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Careful What You Ask For


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 28, 2018

“Heed me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life?” (First Reading) Throughout the bulk of Scripture, people seemingly never tire of asking God for things. With amazing regularity it almost seems as if we humans tend to question the Almighty as to the rationale to the whys and hows of creation. The biggest offender of this behavior is Job from Old Testament fame who had the gall, or nerve, to ask God why he allowed so much to happen to such a good man. The Lord’s response, as they often say, was priceless. In the end, it’s really best to pray for wisdom and for the patience it will take to wait upon its arrival. “But my trust is in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’” (Psalm) We must sound a little frivolous to God at times because we often want the answer to be easy, comfortable and safe. We want God to just give us what we ask for. Now.

“You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” Such is the case in our Gospel today where two of the Apostles are getting in way over their heads in terms of their request. But don’t we do that all the time as well? Probably. For some of us who have lived long enough to know through experience, we can agree that the Lord loves us too much to give us what we want when we want it. Instead of fixing our problems and worries right away, He makes sure that we are firmly, and with pure focus, on the right path to help form our souls so that we may recognize the truth when we see it. There is more power in the process than the outcome; there is more learning in the journey than the destination. This is why Lent is so critical to our spiritual formation. Slowly but surely, like a sturdy growing tree, we find ourselves closer and closer to the source of all truth and life because we become much more careful about what we ask for.

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February 28, 2018


Reading 1 – JER 18:18-20

The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
“Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.”Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 31:5-6, 14, 15-16

R. (17B) Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Verse Before The Gospel – JN 8:12

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

Gospel – MT 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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Getting Things Right


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 27, 2018

“Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.” (First Reading) One of the benefits of a fruitful Lent is that we get to examine our lives and see if God has any rivals there. Rivals? Yes, those would be other gods that we have placed in our lives that make it very hard to talk with God and spend quality time with Him. This could be money, power, control, even the opinion that we want others to have of us.  Jesus promises to both rescue us from the effects of our wayward choices and bring calming relief because of the pain and anxiety that is caused when we replace God with anything or anyone else. Many times we may feel as if our lives are out of control because we keep working and running and not seemingly getting anywhere. Lent could not have come at a better time.

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Gospel) It looks like the only way to truly set things right with God is to understand, pray and work for humility, remembering that it is not humiliation but more of a deeper walk with the truth about who we are especially standing before God. If that little piece of advice seems daunting, it’s because it is. No one can teach humility nor can we learn it from a video series or worse, “Humility for Dummies.” Thank God for small favors. And while we are thanking Him, we have in fact discovered the only way to learn how to live and walk humbly. Just sit in front of Him and just be. That makes Him very happy and truly sets things right.

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February 27, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 1:10, 16-20

Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!

Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Responsorial Psalm – PS 50:8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23

R. (23B) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Verse Before The Gospel – EZ 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Gospel – MT 23:1-12

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

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Blind Judging the Blind


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 26, 2018

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.” (Gospel) “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (St. Teresa of Calcutta) These awesome quotes,  beginning with Jesus in the Gospel, remind us of the value of being truthful with the life that we have been given by God. The truth is, no one is perfect or has had the same opportunities to grow in the faith as we have. That is precisely why we cannot risk the perception that we are somehow better than others because we do not sin the way they do. Humility is always better than pride. “Remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low.” (Psalm)

If we encounter people in our lives that are blind to the goodness around them even if they will not or cannot see what is redeemable in us, the only way to respond to these situations is pure compassion and love. We will get absolutely nowhere if we act in opposition to the Gospel and judge other people. “But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!” (First Reading) We are also warned that the same standards we use with others will be used with us. Better be safe than sorry. Let us pray.

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February 26, 2018


Reading 1 – DN 9:4B-10

“Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 79:8, 9, 11 AND 13

R. (see 103:10A) Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
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. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

Verse Before The Gospel – SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel – LK 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

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Time for a Test


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 25, 2018

“God put Abraham to the test.” (First Reading) A test has been defined as a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, especially before it is taken into widespread use. This is actually good news for us. Think about this carefully. Have you ever heard someone say, or even yourself wonder, why is God testing me? Well, if we are being tested it means we are being prepared for something truly great and wonderful. This truth has obviously caused the words from Psalms today to shout out to all of us. “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.” Perhaps this negative notion about being tested by God comes from the human experience of being tested by other people just to prove us wrong, inept or incompetent. There is this deep suspicion of any kind of test, even a medical one, because of the dread that is associated with the outcome. This is not the case for us who follow Christ in Lent. We are clearly made certain of this in the Second Reading. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

There is good news and better news for us all today on this Second Sunday of the Lenten Season. There will be a test and we know how to study. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” If we have sacrificed things or food or activities as our Lenten promise, let us take those spare moments in our day to sit and listen to Jesus. Ask Him to speak, while you promise to listen and enjoy the outcome. He is waiting for you.

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February 25, 2018


Reading 1 – GN 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

R. (116:9) I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Reading 2 – ROM 8:31B-34

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?
Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.

Verse Before The Gospel – CF. MT 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.

Gospel – MK 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

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Perfection Versus Perfectionism


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 24, 2018

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Gospel) Let us begin this Reflection with just a couple of important definitions. By “perfect” we mean having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics, becoming as good as it is possible to be. By “perfectionism” we mean the personal refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. Huge difference, wouldn’t you say? Someone wise once said that perfectionism is a slow death, meaning that if everything were to turn out just the way we wanted or planned there would never be anything new or spontaneous. So what could it possibly mean that we are called to be perfect just like God? Let’s start first with what it means to be perfect to God. The Lord is perfectly true to His own nature, regardless of whether we think it perfect or imperfect. God is personal, relational, and brilliant. But most importantly, God is faithful to who He is and to each one of us. Perfectionism is exactly the opposite because it seeks to be untrue to ourselves as wounded human beings who are in desperate need of the Lord. There is no such thing for any of us as a perfect life. But we can obtain peace and harmony with God and the world by being true to ourselves and faithful to our call as souls destined for heaven. That means our lives may not produce the dreams we wanted but they certainly can and want to experience the God who put us all here to begin with.

