The Word of God

January 31, 2021


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 71

Reading I – Dt 18:15-20

Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
on the day of the assembly, when you said,
‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’
And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
    let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
    let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
    and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
    “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
    as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
    they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading II – 1 Cor 7:32-35

Brothers and sisters:
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.
 

Alleluia – Mt 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death,
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 

Gospel – Mk 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet!  Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

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Faith Vs. Fear


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 31, 2021

“He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” Throughout our daily journey to the Father, we will undoubtedly encounter all kinds of dark and sinister forces that appear at the most inopportune times and situations. one of those is the debilitating and paralyzing force of fear. We find ourselves facing all kinds of worries in practically all sorts of problems. Some moments are not as intense as others. Still, as long we allow this very opposing force even a small foothold in our attitudes and prayer life, it only has the capacity of growing dangerously large into a formidable enemy of happiness. We can take great comfort in how the origins of all these pathetic and evil shrink before the face of Jesus. He gives us the necessary level of faith to trust Him with everything we have and move forward with that same confidence facing every opportunity with grace and peace. 

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” Today we are called to approach our Dear Lord and Savior with petitions for other people in our lives who might be suffering and carrying heavy crosses. We are called to bring our souls and lives to Jesus and ask for the peace and comfort that only He can get to the world. If we all act as one agent for peace and forgiveness, the world will witness a profound difference.

“Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; rather look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” Be at Peace Prayer by St. Francis de Sales

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January 30, 2021


Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 322

Reading I – Heb 11:1-2, 8-19

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for 
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested. 

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance; 
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; 
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, 
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate, 
even though he was past the normal age
and Sarah herself was sterile 
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead, 
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky 
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised 
but saw it and greeted it from afar 
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, 
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, 
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, 
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, 
and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, 
of whom it was said,
Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.
He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, 
and he received Isaac back as a symbol. 

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

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

Alleluia – 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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Anxious Storms, Sweet Jesus


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 30, 2021

As we begin to conclude this brave and first 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 today but also for the rest of the year. Tables and weather conditions are dramatically turned around, and the result is amazing for all of us: 

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” To be faced with an anxious-driven scenario of not knowing what to do or when to do it while the proverbial clock is ticking is simply traumatic, to say the least. Yet, Abraham, our Father in Faith, moved decisively with confidence in God 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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January 29, 2021


Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 321

Reading I – Heb 10:32-39

Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, 
you endured a great contest of suffering.
At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; 
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison 
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, 
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; 
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

    For, after just a brief moment,
        he who is to come shall come;
        he shall not delay.
    But my just one shall live by faith,
        and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him.

We are not among those who draw back and perish, 
but among those who have faith and will possess life.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 37:3-4, 5-6, 23-24, 39-40

R.    (39A)  The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Trust in the LORD and do good,
    that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the LORD,
    and he will grant you your heart’s requests.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
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 salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
By the LORD are the steps of a man made firm, 
    and he approves his way.
Though he fall, he does not lie prostrate,
    for the hand of the LORD sustains him.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD;
    he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the LORD helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Alleluia – See Mt 11:25

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

Gospel – Mk 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

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A Crucified God


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 29, 2021

“Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering.” This morning we have been served a most excellent meal of wisdom and insight that cannot be wasted. The morsel of truth and clarity are buried, as it were, like a pearl among the refuse of shell and sand waiting for us to discover its most precious beauty. Enlightenment that is true and sustainable does not come at the hands of sorcery, pills, or clandestine self-help puzzles but by suffering and self-emptying selfishness and ego-driven lives. “We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.” We know this to be true because Jesus lived in this very same way producing not only our salvation but the exact path upon which we would find hope and serenity for the days and years to come, how evermore we may have left. 

The Gospel of today also provides for us a time-honored image for the Kingdom for which we need this clarity and insight: “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” This ever-popular Gospel passage should also enthuse those cooking enthusiasts among our readers. Is anyone aware of mustard’s various uses, other than being spread on hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches? The following may send you searching through the internet to secure the validity of these claims. It has been used as mild burn relief, a cosmetic face mask for skin rejuvenation, relief for sore muscles and sore throats, and the removal of the toxic and awful odor of the shrewd skunk in case you find yourself ever-too-close and sprayed with mayhem. Living in the Kingdom means relief from the scorching rays of a hostile world and confidence to face our challenges with renewed vigor and the glow of the Spirit. Living in the Kingdom also offers immediate relief from the wear and tears on our bodies as we travel and preach the Gospel through unknown lands. It also means throwing off the stench of sinfulness and accepting the sweetness of forgiveness freely and mercifully offered in confession. Accepting the promises that Jesus has made to you and those you love should encourage us to walk in the light in every aspect of our lives. We follow a crucified Lord and Savior who found His way out of the grave to set us free from the elements of death and sadness. I pray that today’s reflection puts a smile on your face and help you keep going.

“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.” John Piper

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January 28, 2021


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 320

Reading I – Heb 10:19-25

Brothers and sisters: 
Since through the Blood of Jesus 
we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary 
by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, 
that is, his flesh,
and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,” 
let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, 
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience 
and our bodies washed in pure water.
Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, 
for he who made the promise is trustworthy.
We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.
We should not stay away from our assembly, 
as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, 
and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Responsorial Psalm – 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R.    (see 6)  Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
    the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.
R.    Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
    or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
    who desires not what is vain.
R.    Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
    a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
    that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R.    Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Alleluia – Ps 119:105

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Mk 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket
or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; 
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, 
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given; 
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

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January 28, 2021 – Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church, please go here.

Lectionary: 522

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Doctors of the Church, #725-730
or the Common of Pastors, #719-724.

Reading 1 – Wis 7:7-10, 15-16

I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
And I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.

Now God grant I speak suitably
and value these endowments at their worth:
For he is the guide of Wisdom
and the director of the wise.
For both we and our words are in his hand,
as well as all prudence and knowledge of crafts.

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

R.    (12)  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 – Mt 23:9b, 10b

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

Gospel – Mt 23:8-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor
1225–1274

A theological Grand Master, he positioned every piece exquisitely on the chessboard

The silhouette of St. Thomas Aquinas stands like a giant on the highest summit of human thought, casting such a wide and deep shadow over the surrounding landscape that all subsequent thinkers labor in the shade on the slopes below him. It is fair to say that Thomism, the thinking method and intellectual conclusions of St. Thomas, has been the Catholic Church’s standard theology since he lived in the thirteenth century.

St. Thomas understood that all thinking about God is done from inside original sin and within the parameters of human intellectual capacity. The uncreated, timeless, mysterious God, then, is by definition incomprehensible to creatures trapped in time, space, matter, sin, distraction, and confusion. God is outside of the universe, rather than being just one important ingredient in the recipe of reality. This essential “otherness” of God means that His presence is not completely accessible to the senses. It is not just a question of seeing farther, understanding more deeply, hearing more acutely, or feeling more intensely. Twenty senses instead of five would still not be enough to capture God because He transcends all other forms of being known to us. In the 1950’s, a Russian cosmonaut looked out over space from his orbit miles above the earth and declared “I have found no God.” He was looking for something that wasn’t there and answering a question that was poorly posed.

Sometimes God is described as the highest being in an immense hierarchy of beings. From this perspective, the tiniest specks of organic or inorganic life, up and onward through plant and animal life, mankind, the planets and the solar system itself, are all beneath, and owe their creation to, the super being of God Himself. In this “ladder of existence” understanding, every being is a rung leading to higher and higher rungs at the top of which stands God.

St. Thomas clarified that this approach was inaccurate. God is not the highest of all beings but being itself. Every person at one time did not exist. Creation itself, including mankind, is created, meaning at some point it was not. But God cannot not be. For St. Thomas, God’s essential action is to exist. It is intrinsic to His nature as God. God, then, is not something in the air, but the air itself. He is not the biggest whale in the ocean. He is the water. This means that there is no strict need to provide scientific evidence for God because even asking the question presumes the reality all around us. In other words, science can explain the chemical composition of ink, but science has nothing to say about the meaning of words printed with ink on a page. This does not mean science is undeveloped, but just that it has limits.  

Thomism’s understanding of God as non contingent being itself which makes all dependent existence possible is intellectually sophisticated and also deeply attractive. This understanding of God meshes nicely with an appreciation for the natural beauty of the earth, love of art, and charity for our fellow man, while also allowing space for God to reveal Himself more fully, and gratuitously, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

St. Thomas’s encyclopedic knowledge and massive erudition existed harmoniously with a humble nature and a simple, traditional Catholic piety. He was a well-balanced man and a dedicated Dominican priest. This synthesis of childlike wonder and deep inquiry marked his life. After having a mystical vision of Jesus Christ on the cross while praying after Mass one day, he abandoned any further writing. He died on his way to the Second Council of Lyon in 1274, not yet 50 years old. He is buried in Toulouse, France, retaining his status as the Church’s most eminent theologian.

St. Thomas, your life of the mind co-existed with a deep piety. Your writings defend the faith of those who have neither the time nor the gift for higher study. Help all those who teach in the Church to follow your example of humble and faithful inquiry into the highest truths.

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Light Living


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 28, 2021

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” With age, most of us hope to see the world much more clearly. There are many people today that we love and cherish dearly. While there are a good many others that have seemingly dropped out of our lives, there is a definite pattern that has emerged that deepens respect and admiration for all the people who have populated life. We have loved them because they have shown us, Jesus. Their ways of handling death, disappointment, fun, friends, and family have slowly formed a clear picture of the character that is unmistakably the mark of one who truly loves God. Imagine how the crowd in today’s Gospel must have felt when they heard that they must live their lives in the light of truth before the world! What goes through your mind? 

“To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Today, no matter what you have to face or confront or carry, keep those words of Christ alive in your heart. Perhaps you could ask yourself, “who do people see in me?” If we can honestly say that others have seen or heard the Lord in something we said or did, then we can sleep calmly and without fear. 

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” St. Francis of Assisi

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January 27, 2021


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Angela Merici, virgin, please go here.

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 319

Reading I – Heb 10:11-18

Every priest stands daily at his ministry, 
offering frequently those same sacrifices 
that can never take away sins.
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, 
and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; 
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.
For by one offering he has made perfect forever 
those who are being consecrated.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:

    This is the covenant I will establish with them
        after those days, says the Lord:
    “I will put my laws in their hearts,
        and I will write them upon their minds,”

he also says:

    Their sins and their evildoing
        I will remember no more.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Responsorial Psalm – 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R.    (4B)  You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
    till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Alleluia

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

Gospel – Mk 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him 
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables, 
and in the course of his instruction he said to them, 
“Hear this!  A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, 
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.  
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it 
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone, 
those present along with the Twelve 
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them, 
“The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that

    they may look and see but not perceive,
        and hear and listen but not understand,
    in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once 
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, 
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, 
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word, 
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, 
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, 
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

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January 27, 2021 – Optional Memorial of Saint Angela Merici, virgin


For the readings of the Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Lectionary: 521

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Virgins, #731-736  
or the Common of Holy Men and Women: For Teachers, #737-742.

