The Word of God

Lenten Refreshment


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 29, 2020

“He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” The Prophet Isaiah reveals more elements of the nature of this Season that have the great potential of making the grandest difference in our lives. In our First Reading of the day, we are clearly told that if we remove ugliness from our speech and selfishness from our mindsets, we can expect with the very promise of God Himself that life will be much better for us and for those around us.

“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.” Jesus crowns this wonderful insight by reminding us that before we can get better and grow in this life we must be honest with ourselves. If we think everything is fine and perfect and just “okay” then we have little hope of any transformation during Lent or at any other time of the year. As we prepare the First Sunday of Lent tomorrow, we could say that self-awareness and personal integrity form the bedrock and basis for an awesome life and full life. God has done His part; the rest is up to us.

“Lent is about becoming, doing, and changing, whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.” Sister Joan Chittister, OSB

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February 29, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 222

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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Fasting 2.0


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 28, 2020

“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish.” We have now arrived at the First Friday of Lent where we are reminded of that particular Friday when Jesus gave us His entire being on the cross for our salvation and eternal happiness. We are also reminded of the call to fast and go without to strengthen our resolve and our wish to be holy and ever so close to the Lord. Here we can visualize and follow the radical connection between the paths of Lent by which we are made wondrously ready for Easter.

“Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord will be with you.” Fasting assists our prayer life by helping us focus on the things in life that really matter starting with our relationship with God and spreading into our dealings with one another. This supports our prayer life which in turn feeds our desire to do good and avoid the near temptation of sin that we may grow in holiness and deep and lasting friendships in this life. What we know by now is certain: we cannot do this alone and we need Jesus and each other to make or break this Lent.

“Only in eternity shall we see the beauty of the soul, and only then shall we realize what great things were accomplished by interior suffering.” Mother Angelica

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February 28, 2020


Friday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 221

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 – 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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What Will It Be?


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 27, 2020

“Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” The author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and deep loving concern. Beautiful people don’t just happen.”
On this second full-day of our Lenten Journey, let us remain convinced that what truly makes a person beautiful can be measured to the degree that they are alive and love life. Persons who are negative, mean-spirited, and constantly focusing on death and darkness are hardly inspirational. A very fine Irishman once said to a large group of people, “Never walk away from sour-faced, intimidating or rude people…run!” “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.”

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Our God is a God of life, of hope, of second chances and miracles. Where there is life, there is always hope and a remedy just ready to make itself known. Make this Lent the best ever!

“It is obvious that God is looking at the heart when sacrifices are given to Him. He takes no delight in those who give up things for Lent and then act like it’s such a struggle to perform what they said they wanted to do for Him.” Monica Johnson

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February 27, 2020


Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 220

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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February 26, 2020


Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219

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 – 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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Ashes For The Masses


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 26, 2020

“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.” Today we begin a most wonderful and challenging season of self-denial and hungering for the earthly pleasure that we may or may not have become overly attached. The reason for the Season of Lent which begins today is to deeply understand mercy and to practice compassion and forgiveness every chance and opportunity we have. “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” Even though this special time appears on our calendars every single year, it is not pertinent or helpful to recall how many Lents we have lived through but rather and most importantly how many Lents have successfully lived through our own lives and existence. Remember, we live in the present moment and this is time always to act if we are going to make a difference between a life well lived and just days and weeks to fill. “Behold now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

“And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Let us keep in mind as well as a precautionary and important caveat as we move forward. Lent does not end at the end of the day on Ash Wednesday. It is not even for just a week. It is a journey of forty days and forty nights which is remarkably Biblical and critical. If we truly want to glean all the spiritual and emotional benefits of such a powerful trek, we need to be ready to fall in place with all our hearts and minds and not allow anything that resembles a half-hearted effort. This is also not just a thinly layered attempt to lose weight and look better. The role of hypocrisy is just waiting to take center stage during this time and the Gospel was not unclear about the attitudes that must be present if we are to encounter a true moment of lasting integrity. Finally, this Lenten Season is about our relationship with Our Heavenly Father just as it was for the First Lent between Jesus and His Father. Just as the Body of Christ is the Church, so this global initiative to reform and change is all about our love for God and experiencing his reciprocating love for each and one of us. Onward and upward!

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by an advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” St. John Chrysostom

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February 25, 2020


Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 342

Reading 1 – JAS 4:1-10

Beloved:
Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly,
to spend it on your passions.
Adulterers!
Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God?
Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world   
makes himself an enemy of God.
Or do you suppose that the Scripture speaks without meaning when it says,
The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy? 
But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says:
God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

So submit yourselves to God.
Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners,
and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep.
Let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy into dejection.
Humble yourselves before the Lord
and he will exalt you.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 55:7-8, 9-10A, 10B-11A, 23

R. (23a)  Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.
And I say, “Had I but wings like a dove,
I would fly away and be at rest.
Far away I would flee;
I would lodge in the wilderness.”
R. Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.
“I would wait for him who saves me
from the violent storm and the tempest.”
Engulf them, O Lord; divide their counsels. 
R. Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.
In the city I see violence and strife,
day and night they prowl about upon its walls. 
R. Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.
Cast your care upon the LORD,
and he will support you;
never will he permit the just man to be disturbed. 
R. Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.

Alleluia – GAL 6:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it. 
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men 
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” 
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?” 
But they remained silent.
For they had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest. 
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,   
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” 
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,   
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

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Farewell To The Flesh


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 25, 2020

“So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” Today around the world and much more emphatically in some parts like Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, many are celebrating Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” with an array of spectacular events and parades and foods and festivals that could ever be imagined. The exhortation from Jesus in our Gospel today almost seems to announce the hope and desire to enter the wondrous time of Lent tomorrow with the onset of Ash Wednesday and mover forward to our eternal reward. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The interesting phenomenon behind today’s wild and colorful celebrations is actually a sober one. The word, “carnival” is derived from two distinct Latin phrases that come to be translated as “say goodbye to the flesh.” In doing so, people declare their seeming dependence of the pleasures of the world, hold them up for the world to see, then just twenty-four hours later renounce them as we begin a forty-day journey into light and transfiguration, helping us be more like Christ in every possible way. Celebrate today with an eye on tomorrow when things make a dramatic change for the better. It will be the most glorious Easter experience if we do so. “May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”

“Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once.” Chris Rose

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February 24, 2020


Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 341

Reading 1 – JAS 3:13-18

Beloved:
Who among you is wise and understanding?
Let him show his works by a good life   
in the humility that comes from wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth.
Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

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

R. (9a)  The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple. 
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye. 
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just. 
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Alleluia – 2 TM 1:10