“And today the LORD is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you.” (First Reading) The beautiful truth for us today is simple. We belong to God and He loves us. If things don’t go right, we run to the Lord; when things go wonderfully, we run to God. Maybe we don’t want a perfect life after all. Isn’t more likely that we want a happy life with God. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

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February 24, 2018


Reading 1 – DT 26:16-19

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“This day the LORD, your God,
commands you to observe these statutes and decrees.
Be careful, then,
to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Today you are making this agreement with the LORD:
he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways
and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees,
and to hearken to his voice.
And today the LORD is making this agreement with you:
you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you;
and provided you keep all his commandments,
he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory
above all other nations he has made,
and you will be a people sacred to the LORD, your God,
as he promised.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8

R. (1B) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
when I have learned your just ordinances.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Verse Before The Gospel – 2 COR 6:2B

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel – MT 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

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Eating Our Words


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 23, 2018

“Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.” One of the areas which Lent can target as we make our way through this spiritual desert is clearly and most obviously our speech. We are taught that our words must serve the truth in every possible way and that falling into the deceitful misuse of words can lead to much worse situations. The Catechism of the Catholic Church delineates several offenses against truth in the section on the Ten Commandments, specifically the eighth commandment concerning bearing false witness. These involve perjury, respect for the reputation of others, rash judgement, detraction and calumny/malicious speech. All these areas deserve our utmost attention and introspection partly because the way we speak to each other will determine in no small way the way we speak to God. The Prophet Ezekiel in our First Reading seems to allude to this probability. “Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?” Lent is a supreme time to remember that while there will be an end to everything we know and experience, there is time now to change and come back to God. This is truly good news for all of us. “If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

Each and every day that we are alive provides us with a myriad of opportunities to make life much better and grace-filled for everyone. However, some days are better than others, and that is why we must try not to mix bad words with a bad mood. We will no doubt have many opportunities to change a mood, but we will never get the opportunity to replace the words we spoke, especially without thinking. Imagine that this Lent we could start an amazing new habit. What if the very first word we said in the morning was the name of Jesus and the very last word we uttered was His name? What difference do you think that could make? How much are you willing to try and see?

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February 23, 2018


Reading 1 – EZ 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
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 the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7A, 7BC-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?
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
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?

Verse Before The Gospel – EZ 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
And make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Gospel – MT 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

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Pull Up A Chair


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 22, 2018

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. This has nothing to do with furniture and everything to do with the Lord’s intention to keep His great gift of the Church alive and faithful throughout the centuries. “Tend the flock of God in your midst.” (First Reading) From the very beginning of God’s divine revelation to the world of Himself, there has been a deep and abiding desire to make sure that we would be guided and loved just as a shepherd takes care of his sheep. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Psalm)

The Chair as a symbol of authority helps us understand why God truly wants to shepherd and protect us. When we need something important, we seem even in this day and age to approach someone who is sitting. Judges are seated when making rulings. Therapists and counselors are seated when listening and comforting clients. Priests are in a chair when they pronounce absolution and show mercy to penitents. This is ongoing evidence of the Lord’s presence and lasting care for us. “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Gospel) During these days of Lenten journey, let us pray for all who are in authority in the Church starting with the Holy Father and all those entrusted with this awesome ministry. Although it is most likely true that heavy is the head that wears the crown, there are great blessings that come to those who lead and follow with generous hearts and loving souls. “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.” (Psalm)

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February 22, 2018


Reading I – 1 PT 5:1-4

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

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

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Verse Before The Gospel – MT 16:18

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

Gospel – MT 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

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Altering the Future


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 21, 2018

The Science Fiction genre is full of images and literary devices of time travel. This means that characters in novels and on the screen have been able to go back in time to change the future. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But it really isn’t practical, or realistic for that matter. Can we change the future? Yes and No. The first Reading this very fine day helps us open the following discussion. “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.” Our sins and transgressions against God and each other call for serious consequences and affects on our lives as a matter of justice but as a matter of mercy, our humble and sorrowful hearts can turn back what we truly deserve and live a life of forgiveness and patience. So yes, we can change the future, but not yesterday, only today.

This is precisely why Jesus came and why we are to spend these momentous days walking in the desert with Him. “…because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” Lent is a time to beg forgiveness, be sorry for all our sins and move forward in this great life of ours. We have seen that repentance and humility can make all the difference in the world. So why don’t more people do it more often, you ask? The answer is simple. Simple pride. “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” That is why these days of Lenten journey seek to disassemble and break down our hubris so we might be more forgiving and loving. The choices we make these days can truly affect the outcome of our lives.  Can we change the future? Every day.

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February 21, 2018


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 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

R. (19B) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before The Gospel – JL 2:12-13

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart
for I am gracious and merciful.

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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My Father, Your Father


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 20, 2018

Every time we open ourselves to listen and read the Word of God, there is a district promise that something good will happen. He said so himself, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void.” As we move forward in our first week of this Lenten journey, no doubt the assaults of the evil one have certainly increased and perhaps we are feeling alone and distant from the original fervor that graced us on Ash Wednesday. This is precisely why we need to continually feed on the Word of God and the bread of life. “From all their distress God rescues the just.” Often times we seek the remedy for our ills in places that could never offer lasting comfort or relief. The Word of God does just that if we avail ourselves to being nurtured in this powerful way.

Today in the Gospel, there is one more powerful truth that can assist us not only in this great and powerful Season of Lent, but also for the rest of our lives. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” We have a Father who loves us and continues to watch over us. We share this awesome gift of the divine friendship and belonging. Before the end of this day, make sure that you pray the Our Father slowly and with great intention. Your Father and mine is waiting for us.

