July 24 - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

July 24th, 2022

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First Reading    Genesis 18:20-32
Abraham pleads with God to save the innocent people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 138:1-3,6-8
Lord, on the day I cried for help, you answered me. 

 

Second Reading     Colossians 2:12-14
You were buried with Christ in Baptism and also raised with him. 

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 11:1-13
Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Luke gives more attention to Jesus' teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer. He also mentions Jesus at prayer more than the others. In today's reading, from the beginning of Chapter 11 of his Gospel, Luke presents the core of Jesus' teaching on prayer. It consists of Jesus teaching a prayer to his disciples, a parable on the persistent neighbor, and assurances that God hears our prayers.

The disciples notice Jesus praying “in a certain place.” They ask him to teach them to pray just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. Jesus teaches them a simple version of the most famous Christian prayer, the Our Father, or the Lord's Prayer. Matthew's version shows signs of being shaped by public prayer. Luke's version is probably closer to the original form that Jesus taught. Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke's version seems simple and direct. We pray that God's name will be recognized as holy and that his rule over all will be established. This is followed by petitions for our needs for bread, for forgiveness, and for deliverance. Luke uses the more theological language of “sins” rather than “debts,” which is used in Matthew's version.

Having taught his disciples a simple, daily prayer, Jesus goes on to reassure them that God answers prayers. First he tells a parable about a persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight. The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door. But because the neighbor is persistent, the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs. If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests?

This teaching concludes with the reminder that if we seek, we will get a response. If a human father, with all his faults, knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us? Instead of good gifts, however, Luke substitutes the word Holy Spirit. This foreshadows the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is central to Luke's theology and who will play an important role in the growth of the early Church after Pentecost.

The parable and the concluding teaching in this section should not lead us to think of prayer as a series of requests presented to God. Rather, as Jesus teaches in his model prayer, prayer consists in recognizing God's holiness and his rule over all things.

July 17 - Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

July 15th, 2022

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First Reading     Genesis 18:1-10a
Abraham entertains three strangers and is promised a son.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 15:2-5
Those who do justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

 

Second Reading     Colossians 1:24-28
The mystery hidden from ages past has now been revealed in Christ.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:38-42
Jesus visits the house of Martha and Mary.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

The story of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary complements the story of the Good Samaritan, which immediately precedes it in Luke's Gospel. Both stories are unique to Luke. The story of the Samaritan opens with the words “a certain man.” Today's reading opens with the words “a certain woman.” The Samaritan is an example of how a disciple should see and act. Mary is an example of how a disciple should listen. Mary, a woman, is a marginalized person in society, like the Samaritan. Both do what is not expected of them. As a woman, Mary would be expected, like Martha, to prepare hospitality for a guest. Here again Jesus breaks with the social conventions of his time. Just as a Samaritan would not be a model for neighborliness, so a woman would not sit with the men around the feet of a teacher.

Both stories exemplify how a disciple is to fulfill the dual command which begins chapter 10—love of God (Mary) and love of neighbor (the Samaritan). These are the two essentials of life in the kingdom. By using the examples of a Samaritan and a woman, however, Jesus is saying something more. Social codes and boundaries were strict in Jesus' time. Yet to love God with all one's heart and one's neighbor requires breaking those rules. The Kingdom of God is a society without distinctions and boundaries between its members. It is a society that requires times for seeing and doing and also times for listening and learning at the feet of a teacher.

June 10 - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

July 9th, 2022

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First Reading     Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Moses reminds the people that God's commandments are not remote but are already in their hearts.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 69:14,17,30-31,36-37
Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

 

Second Reading     Colossians 1:15-20
Jesus is the head of the body, the Church.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 10:25-37
The parable of the Good Samaritan

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

As Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem, he is confronted by a scholar of the law who wants to test him. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. Here, in Luke's Gospel, the lawyer asks what we must do to inherit eternal life. In the other two Gospels, Jesus answers the question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, on loving God with all your heart, and Leviticus 19:18, on loving your neighbor. Here Jesus asks the expert to answer this question, “What is written in the law?” The man is caught and responds with Deuteronomy 6:5. This verse is one of the most important prayers in Judaism, and it was said twice a day in Jesus' time. Love of God and love of neighbor are what is required for eternal life. Jesus' response is simple, “Do this and you will live.”