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

Gospel – MK 9:14-29

As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John
and approached the other disciples,
they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them.
Immediately on seeing him,
the whole crowd was utterly amazed.
They ran up to him and greeted him. 
He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
Someone from the crowd answered him,
“Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.
Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down;
he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.”
He said to them in reply,
“O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?  Bring him to me.” 
They brought the boy to him.
And when he saw him,
the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions.
As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around   
and foam at the mouth. 
Then he questioned his father,
“How long has this been happening to him?” 
He replied, “Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him,
“‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”
Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
“Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!”
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!”
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private,
“Why could we not drive the spirit out?”
He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”

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Serenity The Fruit Of Wisdom


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 24, 2020

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom.” We human beings are almost invariably in need of confirmation, reassurance, and security. No more is this obvious than in our relationships, especially the more important ones we have discovered. This is why from time to time, we all might experience doubt or even a moment of crisis when we face troubles. It is then that we need those special hugs and secure feelings. What is surprisingly wonderful throughout all these moments, is that we can find a deeper walk and love that God has for us is 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 just as is prayed in our Psalm today: “Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

“Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” 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 just a short amount of time. This is why Jesus responds the way He did in today’s Gospel: “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” Our Lord makes it clear that we must rely on the wisdom of God and not stray. Take time today to pray for wisdom. This prayer is always answered. Thank God!

“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.” Serenity Prayer

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February 23, 2020


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 79

Reading 1 – LV 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Reading 2 – 1 COR 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses, 
and again:
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.

So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, 
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

Alleluia – 1 JN 2:5

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

Gospel – MT 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles. 
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“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 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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What Time Is It?


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 23, 2020

Not too long ago, I was struggling with my own thoughts and feelings about another individual who was continuing to hurt me and others around him all the while knowing that the right and just course to take was not going to be his because of Gibraltar-sized block of pride. All that changed when, in deep prayer, it occurred to me that I was not living in ‘an acceptable time.’ That is, I was focused too much on the past and on the future and not enough on Jesus, right here, right now with me. In other words, live in God’s time and God’s loving grace. From that day on, I haven’t wasted a single minute wondering about retribution or worrying about resolution. That doesn’t mean we stop fighting for what is right, but rather it means we look forward to a good night’s sleep after a full day of battle!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Jesus gave us this teaching today to help minimize the effects of evil. Evil escalates when we respond back to it with equal and most times excessive fervor. A small situation can get blown so far out of proportion that it can cause horrible harm. Even in everyday life, when someone wrongs us, the situation can blow up and get out of control, destroying marriages, families, friendships, and even faith without which we simply cannot survive. Frustrating and on-going issues of injustice will simply require more patience, more trust, more Jesus.

 

“That old law about an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

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February 22, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
Lectionary: 535

Reading 1 – 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.

Alleluia – MT 16:18

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

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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Pull Up A Chair


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 22, 2020

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.” From the very beginning of the 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.”

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.” During these days of our daily spiritual journey, just days away from our yearly Lenten moment, 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.”

 

“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy ax without an edge–fitter to bruise than polish.” Anne Bradstreet

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February 21, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Peter Damian, bishop and doctor of the Church


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Damian, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Damian, bishop and doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 534

Reading 1 – 2 TM 4:1-5

Beloved:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.

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

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

Alleluia – JN 15:9B, 5B

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in my love, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

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February 21, 2020


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Damian, please go here.

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 339

Reading 1 – JAS 2:14-24, 26

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?   
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say,   
“You have faith and I have works.”
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one. 
You do well.
Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus,
that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
Abraham believed God,
and it was credited to him as righteousness,
and he was called the friend of God.

See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
For just as a body without a spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (see 1B)  Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Blessed the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed. 
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just. 
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance. 
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.

Alleluia – JN 15:15B

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

Gospel – MK 8:34–9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”

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The Weight Of Faith


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 21, 2020

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” 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 or place to have an intelligent conversation about these purported benefits, it is safe to say that there is a deep and beneficial connection to faith and what we do with it, understood in many circles as the difference and connection between faith and works. Using another medical analogy, sin and selfishness can creep into our lives like plaque upon our gum lines. This is what can happen when a person separates what they say they believe and how they put that belief into practice. This is clearly a red flag and a five-alarm warning for all of us: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Another crucial part of a successful spiritual journey is humility and honesty. Many have to come to understand 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. This is precisely what is intimately meant by picking up our crosses and following the Lord Jesus with all our might and with as much integrity we can muster. People who are so proud and who refuse to admit that there are issues and areas that are in need of cleansing open this lack of self-knowledge to growing negativity and self-loathing while keeping them sick and trapped in sinful behavior. There is hope. Always.

 

“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 so I may find your Truth.” Amen.

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February 20, 2020


Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 338

Reading 1 – JAS 2:1-9

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes  
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in,  
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please,”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” 
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?
But you dishonored the poor.
Are not the rich oppressing you?
And do they themselves not haul you off to court?
Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you?
However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
But if you show partiality, you commit sin,
and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the Lord;
the lowly will hear me and be glad. 
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
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. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
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. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Alleluia – JN 6:63C, 68C

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

Gospel – MK 8:27-33

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

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Who Am I?


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 20, 2020

“Who do people say that I am?” Christianity is altogether unique in many ways when looking at all the aspects of religion. We could easily say that is “personal.” Now, how do we come to that conclusion? The Church was founded personally by Jesus Christ, true God and true man. He did not leave a philosophy or manual or even a step-by-step approach as to how to continue. He set the cornerstone of our way of life upon the foundation of the Apostles whom He personally selected & called in today’s Gospel passage. Let’s continue to unravel this “personal” aspect of Jesus’ choice, not only of The Twelve, but also how that impacts you and me here today. 1. Close friends: Jesus called the Apostles to be his close friends and He mentioned true friendship even as He taught of the mystery of love. It really shouldn’t surprise us at all that Jesus needed human friendship. The very doctrine of the Trinity is in itself a revelation of community to the highest degree and it is the very core of humanity, created in God’s image and likeness, that we need the love of family and friends to be truly happy and reach our potential. 2. Students: Jesus knew that the end of His time on earth was approaching. It was not age of books or even less, social media. The Church was going to have to proclaim the Gospel through the personal experience of learning that these Apostles (students) had experienced and then established for centuries to come. Jesus chose these men that He might write His message upon their hearts, minds, and souls so they would become His “living books,” as it were, continuing throughout history as it developed and unraveled through time. 3. Ambassadors: The Greek word “apostolos” literally means someone who is sent out on behalf of another person or country such as an envoy or an ambassador. The Apostles were chosen to be personal ambassadors to all the world reflecting personally what they had learned as the friends of the Lord Jesus. This, in turn, would create more personal friends into a Church for all ages and all believers. The greatest Christian men and women in my life encourage me in my own journey because I keep thinking, “if these people are awesome because they have met Jesus, I want to be like them and know Him, too!” That’s personal, wouldn’t you agree?