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February 20, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 55:10-11

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

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

R. (18B) From all their distress God rescues the just.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

Verse Before The Gospel – MT 4:4B

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

Gospel – MT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”This is how you are to pray:Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

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A Lent for Love


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 19, 2018

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent is a lot like New Year’s Day. It starts off with a huge amount of good intentions and the best of resolutions, but by the first week, everyone seems to have amnesia. This is the moment we all need to reconsider why we are in this awesome time. It is about learning how to truly love and avoid the selfishness that pervades society and tries to steal God’s thunder. The First Reading of this new week makes that crystal clear. “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We can trust this to be true and right for us. The world has one way to live and take and hold grudges, but God’s way is always the best. “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.” (Psalm) This is why these days in the desert with Christ can make all the difference in the world if we stay focused on why we are attempting to live this Lent with love. This is why God sent His Son, Jesus who fulfills all that was taught before His arrival so that we can truly understand what it means to live in freedom and grace. It is all about service, self denial and detachment. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

You might be asking why everyone else isn’t following the Lord? The answer to this is quite simple. This question reveals a deep distraction that always produces a lost fervor for more prayer, generosity for the poor and fasting. We lose our way if we take our eyes and heart away from the goal of Easter. Remember that the Lord Jesus is not asking us to be like other Christians. He is asking us to be like Him.

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February 19, 2018


Reading 1 – LV 19:1-2, 11-18

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not steal.
You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another.
You shall not swear falsely by my name,
thus profaning the name of your God.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (John 6:63B) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Verse Before The Gospel – 2 COR 6:2B

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel – MT 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”

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Noah’s Ark, Christ’s Church


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 18, 2018

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.” (Gospel) On this First Sunday of Lent, we are alerted to the very core reason for our journey these days. Jesus was in the desert for a very specific and wonderful reason: He showed us how to live and how to face the temptations of this life. He was strengthened by his fasting and supported by His very love for you and me. The Psalm of today also confirms this belief. “Good and upright is the LORD, thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and he teaches the humble his way.”

Noah knew this firsthand. All the earth was flooded and our human race was given yet another chance to find salvation and hope in this life. “I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.”  This second chance involves our entrance into the mystical Body of Christ which also has prepared us not only for the forty days of Lent but all the days we have left on this planet. Just like Noah’s Ark protected all those inside from the ravages of the floodwaters outside that massive boat, the Church protects all within her through the waters of baptism that puts an end to the reign of sin and death around us and assures our arrival to the promised land of heaven. “This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.” As we continue this great and marvelous time of renewal, we call upon the Spirit of God who led Jesus into the desert, who helps us maintain our Lenten focus and who inspires us with love and forgiveness now and forever.

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February 18, 2018


Reading 1 – GN 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
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. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Reading 2 – 1 PT 3:18-22

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Verse Before The Gospel – MT 4:4B

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

Gospel – MK 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

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Only As Sick As Our Secrets


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 17, 2018

“If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness.”  There are many among us who swear by the deep, internal cleansing and detoxifying process whereby the poisons and noxious substances are purged from the bloodstream. And while this is neither the time nor place to have an intelligent conversation about these purported benefits, it is safe to say that there is a deep and beneficial connection to Lent and our spiritual lives. Using another medical analogy, sin and selfishness can creep into our lives like plaque upon our gum lines. Fasting like floss seeks to go deep and eradicate the hidden filth that seems to accumulate without realizing it. While the First Reading truly addresses our speech and our attitude toward the poor in our lives, the Psalm opens the heart to listen carefully in prayer to the promptings and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.”

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” Another crucial part of a successful Lenten journey is humility and honesty. Many have to come to an understanding that we are only as sick as our secrets, which basically means that a secret which kept in the dark usually grows and festers and ultimately destroys a person. The good news is that once it is exposed to light and released, all its ugly power is gone. People who are proud and refuse to admit that there are issues and areas that are in need of Lenten cleansing, open this lack of self-knowledge to growing negativity and self-loathing while keeping them sick and trapped in sinful behavior. The awesome truth about Lent is that we are sick and we need Jesus. Now the battle is more than half-won.

Let us pray

“Lord Jesus, hear my prayer and walk into my soul and cleanse me with your love. I am yours. I can hide nothing from you. Help me be honest with myself that I may find your truth. Amen.”

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February 17, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 58:9B-14

Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
“Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

If you hold back your foot on the sabbath
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
and the LORD’s holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or speaking with maliceB
Then you shall delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (11AB) Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
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. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
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. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Verse Before The Gospel – EZ 33:11

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

Gospel – LK 5:27-32

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

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Real Fast


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 16, 2018

The Prophet Isaiah gives remarkable insights on this First Friday of Lent.

“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;” Forgive everyone who has ever hurt you; at least begin the process.

“Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;” Stop judging and mercilessly criticizing all in your world.

“Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;” Remember those around you that have little or nothing.

“Clothing the naked when you see them;” Stop judging by appearances such as clothes, possessions or power.

“and not turning your back on your own.” Pray for your own family. Forgive whenever possible and as often as needed.

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February 16, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 58:1-9A

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Responsorial Psalm – PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 18-19

R. (19B) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before The Gospel – SEE AM 5:14

Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the Lord will be with you.

