November 17 - Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jesus left the Temple and departed from it

November 14th, 2019

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First Reading Malachi 3:19-20
The day of justice is coming, says the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 98:5-6,7-8,9
Sing praise to God, who rules with justice.

 

Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Paul urges the community to follow his example and to earn their keep.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 21:5-19

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus portrays for us, graphically, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. For Jews, the destruction of these two things was equivalent to the end of the world. Precisely for this reason, the Church uses this gospel passage as one of its readings for the end of the liturgical year. It wants us to reflect on the end of the world. But what’s the significant it has in our lives? What does it mean to us personally? We read the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus, before His prediction of the destruction of the Temple, ‘left the Temple and departed from it’ (24:1). Jesus not only went out of the Temple, He also departed from it and never returned to it. He did not depart on His own accord, they drove Him off; He did not reject them, rather they had rejected Him. When He departed from the Temple, its sanctity, glory and defense departed. The most beautiful and magnificent Temple in the world turned into the most ruinous heap. Three days after He departed the veil of the Temple was rent – making everything in the Temple common and unclean. Woe descends upon anyone from whom the Lord departs. If we drive away His presence from our souls, it will become desolate, as desolate as the Temple of Jerusalem. That will be the end of the world to us. When Jesus departs from my life, that is going to be my experience of the end of the world.

 

November 10 – Thirty second Sunday in Ordinary Time : Heaven is our Home

November 8th, 2019

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First Reading 2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
Jewish martyrs give witness to their faith, even unto death.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 17:1,5-6,8,15
The just person will live in God's presence.

 

Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 2:16—3:5
Paul encourages the Thessalonians and asks for their prayers.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 20:27-38 

 

 

In today’s Gospel we find Jesus in reply rejecting the caricature that the Sadducees present of heaven, a caricature that suggests that it is a simple continuation of the earthly relationships of the spouses. Eternal beatitude is not just an increase and prolongation of terrestrial joys, the maximization of the pleasures of the flesh and the table. The other life is truly another life, a life of a different quality. It is true that it is the fulfillment of all man's longings on earth, yet it is infinitely more, on a different level. Interpreting Jesus' answer to the Sadducees, in an erroneous way, some have claimed that marriage has no follow-up in heaven. He does not deny that they might rediscover in God the bond that united them on earth. If God united them on earth, how could he divide them in heaven? According to this vision, matrimony does not entirely end with death but is transfigured, renewed and made holy -- it loses those limits that mark life on earth -- in the same way that the bonds between parents and children or between friends will not be forgotten. In the preface of the Mass for the dead, the liturgy says that with death "life is changed, not taken away"; the same must be said of marriage, which is an integral part of life. Let us look forward to a glorious life in heaven. 

 

November 3 – Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time : Zacchaeus’Transformation

November 2nd, 2019

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First Reading Wisdom 11:22—12:2
God is merciful because all things were created by God.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13,14
Sing praise to God, who is faithful.

 

Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2
Paul tells the Thessalonians to remain faithful to Christ until Christ comes again.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10

 

In the figure of Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel, we have a portrait of a lost soul. He is a chief tax collector, a rich man who has apparently gained his living by fraud by profession and so a“sinner” excluded from Israel’s religious life. But Zacchaeus’ faith & humility bring salvation to his house. He expresses his faith in his fervent desire to “see” Jesus, even humbling himself to climb a tree just to watch Him pass by. While those of loftier religious stature react to Jesus with grumbling, Zacchaeus receives Him with joy. Beneath the loving gaze of Christ, the heart of Zacchaeus warms to love of neighbour. From a feeling of isolation, which had led him to enrich himself without caring about what others had to suffer, he moves to an attitude of sharing. In another passage of the Gospel Jesus states that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matthew 19:23). In the case of Zacchaeus we see that precisely what seems impossible actually happens: "He," St. Jerome comments, "gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the wealth of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Homily on Psalm 83:3). And Maximus of Turin adds: "Riches, for the foolish, feed dishonesty, but for the wise they are a help to virtue; for the latter they offer a chance of salvation, for the former they procure a stumbling block and perdition" (Sermon 95). And it is only at this point that the love of God achieves its purpose, and salvation is accomplished: 'Today salvation has come to this house' (v 9)."

 

 

October 27 : Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Prayer of the Humble Man

October 26th, 2019

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First Reading Sirach 35:12-14,16-18
God hears the prayer of the poor.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 34:2-3,17-18,19, 23
The Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor.

