The Shepherd King
The struggle for power has always been an issue throughout history. It has been so in the history of our country. It has been so in the history of our Church. It has been especially in the forefront over the last few weeks. Political rivalries in this country have exploded into sharp polarities, angry rhetoric and threats, and total lack of compromise. And in the Church, preparations for the Synod 2021-2024, while attempting to be a force for consensus and unity, has provoked division and, at times, angry challenges to Pope Francis' vision of the servant-Church.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - How Do We Pray?
For centuries our Church and our cultures have taught us about the "correct" way to approach God (by whatever name He is known). Different societies, ethnic groups and even different religions have come up with "standard" means of practicing prayer, ways of communicating with the transcendent. Men and women throughout history have sought different ways to reach out to God, to "find themselves," to gain nirvana, to get to heaven. Prayer was always considered the first step in the journey.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Looking Good on Wood
There are demands placed on those who would join Jesus on his journey. Those who were present that day were just as confused and stunned by Jesus’ words as we are today. They may have been poor, but they cherished possessions too and, like us, probably wanted or needed more of them. Family life, if anything, was even more precious to Jesus' contemporaries. While we prize individuality and being able to "go it on our own," at that time, a person's very identity depended on membership in family, clan and religious sect. Prestige and reputation were intimately linked to the social standing people had in their social network. If a person at that time packed up and decided to set out on their own they would, in effect, lose their identity.
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Narrow Gates and Closed Doors
Throughout the Gospels, we are continually accompanying Jesus on his "way to Jerusalem." As we make our way on this spiritual journey, we too must inevitably ask the question posed in today's gospel: "Lord, will we be among those who are saved? Are we among those who will make this journey successfully?" And Jesus answers our question with words that dispel any false ideas that we may have been entertaining: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate." And as he does so often, Jesus uses a parable to shake us out of our comfort zone and question our complacency.
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Learning to Pray
Prayer is a theme that runs all throughout the Gospel of Luke. It is something that keeps Jesus on course through his journey. It is what focuses his vision. As we observe Jesus at prayer we observe that for him, prayer acknowledges our dependence on our “Abba” (a special term of endearment Jesus uses to name our Parent-God) in the present and for our future. Words and language are important only insofar as they lead us to understand the Reality. Jesus' answer to His followers about prayer is very simple: He has told us about His Father. We praise His name, we ask, we seek, and we knock at the door in full confidence knowing He will answer our needs. And we love one another and forgive one another as He has already loved and forgiven us. This is an awful lot to unpack from such a short prayer.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Welcoming "Guests"
Sometimes when reading the Scriptures, we are confronted with a number of questions that need to be answered. “What does this have to do with us today? What does this have to do with our faith? What does this have to do with family or parish life? More importantly, what does this have to do with the larger issue of our global responsibility of welcoming one another?”
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time - The Heart of the Gospel
The mystery of God-With-Us is the final, fullest proof of God's desire to become someone very near to us. In Jesus, the Word becomes our flesh and every facet of His human journey speaks to us of the nearness of God. He walked with His Father, not only in the Temple, but in the carpenter shop, at the family table, in the desert and on the mountain top. He recognized the image of the Father in the members of His family, in the townspeople of Nazareth, in the poor, the lepers, the crippled, the deaf and the blind who flocked to Him. He enfleshed the compassion of God in His reaching out to the tax collector, the prostitute, the Samaritan woman at the well, the thief on the cross.
7th Sunday of Easter - Taking Sides
The search for truth and the need for truthful communication is an absolute, basic human need. We are taught from earliest childhood to tell the truth. We grow up expecting that people around us speak truth to us: parents, teachers, clergy, doctors, elected leaders. Then we discover that truth is a rather rare commodity and that it is easily hidden or compromised. We ourselves can find it difficult to say exactly what we think and feel. We don't want to offend; we don't want to get involved; we don't want to take sides.
5th Sunday of Easter - A New Heaven and A New Earth
The Book of Revelation speaks to those who look to God for a comfort that only God can give. It is a prophetic book urging us to listen carefully to the Word of God and stay faithful to the covenant God has made with us in Christ. Today's passage presents us with a powerful promise of "a new heaven and a new earth," and if there was ever a time for God to "make all things new" now is the moment.