Reading 1 – 1 Pt 4:7b-11

Beloved:
Be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another
as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;
whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

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 – See Mt 11:25

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

Gospel – Mk 9:34b-37

The disciples of Jesus had been discussing on the way
who was the greatest.
Jesus 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 him, 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.”

Saint Angela Merici, Virgin, 1474–1540

January 27—Optional Memorial

A holy woman tries to change the world one girl at a time

Although not common, some older images and statues of St. Francis of Assisi show him balancing three orbs on his shoulders. They appear to be globes, heavenly realms, or the earth, the moon, and the sun. But the three orbs represent the three orders in the Franciscan family: the first order for men, the second order for women, and the third order for the laity who desired to live by the Franciscan rule.  Today’s saint, Angela Merici, was a third order Franciscan, a lay woman who followed a strict rule of Franciscan life outside of a convent.

Angela’s holiness, mystical experiences, and leadership skills ultimately led her beyond her Franciscan commitment to found her own community of “virgins in the world” dedicated to the education of vulnerable girls, or, in common parlance, at risk youths.  She placed the community under the patronage of St. Ursula. The community, after Angela’s death, was formally recognized as the Ursulines, and gained such renown for their schools that they came to be known as the female Jesuits.

St. Angela saw the risk that uneducated girls in her own region of northern Italy would end up being abused sexually or financially and sought to counter this possibility through education. She gathered a like minded group of virgins around her into a “company,” a military word also used by St. Ignatius in founding his “Company of Jesus” around the same time. Saint Angela organized her city into districts which reported to a “colonel” who oversaw the education and general welfare of the poor girls under their care. Saint Angela’s cooperators did not understand their dedicated virginity as a failure to find a husband or a rejection of religious life in a convent. They emulated the early Christian orders of virgins as spouses of Christ who served the children of their Beloved in the world.

Living in the first part of the 16th century, St. Angela was far ahead of her time. Teaching orders of nuns became normative in the Church throughout the centuries, staffing Catholic schools throughout the world. But nuns did not always do this. It had to start with someone, and that someone was today’s saint. Bonds of faith, love of God, and a common purpose knitted her followers together into a religious family that served the spiritual and physical welfare of those who no one else cared about. Women make homes. Men just live in them. Saint Angela sought to change society one woman at a time by infusing every home with Christian virtue emanating from the heart of the woman who ran it. She trained future wives, mothers, and educators in their youth, when they were still able to be formed.

The Papal Bull of Pope Paul III in 1544 which recognized her community stated of St. Angela Merici: “She had such a thirst and hunger for the salvation and good of her neighbor that she was disposed and most ready to give not one, but a thousand lives, if she had had so many, for the salvation even of the least… with maternal love, she embraced all creatures…Her words…were spoken with such unheard of effectiveness that everyone felt compelled to say: ‘Here is God.’”

St. Angela Merici, infuse in our hearts that same love for which you left worldly joys to seek out the vulnerable and the forgotten. Help us to educate the ignorant and to share with the less fortunate, not only for their spiritual and material benefit but for our everlasting salvation.

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Faith Vs. Control


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 27, 2021

“I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds.” Today we have two very enlightening images to express God’s great love and care for each. The first is that of Jesus as Priest who ensures and mediates through the New Priesthood established at the Last Supper for the ongoing salvation and welfare of the Church. “For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.” All these aspects should help us realize how awesome it is to be loved by God. There should be no doubt that He wants to protect and guide us throughout this life in every way possible. Sin is the most debilitating scourge we face, and that is why He sent His Son Jesus to save us from ourselves and the Evil One. 

“Hear this! A sower went out to sow.” The second loving image is that of the one who sows seeds in the field and harvests the planting fruits. This does bring special nuance to the image that Jesus imparts to us to exemplify his love and care for the world. When you think about it, plants and crops are kind of like people, each having their own unique “personality” and preferences for water, sunlight, soil type, and best growing conditions. The Lord knows this about us, so He attends to each of us’s varying needs in terms of what is best for us to grow and bear fruit in this life. Like plants, we too can harvest energy from the sun, that is, the Son of God; water is necessary for life, and so are the waters of Baptism; Just like plants, human beings need nutrients both for the body and soul and for this we are fed on the Word of God in the Scriptures and Eucharist, the Body of Christ. And just lie the plant world need something the soil that holds all the water and nutrients needed for growth; Jesus has given us the Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. We also must recognize the rocks and thorns in our lives that can distract and choke the grace we need to grow in love for and with God, and that is why we remain open to his beautiful Word today and always. 

“You can have faith or you can have control, but you cannot have both. If you want God to do something off the chart, you have to take your hands off the controls.” Mark Batterson

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January 26, 2021


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops, please go here.

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops
Lectionary: 520/318

Reading I – 2 Tm 1:1-8

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.
I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears,
so that I may be filled with joy, 
as I recall your sincere faith
that first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and that I am confident lives also in you.

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

OR: Ti 1:1-5

Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ
for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones
and the recognition of religious truth,
in the hope of eternal life 
that God, who does not lie, promised before time began,
who indeed at the proper time revealed his word
in the proclamation with which I was entrusted
by the command of God our savior,
to Titus, my true child in our common faith:
grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

For this reason I left you in Crete
so that you might set right what remains to be done
and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.

Responsorial Psalm – 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 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 – See Mt 11:25

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

Gospel – Mk 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.
Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
“Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

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January 26, 2021 – Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops, please go here.

Lectionary: 520

The first reading for this memorial is proper. Below is the proper first reading and suggested Gospel for today’s Memorial. However, the Gospel for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Pastors, #719-724.

Reading 1 – 2 Tm 1:1-8

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.
I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears,
so that I may be filled with joy,
as I recall your sincere faith
that first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and that I am confident lives also in you.

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

 Or

Ti 1:1-5


Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ
for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones
and the recognition of religious truth,
in the hope of eternal life
that God, who does not lie, promised before time began,
who indeed at the proper time revealed his word
in the proclamation with which I was entrusted
by the command of God our savior,
to Titus, my true child in our common faith:
grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

For this reason I left you in Crete
so that you might set right what remains to be done
and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 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 – 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 pay.
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.'”

Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops, First century

January 26—Memorial

Saint Paul could not do it alone so he appointed helpers

Today’s saints were two bishops from the apostolic period of the Church, the decades immediately following the death and resurrection of Christ. In this grace-filled time, the Apostles and St. Paul were carving the first deep furrows into the pagan soil they traveled, planting in the earth the seeds of Christian faith which succeeding bishops would water, tend, and harvest.

Little is certainly known about today’s saints apart from references to them in the Acts of the Apostles and in the epistles of St. Paul. But these numerous references are enough. The generations of theologians, bishops, martyrs, and saints who lived in the post apostolic period give universal and consistent witness to the veracity of Paul’s letters and the events they recount. There are theological, rather than historical, lessons to be taken from the lives and ministry of today’s saints.

Saints Timothy and Titus were apostles of an Apostle. They shared in, and cooperated with, the ministry of St. Paul, who had a direct connection to Christ through a miraculous occurrence on the road to Damascus, a feast commemorated, not coincidentally, the day prior to today’s memorial. Timothy, Titus, and many others, known and unknown, carried out on a local level a priestly ministry which Paul engaged in on a more regional level. It was St. Paul’s practice, and probably that of the other surviving Apostles, to appoint assistants wherever they went who acted with the authority of the Apostle who appointed them. These assistants were variously called priests or bishops, terms that were often interchangeable. Deacons shared in the priestly ministry too, but more as assistants to bishops.

A direct connection to an Apostle, either through his direct ministry or through a group or person he appointed (presumably through an ordination rite), was fundamental to establish a church. Accredited leaders were needed. This is a constant theme in the writings of St. Paul. No Apostle—no Church. The body could not be separated from the head and still survive. In other words, the proclamation of the gospel always—always—occurred contemporaneously with the foundation of a solidly structured local Church. The modern tendency to emphasize the internal, personal, and spiritual message of Christ over the external, public, hierarchical Church which carried his message was a dichotomy unknown to early Christianity. The Church carries a message and is itself a message. The content of the gospel and the form of the gospel community go hand in hand. The constant, amoeba like, splitting of Protestant communities attests to the inevitable divisions which result when the Church and its message are separated.

A later tradition holds that St. Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus, in modern day Turkey. Equally ancient traditions state that St. John retreated to Ephesus before eventually dying on the island of Patmos, and that the Virgin Mary followed John to Ephesus, living in a house above the town. It is possible, then, that St. Timothy drank from the deepest wells of the Christian tradition. Sitting around the warm glow of a fire in a dark room at night, he may have heard about the life of Christ from the very lips of the most important witnesses. We can imagine that he heard much of what is not today preserved, and from the very man, Saint John, who ends his Gospel by writing that “there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25.)

Saints Timothy and Titus, through your lives dedicated to the missions, you helped lay the foundations of Christianity, and carried on the priestly ministry of Jesus by preaching, teaching, and governing His flock. Help us to be as bold now as you were then.

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Are You My Mother?


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 26, 2021

Are You My Mother? is a story about a hatchling bird. His mother, thinking her egg will stay in her nest where she left it, leaves her egg alone and flies off to find food. The baby bird then hatches and does not understand where his mother is, so he looks for her. As he lacks the ability to fly, he walks, and in his search, he asks a kitten, a hen, a dog, and a cow if they are his mother, but none of them are. This quaint and well-known children’s story helps us remember the nearly same kind of question hurled at Jesus in the Gospel today. People thought that since the Virgin Mary and other close family members were asking for Him, that Jesus would respond immediately; however, His response was nearly puzzling on first impressions: He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.'” We could repeat with the cute story the same question in an entirely different and mesmerizing context, “God, are you my mother, my brothers, sisters, family?” However, the answer is as mystifying as it is clarifying: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” You see, it is not the family tree replete with flesh and blood nuances and connections that brings us closer to God, but our fidelity to what He says and following what He does. 

“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” All of us want family, and we seek security in one way or another. We need intimacy to discover our place globally and make a healthy connection with others, especially with God. What is the foundation of such levels of relationship? Fidelity and obedience. We feel and exist closer to the Lord the more we follow Him and live in the light of His love starting with our desire and success to forgive even the deepest of pains in this life, especially betrayal. Interestingly enough, how the little short story ends and how our own lives will find their conclusion is very similar. In the children’s book, the little bird dramatically returns to its nest just as his mother returns. The two are reunited, much to their delight, and the baby bird recounts to his mother the adventures he had looking for her. Imagine your own homecoming to Jesus in Heaven and all the stories you’ll share as you spent a lifetime looking for Him, too. 