“He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” Finally, these great Apostles were very ordinary people like you and me. There was not a wealthy, nor a famous, nor an influential person in that group. None of The Twelve had any special education or specific training before the Lord called them. They were just like you and me more than they were unlike any of us. The work of Jesus and the foundation of the Church was not in the hands of those whom the world called great but in the hands of ordinary people like ourselves. They were a strange mixture of characters and personalities. Take for instance Sts. Matthew and Simon. Matthew was a tax-collector, and, therefore, a traitor and a renegade. Simon was a Zealot, and the Zealots were fanatical nationalists, who were sworn to assassinate every traitor and every Roman they could. It is one of the miracles of the power of Christ that Matthew the tax-collector and Simon the Zealot could live at peace in the close company of their brothers. You see, when a person is a real Christian, the most different and even political opposite types can live at peace with each other. If we personally and truly really love the Lord Jesus, we will also love each other no matter the circumstances. “But who do you say that I am?”

 

“Don’t judge me until you know me, don’t underestimate me until you challenge me and don’t talk about me until you’ve talked to me.” Poster in a classroom

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February 19, 2020


Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 337

Reading 1 – JAS 1:19-27

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
for anger does not accomplish
the righteousness of God.
Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess
and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, 
he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets
what he looked like.
But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres,
and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts;
such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 15:2-3A, 3BC-4AB, 5

R. (1b)  Who shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord?
He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue. 
R. Who shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord?
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the Lord. 
R. Who shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord?
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed. 
R. Who shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord?

Alleluia – EPH 1:17-18

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

Gospel – MK 8:22-26

When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked,
“Do you see anything?”
Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly;
his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.
Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”

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Tell Me Who You’re Looking For


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 19, 2020

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.” There is a simple principle in psychology that basically asserts that if all you have as is a hammer then everything starts to look like a nail. Clearly the meaning of this paradigm is that we tend to find what we expect to find in this life. In our First Reading, St. James issues a tri-fold way to approach life and more specifically, each other. 1. Be quick to hear, 2. slow to speak, and 3. slow to anger. With this in our spiritual field of dreams, we will find the peace we so desperately need and our hearts desire.

“May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to his call.” This approach to life continues into the New Testament as humbly ask the Father in Heaven to open our hearts and look for the good things in this life to see and discover. Among these are faith, hope, and love for God and for each other. Jesus in the Gospel takes this even one more step deeper: “Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked, ‘Do you see anything?'” The man was clearly looking for healing, comfort and strength and someone to believe. He found his life’s quest. He found Jesus. Tell me who you are looking for and I’ll tell who you’ll find.

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February 18, 2020


Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 336

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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The Crown And Bread Of Life


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 18, 2020

“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.” Before we become “high and mighty” and somehow judge anyone because of their incredible short-sightedness, take a breather: 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 very 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 challenge. We want to play at our worship instead of truly thanking God for everything we have and take seriously the call to live a life of integrity.

As long as there have been kitchens, restaurants and diners, we have all been inspired to eat healthier. Maybe less french fries and more salads, more water and less soda, less junk and more natural fare. And as long as we encountered the Lord among us, we have also 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. “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?” We must reconstruct not only what we place in our bodies but what we allow into the depth of our souls. 

“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 17, 2020


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, please go here.

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 335

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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February 17, 2020 – Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, religious


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, please go here.

Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, religious
Lectionary: 533

Reading 1 – ROM 8:26-30

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R. (2)  I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. (9)  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear and be glad.
R.  I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
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.  I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
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.  I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R.  I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia – MT 5:3

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

Gospel – MT 19:27-29

Peter said to Jesus,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.”

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Soft Hearts, Hard Feet


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 17, 2020

“Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” The preceding experience which clearly caused Our Lord to sigh in what seems to be exasperation continues into our modern world. After all, we have seen as a human race during our relatively short stint upon this planet, there are many who seriously doubt the role and awesome power of the Creator. If put to those skeptics what it would take to believe in Christ, their response could sound something like this: “I would have to see Jesus do a miracle with my own eyes.” This sentiment is not uncommon. More than one person has held that he would believe in Jesus if he could see Him with his own eyes. Today’s passage, however, indicates that this is wishful thinking. If one’s heart is fully hardened against God, seeing Jesus Himself do a miracle will not be enough to cause belief. The response of Jesus to those who had seen His miracles is instructive. God will not do tricks for those who will believe, let alone those who have hardened their hearts against Him. Thus, Jesus told the Pharisees that they would get no sign from Him. If what they had seen did not convince them, nothing would.

“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.” Just as we may doubt from time to time in our faith life, we can never allow this unrelenting worry absorb our souls to extinguish the flame of faith and love in the hearts of so many who would otherwise be strong believers. What this clearly teaches us is that we must be open to the love of Jesus and starve our doubts every chance we get. Our feet and our resolve must be strong going forth into this wounded world knowing always that the Lord Jesus is always there for us.

“God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet.” Jackie Pullinger

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February 16, 2020


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 76

Reading 1 – SIR 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

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. (1b) 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!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Reading 2 – 1 COR 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him, 
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Alleluia – MT 11:25

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

Gospel – MT 5:17-37 OR 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter 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.

“You have heard that it was said, 
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife — unless the marriage is unlawful —
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

or

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees, 
you will not enter 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 brother
will be liable to judgment.

“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

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Hard Words And Hard Hearts


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 16, 2020

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna (Hell).” These words of Jesus we just heard are hard words to hear. They are hard to think about. They are hard to process. They are hard because Jesus is addressing lust and adultery that cause more emotional pain and hurt families perhaps more than just about anything else. Nobody wins when a family breaks apart under the horrible weight of painful pretense and broken dreams. Love is such a supreme and yes, even Divine gift, that any alteration or selfishness that enters such a relationship can have the most destructive consequences.

“For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.” We all have endured some of these painful experiences, either directly or indirectly. Yet, it is precise because Jesus is speaking about these that we simply cannot ignore what he has to say. We live in a world that is broken, and we pick up knocks and bruises as we go through, and if Jesus has something to say about all that, we need to tune in. If Jesus had nothing to say about the things that cause us the most heartache, he’s not asking us to live in the real world when He calls us to follow him. Love, not lust is at the basis of our hearts. Truth, not lies is the very air our hearts and souls need to approach God and one another. When we give our hearts to Jesus we are asking Him to allow us to love the way He does. Completely. Unselfishly. Purely. This is why daily prayer and the Eucharist are absolutely necessary for this spiritual approach to our human existence. What Jesus clearly wants for us is not natural; it is supernatural and only then we will be happy in this life waiting for the one which is to come. “Shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the Word of Life.”