Approaching Holy Week
Biblical commentators tell us that the passion narratives were the first parts of the Jesus story to be proclaimed. Each evangelist approaches the narrative with his unique perspective and one would expect an opening scene in the garden of Gethsemane or in Pilate’s courtroom where Jesus receives his sentence, is then tortured and taken off to Calvary for his execution. But in Luke's account that’s not what we hear first.
1st Sunday of Lent - Choices
As we begin our journey through another season of Lent, the Liturgical Readings present us with themes that bring this into focus. On the First Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of the Temptation of Jesus in the desert.  The Second Sunday speaks of the Transfiguration,  The Third recalls the encounter with the woman at the well. The Fourth Sunday tells of the man born blind and the importance of the light of Christ in our lives.  And finally, the story of Lazarus - the symbol of hope for all of us who come to new life in Christ.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Blessings and Woes
Christian living requires work, lots of sacrifice, discipline and love. It's not easy to be poor, to be merciful, to be meek, to be peacemakers, to hunger and thirst for justice. It requires courage to be persecuted and ridiculed and mocked for being authentic Christians, for being Christ-like. It takes faith and trust in God to admit our own weaknesses and dependence upon one another rather than looking at each other's faults. It takes heroic love.
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Leap of Faith
There is a hunger in the human mind and heart for certainty in every aspect of life. We want to be sure. We want to be safe. We want to be successful. In the midst of this day-by-day struggle there is also the search for religious certainty. Our mind asks about the existence of God, about the meaning of life and death, about life after death. Inevitably we are faced with a choice that requires a leap of faith.  Faith is not an intrinsic property of human nature. It is more fundamental.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Spirit is Upon Us
Like the prophets who lived before him, Jesus doubtless became aware of the gap between the ideals of a religious vision - a nation that would create a just society according to the norms of respect enshrined in the Mosaic Law and the social reality of his time. He no doubt felt a "call" within himself to stand up and be counted, to do something about this gap, to be a prophetic figure. But what was Jesus thinking?
True Light from True Light
The birth of Christ was a turning point in the history of the world. Once again we, as Christians, take this Christmastime to proclaim the mysterious event of the Incarnation. God's explosion into human history had very humble beginnings. A young mother and a confused, but faith-filled husband brought their hopes, joys, fears and trust to a stable in Bethlehem and gave to the world the first-born Son of God, wrapped in swaddling clothes and warmed by the breath of sheep and oxen.
Christmas Hope: Son of God - Child of Mary
In the days leading up to the feast of Christmas, the daily Gospels focus on the young girl who was to become the mother of God. They speak of how  Mary's dreams for her life were shattered in an instant by the visit of an angel. Marys' story reminds us that the shattering of our vision of life - the disappointments, the heartbreaks, rejection, loneliness, confusion - all of these things are part of the preparation for a greater calling. Mary's story is our story. Like Mary, our own personal history becomes sacred history.
1st Sunday of Advent - Be Vigilant, Pray, Listen
As we begin to move into the season of Advent, we transaition from the darkness that will precede the end of the world to the darkness that hovered over the world at its beginning. Surprisingly, this darkness holds within it the promise of dawn as we anxiously await the rising sun. This is a season of expectation and of hope. It is a time for us to listen again to God's promise of deliverance and reconciliation. It is a time for us to be reassured of His relentless love for each and all of us, and for our planet. Now is the time for us to listen to voices of Advent.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A Place at Table
Luke’s Gospel has a unique focus on the meaning of the Eucharist. He presents his Gospel in a way that makes the Eucharist and Christ’s message inseparable and he does this by framing the narrative as a great journey. Along the way, meals and hospitality play a critical role for Jesus and his followers. Jesus sees his disciples as people who have received hospitality and reclined at table with him. Therefore they must be like him and in turn offer similar hospitality to others, especially the poor and outcast.
Mother's Day 2019
The Gospels speak of Jesus giving his disciples a new commandment:  that they love one another as He has loved.  To love as Jesus loved is no easy task.  We are all influenced by our own likes or dislikes - our own preferences or prejudices.  Easy or not, this is how others will know that we are His followers.  The God who is Love has commanded us to love in the same manner.
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Every Tree is Known by its Fruit
The community for which Luke wrote was very different from the original followers of Jesus. It was a group of people which had already gone through its initial fervor. The concerns of the early Christian communities are no longer present and they had already come to realize that Jesus’ return was not as imminent as the earlier disciples thought. It was a community getting accustomed to being around for the foreseeable future. These were Christians who needed to be challenged again to live a life of prayer, maintain total commitment to the Lord Jesus, shun reliance on money and live a community life that would be a visible sign to others that Christ was alive.