“Of course, God does not consider you hopeless. If He did He would not be moving you to seek Him (and He obviously is). What is going on in you at present is simply the beginning of the treatment. Continue seeking with cheerful seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.” C. S. Lewis

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January 25, 2021


Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
Lectionary: 519

Reading I – Acts 22:3-16

Paul addressed the people in these words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.’ 
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.’”

OR:

Acts 9:1-22

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his  journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” 
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. 
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”
But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
All who heard him were astounded and said, 
“Is not this the man who in Jerusalem
ravaged those who call upon this name,
and came here expressly to take them back in chains
to the chief priests?”
But Saul grew all the stronger
and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus,
proving that this is the Christ.

Responsorial Psalm – 117:1bc, 2

R.    (Mark 16:15)  Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
or:
R.    Alleluia, 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, 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.

Alleluia – See Jn 15:16

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

Gospel – Mk 16:15-18

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.”

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Conversion Excursion


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 25, 2021

“On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'” Today the Church celebrates that magnificent moment in the life of St. Paul when his whole turned upside down and great things followed him all the days of his life. Some could say that this powerful epiphany strengthened The Christian Church in its infancy, which was when a majority of the New Testament would be written. Let us take a closer look at what conversion is and understand what it is not before moving forward.

First, a true conversion must involve a deep, personal, and breath-taking encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus: “I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.” The point here is rather obvious. We should avoid calling our experience after a tear-jerking movie or the overwhelming relief after a near-death encounter as a conversion unless somehow and integrally that brings us to a face-to-face meeting with the Lord. Second, it must involve action: “Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.” Conversion without action is as useful as a glass hammer. Finally, but by no means the end of our essential elements, the conversion must be ongoing: “But Saul grew all the stronger and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Christ.” The reason that Saul became the Great St. Paul was that his name change reflected his life change. Everything was different now, and it would continue to be so until that day when Paul glorified God with his martyrdom. May it be the same with each one of us!

A prayer for conversions:
O blessed apostle, St. Paul, greatest of all converts, who labored unceasingly for the conversion of other souls, inspire me with the ardor of your zeal that I may pray and work for the conversion of my brethren, redeemed in the blood of Christ but not as yet blessed with the full light of his truth.

Mindful of the loving concern of the Divine Shepherd for the salvation of the “other sheep that are not of this fold,” I now beg your intercession to obtain the grace of conversion for (name of a family member, friend or others).

May God, the Holy Spirit from whom alone this gift can come, hear my humble prayer and thus enable me to share with others the riches of my heritage of faith through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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January 24, 2021


Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 68

Reading I – Jon 3:1-5, 10

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

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

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

R. (4A) Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
    teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
    and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
    because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
    thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
    and teaches the humble his way.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Reading II – 1 Cor 7:29-31

I tell you, brothers and sisters, 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.

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 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 abandoned 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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Learning How To Fly


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 24, 2021

One thing is obvious and actually demanded from the one who hears the call of discipleship to follow Jesus and wishes to answer it: it will always involve a leap of faith, an extra helping of courage, and a sometimes small, sometimes monumental act of faith. Such was the case of Jonah, of which we heard in our First Reading after he was first charged to warn and issue an apocalyptic message to the Ninevites: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” This was no easy task, and neither was the awesome, even unexpected outcome: “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” What a relief that must have been! In front of this all-encompassing mercy of God that marvels as well as redeems, we can understand and agree with the Psalmist who is so insistent with the only recourse we have when we have made that tumultuous leap of complete trust: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.”

The benefits of this leap of faith are then made crystal clear and even more desirable in the Second Reading of today, which readdresses the nature of Jonah’s mission and our own hopes for a successful conclusion to the near end of the first month of our New Year. Jesus is the last installment of any hope to return to the most excellent existence that could only possibly be had in Heaven, as we have been challenged in our Second Reading: “I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.”

“This is the time of fulfillment.The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” By now, many of us have heard others comment about how fast time flies. The older we become, the more speed it apparently and rapidly adopts. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to decide. Today is the day of what will be what we call our future. Give the Lord a few minutes today. What you will receive in return will be priceless.

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

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January 23, 2021


Sunday Vigil Mass

For the readings of the Day of Prayer for the Optional Memorial of Saint Vincent, deacon and martyr, please go here.

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 316

Reading I – Heb 9:2-3, 11-14

A tabernacle was constructed, the outer one,
in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of offering; 
this is called the Holy Place.
Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. 

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, 
passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, 
that is, not belonging to this creation, 
he entered once for all into the sanctuary, 
not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own Blood, 
thus obtaining eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes 
can sanctify those who are defiled 
so that their flesh is cleansed, 
how much more will the Blood of Christ, 
who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

Responsorial Psalm – 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

R. (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
For king of all the earth is God:
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

Alleluia – See Acts 16:14b

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

Gospel – Mk 3:20-21

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, 
for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 

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Optional Memorial of Saint Vincent, deacon and martyr


For the readings of the Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Lectionary: 517

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Martyrs, #713-718.

Reading 1 – 2 Cor 4:7-15

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

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

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
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.    The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
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 delivered me from all my fears.
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 delivered me from all my fears.
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.    The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Alleluia – Mt 5:10

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

Gospel – Mt 10:17-22

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

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A Thousand Directions


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 23, 2021

“When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'” What a familiar expression we have in the Gospel today! “Out of his mind.” What does that mean? Most people would agree that the phrase describes the situation where someone has lost control of their mental faculties and gone insane. Others would add that this phrase expresses a belief in someone’s inability to make rash decisions because of mental turmoil. However, from a Christian perspective, if the person loses sight of eternal life (or the final destination of Heaven) and pretends to be insane by making all kinds of strange and selfish decisions on purpose, then they may, in fact, put their earthly lives in jeopardy and their heavenly reward in question.

“How much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” The simple truth is this: when anyone decides to follow the Lord and keep the commandments to the best of their abilities, the world may deem that insane. How often have we been told that immoral and anti-Christian behavior is perfectly acceptable because, well, “everybody is doing it.” Therefore, trying to be different and faithful must make you “out of your mind.” So who is crazy and who isn’t? There is only one answer: “Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.” (Psalm)

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” Thich Nhat Hanh

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January 22, 2021


For the readings of the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, please go here.

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
Lectionary: 315

Reading I – Heb 8:6-13

Brothers and sisters:
Now our high priest has obtained so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant, 
enacted on better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, 
no place would have been sought for a second one.
But he finds fault with them and says:
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of 
Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand to lead 
them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they did not stand by my covenant
and I ignored them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds
and I will write them upon their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kin, saying,
“Know the Lord,”
for all shall know me, from least to greatest.
For I will forgive their evildoing
and remember their sins no more.

When he speaks of a “new” covenant, 
he declares the first one obsolete.
And what has become obsolete 
and has grown old is close to disappearing.

Responsorial Psalm – 85:8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (11A) Kindness and truth shall meet.
Show us, O LORD, your mercy,
and grant us your salvation.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.

Alleluia

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

Gospel – Mk 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted 
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach 
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter; 
James, son of Zebedee, 
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, 
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; 
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

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January 22, 2021 – Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children


For the readings of the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, please go here.

Lectionary: 516A

These readings are selected from the Masses for Various Needs and Ocasions, III. In Various Public Circumstances: 26A. For Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life (Supplement, nos. 947A-947E, pg. 94), or II. For Public Needs: 14. For Peace and Justice (vol. IV, nos. 887-891).

For this Mass, there can be either one or two readings before the Gospel (in addition to the Responsorial Psalm). One reading from the Old Testament or one reading from the New Testament or one of each may be selected.

Reading 1 – Is 49:1-6


Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

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

R. (2AB) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars which you set in place—
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!


 

Reading 2 – Eph 3:14-21


Brothers and sisters:
I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

 

Alleluia – Ps 119:88

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In your mercy, give me life, O Lord,
and I will do your commands.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 

Gospel – Lk 1:39-56


Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

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Forever Friends


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 22, 2021

“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” One of the most wonderful experiences that anyone can have in this life is that of belonging. The sense that there is a place for me where I am welcomed and recognized and celebrated ranks among the most wonderful of life’s moments. Conversely, the lack of belonging and human partnership creates pain and suffering, which in turn adds to the level of hurt in our world, both locally and universally. God knows this and continuously extends His invitation to belong to all of us daily.

“Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.” Jesus extends that desire to include and invite us to a New Life with Him most profoundly when He calls the Twelve Apostles to be His friends, shepherds, and the Foundation upon which the Church was formed and established. As members of this great community, with a great cloud of witnesses to inspire us, we are called to enlist at least two fundamental internal decisions: I must accept the invitation to be part of the Body of Christ and invite others to celebrate unity belonging. When this is accomplished, a new world can emerge that shows the face of Christ.

“Loving God, I thank you for the gift of life you gave and continue to give to me and to all of us. Merciful God, I ask your pardon and forgiveness for my own failure and the failure of all people to respect and foster all forms of life in our universe. Gracious God, I pray that with your grace, I and all people will reverence, protect, and promote all life and that we will be especially sensitive to the life of the unborn, the abused, neglected, disabled, and the elderly. I pray, too, that all who make decisions about life in any form will do so with wisdom, love, and courage. Living God, I praise and glorify you as Father, Destiny of all life, as Son, Savior of our lives, and as Spirit, Sanctifier of our lives. Amen.” Prayer of St. John Paul II for the Unborn

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January 21, 2021


Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
Lectionary: 314

Reading I – Heb 7:25—8:6

Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him,
since he lives forever to make intercession for them.

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: 
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, 
higher than the heavens.
He has no need, as did the high priests, 
to offer sacrifice day after day,
first for his own sins and then for those of the people; 
he did that once for all when he offered himself.
For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests, 
but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law, 
appoints a son, who has been made perfect forever.

The main point of what has been said is this: 
we have such a high priest, 
who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne
of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary 
and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.
Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; 
thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer.
If then he were on earth, he would not be a priest, 
since there are those who offer gifts according to the law.
They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary,
as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle.
For God says, “See that you make everything 
according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry 
as he is mediator of a better covenant, 
enacted on better promises.

Responsorial Psalm – 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

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

Alleluia – See 2 Tm 1:10

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

Gospel – Mk 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing, 
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, 
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, 
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, 
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him 
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.

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Healthy Sheep


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 21, 2021

“Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” One of the greatest aspects of knowing, loving, and serving Jesus in this life is the promise He makes of bringing us healing on all different kinds of levels and all different times of stages and moments of our earthly existence. The Letter to the Hebrews constantly underscores this wonderful truth precisely because Our Lord and Savior have assumed our human nature and become one of us so that He could love and heal each one of us. The Feast of Christmas of recent memory serves to celebrate the wonders that at the Incarnation when God becomes apparent in human flesh, He could see each of us throughout all time and eternity. 

“He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.” In his brief time here on earth, Jesus exuded healing and strength for all humanity and never seemed to miss an opportunity to address the sufferings and ills of those He encountered nor the opportunity to announce the Good News of Salvation. As we live our lives with joyful expectations, remember that great things happen when we make time for Christ. Healing happens.

