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Mustard, Mixed Flour and Monsters


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 31, 2017

What a challenge to reflect with the Scriptures today. Here is the demanding dare. Either we ignore what society, shopping stores and malls will not allow us to deny about costumes and candy, or we launch into a hysterical tirade about how everything about this day is demonic, satanic and the most pathetic invitation to open the gates of hell, and for just one night. Really? So what do we do? Let’s start with the beautiful Scriptures of the day, “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Alleluia Verse from Matthew 11:25) and “What is the Kingdom of God like?…It is like a mustard seed…It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour.” (Gospel from St. Luke)

I don’t seem to grow weary of telling and re-telling my friends and newly arrived family members about how exciting Halloween was for me as a child. My costume? Why, Yogi Bear, of course!! “I’m smarter than the average bear!” Either I’ve lost you on that reference or you’re sitting there with a huge grin on your face. I know I am. Halloween, like so many of our holidays, were engineered precisely for children. Whether it was birthdays, St. Valentine’s Day, Christmas or today’s enormous expression of color and calories, we either enjoyed the day and loved the pageantry of it of all, or we lived through our own children and innocent ones and still kept happiness alive if only in some small way.

Everything great and good begins small and unassuming like the mustard seed. And like the woman with measures of flour, it all needs our constant attention. Just like our faith which must lead us and sustain us into adulthood. Especially into adulthood. This is where we learn that the most frightening things in our lives are often not wearing costumes or doling out candy, but are true monsters, large and little, that can rob us of happiness. Jesus loved children and He still does, and I believe He loves the child still inside each and every one of us. Go on, smile today. Say a prayer and talk to the Lord asking for all the treats that He has promised, especially eternal life. God bless the beasts and the children. Happy Halloween.

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October 31, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 8:18-25

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

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

R. (3A) The Lord has done marvels for us.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.

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 – LK 13:18-21

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took
and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

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Depends on the Relationship


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 30, 2017

Have you ever noticed how differently we address other people in our lives and how at times it differs dramatically from the way others call to them? Here’s an example. Your little daughter calls you mommy. That’s all she knows. But then, an old friend of yours comes to the house to see you and calls you, Linda, well, because, that is your name. Now you wouldn’t expect your daughter to call you Linda, and you certainly wouldn’t want your friend to call you mommy either. It all depends on the relationship.

That is why in the Letter to the Romans, that very similar distinction is also made. If you are a slave, you call your god, master. But if you are adopted, you call your God, “Abba.” That is a beautiful name because it not only means father, but is much more intimate and endearing. It’s really like calling our God, daddy, or something close to that. It all depends on the relationship.

Today’s Gospel speaks about a woman who had been seriously crippled for a very long time, about an eighteen-year time frame, went before Jesus. She desperately wanted healing, which would explain why she was in the synagogue, and everyone knew of her poor, almost pathetic condition. As Jesus sees her, he calls out to her and addresses her as woman. Perhaps in some circles of society and among some cultural differences, this may seem odd. But remember, this address is how God called out to Eve in the Old Testament, and to Mary in the New Testament, obviously linking the two in salvation history; Eve as the mother of all living, and Mary the mother of the Church. This was a loving relationship that the Lord wanted to exhibit and in turn, literally straightened her life out. Can you imagine the reaction from the people when they saw her stand up and praise God? It must have beautiful and awe-inspiring. Right? Well, not for everyone.

When the leader of the synagogue, known as the official religious person, entered the scene, he seemed upset at what he saw, even though this woman could actually walk upright and wasn’t hurting anymore. No, that was apparently not the most important item to notice today. This remarkable healing had been taken place on the Sabbath, when no work was to be done. Really? You call this work? It’s more like a miracle, a sign of God’s great love and mercy, especially for this bent-over woman, and by spiritual application, for each one of us.

What was Jesus’ response to that official? To say the least, it wasn’t pretty. “Hypocrites!…when he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated.” That’s what happens when you won’t see how incredibly God is working in your 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 got it rejoiced; the one who didn’t was humiliated. It all depends on the relationship.

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October 30, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 8:12-17

Brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 68:2 AND 4, 6-7AB, 20-21

R. (21A) Our God is the God of salvation.
God arises; his enemies are scattered,
and those who hate him flee before him.
But the just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.
God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.
Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.

Alleluia – JN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

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Teach Me How to Love You


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 29, 2017

“You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” (First Reading) Perhaps that is helpful for us to remember that without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are as good as dead.

“I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.” (Responsorial Psalm) 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 death-seeking bones.

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October 29, 2017


Reading 1 – EX 22:20-26

Thus says the LORD:
“You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

“If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him
by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge,
you shall return it to him before sunset;
for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.
What else has he to sleep in?
If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 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 lives and blessed be my rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.

Reading 2 – 1 THES 1:5C-10

Brothers and sisters:
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit,
so that you became a model for all the believers
in Macedonia and in Achaia.
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth
not only in Macedonia and in Achaia,
but 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.

Alleluia – JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
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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The Great Gift of the Church


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 28, 2017

The First Reading calls us to realize that whenever we feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, we must remember to whom we belong. The very price for our lives was paid by the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross and that payment made all of us not only members as in a club, but actually parts of the Body of Christ, each having our own individuality and strength, weakness and struggle. This is the great gift of the Church. Every day we move closer and closer to the Heavenly City that awaits all the billions that have ever brought the precious name of Jesus to their lips. Daily there is a deep call to renew, maintain and nourish this belonging in a world that values selfishness, earthly possessions and power. These unfortunate priorities create such misery and emptiness that even in some circles, from those who should know better, there are vicious attacks on the very source of beauty and healing that are celebrated, proclaimed, and lived  in the Church.

Through the Gospel we read that all twelve apostles heard the same words of Jesus. They all walked with Him, lived with Him, shared practically everything with Him, except for one that would not be part of the dream. One would betray and cause horrible harm and suffering upon the one who is all love. Every day, you and I choose how we live, react, and respond to the world around us, sometimes seemingly spinning out of control. Certainly, every day is not only a gift, but an opportunity to stand as an apostle or slither like a traitor. You know you’re on the right track when you become uninterested in looking back.

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October 28, 2017


Reading 1 – EPH 2:19-22

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

Responsorial Psalm – PS 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5A) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Alleluia – See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:12-16

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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A Three-part Plan for Heaven


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 27, 2017

“Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.” (First Reading) “Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?…whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean…” (Responsorial Psalm) “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” (Gospel)

The Jews of Palestine were quite astute when it came to the weather. When they saw the clouds forming in the west, over the Mediterranean Sea, they knew rain was on the way. When the south wind blew from the desert they knew the tornado-like wind was coming. But those who were so wise to read the signs of the sky could not, or would not, read the signs of the times. If they had, they would have seen that the Kingdom of God was on the way. Jesus used a very vivid illustration. He said, “When you are threatened with a lawsuit, come to an agreement with your adversary before the matter comes to court, for if you do not you will have imprisonment to endure and a fine to pay.” The assumption is that the defendant has a bad case which will inevitably go against him. “Every human being,” Jesus implied, “has a bad case in the presence of God; and if we are wise, we will make our peace with God while yet there is time.” Jesus and all his great servants have always been obsessed with the urgency of time. There are some things we cannot afford to put off; above all, making peace with God while there is still time.

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October 27, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 7:18-25A

Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94

R. (68B) Lord, teach me your statutes.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Never will I forget your precepts,
for through them you give me life.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

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 – LK 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds,
“When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny.”

