattern of salvation that Jesus has established for you and for all you love. Accept this love, this forgiveness and this hope; then pass it on.

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July 13, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 44:18-21, 23B-29; 45:1-5

Judah approached Joseph and said: “I beg you, my lord,
let your servant speak earnestly to my lord,
and do not become angry with your servant,
for you are the equal of Pharaoh.
My lord asked your servants, ‘Have you a father, or another brother?’
So we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father,
and a young brother, the child of his old age.
This one’s full brother is dead,
and since he is the only one by that mother who is left,
his father dotes on him.’
Then you told your servants,
‘Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.
Unless your youngest brother comes back with you,
you shall not come into my presence again.’
When we returned to your servant our father,
we reported to him the words of my lord.

“Later, our father told us to come back and buy some food for the family.
So we reminded him, ‘We cannot go down there;
only if our youngest brother is with us can we go,
for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.’
Then your servant our father said to us,
‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons.
One of them, however, disappeared, and I had to conclude
that he must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts;
I have not seen him since.
If you now take this one away from me, too,
and some disaster befalls him,
you will send my white head down to the nether world in grief.'”

Joseph could no longer control himself
in the presence of all his attendants,
so he cried out, “Have everyone withdraw from me!”
Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him,
and so the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.
“I am Joseph,” he said to his brothers.
“Is my father still in good health?”
But his brothers could give him no answer,
so dumbfounded were they at him.

“Come closer to me,” he told his brothers.
When they had done so, he said:
“I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed,
and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.
It was really for the sake of saving lives
that God sent me here ahead of you.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21

R. (5A) Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.
When the LORD called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They had weighed him down with fetters,
and he was bound with chains,
Till his prediction came to pass
and the word of the LORD proved him true.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – MK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:7-15

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“As you go, make this proclamation:
‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic,
or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.”

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The Gift of Tears


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 12, 2017

“But turning away from them, he wept.” (First Reading) Distinctly, for a number of reasons, I remember a funeral that was held more than 20 years ago. The most profound aspect of the memory was the slow and steady flow of tears from the widow of the man who had died. There was something different about her cries, though. They were not loud, attention-getting or melodramatic. They were almost like prayers. Later I had the opportunity to speak with her about that experience and I learned something very important about faith and life in that conversation.  She said she was not crying for her husband, for herself and not even over the grief that death painfully doles out. She said she was crying for God and not for Him as much, but for the deep desire to be with Him where there would be no more pain. At that point, I clearly understood her tears.

“But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness…” (Responsorial Psalm) In our readings today, there is this a notion of waiting, longing, yes, even crying for the good things that are promised those who love God. Joseph wept for his brothers for a myriad of reasons most of which I believe for the desire to be with them again even after they left him for dead. The Psalmist assures each one of us that the Lord never abandons us in any situation and waits upon the right time to act and fulfill His plan. This is our mission, then, to remind each other of how much we all truly long for peace, love and eternal happiness. Nothing else will truly satisfy. This is what it means to proclaim the Gospel with our very lives and attitudes that we lavishly lay upon all we meet in a given day. Recently that woman also died and although I could not attend her funeral, I did make a point to attend a daily Mass close to my office. When I exited the small parish church, there was something so joyous and peaceful about the setting sun and the cool air blowing about. Again, I understood her tears.

“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Gospel)

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July 12, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 41:55-57; 42:5-7A, 17-24A

When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt
and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread,
Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph
and do whatever he told them.
When the famine had spread throughout the land,
Joseph opened all the cities that had grain
and rationed it to the Egyptians,
since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt.
In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain,
for famine had gripped the whole world.

The sons of Israel were among those
who came to procure rations.

It was Joseph, as governor of the country,
who dispensed the rations to all the people.
When Joseph’s brothers came and knelt down before him
with their faces to the ground,
he recognized them as soon as he saw them.
But Joseph concealed his own identity from them
and spoke sternly to them.

With that, he locked them up in the guardhouse for three days.

On the third day Joseph said to his brothers:
“Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man.
If you have been honest,
only one of your brothers need be confined in this prison,
while the rest of you may go
and take home provisions for your starving families.
But you must come back to me with your youngest brother.
Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die.”
To this they agreed.
To one another, however, they said:
“Alas, we are being punished because of our brother.
We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us,
yet we paid no heed;
that is why this anguish has now come upon us.”
Reuben broke in,
“Did I not tell you not to do wrong to the boy?
But you would not listen!
Now comes the reckoning for his blood.”
The brothers did not know, of course,
that Joseph understood what they said,
since he spoke with them through an interpreter.
But turning away from them, he wept.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19

R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Alleluia – MK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”

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July 11, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 32:23-33

In the course of the night, Jacob arose, took his two wives,
with the two maidservants and his eleven children,
and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.
After he had taken them across the stream
and had brought over all his possessions,
Jacob was left there alone.
Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.
When the man saw that he could not prevail over him,
he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket,
so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled.
The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
The man asked, “What is your name?”
He answered, “Jacob.”
Then the man said,
“You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel,
because you have contended with divine and human beings
and have prevailed.”
Jacob then asked him, “Do tell me your name, please.”
He answered, “Why should you want to know my name?”
With that, he bade him farewell.
Jacob named the place Peniel,
“Because I have seen God face to face,” he said,
“yet my life has been spared.”