 

“Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

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February 15, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 334

Reading 1 – 1 KGS 12:26-32; 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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Still Hungry


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 15, 2020

“They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.” What we can safely assume when we think of leftovers? Let us begin with our own collective experiences growing up in a family. Leftovers meant that while there was still food from another previous meal, good money-saving etiquette dictated that we eat what we have first before buying something more. It meant that we were not a wasteful family. It meant that there was more than the distinct possibility that some dishes actually tasted better after a day or two of marinating and bathing in sauces and gravies which made for the repeat even better than the premier. “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” It also powerfully suggested that somehow, someway we were all going to eat because the Lord Jesus was truly the head and constant guest of the family.

“You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” Even the perennial presence of such overabundance of love and joy, our response to such memories was and is clear. We are to treat each other as members of the much larger family we know as Church and practice the same over-generous spirit with which the Lord God shows to us. That means first and foremost to obey God and all that He is given us to live, not just the food on the table, but also the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Such negligent behavior has always had disastrous effects: “We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.” This mega-generous reveal can not be lost on any of us today. On that day in the Gospel, the leftovers barely filled vast bread baskets and over-flowing storage because there would literally be billions coming after that miracle to be fed and then finally to a place where there will be no more hunger or pain, just Jesus, who re-opened the gates of Paradise with His own life so that we could have life to the fullest. Here and now.

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February 14, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius, please go here.

Memorial of Saints Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop
Lectionary: 333

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 – 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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Seeing Is Believing


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 14, 2020

“I, the LORD, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt.” Some say that the eyes are the window to the soul in that we are able to reveal what is the very depths of our souls through them to others. When Jesus speaks of eyes and light, He means all people should keep their eyes on God because the eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes should not focus on trash such as pornography, filth, or extravagant “over-the-top” lifestyles. This is what He means when He says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When Adam and Eve had ruined their near-perfect relationship with God, their eyes were opened to the truth of what they had done and how far they left the presence of God in so little time. We, the descendants of the original sin instigators, have been given the only solution to the human problem of hopelessness: “Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.”

“Ephphatha!” The Gospel of ours today crown these thoughts with the most dramatic and marvelous scene by which Jesus approaches humanity figured in the person of a deaf man who had a speech impediment. The analogy should be clear. Humanity has an impediment and it is a closed heart and a closed mind. Jesus is the supreme and only solution-remedy to such a universal dilemma. Today, be especially open to the Lord working in your life today. You will hear His voice and speak His words: “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

It is also St. Valentine’s Day. Flowers, candy, red hearts, and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? Well, maybe not. The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. St. Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudius who prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on this monarch’s skewed thinking that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because the married soldiers might be preoccupied with their wives or families if they died. Obviously the Church thought that marriage was sacred for their life and that it was to be encouraged. He then secretly began conducting secret Sacramental marriages despite the edict and the imminent danger to his life. That sad day did arrive as Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned, tortured and executed for performing marriage ceremonies against the direct command of the Emperor.

Valentines are red today precisely because this priest shed his blood in the name of the sanctity and freedom it takes to love and be loved. This day has the deep potential of reminding us that there comes a time where we have to lay our life upon the line for what we believe. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we absolutely can achieve this—even to the point of death. We can even state more broadly that before we enter into any friendship that we hold valuable, especially romantic and marital love, we express wholeheartedly our dependence on God in order that we can love and love with the heart of Christ which will take us all the way into Heaven. Love—human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God—but it also exists under the shadow of the cross to remind us that unless we know what it means to sacrifice, we will never know what it means to love.

 

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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February 14, 2020 – Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius, bishops


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius, please go here.

Memorial of Saints Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop
Lectionary: 532

Reading 1 – ACTS 13:46-49

Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.”
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 117:1BC, 2

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

Alleluia – LK 4:18

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 10:1-9

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

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February 13, 2020


Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 332

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 Derailed


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 13, 2020

There are too many around us who believe that having more access to more and more information actually produces much more knowledge and wisdom, but in all actuality, the opposite is true. Without proper focus, context and especially fidelity to truth, all this just 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 today: “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 to the real source of what made him so 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.

The Gospel today reminds us that sometimes when we are in the most desperate throes of need and want, especially during difficult and or painful circumstances, our focus becomes quite improved as we saw with the woman who knew Jesus could help her and trusted that He would, in fact, do so if she just 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 us all! We may often 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 12, 2020


Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 331

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 – 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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What’s In Your Soul?


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 12, 2020

“Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard.” How much we need wisdom, wise words and wise people in our lives today! The Queen of Sheba was enthralled with the wisdom of Solomon and rightly so. From the very beginning of time, the Forbidden Fruit, which caused grace-eating sinfulness to enter the world, has long been a fascination among artists, authors, and theologians ever since it was first plucked from that remote corner of the garden of Eden. The idea that specific fruit was somehow the cause of all the calamities and diseases and all the foils that have befallen humanity all these centuries is a little far fetched. What was the real sin here? Adam and Eve abused their freedom, allowed trust in God to weaken in their hearts making them susceptible to wiles of the devil causing them to disobey the only Protector they ever knew. So you see, it was not what was going into them that caused corruption. It was an internal betrayal hitting at the very core of their soul.

“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.” You see, whatever is inside a person’s heart will undoubtedly and most assuredly find its way to the surface. Whatever has found a home in the human heart will eventually venture out into the normal course of interaction with other people and that is what defiles. Our fellow humans sometimes say ridiculous things because they do not stop first to think about the consequences of words. They whine and complain because that is seemingly all they know how to describe life. We who follow Jesus must listen to His wise counsel today and make the obvious conclusion: if what is within us makes us wise or defiled, then, by all means, let us invite Jesus to live there first. Then whatever we say should sound a lot like Him.

 

“Integrity is telling myself the truth. Honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Spencer Johnson

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February 11, 2020


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, please go here.

Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 330

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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February 11, 2020 – Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes
Lectionary: 531

Reading 1 – IS 66:10-14C

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
Exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
That you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like
an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice,
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
The LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.

Responsorial Psalm – JDT 13:18BCDE, 19

R.    (15:9)  You are the highest honor of our race.
Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R.    You are the highest honor of our race.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R.    You are the highest honor of our race.

Alleluia, See – LK 1:45

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although they who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

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Tradition And Traditions


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 11, 2020

“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…” 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 truly emanate and the only way to distinguish between what is merely human and what Divine tradition (from God) is found in the nature of revelation itself. How do we really know what is just a human custom from a true article of belief that is 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.” Here is the danger: if we hold human traditions as if they come straight from God, we are guilty of idolatry; If we take Divine Revelation as treat Tradition as if it were a simple custom, then we straddle into the land of apathetic disbelief. Divine Revelation has two sources, Scripture and Tradition; God’s Word which is written and His teaching which is oral. 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 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, “Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees; And favor me with your law.” Thus, there is this healthy and inspiring balance we are called to achieve between what is radically, completely and fundamentally true about our faith, and the expression and practice of this gift all the way till we breathe our last breath. We need to be ready to move forward creatively to new ways of understanding our faith and living it out.