 

Second Reading 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Paul perseveres in faith, confident that God will rescue him.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14

 

 

Jesus draws a blunt picture in today’s Gospel. The Pharisee’s prayer is almost a parody of the thanksgiving psalms (see for example Psalms 30,118). Instead of praising God for His mighty works, the Pharisee congratulates himself for his own deeds, which he presents to God in some detail. The tax collector stands at a distance, too ashamed even to raise his eyes to God (see Ezra 9:6). He prays with a humble and contrite heart (see Psalm 51:19). He knows that before God no one is righteous, no one has cause to boast (see Roman 3:10; 4:2). We see in the Liturgy today one of Scripture’s abiding themes - that God “knows no favorites,” as today’s First Reading tells us (see 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11). God cannot be bribed (see Deuteronomy 10:17). We cannot curry favor with Him or impress Him - even with our good deeds or our faithful observance of religious duties such as tithing and fasting. If we try to exalt ourselves before the Lord, as the Pharisee does, we will be brought low (see Luke 1:52). This should be a warning to us - not to take pride in our piety, not to slip into the self-righteousness of thinking that we’re better than others, that we’re “not like the rest of sinful humanity.” If we clothe ourselves with humility (see 1 Peter 5:5-6) - recognize that all of us are sinners in need of His mercy - we will be exalted (see Proverbs 29:33). The prayer of the lowly, the humble, pierces the clouds. Paul testifies to this in today’s Epistle, as He thanks the Lord for giving him strength during his imprisonment. Paul tells us what the Psalmist sings today - that the Lord redeems the lives of His humble servants. We too must serve Him willingly. And He will hear us in our distress, deliver us from evil, and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom.

October 20 - Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Persistent Widow

October 16th, 2019

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First Reading Exodus 17:8-13
Joshua and the Israelites defeat Amalek with the help of God and his servant, Moses.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 121:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8
The Lord is the Guardian of Israel.

 

Second Reading 2 Timothy 3:14—4:2
Paul exhorts Timothy to continue to preach the word Timothy received from his teachers.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:1-8

 

The Lord is our guardian, beside us at our right hand, interceding for us in all our spiritual battles. In today’s Psalm we’re told to lift our eyes to the mountains, that our help will come from Mount Zion and the Temple - the dwelling of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Joshua and the Israelites, in today’s First Reading, are also told to look to the hilltops. They are to find their help there - through the intercession of Moses - as they defend themselves against their mortal foes, the Amalekites. Notice the image: Aaron and Hur standing on each side of Moses, holding his weary arms so that he can raise the staff of God above his head. Moses is being shown here as a figure of Jesus, who also climbed a hilltop, and on Mount Calvary stretched out His hands between heaven and earth to intercede for us against the final enemy - sin and death (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). By the staff of God, Moses bested Israel’s enemies (see Exodus 7:8-12;8:1-2), parted the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:16) and brought water from the Rock (see Exodus 17:6). The Cross of Jesus is the new staff of God, bringing about a new liberation from sin, bringing forth living waters from the body of Christ, the new Temple of God (see John 2:19-21; 7:37-39; 19:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4). Like the Israelites and the widow in today’s Gospel, we face opposition and injustice - at times from godless and pitiless adversaries. We, too, must lift our eyes to the mountains - to Calvary and the God who will guard us from all evil. We must pray always (persevere in prayer) and not be wearied by our trials, Jesus tells us today. As Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle, we need to remain faithful, to turn to the inspired Scriptures - given by God to train us in righteousness. We must persist, so that when the Son of Man comes again in kingly power, He will indeed find faith on earth.

October 13 – Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Give thanks with a grateful heart

October 11th, 2019

 

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First Reading 2 Kings 5:14-17
Naaman is cleansed of his leprosy and chooses to serve the God of Israel.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 98:1,2-3,3-4
Rejoice! The salvation of God is made known to all.

 

Second Reading 2 Timothy 2:8-13
Those who remain faithful to Christ will share Christ's glory.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 17:11-19

 

Today's readings are about remembering and thanksgiving, healing and salvation. In the Old Testament reading, (Second Kings 5:14-17) Naaman the Syrian remembers to thank Elisha for his cure, and one of the 10 lepers cured by Jesus remembered to turn up and thank his healer. It is the foreigner who returns, who praises God and who expresses gratitude to Jesus. When Jesus says: “Your faith has made you well," the blessing certainly refers to some benefit other than that which all, including the other nine, had received earlier. The verb “made well” is the same very often translated “to be saved.” The stories of the lepers teach us some powerful lessons about remembrance, gratitude, healing and salvation. Grateful hearts are the hallmark of authentic Christians. Those who possess the virtue of gratitude are truly rich. They not only know how richly they have been blessed, but they continuously remember that all good things come from God. There is an old saying: Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve. Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve. I like you get asked a dozen times a day, “How are you doing?” I have trained myself to often answer, “More blessed than I deserve.” Yes, All is gift. Thankful people store up in their grateful memory all the good experiences of the past, just as the French proverb states: “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”

October 6 : 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Faith as a mustered seed

October 3rd, 2019

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First Reading Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
The patience of the just man shall be rewarded when he sees the vision fulfilled.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9
Sing joyfully to God, our salvation.