At sunrise, as he left Penuel,
Jacob limped along because of his hip.
That is why, to this day, the children of Israel do not eat
the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket,
inasmuch as Jacob’s hip socket was struck at the sciatic muscle.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 17:1B, 2-3, 6-7AB, 8B AND 15

R. (15A) In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
From you let my judgment come;
your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee from their foes.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.

Alleluia – JN 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:32-38

A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus,
and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.
The crowds were amazed and said,
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said,
“He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

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Conflicts, Choices, and the Cross


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 11, 2017

When we look and study all the moments of the life of Jesus, we realize that the Lord does not introduce anything new in terms of human experiences but rather elevates and imbues tremendous meaning and purpose into them. When evil and the demons of our lives approach, we realize first-hand that we truly need faith in the One who can handle and defeat them. These present themselves as conflicts which call us to make choices.

Conflicts
“Hear, O Lord, a just suit; attend to my outcry; hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.” (Responsorial Psalm) Every last one of us must face conflicts practically every day of our lives, even if they surface from with us. Therefore, it is not an indication or measurement of how much we are loved when we have issues or problems, but rather what we are going to do with them.

Choices
When Jesus calls a person to follow Him, it necessarily involves the fundamental option whether to accept him or to reject him; and the world is always divided into those who have accepted Christ and those who have not. Everyone makes choices every day. This choice, however, affects eternity and forever is very, very long time.

A Cross
The original audience of Jesus experienced tremendous suffering and loss. They knew very well what a cross was. The Jewish historian Josephus mentions the swift & cruel action of Publius Quinctilius Varus, a Roman General under the Emperor Augustus who crushed a revolt in Judea in 4 BC. After occupying Jerusalem, he crucified 2000 Jewish rebels and placed the crosses by the wayside along the roads to Galilee. This is why Jesus had and has tremendous compassion for His people, then and now. “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Gospel)

Our daily dose of the Word leads us to understand and fully engage the conflicts, choices and crosses in our lives. When we are worried, it is because we are trying to do things ourselves. When we are at peace it is because we remember that God is in control. “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.” (Alleluia Verse)

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July 10, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 28:10-22A

Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and proceeded toward Haran.
When he came upon a certain shrine, as the sun had already set,
he stopped there for the night.
Taking one of the stones at the shrine, he put it under his head
and lay down to sleep at that spot.
Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground,
with its top reaching to the heavens;
and God’s messengers were going up and down on it.
And there was the LORD standing beside him and saying:
“I, the LORD, am the God of your forefather Abraham
and the God of Isaac;
the land on which you are lying
I will give to you and your descendants.
These shall be as plentiful as the dust of the earth,
and through them you shall spread out east and west, north and south.
In you and your descendants
all the nations of the earth shall find blessing.
Know that I am with you;
I will protect you wherever you go,
and bring you back to this land.
I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he exclaimed,
“Truly, the LORD is in this spot, although I did not know it!”
In solemn wonder he cried out: “How awesome is this shrine!
This is nothing else but an abode of God,
and that is the gateway to heaven!”
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone
that he had put under his head,
set it up as a memorial stone, and poured oil on top of it.
He called the site Bethel,
whereas the former name of the town had been Luz.

Jacob then made this vow: “If God remains with me,
to protect me on this journey I am making
and to give me enough bread to eat and clothing to wear,
and I come back safe to my father’s house, the LORD shall be my God.
This stone that I have set up as a memorial stone shall be God’s abode.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15AB

R. (see 2B) In you, my God, I place my trust.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
R. In you, my God, I place my trust.
For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler,
from the destroying pestilence.
With his pinions he will cover you,
and under his wings you shall take refuge.
R. In you, my God, I place my trust.
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress.
R. In you, my God, I place my trust.

Alleluia – SEE 2 TM 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:18-26

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward,
knelt down before him, and said,
“My daughter has just died.
But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,
“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”
And from that hour the woman was cured.

When Jesus arrived at the official’s house
and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,
he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.”
And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.
And news of this spread throughout all that land.

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Trust God Completely


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 10, 2017

“I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” (First Reading) When we cooperate with the graces and fits we receive from the holy Spirit, we grow as followers of Jesus. We most certainly see the effect in our lives through special qualities and attitudes that we develop as we grow in faith. This is how we can experience the words of the reading from the Book of Genesis. God will not leave us until He has accomplished everything He promised us He would do. Thus, if something is still not right with our lives, then clearly He is still working through us.

