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August 31, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 THES 3:7-13

We have been reassured about you, brothers and sisters,
in our every distress and affliction, through your faith.
For we now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

What thanksgiving, then, can we render to God for you,
for all the joy we feel on your account before our God?
Night and day we pray beyond measure to see you in person
and to remedy the deficiencies of your faith.
Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus
direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase
and abound in love for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 90:3-5A, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (14) Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Alleluia – MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant,
whom the master has put in charge of his household
to distribute to them their food at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

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Stay Awake


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 31, 2017

“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Gospel) Why is this urgent call from the Lord so important? There are at least three definite reasons.

(1) Living life without being vigilant and watchful, by its very nature, will invite trouble. It is much like a senseless lamb wandering out in the field all by itself which will automatically and assuredly get the attention of the proverbial hungry wolf nearby.

(2) What usually lurks behind the lack of awareness and being awake is the mistaken idea that we all have plenty of time.  We don’t.

(3) The punishment inflicted on the lazy servant in the Gospel has everything to do with a dereliction of duty. You leave your post and there is nothing good in store. The same is true for us.

Imagine the nervousness and anxiety if we are not ready for the Lord! Then, imagine the joy and immense happiness when He does come and we are ready.

Over 30 years ago, there was a ship off the coast of Massachusetts that was reported lost at sea with 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 family members grew tired and discouraged and began to make their way back to their homes, while a smaller remnant stayed vigilant. Finally, on the 15th day of their disappearance, the vessel sailed back into harbor, all aboard were hungry and tired, but certainly safe and alive. It was said that one of the men looked sad as he disembarked. He shrugged and walked to his little cottage 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…” was his reply.

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. “I know my Redeemer lives.” (Job 14:25) 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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Hypocrisy as Blindness


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 30, 2017

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” (Gospel) How does Jesus respond to our old friends today? Well, to say the least, it wasn’t pretty. Why the harshness of reaction? That’s what happens when we won’t see how incredibly God is working in our life or in the life of others. It is the expected consequence when we hide behind the Law and miss the Law-giver in our midst. The people who understand this always rejoice but the ones who judge and criticize and try to fix everyone else except themselves are almost always humiliated. It all depends on the relationship.

Today, let us first give thanks that Our Lord loves us so much that we are constantly being exposed to the truth in our lives, ugly at times, but always liberating. Second, let us ask again for the courage to see Jesus in others as we look for Him in our own souls. This is definitely the recipe for true happiness.

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August 30, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 THES 2:9-13

You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God.
You are witnesses, and so is God,
how devoutly and justly and blamelessly
we behaved toward you believers.
As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children,
exhorting and encouraging you and insisting
that you walk in a manner worthy of the God
who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 139:7-8, 9-10, 11-12AB

R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”–
For you darkness itself is not dark,
and night shines as the day.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

Alleluia – 1 JN 2:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 23:27-32

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

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The Passion of Saint John the Baptist


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 29, 2017

“With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.” (First Reading) Today’s Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist reveals great mysteries on several different levels. First and foremost is the level of Divine Revelation which all of these encounters set the stage for the greatest moment on earth, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The last prophet of all time was actually related to Jesus for whom he prepared, not only with his words and wisdom, but also and most dynamically, with his own blood, his very life.

“You have searched me and you know me, Lord.” (Responsorial Psalm) St. John’s life was hinged, from the very moment of his conception, on the Messiah, the only One who could save the world from itself, from evil and from final damnation. It made sense, then, that he would live as man ready to face Jesus in this life and the next. He held himself away from evil which then put his life in mortal danger when he confronted the demented and deranged life of Herod, Herodias and a world that was not willing to accept Jesus as the Christ.

“Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody.” (Gospel) What can we learn from Herod, Herodias and St. John the Baptist?

Herod
Both secular history and the Biblical give accounts as to the clarity that Herod was a tormented, powerfully insane man with at least three or four different personalities. His marital record reads like a fifty-cent paper-back novel and the trail of blood he left behind knew no prisoners, including those from his own family. Not having a focus in this life, not realizing that it is Jesus that awaits us at the beginning and the end of each day, at the start and conclusion of each life, will undoubtedly lead to horrible consequences and disasters.

Herodias
This pathetic woman shows us what a messy concoction is produced when you mix anger, ambition and arrogance together in one frail mind. She goes down in history as the one who killed the one man who had the courage to confront her sinful life. She silenced St. John so she could sin in silence. She did, however, forget one very important element of the cycle of life. While she may never have had to meet The Baptist again, she still had to meet God.

St. John the Baptist
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Alleluia Verse) The last great prophet is clearly a man of courage, preferring death to a life of lies. He lived for the Truth and he died for it. He lived for Jesus and died for Him. We might even consider St. John the Baptist as the Patron Saint of a good conscience because without one we all die.

Let us Pray

O God, You raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ. Fill your people with the joy of possessing His grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of peace and salvation. Grant that, as St. John was martyred for truth and justice, likewise we may energetically profess our faith in You, and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life. Amen.

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August 29, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 THES 2:1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters,
that our reception among you was not without effect.
Rather, after we had suffered and been insolently treated,
as you know, in Philippi,
we drew courage through our God
to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle.
Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives,
nor did it work through deception.
But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel,
that is how we speak,
not as trying to please men,
but rather God, who judges our hearts.
Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know,
or with a pretext for greed–God is witness–
nor did we seek praise from men,
either from you or from others,
although we were able to impose our weight as Apostles of Christ.
Rather, we were gentle among you,
as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you
not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well,
so dearly beloved had you become to us.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 139:1-3, 4-6

R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

Alleluia – MT 5:10

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

Gospel – MK 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

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August 28, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 THES 1:1-5, 8B-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.
For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
In every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, Jesus,
who delivers us from the coming wrath.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4A) The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia!
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
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 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”

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The Feast of Saint Augustine


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 28, 2017

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (First Reading)

Saint Augustine had been a sinner. He had a mistress by whom he had a son. He repented and amended his life, and became one of the great Saints of the Church. He would later write after his magnificent conversion, “We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.” He certainly presents with a fascinating thought. We should hate sin, because God hates sin. And if we do hate our sins, then even in the midst of sin, there is at least some amount of harmony with the will of God. This is not only perfectly intelligible, but also widely experienced.

Herein lies the problem. When a person is methodical and organized in their hypocrisy, when they lead a double life, they have not only made room in their lives for sin but they have made it a standard for their behavior. Far from hating sin, this sinner plans his life around it. And so, by Augustine’s suggested measure, there is no semblance of harmony with God at all.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.” (Gospel) So are we hypocrites because we believe and profess to live a life that has integrity and avoids sin and selfishness even though we know we are also sinful? No, not at all. We are all a work in progress, and Almighty God is still at work in our lives right here, right now even as we write and read this Reflection. Thank God He is merciful! This helps us remember what one wise person once said, “there is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future.”

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Alleluia Verse)

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I Will Build My Church


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 27, 2017

It is clear throughout the New Testament that Peter is first among the Apostles and their leader. He was chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him on several levels. St. Peter was privileged to witness the awesome mystery of the powerful Transfiguration, which sought to prepare the early Church for the scandal of the suffering and horrible death of Jesus by the crucifixion. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus and his name appears more than 100 times in the New Testament, with St. John in a distant second place with nearly 30 mentions.

“Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Responsorial Psalm) Although the impetuous and impulsive Peter is seemingly close to the edge of belief and doubt, his place in Church History, Scriptural Theology and Ecclesiology (the nature of the Church itself) is simply unmatched. He is willing to accept Jesus’ doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off a soldier’s ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. In that light, St. Peter sounds like every one of us who is trying to follow the Lord with all of own imperfections and faults. Yet, we learn never to give up or give in, and the role of service becomes crystal clear. Our own self has to die to the wants and needs of the mission ahead of us.

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.” (Gospel) The Gospel clearly establishes the deep desire and longing of Jesus to keep the Church going and shepherded throughout the centuries until the end of time. This is an ongoing gift of love that Christ has for us in giving us shepherds after His own heart. St. Peter’s incredible and phenomenal life is perhaps best summed up in the account of his meeting with Jesus after the Resurrection. Jesus asked him three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16) Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. . . . Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17) And he still does.

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August 27, 2017


Reading 1 – IS 22:19-23

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:
“I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
and gird him with your sash,
and give over to him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,
to be a place of honor for his family.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8

R. (8BC) Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

Reading 2 – ROM 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?

For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Alleluia – MT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

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Hypocrisy 2.0


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 26, 2017

“For they preach but they do not practice…do not follow their example.” (Gospel) There is a fairly common French expression that loosely translated in English sounds something like, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I guess you could apply that observation to any number of examples, but for today, let’s take a look at the new hypocrisy in the world and realize that it oozes forth from the same miasma of pretentious behavior that has its beginning from the dawn of civilization.

Where are the new Scribes and Pharisees to be found?

Facebooker – Those who constantly want to impress everyone about how many great things they are doing, including going to Church, helping out people, and being that all-around wonderful person by posting every detail online. Why do we have to know all that?

Goldbricker – Those among friends who talk the good talk about being good and moral and righteous but keep putting off any real action for later. “I’ll get around to doing that,” they’ll echo over and over. Great. When?