Gospel – MT 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”

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Choose Life For Lent


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 15, 2018

“Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” On our second full day of Lent, the Lord God in our First Reading presents to us a choice, life or death. Although this may seem very simple and tedious, it is the only choice we will make on this planet that has eternal consequences. This is the most profound and fundamental of all decisions we make daily before the clock runs out and we go home. This choice takes many forms and deliberations throughout the course of any given day starting from the vantage point of how we treat God to the sometimes all too real realization of how we treat ourselves.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” In the Gospel of the day, Jesus makes it clear how we can pursue this lofty goal of choosing the greatest choice on earth. We must die to ourselves and the best way to begin that process is to sacrifice, or give up certain attachments that make us hard and callous. Let us start with one in particular. All of us realize and accept that we live in a wounded and greatly imperfect world. It is more than easy to start and end this day by pointing out how many things are wrong with it. It is like fishing in a barrel, easy as pie. By the end of this long day, let us amass all the things we said to others that were positive, uplifting and constructive. Indicate to those around you what aspects are good and worthy. Slow down and identify all the blessings and miracles around you. Although we might have to bite our tongue and hold back criticism, it is a sting well worth the pain.

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February 15, 2018


Reading 1 – DT 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

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

R. (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.

Verse Before The Gospel – MT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel – LK 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

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The Blue Rose


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 14, 2018 

Albert Einstein is credited to have defined a coincidence as a “small miracle when God chooses to remain anonymous.” He also poignantly pointed out that we all have only two choices as to how to live our lives: either as if everything is a miracle or as if nothing is. This year, today in particular, we have encountered one of these coincidences. Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine’s Day land on the same day, February 14th. But that’s not all. At the end of our Lenten journey, Easter Sunday falls on the first day of April, traditionally, April Fool’s Day. If this truly is a small miracle, or a curious coincidence at best, what is the message? What possible connection is there between a candy-strewn, flower-filled celebration of love, black crosses encrusted on our foreheads and a day of trickery and foolery? What is needed here is a powerful image that has deep meaning and significance on several levels.

Let us consider the rose, not just any rose, but a blue one. The blue rose is considered among florists as the Holy Grail of all roses because of its rarity and overwhelming beauty and significance. The Holy Grail is the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper and has become quite an inspiring image when speaking of things spiritual and magnificent ever since the Middle Ages. Let us consider that Lent is all about love, a love that is unique and marvelous and eternal. The love for Christ makes us fools to the world because we follow a man who found himself out of a grave. This is the love above all other attachments, devotions and sweet-hearted infatuations. It is as unique and wondrous as the mystical and mysterious blue rose and it is waiting for us eternally at the end of this forty-day extravaganza. However, it seems that one must die to oneself before finding the love of one’s dreams even though it may appear as unattainable as a sky-colored rose. That’s just the point, it is not hidden and it is not beyond our reach because it is Jesus we await and Jesus who patiently waits for us.

Today stands before us a time of great love, amazing sacrifice and self-denial and of extraordinary discovery as its goal and ongoing benefit as a movable feast. Let us take the instructions of the Master today seriously and to heart. Pray, be generous to the poor and fast. Yes, we are fools for Christ because of the love that has been showered down upon us from the cross. So we begin. Walk through your own garden of life slowly and carefully because among the many flowers, weeds, and broken promises there lies more than just a small miracle.

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February 14, 2018


Reading 1 – JL 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (see 3A) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 2 – 2 COR 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before The Gospel – SEE PS 95:8

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

Gospel – MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

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The Eclipse of Faith


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 13, 2018 

The remarkable explanation of a solar eclipse and its strange, even eerie effects on nature has even more interesting implications for our own spiritual life. Our sun is about four hundred times greater than the size of our moon and interestingly is also about four hundred times farther away. This is why the tiny little lunar object can block the entire massive radiant burst of the sun, if just for a short time. Flowers, pets, farm animals, insects, birds and even salmon have bizarre reaction to this phenomenon. “Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.” Something very similar could be said about how sin impacts our souls. The Scriptures address this interesting insight that leads us to examine how we allow something so tiny, petty and far from the love of our Lord to block the massive love that is freely given to each one of us. Yet it happens with numbing regularity.

“Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” Jesus also appears a bit incredulous about our behavior. And with reason. How does it happen that we would allow anything to block the effects of the awesome Sacrifice of Christ? There could be a clue here in the Gospel. Jesus refers to the hardening of the heart as a possible way to understand this spiritual eclipse. Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. If we remain in pride, refuse or avoid to confess our sins, and then live a hazardous, unrealistic spiritual life, these factors taken together have a desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong. St. Paul referred to this as a seared or scorched conscience. The solution and remedy is love that produces hope and the strength to endure suffering. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord; and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Alleluia Verse)

Let us pray

“Lord, You know how I have been hurt and how I have hurt others. You are truly aware of the parts of my heart that have become hard and unresponsive to your Love. Please, soften my heart that I may always hope for your forgiveness and live in humility. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

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February 13, 2018


Reading 1 – JAS 1:12-18

Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life
that he promised to those who love him.
No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters:
all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 94:12-13A, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12A) Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me;
When cares abound within me,
your comfort gladdens my soul.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.

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 – MK 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

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Show Me Serenity


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 12, 2018 

Human beings are almost invariably in need of confirmation, reassurance, and security. This is obvious in our relationships, especially the more important ones we have discovered, and is why from time to time, we might experience a doubt or even a moment of crisis when we face troubles. It is then that we need those special hugs and secure feelings. “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (Reading)

What is surprisingly wonderful throughout all these moments, is that we can find a deeper walk and love that God has for us and we can indeed count these crises as joys. We know that everyone must suffer as part of the journey here but we also need tender loving care from our God. We find that to be true in today’s Psalm. “Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.”

“Why does this generation seek a sign?” (Gospel) There is, however, a problem with these needs. If we are not careful, these moments of reassurance and comfort may not be enough. We might even lose our own confidence in the Lord if all we look for are concrete signs that may stave off doubt for a short amount of time. This is why the Letter of James makes it clear to us once again that we must rely on the wisdom of God and not stray. His advice to all is stellar. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.” Take time today to pray for wisdom. Thank God that this prayer is always answered.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.”

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February 12, 2018


Reading 1 – JAS 1:1-11

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters,
when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly,
and he will be given it.
But he should ask in faith, not doubting,
for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea
that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,
since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.