“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” (Gospel) To help illustrate the meaning, there is a story about a little girl who was visiting her grandmother in a small Southern country town. They attended a very lively and emotional service where people were actually jumping up and down in excitement while shouting their praises to God. No one is making fun or light of those experiences but there is always a need for clarity. The little girl asked her grandmother if all the show-jumping meant that the Holy Spirit was really present. Her grandmother carefully and in a down-home tone of voice responded with, “Honey, it don’t matter how high they jump up, it’s what they do when they come down that will tell you if it is the real thing.”

“In you, my God, I place my trust.” (Responsorial Psalm) Trust is then absolutely necessary to get through every challenge and cross ahead. Our faith in the Risen Lord Jesus compels us to love even though we cannot see Him. And as we all know, some days it is harder to love than others. Therefore, every time when we face a wall of resistance within our own hearts to forgive and love and move on with our lives, we must fall back and rekindle this awesome, child-like trust which can and must be activated by our own deep conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord not only of the entire universe, but of my life right here, right now.

“When you are pushed to the edge of pain and frustration, trust God completely. Do this because two things will happen: Either He will catch you when you fall or He will teach you how to fly!” (Written on a birthday card)

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July 9, 2017


Reading 1 – ZEC 9:9-10

Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,
shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king shall come to you;
a just savior is he,
meek, and riding on an ass,
on a colt, the foal of an ass.
He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,
and the horse from Jerusalem;
the warrior’s bow shall be banished,
and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 – ROM 8:9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
You are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Consequently, brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

Alleluia – CF. MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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You are in the Spirit


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 9, 2017

“You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the Spirit.” (First Reading)

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Gospel)

Back in 1994, two memorable events took place, the release of the widely popular movie, The Lion King and the death of my father. I imagine that for many of our readers, these two events do not seem to have any obvious connection, but they do for me. I took my two nephews who were age four and six at the time to watch this very engaging cartoon movie. Those of you who know the story, and I doubt this requires any kind of spoiler alert since it was 23 years ago, will remember that Mufasa, the Lion King par excellence, dies midway through the story. Having just lost my own king, I immediately broke down in the theater. Thank God it was dark. Without missing a beat, my older nephew saw that I was crying and simply crawled in my lap and remained there for the rest of the movie. He clearly made my burden light. I have no doubt that many, if not all of us, have a similar story, where someone eased our pain by just being there. Because our lives are truly spiritual in nature as we move toward the most excellent destination of Heaven, the words of Jesus today make or should make all the sense in the world. The Messiah makes the burden of life easy by just being there beside us. His presence and grace communicated as they are through the Sacraments, the Word of God and a deep, nourished life of prayer make it less cumbersome and more bearable. My friends, we are not in the flesh, we are with the Lord and He with us. He longs to share the walk so that we might find Him alive in every situation. The yolk is in fact easy because he is nestled next to us all the way. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of Jesus yolked to our very souls.

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The Problem Tree


house with trees rolling green grass

There was once a plumber who just finished a very difficult and long day. He lost a few clients, one died, a check bounced, and one of his employees quit and took all the tools that were purchased for him a year earlier. On top of that, a flat tire caused him more stress as did the amount of crazed drivers who thought they were on the Indy 500. One of his co-workers needed a ride home and asked him to please drop him off at his house and he would walk from there. While they were driving, the frustrated plumber just steamed in silence, without saying a word trying to make sense of this very crazy day. When they arrived, he invited his young co-worker to come on in and meet his wife and two children and stay for dinner, if he didn’t have any other plans. As they were walking inside, the plumber casually walked over to a medium-sized tree in the front yard and almost ritually began to wipe his hands on its sprawling, bright-green leaves as if he was removing grease or oil or dirt. As the plumber waled through the door, something remarkable was taking place right before the young man’s eyes, there was an amazing transformation. The plumber began to glow and began to beam as he hugged his children and a long embrace for his wife followed by a loving, tender kiss. After a delightful dinner, the plumber and his young associate walked outside and the they said their good-byes. But before the apprentice got to the sidewalk, he passed that tree and remembered the little ritual that had taken place maybe an hour before. So he asked, “Hey, Sir, as we were coming inside for dinner, I saw you do something with this tree and you changed quite a bit. What was that all about?”

The plumber replied:  “Oh yeah, that’s my ‘Problem Tree.’ My job can be pretty stressful like it was today and I know I can’t do much about that but I also know that I shouldn’t bring any of those problems back home with me. So, at the end of every day, I pass by my ‘Problem Tree’ and wipe my heart clean and hang all my problems out for the night and pick ’em up again in the morning!”