“If sheep do not have the constant care of a shepherd, they will go the wrong way, unaware of the dangers at hand. They have been known to nibble themselves right off the side of a mountain. And so, because sheep are sheep, they need shepherds to care for them. The welfare of sheep depends solely upon the care they get from their shepherd. Therefore, the better the shepherd, the healthier the sheep.” Kay Arthur

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January 20, 2021


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Sebastian, martyr, please go here. For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Fabian, pope and martyr, please go here.

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 313

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High,
met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings

and blessed him.
And Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything.
His name first means righteous king,
and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace.
Without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or end of life,
thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up
after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so,
not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent
but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
For it is testified:

    You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
 

Responsorial Psalm – 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R.    (4B)    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
    till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
 

Alleluia – See Mt 4:23

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

Gospel – Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

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January 20, 2021 – Optional Memorial of Saint Sebastian, martyr


For the readings of the Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Lectionary: 515

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Martyrs, #713-718.

Reading 1 – 1 Pt 3:14-17

Beloved:
Even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you.
Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them,
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (5)  The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
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.    The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
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 delivered me from all my fears.
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 delivered me from all my fears.
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.    The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Alleluia – Jas 1:12

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Mt 10:28-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Saint Sebastian, Martyr, Late Third century

January 20—Optional Memorial

A tough soldier recovers from near martyrdom, only to be killed later for Christ

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary are the most universally depicted scenes in Christian art. There is perhaps not a Catholic church the world over which does not house one or the other image, and often both. But today’s saint, St. Sebastian, follows close behind in terms of popularity and ubiquity. The iconic presentation of the wounded saint shows Sebastian’s hands and arms bound to a post, his head tilted toward the heavens, and his almost naked body filled with arrows.

It is a powerfully evocative image. It suggests that the archers took their time. They were not rushed. They did not act in the heat of anger. Criminal psychologists note that killers only cover the faces of victims who they know. Killers normally don’t mind seeing how their victims suffer or react. It seems that with Sebastian there was no hooded executioner. No anonymous hangman. The men in Sebastian’s firing squad must have gazed right into his eyes before they unleashed the tension in their bows. And when their arrows buried themselves in Sebastian’s torso, the archers must have heard his low moans. Perhaps there was an element of recrimination in all of this. Perhaps it was personal.

Sebastian was a professional soldier in the higher echelons of the Roman army. After his conversion to Catholicism, he went to Rome, around the year 300, likely seeking martyrdom. We can imagine that his fellow soldiers understood his conversion as betrayal or disloyalty to the empire, and that this explains the unique manner of the assassination attempt. But, in the end, the attempt was a failure. Saint Sebastian, the tough soldier, survived the arrows, was nursed back to health by a woman known to history as St. Irene, and later earned the martyr’s crown by being clubbed to death. By the year 300 A.D., the Roman emperors’ attempts to eradicate Christianity were too little too late. Nobles, senators, slaves, cobblers, carpenters, generals, men, women, foreigners, and natives had all converted. Men and women of every class and occupation. By 300 A.D., Christians comprised a significant portion of people at every level of society, up and down and around every Roman road. When high-placed soldiers such as St. Sebastian were willing to die for Christ, it was a sign there was no going back to Rome’s pagan roots. All that was needed was a Christian emperor to solidify the change. That would come soon enough in the person of Constantine. Saint Sebastian’s heroic death was a harbinger of a world about to change.

St. Sebastian’s martyrdom was so widely known that he was honored through the construction of a Church on the Appian Way just outside of Rome. Saint Sebastian’s church is still visited by pilgrims today, along with the Christian catacombs beneath it. His legacy carries on!

St. Sebastian, we ask your intercession to fortify all those who are weak in their faith. You gave heroic witness in leaving a high station to accept a near martyrdom, and then returned to suffer and die once and for all. Give us the grace to face our enemies when our weak nature wants to run the other way.

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January 20, 2021 – Optional Memorial of Saint Fabian, pope and martyr


For the readings of the Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Lectionary: 514

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken fromthe Common of Martyrs, #713-718,
or the Common of Pastors: For a Pope, #719-724.

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 it 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 40:2 and 4ab, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

R.    (8A and 9A)  Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Alleluia – Jn 10:14

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

Gospel – Jn 21:15-17

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and
eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr, c. 200–250

January 20—Optional Memorial

The popes of the third century knew how to die

In the present day suburbs of Rome, tour buses navigate winding, narrow, tree-lined roads to carry modern pilgrims to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. The pilgrims descend a steep staircase until they find themselves in a vast, dark, underground space. The pilgrims slowly walk by early Christian graffiti blanketing the walls to their right and to their left. Marble scraps of early Christian tombstones have etched upon them Greek and Latin epigraphs briefly describing whom they honor. In 1850 an archaeologist working in the St. Callixtus catacombs discovered, incredibly, just such a small chunk of marble with the following simple epitaph etched in it: “Fabian, Bishop, Martyr.” The lifeless body of today’s saint was carried in procession to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus shortly after his death in 250 A.D. In the early 1700s, Pope Fabian’s relics were transferred to the nearby Church of Saint Sebastian, where they can be found today.

A third-century letter of St. Cyprian to the deacons and priests of Rome further confirms the virtuous life and courageous death of Pope Fabian. He reigned as Pope for fourteen years before being martyred in 250 A.D. The Roman Emperor Decius was his killer.  Decius’ persecution was vicious but not universal. He tried to kill the body of the Church by cutting off the head, and so sought the Pope’s blood. It didn’t work. About 65 years later, one of Decius’ successors as emperor, Constantine, would legalize Christianity, bringing to an end almost 300 years of on-again, off-again persecution.

We can only imagine what it would be like today if the Pope were to be imprisoned and killed by the Prime Minister of Italy. Imagine the outcry! A secular power actively persecuting a religious leader! Yet perhaps such events are not so unimaginable. Pope St. John Paul II was shot, and almost killed, in 1981, probably due to dark communist forces rooted in Eastern Europe. Assassins still exist, and popes are still their targets.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote a detailed history of the Church about fifty years after Pope Fabian’s time, Fabian was a layman who went to Rome after the prior Pope’s death. He was elected Bishop of Rome due to a miraculous sign. In other words, Fabian did not strive to his high office. He did not seek to be important. He accepted his role in the full knowledge that it could lead to big trouble for him. And that trouble eventually found him. Pope Fabian’s martyrdom shows why the Church survived its early and vicious persecutions—it had leaders who knew how to die. Great deaths don’t follow shallow lives. The early popes didn’t give up or give in. They didn’t renounce the faith. They were fearless. They felt the cold metal of a sharp knife against their neck and still persevered. A religious society with such models of courage in its highest ranks had to survive. And it did survive. We are living proof of that.

St. Fabian, your papal death proved to the faithful that their leaders personally accepted what they demanded of others. Slaves, prisoners, women, outcasts, and popes all died for the faith. Help us, Fabian, to be further links in the Church’s long chain of Christian witnesses.

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Facing Our Greatest Fears


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 20, 2021

Throughout our reading of Sacred Scripture, we have front row seats to those most remarkable and dramatic encounters that have set the stage for the appearance in our world for the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, who indeed is our High Priest: “It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.” Who among us doesn’t remember our first hearing about the momentous encounter of David and Goliath? Undoubtedly, this famous unequal fight and the unsuspected victory of the young David has taken all kinds of different nuances and meanings as we have lived the years we have been given. And with one swift and precisely aimed shot, the out-muscled, overpowered, and seemingly least likely winner in the fight won a sound victory. The Lord was with David that day. And the Lord was with the disfigured and probably foredoomed man in the Gospel: “Jesus said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was restored.”

There is something genuine and applicable here today for you and me: we all face giants. These may be insurmountable problems and unexpected issues. Issues such as fear, or anxiety, or some other great and vexing personal struggle.

What can we learn from Melchizedek and the Lord Jesus today:
1. Let us admit that we all have giants: hardships, seemingly unbeatable obstacles, problems, and temptations.
2. Let us realize that battle always belongs to the Lord.
3. We cannot nor should not run from our giants or even attempt to negotiate with an enemy that seeks only to destroy us if not defeated.

This is why the Sabbath is given to us; to renew and resurrect our trust in the Lord for His power and strength to meet our Goliaths as Jesus reminded the Pharisees in the Gospel today: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Many of our readers may remember an excellent phrase with which we close today: “Don’t tell God how big your problems are; rather tell your problems how big your God is.” Amen.

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January 19, 2021


Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 312

Reading I – Heb 6:10-20

Brothers and sisters:
God is not unjust so as to overlook your work
and the love you have demonstrated for his name
by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.
We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness
for the fulfillment of hope until the end,
so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who,
through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

When God made the promise to Abraham,
since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you.
And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.
Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves;
for them an oath serves as a guarantee
and puts an end to all argument.
So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise
an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose,
he intervened with an oath,
so that by two immutable things,
in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged
to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul,
sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil,
where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner,
becoming high priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial Psalm – 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c

R.    (5)  The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
    in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
    exquisite in all their delights.
R.    The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
    gracious and merciful is the LORD.
He has given food to those who fear him;
    he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
R.    The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
He has sent deliverance to his people;
    he has ratified his covenant forever;
    holy and awesome is his name.
    His praise endures forever.
R.    The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
 

Alleluia – See 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 our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 

Gospel – Mk 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

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Let’s Take A Sabbatical


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 19, 2021

The words from our First Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews definitely encourage us as we move forward in this New Year of 2021: “We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end.” The Letter clearly understood the right order of things in the Spiritual Universe, as Jesus recalled and reminded the Pharisees later in St. Mark’s Gospel: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” You see, the Sabbath is much more than law, but truly a gift of God’s care for all of us. He rested on the seventh day not out of fatigue but to show how a fruitful life should be lived, with enough time for re-creation and renewal. Our redemption from sin and death is truly the work of God and not us. He has literally “done all the work.” Now, for this glorious break, He wants us to enjoy!

You and I, unfortunately, tend to rush through our busy week, maybe offering God a fleeting wave or a passing prayer. Sunday, the Sabbath, however, calls us to a true and thought-out decision with real intention. We are to stop from all the other things we had to do or do or have to do and spend quality time with Him and focus on Him. When we decide to obey, that is, listen to the Fourth Commandment, we become aware of the astounding and comforting truth that we belong to God. It is not the Sabbath that we worship but the One who has initiated the Sabbath as we swim in a sort of a memorial in time, a useful tool to help us focus our attention on our extraordinary destiny. This coming Sunday, try to remember this Reflection. Take a different approach to the Sabbath and let God be at peace with you and for you. Cut out any unnecessary activity and focus on your hope of Heaven. Let us appreciate the blessing of St. Paul for us as cited from the Letter to the Ephesians in the Alleluia Verse of today: “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 our call.”

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January 18, 2021


Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 311

Reading I – Heb 5:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
        You are my Son:
    this day I have begotten you;

just as he says in another place,
    You are a priest forever
        according to the order of Melchizedek.