Humped-Back – The unfortunates who try way too hard to exuberantly express fake and false humility, who seem to walk around with their heads bent down while spouting cute phrases about being nice and non-judgemental. They sound open and forgiving, but this is just a veneer. Very pretentious.

CPA – This is the one who counts out all the good deeds and helpful things they do for everyone and often is ready to list them at the drop of a hat. Please.

Chicken Little – Since there may be some who do not know the image here, Chicken Little was famous for screaming everywhere that “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” These are the folks who are literally terrorized by the end of the world and seek to spiritually terrorize others with claims that “the end is near.” “No, this time it’s for real,” they say. The problem is that they also have an unhealthy fear for the judgement of God and want to make sure everything looks and sounds good before the Lord returns. It doesn’t mean that Jesus is not coming back, for certainly He is, as He promised. The problem here is that the majority of energy of the Chicken Littles is placed on the external aspects of life and barely anything internal. Not sustainable.

Perhaps we can recall the words of the Psalmist today which call out to us to place Christ at the beginning, center and end of our day and seek to know, love and serve Him as best we can.

“Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored.” (Responsorial Psalm)

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August 26, 2017


Reading 1 – RU 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17

Naomi had a prominent kinsman named Boaz,
of the clan of her husband Elimelech.
Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi,
“Let me go and glean ears of grain in the field
of anyone who will allow me that favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go, my daughter,” and she went.
The field she entered to glean after the harvesters
happened to be the section belonging to Boaz
of the clan of Elimelech.

Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter!
Do not go to glean in anyone else’s field;
you are not to leave here.
Stay here with my women servants.
Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them;
I have commanded the young men to do you no harm.
When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the vessels
the young men have filled.”
Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, Ruth said to him,
“Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your notice?”
Boaz answered her:
“I have had a complete account of what you have done
for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death;
you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth,
and have come to a people whom you did not know previously.”

Boaz took Ruth.
When they came together as man and wife,
the LORD enabled her to conceive and she bore a son.
Then the women said to Naomi,
“Blessed is the LORD who has not failed
to provide you today with an heir!
May he become famous in Israel!
He will be your comfort and the support of your old age,
for his mother is the daughter-in-law who loves you.
She is worth more to you than seven sons!”
Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nurse.
And the neighbor women gave him his name,
at the news that a grandson had been born to Naomi.
They called him Obed.
He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 128:1B-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (4) See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
You wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

Alleluia – MT 23:9B, 10B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have but one Father in heaven;
you have but one master, the Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

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Love is Great


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 25, 2017

“Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (First Reading) Our First Reading today presents a dramatic and graphic scene that may parallel some selections from a romantic movie where the main characters are about to be separated. And yet, in many ways, this is actually close to the meaning of the scene. The famous Biblical friendship of Ruth and Naomi reaches a wonderful height when Ruth says in no uncertain terms that if this is what love is then “I will follow you wherever you go and worship the same God that has filled your heart with such grace.” Perhaps that is helpful for us to remember that without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are as good as dead because we may never what what true love is.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Gospel) The Lord wishes us to be truly alive and breathing the good things of this world in preparation for the next. He truly wishes to satisfy our deepest longing for love which conquers the silliness and pettiness of selfish behavior. These all eventually lead to spiritual death.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Gospel) Jesus came to teach us to love by dying to ourselves. The One who is love is clearly stronger than death because he defeated death forever on the cross. Therefore, the only way to survive in this very selfish and self-serving world is to surrender to the will of the Father, follow Jesus all the way to the end and love our neighbor as ourselves. It is the only way. This places living and loving hearts upon otherwise dry and loveless souls.

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August 25, 2017


Reading 1 – RU 1:1, 3-6, 14B-16, 22

Once in the time of the judges there was a famine in the land;
so a man from Bethlehem of Judah
departed with his wife and two sons
to reside on the plateau of Moab.
Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died,
and she was left with her two sons, who married Moabite women,
one named Orpah, the other Ruth.
When they had lived there about ten years,
both Mahlon and Chilion died also,
and the woman was left with neither her two sons nor her husband.
She then made ready to go back from the plateau of Moab
because word reached her there
that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her.

Naomi said, “See now!
Your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god.
Go back after your sister-in-law!”
But Ruth said, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you!
For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge,
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Thus it was that Naomi returned
with the Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth,
who accompanied her back from the plateau of Moab.
They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 146:5-6AB, 6C-7, 8-9A, 9BC-10

R. (1B) Praise the Lord, my soul!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
The LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia – PS 25:4B, 5A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

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August 24, 2017


Reading 1 – RV 21:9B-14

The angel spoke to me, saying,
“Come here.
I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

R. (12) Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
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. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Alleluia – JN 1:49B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

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The Feast of Saint Bartholomew


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 24, 2017

Nathaniel/Bartholomew had no duplicity in him. What does that mean? From what we know of the context of the Gospel we can safely see that as “a true child of Israel,” he knew the Scriptures, took time to pray and reflect on them (under the fig tree) and that had a heart that was undivided with pure intentions. He was also apparently ready to grasp and embrace the truth. When he came face to face with Jesus, his words rang out not only there at the scene but for all of church history to read and hear: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

If our hearts are divided then so, too are our loyalties. This is what makes living the Christian life both challenging and rewarding. If we put God first and our desire to please and love Him primary, sin will be harder and harder to follow and the rewards of being a loving Christian will become immense. It is also challenging with the many distractions, temptations and the overreaching tendency of our societies to preach the message of self-love and greed over charity. The only way to achieve this is with the grace of God fed by a good steady habit of confession and the Eucharist.

Heaven will be inscribed with the witness and hope of the Apostles. “The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” (Gospel) And their hope is our hope, Jesus, the Lamb of God. Here is our prayer for the day:

“Lord God, make me strong and courageous with an undivided heart for you and for your people. Help me recognize the truth, love the truth and live the truth. Make me an apostle.”

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I Want To Be Last


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 23, 2017

The Gospel takes us to a new and beautiful understanding of what our lives mean when they are rightly ordered according to the purpose for which they were created. It has everything to do with justice and gratitude. These are essential elements of the Kingdom and the very characteristics of the King Himself. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.” Let us explore this a little further.

The famous Aristotle was attributed with the idiom, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” This was, in part, used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature which requires every space to be filled with something, even if that something is colorless, odorless air. In the spiritual world, there is a just and lasting comparison. Every person needs purpose to survive. Everyone needs a goal and a relationship with that which is beyond the confines of this time and space. We know this as God. No matter when we come to realize this awesome fact, or get hired as is proclaimed in the Gospel today, we are still worth Eternal Life, hence, the daily wage. This also applies to the mystery of death itself, for no matter at what age a person dies, they are equally precious in the eyes of God.

Second, when we do come to realize that there is a vacuum of meaning and only God can fill it, we become more and more convicted of our sinfulness and fragile weaknesses. Every attempt we make to rid ourselves of what is not of God, we create another vacuum that at times allows another vice to take its place quickly. The only real and permanent way to answer this spiritual problem of personal sin is to replace what is dark and selfish with the love of Jesus which then fills that vacuum. The more we are filled with Jesus, the less room there is for anything dark and evil. This finally leads us to the amazing parable of Jesus.

While it is true that the one clear way to fill whatever vacuum is in our lives is with the Lord, this attempt needs the help of justice and gratitude. In the parable, the owner of the vineyard was fair. If he had paid the last group the hourly wage, they would not have had enough to feed their families. This is real justice. What about the guy who complained? What was missing from his little speech? Gratitude. Without either of these in our lives, we will never have the humility to accept God’s wisdom over our own pre-conceived notions about what is fair and right. “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Gospel) As someone once said, “we don’t need to put our house in order before Jesus comes in; He puts it in order after we let Him in.”

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August 23, 2017


Reading 1 – JGS 9:6-15

All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together
and proceeded to make Abimelech king
by the terebinth at the memorial pillar in Shechem.

When this was reported to him,
Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and, standing there,
cried out to them in a loud voice:
“Hear me, citizens of Shechem, that God may then hear you!
Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’
But the olive tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my rich oil,
whereby men and gods are honored,
and go to wave over the trees?’
Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come; you reign over us!’
But the fig tree answered them,
‘Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit,
and go to wave over the trees?’
Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’
But the vine answered them,
‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men,
and go to wave over the trees?’
Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’
But the buckthorn replied to the trees,
‘If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith,
come and take refuge in my shadow.
Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (2A) Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
O LORD, in your strength the king is glad;
in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
You have granted him his heart’s desire;
you refused not the wish of his lips.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
For you welcomed him with goodly blessings,
you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.
He asked life of you: you gave him
length of days forever and ever.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
Great is his glory in your victory;
majesty and splendor you conferred upon him.
You made him a blessing forever,
you gladdened him with the joy of your face.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.

Alleluia – HEB 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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August 22, 2017


Reading 1 – JGS 6:11-24A

The angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah
that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite.
While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press
to save it from the Midianites,
the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said,
“The LORD is with you, O champion!”
Gideon said to him, “My Lord, if the LORD is with us,
why has all this happened to us?
Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers
told us when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’
For now the LORD has abandoned us
and has delivered us into the power of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have
and save Israel from the power of Midian.
It is I who send you.”
But Gideon answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel?
My family is the lowliest in Manasseh,
and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.”
“I shall be with you,” the LORD said to him,
“and you will cut down Midian to the last man.”
Gideon answered him, “If I find favor with you,
give me a sign that you are speaking with me.
Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you
and bring out my offering and set it before you.”
He answered, “I will await your return.”