1st Sunday of Advent - Paying Attention... to God and Each Other
"Be vigilant at all times" - not exactly a very pleasant phrase to be heard as we prepare for the holidays on this first Sunday of Advent. Jesus used variations of the phrase at various times during his ministry.  And it has been interpreted in many different ways:   "be watchful," "be careful," "stay awake," "keep on your toes," "heads up!" "pay attention."
Pentecost Sunday - Spirit of New Life
"The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief..."
- Sr. Simone Campbell For Fifty Days we have lived and breathed the miracle of Easter/Pentecost.  Hopefully we have reflected and understood - better than ever before - that this is not just a spectacular episode of Salvation History that happened a long time ago, but that it still touches us with its reverberations.  For us as a people of faith, Easter/Pentecost is NOW.  It is the continuing invitation from our God for an ongoing, ever new encounter with Him and with others.
4th Sunday of Easter - The Smell of Sheep
  When Jesus talks about the "Good Shepherd" his intent is to focus more on the role of shepherd and less on the attitude of the sheep. God's people no longer see themselves as sheep. Nowadays, our people are generally much better educated and better equipped to make their own conscience decisions. They are no longer content to be passive and are often not submissive. Instead they have come to a new understanding of their dignity and their role as baptized Christians. They realize that they share the call to ministry, to evangelization, and to service.  They understand that they too are called to be "shepherds." 
Nativity of the Lord/Mary, Mother of God - Who is this Child?
In the last few days before the feast of Christmas, the Gospel focuses on a young girl who was to become the mother of God. It tells how Mary's dreams for her life were shattered in an instant by the visit of an angel. But the Gospel also reminds us that the shattering of our vision of life - the disappointments, the heartbreaks, rejection, loneliness, confusion - all of these things are part of the preparation for a greater calling. Like Mary, our own personal history becomes sacred history.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Setting the earth on fire...
"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." We continue with Luke's Gospel, which outlines the Lord's idea of discipleship. Today's narrative closes the 12th Chapter which begins with the mission of the disciples and takes us through his description of the Transfiguration, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of Martha and Mary and the Lord's teaching on Prayer (the Lord's Prayer). We reach a disturbing ending where Jesus asks a disturbing question.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Tough Choices
The Scripture Readings for these last few weeks are right on the mark. Jesus is on the final leg of his mission. He tells His followers to get ready. They are "going up to Jerusalem." He - and they - are about to be put to the test. It will not be easy. There will be contradiction and frustration. It will be a matter of dying to self, tending to the "poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind." It will be a matter of putting things into proper perspective, and starting out on the right foot.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - True Humility
  The Gospel for the twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time has two parts to it.Jesus has been invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee. It is the Sabbath and it was the practice to invite guests for a meal at the conclusion of the synagogue service. The atmosphere is charged, people are  carefully looking at Jesus, checking him out and wondering what he might do. Luke writes that Jesus takes this occasion to tell them a parable. That’s a pretty clear clue that this is not a moral teaching, nor an instruction on getting ahead at social events, or how to behave at dinners. Parables have more to do with our standing before God, who is the host at "the banquet", to which Jesus is inviting all in need of mercy and acceptance.
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Life of a Disciple
The Gospels are full of lessons, parables and accounts of the early disciples vying for position within the ranks of those called by The Lord. Even the apostles argued over who among them would have the higher place within the Kingdom. The woman who anoints Jesus in today's narrative comes with a lot of baggage - not her own, but ours. We are simply told that she was a sinner who somehow was present at the Pharisee's house... possibly slipping in when no one looking. She stood behind Jesus weeping and when the time was right, bathed his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them with ointment. What we see is a woman who has already been forgiven - without even asking - and her acts are an expression that she realized what she had received and is grateful.
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Reach Out and Touch
On a purely human level, Jesus lived most of his life in obscurity, emerged as a prophetic figure for several years, and was eventually crucified. After his death and resurrection, layer upon layer of interpretation and understanding was put on his life and his ministry so that it has become extremely difficult to get to know the flesh and blood reality of Jesus.
2nd Sunday of Easter - So Much Left to Do
Aftershocks are very disconcerting. They keep us living on the edge. They give us a radically new outlook on the permanency and security of physical things. They unclutter our lives very swiftly, effectively, and sometimes very painfully. They open our eyes and let us see how fragile we really are.