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Let’s Start a Fire


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 26, 2017

What’s behind the use of setting the world aflame by Jesus in the Gospel today? Keep in mind that the Bible is to be seen as a complete unity, the Old Testament preparing for the New Testament, the New ratifying the Old. When the Lord uses the image of fire, it is then advantageous for us to go deeper into the meaning, purpose, and background of certain words and phrases to truly grasp all the spiritual wealth that is waiting for us, ripe for the picking. “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.” (U.S. President George Washington)

Let’s examine a few verses from the Bible that deal with fire. Exodus 3 has the burning bush showing God is truly present when He says to Moses that, “you are standing on Holy Ground.” Ezekiel 1 has a broad cloud of fire that looms large indicating that God’s glory is magnificent. 2Kings 1 has fire from Heaven wiping out fifty soldiers, showing power over life and death. Matthew 25 indicates eternal fire as the destination for the devil and demons, thus indicating that hell is horrible and real. Acts 2 has tongues of fire descending on the twelve disciples, indicating that the Holy Spirit enflames the Church. Revelation 21 has a lake of fire and sulfur that awaits the faithless, thus indicating a second death. From this small sampling of fire images from the Scriptures, we can safely determine that Jesus clearly wants to purify and cleanse humanity, instill a reverent and holy fear in us, awesome approach to God, and establish His Kingdom where there will be both judgment and serious consequences to our responses, both here, now, and much later.

Because of His Reign over us and remembering the dire consequences of the refusal to love, there will be division starting in one’s own family, household and beyond. When the word family is used in the Bible, it usually means either the clan or the extended family group, and could very easily include as many as two hundred people, or as few as fifteen. Thus, Jesus is describing the essence of a true disciple as one who loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Him. He insists that His disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse, relatives, or circle of friends.

“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.“ (C.S. Lewis)

“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’” (1 Corinthians 2:7-9)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

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October 26, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 6:19-23

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

R. (PS 40:5) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Alleluia – PHIL 3:8-9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

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When Much is Given


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 25, 2017

“But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.” (First Reading) What did slaves and thieves have in common in Roman Antiquity? They were both branded on the forehead with a mark, called a stigma, and thereby said to have been engraved like a coin or a medal. Both types of individuals were certainly known to the culture of the time when today’s Scriptures were written (Romans around 56-58 AD and Luke’s Gospel between 80-100 AD).  They also shared common punishments such as lashes and beatings, forced to carry a piece of wood around their necks, and in some cases, crucifixion. Of course, these are the same afflictions endured by Jesus as an integral part of the Paschal Mystery by which we are justified, redeemed and saved for a great future in Heaven.

“Then I saw another angel come up from the East,  holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea. Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God. I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites.” (Revelation 7:3-4) “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Gospel)

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

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October 25, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 6:12-18

Brothers and sisters:
Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies
so that you obey their desires.
And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin
as weapons for wickedness,
but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life
and the parts of your bodies to God
as weapons for righteousness.
For sin is not to have any power over you,
since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law
but under grace?
Of course not!
Do you not know that if you present yourselves
to someone as obedient slaves,
you are slaves of the one you obey,
either of sin, which leads to death,
or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin,
you have become obedient from the heart
to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

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

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

Alleluia – MT 24:42A, 44

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

Gospel – LK 12:39-48

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

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

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Watching vs. Waiting


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 24, 2017

Over thirty years ago, there was a ship off the coast of Massachusetts that was reported lost at sea. There were a reported forty-five 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 ten days, some of those grew tired and even discouraged and began to make their way back to their homes, still leaving a smaller remnant of those who would stay vigilant. Finally, on the fifteenth day of their disappearance, the vessel sailed back into harbor, all aboard hungry and tired, but certainly safe and alive. It was said that one of the men looked sad as he disembarked. He just shrugged and walked  his way to his little cottage of a home to the surprise of his wife and children. But he still looked upset. “What’s wrong, dear?,” asked his wife. “Why weren’t you out there with the other families on the shore when we arrived?” he responded. “We were waiting for you, honey,” came his wife’s explanation. “But you weren’t watching,” was the man’s 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 the heart 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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October 24, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 5:12, 15B, 17-19, 20B-21

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

If by that one person’s transgression the many died,
how much more did the grace of God
and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
overflow for the many.
For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one
the many will be made righteous.
Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,
so that, as sin reigned in death,
grace also might reign through justification
for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 17

R. (8A and 9A) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Alleluia – LK 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.”

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The Bottomless Pit of Greed


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 23, 2017

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Gospel) Several famous people have been quoted as saying that too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing. These people would be classified as cynics. The idea that anyone in the real world should even consider ethical, moral, philosophical or cultural values to be on par with financial or economic value appears whimsical, sentimental, even romantic. Hard-nosed, sensible, rational, practical people know otherwise. It’s all about money, they say. But is it really? The words of the Gospel make it very clear to us that God will have the first and last word.

“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Gospel) We have forgotten how to value what is most important in life and instead misplace value on things that have a price tag while forgetting all about 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. You are more important than you realize.

The spiritually dead are all around us. They may look alive and have plenty of possessions, even looks and money, but this does not ensure life, especially eternal life. It is precisely the age of this world that promotes the misguided philosophy that you are what you have. We do not belong to things. We do not essentially consist of material realities because in the end, all we will have could never be measured, touched or counted. Our soul is what is of supreme value. Greed makes us servants of possessions. We could easily remember this by the quote that “we can’t be possessed by our possessions.” Yet it happens all around us precisely because people have already decided which God they will serve. Greed makes the false and empty promise that things and possessions can save and bring us to eternal happiness and peace.The best way to avoid all this is prayer in thanksgiving to the one who gives us everything we have. If we keep remembering that all I have comes from God then I cannot and will not forget how wonderfully generous my God is to me. Gratitude is the greatest cure for greed.

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October 23, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 4:20-25

Brothers and sisters:
Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief;
rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God
and was fully convinced that what God had promised
he was also able to do.
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.
But it was not for him alone that it was written
that it was credited to him;
it was also for us, to whom it will be credited,
who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
who was handed over for our transgressions
and was raised for our justification.

Responsorial Psalm – LUKE 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. (see 68) Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his 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 – LK 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”‘
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.”

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Render, Not Surrender


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 22, 2017

“I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me.” (First Reading) “For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens.” (Responsorial Psalm) The real issue that is present to us this beautiful day is quite simple. It comes down to a basic principle as to what, or whom, people really worship. If we are not being formed by the Gospel, we are being deformed by the world. The message of the Word of God is clearly different in every way possible from the message of the world. “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” (Second Reading)

“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Gospel) The Pharisees and Herodians wanted to entangle Jesus over the issue of taxes. If Jesus says they ought to pay, he betrays the Jews who resented the Romans. If he says do not pay, he would be in trouble with Caesar and the Romans. Either conflict could undo him and his influence. The malice in the question springs from envy. Even Pilot knew the Jews were handing Jesus over out of envy. Jesus asks them to bring him a denarius and show him the face on the coin. He answers them by saying they ought to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Jesus did not deal with the scope of Caesar’s sphere of power and possession, or God’s. He also does not deal with the relationship between Caesar’s sphere and God’s.

Everything belongs to God, meaning the things that belong to Caesar do not belong to him ultimately. All of his possession is derivative. Therefore, Caesar’s rights and claims over you are limited. If Caesar calls us to do anything God prohibits, we refuse. Caesar’s influence and our allegiance to him are shaped by God’s superior possession and authority. We render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s as an act of worship to God. The world teaches you to love things and use people to get them; the Gospel teaches you to love people and use things to help them get to Heaven along with yourself.

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October 22, 2017


Reading 1 – IS 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him,
and making kings run in his service,
opening doors before him
and leaving the gates unbarred:
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel, my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.
I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, there is no other.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10

R. (7B) Give the Lord glory and honor.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
Bring gifts, and enter his courts.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Worship the LORD, in holy attire;
tremble before him, all the earth;
say among the nations: The LORD is king,
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.

Reading 2 – 1 THES 1:1-5B

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.