So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and a measure of flour
in the form of unleavened cakes.
Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot,
he brought them out to him under the terebinth
and presented them.
The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unleavened cakes
and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth.”
When he had done so,
the angel of the LORD stretched out the tip of the staff he held,
and touched the meat and unleavened cakes.
Thereupon a fire came up from the rock
that consumed the meat and unleavened cakes,
and the angel of the LORD disappeared from sight.
Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the LORD,
said, “Alas, Lord GOD,
that I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”
The LORD answered him,
“Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.”
So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD
and called it Yahweh-shalom.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 85:9, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 9B) The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace
To his people, and to his faithful ones,
and to those who put in him their hope.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Alleluia – 2 COR 8:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

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Queen for a Day, Forever


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 22, 2017

Today, the church celebrates the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Let us take a look at the Feast Day itself from several vantage points.

Scripture
In St. Luke’s Gospel, we remember that the Angel Gabriel announced that the Son of Mary would receive the throne of King David and rule forever. Later, in the scene we know as the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “the mother of my Lord.” As we remember, the entire life of the Virgin Mary is closely associated and connected with that of Jesus. Therefore, we could at least logically state that Her Queenship is a deep and lasting share in the Kingship of Jesus Christ, the King.

Church History
In the fourth century, St. Ephrem referred to Mary as Lady and Queen. This title was continually used in describing the Mother of God. Even some very classic hymns address her as Hail, Holy Queen; Hail, Queen of Heaven; Queen of Heaven.

The Life of Prayer
In his 1954 encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because “she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.”

You and I have inherited a great and lasting hope in the promise of living in the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, Jesus saved us all from the horrible darkness of death through the incarnation that made Him one like us. He has a mother, and so do we. In this Kingdom there is a King and a Queen Mother helping us understand and believe in the message, “Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.” (First Reading)

Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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What Must I Do?


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 21, 2017

“They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken, and did not follow their example of obedience to the commandments of the LORD.” (First Reading)

“When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Gospel) The entire wealth of the Scriptures contained in the Bible tell the story of the cycle humanity seems to be riding from the beginning of time. True bliss with God, succumbed by doubt, plunged into despair, desperate for God then finding freedom all over again. Then the cycle unfortunately begins again. Here are some life lessons we can take from the Readings today.

The fear of death is more dreaded than death itself. Fear is the enemy and we cannot negotiate with it. I love what Churchill said once,“you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth!”

The fear of failure is a lie. There is never the right time to do the great thing in life. If we wait on our own time, just for the right exact synchronized, even pragmatic moment, we may never act. The real question is, “What does God want?”

Problems are messages. Did we get it? Do we wonder why they keep coming?

Never give up. It’s not over until we win. As Lombardi so eloquently said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  Winning in the spiritual life can only mean one thing: Jesus. Know Him. Love Him. Share Him.

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August 21, 2017


Reading 1 – JGS 2:11-19

The children of Israel offended the LORD by serving the Baals.
Abandoning the LORD, the God of their fathers,
who led them out of the land of Egypt,
they followed the other gods of the various nations around them,
and by their worship of these gods provoked the LORD.

Because they had thus abandoned him and served Baal and the Ashtaroth,
the anger of the LORD flared up against Israel,
and he delivered them over to plunderers who despoiled them.
He allowed them to fall into the power of their enemies round about
whom they were no longer able to withstand.
Whatever they undertook, the LORD turned into disaster for them,
as in his warning he had sworn he would do,
till they were in great distress.
Even when the LORD raised up judges to deliver them
from the power of their despoilers,
they did not listen to their judges,
but abandoned themselves to the worship of other gods.
They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,
and did not follow their example of obedience
to the commandments of the LORD.
Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge
and save them from the power of their enemies
as long as the judge lived;
it was thus the LORD took pity on their distressful cries
of affliction under their oppressors.
But when the judge died,
they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors,
following other gods in service and worship,
relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 106:34-35, 36-37, 39-40, 43AB AND 44

R. (4A) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They did not exterminate the peoples,
as the LORD had commanded them,
But mingled with the nations
and learned their works.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They served their idols,
which became a snare for them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They became defiled by their works,
and wanton in their crimes.
And the LORD grew angry with his people,
and abhorred his inheritance.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Many times did he rescue them,
but they embittered him with their counsels.
Yet he had regard for their affliction
when he heard their cry.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Alleluia – MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;

and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

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August 20, 2017


Reading 1 – IS 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to him,
loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming his servants—
all who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
for my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

Reading 2 – ROM 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking to you Gentiles.
Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles,
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous
and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.

Alleluia – CF. MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

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Evil Has Already Been Defeated


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 20,  2017

“…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (First Reading) Our God truly wants all of humanity to be saved and to live in freedom. From the very beginning, however, we know that this is under threat because of the original sin of disobedience and trust in the All-Knowing and All-Loving God we have.

“May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you!” (Responsorial Psalm) Therefore, all peoples, all generations are called into this mystery. No one, nor any culture is excluded. We are equally blessed, equally wounded, and equally prey to the forces of darkness that takes the form of sin, disease, and coldness of heart and death. That is why Jesus came to us. “Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom and cured every disease among the people.” (Alleluia Verse)

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Gospel) This passage is specially interesting because it is here St. Matthew’s Gospel where we encounter demonic possession. The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits which sought entry into everyone. Often they did enter through food or drink. All illness was caused by them. The Egyptians believed there were thirty-six different parts of the human body and any of them could be entered and controlled by one of these evil spirits. There were spirits of deafness, of dumbness, of fever; spirits which took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying and of deceit and of uncleanness. It was such a spirit that Jesus exorcised here. You see, our Jesus has the power of light and truth to dispel the darkness of evil. We can and must fight the good fight and be assured of victory, “now and the hour of our death.”

Lord Jesus, free from me all that is not of You and cleanse my soul from all deceit, worry and shame. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Keep Playing


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 19, 2017

“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (First Reading) The First Reading makes a great case for the undying fact of human history that children need their parents, and parents need their children. Children need guidance and discipline filled with love while parents need to be reminded of innocence, childlike faith and the fundamental value of love.

“You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” (Responsorial Psalm)

“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Gospel) The scene in our Gospel today is filled with people who love. Who were they?

  • They were those who brought the children, who had to be parents, filled with love for their kids and wanting this blessing and prayer for them.
  • They were the disciples who may have appeared to be a little stern but they loved Jesus and wanted to protect Him.
  • They were the children who are most close to God because of their innocence and complete desire to love and to give.
  • And most of all, it was Jesus, the source of all love, who wanted to share that with innocent human beings with the the hopes that they would grow into loving adults.

Wouldn’t you love it if Jesus could come to you now, play a little and just spend some time letting you know how much He loves you?

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

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August 19, 2017


Reading 1 – JOS 24:14-29

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
and addressed them, saying:
“Fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely.
Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt,
and serve the LORD.
If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery.
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples
through whom we passed.
At our approach the LORD drove out all the peoples,
including the Amorites who dwelt in the land.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

Joshua in turn said to the people,
“You may not be able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God;
he is a jealous God who will not forgive
your transgressions or your sins.
If, after the good he has done for you,
you forsake the LORD and serve strange gods,
he will do evil to you and destroy you.”

But the people answered Joshua, “We will still serve the LORD.”
Joshua therefore said to the people,
“You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the LORD.”
They replied, “We are, indeed!”
Joshua continued:
“Now, therefore, put away the strange gods that are among you
and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
Then the people promised Joshua,
“We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice.”

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day
and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem,
which he recorded in the book of the law of God.
Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak
that was in the sanctuary of the LORD.
And Joshua said to all the people, “This stone shall be our witness,
for it has heard all the words which the LORD spoke to us.
It shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your God.”
Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own heritage.

After these events, Joshua, son of Nun, servant of the LORD,
died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 16:1-2A AND 5, 7-8, 11

R. (see 5A) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

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 19:13-15

Children were brought to Jesus
that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

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August 18, 2017


Reading 1 – JOS 24:1-13

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges and their officers.
When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people:
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:
In times past your fathers, down to Terah,
father of Abraham and Nahor,
dwelt beyond the River and served other gods.
But I brought your father Abraham from the region beyond the River
and led him through the entire land of Canaan.
I made his descendants numerous, and gave him Isaac.
To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau.
To Esau I assigned the mountain region of Seir in which to settle,
while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.

“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and smote Egypt with the prodigies
which I wrought in her midst.
Afterward I led you out of Egypt, and when you reached the sea,
the Egyptians pursued your fathers to the Red Sea
with chariots and horsemen.
Because they cried out to the LORD,
he put darkness between your people and the Egyptians,
upon whom he brought the sea so that it engulfed them.
After you witnessed what I did to Egypt,
and dwelt a long time in the desert,
I brought you into the land of the Amorites
who lived east of the Jordan.
They fought against you, but I delivered them into your power.
You took possession of their land, and I destroyed them,
the two kings of the Amorites, before you.
Then Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab,
prepared to war against Israel.
He summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you;
but I would not listen to Balaam.
On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him.
Once you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho,
the men of Jericho fought against you,
but I delivered them also into your power.
And I sent the hornets ahead of you that drove them
(the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites,
Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites)
out of your way; it was not your sword or your bow.