“Well, Sir,” asked the young man, “does it work?”

The plumber replied, “You know it’s kind of strange. In the morning when I leave for work, I pass by my ‘Problem Tree’ to pick up those worries and stress monsters, and you know, on some mornings, it seems as if there aren’t as many as there were before. I guess they just crawled away during the night, or maybe someone came by and just picked them off!”

On his way home, that young man touched every single tree branch he passed. I wonder what happened the next day or whatever happened to him. Is that you?

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” (C.S.Lewis)

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The Value of a Spiritual Wardrobe


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 8, 2017

From time to time, we are given a unique perspective into the disputes which Jesus faced while He walked the earth. Today in the Gospel we find Him in the midst of several disputes with the Pharisees.  These men were part of a movement of spiritual renewal among the Jews at the time of Christ.  The Pharisees were very concerned about the national identity of Israel, rooted in the covenant between God and the Chosen People. The Torah, or Law, contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, gave concrete instructions on how to live the Covenant faithfully. Although they seemed to have meant well, the problem with their position was that their teaching actually robbed the Law – the Word of God, after all – of its dynamism and life-giving power. “Blind guides,” Jesus calls them.  (Matthew 15:14; 23:16, 24) The Pharisees’ attitude compromised their capacity to grasp Jesus’ teaching on the liberating power of the Law. “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

St. Mark illustrates an example of that fulfillment. “No one puts new wine into old wine skins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.” (Mark 2:22) As we have seen so many times before, Jesus often uses concrete and dynamic images to illustrate his point. He was certainly the Master Teacher who constantly made teaching memorable and easily understandable. Likewise, by drawing from examples of everyday life, Jesus, even today, helps his hearers to connect the Gospel with their ordinary experience.

How should we understand Jesus’ reference to wine skins?  We are used to buying and storing wine in bottles. During the time of Christ, this was possible, but impractical. Glass was a precious material and was usually produced in small quantities. A bottle could not be transported easily, and being a costly material, would have required too much care for the average home. Liquids would be stored in clay jars or in containers made of animal skin. The latter was particularly convenient for transportation, as it could be carried easily, was lightweight, and would occupy less and less space as the liquid was consumed. Wineskins required a modicum of care, given that after a period of use, the leather would become worn and could easily rupture, especially if filled with un-fermented (“new”) wine.

Jesus uses this image to teach us about the new covenant that he inaugurates.  You see, a complete and total conversion is necessary in order to “drink the new wine” of salvation and to maintain the level of fidelity and love of God to move forward in life. Without proper care, our souls, too, can become like old, thin wineskins, weakened by sin and spiritual slothfulness.  What would be the point, say, of taking a nice, hot shower after a full day of outdoor labor only to put on the same clothes? Sounds impractical, doesn’t it? The same is true of our souls. They require vigilance and care. The great news today is that the Lord is always at hand, offering us his grace through the sacraments to repair what is broken, strengthen what is weak, and fortify what is healthy.

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July 8, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 27:1-5, 15-29

When Isaac was so old that his eyesight had failed him,
he called his older son Esau and said to him, “Son!”
“Yes father!” he replied.
Isaac then said, “As you can see, I am so old
that I may now die at any time.
Take your gear, therefore–your quiver and bow–
and go out into the country to hunt some game for me.
With your catch prepare an appetizing dish for me, such as I like,
and bring it to me to eat,
so that I may give you my special blessing before I die.”

Rebekah had been listening
while Isaac was speaking to his son Esau.
So, when Esau went out into the country
to hunt some game for his father,
Rebekah [then] took the best clothes of her older son Esau
that she had in the house,
and gave them to her younger son Jacob to wear;
and with the skins of the kids she covered up his hands
and the hairless parts of his neck.
Then she handed her son Jacob the appetizing dish
and the bread she had prepared.

Bringing them to his father, Jacob said, “Father!”
“Yes?” replied Isaac. “Which of my sons are you?”
Jacob answered his father: “I am Esau, your first-born.
I did as you told me.
Please sit up and eat some of my game,
so that you may give me your special blessing.”
But Isaac asked, “How did you succeed so quickly, son?”
He answered,
“The LORD, your God, let things turn out well with me.”
Isaac then said to Jacob,
“Come closer, son, that I may feel you,
to learn whether you really are my son Esau or not.”
So Jacob moved up closer to his father.
When Isaac felt him, he said,
“Although the voice is Jacob’s, the hands are Esau’s.”
(He failed to identify him because his hands were hairy,
like those of his brother Esau;
so in the end he gave him his blessing.)
Again he asked Jacob, “Are you really my son Esau?”
“Certainly,” Jacob replied.
Then Isaac said, “Serve me your game, son, that I may eat of it
and then give you my blessing.”
Jacob served it to him, and Isaac ate;
he brought him wine, and he drank.
Finally his father Isaac said to Jacob,
“Come closer, son, and kiss me.”
As Jacob went up and kissed him,
Isaac smelled the fragrance of his clothes.
With that, he blessed him saying,

“Ah, the fragrance of my son
is like the fragrance of a field
that the LORD has blessed!