Alleluia – PHIL 2:15D, 16A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”

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Now and Later


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 21, 2017

There is an interesting connection among three key elements that Jesus presents to us today. They are the denial of God, the denial of the Holy Spirit, and the defense of our Faith. Let’s take a look at each in that order. By the first key element, we are clearly told that if we live as if Jesus never came and/or we never met Him, we should expect the same treatment, that is, He will do the same. By the second key element, if we speak with words of hatred and defiance against the Holy Spirit, and surely against God in any way, shape or form, we are to expect serious consequences. By the third key element presented to us, we are told that if we neither deny nor defy God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, but rather live in Him and through Him, then we can and should expect that our very speech, our lives, our thoughts, and all that makes us who we are will be defined by the depth and breadth of our love of God in every day life. In other words, we will certainly shine.

The major connection is that all three warnings and predictions have to do with the next life. Jesus promises that if we recognize Him now on earth, He will recognize us later in Heaven. If anyone repeatedly closes their eyes to God and shuts their ears to His voice now, they will most certainly come to a point where they can no longer recognize God, and thus they see evil as good and good as evil even to that tragic point of that person’s last breath in which they could very well miss any chance of living forever with God in eternity, that is, later. Finally, if our deep trust is with the Lord, His Holy Spirit is promised to us as it was to Abraham and all his descendants as we read in the First Reading so that we will never have to worry what to say before this world’s authority, now, or to the Authority of Heaven, later.

The question for today is, “What are the two most important moments of our life?” The answer is now, and at the hour of our death.

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October 21, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 4:13, 16-18

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 105:6-7, 8-9, 42-43

R. (8A) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations –
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
For he remembered his holy word
to his servant Abraham.
And he led forth his people with joy;
with shouts of joy, his chosen ones.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Alleluia – JN 15:26B, 27A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.”Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

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Work in Progress


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 20, 2017

“Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (First Reading) What is justification? Justification describes the transition from the original state in which we were born into this world, sinfulness, to the state of grace and adoption through Jesus Christ, our Savior, holiness. It is a process and something that begins when we first become a Christian, which continues in our life, and which will be completed when we stand before God at the end of our life and on the last day. Since it is a process, there are certain powerful points of consequences. The first is, no one that we meet today will be at the same point at the same time in this process.  The second is that it can be lost. The third is that it can be found again when a believer returns to the faith. The fourth point is not to criticize or judge others based on these previous three points.

You see, when it is all said and done, and we all stand before God for the Last Review, everything will be out in the open. “Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Gospel) The crystal-clear point is that God loves us more than anything He has created and can’t wait to get us all home again. See you there.

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October 20, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 4:1-8

Brothers and sisters:
What can we say that Abraham found,
our ancestor according to the flesh?
Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works,
he has reason to boast;
but this was not so in the sight of God.
For what does the Scripture say?
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due.
But when one does not work,
yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is credited as righteousness.
So also David declares the blessedness of the person
to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven
and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not record.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 32:1B-2, 5, 11

R. (see 7) I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Alleluia – PS 33:22

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us;
who have put our hope in you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 12:1-7

At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
“Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows.”

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More Kindness, Less Judgment


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 19, 2017

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (St. Teresa of Calcutta) St. Paul most emphatically makes it very clear in his Letter to the Romans that humanity is lost without the Gospel. And yet, Christians cannot hide behind precepts and regulations and mount some kind of superior plane or landing from which to judge people and forget that we, that is, all of humanity, are in the same boat. I heard someone say quite directly to another, “Don’t judge other people just because they don’t sin like you do.” Paul explains that the final judgment will be a review of performance, not of privilege. From this perspective Gentiles stand on an equal footing with Jews, and Jews cannot condemn the sins of Gentiles without condemning themselves. St. Luke continues and completes this thought for us by making sure that the Pharisees know that the mere possession of laws is no evidence of virtue. Mark Twain once responded to a man who was going to the Holy Land to see where the Ten Commandments were given with, “Why don’t you just stay home and live them?“ Good point, Mr. Clemens.

St. John Paul wrote that “the worst prison would be a closed heart.” This is precisely why you and I must know the difference between judging and admonishing. Arrogant judgment condemns because it is motivated by pride; admonishing the sinner liberates because it is motivated by love. Each produces very different results. Judging another human being does not define who they are; it defines who we are.

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October 19, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 3:21-30

Brothers and sisters:
Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law,
though testified to by the law and the prophets,
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ
for all who believe.
For there is no distinction;
all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as an expiation,
through faith, by his Blood, to prove his righteousness
because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
through the forbearance of God–
to prove his righteousness in the present time,
that he might be righteous
and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out.
On what principle, that of works?
No, rather on the principle of faith.
For we consider that a person is justified by faith
apart from works of the law.
Does God belong to Jews alone?
Does he not belong to Gentiles, too?
Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one
and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith
and the uncircumcised through faith.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 130:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6AB

R. (7) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Alleluia – JN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 11:47-54

The Lord said:
“Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute’
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

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Everyone Has a Mission in Life


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 18, 2017

“I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.” (Alleluia Verse) Everyone has a mission in life. Everyone spends their life searching for that mission and when one finds it, they hang on for dear life. Others, never discover it and live out their days in less than quiet desperation. This is what we can gather from the readings today. The Lord has fashioned us and sends us forward into this world for a definite purpose and that purpose has everything to do with bearing fruit that will last. That means eternal fruit.

“But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” (First Reading) This directive is never easy. There will always be those around us who will fight and attempt to destroy the harvest. The First Reading assures each and everyone of us that He will be there to strengthen and guide, and yet, even to protect us from the plotting of those who would pull up the wheat instead of the weeds.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” (Gospel) We are all called then to respond to this great invitation. Every day presents itself with a new opportunity to spread the Gospel and the message of love and forgiveness that is contained right there all the time.

“Don’t wait for a feeling or love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.”  (John Piper) 

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October 18, 2017


Reading 1 – 2 TM 4:10-17B

Beloved:
Demas, enamored of the present world,
deserted me and went to Thessalonica,
Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
Luke is the only one with me.
Get Mark and bring him with you,
for he is helpful to me in the ministry.
I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas,
the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.

Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm;
the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
You too be on guard against him,
for he has strongly resisted our preaching.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.

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 – SEE JN 15:16

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

Gospel – LK 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'”

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I Can See Clearly Now


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 17, 2017

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” (First Reading) “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?” (Gospel) There is a very interesting connection in Paul’s Letter to the Romans today that involves shame and degradation. He boldly states that he is not ashamed of the Gospel because it has the power of the truth that pierces all pretense and lies. However, he sadly admits that there are those who would prefer to suppress the truth that brings the very shame that Jesus came to eradicate. This, in turn, incurs anger both from Heaven and from nature because living a lie can only bring humiliation, lack of self-respect, and shame. We could summarize a great deal of Paul’s writing (Theology) with the phrase, “You are either being formed by the Gospel or deformed by the world.”

Psalm 19 underscores the power of the truth as it rains down from Heaven itself, filling every vacuum and space in nature. Then we hear from St. Luke, as if to apply these lofty principles for us to learn more profoundly, introducing the Pharisee. It is curious that this self-righteous teacher would actually invite Jesus into his home only to criticize Him. What was he thinking, coming face-to-face with the King of Kings, and then noticing a simple gap of protocol? A textbook, working definition of hypocrisy is to judge only by appearance, look only how great a person looks rather than how good he or she is, to notice, and point out, what’s wrong with others and forget the positive, and, of course, throw all the attention away from yourself as if your moral heights defy gravity. The Lord is quick to aptly describe this behavior as “You fools!” Lest we think that being Pharisaical is just silly and idiotic, take a look at the actual Greek word for fool that Jesus ascribed. The word mōrós (“moron, moronic” in English) is described as dull (insipid), flat (without an edge); mentally inert; lacking a grip on reality as though brainless. We shouldn’t think this only happened in the day and time of Jesus, because it still happens every time a person prays, goes to Church, talks the talk, invokes the presence of Jesus, and then acts like a Pharisee by embodying the working definition of hypocrisy. Perhaps we should live in the light, forgive as often as needed, and be real. Knowledge makes people humble. Arrogance make them ignorant. People don’t see things as they are; they see things as they are.