The brother in lowly circumstances
should take pride in high standing,
and the rich one in his lowliness,
for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.”
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass,
its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes.
So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 76

R. (77A) Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I hold to your promise.
R. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.
R. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn your statutes.
R. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
I know, O LORD, that your ordinances are just,
and in your faithfulness you have afflicted me.
R. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
R. Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.

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 – MK 8:11-13

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.

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Be Made Clean


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 11, 2018

The parade of medications for the treatment of everything from high blood pressure to depression continues to populate the airwaves and internet with commercials seemingly turning the pharmaceutical marketplace into a casual quick-stop at any one of a thousand gas stations. Imagine if the horrible disease of leprosy was in the forefront of medical concerns today. The effect would certainly be devastating. Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. This description clearly explains why the Old Testament Reading seems so severe. “The one who bears the sore of leprosy… shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’” Because we are not only talking about a medical issue here but rather the spiritual implication of how sin and vice truly disfigures the human soul like leprosy maims the skin and bodies of human beings, we must look to Christ who is here to heal, clean, and comfort those still in this world. “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered.”

In today’s daily reading, we are called upon to accomplish two glorious things. We are to ask for healing and promote healing. Jesus makes it crystal clear that he truly wants to cover us with his presence and warmth and soothe the pains that sin and selfishness cause our poor, tired souls. “I do will it. Be made clean. The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.” Everyone suffers. There is no question about that statement. There is also a tremendous amount of pain and suffering in the world. But those who follow Christ are held to another kind of standard. People who are hurt, hurt others; broken people often break others; hate begets hate and pain begets more pain. Jesus freed us so that we may lead others to freedom. Men and women who have been healed are able to heal others. Let us hold fast to his mission today and always. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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February 11, 2018


Reading 1 – LV 13:1-2, 44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 32:1-2, 5, 11

R. (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.

Reading 2 – 1 COR 10:31—11:1

Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or
the church of God,
just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
that they may be saved.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Alleluia – LK 7:16

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

Gospel – MK 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

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Fast Food vs. Eternal Food


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 10, 2018

How on earth could Jeroboam think for even a split second that anything but the Lord God of Heaven and Earth would be able to totally and completely satisfy? But He apparently did, again. “This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.” Before we become high and mighty and somehow judge those ancient Biblical dwellers for their incredible short-sightedness, let us take a breather because we do the same thing here in the twenty-first century. We, too, must combat the constant temptation of spiritual obesity right here, today in our lives. We run to self-help books and happy-meal approaches to spirituality instead of thoughtfully feeding on the words of the Scriptures. We prefer entertainment rather than challenges. We want to play at our worship instead of truly thanking God for everything we have and taking seriously the call to live a life of integrity.

As long as there have been kitchens, restaurants and diners, we have been inspired to eat healthier. Maybe less french fries and more salads; more water and less soda; less junk food and more of a natural fare. As long as we encountered the Lord among us, we have been inspired to live a more authentic and loving life. We are destined to live a life that trusts Jesus with everything and seeks less and less to be mentally tickled, stimulus-stuffed and hypnotized by the slow beating drum of the world’s heartless and selfish messages. We are called upon this day from the Scriptures to eat more spiritually-healthy food as often as humanly possible. “They ate and were satisfied.”

Let us pray 

“For food in a world where many walk in hunger; for faith in a world where many walk in fear. For friends in a world when many walk alone, Please Jesus, feed us with your eternal food. Amen.”

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February 10, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS12:26-32; 13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself:
“The kingdom will return to David’s house.
If now this people go up to offer sacrifices
in the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem,
the hearts of this people will return to their master,
Rehoboam, king of Judah,
and they will kill me.”
After taking counsel, the king made two calves of gold
and said to the people:
“You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough.
Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan.
This led to sin, because the people frequented those calves
in Bethel and in Dan.
He also built temples on the high places
and made priests from among the people who were not Levites.
Jeroboam established a feast in the eighth month
on the fifteenth day of the month
to duplicate in Bethel the pilgrimage feast of Judah,
with sacrifices to the calves he had made;
and he stationed in Bethel priests of the high places he had built.

Jeroboam did not give up his evil ways after this,
but again made priests for the high places
from among the common people.
Whoever desired it was consecrated
and became a priest of the high places.
This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam
for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 106:6-7AB, 19-20, 21-22

R. (4A) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers;
we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.
Our fathers in Egypt
considered not your wonders.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Alleluia – MT 4:4B

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

Gospel – MK 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
because they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
If I send them away hungry to their homes,
they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.”
His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread
to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”
Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They replied, “Seven.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

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Nobody Makes the Journey Alone


hiker helping another up a hill

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. “What food might this contain?” He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!” The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.” The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house.” The pig sympathized but said, “I am very sorry Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it except pray; be assured that you are in my prayers.” The mouse turned to the cow, who said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse, I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

The mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well. She died; many people came for her funeral, so the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it doesn’t concern you, remember that when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and be willing to make that extra effort to encourage one another.

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An Open Mind Works Wonders


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 9, 2018

The Bible contains stories of the immense love God has for all those He has brought into existence, from the very beginning of time. The plot is simple. He loves-we promise to love-we break that promise-we run but cannot hide-we beg forgiveness-He forgives-loves us, and then the process starts all over again. But why the helpless cycle? There must be an incredible and endemic lure or temptation lurking throughout our being. One possible explanation is that deep down there is a desire to be like God, to know everything and not allow anyone to tell us what to do or how to live our lives. That is simply called pride and we have examples of that today in the First Reading with the idolatry of  Jeroboam and the wretched consequences that ensured. “Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.” Today’s Psalm helps to explain this unfortunate lapse of judgement and deficit of wisdom in those who should know better. “My people heard not my voice, and Israel obeyed me not; So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts; they walked according to their own counsels.”