“May God give to you
of the dew of the heavens
And of the fertility of the earth
abundance of grain and wine.

“Let peoples serve you,
and nations pay you homage;
Be master of your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
and blessed be those who bless you.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 135:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (3A) Praise the Lord for the Lord is good!
or:
R. Alleluia.
Praise the name of the LORD;
Praise, you servants of the LORD
Who stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
R. Praise the Lord for the Lord is good!
or:
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, which we love;
For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel for his own possession.
R. Praise the Lord for the Lord is good!
or:
R. Alleluia.
For I know that the LORD is great;
our LORD is greater than all gods.
All that the LORD wills he does
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and in all the deeps.
R. Praise the Lord for the Lord is good!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:14-17

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.
No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth,
for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse.
People do not put new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.
Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

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The Quality of Mercy


Reflection Mass Reading for July 7, 2017

“Abraham had now reached a ripe old age, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.” (First Reading)

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.” (Responsorial Psalm)

“Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Gospel)

There is an excellent scene in Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice where we read the phrase, “The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” (Act IV, Scene I).

Recently, Pope Francis also addressed the take on the quality of mercy when he said, “God’s mercy transforms hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn.” Abraham knew this quality first-hand. He had been shown mercy and lived long enough to remember such a gift. Throughout his old age, mercy was his for the asking. The Psalmist also reminds us that this is certainly true because indeed, the Lord’s mercy is forever. Jesus then confirms this quality by assuring that this is exactly what He is looking for in His People, then and now. He wants mercy. He want us to show mercy. He wants us to live and breathe mercy.

Let us start with those immediately around us. Those we claim we love. Then, to those who are on the periphery of our lives. How do we treat each other? As a friend of mine once reminded me, “If it were a crime to be a Christian today, would they find enough evidence to convict you?” Let me think.

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July 7, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 23:1-4, 19; 24:1-8, 62-67

The span of Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years.
She died in Kiriatharba (that is, Hebron)
in the land of Canaan,
and Abraham performed the customary mourning rites for her.
Then he left the side of his dead one and addressed the Hittites:
“Although I am a resident alien among you,
sell me from your holdings a piece of property for a burial ground,
that I may bury my dead wife.”

After the transaction, Abraham buried his wife Sarah
in the cave of the field of Machpelah,
facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.

Abraham had now reached a ripe old age,
and the LORD had blessed him in every way.
Abraham said to the senior servant of his household,
who had charge of all his possessions:
“Put your hand under my thigh,
and I will make you swear by the LORD,
the God of heaven and the God of earth,
that you will not procure a wife for my son
from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live,
but that you will go to my own land and to my kindred
to get a wife for my son Isaac.”
The servant asked him:
“What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land?
Should I then take your son back to the land from which you migrated?”
“Never take my son back there for any reason,” Abraham told him.
“The LORD, the God of heaven,
who took me from my father’s house and the land of my kin,
and who confirmed by oath the promise he then made to me,
‘I will give this land to your descendants’–
he will send his messenger before you,
and you will obtain a wife for my son there.
If the woman is unwilling to follow you,
you will be released from this oath.
But never take my son back there!”

A long time later, Isaac went to live in the region of the Negeb.
One day toward evening he went out . . . in the field,
and as he looked around, he noticed that camels were approaching.
Rebekah, too, was looking about, and when she saw him,
she alighted from her camel and asked the servant,
“Who is the man out there, walking through the fields toward us?”
“That is my master,” replied the servant.
Then she covered herself with her veil.

The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done.
Then Isaac took Rebekah into his tent;
he married her, and thus she became his wife.
In his love for her, Isaac found solace
after the death of his mother Sarah.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 106:1B-2, 3-4A, 4B-5

R. (1B) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Who can tell the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or proclaim all his praises?
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Blessed are they who observe what is right,
who do always what is just.
Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Visit me with your saving help,
That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
rejoice in the joy of your people,
and glory with your inheritance.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Alleluia – MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

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Miraculous Healing by Jesus


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 6, 2017

“God put Abraham to the test.” (First Reading)

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Responsorial Psalm)

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, child, your sins are forgiven…Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.’” (Gospel)

A couple of years ago, on my way to work, there was a totally unexpected downpour of rain which forced me to take a different route to the office by way of residential streets located nearby a school. It was then that I saw a mother and son walking through the water with only one umbrella, which was hardly effective against the wind-driven rain. I am sure that neither of them knew that I was privy to such an upcoming act of selflessness and love as I watched this young woman move her umbrella away from herself and begin to get drenched as they neared the crosswalk. She held it firmly above her little son who was destined to arrive dry, more or less, to school and begin his day. Before he was to walk across the street to his first class, he gently took the hand that was holding his guard against the elements and kissed it. It was all he could do, but it was the very best he could. It was quite moving.