In the days when he was in the Flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R.    (4B)    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
    till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Alleluia – Heb 4:12

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

Gospel – Mk 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, 
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

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Silence Of The Sheep


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 18, 2021

Perhaps among the top ten most understood terms used in common speech, we find the lonely word “obey.” In some circles, and this, of course, is wide open for debate, obedience means to follow the order of another blindly. One in authority or power over us, given or taken, usually has dire consequences if the orders are not completed or compliant. This is certainly understandable because if a person in the military or other chain of command formats does not follow orders, that is, to obey a command, then there are serious and disastrous repercussions. However, to play this right, the word at its very heart means to be subject, serve, pay attention to, give ear, and thus literally, “to listen to.” This hopefully adds much-needed understanding to our First Reading today and what awesome application it has for us: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” The Letter to the Hebrews makes a deep and accurate claim: listening to God is all He asks. How could you reject what you have not heard?

The Gospel, then, completes these thought developments with a very insightful and clever image: “Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined.” We live in a sinful and wounded world. This much is true. But we also live in a milieu of darkness with the brightest of Lights deep within us. This much is certain because of Jesus. Then, at last, before going out into this bold universe, we must first listen, that is, obey the Lord and attempt to conduct ourselves with the Truth of the Gospel and navigate through a veritable labyrinth or maze of choices enlightened by the Word: “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Alleluia Verse) So today, take some time and be with God, even if it is in your vehicle or in between some necessary chore that was due two hours ago. Shhhhhhhh! Just listen.

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” Nicholas Sparks 

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January 17, 2021


Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 65

Reading I – 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am.  You called me.”
“I did not call you, “  Eli said.  “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am, “ he said.  “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son.  Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.  You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

R. (8A and 9A) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
    and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
    a hymn to our God. 
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading II – 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body. 
 

Alleluia – Jn 1:41, 17b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We have found the Messiah:
Jesus Christ, who brings us truth and grace.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 

Gospel – Jn 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

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The Highway Of Our Lives


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 17, 2021

“Speak, for your servant is listening.” Language has the potential of being both descriptive and revealing. For instance, even though the words “to,” “too” and “two” all sound the same, they mean different things, especially in the context of a sentence. With just the difference one “s” your ice cream sundae, which you ordered for dessert, might become a sweltering and unpleasant experience in the desert. Why are we “splitting hairs” about language today? Here is the pivotal question: what is the difference and significance between God and a god? One is the Lord, the Almighty, the Creator, the One True God, and the latter is an image, idol, or other object or possession that is adored, worshiped, and given supreme importance in this life, but not in the next. 

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.” Here is the issue before us today: everyone already knows or is familiar with God or a god. Everyone has already set a system and a list of priorities in their lives and whoever occupies the very top position is their God or a god. The key interest here is simple. If we make God our priority, we can be assured of a deep level of peace and joy radiating in and through and all around us. If we have something or someone else in that top position, we can be relatively promised a rough turn of events and a life that can not sustain everlasting happiness. This is what we find clearly illuminated in our Gospel of today: “We have found the Messiah: Jesus Christ, who brings us truth and grace.”

“Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the center, as the highway of our lives.” Pope Francis

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January 16, 2021


Sunday Vigil Mass

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 310

Reading I – Heb 4:12-16

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,     
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Responsorial Psalm – 19:8, 9, 10, 15

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

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 – Mk 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

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Only As Sick As Our Secrets


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 16, 2021

“The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Today’s First Reading gives us the striking teaching of how powerfully comforting and helpful is the magnificent Word of God we open in the Scriptures, especially here in these pages. Like a great leader who knows his or her own people and is completely aware of their needs, assets, liabilities, and even weaknesses, Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, truly walks with us as long as we make time for Him. The same is true for the individual who does know himself/herself well enough to realize their own strengths and failings. As we have said earlier, this person is a person of integrity, and because they realize their dependence on God, they live a full, happy life.

Likewise, in the Gospel of this fine day, we have the Scribes who were Pharisees remarking bitterly about Jesus actually socializing and eating with sinners. Since they were not men of integrity, they missed the entire significance of the actions of Our Lord. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” To maintain Spiritual Health, one must accept their own human condition. We are sinful people in need of the Good Physician who is always here for us. Self-knowledge mixed with a large helping of humility makes for a great life with Jesus. We are only as sick as our secrets, and when we give everything to God, we can hope for a healthy life with Him.

“Nothing is more isolating on this planet than believing that you are the only person who feels a certain way or has experienced a certain thing. At night, left with their own thoughts, they would review past events or prod their deepest secrets and usually, this would result in self-loathing, which would grant further power to these secrets. A secret kept in the dark grows, but once it is exposed to the lights, its power is lost and so this is why exposing them is so important.” FirstSteps Recovery

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January 15, 2021


Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 309

Reading I – Heb 4:1-5, 11

Let us be on our guard
while the promise of entering into his rest remains,
that none of you seem to have failed.
For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did.
But the word that they heard did not profit them,
for they were not united in faith with those who listened.
For we who believed enter into that rest,
just as he has said:

As I swore in my wrath,    
“They shall not enter into my rest,”

and yet his works were accomplished
at the foundation of the world.
For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner,
And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;
and again, in the previously mentioned place,
They shall not enter into my rest. 

Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest,
so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.
 

Responsorial Psalm – 78:3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8

R.    (see 7B)  Do not forget the works of the Lord!
What we have heard and know,
and what our fathers have declared to us,
we will declare to the generation to come
The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!
That they too may rise and declare to their sons
that they should put their hope in God,
And not forget the deeds of God
but keep his commands.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And not be like their fathers,
a generation wayward and rebellious,
A generation that kept not its heart steadfast
nor its spirit faithful toward God.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!
 

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 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way?  He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what 
they were thinking to themselves, 
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once, 
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

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The Friendly Face Of God


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 15, 2021

Someone once wrote that true friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. The advice is quite simple: Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island and thereby to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune and to maintain that friend, a blessing. If this is true, then we can learn much about the two different kinds of relationships we have placed before us in the Readings today. First, take a look at the rather stern advice we are served: “Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.” Our relationship with Jesus is often strengthened, supported, and enlightened by our friendships here on earth. This is why we must learn too late that an honest enemy is always better than a friend who lies.

Then, paradoxically in the Gospel of today, we see another form of acting in a different kind of trusting, life-giving friendship: “They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.” This has to rank in the top 10 most dramatic scenes of the New Testament. Visualize the moment, if you can. Four friends who are convinced that if Jesus can touch their friend, he would be saved. And he was. Note well that this act of friendship also moved Jesus because he clearly noticed the faith of ALL the group of friends: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.'”

This has ramifications for all of us. We are here to help each other, but more critically in the milieu created when we call someone a friend. With that comes true responsibility and care, yielding magnificent consequences. Pray for your friends today. Ask God to shine His face upon all of them. With friends like these, we may just, in fact, see God.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo

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January 14, 2021


Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 308

Reading I – Heb 3:7-14

The Holy Spirit says:
    Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
        “Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
        in the day of testing in the desert,
    where your ancestors tested and tried me
        and saw my works for forty years.
    Because of this I was provoked with that generation
        and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart,
        and they do not know my ways.’
    As I swore in my wrath,
        ‘They shall not enter into my rest.’”

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,”
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

Responsorial Psalm – 95:6-7c, 8-9, 10-11

R.    (8)  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
    let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
    and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R.    If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
    “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
    as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
    they tested me though they had seen my works.” 
R.    If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
    I said: “This people’s heart goes astray,
    they do not know my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger:
    “They shall never enter my rest.”
R.    If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Alleluia – See Mt 4:23

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

Gospel – Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him, 
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

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Encourage Yourself


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 14, 2021

“Encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.” Even the most confident and strident among us need encouragement to help keep going, even if that obvious fact is not recognized. Who doesn’t appreciate a nice, optimistic compliment or good wish from time to time? But let us not get ahead of ourselves: the real purpose of lifting each other is not about self-esteem, it is about staying focused on the Lord Jesus and finding more opportunities to give Him thanks for all His many blessings that otherwise we might miss. “We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.”

Then the Gospel places the capstone upon our reflection. The Law strictly forbade anyone from touching the leper. When Jesus touched and healed the one with this horrible, disfiguring disease, the humble, sorrowful but believing leper gave us the very opposite of arrogance and reminded us that no one should be deemed untouchable, nor are we ever capable of judging who is worthy of receiving God’s love and mercy: “‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
Touched the leper and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.'” What this clearly illustrates for each one of us is that Jesus Himself desires that we be happy and encouraged, and He truly charges us with accomplishing this wonderful task with His grace for each other. Find three people today to encourage and watch what happens.

“Whenever You Find Yourself Doubting How Far You Can Go, Just Remember How Far You Have Come. Remember Everything You Have Faced, All The Battles You Have Won, And All The Fears You Have Overcome.” Caro Vanni

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January 13, 2021


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

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 307

Reading I – 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.

Responsorial Psalm – 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (8A)  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
    make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
    proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R.    (8A)  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
    rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
    seek to serve him constantly.
R.    (8A)  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
    sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
    throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R.    (8A)  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
    which he made binding for a thousand generations– 
Which he entered into with Abraham
    and by his oath to Isaac. 
R.    (8A)  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia – Jn 10:27

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

Gospel – Mk 1:29-39

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

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

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

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January 13, 2021 Optional Memorial of Saint Hilary, bishop and doctor of the Church


For the readings of the Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Lectionary: 512

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Pastors (Lectionary 719-724)
or the Common of Doctors of the Church (Lectionary 725-730).

Reading 1 – 1 Jn 2:18-25

Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.
Who is the liar?
Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.
Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.
Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father,
but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.
And this is the promise that he made us:  eternal life.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R.    (4B)  You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of  your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R.    You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Alleluia – Mt 5:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Mt 5:13-19

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.

“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.”

Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop and Doctor,c. 310–c. 367

A native pagan discovers Christ, converts, and then suffers exile for Him

Today’s saint was born a pagan, to pagans, in a pagan city. But his broad and deep education brought him into contact with Holy Scripture, where he found the truth he did not know he was seeking. He became a Catholic through reading. He was to then spend his adult life defending Catholic truth with his pen. The convert converted others and preserved the orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed against the Arian heresy. Saint Athanasius called St. Hilary a “trumpet” of orthodoxy against theological error.

St. Hilary was elected the Bishop of Poitiers, France, about 350. His learning and intelligence inevitably placed him at the center of the violent theological battles of the fourth century. The Council of Nicea of 325 had left some theological definitions open to incorrect interpretation. A man named Arius caused immense confusion by just such misinterpretation. Arius argued that the words of the Nicene Creed meant that Jesus was less than God the Father, had a beginning in time, and was of like substance to the Father instead of the same substance. Saint Hilary was the first theologian from Western Europe, as opposed to the more theologically mature theologians from Egypt, Turkey, and the Middle East, to see what a grave threat the Arian heresy truly was.