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October 17, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 1:16-25

Brothers and sisters:
I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
for Jew first, and then Greek.
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;
as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.”

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven
against every impiety and wickedness
of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
For what can be known about God is evident to them,
because God made it evident to them.
Ever since the creation of the world,
his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity
have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.
As a result, they have no excuse;
for although they knew God
they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.
Instead, they became vain in their reasoning,
and their senseless minds were darkened.
While claiming to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for the likeness of an image of mortal man
or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.

Therefore, God handed them over to impurity
through the lusts of their hearts
for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie
and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (2A) The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

Alleluia – HEB 4:12

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

Gospel – LK 11:37-41

After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

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Humility as Freedom


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 16, 2017

People who are in the greatest need of mercy and forgiveness, and truly acknowledge it, are the ones who recognize God’s love and presence when they see it.

The professional-religious class mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, were certainly too jaded and overwhelmed with their own sanctimonious perceptions to recognize wisdom, God’s presence, His love and mercy. It was this group of folks who were always judging, criticizing, condemning and even acting superior to others that stirred Jesus’ words into action. “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it…” (Gospel) The pure and simple remedy to haughty, senseless pride is, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Alleluia Verse)

Every day we are alive on this planet, we are given plenty of opportunities to forgive, be merciful, practice patience and beg for God’s mercy. Instead, at times, we take the easy path and turn that humility into a raw grab for power over another, a quick salve just to feel better about ourselves, and an underhanded way to escape responsibility for our behavior and actions. Today is yet another opportunity to be humble before God. Here are some practical ideas, (1) strive to do your best without complaining; (2) recognize and accept your own flaws; (3) be grateful for everything, even the hard days; (4) give credit and praise where it is due, especially to others around you; (5) admit when you are wrong and ask for forgiveness; and (6) forgive and move on.

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes us as angels.” (St. Augustine)

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October 16, 2017


Reading 1 – ROM 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the Gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 98:1BCDE, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

R. (2A) The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.

Alleluia – PS 95:8

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

Gospel – LK 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

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You Have Been Invited


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 15, 2017

There are three parts to our Reflection today. The first part is the invitation itself from God, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” (First Reading) What we realize here is that at the most basic and realistic level, God’s invitation is one of deep love, grace and miraculous grace. It is not an invitation to do something, nor is it an invitation to a physical place. It is an invitation to live with a new heart and a new spirit.

The second part is the RSVP from us. “He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.” (Responsorial Psalm) When we receive this call, our souls naturally want to rebel and become stubborn. In humility, however, we know our own fallen nature and we then call out for help with the deepest faith that He will answer since he issued the invitation with the grace to help us fulfill the task. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God will not protect and empower us.

The third part is the event to which we are all invited. “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” (Gospel) It reminds us that the invitation of God to a feast is as joyous as a wedding feast. If we refuse the invitation of Christ, some day our greatest pain will be, not in the things we suffer, but in the realization of the precious things we have missed. It also reminds us that when we answer the invitation, we must come ready. “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?” (Gospel) To that I say, Jesus, thank you for this awesome invitation, I’m getting ready; keep the door open for I can’t wait to see You.

Today’s Feast is in remembrance of St. Teresa of Avila, Spanish mystic philosopher and Catholic Saint.

“Let nothing disturb thee; let nothing dismay thee: all things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”

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October 15, 2017


Reading 1 – IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Reading 2 – PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia – CF. EPH 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
so that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Or  – MT 22:1-10

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.”

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We Are Family


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 14, 2017 

“And then, on that day, the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk.” (First Reading) “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Gospel) Did you notice the stark difference in the tone of Joel’s writing from yesterday to today? Yesterday he was speaking about devastating drought and horrific locusts in droves, all because the people were not faithful and not following their loving God. They were not paying attention to the signs around them and were going to pay for it severely. So what changed? They did. They realized that God was indeed a refuge and a stronghold for them all. Then and only then did their lives turn around. This exuberance and confidence with God in their lives is echoed in the Psalm when we cry out with the Church to rejoice in the Lord, you just.

Author Dan Schwager has the following brilliant insight.

“When an admirer wished to compliment Jesus by praising his mother, Jesus did not deny the truth of the blessing she pronounced. Her beatitude (which means blessedness or happiness) recalls Mary’s canticle: All generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48). Jesus adds to her words by pointing to the source of all true blessedness or happiness — union with God. Mary humbly submitted herself to the miraculous plan of God for the incarnation of his only begotten Son — The Word of God made flesh in her womb, by declaring: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Mary heard the word spoken to her by the angel and she believed it.  On another occasion Jesus pointed out that our true mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 8:21). They are truly blessed because they know their God personally and they find joy in hearing and obeying his word. Our goal in life, the very reason we were created in the first place, is for union with God. We were made for God and our hearts are restless until they rest in him. An early martyr once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints.” Those who follow Jesus Christ and who seek the will of God enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood.  Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God and his kingdom. Do you hunger for God and for his Word?”

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October 14, 2017


Reading 1 – JL 4:12-21

Thus says the LORD:
Let the nations bestir themselves and come up
to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there will I sit in judgment
upon all the neighboring nations.

Apply the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe;
Come and tread,
for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow,
for great is their malice.
Crowd upon crowd
in the valley of decision;
For near is the day of the LORD
in the valley of decision.
Sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars withhold their brightness.
The LORD roars from Zion,
and from Jerusalem raises his voice;
The heavens and the earth quake,
but the LORD is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the children of Israel.

Then shall you know that I, the LORD, am your God,
dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain;
Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall pass through her no more.
And then, on that day,
the mountains shall drip new wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk;
And the channels of Judah
shall flow with water:
A fountain shall issue from the house of the LORD,
to water the Valley of Shittim.
Egypt shall be a waste,
and Edom a desert waste,
Because of violence done to the people of Judah,
because they shed innocent blood in their land.
But Judah shall abide forever,
and Jerusalem for all generations.
I will avenge their blood,
and not leave it unpunished.
The LORD dwells in Zion.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12

R. (12A) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
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. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia – LK 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those 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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Are You With Me?


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 13, 2017

The Book of Joel is most remembered in some circles for the opening reading on Ash Wednesday in which the prophet calls the people to repent, fast, and put on sackcloth and ashes. Interestingly enough, he uses the imagery of drought and locusts to discover how well his audience knows the Lord, warn them of something much worse happening if they ignore his preaching, and express his solemn belief that all those who are faithful will one day be richly blessed. Joel warns not to ignore the signs. A drought is a sign of a lack of water, the very source out of which surfaced all of creation in Genesis and Jesus (The New Creation) from His Baptism in the Jordan. Locusts are so numerous that they block the sun and cast a thick shadow over the earth. No walls can stop them; fires in their path are immediately extinguished by the hundreds of these dead insects, and if a door or a window is inadvertently left open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is tested. No, not examined or fielded for helpful information, He is tested. As Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro of Dallas writes, “Life is a battle. Every day is a struggle. If I do not pray, then I am fighting with both hands tied behind my back. I will lose. I will cave in. I will die. I will easily forget why I am here.” The Evil One, and all of its co-workers, will try to limit your prayers because it knows that your prayers will limit evil.  Sometimes, it only takes one prayer to change everything.