 

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes the one who prays.” Soren Kierkegaard

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February 10, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Scholastica, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin
Lectionary: 329

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 – 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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February 10, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Scholastica, please go here.

February 10 – Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin
Lectionary: 530

Reading 1 – SGS 8:6-7

Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 148:1BC-2, 11-13A, 13C-14

R.    (see 12A and 13A) Young men and women, praise the name of the Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights;
Praise him, all you his angels,
praise him, all you his hosts.
R.    Young men and women, praise the name of the Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Let the kings of the earth and all peoples,
the princes and all the judges of the earth,
Young men, too, and maidens,
old men and boys.
Praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted.
R.    Young men and women, praise the name of the Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
His majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has lifted up the horn of his people.    
Be this his praise from all his faithful ones;
from the children of Israel, the people close to him. Alleluia.
R.    Young men and women, praise the name of the Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia – JN 14:23

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 10:38-42

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

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If I Could Just Get Close


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 10, 2020

“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 just 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!”

The Gospel continues these thoughts with 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 very glad (blessed) that you did. He is right there.

 

“Prayer – Christian prayer – by its very nature is born out of an acknowledgment of need, out of an honest recognition of spiritual poverty.” Paul Murray

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February 9, 2020


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 73

Reading 1 – IS 58:7-10

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn 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!
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.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (4a) The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
Alleluia.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
Alleluia.
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
Alleluia.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
His justice shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
Alleluia.

Reading 2 – 1 COR 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

Alleluia – JN 8:12

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

Gospel – MT 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

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Gasping For Wisdom


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 9, 2020

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth.'” Let’s take a look at some of the uses/characteristics of salt. It is a preservative, gives flavor, is bright white, used as a fertilizer and produces thirst. As a preserving agent in this world, every Christian is to be in the world but not of the world and doing whatever is in their power to keep those around from spoiling or degenerating. Christians can add flavor or joy to the world while living a life of purity and understanding while increasing the fruitfulness of those struggling alongside each of us. Just as salty food makes us thirsty, Christians as salt of earth can make others thirsty for Jesus. “I want to be like you because you love God and it is obvious.”

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the light of the world.'” What does light do and why do we need it so much? It exposes the hidden pockets of evil, enlightens greatness in this world and definitely shows us the way out of a dark space. This is precisely why we followers of Jesus need each other so much. We simply cannot do this alone. We need help more than just a few times to point out what is evil in this world to avoid it and to help us realize the many blessings we have been given so we may be grateful lovers of God. We need help at every step and stage of our lives from others who love Jesus to find our way either out of crisis, grief seasons or just painful moments.

“Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Is there some hidden, secret recipe for being salt and light in this life, we have just discovered it. It has everything to do with living a holy, healthy and happy life full of purpose. This is why we need to beg to be filled with the Holy Spirit while there is breath in our body. We have the Commandments and Beatitudes, we have the Sacraments and the Mass, and we are constantly being challenged to continue to pray without ceasing or losing heart. This will be nourished by our reading and reflecting over the powerful Word of God as we do here. This is our life, our call, our invitation to greatness.

 

“Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don’t hold up both truth in tension, you invariably become useless and separated from the world God loves.” David Kinnaman

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February 8, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, please go here.

February 8 – Optional Memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin
Lectionary: 529A

Reading 1 – 1 COR 7:25-35

Brothers and sisters:
In regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord,
but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
So this is what I think best because of the present distress:
that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation.
Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife.
If you marry, however, you do not sin,
nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries;
but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life,
and I would like to spare you that.

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17

R. (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.
Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father’s house.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord, and you must worship him.  
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.
All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters;
her raiment is threaded with spun gold.
In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king;
behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you.  
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.
They are borne in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king.
The place of your fathers your sons shall have;
you shall make them princes through all the land.  
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.

Alleluia

R.  Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the wise virgin, whom the Lord found waiting;
at his coming, she went in with him to the wedding feast.  
R.  Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

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Gasping For Wisdom


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 8, 2020

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” 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 when he 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 this 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 even just to 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 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 then adds another awesome exercise that is probably less dramatic than a near-drowning experience: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” If that sounds too simplistic, remember with whom we are called to spend quality, enriching time. It is Wisdom incarnate, Jesus the Lord!

 

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” Isaac Asimov

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February 8, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani, please go here.

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, please go here.

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 328

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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Love Changes Everything


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 7, 2020

“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart, and yield a harvest through perseverance.” This is truly an amazing Gospel that we have today. It describes the death and martyrdom of John the Baptist who occupies a number of wonderful categories including cousin to Jesus, the Last Prophet and outstanding voice that calls us all to listen and be ready for the greatest news we could ever receive. The Readings make this an even more thought-provoking Friday as we recall how great it is to love the Lord and follow Him with every fiber of our being. John would later express this very same desire when he stated that he himself should decrease while Jesus must increase. Once we come to realize and accept our purpose here on earth, our lives are much simpler and have the potential of even greater holiness.

“God’s way is unerring, the promise of the LORD is fire-tried;
he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.” The place of John the Baptist could never be overplayed or misunderstood. He forms one of the most significant members of the cloud of witnesses that helps us all look intently at Jesus and never let that focus stray. For the many of us who are giving all we have to be the best we can be and please the Lord, we are heartened by the fact that God always prepares the way for us to find Jesus and stay ever-so-close to Him in this life and the next. Our call is to let Jesus increase in our lives and our selfishness decrease. With the help of the Holy Spirit and the wonderful Eucharist, success in this field is within our reach. The death of John the Baptist reminds us that following the Lord also has a deep price that sometimes people are unwilling to consider or offer. But in the final analysis, we want to be counted among those who are faithful and loving and true to our calling. Nothing else will do: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?”

 

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'” Erma Bombeck

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February 7, 2020


Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 327

Reading – SIR 47:2-11

Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings,
so was David in Israel.
He made sport of lions as though they were kids,
and of bears, like lambs of the flock.
As a youth he slew the giant
and wiped out the people’s disgrace,
When his hand let fly the slingstone
that crushed the pride of Goliath.
Since he called upon the Most High God, 
who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior
and raise up the might of his people,
Therefore the women sang his praises,
and ascribed to him tens of thousands
and praised him when they blessed the Lord.
When he assumed the royal crown, he battled
and subdued the enemy on every side.
He destroyed the hostile Philistines
and shattered their power till our own day.
With his every deed he offered thanks 
to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole being he loved his Maker
and daily had his praises sung;
He set singers before the altar and by their voices
he made sweet melodies,
He added beauty to the feasts
and solemnized the seasons of each year
So that when the Holy Name was praised,
before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.
The Lord forgave him his sins
and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty
and established his throne in Israel.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 18:31, 47 AND 50, 51

R. (see 47B)  Blessed be God my salvation!
God’s way is unerring,
the promise of the LORD is fire-tried;
 he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations,
and I will sing praise to your name.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!