St. Hilary spent the better part of his adult life studying, writing, speaking, and arguing to ensure that the Nicene Creed was understood and adhered to throughout the Church. He was even sent into exile by the Emperor for not conforming his views to Arian teachings. But he used his time in exile to read and write extensively, eventually becoming such a thorn in the side of the Emperor that he restored St. Hilary to his diocese. Saint Hilary went on to attend various synods of bishops in an effort to maintain the truth of the Nicene Creed against determined opposition at the highest levels.

The life of St. Hilary proves that good theology matters. Bad theology easily leads to bad worship, bad morality, and the decline of true Christian community. To disrupt or correct bad theology is to disrupt or correct bad community. And it is sometimes the obligation of the Church to break up false ideas of the church, of marriage, of family, of government, etc… When certain things are built up, their opposites inevitably are broken up. Saint Hilary knew all of this. He knew that bad theology was not just bad in and of itself but that it also had negative repercussions in the lived reality of the Church. When St. Hilary defended theological truth, he defended many other truths too.  

St. Hilary, through reading and study you came to love the truths of the Catholic faith. Your love then showed itself in your willingness to suffer for that truth. Help us to know, love, and serve God by knowing, loving, and serving the instrument of His truth on earth—the Catholic Church.

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I Am Right Here


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 13, 2021

“The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.” A fascinating article published recently suggested five positive ways to stay close to someone you love and whose friendship you enjoy and want to maintain.

Here they are in a nutshell:
1. Practice Mindfulness
2. Be open to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
3. Know your own weaknesses.
4. Listen Actively
5. Stay calm and always communicate your feelings and thoughts.

While these can certainly (and should be) debated, they do carry some merit. They also shed some interesting light on a particular motif and thread weaving in and out of all our beautiful Scriptural Readings today. They are all about staying very close to the Lord to be safe and warm with a truly fulfilling and happy life.

(Practice mindfulness) “Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly.” Whether in Church or alone in solitude, resting with God is truly a blessing.

(Know your own weaknesses) “Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” Self-love is not vanity; it is sanity.

(Practice forgiveness) “Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.” We all need God to forgive us. Forgiving others helps us realize that He hears our own requests for peace and absolution.

(Stay calm and communicate) “My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord. I know them, and they follow me.” Worry does not serve at all. Trust in the One who is already looking for us to give us hope. Share your faith with others.

(Listen actively) “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus is always reaching out to us in situations that may even surprise the heftiest of skeptics. Listen with the determined intent to learn something every day. Then ask God for guidance to move forward. “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” Wherever you live, make sure you are staying close to the Lord.

“Nothing in or of this world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God.” Aiden Wilson Tozer

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January 12, 2021



Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 306

Reading I – Heb 2:5-12

It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come,
of which we are speaking.
Instead, someone has testified somewhere:

    What is man that you are mindful of him,
        or the son of man that you care for him?
    You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
        you crowned him with glory and honor,
        subjecting all things under his feet.

In “subjecting” all things to him,
he left nothing not “subject to him.”
Yet at present we do not see “all things subject to him,” 
but we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor”
because he suffered death,
he who “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,”
that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he,
for whom and through whom all things exist,
in bringing many children to glory,
should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.
He who consecrates
and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.
Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers” saying: 

    I will proclaim your name to my brethren,
    in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.

Responsorial Psalm – 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (see 7) You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
O LORD, our Lord,
    how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
    or the son of man that you should care for him?
R.    You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
You have made him little less than the angels,
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
    putting all things under his feet.
R.    You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
All sheep and oxen,
    yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
    and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R.    You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.

Alleluia – See 1 Thes 2:13

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

Gospel – Mk 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, 
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet!  Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

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Astonishing Words


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 12, 2021

“The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” To be astonished is no laughing matter, literally. It means that something very urgent and dramatic has occurred that has caused you to stop and wonder, “what just happened here?” This is what we have encountered today in the Gospel: “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” This passage is fascinating because it is the first time in St. Mark’s Gospel, where we encounter demonic possession. The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits, which sought entry into everyone and taught them to enter through food or drink. They caused all illness. The Egyptians believed there were thirty-six different parts of the human body, and any of them could be entered and controlled by one of these evil spirits. There were spirits of deafness, dumbness, fever; spirits that took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying and deceit and uncleanness. It was such a spirit that Jesus exorcised here. “Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!'”

However dramatic or dark, this topic of confronting evil and evil spirits is good for everyone: every day is a challenge and a struggle to live this life and walk this walk. We live in a world of darkness and terror, and unless we hold the Light of Christ within us, we will indeed be swallowed up in despair. Thus, the battle of light and darkness is not just outside of us but also within us. And we have Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, to help us move forward in faith. Evil is not sustainable because it has already been defeated. It is now up to us to join the winning, victorious team: “Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God.”

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

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January 11, 2021


Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 305

Reading I – Heb 1:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways 
to our ancestors through the prophets; 
in these last days, he spoke to us through the Son,     
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,

    who is the refulgence of his glory, 
        the very imprint of his being,
    and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
    When he had accomplished purification from sins,
    he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
    as far superior to the angels
    as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:

    You are my Son; this day I have begotten you?

Or again:

    I will be a father to him, and he shall be a Son to me?

And again, when he leads the first born into the world, he says:

    Let all the angels of God worship him.

Responsorial Psalm – 97:1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

R.    (see 7C) Let all his angels worship him.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
    let the many isles be glad.
    Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne. 
R.    Let all his angels worship him.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
    and all peoples see his glory.
Let all his angels worship him.
R.    Let all his angels worship him.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
    exalted far above all gods.
R.    Let all his angels worship him.

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 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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Give Me What Is Real


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 11, 2021

“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets.” The Gallup News Service had issued their finding of Faith and the impact on the life of Americans. They discovered that when people do finally show up at church, the clergy often has its work cut out because some in attendance may not fully appreciate why they are there. In an earlier survey, they found that eight out of ten Protestant and Catholic adults understand the religious significance of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and that only two out of ten either misunderstood it or readily admitted they could not even begin to understand it. If we were approached by anyone who really did not have a clue and wanted sincerely to know more about Christ, the simple answer is most likely the best one. Let’s look at three overwhelmingly beautiful, significantly bold statements we can make to the world about the meaning of our faith in the Lord:

Jesus is Real: Someone responded beautifully and sincerely to a person who claimed that God is dead, or at least dead to that person. He just turned to him and said, “Oh, I know He is alive and real…I just spoke with Him this morning!” Jesus Loves us and wants us to be close to Him: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” “I asked Jesus, ‘How much do you love me?’ Jesus replied, ‘This much.” And he stretched his arms on the cross and died. Jesus has a mission for all of us: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” These first few days of the new year are truly crucial if we continue to find time to remember that Jesus truly was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead. In other words, there was a real miracle. Make it real this year! 

“Only Jesus can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, and a victim into a victory.” Poster hanging in a classroom

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January 10, 2021


The Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

Reading I – Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

OR: Is 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,

and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth 
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

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

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. (11B)  The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
    give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
    adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
    the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
    the voice of the LORD is majestic. 
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
    the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

OR: Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. (3)  You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
    I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
    at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
    among the nations make known his deeds,
      proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
    let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
    for great in your midst
    is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Reading II – Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying: 
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites 
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, 
what has happened all over Judea, 
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached, 
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good 
and healing all those oppressed by the devil, 
for God was with him.”

OR: 1 Jn 5:1-9

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Alleluia – Cf. Jn 1:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John saw Jesus approaching him, and said:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Mk 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: 
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water; 
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee 
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open 
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, 
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

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Start Your Engines


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 10, 2021

“Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.” Now that we have successfully passed through another wonderful Christmas installment of the mystery of life and love, it comes now the time to put into action all that we have learned in 2020, the ups and certainly the downs, and clearly start our soul’s engine and truly make something worthwhile of 2021. Today’s wonderful Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus invites us to do exactly that! How do we begin? The First reading makes it clear. If we want something good in this life, we start searching for the source of all goodness, who is GOD.  

“He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” Our search will necessarily bring us to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan in the person of Jesus Christ, who is baptized today, making holy all Baptismal Water used upon all of us when we were brought through the water into the hope of everlasting life. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  

In this bold new year of 2021, why don’t we consider adopting for ourselves a sort of “mission statement” straight from the Scriptures of this very awesome day? Just as the Lord Jesus, let us commit ourselves to spend the rest of this year “doing good and healing” whenever we can and whenever possible. We could ask ourselves at the end of each day, “how have I been an instrument of healing today?” Can you imagine the possibilities? Jesus already has. 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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January 9, 2021


Sunday Vigil Mass

Saturday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 217

Reading I – 1 Jn 5:14-21

Beloved:
We have this confidence in him
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours. 
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life. 
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. 
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray. 
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him. 
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One. 
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. 
And we are in the one who is true,
in his Son Jesus Christ. 
He is the true God and eternal life. 
Children, be on your guard against idols.

Responsorial Psalm – 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

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

Alleluia – Mt 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jn 3:22-30

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea,
where he spent some time with them baptizing. 
John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,
because there was an abundance of water there,
and people came to be baptized,
for John had not yet been imprisoned. 
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew
about ceremonial washings. 
So they came to John and said to him,
“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,
to whom you testified,
here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
John answered and said,
“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 
You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ,
but that I was sent before him. 
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;
the best man, who stands and listens for him,
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. 
So this joy of mine has been made complete. 
He must increase; I must decrease.”

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The Demand Of Improvement


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 9, 2021

“We have this confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” In many, if not all walks of life, there seems to be a delicate balance and struggle with the notion of confidence. Too little of it creates an emotional vacuum that spells disaster and harm. At the same time, an overabundance of it has the enormous potential of terrible results and inflated egos that could fill several football stadiums. How do we reach a healthy and holy balance? “We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.” Precisely. Once we acknowledge and work tirelessly for that heart-beating, eye-opening relationship with Jesus, we would never know what is true humility and what is false confidence. 

“So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” Perhaps if we were to return to the very meaning of the word, we would almost immediately realize that it comes from the two words “with faith.” Right there, we have an almost immediate revealing clue as to the depth of richness that is ours when we place all our hope and trust in the Lord. Then and only then would we have an opening into solid strength and growing holiness, which we all need to survive in this world. Our ego and selfish tendencies must decrease while our time spent with the Lord must, in fact, increase to make a solid return to Him without reserve. This is what is meant by waling out of the darkness in the light of the Lord: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

“Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.” Russell M. Nelson

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January 8, 2021


Friday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 216

Reading I – 1 Jn 5:5-13

Beloved:
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood. 
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth. 
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, 
and the three are of one accord. 
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater. 
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son. 
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son. 
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son. 
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you so that you may know
that you have eternal life,
you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

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

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

Alleluia – See Mt 4:23

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

Gospel – Lk 5:12-16

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” 
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I do will it.  Be made clean.” 
And the leprosy left him immediately. 
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” 
The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

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Outlook Determines Outcome


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 8, 2021

“Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” On this day, we have reason to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our destiny and our future. Why were we born into this world? What is our purpose? Where are we going? These profound and important questions are found providentially in our Readings today. “So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord.” The basic truth that is worth our deliberations and content of our prayers is simply this: We have been saved by the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He came so that we might live. No mere human being could ever achieve this. He was sent by the Father and enriched and empowered by the Holy Spirit. “…he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” This truly makes us “alive” with the Baptism that breathes into our very being and souls to become one with Him and bring hope to a despairing world. 