 

Second Reading 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14
Paul urges Timothy to remain strong in the Spirit of faith Timothy received.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 17:5-10

 

The power of our faith doesn't depend on its quantity but its quality; It seems to me that this is why, when the apostles said increase our faith, Jesus took them immediately out of the area of quantity, and brought them to the smallest seed he could think of, the mustard seed. Jesus could have said, for example: If your faith were the size of a grain of sand, or a speck of dust, but the point of the comparison with the mustard seed is that it is living; it has a living power which a grain of sand does not. Just as a small weed can split a slab of concrete, or a mustard seed can produce a huge tree in which the birds of the air find shelter, so the living power of faith can move mountains. The secret of the living power which faith has is that it is built on the living word of God. Faith, trust and deep commitment to the wonderful things that God does through the strangeness of his ways, are the basis of the Christian life. Through a deep and trusting acceptance of the goodness, yet strangeness of God’s ways, revealed to us through the loving gift of His Son, we can make sense of our lives. We, who have received this gift of living faith in God’s Word, have a responsibility for its growth in us, or more precisely, we have a responsibility to grow in this gift of faith.

September 29 – Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Who is the Lazarus in my life?

September 27th, 2019

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First Reading Amos 6:1,4-7
God will judge the complacency of the people and their leaders.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 146:7-10
Happy are those who find solace in God, the help of the poor.

 

Second Reading 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul exhorts Timothy to stay faithful to God in all things.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 16:19-31

 

 

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus has left Bible readers wondering why the rich man had to go to hell. We are not told he acquired his wealth by foul means or that he was responsible for the poverty and misery of Lazarus or that he committed any crime or evil deed. He went to hell not for the things he did but for the things he didn't do. We often think that we sin by doing what we are not supposed to do -by thought, word and deed (i.e. the sin of commission). Today’s parable reminds us that the sin of omission can land someone in hell. The poor man Lazarus was lying at his gate. And the rich man simply couldn't care less. Of course he did nothing against Lazarus. But he has failed to do a good deed, failed to reach out and share a little of his blessings with someone in need. His sin is that of omission, and for that he was going to roast in hell.

 

Another problem we have with this parable is why Lazarus went to heaven. This is the only parable of Jesus where the character in the story has a name. So the name must be significant for interpreting the parable. The name “Lazarus” means “God is my help.” Lazarus, therefore, is not just a poor man, but a poor man who believes and trusts in God, which opens the gates of heaven to him.

The good news of this parable is this: If you feel like a Lazarus right now, battered by sickness, poverty and pain, forgotten by society and by those whom God has blessed in this life, continue believing and trusting in God knowing that it will be well with your soul in the end. If you see yourself as one of those blessed by God with the good things of life, open your door and see. Probably there is a Lazarus lying at your gates and you have not taken notice.

 

These readings remind us that the law of love (see John 15:12; Romans 13:8) means that each of us in some way will be judged by the mercy we show to the poor. As the rich man learns in the parable of Lazarus - the distance between ourselves and God in the next life may be the distance we put between ourselves and the poor in this life (see Matthew 25:31-46; James 2:8,14-17).

September 22: Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time -The parable of the Unjust Steward

September 20th, 2019

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First Reading Amos 8:4-7
Unfair business practices and injustice to the poor will be judged by God.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 113: 1-2,4-6,7-8
Praise be to God, who raises up the poor.

 

Second Reading
1 Timothy 2:1-8 : Paul tells Timothy that prayer for those in authority is pleasing to God because God wills the salvation of all.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 16:1-13 (shorter form, Luke 16:10-13)

 

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus relates the parable of the Unjust Steward. It’s a very tricky parable. The steward was a rogue, who dishonestly reduced the quantum of debts of his master’s tenants, but the master praised his cleverness. The master praised not his dishonesty, but his foresight, prudence and astuteness. We can learn a lot of lessons for our spiritual life from the way men behave and organize their worldly affairs. We should not adopt their goals, but we can profitably use their methods for our spiritual well being. We should hate their ends, but we must love to adopt their methods. The children of this world may be wise but their wisdom pertains only to this passing world. Though this worldly wealth is not to be trusted for our happiness, it could be used as subservient to our pursuit of our happiness in the other world. Now is the only time we have got to make good use of our gifts, talents and possession to gain heaven.

September 11 – Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Joyful Finding

September 14th, 2019

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First Reading Exodus 32:7-11,13-14
Moses stands up to God, recalling all of God's great promises.

 

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19
Once we are forgiven, we can hope for a new heart and a fresh start.

 

Second Reading 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul proves it's never too late to repent and serve God.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32

 

The words of the father in the story, to the sulking elder brother, are filled with the pathos of Jesus’ appeal: ‘My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours’. The‘best robe’, the ‘ring’, the ‘sandals’ and the ‘feast’, all marks of special regard, point to a mercy and generosity that have no limits. We are left to imagine the aftermath. Surely, the son’s life is transformed, as he comes, at last, to share in the love in the heart of his father. The future the Saviour promises to the world, in fact, will be a sharing in the love of his Father (cf. John 14:25 etc). The merciful, loving heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the merciful, loving heart of God our heavenly Father. His mercy tirelessly seeks out each sinner and should the sinner respond there is delirious happiness and rejoicing in the whole court of heaven. To every sinner in the state of mortal sin I say as simply as I can, ‘Your sin is not the big deal you think it is; the big deal is your return to the merciful love of God. Trust in his mercy, not in your sin. And if you continue to sin, continue to trust and to return to his mercy.

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