Alleluia – LK 8:15

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

Gospel – MK 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”

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

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Finish The Masterpiece


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 6, 2020

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 had left off and finish the great masterpiece. Something very similar is happening in the Readings today. Someone is leaving and others must keep going as King David on his deathbed related to Solomon his son: “I am going the way of all flesh. Take courage and be a man.” Solomon would live on with his great father-king deeply embedded in his soul to become one of the wisest rulers of all human history.

In the Gospel, another wise and noble king would do something quite similar. He would be leaving but not abandoning the world to 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 right?

 

“You are God’s chisel; it is you He uses to create masterpieces.” Matshona Dhliwayo

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February 6, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Paul Miki and Companions, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs
Lectionary: 326

Reading 1 – 1 KGS 2:1-4, 10-1

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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February 6, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Paul Miki, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Paul Miki and Companions, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Paul Miki, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs
Lectionary: 528

Reading 1 – GAL 2:19-20

Brothers and sisters:
Through the law I died to the law,
that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me and given himself up for me.

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

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

Alleluia – MT 28:19A, 20B

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 28:16-20

The Eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

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Regret And Remorse


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 5, 2020

“Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people and said to the LORD: ‘I have sinned grievously in what I have done. But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant, for I have been very foolish.’” Did it strike you a little odd that God would be upset with our Good King David for just taking a census? If your answer is “yes,” you are certainly not alone. In this Biblical context, a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him and the people (Israel) did not belong to David for they belonged to God. We would need to refer back to the Book of Exodus (30:12) where we read that God told Moses, “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.” It was only for God to issue the command for a census and David clearly crossed the line and begged God to take away the guilt of his sin.

In the Gospel passage, it looks like the Lord couldn’t count on His own people to put trust in the power of God: “And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.’ So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

The result was disastrous. No faith, no miracles, no healing. The lesson seems clear enough: when we overstep our own relationship with the Lord either by trying to “play God” or reduce faith by arrogant grabs for wisdom and insight, nobody wins. Thank God we have a God who loves us and is always ready to forgive: “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.”

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February 5, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Agatha, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Agatha
Lectionary: 325

Reading 1 – 2 SM 24:2, 9-17

King David said to Joab and the leaders of the army who were with him,
“Tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba
and register the people, that I may know their number.”
Joab then reported to the king the number of people registered:
in Israel, eight hundred thousand men fit for military service; 
in Judah, five hundred thousand.

Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people,
and said to the LORD:
“I have sinned grievously in what I have done.
But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant,
for I have been very foolish.”
When David rose in the morning,
the LORD had spoken to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying:
“Go and say to David, ‘This is what the LORD says:
I offer you three alternatives;
choose one of them, and I will inflict it on you.’”
Gad then went to David to inform him.
He asked:  “Do you want a three years’ famine to come upon your land,
or to flee from your enemy three months while he pursues you,
or to have a three days’ pestilence in your land?
Now consider and decide what I must reply to him who sent me.”
David answered Gad: “I am in very serious difficulty.
Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful;
but let me not fall by the hand of man.”
Thus David chose the pestilence.
Now it was the time of the wheat harvest
when the plague broke out among the people.
The LORD then sent a pestilence over Israel
from morning until the time appointed,
and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba died. 
But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it,
the LORD regretted the calamity
and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people,
“Enough now! Stay your hand.”
The angel of the LORD was then standing
at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking the people,
he said to the LORD: “It is I who have sinned;
it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong.
But these are sheep; what have they done?
Punish me and my kindred.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (see 5c)  Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
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. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
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. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done

Gospel – 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 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, 
accompanied by his disciples. 
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished. 
They said, “Where did this man get all this? 
What kind of wisdom has been given him? 
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? 
And are not his sisters here with us?” 
And they took offense at him. 
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.” 
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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Cry Me A River


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 4, 2020

Have you ever wondered about the “science of crying”? it seems that over a long period of human development, we have come to a point where our tears are produced from certain specific-oriented glands due to an authentic connection with the world. Tears are a positive representation of who we are. They demonstrate our deep connections with God, others and our very selves and, at the same time, allow us to visibly and proudly celebrate this keenly human activity and, by the way, are scientifically proven to make us feel better. This takes us to the scene in our First Reading today where King David is clearly having a very bad day: “The king was shaken, and went up to the room over the city gate to weep. He said as he wept, ‘My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!'”

Tears also follow us into the Gospel of the day, into a scene where Jesus encounters quite a bit of this emotional display: “When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, ‘Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.’” From these two selections, we can safely assume that tears are normal, reflective of faith, and express an enormous amount of comforting reality especially when it comes to our life in the Spirit with Jesus. Tears also announce to us of our entire and eternal need for God especially when the world is harsh and cold and dark. We can and should agree with Psalm today: “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.”

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

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February 4, 2020


Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 324

Reading 1 – 2 SM 18:9-10, 14B, 24-25A, 30–19:3

Absalom unexpectedly came up against David’s servants.
He was mounted on a mule,
and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large terebinth,
his hair caught fast in the tree.
He hung between heaven and earth
while the mule he had been riding ran off.
Someone saw this and reported to Joab
that he had seen Absalom hanging from a terebinth.
And taking three pikes in hand,
he thrust for the heart of Absalom,
still hanging from the tree alive.Now David was sitting between the two gates, and a lookout went up to the roof of the gate above the city wall,
where he looked about and saw a man running all alone.
The lookout shouted to inform the king, who said,
“If he is alone, he has good news to report.”
The king said, “Step aside and remain in attendance here.”
So he stepped aside and remained there.
When the Cushite messenger came in, he said,
“Let my lord the king receive the good news
that this day the LORD has taken your part,
freeing you from the grasp of all who rebelled against you.”
But the king asked the Cushite, “Is young Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king
and all who rebel against you with evil intent
be as that young man!”The king was shaken,
and went up to the room over the city gate to weep.
He said as he wept,
“My son Absalom!  My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you,
Absalom, my son, my son!”Joab was told that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom;
and that day’s victory was turned into mourning for the whole army
when they heard that the king was grieving for his son.

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

R. (1a)  Listen, Lord, and answer me.
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. Listen, Lord, and answer me.
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. Listen, Lord, and answer me.
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. Listen, Lord, and answer me.