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October 13, 2017


Reading 1 – JL 1:13-15; 2:1-2

Gird yourselves and weep, O priests!
wail, O ministers of the altar!
Come, spend the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
The house of your God is deprived
of offering and libation.
Proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the elders,
all who dwell in the land,
Into the house of the LORD, your God,
and cry to the LORD!

Alas, the day!
for near is the day of the LORD,
and it comes as ruin from the Almighty.

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all who dwell in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming;
Yes, it is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,
a day of clouds and somberness!
Like dawn spreading over the mountains,
a people numerous and mighty!
Their like has not been from of old,
nor will it be after them,
even to the years of distant generations.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 9:2-3, 6 AND 16, 8-9

R. (9) The Lord will judge the world with justice.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, Most High.
R. The Lord will judge the world with justice.
You rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
their name you blotted out forever and ever.
The nations are sunk in the pit they have made;
in the snare they set, their foot is caught.
R. The Lord will judge the world with justice.
But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has set up his throne for judgment.
He judges the world with justice;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord will judge the world with justice.

Alleluia – JN 12:31B-32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The prince of this world will now be cast out,
and when I am lifted up from the earth
I will draw all to myself, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 11:15-26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”

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Persistence Always Wins


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 12, 2017

The Book of the Prophet Malachi is one of the shortest in the Old Testament and was written nearly 450 years before the birth of Christ, but in many ways, it reads as if it was written last week. God loves His people yet it looks like many reject this awesome gift. Religious leaders are negligent and simply tell people what they want to hear. Faithful couples are leaving their loves preferring sorcerers, liars and insanity-driven power trips while the world seems to be bent on destroying itself. Sounds like a description of the news this morning. The First Reading today is taken from the very last part of this book where God is not vague about how the earth’s cliffhanger is resolved. It will be blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble (straw), and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” igniting fast and disappearing like straw. If we stopped right there, we would no doubt be swallowed up in fatalism and despair and that is why the Psalmist bids us to repeat several times over the words, “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord…Blessed are they who hope in the Lord…Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” Then what are we to do? Once again, the answer comes to us through the Gospel of the day which is “ask, seek, knock.” Prayer is the life of the new heart. (CCC 2697)

Throughout the centuries, Christians maintained three main expressions of prayer; vocal, meditation, and contemplation. Together, they make a phenomenal path to peace and holiness, not to mention sanity.

Vocal – We are body and spirit, thus it is important to express our spiritual feelings outwardly [we speak].

Meditation – The mind searches to understand what God is saying [we think, imagine, desire and feel].

Contemplation“We are alone with the One who loves us”  [God speaks, we listen and experience].

The one who asks through vocal prayer, receives; the one who seeks through meditation, finds; and the one who knocks at the door of contemplation, can change the world one soul at a time.

“In the confrontation between water and the rock the water always wins. Not through strength but through persistence.”

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October 12, 2017


Reading 1 – MAL 3:13-20B

You have defied me in word, says the LORD,
yet you ask, “What have we spoken against you?”
You have said, “It is vain to serve God,
and what do we profit by keeping his command,
And going about in penitential dress
in awe of the LORD of hosts?
Rather must we call the proud blessed;
for indeed evildoers prosper,
and even tempt God with impunity.”
Then they who fear the LORD spoke with one another,
and the LORD listened attentively;
And a record book was written before him
of those who fear the LORD and trust in his name.
And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts,
my own special possession, on the day I take action.
And I will have compassion on them,
as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
Then you will again see the distinction
between the just and the wicked;
Between the one who serves God,
and the one who does not serve him.
For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
And the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.

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

R. (Ps 40:5A) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

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 – LK 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”

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Bless Me Father For I Am Angry


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 11, 2017

Poor Jonah. He is angry again. God didn’t punish those people because, well, they repented and begged for mercy and the Lord said, “Yes!” It is clear by now that the Book of Jonah is the story of a disobedient, narrow-minded prophet who is upset at the outcome of the only message he was supposed to deliver. So he sulks, he mopes, broods, is sullen, has a long face, remains in a bad mood, is in a huff, and is seemingly incurably grumpy. Sound like anyone you know? And all this pathetic fit-throwing because God did not follow Jonah’s script which he passionately wrote for God. It does sound horribly immature and selfish, at the very least, overwhelmingly short-sighted and oddly familiar. “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh.” (First Reading)

What is the remedy to Jonah’s dilemma and those we know who are inflicted with this spiritual bias? It is quite simple and brilliant. “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” (Gospel) Here we have the universally famous prayer of the “Our Father” which is the only prayer that Jesus taught. The message of mercy is both simple and readily experienced in the life of anyone who wants to find deep joy and happiness even in the midst of pain and suffering. We turn to Him and cry out, “God, you are Holy and I need you for everything, especially forgiveness!” Before putting the finishing touches of this very long day, pray the “Our Father” and see if you can master this practice every night before going to bed. It could be the last prayer you ever offer on this planet. And what a strategically beautiful way to exit!

Teach me to feel another’s woe, to hide the fault I see, that mercy I to others show, that mercy shown to me. (Alexander Pope)

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October 11, 2017


Reading 1 – JON 4:1-11

Jonah was greatly displeased
and became angry that God did not carry out the evil
he threatened against Nineveh.
He prayed, “I beseech you, LORD,
is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?
This is why I fled at first to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger, rich in clemency, loath to punish.
And now, LORD, please take my life from me;
for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to be angry?”

Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it,
where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade,
to see what would happen to the city.
And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant
that grew up over Jonah’s head,
giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,
Jonah was very happy over the plant.
But the next morning at dawn
God sent a worm that attacked the plant,
so that it withered.
And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind;
and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he became faint.
Then Jonah asked for death, saying,
“I would be better off dead than alive.”

But God said to Jonah,
“Have you reason to be angry over the plant?”
“I have reason to be angry,” Jonah answered, “angry enough to die.”
Then the LORD said,
“You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor
and which you did not raise;
it came up in one night and in one night it perished.
And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons
who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,
not to mention the many cattle?”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10

R. (15) Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O Lord,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.

Alleluia – ROM 8:15BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

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Learning How to Fly


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 10, 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. That will always involve a leap of faith, an extra helping of courage and a sometimes small, sometimes monumental act of faith. Such was the case of Jonah as mentioned in our First Reading after he was first charged to warn and issue an apocalyptic message to the Ninevites. “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” (First Reading) This was no easy task and neither was the awesome, even unexpected outcome. “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” In front of this all-encompassing mercy of God that marvels as well as redeems, we can understand and agree with the Psalmist who is so insistent with the only recourse we have when we have made that tumultuous leap of complete trust: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD, LORD, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentiveto my voice in supplication..” (Responsorial Psalm)

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 someone once close to us has died. There is sorrow, there is doubt and sometimes there is darkness. This is certainly true today in the Gospel with the two famous sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha begins with Jesus suggesting that somehow all of the present tragedy their lives could have been avoided if the Lord had just planned his schedule a little differently. However, before Jesus has a chance to respond to that statement, Martha quickly adds that no matter what the reason or course of events, she is ready to make that leap of faith and trust with all her heart and mind as to the outcome. Then Jesus reveals why the trusting moment is pivotal for all of us, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Gospel)

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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October 10, 2017


Reading 1 – JON 3:1-10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’s bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small,
put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
“Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth
and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive,
and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish.”
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 130:1B-2, 3-4AB, 7-8

R. (3) If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Let Israel wait for the LORD,
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

Alleluia – LK 11:28

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

Gospel – LK 10:38-42

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

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Whales and Robbers


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 9, 2017

“But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (First Reading) “You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.” (Responsorial Psalm) “And who is my neighbor?” (Gospel) Keep in mind that everything written in the Old Testament is preparing us for the New. Everything. The Bible is the complete, composite, Word of God is/equals Jesus. Therefore, what is the relationship between Jonah and the Good Samaritan? There are several clues. First is the mention of the belly of the whale, “beten” in Hebrew which is also the word for womb. Israelite creation stories use three important metaphors to indicate the connection between birth and death, womb, tomb, and dungeon. The womb is the primary key word because the grave and the dungeon are all considered as wombs from which new life emerges. The fact that Jonah is in the dungeon of the whale for three days clearly prepares us for the three days that Jesus spent in the belly of the earth. We all know that a whale could never hold the body of a man so the actual whale here is more like a dragon or monster, something evil, in Hebrew.