Having been shown up by Jesus, the lawyer tries another question: Who is my neighbor whom I must love like myself? In the society of Jesus' time, with its distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, clean and unclean, this was a trick question. Jesus responds with one of the most beautiful of all the parables, the Good Samaritan. It is found only in Luke's Gospel.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho descends 3,300 feet in just 17 miles. Its narrow passes and rocky terrain made it an easy place for bandits to wait for travelers. The traveler in this parable is identified only as “a certain man.” Luke uses this phrase in many of his parables so that the audience, Jew or Gentile, could identify with the man. After the attack, the man is left for dead, naked and bleeding on the side of the road. A priest comes along, but rather than helping, as one might expect, he moves to the other side of the road. Another religious person comes along, a Levite who assists in the Temple. His reaction is the same as the priest's. Both of them choose to not even find out if the man is alive. A third person comes along. The listeners would probably expect him to be an Israelite. This would make the parable a criticism of the religious leadership. Instead he is a Samaritan, an Israelite's most hated neighbor. Samaritans were descendents of Jews from the northern part of the country, who had intermarried with Gentiles and did not worship in Jerusalem. The Samaritan not only goes over to the injured man but cleans his wounds, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn to recover, and promises to pay all his expenses. The hated enemy is the compassionate neighbor in this parable.

Jesus has demolished all boundary expectations. It is not social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity that determines who is our neighbor. A neighbor is a person who acts with compassion toward another. The point becomes not who deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion.

When Jesus asks the lawyer who was the neighbor in the story, the lawyer can't bring himself to say it was the Samaritan. All he says is that it was “the one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus' response was similar to that of the first discussion: “Go and do likewise.” The lawyer, and we, know what is right. The key is to do it.

 
 

July 3 - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

July 2nd, 2022

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First Reading     Isaiah 66:10-14c
I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 123:1-4
Our eyes are fixed on the Lord.

 

Second Reading     Galatians 6:14-18
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Gospel Reading     Luke 10:1-12,17-20
Jesus sends out 72 people to announce the coming kingdom.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today's Gospel begins immediately after the final verse in last Sunday's Gospel. After strong language about the difficulties of discipleship, Jesus immediately appoints 72 people to go ahead of him to every town and place he plans to visit, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He sends them in pairs. In the Law of Moses two witnesses were needed for a testimony to be credible. It was probably also a safer way to travel.

Jesus admits it will be difficult, that he is sending them out like lambs among wolves. Yet they are to bring nothing with them, not even a money bag or sandals. They are to greet no one on the way so as not to be distracted from their mission. When they enter a house, their message is simply “peace.” The response they will receive may be positive or negative. Either way, they are to know that the Kingdom of God is at hand. They are not to demand special treatment but eat and drink whatever is given them. They are to stay in one house and are not to look around for one that provides better accommodations. They are to heal the sick as a sign that the Kingdom of God is at hand for them. Like Jesus' miracles, healing is a sign of the coming of the kingdom. If the town will not receive them, they are to shake the dust from their feet and move on. Even in the case of such rejection they should know that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

When they return from their journeys, they are rejoicing because their mission has been successful. Demons were under their power because of Jesus' name. Jesus may have sent them out as lambs among wolves, but at the conclusion of this passage he assures them that they have been given power over the enemy and nothing will harm them, not even serpents and scorpions.

A key theme of today's Gospel and last Sunday's Gospel is discipleship—its challenges, its difficulties, and its rewards. Sharing in the mission of Jesus is difficult, but everyone is called to do it, not just some professionals trained for ministry. Even for us today, the harvest is plentiful. We should pray to the master of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.

June 26 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

June 25th, 2022

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First Reading     1 Kings 19:16b,19-21
Elijah anoints Elisha as his successor.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-11
I set the Lord ever before me.

 

Second Reading     Galatians 5:1,13-18
Christ has set us free.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:51-62
Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today's Gospel reading begins a long section unique to Luke's Gospel. Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem, which will end with his ministry in Jerusalem. We read that Jesus' days for being “taken up” were fulfilled. The Greek word that Luke uses for “taken up” is the same word he uses to describe the Ascension. We also read that Jesus is determined to journey to Jerusalem. For Luke, Jesus ministry begins in Galilee and then is one long journey to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he will meet his death but also enter into his glory. Only in Luke does Jesus then spend 40 days in Jerusalem instructing his disciples. It is in Jerusalem that his disciples wait after his Ascension to be sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. And it is from Jerusalem, in Luke's second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, that the Good News is spread to Rome and the ends of the earth.