Then the Gospel places the capstone upon our reflection. The Law strictly forbade anyone from touching the leper. When Jesus touched and healed the one with this horrible, disfiguring disease, the humble, sorrowful but believing leper gave us the very opposite of arrogance and reminded us that no one should be deemed untouchable, nor are we ever capable of judging who is worthy of receiving God’s love and mercy:” ‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, 

touched the leper, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.'” While it is very easy to sit on our self-made perches and self-taught premises, we comment on everybody else’s plight and weaknesses (except the one in the mirror), and it is never sustainable. Defeat is inevitable. There is indeed a thin line between confidence and arrogance. It is called humility. Confidence smiles. Arrogance smirks. 

“Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change. We need to remind ourselves that God can change things. Outlook determines outcome. If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory.” Warren Wiersbe

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January 7, 2021


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

Thursday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 215

Reading I – 1 Jn 4:19–5:4

Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us. 
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen 
cannot love God whom he has not seen. 
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him. 
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments. 
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. 
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

Responsorial Psalm – 72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

R.    (see 11)  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
    and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
    and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
    and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
    day by day shall they bless him.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;
    as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
    all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Alleluia – Lk 4:18

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

Gospel – Lk 4:14-22

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day. 
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. 

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January 7, 2021 – Optional Memorial of Saint Raymond of Peñafort, priest


For the readings of the Thursday after Epiphany, please go here.

Lectionary: 511

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Pastors (#719-724).

Reading 1 – 2 Cor 5:14-20

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

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 103:1bc-2, 3-4, 8-9, 13-14, 17-18

R.    (1)  O, bless the Lord, my soul!
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.     O, bless the Lord, my soul!
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R.      O, bless the Lord, my soul!
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R.    O, bless the Lord, my soul!
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,
For he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.
R.    O, bless the Lord, my soul!
But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity
to eternity toward those who fear him,
And his justice toward their children’s children
among those who keep his covenant.
R.    O, bless the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia – Lk 21:36

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

Gospel – Lk 12:35-40

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”

Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Priest,c. 1175–1275

The law, scripture, the Church, and love work harmoniously together

Today’s saint lived numerous lives inside of his 100 years on earth. He was an intellectual prodigy who was teaching university-level philosophy by the age of twenty, and who took degrees in civil and canon law from the premier law university of the time—Bologna. While in Bologna, he likely came to know the founder of a new religious order who had also come to Bologna, and who would die there—St. Dominic Guzman. The example of the Dominicans led Fr. Raymond to exchange the diocesan priesthood for the Dominicans.  

St. Raymond’s abilities and holiness were such that everyone seemed to want him in their service. Kings and Popes and Bishops and Orders all had plans on how to utilize him best. He was called to the Pope’s service to make the great contribution for which he is still known today, the organization of a huge compendium of Church law which served as the basic reference for canon lawyers until the early 20th century. Exhausted by this three years of effort in this project, he returned in middle age to his native Barcelona.

But his life of quiet and prayer did not last long. He was shocked to learn from Dominicans sent to him from Bologna that he had been elected the second successor to St. Dominic as the master general of the Dominican Order. He served his Order well and dutifully as Master General but not long. He resigned due to old age when he was 65. But there was still a lot of life left to live.

St. Raymond’s activities in his old age included efforts to try to convert the Muslims then occupying Spain, the establishment of theology and language schools dedicated to converting Muslims, his probable personal encouragement to St. Thomas Aquinas that the young scholar write an apologetic work directed at non-Catholics, the Summa contra Gentiles, and St. Raymond’s rejection of an episcopal appointment.

St. Raymond’s life shows an admirable synthesis of traditional piety and devotion,  service to the Church, obedience to his superiors, love of theology, dedication to his Order, and respect and love for the law. To know, love, and follow the law is not contrary to charity. When kept, the law promotes charity and protects the weak, the poor, and the ignorant from being taken advantage of. It takes very smart and holy people to protect simple people and bad people from themselves. Saint Raymond was smart and holy. He laid his gifts at the altar of God, and God used those gifts splendidly.

St. Raymond, teach us to see the law of God and the law of the Church as one harmonious law meant to foster true communion among men and true communion between God and men. May God’s law be our law. And may the law never be an obstacle to true love and devotion.

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I Love You More


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 7, 2021

“Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.” From time to time, we hear people in a relationship say things like “I loved you first,” and “I love you more.” At times, this can be troubling because someone might be about to start a fight or, worse, trying to out-do the other or belittle the other. When God says this to us, it takes on a completely wonderful and different perspective, one, hopefully, that brings us into His loving heart and thus allows us to love each other with a deeper sense of compassion, honesty, and selflessness. “This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

God’s love for us is as mysterious as the very nature of God Himself. It is completely awesome and overwhelming, especially when you realize how you and I utter these words and act upon our love for one another. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him.” There is yet another magnificent aspect to all this for us today who are reading the Scriptures and are attempting to live a good life full of love. There is a deep and intricate connection between the love we have for God, for others, and ourselves. The stronger the one, the stronger the others. But they are not the same, nor could they be. If we accept that God has loved us first with an everlasting love, then it will undoubtedly translate into a very patient and loving approach to everyone we meet today, even those who make life harder for us. Especially for those. 

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” St. Augustine

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January 6, 2021


Wednesday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 214

Reading I – 1 Jn 4:11-18

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another. 
No one has ever seen God. 
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit. 
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. 
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God. 
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 
In this is love brought to perfection among us,
that we have confidence on the day of judgment
because as he is, so are we in this world. 
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.

Responsorial Psalm – 72:1-2, 10, 12-13

R.    (see 11)  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Alleluia – See 1 Tm 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Glory to you, O Christ, proclaimed to the Gentiles.
Glory to you, O Christ, believed in throughout the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 

Gospel – Mk 6:45-52

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied,
Jesus made his disciples get into the boat
and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd. 
And when he had taken leave of them,
he went off to the mountain to pray. 
When it was evening,
the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. 
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing,
for the wind was against them. 
About the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea. 
He meant to pass by them.  
But when they saw him walking on the sea,
they thought it was a ghost and cried out. 
They had all seen him and were terrified. 
But at once he spoke with them,
“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” 
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. 
They were completely astounded. 
They had not understood the incident of the loaves. 
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

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First Storm Of The Year


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 6, 2021

“Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.” In today’s Gospel, we have all been gifted with one of the more famous and breathtaking moments in all of the Scriptures, at least in the top ten! Try to imagine the scene where hurricane-force gale winds are blowing mercilessly against a tiny boat. At the same time, the crashing sounds of the thunder in the distance are only rivaled by the crashing of the waves. The drama unfolds in three distinct phases: first, there’s a horrible storm that scares everyone on board; second, they see Jesus walking over the storm, literally, thinking He is a ghost; third, Jesus utters the most iconic words of comfort born from the faith, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” and then calms everyone’s storm. This process is the quintessential outline and summary of our spiritual lives! We face our storms of doubt, we call upon Jesus, He makes His loving presence known and empowers us to believe, then we doubt again, and the cycle starts all over again, but each time it does, we are actually closer and closer to Jesus who never leaves our ship of life. 

This episode raises the age-long question that has faced every Christian since Jesus first walked the earth: why do we doubt and how do we deal with this very human and expected experience? First, doubt is a natural process of every intellectual and moral process. It is almost necessary because it is a way of strengthening our ideals and beliefs, but it must never overtake the very treasure we are trying to discover. We must realize that doubt is part of the natural growing pains of faith, and having said that; it’s also a mystery. No one human being could ever totally grasp the fullness of who God is, so understandably there will be gaps due to our limitations. “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” Gaps do not make for abandoning Jesus or why we are here on this planet. Perhaps the greatest spiritual gift we need when confronted with doubt is humility. Humility reminds us that faith is a powerful gift that must be opened slowly and without pretense. This is precisely how we run to Jesus through every storm we encounter on the water and everywhere else. 

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Brene Brown

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January 5, 2021


Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
Lectionary: 213

Reading I – 1 Jn 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Responsorial Psalm – 72:1-2, 3-4, 7-8

R.    (see 11)  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R.    Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Alleluia – Lk 4:18

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

Gospel – Mk 6:34-44

When Jesus 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. 
By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late. 
Dismiss them so that they can go 
to the surrounding farms and villages
and buy themselves something to eat.” 
He said to them in reply,
“Give them some food yourselves.” 
But they said to him,
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food
and give it to them to eat?” 
He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?  Go and see.” 
And when they had found out they said,
“Five loaves and two fish.” 
So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. 
The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. 
Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, 
he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples
to set before the people;
he also divided the two fish among them all. 
They all ate and were satisfied. 
And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments
and what was left of the fish. 
Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.

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Just Feed One


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 5, 2021

“He said to them in reply, ‘Give them some food yourselves.'” It is perhaps some of the greatest Scriptural advice we can receive in this brave new year, which we have been presented in the Readings today when we are invited to look around our lives and see those who are in need and who are literally calling out for help and sustenance. “Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.” The Lord’s promise to every one of us today is complete with His desire that all be fed, and all be comforted. His wonderful invitation also includes a personal guarantee: I will be there among you when you act in My Name. 

All this is predicated and dependent on one simple but extraordinary aspect: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.” Love is everything. It is what drove the Son of Man from Heaven to earth to suffer, die, and rise on the Third Day for all our sins. It is what moves the wheels of history and our own lives to the great, bright promise of immortality. We are hence convinced and motivated by the truth that we all have a mission and the power from the Holy Spirit to accomplish it: The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives.” Today and every day, we will encounter a large field of life filled with opportunities to serve and be the Light of Christ to others. This is how we feed each other. Let us all be that “movable feast” for others to meet the Lord Jesus. 

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” St. Teresa of Calcutta

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January 4, 2021


Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious
Lectionary: 212

Reading I – 1 Jn 3:22–4:6

Beloved:
We receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit whom he gave us.

Beloved, do not trust every spirit
but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can know the Spirit of God:
every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh
belongs to God,
and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus
does not belong to God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist
who, as you heard, is to come,
but in fact is already in the world.
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them,
for the one who is in you
is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world;
accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world,
and the world listens to them.
We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us.
This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

Responsorial Psalm – 2:7bc-8, 10-12a

R.    (8AB)  I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.”
R.    I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.
And now, O kings, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice.
R.    I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.