Alleluia – MT 8:17

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

Gospel – MK 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side, 
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him
and a large crowd followed him.There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to him,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, Who touched me?”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” 
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” 
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

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Drama At Swine Lake


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 3, 2020

We have some pretty remarkable pieces of Biblical drama to start off the week. First, in the Old Testament, we have the unpleasant scene where Absalom, King David’s son is trying to overthrow his own father and leading others into a visceral hatred of the king. Evil is everywhere and David knows it: “As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All those who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went.” When evil rants were hurled at King David, he simply restrained himself, refused to retaliate and just move on with such sadness. He knew his own hand was to blame for much of this.

Now enter King of the Universe, Jesus the Christ in our Gospel reading today: “And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned.” As we can plainly read, the demon-infested pigs jumped off a cliff and all of them are killed. Swine have often represented the unruly, sinister and evil desires within the human soul. It is symbolic of the desire for all that is carnal nature which is why the demons begged Jesus to go into the swine. Why? When Christ is truly living within us, His loving presence drives out the darker, lower desires within us. The demonic aspects of the spiritual world simply cannot and will not remain when the Christ within is in the process of being born.

All this is great news and ought to be shared. Spend your day simply being amazed!: “’Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for You.’ Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed.”

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February 3, 2020


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Blase, please go here.

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Ansgar, please go here.

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 323

Reading 1 – 2 SM 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13

An informant came to David with the report,
“The children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom.”
At this, David said to all his servants
who were with him in Jerusalem:
“Up!  Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom.
Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us,
then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword.”As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing.
His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot.
All those who were with him also had their heads covered
and were weeping as they went.As David was approaching Bahurim,
a man named Shimei, the son of Gera
of the same clan as Saul’s family,
was coming out of the place, cursing as he came.
He threw stones at David and at all the king’s officers,
even though all the soldiers, including the royal guard,
were on David’s right and on his left.
Shimei was saying as he cursed:
“Away, away, you murderous and wicked man!
The LORD has requited you for all the bloodshed in the family of Saul,
in whose stead you became king,
and the LORD has given over the kingdom to your son Absalom.
And now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer.”
Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said to the king:
“Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?
Let me go over, please, and lop off his head.”
But the king replied: “What business is it of mine or of yours,
sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?
Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David;
who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
Then the king said to Abishai and to all his servants:
“If my own son, who came forth from my loins, is seeking my life,
how much more might this Benjaminite do so?
Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction
and make it up to me with benefits
for the curses he is uttering this day.”
David and his men continued on the road,
while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside,
all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went.

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

R. (8a)  Lord, rise up and save me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
R. Lord, rise up and save me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.
R. Lord, rise up and save me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.
R. Lord, rise up and save me.

Alleluia – LK 7:16

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

Gospel – MK 5:1-20

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He  replied, “Legion is my name.  There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine.  Let us enter them.”
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

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February 3, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Blase, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr
Lectionary: 525

Reading 1 – ROM 5:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 117:1BC, 2

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

Alleluia – MT 28:19A, 20B

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

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February 3 – Memorial of Saint Ansgar, bishop


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Ansgar, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Ansgar, bishop
Lectionary: 526

Reading 1 – IS 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”

Hark!  Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
For they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
All the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 7-8, 10

R.    (3)  Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Alleluia – MK 1:17

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Come after me, says the Lord,
and I will make you fishers of men.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 1:14-20

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.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
 they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

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Light For Life


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 2, 2020

“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.” Have you ever the expression, “Now I’ve seen everything!”? It is a phrase that seems to suggest that something has just occurred that took the beholder by surprise and by storm, something that could not have been imagined or predicted. Something similar has happened for us today in the Gospel that chronicles the experience of Simeon in the Temple when he beholds the Baby Jesus and realizes that life can never be the same again. You see, according to the same Gospel account, he had been promised by a special revelation from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he actually clapped eyes on the Messiah. When he saw Jesus, he knew it was time.

Our First Reading today gives us more than just a subtle hint of how we can live like this, and therefore, by extension, die a very happy death: “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.” It is really quite simple: if we have spent our days trying to love each other, forgive at every juncture, pray for those who hate us, and treat everyone, especially the poor, as if they were Jesus Himself, then don’t you think we would recognize the Messiah, too? You see, the refining silver image is all about our own refinement and ongoing spiritual testing in the crucible of suffering and self-sacrifice. The Letter to the Hebrew agrees with the assessment: “Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”

On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we have come to the truly last reference to the mysteries of the Christmas Season. (In fact, in the older liturgical calendar, this was actually the official end of Christmas.) In the 50 days since Christmas, what have we learned this year going forth? We must find Jesus, honor him, keep Him warm and safe in our hearts, and then bring the finest gifts of our lives always seeking to see his face: “Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!”

 

“Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore your majesty that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh, so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” Amen.

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February 2, 2020


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Lectionary: 524

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 pierce
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.orWhen 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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Guilty As Charged, Freed Forever


Reflection on Mass Reading for February 1, 2020

As we begin this brave and new month of the recently begun new year, we are treated to back to back dramatic episodes that should and could make a difference not only in February but also for the rest of the year. Tables and weather conditions are dramatically turned around and the result is simply amazing for all of us:

Nathan confronts King David with a scenario that sounds vaguely familiar and turns out to be self-incriminating. “Judge this case for me! In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor…” To be faced with the awful scenario of the actions and behavior that you despise most and is now the same which you have just been exposed is simply traumatic, to say the least. Yet, King David took the opportunity to convert his way and with deep and sincere remorse, and to seek effective forgiveness and turn his errant ways around. Jesus, of the House of David, took the threatening condition of storm and rain and displayed His authority over all of creation, human and nature. “He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” Once the inner storms and weaknesses within the human soul are faced and blessed in the name of Jesus, peace is returned, life is strengthened and fear takes a back seat, the further the better. This is true freedom.

 

“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but most importantly humility.” Nelson Mandela

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One Foot in Christmas, One Foot in Easter


Imagine sitting down at dinner with an extremely eclectic and gregarious group of people, such as family members from all over, neighbors of neighbors, friends of friends, you know, the hodgepodge that usually gathers over a free meal and free-flowing bottles of wine. What could you possibly talk about to keep things interesting and yet avoid a major social catastrophe? Well, I guess you could talk about current movies (good and flops), food, clothes and fashion, music and even a little about what you do for a living. So far so good? Okay, let’s change gears a bit. Now ask who you’re going to vote for. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is something quite wonderful at work here as the title of this piece might suggest to you. We are about to open a can of, well, not worms, but simply a starting point to explore where we are right now, sandwiched in-between the Merry Christmas and Happy Easter of our commonly-shared yearly bookends. Could there be something wildly mystical about this space after Epiphany and before Ash Wednesday? No doubt you know the answer to that.