The Baptism of the Lord - With You I Am Well Pleased
The presence of Jesus cannot be contained or hidden. Epiphany celebrates that fact. The Epiphany was not the last of the epiphanies, or manifestations of Jesus. There are three mysteries that celebrate the Lord’'s epiphany: the arrival of the Magi at the scene of Christ's birth, the story in the gospel of John telling of the changing of water into wine at Cana and Luke’'s story of Jesus’' baptism in the Jordan. These early gospel stories begin the revelation to us of who Jesus is and what his mission will be. Just as we are called to sing out for joy with the Christmas angels, so also are we called to be, in our own time, His magi, and His star, his beloved sons and daughters. We must make Him manifest by virtue of own baptism. We must give witness in our words and in our actions to our faith in Him as Lord and Savior.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Carrying Crosses
Today’s Gospel parables of the tower builder and the king waging war are simple enough to understand: in order to ensure success, one had better be fully prepared. But the sayings on discipleship that surround these parables are some of the most radical in the gospel. They, too, are not difficult to understand, but are immensely demanding to practice. 
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Traveling Light
God's kingdom is often compared to a "harvest" in the Scriptures.  It is an image that perhaps meant more to other cultures, in other ages than our own.  Traditionally, today's Gospel is used to preach for an increase in the response to the vocation to the priesthood and religious life. And while that idea is very much valid, there is a much more important message for all of us in the narrative.  We can substitute the word "church" for "harvest" and we can hear the Lord reminding us that it is by God's favor that we belong to this chosen community. 
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Rank Has Its Privilege
I have been a student of the Martial Arts for... well, for many more years than I would like to count. Being raised in a large city, my training began as a means of self-defense; gradually (when I was much younger) it evolved into sport and competition, and now has settled into a means of trying to keep fit and simple physical exercise. I practice a style of Okinawan Karate called Shorin-Ryu Shido-Kan.
4th Sunday of Advent - Being Bearers of Christ
We are close to Christmas and the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent clearly tells us how close we are.  This part of Advent shifts our attention from the "last things" we heard about during the first part of Advent and last week's proclamation by John the Baptist that one is coming who will baptize with water and the Spirit.   Today the announcement is about shedding fear and rejoicing at the birth of the Lord. 
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Better View
There is something of a turn-around in today's Gospel.   The standard understanding of Zacchaeus is that he is a notorious tax collector, becoming wealthy by squeezing money out of the people.   He is a sinner, a small man, both physically and morally.   He learns that Jesus is coming through town, so he climbs a sycamore tree to get a better view of him as he passes by.  Zacchaeus doesn’t shout out or call to Jesus, but the Lord sees him and calls him down. Zacchaeus repents and that's the end of his story.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Attentive Prayer
For centuries, our Church and our cultures have taught us about the "correct" way to approach God (by whatever name He is known).  Different societies, ethnic groups and even different religions have come up with "standard" means of practicing prayer – ways of communicating with the transcendent.  Men and women throughout history have sought different ways to reach out to God, to "find themselves," to gain nirvana, to get to heaven… Prayer was always considered the first step in the journey.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Little Can Go A Long Way
"Lord, give me strength... a little patience is all I ask... give me faith." I find myself praying this little prayer quite often during my daily routine. Whether it's the driver behind me who insists upon accelerating, knowing full well that I intend to make a turn, or clients who just "don't seem to get it," or people who continually seem to make the same mistakes over and over again... I am constantly praying for assistance to cope.  We all share these same foibles, and some of us can react to life's little aggravations better than others.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Trustworthy Stewardship
The "dishonest" or "untrustworthy" servant of this week's Gospel takes his place among so many others found in Jesus' parables such as the five foolish virgins, the wedding guest who gets thrown out of the wedding banquet for lack of a proper attire, the rich young man too wrapped up in himself to answer the Call, and the laborers who work all day long only to get the same pay as those hired at the final hour. These are the strange ones - those who didn't prepare well, those who didn't prepare at all, those who "squandered the master's property" or those who seem to have no place in the kingdom.
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Your Hearts Will Rejoice
Jesus chooses his disciples. He instructs them and then warns them of the dangers ahead.  The disciples depart on their mission, succeeding only by the power of  his name. Rejoicing as they return, Jesus speaks to them of even greater joy.  This narrative is a roadmap of the spiritual journey - a description of the spiritual life in miniature.