That is important when we ask who is the Good Samaritan? To answer that, let’s look at the story. “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” The words, a man, in Hebrew, is the same for humanity. That changes things, doesn’t it? So, if the story is about humanity that has been jumped by the evil one, then it is Jesus who is the only one who can help, seeing how the old priesthood, the unhelpful cleric, and the old law, the Levite, cannot help by themselves. He approaches the victim, coming down as He did from heaven in Bethlehem (Christmas), pours wine and oil in the wound (Sacramental life)  lifts the wounded, lifts him upon his own animal (becomes human through the Incarnation), takes him to an inn (The Church), leaves two coins, (scripture and tradition) and then utters those immortal words by promising that he’ll take care of everything “on my way back” (the end of the world, or Apocalypse). In a phrase, what does this all mean? If you want out of the whale, be like Jesus, stay within the Church and wait with innocent love so He will recognize you when He comes again.

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October 9, 2017


Reading 1 – JON 1:1–2:1-2, 11

This is the word of the LORD that came to Jonah, son of Amittai:

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it;
their wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD.
He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish,
paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish,
away from the LORD.

The LORD, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea,
and in the furious tempest that arose
the ship was on the point of breaking up.
Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god.
To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.
Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship,
and lay there fast asleep.
The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep?
Rise up, call upon your God!
Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”

Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots
to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.”
So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah.
“Tell us,” they said, “what is your business?
Where do you come from?
What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”
Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew,
I worship the LORD, the God of heaven,
who made the sea and the dry land.”

Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him,
“How could you do such a thing!–
They knew that he was fleeing from the LORD,
because he had told them.–
They asked, “What shall we do with you,
that the sea may quiet down for us?”
For the sea was growing more and more turbulent.
Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,
that it may quiet down for you;
since I know it is because of me
that this violent storm has come upon you.”

Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not,
for the sea grew ever more turbulent.
Then they cried to the LORD: “We beseech you, O LORD,
let us not perish for taking this man’s life;
do not charge us with shedding innocent blood,
for you, LORD, have done as you saw fit.”
Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea,
and the sea’s raging abated.
Struck with great fear of the LORD,
the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him.

But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah;
and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish
three days and three nights.
From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed
to the LORD, his God.
Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

Responsorial Psalm – JONAH 2:3, 4, 5, 8

R. (cf. 7) You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
Out of my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me;
From the midst of the nether world I cried for help,
and you heard my voice.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the sea,
and the flood enveloped me;
All your breakers and your billows
passed over me.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
Then I said, “I am banished from your sight!
yet would I again look upon your holy temple.”
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.
When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
My prayer reached you
in your holy temple.
R. You will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord.

Alleluia – JN 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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Landowner Woes


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 8, 2017

We have noted many times in our Reflections that more than a few Old Testament accounts of people and events tell of a foreshadowing of that which is yet to come. For example, Moses told the Jewish people of another law-giver, like him, who would come later and who would require the people’s total allegiance and obedience; the Psalms describe the experiences of David; yet they also speak of David’s greater son, the Messiah. Perhaps one of the best known prophets is Jeremiah who wrote extensively about a New Covenant that would follow the horrible exile of God’s people. Jeremiah used many images and references that later Jesus would echo and apply to the New Testament of Salvation history. Among those references are the fount of living water, the barren fig tree and the one we read today, “The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant.” (First Reading)

The Scriptural lesson for us today is that for centuries humanity had been waiting for the Messiah, the landowner of heaven and earth, and still many rejected Him. That unfortunately goes on today in our time as was described dramatically in the timely threat that if we cannot produce good fruit with what we have been given, someone else will. “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Gospel) We clearly have been given a vineyard and a charge to take the life we now have and use it wisely and carefully. This means, among many other things, that our very demeanor and actions, especially around our families, friends, and co-workers alike, must radiate the fact that we believe that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and that “I have in fact accepted Him here and now.” Every day, you and I have wondrous and numerous opportunities to accomplish this. One of the best ways is through forgiveness whenever possible and necessary. Even for our friends. Especially for our friends.

Our Second Reading then gives us a strategy and plan of action. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” Life and living in the vineyard is hard work, but very rewarding. Our Landowner is full of justice and loves us very much. “I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord, to go and bear fruit that will remain.” (Alleluia Verse)

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October 8, 2017


Reading 1 – IS 5:1-7

Let me now sing of my friend,
my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes,
but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I had not done?
Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,
did it bring forth wild grapes?
Now, I will let you know
what I mean to do with my vineyard:
take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!
Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to send rain upon it.
The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his cherished plant;
he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

Responsorial Psalm – PS 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20

R. (Is 5:7A) The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
A vine from Egypt you transplanted;
you drove away the nations and planted it.
It put forth its foliage to the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River.
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Why have you broken down its walls,
so that every passer-by plucks its fruit,
The boar from the forest lays it waste,
and the beasts of the field feed upon it?
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
O LORD, God of hosts, restore us;
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Reading 2 – PHIL 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

Alleluia – CF. JN 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord,
to go and bear fruit that will remain.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

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Awaken the Child


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 7, 2017

There is a popular little story that has been circulating around for quite a while now. The plot is about a little boy who walks up to his mother in the kitchen as she is preparing supper. She’s a little annoyed that her son can’t seem to wait until everything is ready. Well, he hands her an invoice and waits for payment with an outstretched arm. Basically, he is charging the family for things like cutting the grass, cleaning his room, babysitting, etc. The boy’s mother responds by recalling all the memories of her son from the day she told her husband that she was pregnant, to the day they brought him home, to this very moment in time. Her response was not only brilliant, poetic and moving, but also laced with pure truth.

For the nine months I carried you in my womb, NO CHARGE.
For all the times you were sick and I took care of you, NO CHARGE.
For all the hours I worried about you, NO CHARGE.
For everything we ever bought for you, NO CHARGE.
For all the meals we served you, NO CHARGE.
For a nice home, good parents and a happy life, NO CHARGE.

After hearing that from his mom, the little boy cries a bit, tells his mom how much he loves her and then takes the pen, puts an X on the bill and writes in big bold letters, “PAID IN FULL.” The Lord is calling out to you and me to re-capture the joy and innocence of being a child. Care-free, loved and yet small-minded, at times. Let us move forward as His children and love being loved by the one who is love! “Fear not, my children; call out to God!” (First Reading) “”I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” (Gospel) ”

Let us pray

I am God’s precious child and have been bought at a price. There is no reason to lose hope because God will never fail me. May I remember this and smile and rejoice. Amen.

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October 7, 2017


Reading 1 – BAR 4:5-12, 27-29

Fear not, my people!
Remember, Israel,
You were sold to the nations
not for your destruction;
It was because you angered God
that you were handed over to your foes.
For you provoked your Maker
with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods;
You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you,
and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you.
She indeed saw coming upon you
the anger of God; and she said:

“Hear, you neighbors of Zion!
God has brought great mourning upon me,
For I have seen the captivity
that the Eternal God has brought
upon my sons and daughters.
With joy I fostered them;
but with mourning and lament I let them go.
Let no one gloat over me, a widow,
bereft of many:
For the sins of my children I am left desolate,
because they turned from the law of God.