The Christmas story is largely non-threatening to the casual, once-in-a-while, and nonbeliever. Jesus is in the manger, surrounded by Mary and Joseph and the adoring shepherds, even the later visit of the Magi is easy to take. For some, it is a charming story about the birth of a great teacher, a holy man, a historical figure. By amazing contrast, Easter is more than a silent night or eight tiny graceful reindeer. We could easily say that the Easter story is both absorbingly terrible and astonishingly overwhelming with despicable betrayal by a close friend, the three-course meal of denial served by a trusted brother, the most insanely brutal execution by any standards and then the exhaustive resolution of this entire complexity of humanity in only three days. The cute rabbits and pastel-colored-hollowed egg shells simply don’t do the trick and most people know that, which would probably explain why Easter decorations come down as quickly as they surface in stores and window fronts, interestingly enough, like rabbits.

It is clear that without Christmas we couldn’t have Easter and without Easter, Christmas is just another excuse to shop, overeat and watch children make forever memories. So what are we to make of these fifty days or so of rumblings beneath our souls’ surface? How can we link these two stunning realities and make sense of it all? The fifty days shouldn’t be wasted on returning to the routine that we all say we dislike and end up restarting with gobs of regret and complaints. Something very wonderful is at play here and unless we stop for a while, we are going to miss it, again.

A great notion to introduce right about now has to do with the mystery of our existence which nobody can deny. We are all born and we all die while the real quality and overwhelming meaning of each of them lies in what happens in the middle. What have we done with all the seconds and minutes and hours that we have been given and apportioned? This is the time to ask and answer these life-altering and enriching questions. What are we to do to make this life qualitatively magnificent and wonderful?

If what we do with this great gift of life between birth and death has everything to do with success or failure, then let’s take a look at what lies before us between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. Two moments, Presentation and Valentines, come to mind.

Now I can die, now I can love.

On February 2, fifty days after the celebration of Christmas, there is a spiritual spectacle of the presentation, when Jesus is presented in the Temple according to the prescripts of the Law. Of course his parents, Mary and Joseph are there, but there are yet two other persons who are present for the presentation who have remarkable stories and loads to teach us. It’s all about waiting for good things, the greater the good, the more patience necessary. Anna was “advanced in years” and waited in the Temple for something remarkable many years after the untimely death of her young husband.

To underscore this timely notion that he also serves who sits and waits, the second of these two wonderful reminders of the mystery of life and death appears. His name is Simeon. “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.” And today was the day. Once he saw the Christ child, his time had come, and he exclaimed, “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.”

You see, after that one moment of fulfillment had arrived, it was time to place everything on the table and meet the Lord face-to-face. That moment is so different for each one of us that it can take billions of forms and situations which defy the imagination. But make no mistake, it is coming and it is a good idea to begin the dress rehearsal whenever possible, say, during this special interim of Christmas and Easter. What would I do right here, today, if I could see Jesus face-to-face?

About two weeks later, every year, we come upon another interesting pause along the journey of life and love. It is Valentine’s Day. Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? Well, maybe not. The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. St. Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudius who prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on this monarch’s skewed thinking that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because the married soldiers might be preoccupied about their wives or families if they died. Obviously the Church thought that marriage was sacred for their life and that it was to be encouraged. He then secretly began conducting secret Sacramental marriages despite the edict and the imminent danger to his life. That sad day did arrive as Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned, tortured and executed for performing marriage ceremonies against the direct command of the Emperor.

Valentines are red today precisely because this priest shed his blood in the name of the sanctity and freedom it takes to love and be loved. This day has the deep potential of reminding us that there comes a time where we have to lay our life upon the line for what we believe. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we absolutely can achieve this—even to the point of death. We can even state more broadly that before we enter into any friendship that we hold valuable, especially romantic and marital love, we express wholeheartedly our dependence on God in order that we can love and love with the heart of Christ which will take us all the way into Heaven. Love—human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God—but it also exists under the shadow of the cross to remind us that unless we know what it means to sacrifice, we will never know what it means to love.

So here we are back at that eclectic dinner table of our lives with everyone we invited and some of those who surprised us. Between birth and death and new life, there is literally a trove of wisdom to be excavated. What are we going to do, now that we have found ourselves in this spiritual twilight zone of decision and being?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Make a mental list of all that transpired during the 2019 Christmas Season, good and disappointing.
  2. Think about all the things you are still waiting for in 2020 and beyond, anything and everything.
  3. Remember those you love, near and far, here and gone.
  4. Consider what you are willing to sacrifice during Lent to achieve the longings of your heart.
  5. Envision the kind of person you wish to find staring at you in the mirror come Easter Sunday morning.
  6. Make a plan, share it with someone you trust, then monitor your progress together.

Everyone wants to be happy. But not everyone knows how to reach that reality or recognize the sufficient tools they need to achieve that place. What is clear is that unless we can empty ourselves of our selves, often petty and selfish, we might never catch that bus. Let’s avoid the safe and non-threatening topics of our conversations, especially with those whom we love.

If Christmas and Easter teach us anything, it is that they have become twin-portals to a new life with Jesus who is the perfect friend, ally, and Savior who is fully human and fully divine. Who knows why you are reading this right now. Perhaps it is the same Lord who wants to be closer friends with you. Can’t you see Him inviting you on this journey?

Live in such a way that those who know you, but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you. Say all your prayers with one foot in Christmas and one foot in Easter.

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February 1, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 322

Reading 1 – 2 SM 12:1-7A, 10-17

The LORD sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him,
Nathan said: “Judge this case for me!
In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor.
The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers.
But the poor man had nothing at all 
except one little ewe lamb that he had bought.
He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children.
She shared the little food he had 
and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom.
She was like a daughter to him.
Now, the rich man received a visitor, 
but he would not take from his own flocks and herds 
to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him.
Instead he took the poor man’s ewe lamb 
and made a meal of it for his visitor.”
David grew very angry with that man and said to him: 
“As the LORD lives, the man who has done this merits death!
He shall restore the ewe lamb fourfold 
because he has done this and has had no pity.”Then Nathan said to David:  “You are the man!
Thus says the LORD God of Israel:
‘The sword shall never depart from your house, 
because you have despised me 
and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’
Thus says the LORD:
‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house.
I will take your wives while you live to see it, 
and will give them to your neighbor.
He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.
You have done this deed in secret, 
but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, 
and with the sun looking down.’”Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin:
you shall not die.
But since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, 
the child born to you must surely die.”
Then Nathan returned to his house.The LORD struck the child that the wife of Uriah had borne to David, 
and it became desperately ill.
David besought God for the child.
He kept a fast, retiring for the night 
to lie on the ground clothed in sackcloth.
The elders of his house stood beside him 
urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, 
nor would he take food with them.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 51:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

R. (12a)  Create a clean heart in me, O God.
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. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Free me from blood guilt, O God, my saving God;
then my tongue shall revel in your justice.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God

Alleluia – JN 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, 
and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

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