The Nativity of John the Baptist - Preparation/Continuation
There is something within all of us that wants to be recognized, acclaimed, appreciated. We usually want to get credit for the good we do, the words that we say, the ministries that we take part in. But, if the truth be told, very few folks get the credit that they deserve. Many, like John the Baptist - whose birth we celebrate today - carry on ministries of tremendous importance to prepare for the future, but are seldom recognized for that role. In fact, many believed that John himself was the long-awaited Messiah.  And he continually had to remind people that his role in God's plan was totally different from what they believed. 
6th Sunday of Easter - Not as the World Gives...
In these final weeks of Easter as we prepare for the feast of Pentecost, the Gospel readings for Sundays and weekdays are taken almost entirely from Jesus' farewell discourse at the Last Supper (John 13-17).  Jesus is saying a very unique goodbye. He is leaving his beloved band of followers, but promises to be with them in the future in a new way.  He's not just saying, "Cheer up, things won't be so bad." Actually things are going to get quite bad for him and them.  But he is assuring them that the coming of the Holy Spirit will keep their relationship alive because the Spirit will be the bond that holds them together in love with him and his Father.
Feasts of Mary, Mother of God/Holy Family
The calendar year comes to an end and we gather to celebrate two special feasts in our Church: The Holy Family and that of Mary, the Mother of God. We celebrate the end of another year of pilgrimage in faith, and the beginning of a new year of our lives.
2nd Sunday of Advent - Prophetic Voices
Advent calls us to conversion, a change to our ways of thinking and acting. In our lives and in our world there are too many valleys of despair that need to be filled; too many mountains and hills of pride that need to be made low; winding roads of confusion that need straightening and rough and violent ways that must be made smooth. We can’'t do this on our own. This is still our broken and tired world that needs rejuvenation, straightening out and smoothing. And that'’s what is about to happen. God is coming to set things in right order.
The Nativity of the Lord - Keeping Watch by Night

Mass at Dawn

The shepherds, we are told, were keeping "night watch" over their flocks when the angels came to announce the good news of salvation. That's what it can feel like, being a believer in today's world... darkness all around and the call to duty, to watch and protect what is vulnerable and valuable. We search for and practice: peace in an increasingly hostile world; forgiveness when others hold grudges; simplicity while all around us there is spending and accumulating; concern for the needy whom society marginates and government policies neglect; frugality while our nation uses resources as if there were no tomorrow. We keep "night watch."
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Awesome Sights And Mighty Signs
As the year winds down, you'd think we might get happier and more joyful readings. In the Gospel for this weekend, The Lord asks us to think about some pretty difficult things: "the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." The readings seem to be all about terrible loss, nightmare, and calamity.
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - A Clearer Focus
Life after death has always been an "unknown" to mankind and the unknown is our enemy. There is a built-in sense of fear and uncertainty that accompanies the fact that we do not know "the day nor the hour." It's hard to plan for a surprise or the unexpected. We ask questions about the resurrection because we want reassurance that there is a place of unending joy, freed from this world’s pain and sadness.  We look for help to reinforce our faith as we face the end of our lives. We try to fill in the blanks, drawing from daily life or from our imaginations and try to paint a picture of what’s ahead. The Gospel concepts of resurrection and new life speak to these basic longings. We all sense this kind of impotence when it comes to our future health or other critical circumstances. It's easier to live for the day, enjoy this world to the full and try to make life as comfortable as possible.
Feast of All Saints - Our Common Life
It is fitting that the Gospel for this feast of All Saints paints the picture of Jesus speaking the words of the Eight Beatitudes: Blessed are they… Each presents a theme which together comprise the roadmap of the path towards holiness.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Social Teaching and the Catholic Vote
For the Christian people of America conversion to the Gospel means to revise "all the different areas and aspects of life, especially those related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good." It will be especially necessary "to nurture the growing awareness in society of the dignity of every person and, therefore, to promote in the community a sense of the duty to participate in political life in harmony with the Gospel."