Immediately Jesus is met with rejection, as a Samaritan village will not receive him because he is going to Jerusalem. There was animosity between Samaritans who worshiped on Mount Gerazim and Jews who worshiped in Jerusalem. Jesus was also rejected as he began his ministry in Galilee in Chapter 4. And he will be rejected for the last time when he reaches Jerusalem. James and John want to call down fire from heaven to destroy the people in the village, but Jesus rebukes them and moves on. There is often the temptation to use violence to achieve right. Jesus has come to break this temptation. He is aware that he must undergo violence himself before he can enter his glory.

The rest of today's reading is about the radical demands of discipleship. The three people who volunteer to become disciples on this journey show that they do not understand the demands Jesus will make of them. Neither care of self, care for the dead, nor care of one's family (as required by the Fourth Commandment) can come before the demands of discipleship. Jesus reminds the first volunteer, who would go wherever Jesus goes, that animals in the wild have more security than do Jesus and his followers. The second, who wants to bury a parent, is reminded that the demands of proclaiming the Kingdom of God take precedence. And the third, who wants to say farewell to his family, is reminded that once you put your hand to the plow you cannot look back or the furrow will be crooked. Such a person is not ready for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus seems harsh here, but he is only asking of his disciples what he asks of himself. Jesus' unconditional commitment to God's saving work will demand of him his life. He knows this, but the disciples do not understand. Jesus does not want anyone to rush into discipleship, because the demands of discipleship require everyone considering it to be aware of the cost, make Jesus and his mission central to his life, and then go forward without looking back

June 19 - The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year C

June 17th, 2022

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First Reading    Genesis 14:18-20
Melchizedek, king of Salem, blessed Abram.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 110:1-4
You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek. 

Second Reading     1 Corinthians 11:23-26
As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:11b-17
They all ate and were satisfied.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today, the second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate a second solemnity, which marks our return to Ordinary Time. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. At one time, this day was called Corpus Christi, Latin for “the Body of Christ.” In the most recent revision of the liturgy, the name for this day is expanded to be a more complete reflection of our Eucharistic theology.

The feeding of the 5,000 is the only one of Jesus' miracles to appear in all four Gospels. Luke places it between Herod's question, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” and Peter's response to Jesus' question about who he thought Jesus was: “You are the Messiah of God.” In Luke the feeding is not the result of Jesus' compassion for the crowd but is instigated by the disciples. They wanted Jesus to send the crowd away to town. Instead Jesus tells the disciples to give them some food on their own.

The passage is meant to remind us of two feedings in the Old Testament: the feeding of the Israelites in the desert and Elisha's feeding of 100 people with 20 loaves in 2 Kings 4:42-44. It is also connected to the institution of the Eucharist. As in the Last Supper accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Jesus takes bread, looks up to heaven, blesses the bread, breaks it, and then gives it to the disciples. In using this exact language, Luke is reminding his readers that in this miracle Jesus is doing more than feeding hungry people as God did for the Israelites and the prophet Elisha did as well. The bread he gives is his body, which he will continue to give as often as the community breaks bread in remembrance of him in the Eucharist.

June 12 - Solomnity of the most sacred Trinity

June 11th, 2022

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First Reading    Proverbs 8:22-31
Wisdom was born before the earth was made.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 8:4-9 
O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

 

Second Reading     Romans 5:1-5
We boast of our afflictions.

 

Gospel Reading
John 16:12-15
Whatever the Father has is mine. The Spirit of truth will guide us.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

This week we return to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. This Sunday and next Sunday, however, are designated as solemnities, special days that call our attention to central mysteries of our faith. Today, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This feast invites us to consider what we believe about God, who has revealed himself to us in the Trinity—one God in three persons.

The verses of today's Gospel come near the end of Jesus' long discourse at the Last Supper. In the early part of this discourse, as we saw last week on Pentecost, Jesus offers assurances to the disciples. Even though he must leave the disciples, he tells them that they will have a future because of the help he will send them in the Holy Spirit. In this section he focuses more on the shape of the future, which will include Jesus' victory over the world that they will share in. The disciples of Jesus cannot know the future. They can only know that, whatever shape the future takes, they will not have to face it alone. They have the Spirit of Truth, who will continue to provide the teaching of Jesus in the future.

Reading this passage on Trinity Sunday reinforces our understanding of the unity shared by the members of the Trinity. Although the idea of one God in three persons remains a mystery, we have the assurance that, as Jesus and the Father share all, Jesus and the Spirit share all.