What is the best cure for a closed mind? “’Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.'” During our spiritual journey, we will undoubtedly come up against doubt and worry. But these can be beneficial if we allow them to assist our enlightenment and trust in Jesus. A closed mind helps arrogance grow into monstrous proportions. No matter what is happening in your life today, no matter what struggles or pains or grief or worry that you encounter, beg Jesus to open the closed and dark areas of life. Then you will be able to agree with those in the Gospel after witnessing what the Lord can do. “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

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February 9, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 11:29-32; 12:19

Jeroboam left Jerusalem,
and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road.
The two were alone in the area,
and the prophet was wearing a new cloak.
Ahijah took off his new cloak,
tore it into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam:

“Take ten pieces for yourself;
the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
‘I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon’s grasp
and will give you ten of the tribes.
One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant,
and of Jerusalem,
the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’”

Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 81:10-11AB, 12-13, 14-15

R. (11A and 9A) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

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 – MK 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

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Derailed Wisdom


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 8, 2018

Many believe that having greater access to more information produces increased knowledge and wisdom. In all actuality, the opposite is true. Without proper focus, context and especially fidelity to truth, all this makes for a rather muddied and opaque view of the world and takes us farther and farther away from wisdom. Such is the very unfortunate turn of events that is revealed in our First Reading. “When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God, as the heart of his father David had been.” Solomon lost his focus and drifted away from the real source of what made him wise and admired. Many things can cause that. In our First Reading, it seems to have been unhealthy influences from those closest around him. It may also have been the opulent and lavish lifestyle that surrounds monarchs of every age.

Today’s Gospel is a reminder that at times when we are in the most desperate throes of need and want, especially during difficult or painful circumstances, our focus becomes quite improved. This is evident of the woman who knew Jesus could help her and trusted that He would in fact do so if only she asked. “’Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.’” This is great news for all. We may find ourselves derailed from the path we truly wish to follow through all kinds of circumstances, and we are likewise strengthened by the fact that the Lord loves us so much that He is always ready and willing to touch and heal us. Knowing this and living by these words truly makes us wise.

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February 8, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 11:4-13

When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods,
and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God,
as the heart of his father David had been.
By adoring Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians,
and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites,
Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD;
he did not follow him unreservedly as his father David had done.
Solomon then built a high place to Chemosh, the idol of Moab,
and to Molech, the idol of the Ammonites,
on the hill opposite Jerusalem.
He did the same for all his foreign wives
who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
The LORD, therefore, became angry with Solomon,
because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel,
who had appeared to him twice
(for though the LORD had forbidden him
this very act of following strange gods,
Solomon had not obeyed him).

So the LORD said to Solomon: “Since this is what you want,
and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes
which I enjoined on you,
I will deprive you of the kingdom and give it to your servant.
I will not do this during your lifetime, however,
for the sake of your father David;
it is your son whom I will deprive.
Nor will I take away the whole kingdom.
I will leave your son one tribe for the sake of my servant David
and of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 106:3-4, 35-36, 37 AND 40

R. (4A) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Blessed are they who observe what is right,
who do always what is just.
Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people;
visit us with your saving help.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
But they mingled with the nations
and learned their works.
They served their idols,
which became a snare for them.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
And the LORD grew angry with his people,
and abhorred his inheritance.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Alleluia – JAS 1:21BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 7:24-30

Jesus went to the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.
She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth,
and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.
For it is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied and said to him,
“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed
and the demon gone.

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Wisdom or Wining


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 7, 2018

A long time ago, a history teacher wrote something on the chalkboard in his classroom that has remained with at least one aging student to this day. “Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” The real test of what is wise and what is silly comes from what is in the heart of the one speaking. This is tested in the First Reading from the First Book of Kings where it describes the famous encounter of the wise King Solomon with the Queen of Sheba, who had as much inquiry as she did curiosity. “The queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon’s fame, came to test him with subtle questions.” It was clear to the queen that everything she had ever heard about the great wisdom of Solomon was absolutely true. It was already within him, thereby the bevy of questions on obviously every topic imaginable were answered with ease and without arrogance or pretense. The Psalm underscores that observation. “The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.”

People are not wise because they posses a particular accent or vocal training. Inflections in voice and dramatic readings do not ensure the presence of wisdom in any human being. No, that must come from the very recesses and depths of the heart and soul of a person as was demonstrated and taught by Jesus in today’s Gospel. “All these evils come from within and they defile.” Our fellow humans sometimes say ridiculous things because they do not stop to think about the consequences of words. They whine and complain for that is seemingly all they know to describe life. We who follow Jesus must listen to His wise counsel today and make the conclusion that if what is within us makes us wise or defiled, then by all means let us invite Jesus to live there first. Thus, whatever we say should sound like Him.

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February 7, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 10:1-10

The queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon’s fame,
came to test him with subtle questions.
She arrived in Jerusalem with a very numerous retinue,
and with camels bearing spices,
a large amount of gold, and precious stones.
She came to Solomon and questioned him on every subject
in which she was interested.
King Solomon explained everything she asked about,
and there remained nothing hidden from him
that he could not explain to her.

When the queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom,
the palace he had built, the food at his table,
the seating of his ministers, the attendance and garb of his waiters,
his banquet service,
and the burnt offerings he offered in the temple of the LORD,
she was breathless.
“The report I heard in my country
about your deeds and your wisdom is true,” she told the king.
“Though I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes,
I have discovered that they were not telling me the half.
Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard.
Blessed are your men, blessed these servants of yours,
who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom.
Blessed be the LORD, your God,
whom it has pleased to place you on the throne of Israel.
In his enduring love for Israel,
the LORD has made you king to carry out judgment and justice.”
Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty gold talents,
a very large quantity of spices, and precious stones.
Never again did anyone bring such an abundance of spices
as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 37:5-6, 30-31, 39-40

R. (30A) The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
Commit to the LORD your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
The mouth of the just man tells of wisdom
and his tongue utters what is right.
The law of his God is in his heart,
and his steps do not falter.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Alleluia – SEE JN 17:17B, 17A

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

Gospel – MK 7:14-23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

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Divine Tradition


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 6, 2018

“LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart.” (First Reading)  The discussion about tradition and traditions is a tricky thing. By definition, these are elements that are literally handed down from one group, one culture, one generation to another. The only difference is where they emanate from, and the only way to distinguish between what is merely human and what is divine tradition from God is found in the nature of its revelation. How do we really know what is purely a human custom or a true article of belief from the Lord and true everywhere at all times?