“I gave you a land that you had not tilled
and cities that you had not built, to dwell in;
you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves
which you did not plant.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 136:1-3, 16-18, 21-22 AND 24

R. His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the LORD of lords,
for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.
Who led his people through the wilderness,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who smote great kings,
for his mercy endures forever;
And slew powerful kings,
for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.
And made their land a heritage,
for his mercy endures forever;
The heritage of Israel his servant,
for his mercy endures forever;
And freed us from our foes,
for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.

Alleluia – SEE 1 THES 2:13

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but, as it truly is, the word of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying,
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”
He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator made them male and female and said,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh
?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
They said to him, “Then why did Moses command
that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?”
He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
(unless the marriage is unlawful)
and marries another commits adultery.”
His disciples said to him,
“If that is the case of a man with his wife,
it is better not to marry.”
He answered, “Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

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Accept and Act


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 18, 2017

“I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” (First Reading)

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

“Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” (Gospel)

The Scriptures today clearly enunciate the openness, the goodness and the perpetual generosity of Our Lord God for each one of us. Others have been blessed before us and their blessings are all ours. We are loved as a whole of humanity and as individual humans seeking a better life now and later. However, jealousy, envy and hatred split our heart into fragments that cannot possibly comprehend the call to love and unify.

If our hearts are divided then so are our loyalties. This is what makes living the Christian life both challenging and rewarding. If we put God first with our desire to please and love Him, sin will be harder and harder to follow and the rewards of being a loving Christian will become immense. It is also challenging with the many distractions, temptations and the overreaching tendency of our societies to preach the message of self-love and greed over charity, and the only way to achieve this is with the grace of God fed by a good steady habit of confession and the Eucharist. We can further assist the unity of our souls and hearts by doing the following.

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, 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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August 17, 2017


Reading 1 – JOS 3:7-10A, 11, 13-17

The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters.”

So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
“Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank.”

The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
disappeared entirely.
Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. Alleluia!
When Israel came forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue,
Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his domain.R. Alleluia!
The sea beheld and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like the lambs of the flock.
R. Alleluia!
Why is it, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
You mountains, that you skip like rams?
You hills, like the lambs of the flock?
R. Alleluia!

Alleluia – PS 119:135

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

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Remember to Forgive


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 17, 2017

“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? (Gospel) Although I am sure that this could be debated, one of the most debilitating aspects of our human journey toward heaven is the heavy baggage we carry because we have either been unable or unwilling to forgive someone who has hurt us in the past. This condition is not acceptable to the Lord who has ransomed us and set us free from the evil forces of darkness with the divine payment of the blood of Christ on the cross. Thus, St. Peter’s question to Jesus is the same that every Christian asks, “How often do I really have to forgive?”

We understand that the one who is without sin can cast the first stone and to be without sin likewise requires absolute forgiveness. We also realize that when painful memories are like freshly opened wounds, then forgiveness may seem to be one of the most unnatural of human choices. To forgive, then, requires supernatural grace from God. Only the Lord could possibly give us this strength and help. Someone once made the observation that, if you can’t forgive and forget, pick one. The issue foremost for our concern this day is not necessarily why we should forgive but rather who is asking to do this and what He did on the cross to make sure that we would remember these life-long lessons for the rest of our lives.

“Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. So let us examine our hearts and see if there is any unforgiven hurt, any unforgotten bitterness. It is easy to love those who are far away. It isn’t always want to love those who are right next to us. It is easier to offer food to the hungry than to answer the lonely suffering of someone who lacks love right in one’s own family. The world today is upside down because there is so very little love in the home and in family life.” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” (C. S. Lewis)

Let us pray:

O Lord, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Savior, forgive my sins, just as You forgave Peter’s denial and those who crucified You. Count not my transgressions, but, rather, my tears of repentance. Remember not my iniquities, but, more especially, my sorrow for the offenses I have committed against You. I long to be true to Your Word, and pray that You will love me and come to make Your dwelling place within me. I promise to give You praise and glory in love and in service all the days of my life. Amen.

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August 16, 2017


Reading 1 – DT 34:1-12

Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,
the headland of Pisgah which faces Jericho,
and the LORD showed him all the land—
Gilead, and as far as Dan, all Naphtali,
the land of Ephraim and Manasseh,
all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea,
the Negeb, the circuit of the Jordan
with the lowlands at Jericho, city of palms,
and as far as Zoar.
The LORD then said to him,
“This is the land
which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
that I would give to their descendants.
I have let you feast your eyes upon it, but you shall not cross over.”
So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the LORD,
died as the LORD had said; and he was buried in the ravine
opposite Beth-peor in the land of Moab,
but to this day no one knows the place of his burial.
Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died,
yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.
For thirty days the children of Israel wept for Moses
in the plains of Moab, till they had completed
the period of grief and mourning for Moses.

Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom,
since Moses had laid his hands upon him;
and so the children of Israel gave him their obedience,
thus carrying out the LORD’s command to Moses.

Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses,
whom the LORD knew face to face.
He had no equal in all the signs and wonders
the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt
against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land,
and for the might and the terrifying power
that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 66:1-3A, 5 AND 8, 16-17

R. (see 20A and 10B) Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God: “How tremendous are your deeds!”
R. Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
Bless our God, you peoples;
loudly sound his praise.
R. Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
R. Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!

Alleluia – 2 COR 5:19

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

Gospel – MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

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Could You Please Walk With Me?


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 16, 2017

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Gospel)

Would you prefer a picture of someone you cherish and admire, a text from the same, or an actual phone call? Would you much rather desire to be in that person’s presence? I can’t believe that there would be those who would not want to be in the same room with the one they loved, to be able to notice all the intricacies of human communication and interaction. Imagine sitting down with the Lord Jesus at the end of a long day unwinding and relaxing. We probably wouldn’t want to go back to work or school! However, since we do have to go back, let us return with a new deliberate desire. Jesus told us in the Gospel that if we gather in his name, that is, with the expressed hope and want to invite into every office, classroom, situation and conversation, He is there.

Every time I have rushed through my day, trying to accomplish as many of the details that I frenetically scribbled upon my phone the night before, it is always the same result at the end of the day: tired, exhausted and wondering where the day went. I truly believe that if we take a little more time to realize the most important people in our lives and mix that with the thought of those who are the most neglected people in my world, I believe we will have discovered something quite remarkable. The mixture, I think, will create a miracle. Jesus, come with me today. I have many people I want you to meet.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” –Flavia Weedn

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August 15, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 CHRON 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2

David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the LORD
to the place which he had prepared for it.
David also called together the sons of Aaron and the Levites.

The Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders with poles,
as Moses had ordained according to the word of the LORD.

David commanded the chiefs of the Levites
to appoint their kinsmen as chanters,
to play on musical instruments, harps, lyres, and cymbals,
to make a loud sound of rejoicing.

They brought in the ark of God and set it within the tent
which David had pitched for it.
Then they offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.
When David had finished offering up the burnt offerings and peace offerings,
he blessed the people in the name of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 132:6-7, 9-10, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.
May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for his dwelling.
“Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her.”
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.

Reading 2 – 1 COR 15:54B-57

Brothers and sisters:
When that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality,
then the word that is written shall come about:

Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia – LK 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who hear the word of God
and observe it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 11:27-28

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied,
“Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”

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Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 15, 2017

“God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.” (First Reading)

Let us start with the Catechism. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory, with Moses on Mount Sinai, at the tent of meeting, and during the wandering in the desert, and with Solomon at the dedication of the temple. In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and overshadows her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the cloud came and overshadowed Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’” Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his Ascension and will reveal him as Son of Man in glory on the day of his final coming. The glory of the Lord overshadowed the ark and filled the tabernacle. (CCC 697)

“So shall the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord.” (Responsorial Psalm) It’s easy to miss the parallel between the Holy Spirit overshadowing the ark and the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, between the Ark of the Old Covenant as the dwelling place of God and Mary as the new dwelling place of God. “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life…” (Second Reading) “What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.” (487) Through one man, Adam, all died. Through the Incarnation of Jesus, through Mary, salvation has been won. Everything the church teaches about Jesus is supported by what she teaches about.

“And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Gospel) Let us review this magnificent comparison compiled by Steve Ray. Mary, the Ark as revealed in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth

Golden Box: Ark of the Old Covenant

The ark traveled to the house Obed-edom in the hill country of Judea (2 Sam 6:1-11)
Dressed as a priest, David danced and leapt in front of the ark (2 Sam 6:14)
David asks, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam 6:9)
David shouts in the presence of the ark (2 Sam 6:15)
The ark remains in the house of Obed-edom for three months (2 Sam 6:11)
The house of Obed-edom was blessed by the presence of the ark (2 Sam 6:11)
The ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem, where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the temple (2 Sam 6:12; 1 Kings 8:9-11)

Mary: Ark of the New Covenant

Mary traveled to the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39)
John the Baptist, of priestly lineage, leapt in his mother’s womb at the approach of Mary (Luke 1:41)
Elizabeth asks, “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)
Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry” in the presence of Mary (Luke 1:42)
Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56)
The word blessed is used three times; surely the house was blessed by God (Luke 1:39-45)
Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem, where she presents God incarnate in the temple (Luke 1:56; 2:21-22)

Today is a great day because all the crosses that we carry and the pains we suffer, we know that it is in Jesus complete and a total embodiment and incorporation of our wounded humanity that we are free, we have hope and the best is yet to come.