Fear not, my children; call out to God!
He who brought this upon you will remember you.
As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,
turn now ten times the more to seek him;
For he who has brought disaster upon you
will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 69:33-35, 36-37

R. (34) The Lord listens to the poor.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!”
R. The Lord listens to the poor.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
They shall dwell in the land and own it,
and the descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it.
R. The Lord listens to the poor.

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 – LK 10:17-24

The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

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Dying to Live


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 6, 2017

Everyone on this planet has a purpose. There is simply no way around that. The fact that we are alive and breathing, that we are asking such deep questions about life, 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, then 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 just later in eternity but right here and now. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (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 listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.” (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 a person 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. This means letting go of what is not beneficial so we can see and accept what is. Wouldn’t you rather suffer and die with Christ so as to live with Him forever? I know I would.

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October 6, 2017


Reading 1 – BAR 1:15-22

During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed:
“Justice is with the Lord, our God;
and we today are flushed with shame,
we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem,
that we, with our kings and rulers
and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors,
have sinned in the Lord’s sight and disobeyed him.
We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God,
nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us.
From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt
until the present day,
we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God,
and only too ready to disregard his voice.
And the evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant,
at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt
to give us the land flowing with milk and honey,
cling to us even today.
For we did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God,
in all the words of the prophets whom he sent us,
but each one of us went off
after the devices of his own wicked heart,
served other gods,
and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 79:1B-2, 3-5, 8, 9

R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Alleluia – PS 95:8

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

Gospel – LK 10:13-16

Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

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Be Prepared


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 5, 2017

William Somerset Maugham was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He is probably most widely known for his novel, The Razor’s Edge. In the opening pages of the book he wrote, “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” Mr. Maugham once wrote about his mother that she was lovely and charming and beloved by all. His father was not by any means handsome, and had few social and surface gifts and graces. Someone once said to his mother, “When everyone is in love with you, and when you could have anyone you liked, how can you remain faithful to that ugly little man you married?” She simply answered, “He never hurts my feelings.” There could be no finer tribute.

Human love on earth mirrors and foreshadows the love waiting for us in heaven. That is because it involves a covenant, the same kind of trust-filled, powerfully alive promise that is based on complete and lasting hope, the fruit of complete and tender love between both God and human beings who enter its promise. “Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.” (First Reading) When people entered into that loving promise with God, deep joy was always present. Only by the help of Jesus Christ can any of us develop the sympathy, the understanding, the forgiving spirit, the considerate love, which true discipleship and an authentic Christian life requires. Without that help these things are impossible. “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’” (Gospel)

Like all things that come from the hand of God directly into our laps and lives, the best is the hardest, and the most difficult yields the most satisfying reward. Some would say that we should all walk boldly through life with an open, broken heart. But, we would have to add that we shall walk boldly perhaps, even through a burning house, but love is what moves the universe, it is the source of all life in the one who is love and who heals the broken-hearted. Homer wrote that “Life and death are balanced on the edge of a razor,” and even though he never knew of the Christ or given the opportunity to write about the universal claim of Christianity to have changed the course of human history, I believe he is right. The good news for us who believe and love in this world is that Jesus is on either side of the blade ready and waiting to catch us.

“I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness doesn’t come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so can enjoy life when you are a man. Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.” (Robert Baden-Powell)

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October 5, 2017


Reading 1 – NEH 8:1-4A, 5-6, 7B-12

The whole people gathered as one in the open space before the Water Gate,
and they called upon Ezra the scribe
to bring forth the book of the law of Moses
which the LORD prescribed for Israel.
On the first day of the seventh month, therefore,
Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak until midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform
that had been made for the occasion.
He opened the scroll
so that all the people might see it
(for he was standing higher up than any of the people);
and, as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,
and all the people, their hands raised high, answered,
“Amen, amen!”
Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,
their faces to the ground.
As the people remained in their places,
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe
and the Levites who were instructing the people
said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”–
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”
And the Levites quieted all the people, saying,
“Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.”
Then all the people went to eat and drink,
to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy,
for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.

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

R. (9ab) The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye;
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Alleluia – MK 1:15

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

Gospel – LK 10:1-12

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

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The Patron Saint of Peace


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 4, 2017

“The king granted my requests, for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.” (First Reading) Today is the great and glorious Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. His very name and the city of Assisi are remarkably full of peace. But it was not always like that. Francis had a previous life that was not so saintly. Because of his rich conversion, much like that of St. Paul as it is written in our First Reading, God is truly praised by the deep renewal within the human soul and spirit. Assisi, previously at war with Perugia, also encountered a deep change. “I consider all things so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Alleluia Verse) St. Francis taught and lived the great mystery which is within each and every one. We are truly walking miracles because of the one who created us and brought us into being. When you really think about it, change and conversion toward God is more natural and normal than staying the same, especially in a life of sin and selfishness.

“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Gospel) Yes, this is true. If only for a single moment each day we would realize that we are one day closer either to Heaven or Hell, then everything we do and say today will have great and deep repercussions in eternity. This is a gift of peace, not of anxiety. Change is the one constant in the universe, therefore to ask for the grace of ongoing conversion is completely in line with our own destiny and essence.

Take some time today and quietly, gently pray the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, then watch what happens.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.

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October 4, 2017


Reading 1 – NEH 2:1-8

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
when the wine was in my charge,
I took some and offered it to the king.
As I had never before been sad in his presence,
the king asked me, “Why do you look sad?
If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.”
Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king:
“May the king live forever!
How could I not look sad
when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins,
and its gates have been eaten out by fire?”
The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?”
I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king:
“If it please the king,
and if your servant is deserving of your favor,
send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves,
to rebuild it.”
Then the king, and the queen seated beside him,
asked me how long my journey would take
and when I would return.
I set a date that was acceptable to him,
and the king agreed that I might go.

I asked the king further: “If it please the king,
let letters be given to me for the governors
of West-of-Euphrates,
that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah;
also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park,
that he may give me wood for timbering the gates
of the temple-citadel and for the city wall
and the house that I shall occupy.”
The king granted my requests,
for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

R. (6AB) Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon
we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the aspens of that land
we hung up our harps.
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
Though there our captors asked of us
the lyrics of our songs,
And our despoilers urged us to be joyous:
“Sing for us the songs of Zion!”
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
How could we sing a song of the LORD
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand be forgotten!
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I remember you not,
If I place not Jerusalem
ahead of my joy.
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!

Alleluia – PHIL 3:8-9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

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Your Table is Ready


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 3, 2017

“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” “God is with us.” (Responsorial Psalm) “…but they would not welcome Him.” (Gospel) Children love parties. They love visiting the relatives that love them very much, those who can’t wait to see them, hug them, and hold them. I believe we still carry a little bit of that excitement as adults. Have you ever made a reservation for dinner? Was it for a very special event with people who were and are important and very dear to your heart? I recall an incident on Christmas Day at a very popular hotel restaurant when a large group arrived for their luncheon. The hostess could not find their reservation. Wow. I still remember their deep disappointment and frustration. I felt sad for all of them.

In more than a few places in Sacred Scripture, Heaven is described as a great banquet with everyone and everything that could possibly make you happy. Imagine getting to that banquet where the Host finds your reservation. This child-like and hopeful nature of a follower of Christ continues to enter the themes of our Readings these days. I believe this suggests that Christmas is coming, Jesus loves children, and that we have to adopt the heart of a child.