The Gospel tackles this question head-on with the quoted words of Jesus from the prophet Isaiah. “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.” The danger with human traditions is when we hold them as coming straight from God and those we become guilty of idolatry. If we take divine revelation and treat tradition as if it were a simple custom, then we straddle into the land of apathetic disbelief. Divine revelation has two sources, (1) Scripture, which is God’s written Word; and (2) Tradition, which is God’s oral teaching.  The Church as Sacrament of Salvation must make these distinctions clear and navigate us through the centuries. This is why Jesus established the Church and that is why we must have all three elements intact, Scripture, Tradition and the Teaching Authority of the Church. This is how we stay focused until we are with God forever and say for all eternity,  “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!” (Psalm)

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February 6, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 8:22-23, 27-30

Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD
in the presence of the whole community of Israel,
and stretching forth his hands toward heaven,
he said, “LORD, God of Israel,
there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below;
you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants
who are faithful to you with their whole heart.

“Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth?
If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you,
how much less this temple which I have built!
Look kindly on the prayer and petition of your servant, O LORD, my God,
and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant,
utter before you this day.
May your eyes watch night and day over this temple,
the place where you have decreed you shall be honored;
may you heed the prayer which I, your servant, offer in this place.
Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel
which they offer in this place.
Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 84:3, 4, 5 AND 10, 11

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

Alleluia – PS 119:36, 29B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees;
and favor me with your law.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 7:1-13

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
(For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.)
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
In vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He went on to say,
“How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say,
‘If someone says to father or mother,
“Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things.”

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The Healing Touch


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 5, 2018

“The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud; I have truly built you a princely house, a dwelling where you may abide forever.”  In our First Reading today, Solomon continues to dazzle us with the true gift of wisdom which he has been given. This time, his intuitive leadership seeks to bring God very close to his people by making sure that He remains within their very midst. Solomon knows deep within his heart that if the Lord is near, all will be well, not only for individuals but for all those who live in the kingdom and are looking for comfort, guidance and respite from the hardships of life and love. “Lord, go up to the place of your rest!” (Psalm)

The Gospel continues these thoughts with the seat of all wisdom, Jesus the Christ. “Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.” The same principle is true for all of us today, right now. Great things will always happen, both externally and internally when we remain close to the Lord and run to Him always. This is true confidence in the one who loves us so much that He would rather die than live without us. Start every morning by first speaking with Him. He loves hearing from you and you’ll be blessed when you do. He is right there.

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February 5, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 8:1-7, 9-13

The elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes,
the princes in the ancestral houses of the children of Israel,
came to King Solomon in Jerusalem,
to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant
from the City of David, which is Zion.
All the people of Israel assembled before King Solomon
during the festival in the month of Ethanim (the seventh month).
When all the elders of Israel had arrived,
the priests took up the ark;
they carried the ark of the LORD
and the meeting tent with all the sacred vessels
that were in the tent.
(The priests and Levites carried them.)

King Solomon and the entire community of Israel
present for the occasion
sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen
too many to number or count.
The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD
to its place beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,
the holy of holies of the temple.
The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark,
sheltering the ark and its poles from above.
There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets
which Moses had put there at Horeb,
when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel
at their departure from the land of Egypt.

When the priests left the holy place,
the cloud filled the temple of the LORD
so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud,
since the LORD’s glory had filled the temple of the LORD.
Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;
I have truly built you a princely house,
a dwelling where you may abide forever.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 132:6-7, 8-10

R. (8A) Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter into his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Advance, O LORD, to your resting place,
you and the ark of your majesty.
May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!

Alleluia – SEE MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret
and tied up there.
As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.
They scurried about the surrounding country
and began to bring in the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.

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Noble Souls Seared With Scars


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 4, 2018 

“God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” (Saint Augustine) On this beautiful Sabbath celebration of Sunday, the Church is presenting a remarkable treatment and entry into the mystery of suffering. We have some preeminent voices which will help us on this sabbatical, namely, Job, St. Paul and the Messiah himself. We begin with the Old Testament where we know that Job is a good and prosperous man who, in addition to loving his family and friends, is beset by Satan, with God’s permission, with horrendous disasters that take away all that he holds precious. He is definitely looking for answers. “So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me.” Why do bad things happen to good people? What we learn from this great patient man is that the one who prays and calls out to God is never alone. Suffering by itself would be a tragedy; only suffering with meaning and purpose has any value, veiled as it may be for a while.

New Testament texts move us closer to the depth of this mystery with St. Paul who wrote, “To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.”  The truth is, everyone suffers. The human condition, no matter who we are, always involves suffering. The difference is with whom and why. St. Paul suggests that even suffering and the community that it forms, actually leads us closer to the deep source of all love. St. Teresa of Calcutta would even go further, “Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so closer to Him that He can kiss you.”

Perhaps nothing can relieve and comfort us who are beset with our own suffering or that of those we love when Jesus assures us in the Gospel that this is why He came. He doesn’t look upon our crosses and difficulties from afar, He actually embraces them to make us whole and true, noble human beings worthy of such scars of pain. “He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons… ‘Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.'” It is very likely that at the end of our lives we will finally realize how little we actually suffered and how badly we suffered that little. Let us pray.