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The Heart of the Matter


hands holding red heart image

Having spent seventy-seven wonderful years on this planet, my amazing aunt died peacefully in her sleep earlier this month. Although she carried a number of painful medical conditions and her memory was beginning to fade, it was still a brutal reminder of how fragile and delicate life truly is. This experience was also compounded with the death of her sister, my mother, less than two months earlier. My aunt’s life was filled with a series of fundamentally linked episodes which I only recognized after she died. Isn’t that always the case? I’ve broken those episodes down into four types of hearts.

Broken Heart
Over 50 years ago, my aunt was engaged to be married to a student navy pilot, who was assigned to a local naval air station. My only memory from what little my own mother told us, was that his name was Philip and that he was killed in one of the training missions. My aunt never dated again and obviously never married. She gave her heart to this man and walked away from the events of a young woman with a broken heart. Only once do I remember asking about him and she quickly changed the subject. I got the message.

Open Heart
A few years later, the world witnessed the very first open heart surgery which impressed her to begin her career in cardiac nursing. Thus she did and became quite proficient. I remember seeing several awards and commendations on her desk as a little boy and thought she must be very smart. Later in her life, I was able to sit next to other student nurses watching an open heart surgery from an above, glass-enclosed operating suite. What an experience!

Heart of Jazz
During a shortage of nurses in New Orleans in the early seventies my aunt responded almost immediately. I remember that there was deep concern from my elders about her safety but she kept telling them that she had to go and fulfill her dreams and off she went.

Sacred Heart
I remember many wonderful visits to New Orleans, especially during my college years. As if it was just last week, I remember standing twenty hours in line to see the first ever public exhibition of the treasures of King Tut. She was adamant about pointing out that the Ancient Egyptians held tightly to a belief in a resurrection after death and that life was indeed a journey of which death was not the final stop. Amazing. After college and well into my professional life, I kept going back to Louisiana and realized what a devotion she had of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and how she kept reminding me of how much He suffered for each and every one of us. Her faith was not reduced to a Hallmark card either. In 2000, my mother and I took my cousin, their grand nephew, to visit my aunt in New Orleans. I vividly remember a particular incident in the Chapel of one of the Convents. My little cousin had a form of Turrets Syndrome which manifested itself as constant blinking of the eyes. It was close to his twelfth birthday, and during our visit to that grand city, my aunt asked him what he would ask for in such a significant moment. He told her that he really wanted to stop this blinking as it was bothersome. She calmly escorted him into one of the chapels and remained there with him for about forty-five minutes. My cousin’s mother recalled how he called her that night very excited about praying for a miracle. Since then, there were no other signs or symptoms of anything neurologically astray with him and I believe I know why.

“Life is not a Hallmark Card, nice, neat and predictable. I don’t want a card life; I want one that is real,” she would often say to us, and I believe she led that kind of life that underscored her belief and life ethic. If we put all this together, it makes perfect sense why we all came to believe that she enjoyed a very special birthday, The Feast of St. Valentine, the fourteenth day of the second month of every year until she went home. It makes sense now that I look back on it all. It makes perfect sense that she would have been born on a National Heart Day when love, for good or for ill, is highlighted by many. I know for many of us, it will always be remembered for an additionally warm and comforting reason. My aunt taught me many significant lessons that I pray I will never forget. She said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why. The two most important moments of your life are now, and the hour of death. Amen.

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Taxing Tax Collectors


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 14, 2017

“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, ‘Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?’” (Gospel) No one likes to shell out their hard-earned money to any government especially to the horrible and brutal regime such as the Roman Empire which occupied Jerusalem and the entire area at the time in which our Gospel today was written. To make matters worse, tax collectors were often Jews who were working for the Romans which then made them look like traitors to their own people and religion. Still, in addition to these “red flags,” everyone knew that tax collectors cheated people and always required more taxes than were needed so that they could get rich off the backs of their own people. Why did Jesus spend so much time with them and say that these kind of people were entering the Kingdom before all the other self-righteous religious people?

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, and follow his ways exactly, to love and serve the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD which I enjoin on you today for your own good? Think!” (First Reading)

No one, not even tax collectors are outside the scope of invitation to the Kingdom of God. Jesus spent more time with those who clearly needed more attention than anyone was willing or prepared to give or share. It seems that even the most despised or hated were still souls in search of happiness and fulfillment. What about your life? Is there anyone who seems unredeemable or completely lost with no hope? Jesus apparently does not agree with that assessment for anyone, so neither should we ever entertain such a notion. Do not let this day end without first praying for the lost souls in your life. Who knows? Maybe someone will be praying for you.

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August 14, 2017


Reading 1 – DT 10:12-22

Moses said to the people:
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you
but to fear the LORD, your God, and follow his ways exactly,
to love and serve the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul,
to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD
which I enjoin on you today for your own good?
Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens,
belong to the LORD, your God,
as well as the earth and everything on it.
Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants,
in preference to all other peoples, as indeed he has now done.
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and be no longer stiff-necked.
For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods,
the LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,
who has no favorites, accepts no bribes;
who executes justice for the orphan and the widow,
and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.
So you too must befriend the alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
The LORD, your God, shall you fear, and him shall you serve;
hold fast to him and swear by his name.
He is your glory, he, your God,
who has done for you those great and terrible things
which your own eyes have seen.
Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy strong,
and now the LORD, your God,
has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R. (12A) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Alleluia – SEE 2 THES 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 17:22-27

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

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August 13, 2017


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 19:9A, 11-13A

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD — for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Reading 2 – ROM 9:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie;
my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness
that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my own people,
my kindred according to the flesh.
They are Israelites;
theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
theirs the patriarchs, and from them,
according to the flesh, is the Christ,
who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Alleluia – CF. PS 130:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I wait for the Lord;
my soul waits for his word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

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Stop, Be Silent & Listen


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 13, 2017

Back in college I heard of an interesting experience of a young man, his wife and three children. He had just received a promising job offer in another city which would certainly help them all live a good life while helping to educate his children and grow in the ways of the Lord. This young man had a beautiful pocket watch which his father had given him years before. His father had died while he was in high school and not only did he miss him especially in somewhat turbulent times as these, but also cherished that little watch that made an “oh-so-subtle ‘tick-tock.'”

There they were, all five of them, huddled together like a newly hatched group of baby chicks in a small hotel room, with just one bathroom and barely enough room to breathe, when as they were about to leave for Daddy’s interview they suddenly realized they couldn’t find his watch. His wife tried to organize an internal clean search of the room, his oldest boy scoured through the trash cans and dirty clothes ready for the wash while his little girl began to cry. This young and amazing dad took a deep breath, prayed for the gift of wisdom and instructed everyone to stop moving and stay as completely quiet as possible. “Listen,” he whispered. Then, before they knew it, they could all hear that little watch ticking away. It had apparently rolled underneath the bed and their smallest child safely crawled there and retrieved it. “Here you go, Daddy!,” she smiled!

“After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (First Reading) You see, just like in life, our souls need absolute quiet to hear the answer that the Lord is providing every single day. He reassures us that this is true. “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” (Responsorial Psalm) “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie.” (Second Reading) “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Gospel)

How about you and I begin this brand new week with a new resolve to listen and find deep moments of peace and quiet. They may have to be in our car on the way to or from work. It may have to wait until late at night, but it will come and it will be great.

Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively. When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile. Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear.

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An Attitude of Gratitude


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 12, 2017

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a tin can at his feet.  He emptied it to see if he had enough to buy some food for dinner. There was a sign next to him which said, “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in there. A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the can.  He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the can began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.  That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning?  What did you write?” The man said, “I only wrote the truth.  I said what you said but in a different way.” I wrote that “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.” Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were blessed that they were not blind. Their generosity increased exponentially as their gratitude grew within their hearts.

“Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (First Reading) We hear the call to love God with everything we have, however at times I am sure that we wonder how we can actually do that. The answer may be as simple as changing a poor beggar’s sign in order to turn things around. Gratitude. This means spending the majority of each day realizing that, even in the midst of setbacks and worries, we live very blessed lives.

How do we cultivate an attitude of gratitude? Let’s take a look. (1) First thing in the morning, stop to thank God for everything, even before you know how the day will unfold. (2) Treat each problem as a personal message. What does this really mean for me? (3) Never miss an opportunity to thank all those that helped make your day lighter.  (4) Surprise a relative or an old friend with a call simply to thank and send a heartfelt greeting.

Who knows what great things await us. It is as the Lord said today, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Gospel)

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August 12, 2017


Reading 1 – DT 6:4-13

Moses said to the people:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
Drill them into your children.
Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.
Bind them at your wrist as a sign
and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

“When the LORD, your God, brings you into the land which he swore
to your fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
that he would give you,
a land with fine, large cities that you did not build,
with houses full of goods of all sorts that you did not garner,
with cisterns that you did not dig,
with vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant;
and when, therefore, you eat your fill,
take care not to forget the LORD,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
The LORD, your God, shall you fear;
him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 18:2-3A, 3BC-4, 47 AND 51

R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim!
And I am safe from my enemies.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior!
You who gave great victories to your king,
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.