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October 3, 2017


Reading 1 – ZEC 8:20-23

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
There shall yet come peoples,
the inhabitants of many cities;
and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another,
and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD”;
and, “I too will go to seek the LORD.”
Many peoples and strong nations shall come
to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem
and to implore the favor of the LORD.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
In those days ten men of every nationality,
speaking different tongues, shall take hold,
yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say,

“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 87:1B-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (Zec 8:23) God is with us.
His foundation upon the holy mountains
the LORD loves:
The gates of Zion,
more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God!
R. God is with us.
I tell of Egypt and Babylon
among those that know the LORD;
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia:
“This man was born there.”
And of Zion they shall say:
“One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High LORD.”
R. God is with us.
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
“This man was born there.”
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
“My home is within you.”
R. God is with us.

Alleluia – MK 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:51-56

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

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Pave the Yellow Brick Road


Gold brick road on grass with sun and blue sky

Procrastination is a true human trait and proof of the existence of God with the promise of His most wonderful Heaven. It clearly exhibits the hope and confidence in a better tomorrow and thereby, by extension, the rationale to put off today what can be done later. But in the meantime, before we reach Heaven, I don’t think it’s such a good idea. What do I mean by that? Consider the following.

In a short period of time, a good friend of mine has lost three significant women in his life, all of which has made for a wall of grief to emerge. In addition to this clover of tears, he is, you could say, in-between jobs, and clearly repulsed by the full-time, in-between, low-paying, dignity-robbing employment that currently occupies his time while barely paying the bills. And he feels so alone. What makes this difficult is that he is one of those kind of people who tends to be accommodating, serving, and the one who is always there for others. It is not always as rewarding as it seems. You don’t need a degree in social media technology or nuclear physics to realize that the person I have described is not only an endangered species but also a walking target, standing around with a large sign in bright letters, “Hurt Me!” While you try to be there for everyone else, when you are at your most vulnerable, everyone is busy. And rightly so.

The solution is easy, really. Either he keeps the sign on his back, wallows in misery, and tries to wangle a few extra dollars per hour, or, he can remove and disassemble this ill-advised mantra and start something new. Even though he’s pushing 60, I still believe there’s room for re-invention and a new road for my friend. Perhaps grief causes groaning that can open avenues to growth if the individual chooses to go in that direction. Therefore, I encouraged him to make a careful inspection of his life to date. This will involve manifesting a list of the things he likes in his life and the aspects he does not. He must invite the Lord Jesus to walk with this very “personal memory lane” before doing anything or hurting anyone. But it must be done and soon. But how does one re-invent anything? Is there really such a word? Yes, there is. It means to invent again without knowing that the invention already exists; to remake or make over, as in a different form; and to bring back, revive. Now let’s look at each part of the definition.

To invent again. The art of re-invention has already been fifty-two percent accomplished in most of us. We are who we are and the best description of life around us can be found in the little phrase, “it is what it is.” Before moving forward, I must realize this, that adversity and problems do not create character and strength, they reveal them. When you crush an olive, you get olive oil. When your crush a grape you get fine wine. When you crush a noble human being, the result is a holy life ready for anything and waiting upon the Lord. True enough, right? So why can’t we just stop there and go on our merry way? Because we will undoubtedly end up where we left off, like some revision of Groundhog Day where every twenty minutes or so, the plot starts all over again. Although we have been assured that the re-invented hope of our true self already exists, we must move forward.

To remake or make over. Something has to change. It has to look, feel and sound different. Although the essential items of life remain intact, there has to be solid, tangible changes that even if no one else can see, he knows he can.  Then all the change and attitude shifts can take hold.

To bring back, revive. I love the word, revival. You can almost see life being poured back into an empty canvass, scenario and most especially a heart-broken warrior and sojourner who simply will not stop until he wins. Stop with all the activity that drains energy and life. Cease listening to negative and judgmental rhetoric. Enough with enabling. Right. Now life starts pouring in like a sweet forest waterfall.

Well, my friend has made his lists, phone calls, resumes, and looks like he is ready to turn the page today. Most importantly, and to my great relief and joy, he has invited the Lord to be right with him because He is truly “my light and my salvation.” And I am truly excited about his prospects and liken him a little like those four wonderful and mythical characters from The Wizard of Oz.  I think what I like most about this classic American every man story is what actually happens throughout their journey. Unlike what the four seekers hoped for and expected, the Wizard does not tap them on the head with some wizardly wand and turn them into something they aren’t. No, his job is simply to reassure the foursome that they are not lacking anything, and he helps them recognize their own true talents and abilities. The Wizard’s job is to enable the seekers to see themselves more clearly by reminding them how smart, talented, and courageous they already are. Ours is the power of belief, the power of affirming what we really want, the power of claiming our heart’s desire according to the merciful will of our Heavenly Father, a far more comforting image than a crafty traveling salesman behind a curtain. Could this famous Wizard be an archetypal figure for Jesus?

My friend is doing very well these days, at least since the last time we spoke. His story mingled with that of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Lion is the story of all who want to be happy and find fulfillment in our own lives. It is the battle, search and exciting journey to uncover and truly discover our true self. To develop our own intellect, heart, and courage and find our way to our true home, and to help others do the same. I can certainly live with that.

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Feast of the Guardian Angels


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 2, 2017

“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” (Gospel) Do you want to be the greatest at anything? I can only imagine that in this highly competitive yet entitlement-minded society, people are either trying to get ahead or just exist and coast. Both are an extreme way of living. Some would call this all-or-nothing thinking which has traditionally led many down a dark and lonely path. You see, Jesus changes all that. “Do you want to be great?,” He asks. Before answering, our Lord places right in front of all the readers of the Gospel throughout the centuries, a child. An innocent, loving, trusting child cries when he or she is angry or has aced selfishly.

Trust the Lord, He loves you. And if you need a little more help, guess what? It will be there. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Did you catch that? Every child has their own, personal angel constantly in touch with the Father. You and I were all once children, so we still have them. That is what the Scripture says and that is what the Church teaches today on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Name your angel. Take a deep breath and move forward. Trust Jesus. Now, that’s great.

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October 2, 2017


Reading 1 – ZEC 8:1-8

This word of the LORD of hosts came:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:

I am intensely jealous for Zion,
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts,
the holy mountain.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.
The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible
in the eyes of the remnant of this people,
shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also,
says the LORD of hosts?
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun,
and from the land of the setting sun.
I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.
They shall be my people, and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 AND 22-23

R. (17) The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence.
That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion;
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

Alleluia – PS 103:21

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Bless the LORD, all you angels,
you ministers, who do his will.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 18:1-5, 10

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

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Well Done is Better than Well Said


Reflection on Mass Reading for October 1, 2017

“But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” (First Reading) “Which of the two did his father’s will?” (Gospel) What a strange situation in today’s Gospel. One son says “I won’t,” but does; the other says “I will,” but doesn’t. This situation reminds us, among other things, that actions speak louder than words. Think of the people in your life that you can truly count on whenever necessary. We say that their words are golden because they are true. Many organizations have mission statements declaring that their top aims are customer service, product quality, civic integrity, putting their people first, and the like. Yet many such businesses have poor service, quality, integrity, and employee relations. Individuals may do the same thing, extolling their plans, yet failing to implement them. Organizations and individuals falling into this trap may have good intentions, but may not recognize they are failing to live up to their rhetoric. Workplaces and those individuals we choose to be a part of our lives need both effective ways of clearly living their mission and goals, and impartial and time-tested challenges and opportunities to give unvarnished feedback. Sounds like integrity to me.

This entire discussion brings us right back to the First Reading. We must be honest and forthright with each other because we are responsible to each other. Many times our own friends will interpret our silence as approval in a wild variety of situations. “I didn’t know you felt that way” is a phrase that comes to mind when we do not risk rejection in the service of truth. Of course, our Second Reading could not be more direct when it comes to our actions coupled with our many words every day. “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” Perhaps today’s basic message is that “You are what you do, not what you’ll say you do.”

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October 1, 2017


Reading 1 – EZ 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

R. (6A) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Reading 2 – PHIL 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Or – PHIL 2:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus.

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 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

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