Every day, like Abraham, we are put to a test. The test is simple. What kind of person are you going to be today? The way we walk with the Lord Jesus and witness to life in our day-to-day interaction with others is exactly how we walk in the presence of the Lord Jesus. It is this kind of faith that Jesus witnessed in the Gospel and propelled the miraculous healing of the paralyzed man. These miracles are happening every day. Look for them and you too will witness miracles.

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July 6, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 22:1B-19

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” he said.
“Yes, son,” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessingBall this because you obeyed my command.”

Abraham then returned to his servants,
and they set out together for Beer-sheba,
where Abraham made his home.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 115:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (9) I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory
because of your kindness, because of your truth.
Why should the pagans say,
“Where is their God?”
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our God is in heaven;
whatever he wills, he does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the handiwork of men.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
They have mouths but speak not;
they have eyes but see not;
They have ears but hear not;
they have noses but smell not.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Their makers shall be like them,
everyone who trusts in them.
The house of Israel trusts in the LORD;
he is their help and their shield.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – 2 COR 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
:Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

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What’s in Your Swine?


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 5, 2017

In the Gospel today, we encounter a totally new set of characters which we have not yet seen. In New Testament accounts, demoniacs were those unfortunate people whose entire lives came under the wretched control of evil, diabolical spirits or even the devil itself. I think we can safely surmise that these occurrences show us clearly that evil had been and seemingly will continue to be totally at odds with the liberation of God’s people from the forces of darkness. It is yet another installment of the annals of spiritual warfare in which Jesus, and by reasonable extension, the Church was and is constantly engaged.

Our particular focus today concerns this encounter Jesus experienced as He was traveling in the region east of the Jordan River, the well-known scene of His Baptism. The height of the biblical drama occurs when the demons begged Jesus to let them go into a herd of pigs, a petition He easily acceded. The result was fast and amazing, especially for those present watching everything unfold. The possessed pigs quickly rushed down the steep bank into the lake where they met their watery grave. While it is not explicitly clear why the evil spirits really wanted to enter the swine, we are able, based on other Scripture passages and the Church’s teaching on Evil, to consider the following about the demons: (1) didn’t want to leave the setting where they had been successful; (2) were actually attracted to these unclean beasts because of their own filthiness; and (3) knew it was their last chance to avoid the ghastly punishment awaiting them in the Abyss, literally a hellish place to which evil spirits are doomed. “During that time these people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die but death will escape them.” (Revelation 9:6)

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” (Responsorial Psalm)  No matter what their reasoning was, it is safe to say that we can rest assured that all evil forces are no match for Jesus who promises to take care of each of us tender ones. We must take comfort in the knowledge that all the forces of the enemy of our souls are under the complete control of God and can only act in ways He allows.

A good priest friend of mine is fond of repeating something of which he is absolutely convinced, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” Is it possible that evil tends to gravitate to the areas of our lives where we have allowed too much access?  Isn’t it also probable that evil grows where evil is welcomed, even celebrated?  We might even go as far as to say that evil moves to occupy the souls that are unrepentant, wishing to wallow in sin and pride rather than ask for mercy and forgiveness from the Lord.

“The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” (Alleluia Verse)  The Good News today is that Jesus Christ has power over sin and death and all the forces of darkness, disposing of it all quite properly. We have the power to acknowledge this great gift and move forward, never backward, and certainly never over the cliff, with a most marvelous faith.

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July 5, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 21:5, 8-20A

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Isaac grew, and on the day of the child’s weaning
Abraham held a great feast.

Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian
had borne to Abraham
playing with her son Isaac;
so she demanded of Abraham:
“Drive out that slave and her son!
No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance
with my son Isaac!”
Abraham was greatly distressed,
especially on account of his son Ishmael.
But God said to Abraham: “Do not be distressed about the boy
or about your slave woman.
Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you;
for it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name.
As for the son of the slave woman,
I will make a great nation of him also,
since he too is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water
and gave them to Hagar.
Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away.
As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba,
the water in the skin was used up.
So she put the child down under a shrub,
and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away;
for she said to herself, “Let me not watch to see the child die.”
As she sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry.
God heard the boy’s cry,
and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven:
“What is the matter, Hagar?
Don’t be afraid; God has heard the boy’s cry in this plight of his.
Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand;
for I will make of him a great nation.”
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.
She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R. (7A) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Come, children, hear me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Which of you desires life,
and takes delight in prosperous days?
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Alleluia – JAS 1:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 8:28-34

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
“If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”
And he said to them, “Go then!”
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

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July 4, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 19:15-29

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way!
Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here,
or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.”
When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy,
seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters
and led them to safety outside the city.
As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told:
“Flee for your life!
Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain.
Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.”
“Oh, no, my lord!” Lot replied,
“You have already thought enough of your servant
to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life.
But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me,
and so I shall die.
Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to.
It’s only a small place.
Let me flee there–it’s a small place, is it not?–
that my life may be saved.”
“Well, then,” he replied,
“I will also grant you the favor you now ask.
I will not overthrow the town you speak of.
Hurry, escape there!
I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
That is why the town is called Zoar.