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 17:14-20

A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”

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August 11, 2017


Reading 1 – DT 4:32-40

Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
All this you were allowed to see
that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other.
Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you;
on earth he let you see his great fire,
and you heard him speaking out of the fire.
For love of your fathers he chose their descendants
and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power,
driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you,
so as to bring you in
and to make their land your heritage, as it is today.
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart,
that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 77:12-13, 14-15, 16 AND 21

R. (12A) I remember the deeds of the Lord.
I remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I remember your wonders of old.
And I meditate on your works;
your exploits I ponder.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
O God, your way is holy;
what great god is there like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
among the peoples you have made known your power.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the sons of Jacob and Joseph.
You led your people like a flock
under the care of Moses and Aaron.
R. I remember the deeds 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 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

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Trash and Treasure


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 11, 2017

“All this you were allowed to see that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other.” (First Reading)

“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Gospel) When I was in high school, there was a senseless, dramatic fight over a stereo sound system that ended the friendship of several people which resulted in them not speaking to each other. This ultimately caused great havoc and spiritual harm to many of us, which to this  day, those people are still distant and resentful.

A couple of years after graduation, I was visiting a couple of teachers at my old school and one of them asked me for a favor. Since I was driving a truck at the time, he asked me if I could haul a few boxes of trash out to the landfill. Of course, I happily  agreed. As I was loading the trash, to my surprise, among the garbage was that stereo. All that trouble over something that would end up in the trash! It was one of those important life lessons that I’m glad I never forgot, especially now that I am able to share it with you. You see, we have forgotten how to value what is most important in life. Instead we misplace value on things that have a price tag while forgetting all our abundant gifts — like vision, insight, compassion, love and the hope of Heaven. We confuse their worth in a money-hungry world because they are truly priceless.

“I remember the deeds of the Lord.” (Responsorial Psalm) You are more important than you realize. Take time today to count all your blessings.

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August 10, 2017


Reading 1 – 2 COR 9:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you,
so that in all things, always having all you need,
you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written:

He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 112:1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

R. (5) Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.

Alleluia – JN 8:12BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness
but will have the light of life, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

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Dying to Live


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 10, 2017

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (First Reading) Everyone on this planet has a purpose. There is no way around that. The fact that we are alive and breathing, that we are asking such deep questions about life and death and meaning clearly points to the reality that there is definitely more to life than what it seems. When you and I believe that God has a purpose for our being here, we can work through obstacles, overcome disappointments and endure many hardships and crosses. It is what Jesus showed us. The more we dig into our own experiences and plant with faith and hope, the greater the harvest, not only later in eternity but right here and now.

“Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life, says the Lord.” (Alleluia Verse) And the Lord of Life who is the Light of the World is the only source of direction that can take us through the sometimes dark skies of night and loneliness of isolation. Imagine the darkness and solitude of the grave right before Easter.

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.” (Gospel) Following Jesus does not mean that every day is going to be perfect. It means that the harder the moment the more willing He is for us to hold on to Him for dear life. Telling someone with anxiety to calm down is like telling someone with epilepsy to stop having a seizure. However, inviting to join the pain and suffering to those of the Lord will have lasting effects. This is what is meant by dying to oneself so that a great harvest can be witnessed. Dying to self does not mean giving up what may be good for us. It means letting go of what is not beneficial so we can see and accept what is.

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God’s Love and the Love of Dogs


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 9, 2017

I think it is safe to say that there at least two very obvious realities that people like you and me, who are trying to follow the Lord and do His will, often miss and thereby daily are in great need to remember that what the Lord promises for us here and now is awesome, and that there will be challenges, great and small, along the way.

“We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong.” (First Reading) In our First Reading, the Israelites were faced with the most spectacular of all hopes, freedom. But was there some kind of “catch” to it? Absolutely not. It was a simple caveat or simple preparatory words of caution. It will not be easy but it will definitely be worth it. Remember, your fears become your limits.

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Gospel) In the Gospel, the drama increases for a woman who appears to be written off by the Lord, but it is hardly the case. When Jesus says that it is not right to give food (items meant for the family) from the table to the dogs, it may seem to the untrained reader to be rude. However, when she counters that even the poor animals receive the scraps, it is precisely at this moment where our clue is and the meaning of this statement is surprisingly revealed. Dogs, like today, are considered an endearing part of the family, of course, with limitations. There are, however, no limitations to what God has in store for us. We are the ones who constantly place those in our own way.

Today is the day when we thank God and open our heart of hearts to the mystery of the Kingdom at work within us and all around us. I remember reading a speech by Winston Churchill in which he wrote that “Somedays it is not sufficient to do our best; we must do what is required.” Yes, indeed. The Lord loves us! Great are His promises to those whose faith is great.

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August 9, 2017


Reading 1 – NM 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26A-29A, 34-35

The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]
“Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.
You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe,
all of them princes.”

After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned,
met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel
in the desert of Paran at Kadesh,
made a report to them all,
and showed the fruit of the country
to the whole congregation.
They told Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us.
It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit.
However, the people who are living in the land are fierce,
and the towns are fortified and very strong.
Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there.
Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb;
Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands,
and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan.”

Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said,
“We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so.”
But the men who had gone up with him said,
“We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.”
So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel
about the land they had scouted, saying,
“The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants.
And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants
(the Anakim were a race of giants);
we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.”

At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries,
and even in the night the people wailed.

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
“How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me?
I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me.
Tell them: By my life, says the LORD,
I will do to you just what I have heard you say.
Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.
Forty days you spent in scouting the land;
forty years shall you suffer for your crimes:
one year for each day.
Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.
I, the LORD, have sworn to do this
to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me:
here in the desert they shall die to the last man.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 106:6-7AB, 13-14, 21-22, 23

R. (4A) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers;
we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.
Our fathers in Egypt
considered not your wonders.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
But soon they forgot his works;
they waited not for his counsel.
They gave way to craving in the desert
and tempted God in the wilderness.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
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. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Alleluia – LK 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 15: 21-28

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And her daughter was healed from that hour.

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Leaps of Faith, Walks on Water


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 8, 2017

One thing is very clear and actually demanded from the one who hears the call of discipleship to follow Jesus and wishes to answer it. It will always involve a leap of faith, sometimes small, sometimes monumental. Such was the case of the Great Law-Giver Moses of whom God gives His undying endorsement in our First Reading, “Throughout my house he bears my trust: face to face I speak to him; plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the LORD he beholds.” (First Reading) This is precisely why the Psalmist is so insistent with the only recourse we have when we have made that tumultuous leap: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not off from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.” (Responsorial Psalm)

Leap of faith is defined as an act or instance of accepting or trusting in something that cannot readily be seen or proved. The benefits of this leap of faith are then made crystal clear and even more desirable in the Gospel today. The scene there is similar to the many experiences that we have had when we begin to doubt everyone and seemingly everything around us. This time, Good Saint Peter wants so very deeply to believe that it is Jesus he sees across the water and he exclaims, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus then invites him, he takes his famous leap of faith, but then begins to falter. “Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ You see, with just a little faith, with just a trusted leap of faith, the Lord catches us and restores our troubled world to a manageable task. “After they got into the boat, the wind died down.” Our response, like those who were in the boat, must be the same if we are to grow in our spiritual lives and journeys, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Perhaps we could agree with a statement that was posted in a church lobby some years ago

“When God pushes you to the edge of difficulty, trust Him fully because two things will happen. Either He will catch you when you fall or He will teach you how to fly.”

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August 8, 2017


Reading 1 – NM 12:1-13

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext
of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman.
They complained, “Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks?
Does he not speak through us also?”
And the LORD heard this.
Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth.
So at once the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam,
“Come out, you three, to the meeting tent.”
And the three of them went.
Then the LORD came down in the column of cloud,
and standing at the entrance of the tent,
called Aaron and Miriam.
When both came forward, he said,
“Now listen to the words of the LORD:

Should there be a prophet among you,
in visions will I reveal myself to him,
in dreams will I speak to him;
not so with my servant Moses!
Throughout my house he bears my trust:
face to face I speak to him;
plainly and not in riddles.
The presence of the LORD he beholds.

Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?”

So angry was the LORD against them that when he departed,
and the cloud withdrew from the tent,
there was Miriam, a snow-white leper!
When Aaron turned and saw her a leper, he said to Moses,
“Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin
that we have foolishly committed!
Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe
that comes forth from its mother’s womb
with its flesh half consumed.”
Then Moses cried to the LORD, “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 6CD-7, 12-13

R. (see 3A) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense;
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned;
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
That you may be justified in your sentence,
vindicated when you condemn.
Indeed, in guilt was I born,
and in sin my mother conceived me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not off from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Alleluia – JN 1:49B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 14:22-36

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.

Or – MT 15:1-2, 10-14

The following text may be substituted,
especially in Year A when the above Gospel is read on Monday.