June 5 - Pentecost Sunday, Year C

June 5th, 2022

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First Reading    Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11
The Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34
God's Spirit renews the earth.

 

Second Reading    1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13 or Romans 8:8-17
We are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Gospel Reading
John 20:19-23
Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

The season of Easter concludes with today's celebration, the feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today's first reading. The account in today's Gospel, taken from the Gospel of John, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts to each other. It is enough to know that, after his death, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send to his disciples a helper, an advocate, who would enable them to be his witnesses throughout the world.

We previously heard today's Gospel on the second Sunday of Easter. At that time, we also heard the passage that follows, which describes Jesus' appearance to Thomas. In that context, we were led to reflect on belief and unbelief.

In the context of the feast of Pentecost, this reading reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” As he breathes the Holy Spirit upon them, Jesus sends his disciples to continue his work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins.

This Gospel reminds us that the Church is called to be a reconciling presence in the world. This reconciling presence of Christ is celebrated in the Church's sacramental life. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are washed clean from sin and become a new creation in Christ. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Church celebrates the mercy of God in forgiving sins. This reconciling presence is also to be a way of life for Christians. In situations of conflict, we are to be agents of peace and harmony among people.

May 29 - The Ascension of the Lord, Year C

May 27th, 2022

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First Reading     Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11
Jesus is taken up to heaven in the presence of the Apostles.

 

Responsorial Psalm    Psalm 47:2-3,6-9
Sing praise to God as he mounts his throne.

 

Second Reading      Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23
God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand.

 

Gospel Reading
Luke 24:46-53
Jesus is taken to heaven and the disciples remain in Jerusalem awaiting his sending of the Spirit.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today is our liturgical celebration of the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus was taken to heaven on the 40th day after Easter. In Cycle C, our Gospel is taken from the conclusion of the Gospel of Luke.

There are similarities in the reports of Jesus' Ascension found in the Synoptic Gospels—Mark, Matthew, and Luke. In each account, Jesus assigns his disciples the task of proclaiming the Gospel to the entire world. There are also notable distinctions. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the disciples are sent by Jesus to baptize as well as to preach. In Luke's Gospel, however, this commission to baptize is absent. Instead, Jesus directs the disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the fulfillment of his promise to send them the Holy Spirit. Curiously, only Mark and Luke actually report Jesus' Ascension into heaven. Matthew's Gospel concludes with Jesus' promise to remain with his disciples forever. Only the Gospel of Mark notes that Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of God. In noting this, Mark teaches that Jesus' Ascension affirms the glory Jesus received from God after his death and Resurrection.

Those who believe in Jesus will be empowered to do what Jesus himself has done. Already in Mark's Gospel, during his ministry, Jesus sent his disciples out to preach, to heal, and to drive out unclean spirits. Now, they are sent again to do these things and more. From his place with God in heaven, Jesus helped his disciples, and he continues to help us as we try to live as his followers.

May 22 - Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C

May 22nd, 2022

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First Reading    Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2,22-29
The early Church community determines, with the help of the Holy Spirit, not to impose the requirement of circumcision on Gentile Christians.

 

Responsorial Psalm     Psalm 67:2-3,5,6,8
A prayer that all the nations sing praise to God.

 

Second Reading     Revelation 21:10-14,22-23
The vision of the splendor of the heavenly Jerusalem is described.

 

Gospel Reading
John 14:23-29
Jesus promises his disciples that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This portion of John's Gospel comes near the end of the first of four chapters that make up Jesus' long farewell discourse at the Last Supper. This section of chapter 14 actually sums up the themes of the opening of the discourse: the Christian's life is not shaped by Jesus' absence but by God's abiding presence; God's presence overcomes anxiety about God's absence; and the present holds in it the seeds of a fresh future shaped by love, not fear.

These verses also contain a glimpse of some of the other themes of the farewell discourse: Jesus' relationship with the Father and the disciples' relationship to Jesus connect the disciples to the Father as well. Jesus promises to send an Advocate or intercessor who will remind the disciples of everything that Jesus taught them and bring them peace.

Jesus is preparing his disciples in advance for his absence so that they will continue to believe in him and not feel all alone after his return to the Father. After the initial excitement of his Easter appearances, Jesus will remain with his followers in a very different way throughout the centuries.

As our celebration of the Easter season is coming to an end, the liturgy reminds us that Jesus remains with us through the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know, reminds us of all that Jesus taught, and brings us peace.

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