Alleluia – See Mt 4:23

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

Gospel – Mt 4:12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee. 
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet 
might be fulfilled:

 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people. 
His fame spread to all of Syria,
and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases
and racked with pain,
those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics,
and he cured them. 
And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea,
and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

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Source Of All Light


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 4, 2021

One of the reasons that there are so many visuals at this “most wonderful time of the year” is because there were so many at the First Christmas. Just think about it: the lights, the angels, the manger, the Baby Himself! That observation may, in fact, bring a little sadness, even disappointment if we thought that we have somehow missed all those sights and wonders. But have we really? “We receive from him whatever we ask because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” The First Reading of today shouts with Christmas joy that the entire planet has witnessed something awesome within our very midst. The rest of the mission is up to us to find and discover every day that we are alive.

“… the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” Perhaps the Gospel account reveals the curious nature of our spiritual lives that has been inspired and ignited by the Christmas mystery. What or rather, who are we looking for? First, the “what” is most likely happiness and fulfillment. Who wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately, many look in dark and unlit places for such treasures. This is how fundamentally evil entered the world. “From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” We are looking for light and life that can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ, who was born to save us from treacherous forces of darkness. This is the source and summit of the Christmas Season. We must continue the search for all that is good and fulfilling. We can believe what is sung today in the Alleluia Verse: “Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.” Then and only then will we understand that seeing is truly believing. 

“May the beautiful lights of every Christmas Season remind us of Him who is the source of all light.” David A. Rednar

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January 3, 2021


The Epiphany of the Lord
Lectionary: 20

Reading I – Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm – Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R.(CF. 11)  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Reading II – Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace 
that was given to me for your benefit, 
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations 
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Alleluia – Mt 2:2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod, 
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled, 
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, 
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, 
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel
.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly 
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word, 
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, 
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures 
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they departed for their country by another way.

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Greater Consciousness


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 3, 2021

Today is the “official” close of the glorious Christmas Season, and with that, we witness the famous visit of the Magi, also known as the Three Kings and still further as the Three Wise Men. “Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Their gifts to the Newborn King, however, are pretty steady and universally familiar. Did you notice anything about the gifts that were exchanged last month? Some would say that the gifts one receives reflect the recipient. If that is true, and it is in some cases, let’s take a look at the three special gifts that Jesus received on this great day of the Epiphany. Gold is certainly for a King, and clearly, Jesus is the Newborn King for us; incense is for worship, and worship is for God. Jesus is certainly the God-made-man for us, Emmanuel. Myrrh is an anointing oil that suggests that the person who receives it is destined for a divine purpose and destiny. It was also used as a way of preserving the body after death. The application, then, is clear for us. This God-King, Jesus, who is called and destined to save His people, will also one day be prepared for death. 

Today is also called Epiphany, which adds another great dimension to the day. The First Reading gives us a little clue here as to what to expect this to be: “Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.”  In some circles, an “epiphany” is defined as usually a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something that has occurred that brings about an intuitive and sometimes startling realization, discovery, or disclosure that had previously been hidden or at least unseen. People usually exclaim, “Oh, I get it now!” when chancing upon an epiphany-like experience in life. As we close once again this great Christmas Season and continue to embark upon the ocean of God’s providence before us in the New Year, may we all have an epiphany of sorts that makes a positive and spiritual impact on our lives that will last a very long time. This necessarily means making some basic change that improves the world outside of us and especially within us. May we see what previously was not seen and understand at least one part of the mystery of Christ this year. It is waiting right there for all of us. Then we might truly understand what was said about the first group who encountered their own epiphany when the Gospel recounted that the Magi “departed for their country by another way.” 

“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit, you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

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January 2, 2021


Sunday Vigil Mass

For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, please go here.

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
Lectionary: 205

Reading I – 1 Jn 2:22-28

Beloved:
Who is the liar? 
Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. 
Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. 
Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father,
but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. 
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 
And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. 
I write you these things about those who would deceive you. 
As for you,
the anointing that you received from him remains in you,
so that you do not need anyone to teach you. 
But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; 
just as it taught you, remain in him.

And now, children, remain in him,
so that when he appears we may have confidence
and not be put to shame by him at his coming.

Responsorial Psalm – 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R.    (3CD)  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R.    All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R.    All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R.    All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Alleluia – Heb 1:1-2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In times, past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets:
in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Jn 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John. 
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.” 
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?” 
And he said, “I am not.” 
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.” 
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? 
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’

as Isaiah the prophet said.” 
Some Pharisees were also sent. 
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” 
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” 
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

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January 2, 2020 – Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, please go here.

Lectionary: 205

Reading I – 1 Jn 2:22-28

Beloved:
Who is the liar? 
Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. 
Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. 
Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father,
but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. 
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 
And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. 
I write you these things about those who would deceive you. 
As for you,
the anointing that you received from him remains in you,
so that you do not need anyone to teach you. 
But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; 
just as it taught you, remain in him.

And now, children, remain in him,
so that when he appears we may have confidence
and not be put to shame by him at his coming.

Responsorial Psalm – 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R.    (3CD)  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R.    All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R.    All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R.    All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Alleluia – Heb 1:1-2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In times, past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets:
in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – Jn 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John. 
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.” 
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?” 
And he said, “I am not.” 
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.” 
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? 
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’

as Isaiah the prophet said.” 
Some Pharisees were also sent. 
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” 
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” 
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors
St. Basil: 329–379
St. Gregory: c. 329–390

Obvious truths are hard to explain, but smart theologians can explain them

The persecution of the Church in the first few centuries, sometimes aggressive, more typically passive, starved her skinny biblical frame of nourishment. When the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 314 A.D., the Church’s bones finally stretched, grew, and added muscle on muscle. Churches opened. Bishops preached. Schools taught. Theologians wrote. And, most significantly, Councils met. Three hundred years after Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, these large gatherings of bishops and theologians sought to end theological confusion, to settle thorny questions, and to establish a standard Christian doctrine. In the vast halls and churches of these councils the great cast of theologians of the 4th century put their prodigious talents on full display. We commemorate two of the greatest of these bishops and theologians in today’s memorial feast.

Saints Basil and Gregory lived so long ago, were so prolific, and played such crucial roles in so many areas of Church life, that they could each be remembered for any number of contributions to liturgy, theology, ecclesiology, Church history, monasticism, and even popular customs, especially in the Orthodox east. Yet perhaps their greatest contributions were as theologians who defined, fundamentally and decisively, what the word Trinity actually means; how Jesus is both fully God and fully man; and how the Holy Spirit is related to God the Father. Such definitions and distinctions may seem technical, abstract, or remote. But it is always the most obvious things—the most necessary things—that are the most difficult to explain. Why do things fall down instead of up? Why does the sun rise in the east instead of the west? Why are there seven days in a week and twelve months in a year?

The most fundamental doctrines of our faith, understood now as perennial, were not always perennial. They originated in the minds of certain people at certain times in certain places. To today’s saints we owe the decisive words that the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father and the Son. These words fall simply and familiarly from our lips. But the word “proceeds” was the fruit of intense thought and prayer. The Father generated the Son, but the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from them both. Interesting. Dozens of millions of Catholics says reflexively every Sunday that the second person of the Trinity is “consubstantial” with the Father. Not equal in origin. Not equal in role. But  “consubstantial,” or equal in nature. Thank you Saints Basil and Gregory! Thank you great Bishops and Doctors of the early Church! Thank you for pulling aside the veil of mystery for a peek into the Godhead. Without the teachings of the 4th century on the Trinity and Christ, there would be no Christmas trees. Think about that. Why celebrate the Christ child if He were not God? But He is God. So carols are composed, mangers are displayed, lights are hung, and gifts are exchanged. Culture happens, culture flourishes, when theology makes sense. Thank you Saints Basil and Gregory for…everything!

O noble Bishops and Doctors Basil and Gregory, we ask for your continued intercession to enlighten our minds to the truths of our faith, to remove the dark shadows that cause confusion, and to assist us in recognizing that good theology understands God as He understands Himself. When you gave us good teaching you gave us God. We seek nothing more.

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Removing The Cobwebs Of Ignorance


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 2, 2021

“Who is the liar?” According to a fascinating study about human behavior, the astounding conclusion was made as to the number one reason why people lie: They do not tell the truth because lying does matter … to them. The liar, then, is that person who realizes and believes that by telling the truth, their lives must be somehow unalterably changed, sometimes forever. This makes perfect sense given the text of our First Reading today from St. John, the beloved Apostle: “Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.” 

Another St. John today, that being John the Baptist, adds even a more telling, rich, and gut-wrenching fabric to our reflection. “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” These words would cost him his earthly life at the hands of one of the most notorious liars in Biblical history, that of King Herod the Madman. You see, Herodious, and by extension, her second husband, Herod, would not accept the message of the Baptist and the One who was to come and therefore attempted to snuff out the truth with a lie’s most awful and horrendous logical conclusion, death. 

In these literally first few hours of the New Year, we have been invited, once again, to live in the light of truth and never look back. That Light is Jesus, and His words are Truth: And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming.”  

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” Mahatma Gandhi

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January 1, 2021


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Lectionary: 18

Reading 1 – NM 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses: 
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: 
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, 
and I will bless them.”
 

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

R/ (2A) May God bless us in his mercy.

May God have pity on us and bless us;
   may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
   among all nations, your salvation.

R/ May God bless us in his mercy.

May the nations be glad and exult
   because you rule the peoples in equity;
   the nations on the earth you guide.

R/ May God bless us in his mercy.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
   may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
   and may all the ends of the earth fear him! 

R/ May God bless us in his mercy.
 

Reading 2 – GAL 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law, 
to ransom those under the law, 
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons, 
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, 
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son, 
and if a son then also an heir, through God.
 

Alleluia – HEB 1:1-2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 

Gospel – LK 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message 
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen, 
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

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A New Year, A New Career


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 1, 2021

“Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”  It seems that everyone who has had an encounter with the First Christmas was never the same again. Just think about this for a minute: everyone directly or indirectly touched by that first night that has transformed the world every December 25th was somehow internally transformed, and their world was changed forever. The shepherds, in particular, would never look at their sheep in the same way. They could never gaze up into the cold night sky and forget how the blackness of the universe opened up like a gushing flow of light and song. Never.

As you and I begin a brand new year in 2021 with all the promises and hopes and dreams that we can muster, we think of those lowly shepherds who faced a new career of sorts. None of them could have stayed quiet. How could it be so? Christ’s birth shone upon not only great light but a glorious morning. It was the quintessential “thrill of hope,” and it still rings out today. It is indeed a most powerful and loving blessing: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” 

The same miracle can happen to you and me if we allow this past Christmas and the Birth of Jesus Christ to impact us the way the First Christmas did. It truly is up to us to make this Christmas gift keep giving day after day into the New Year. What do you say? Let’s do this! Happy New Year! Happy New Career! The best is yet to come in 2021! 

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard

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