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.”
He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand.
It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man;
but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”
Then his disciples approached and said to him,
“Do you know that the Pharisees took offense
when they heard what you said?”
He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted
will be uprooted.
Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.
If a blind man leads a blind man,
both will fall into a pit.”

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August 7, 2017


Reading 1 – NM 11:4B-15

The children of Israel lamented,
“Would that we had meat for food!
We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt,
and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks,
the onions, and the garlic.
But now we are famished;
we see nothing before us but this manna.”

Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin.
When they had gone about and gathered it up,
the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar,
then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
which tasted like cakes made with oil.
At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.

When Moses heard the people, family after family,
crying at the entrance of their tents,
so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved.
“Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the LORD.
“Why are you so displeased with me
that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people?
Or was it I who gave them birth,
that you tell me to carry them at my bosom,
like a foster father carrying an infant,
to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
Where can I get meat to give to all this people?
For they are crying to me,
‘Give us meat for our food.’
I cannot carry all this people by myself,
for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
so that I need no longer face this distress.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 81:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

R. (2A) Sing with joy to God our help.
“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
“Those who hated the LORD would seek to flatter me,
but their fate would endure forever,
While Israel I would feed with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

Alleluia – MT 4:4

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over–
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

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The Mystery of Hunger


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 7, 2017

“Material food first of all turns itself into the person who eats it, and as a consequence, restores his losses and increases his vital energies. Spiritual food, on the other hand, turns the person who eats it into itself, and thus the proper effect of this sacrament is the conversion of man into Christ, so that he may no longer live for himself, but that Christ may live in Him. And as a consequence it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual losses caused by sins and defects and of increasing the power of the virtues.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)

When you get right down to it, we are all born hungry and we all die hungry. Interesting, isn’t it? We hunger for food, love, relationships that are fulfilling, meaning in our lives, and plain peace and happiness. In the midst of grief over the death of St. John the Baptist, the Lord wants the people there to be fed. Grief does that to people. However, this specific moment is directly pointing and preparing us for the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We also proclaim that Jesus lives within each one of us who are baptized into His Body, the Church. In fact, the entire Trinity takes up residence within us and, through that life in the Church and participation in the Sacraments, we can live in the Trinity, the Mystery of God Himself. This is the mystery of what we call communion. The Christian faith and life is about relationship, with the Father, in and through His Son Jesus and in Jesus Christ with one another for the sake of the world. This means that if we are to address the hunger around us, we must first deeply address it within ourselves. Once again, it is a call to break out of selfishness and comfort zones and see beyond our own prejudices and weak-heartedness.

Let us Pray

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves; when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little; when we arrived safely because we have sailed too close to shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of the things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the water of life. Stir us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope and love. Amen

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Transfigure Me, O Lord


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 6, 2017

“The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.” (First Reading) Daniel’s vision and dream of one like a son of man is clearly a forerunner and remarkable preparation for the Son of Man, Jesus the Christ. It serves as a counter balance to what Jesus will reveal about Himself, not only to the Apostles, but you and me right here, right now. Daniel survived the lion’s den and Jesus  survived the den of the tomb. Looks like there is pattern forming here. “Clouds and darkness are round about him, justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.” (Responsorial Psalm) The Son of Man is glorious in every regard, worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise. “You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (Second Reading) But there will always be suffering and the carrying of the cross before we can move forward. Sharing in the death of Jesus is just as necessary as sharing in His Resurrection.

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Gospel) Undoubtedly, the purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus was. Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of Christ as God, the Son of Man, though they could not fully comprehend it. That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death. You and I need the same. For those among us who have watched death rob our loved ones from our grasp, we know that today’s Readings speak loudly and clearly, do not be fooled by death’s mask. What awaits us is far more beautiful than any of our imaginings; God said He was pleased and we should listen.

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August 6, 2017


Reading 1 – DN 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:

Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened and the books were opened.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw:

One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 9

R. (1A and 9A) The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Reading 2 – 2 PT 1:16-19

Beloved:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Alleluia – MT 17:5C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

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August 5, 2017


Reading 1 – LV 25:1, 8-17

The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai,
“Seven weeks of years shall you count–seven times seven years–
so that the seven cycles amount to forty-nine years.
Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, let the trumpet resound;
on this, the Day of Atonement, the trumpet blast shall re-echo
throughout your land.
This fiftieth year you shall make sacred
by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you,
when every one of you shall return to his own property,
every one to his own family estate.
In this fiftieth year, your year of jubilee,
you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth
or pick the grapes from the untrimmed vines.
Since this is the jubilee, which shall be sacred for you,
you may not eat of its produce,
except as taken directly from the field.

“In this year of jubilee, then,
every one of you shall return to his own property.
Therefore, when you sell any land to your neighbor
or buy any from him, do not deal unfairly.
On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee
shall you purchase the land from your neighbor;
and so also, on the basis of the number of years for crops,
shall he sell it to you.
When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more;
when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less.
For it is really the number of crops that he sells you.
Do not deal unfairly, then; but stand in fear of your God.
I, the LORD, am your God.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 67:2-3, 5, 7-8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
The earth has yielded its fruits;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

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 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

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A Good Conscience, A Great Life


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 5, 2017

After the astounding account and prescriptions from the Old Testament about celebrating the Jubilee of life and and celebrating the great works of God, our Readings today reach a most dramatic of conclusions with the account in St. Matthew’s Gospel of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. St. John’s life was hinged, from the very moment of his conception, on the Messiah, the only One who could save the world from itself, from evil and from final damnation. It made sense, then, that he would live as man ready to face Jesus in this life and the next. He held himself away from evil which then put his life in mortal danger when confronted the demented and deranged life of Herod, Herodias and a world that was not willing to accept Jesus as the Christ. “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” (Gospel)

What shall we learn from the following characters?

Herod
From both secular history and the Biblical accounts, it is clear that Herod was a tormented, powerfully insane man with at least 3 or 4 different personalities. His marital record reads like a fifty-cent paper-back novel and the trail of blood he left behind knew no prisoners, including his own family. Not having a focus in this life, not realizing that it is Jesus that awaits us at the beginning and the end of each day, at the start and conclusion of each life, will undoubtedly lead to horrible consequences and disasters.

Herodias
This pathetic woman shows us what a messy concoction is produced when you mix anger, ambition and arrogance together in one frail mind. She goes down in history as the one who killed the one man who had the courage to confront her sinful life. She silenced St. John so she could sin in silence. She did, however, forget one very important element of the cycle of life, while she may never have to meet John the Baptist again, she still had to meet God.

St. John the Baptist
“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Alleluia Verse) The last great prophet is clearly a man of courage, preferring death to a life of lies. He lived for the truth and he died for it. He lived for Jesus and died for Him. We might even consider St. John the Baptist as the Patron Saint of a good conscience because without one we all die.

Let us Pray

O God, you raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ. Fill your people with the joy of possessing His grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of peace and salvation. Grant that as St. John was martyred for truth and justice, so we may energetically profess our faith in you, and lead others to the way, the truth, and eternal life. Amen.

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August 4, 2017


Reading 1 – LV 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34B-37

The LORD said to Moses,
“These are the festivals of the LORD which you shall celebrate
at their proper time with a sacred assembly.
The Passover of the LORD falls on the fourteenth day of the first month,
at the evening twilight.
The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD’s feast of Unleavened Bread.
For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.
On the first of these days you shall hold a sacred assembly
and do no sort of work.
On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD.
Then on the seventh day you shall again hold a sacred assembly
and do no sort of work.”

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the children of Israel and tell them:
When you come into the land which I am giving you,
and reap your harvest,
you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest
to the priest, who shall wave the sheaf before the LORD
that it may be acceptable for you.
On the day after the sabbath the priest shall do this.

“Beginning with the day after the sabbath,
the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf,
you shall count seven full weeks,
and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day,
you shall present the new cereal offering to the LORD.

“The tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement,
when you shall hold a sacred assembly and mortify yourselves
and offer an oblation to the LORD.

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD’s feast of Booths,
which shall continue for seven days.
On the first day there shall be a sacred assembly,
and you shall do no sort of work.
For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD,
and on the eighth day you shall again hold a sacred assembly
and offer an oblation to the LORD.
On that solemn closing you shall do no sort of work.

“These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD
on which you shall proclaim a sacred assembly,
and offer as an oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and cereal offerings,
sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 81:3-4, 5-6, 10-11AB

R. (2A) Sing with joy to God our help.
Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
For it is a statute in Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob,
Who made it a decree for Joseph
when he came forth from the land of Egypt.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

Alleluia – 1 PT 1:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of the Lord remains forever;
this is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house.”
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.

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No Faith, No Miracles


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 4, 2017

How often have we heard someone ask, “Does God punish?” One of several dictionary entries defines “to punish” as to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation; to inflict a penalty for the commission of an offense in retribution or retaliation; to deal with roughly or harshly, to inflict injury on. Old Testament wording is rather consistent about God and punishment which may explain why so many of the scholars of the Law found it difficult to hear Jesus speak of forgiveness and mercy, although those elements were also present there. What about another common question, “How can God send anyone to Hell?” The basic issue lies with the questions we ask. God does not punish as much as we suffer the consequences of our behavior. Everything we say and do in this life will bear fruit in this life and the next. And since that statement rings with truth, how does one come to grips with the consequence of hell for the kind of life that Jesus clearly marks as one deserving of eternal damnation?