“Love me Jesus so that I may love You. Help me suffer when I must so that I may see You totally glorified in Heaven. Amen.”

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February 4, 2018


Reading 1 – JB 7:1-4, 6-7

Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (cf. 3A) Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD, for he is good;
sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
it is fitting to praise him.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
the dispersed of Israel he gathers.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars;
he calls each by name.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
to his wisdom there is no limit.
The LORD sustains the lowly;
the wicked he casts to the ground.
R. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 – 1 COR 9:16-19, 22-23

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Alleluia – MT 8:17

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

Gospel – MK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left
and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues,
preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

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Wiser than an Owl


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 3, 2018

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Alleluia Verse) It is widely believed and circulated that once a proud young man came to Socrates asking for wisdom. The Greek Philosopher took the young man down to the sea and quickly pushed him under for a seemingly cruel amount of time until the young man gushed forth from the water gasping for life itself.  At that point, Socrates is attributed to have said, “when you want wisdom as much as you have just wanted air, then you will be wise.” The young and blossoming King Solomon asked God practically the same. “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” What is truly amazing and worth noting is that the young monarch already had a healthy helping of wisdom to even ask for such a gift. It is quite refreshing and motivating.

The Scriptures as the totality of the Word of God completely and totally prepare, reveal and glorify the person of Jesus Christ. From that sweeping statement we can safely deduce that wisdom is as important to life as air is to a drowning person. To obtain it successfully, we must search after it with the same desperation as for oxygen. The ability to see clearly and choose correctly the best course of action on a daily basis are the veritable building blocks of life of wisdom. Jesus added another awesome exercise that is probably less dramatic than a near-drowning experience. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” If that sounds too simplistic, remember with whom we are called to spend quality, enriching time. It is Wisdom incarnate, Jesus the Lord.

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February 3, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 3:4-13

Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice there,
because that was the most renowned high place.
Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon answered:
“You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David,
because he behaved faithfully toward you,
with justice and an upright heart;
and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today,
seating a son of his on his throne.
O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant,
king to succeed my father David;
but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?

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

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

R. (12B) Lord, teach me your statutes.
How shall a young man be faultless in his way?
By keeping to your words.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.

R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

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 – MK 6:30-34

The Apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

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Divine Presentations


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 2, 2018

“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” (Gospel) Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This was the moment when Mary and Joseph took the child Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after His birth to complete Mary’s purification and to celebrate the redemption of the first born as was and is proscribed in the Law. That means that today is forty days since Christmas and the hope of all the world is brightened and ushered in by the light of Christ. “Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!” (Psalm)

The Scriptures give us three types of presentations in the temple that together form a unique unity of teaching as to the person of Christ, His purpose and our salvation. The first type of presentation is as a baby, then when he stunned the learned of the law with His wisdom at the age of twelve, and finally when he purified the Temple after it had been turned into an economic and commercial center along with the selling and trading of animals. “Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming?” (First Reading) All these enlighten our own hearts and minds when we ask, “Who is Jesus, anyway?” It is a question reverberated throughout the centuries until this very moment in time as we allow the Spirit to enter our souls on this great Feastday. Simply stated, Jesus is everything, God and human. All power in Heaven and earth is His, and He knows exactly what we must endure on our journey here on earth. “Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” (Second Reading)

Perhaps we could think of today as one more Christmas gift that has yet to be opened and enjoyed. Imagine for a second that you were in that Temple and at an appointed time someone handed you a baby. Not just any baby, but the child who would save all from the darkness and emptiness that is often hurled at us. Then we could certainly agree with Simeon when he gave us the lyrics to a life-song that could, and should be sung at the end of each and every long day of our lives. “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

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February 2, 2018


Reading 1 – MAL 3:1-4

Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 24:7, 8, 9, 10

R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Reading 2 – HEB 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Alleluia – LK 2:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 2:22-40 OR 2:22-32

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
Band you yourself a sword will pierceB
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

or

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

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Finish the Masterpiece


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 1, 2018

Giacomo Puccini is clearly one of the brightest stars of music history on our planet with many stellar works accredited to his God-given talents. Among them is the opera Turandot which he began to compose in 1924 but did not live to see its completion or first performance. Others had to start where he left off and finish the great masterpiece. In today’s Readings, we find that something very similar happened where someone was leaving and others had to keep going. On his deathbed, King David related the following to Solomon, his son. “I am going the way of all flesh. Take courage and be a man.” Solomon lived on with his great father-king deeply embedded in his soul and became one of the wisest rulers in all of human history.

In the Gospel, another wise and noble king did something quite similar. He left, but did not abandon the world to the likes and dangers of evil. “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.” In a simple phrase, our charge today is to finish the masterpiece of our lives that God began on the day we were born. We move in His wonderful light and make the world a much better place than when we found it. Who would have thought that we are all artists in our own right?

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February 1, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 KGS 2:1-4, 10-12

When the time of David’s death drew near,
he gave these instructions to his son Solomon:
“I am going the way of all flesh.
Take courage and be a man.
Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, following his ways
and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees
as they are written in the law of Moses,
that you may succeed in whatever you do,
wherever you turn, and the LORD may fulfill
the promise he made on my behalf when he said,
‘If your sons so conduct themselves
that they remain faithful to me with their whole heart
and with their whole soul,
you shall always have someone of your line
on the throne of Israel.'”

David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.
The length of David’s reign over Israel was forty years:
he reigned seven years in Hebron
and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

Solomon was seated on the throne of his father David,
with his sovereignty firmly established.

Responsorial Psalm – 1 CHRONICLES 29:10, 11AB, 11D-12A, 12BCD

R. (12B) Lord, you are exalted over all.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.
“LORD, you are exalted over all.
Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.
“In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.

Alleluia – MK 1:15

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

Gospel – MK 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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