The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar;
at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire
upon Sodom and Gomorrah
from the LORD out of heaven.
He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain,
together with the inhabitants of the cities
and the produce of the soil.
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham went to the place
where he had stood in the LORD’s presence.
As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah
and the whole region of the Plain,
he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.

Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain,
he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval
by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12

R. (3A) O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Search me, O LORD, and try me;
test my soul and my heart.
For your mercy is before my eyes,
and I walk in your truth.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Gather not my soul with those of sinners,
nor with men of blood my life.
On their hands are crimes,
and their right hands are full of bribes.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
But I walk in integrity;
redeem me, and have mercy on me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the assemblies I will bless the LORD.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.

Alleluia – PS 130:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

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Freedom and Independence


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 4, 2017

Freedom is a Right. Independence is a Choice.  From the very depths of our heart, we celebrate freedom today. On the most outward and national level, we commemorate the historical proceedings that led us here today. Not everyone reading this commentary is American, but the values for which this country stands, may and should serve as a beacon of life and hope for a better tomorrow. I want to share with you today the peace and joy that is in my heart. Knowing what this day means historically and intellectually, I still want to take it a step further.

“O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.” (Alleluia verse)  The bottom line is that there are real, tangible and on-going miracles all around us. Just think for a minute about your own life and those precious to you. For some, the miracle began when they gave their heart to Jesus early on, while for others, the turning point came when a person welcomed the Holy Spirit and allowed that Spirit to work within them.

Today, I witness that we are free. We’ve tasted the slavery of dysfunction and co-dependence and have chosen freedom. We’ve had to struggle to survive financially and have chosen hope. We’ve tasted lust and selfishness and have chosen love. We know that we are the person we are when no one is looking and we have chosen integrity. Can we abuse this freedom? Can we ever forget what has brought us to this moment? Can we become yet another statistic? Yes, we can, but we won’t because we have spiritual freedom and nothing in life can replace that.

“What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Gospel)

Let us Pray:  Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. All I have and call my own, You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me. Amen.

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Persistent or Doubting Thomas?


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 3, 2017

There was a young father who often spoke about a trip he took with his little boy just two and a half years old at the time. It was the first time the father and the boy had been away by themselves, just the two of them. The first night they spent in a hotel, the father moved his bed close to the little boy’s, and when they were both tucked in, he turned out the light. After a few minutes, a little voice said, “It sure is dark isn’t it?” “Yes,” said the father, “it’s pretty dark, but everything is going to be all right.” There was silence for a few more minutes, and then a little hand reached over and took his father’s hand. “I’ll just hold your hand,” said the little boy, “in case you get scared.”

Do we ever doubt the Lord Jesus like Thomas? I am sure we do. However, even though this Apostle earned a negative label, he was not lacking in other very outstanding virtues such as great courage and loyalty. The need and want for proof of our faith in Christ is directly proportionate to the level and depth of our spiritual life. Although the Scriptures today portrays good St. Thomas as a skeptic, he never stayed there in doubt. He still wanted to see. He persisted in knowing. And then, after a life of experience and spreading the faith and preaching the Gospel, he did in fact feel the wounds of Christ in his own body by glorifying God with a martyr’s death. How do we keep from doubting our Jesus? First, we must return solidly to God in prayer when experiencing any threat, large or small, to our beliefs. Second, we must recognize that all of us who want to follow Christ actually and daily are involved with a spiritual battle. We can never take anything or anyone for granted.

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July 3, 2017


Reading 1 – EPH 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 117:1BC, 2

R. (MARK 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Alleluia – JN 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 20:24-29

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

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July 2, 2017


Reading 1 – 2 KGS 4:8-11, 14-16A

One day Elisha came to Shunem,
where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her.
Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine.
So she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God.
Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof
and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp,
so that when he comes to us he can stay there.”
Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.

Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?”
His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes!
She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.”
Elisha said, “Call her.”
When the woman had been called and stood at the door,
Elisha promised, “This time next year
you will be fondling a baby son.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19

R. (2A) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever,
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever;”
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
You are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and the Holy One of Israel, our king.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 – ROM 6:3-4, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Alleluia – 1 PT 2:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:37-42

Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

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Wanted: Dead or Alive


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 2, 2017

What do the following people have in common? John Dillinger, Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Jack the Ripper, James Earl Ray, John Wilkes Booth, D.B.Cooper, Pablo Escobar, Jesse James, and Al Capone.  They were all wanted for a crime by lawful authorities who wanted to catch them and bring them to justice, whether or not they could be apprehended alive or not. There was typically a set monetary reward offered to whomever catches the wanted criminal that is advertised on the poster. Rewards from $100,000 to $25 Million are currently being offered by the US Government. In an analogous and similar way, we could make the case that you and I are wanted by the Lord who also offers a reward for our acquisition. Let’s see how far we can take this.

“Can something be done for her?” (First Reading) The woman from Shunem in our first selection understood the holiness of Elisha and continued to provide hospitality for his visits. She was rewarded with a baby son.

“The promises of the LORD I will sing forever, through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.” (Responsorial Psalm) The rewards to those who believe in the Lord’s goodness and promises are immense and illicit great and joyful reactions, a reward of hope and fidelity, clearly.

“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Second Reading) Because of the death and Resurrection of Jesus, those of us baptized into His very life, are promised and assured the reward of life beyond imagining, in this world and the next.

“And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—Amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” (Gospel) Jesus spoke of reward. The concept can be misunderstood. Jesus was not speaking in terms of something extrinsic – a prize or payment of some kind. The reward would rather be the reality, and the experience, of human and personal growth; this could mean growth in love, truth and inner freedom, in the enjoyed intimacy of love for God, which is its own reward. We could also posit that loving God with every fiber of our being is in fact itself its own reward.

Therefore, being wanted by God and sought “to be brought in (Heaven) alive,” ranks above all the most desired of conditions we could ever imagine. He wants us – alive!

For further meditation:

“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) “God will repay each person according to what they have done.” (Romans 2:6) “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

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Miracle Menu


Reflection on Mass Reading for July 1, 2017

“Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?” (First Reading)  What is painfully clear in the Readings today is that without prayer fueled by Faith, we are definitely lost. As the marquee down the street from our office reads, “Prayer is the best wireless connection to God.” And every prayer needs words and those words must be inspired and lead us to the Word made Flesh in the very person of Jesus Christ.

“He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy,” (Responsorial Psalm)  By most accounts, the human person is comprised of the body, mind, heart and soul. There are some variations on that composite, but basically that seems to wrap up what we know about ourselves. The body certainly has its physical needs and wants, the mind is either in control of the emotions of the heart or being whisked away depending on the maturity of the individual, and the soul is the very center and essence of the person which hungers and longs for God like the body longs for air and water. We are all very well aware and versed in how to feed the needs of the body and the emotions, but today we focus on the way we feed our souls so that the wants of the other elements of existence are balanced and yield a life that is one of integrity and strength.  It is analogous to the difference between nutritious and fast food. One is easy, cheap and fast but leaves one unhealthy, tired and hungry very quickly. Good, healthy food is harder to come by, takes time to prepare and eat, but does in fact satisfy the true nutritional needs of the body. Such it is with the startling difference between the fast talk of the world and inspired prayer of the soul who loves God.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Gospel)

Read
Open the Scriptures and let the words flow through your mind like a river through a dry, parched land.

Absorb
Learn and study what those words mean. Consult. Listen. Pray.

Believe
Place the Word of God squarely in your soul and commit your life to Jesus, who is the Word Made Flesh.

Act
Do something. Today and every day, God will present to us every opportunity to act on the Word.

“Accept the Risen Jesus into your life. Even if you have been far away, take a small step towards him: He awaits you with open arms.”  (Pope Francis)

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July 1, 2017


Reading 1 – GN 8:1-15

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth of Mamre,
as Abraham sat in the entrance of his tent,
while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby.
When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;
and bowing to the ground, he said:
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor,
please do not go on past your servant.
Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,
and then rest yourselves under the tree.
Now that you have come this close to your servant,
let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;
and afterward you may go on your way.”
The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah,
“Quick, three measures of fine flour!
Knead it and make rolls.”
He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer,
and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.
Then Abraham got some curds and milk,
as well as the steer that had been prepared,
and set these before them;
and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
He replied, “There in the tent.”
One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah will then have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years,
and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.
So Sarah laughed to herself and said,
“Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old,
am I still to have sexual pleasure?”
But the LORD said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say,
‘Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’
Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?
At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you,
and Sarah will have a son.”
Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But he replied, “Yes you did.”

Responsorial Psalm – LUKE 1:46-47, 48-49, 50 AND 53, 54-55

R. (see 54B) The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

Alleluia – MT 8:17

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – lMT 8:5-17

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,
but the children of the Kingdom
will be driven out into the outer darkness,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion,
“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

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