I heard a brilliant homilist once make that clear to me when he said that “God does not send anyone to hell, rather, we sin ourselves there.” The Gospel confirms these results when we see what happens when people place any and all obstacles in their way to believing in and trusting in the Lord God Almighty. “And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” The great news today cannot be lost in the philosophic and theological discussion about hell and merit and punishment but rather to always remember that goodness and kindness will follow us should we place all our hope in the one who is love for all. It is normal to doubt even the things and people who are the most real and sure in our lives, especially when it come to our faith in Jesus, but we can never let those doubts grow roots in our heart. How else can the Lord work mighty deeds in our lives?

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August 3, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 40:16-21, 34-38

Moses did exactly as the LORD had commanded him.
On the first day of the first month of the second year
the Dwelling was erected.
It was Moses who erected the Dwelling.
He placed its pedestals, set up its boards, put in its bars,
and set up its columns.
He spread the tent over the Dwelling
and put the covering on top of the tent,
as the LORD had commanded him.
He took the commandments and put them in the ark;
he placed poles alongside the ark and set the propitiatory upon it.
He brought the ark into the Dwelling and hung the curtain veil,
thus screening off the ark of the commandments,
as the LORD had commanded him.

Then the cloud covered the meeting tent,
and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.
Moses could not enter the meeting tent,
because the cloud settled down upon it
and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.
Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling,
the children of Israel would set out on their journey.
But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward;
only when it lifted did they go forward.
In the daytime the cloud of the LORD was seen over the Dwelling;
whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud
by the whole house of Israel
in all the stages of their journey.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 84:3, 4, 5-6A AND 8A, 11

R. (2) How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young–
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
They go from strength to strength.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!
I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!

Alleluia – SEE ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:47-53

Jesus said to the disciples:
“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.”
When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

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What’s in Your Net?


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 3, 2017

Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior, like Moses before Him in the Old Testament, continues that wondrous formation as he gives you and me solid examples of how this all comes together so we can understand what it means to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. Let’s first take a look at the image of the net. When you think about how a net really works, especially those in the Biblical era, it is clear that it does not discriminate. These nets pulled by boats and literally dragged over the bottom of the lake will bring up all kinds of things with their haul. The contents are always fascinating, no doubt. Everything from rocks, shells, old nets, trash, and yes, every kind of fish and living thing that the net could catch. Thus, when we think about the Kingdom of Heaven as a net, we realize that if we apply that to the Church, which is the instrument of God’s Kingdom upon earth, it means that we are always going to come into contact with all kinds of people and situations, good and bad, useless and useful. The Church is a collection of the open waters, not a nice and neat seafood case at the local market.

There is also a sobering part of this analogy. There will be a time, right before the advent of eternity when all will have to be separated, good from bad, sheep from goats, good fish from useless waste. That final separation, however, certain as it is, is not man’s work but God’s. We will cast forward to the world the message of the Gospel knowing that the larger the net, the greater the catch.  We must evangelize with our very lives without being judgmental or separatist, but always leaving the final judgment to God. Everyone called to spread the Gospel approaches the Lord with varying degrees of talents and abilities. Our Lord always wants us to use those gifts and even transform them in ways that translate into joyful service and stewardship.  You and I are called today to review the gifts we have, remember from whence they came, and most importantly, how we can use those for the Kingdom of God. The needs are everywhere, perhaps starting with our own families. Think just for a second of all the people in your life and all the people you met today. How did you treat everybody? Do you realize that the Lord placed all those people in your life for a reason? What’s in your net?

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August 2, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 34:29-35

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant
while he conversed with the LORD.
When Aaron, then, and the other children of Israel saw Moses
and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become,
they were afraid to come near him.
Only after Moses called to them did Aaron
and all the rulers of the community come back to him.
Moses then spoke to them.
Later on, all the children of Israel came up to him,
and he enjoined on them all that the LORD
had told him on Mount Sinai.
When he finished speaking with them,
he put a veil over his face.
Whenever Moses entered the presence of the LORD to converse with him,
he removed the veil until he came out again.
On coming out, he would tell the children of Israel
all that had been commanded.
Then the children of Israel would see
that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant;
so he would again put the veil over his face
until he went in to converse with the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 99:5, 6, 7, 9

R. (see 9C) Holy is the Lord our God.
Extol the LORD, our God,
and worship at his footstool;
holy is he!
R. Holy is the Lord our God.
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
and Samuel, among those who called upon his name;
they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.
R. Holy is the Lord our God.
From the pillar of cloud he spoke to them;
they heard his decrees and the law he gave them.
R. Holy is the Lord our God.
Extol the LORD, our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for holy is the LORD, our God.
R. Holy is the Lord our God.

Alleluia – JN 15:15B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – 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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How to Buy Pearls


Reflection on Mass Reading for August 2, 2017

“When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Gospel) Let us begin our reflection today by deeply considering why Jesus would compare the Kingdom of God to a pearl of great price. Here are three possibilities.

(1) In Biblical times, that is, the era in which the Gospel was written, we know that the pearl was a cherished object and somewhat elusive. To have and to hold one meant more than the monetary value to them but more importantly to be in possession of something beautiful, awesome to behold. To live in the Kingdom of God is like that. There isn’t monetary value in that position but moreover a state of mind and heart that places us face to face with sheer happiness because we are doing the will of God in our lives and are able to experience peace and joy because of it. This is a pearl of great price.

(2)  The merchant in Jesus’ comparison is searching for many pearls which are all fine in one way or another. However, there is that one pearl which is the one of great price. What this suggests to us is that in life there are and will be many opportunities for value and beauty. Certainly in nature, music, art, human accomplishments and relationship we can find great hope and joy. But the one pearl that truly gives value to the other sources of happiness in our lives is searching for the will of God in our lives and doing everything we can to follow Him all the way to Heaven. This is the supreme pearl of the greatest price.

(3) Finally, there is an interesting truth that surfaces when we compare the man finding a buried treasure in a field and the pearl diver. The man in the field just happened to come across the buried treasure. This was not uncommon in First Century Palestine because people were often burying their valuables in the ground for safe keeping. But the one who finds the pearl of great price had been looking for that specific pearl all their life. Their persistence was certainly rewarded.

Whether we simply walked upon the beauty and truth of our lives or whether we finally came to find it because we diligently and persistently kept looking for truth, the pearl, that is, the Kingdom of God, is worth everything and every ounce of strength we have to hold on to it and never let it go.

Let us pray

Lord, if what I seek be according to our will, then let it come to pass and let success attend the outcome. But if not, my God, let it not come to pass. Do not leave me to my own devices, for you know how unwise I can be. Keep me safe under your protection, Oh Lord my God, and in your own gentle way guide me and rule me as You know best. Amen

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Pulling Weeds and Praying Hard


Reflection on Mass Readings for August 1, 2017

“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations…” (First Reading) The Great Lawgiver Moses Prophet starts us off by reminding us how very precious each and every one of us truly is in the heart of our Heavenly Father. We all have a purpose, we have meaning and we all have a specific call and mission in life. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” (Responsorial Psalm) This mission absolutely requires that we stay close to the Lord, just as a father remains near to his children. This is necessary for the strength we need to understand our particular mission, develop the necessary courage and virtues to maintain the journey, and the faith never to give up or abandon the call even when the going is truly grueling.

“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” (Gospel) What a poignant and informative guide for our attitude in spreading the Gospel we have here. The image of sowing the seeds in a wild field with evil lurking to upset the harvest has to reach many of us today. What should we take from it? First, when we start our day and strive to be Jesus to others, we must remember that we may never know what effect that might have until we are all in Heaven. As we have heard many times, “You may be the only Bible someone will read.” Second, just like the earthly, agricultural sower, there is no use in looking or waiting for quick results. We sow and plant. God waters and reaps. Besides, when you get right down to it, God knows what to do with each one of us while our only response is to be patient especially with members of our own families. Finally, it would serve us well that before we look upon the plight of others around us, and the obvious need for the evangelization and the sharing of God’s word with those we encounter, we ought to remember that the very seed we sow may in fact be for us: “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Gospel)

Let us Pray

God Our Father, you will that all be saved and come to the knowledge of your truth. Send workers into your great harvest that the Gospel may be preached to every creature and your people, gathered together by the Word of Life and strengthened by the power of the Sacraments, may advance in the way of salvation and love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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August 1, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 33:7-11; 34:5B-9, 28

The tent, which was called the meeting tent,
Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp.
Anyone who wished to consult the LORD
would go to this meeting tent outside the camp.
Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise
and stand at the entrance of their own tents,
watching Moses until he entered the tent.
As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down
and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses.
On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent,
all the people would rise and worship
at the entrance of their own tents.
The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face,
as one man speaks to another.
Moses would then return to the camp,
but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun,
would not move out of the tent.

Moses stood there with the LORD and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity,
continuing his kindness for a thousand generations,
and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin;
yet not declaring the guilty guiltless,
but punishing children and grandchildren
to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!”
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people;
yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own.”

So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights,
without eating any food or drinking any water,
and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the ten commandments.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

R. (8A) 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.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

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 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and 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.”

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