- Pope John Paul II
The Church in America (Ecclesia in America)
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Unjust Judges
Jesus was a great story-teller and people loved to listen as He taught through parables. The people understood the message of the parables because the stories dealt with ordinary, day-to-day experiences that they were all familiar with. But they loved these stories for another reason as well.  Most of the time these stories disturbed the comfortable and comforted the disturbed. The parables would seem to point to an obvious conclusion, and then shock the listener with an unexpected ending. Jesus continually challenged conventional wisdom, and He so upset the leadership of his time by his parables that they eventually began to plot a way to get him out of the picture.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Other Nine
We have read the story of the Ten Lepers so often throughout our lives that we sometimes take the point of the story for granted. We often focus on the thankfulness of the one leper, in contrast to the nine others who did not return to "give glory to God." It is much easier to condemn the nine rather than understand them. Jesus knew about the ten, where they were and where they went. He knew why they were and who they were. And he healed all of them just the same.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mustard Seed Faith
Faith is the spark that enables. It is the ignition that moves us to action. It is the vision that allows us to see the sacred in the ordinary. This sense of reverence and sacredness is our heritage as children of the One God. But faithfulness to these ideals very often seems to take a less prominent role in today's society and to be very much threatened in our own time. These times call for a strong, courageous witness to the sacredness of life, of creation, of human dignity. What is required is a witness to justice and peace and to our common brotherhood in the family of mankind.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Story of Opposites
Jesus spends much of his public ministry speaking about "the poor." He constantly reminds us that "The poor you will always have with you" and He will not let us become deaf to their cry.  Page after page of the Gospel speaks of his unwavering concern for the beggars, the widows and orphans, the homeless, the jobless and the oppressed. We almost want to protest: "What does this have to do with the kingdom of God? Talk to us about holiness and prayer. Talk to us about everlasting life. Enough about the poor."
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Faithful in a Very Little
Jesus was a man with a mission. He never seemed to stay long in one place. He kept on the move, leaving much of His mission still unaccomplished. His public ministry lasted only about three years - then it was on to Jerusalem to rejection, condemnation, and death on the cross. Seemingly, it was all over. But so much of what He had said indicated that His work would go on, that somehow He himself would keep on living and healing and teaching through His faithful followers.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Starting over...
It is hard to believe that it is September! The quiet, refreshing time of summer is gone. It's time to start over again, time to fire up the boilers and turn over the engines. The machinery has been overhauled and is ready to go.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Moving Up and Out
The Gospels for the last few weeks have brought back to mind the stories of the first disciples: how they were called from among ordinary people; what they were called to do; and what Jesus told them they could expect by preaching the "Good News of Salvation." As in all passages of the Scriptures, this ongoing re-telling of the episodes of Christ's life is part of our Tradition, part of our history as Christians and part of our history as a community of believers.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Awaiting the Master's Return
The first disciples were mired in the present moment. Most were poor. Like their contemporaries, they were living from day to day in a harsh world. The community faced daily struggle, fear and persecution. They needed to be reminded: though Jesus seems to be gone and things were going poorly for his community, nevertheless, he is with us now and he will return. In the light of this hope, early Christians could look at their lives through the lens of expectation. He will soon come again.
18th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Putting on the New Self
Jesus lived His life to the full, celebrating each moment, each encounter, and each relationship with joy.   He embraced human experience, drank deeply of human emotions, was nourished and comforted by human love which always led Him from God back to God.   His love for his Father was integrated into all that He said and did and became.   There was no event, no person, no circumstance that ever separated Him from His Father. He knew what Life was all about and He treasured it.
17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - The Language of the Soul
The ultimate purpose of Jesus' living and dying as one of us was to provide the full and final revelation of the love and goodness of God to all people in all ages. And when asked by his disciples to teach them to pray, Jesus speaks of His Father, in what we have come to know as the Lord's Prayer. He speaks in simple terms, in plain language about the Father whose Being He shares so intimately and whose Love He wants so much to share.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Hospitality
In this week's readings, we see examples of age-old values: service, stewardship and contemplation. Abraham drops everything and welcomes three strangers into home, while his wife Sarah is unexpectedly forced to prepare an elaborate meal for them. Mary of Bethany sits at the feet of the Lord, clinging to His every word. Her sister Martha occupies her time with the business "playing the perfect hostess" - with a little resentment thrown in for good measure.
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Something Very Near to Us
For so many people, God is remote, far off, impersonal, mechanical, unconcerned. The words "will of God" or "law of God" sound somehow threatening, unconnected with the reality of human experience. We tend to get too wrapped up in and concerned about the stressful demands that have led us to fill our days with work and other hectic activities. Many times we don't see our Church being able to "speak our language" and to deal with what we truly consider to be the needs of the people - our needs.
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Celibacy
The power of the Catholic Church is something that cannot be denied. Throughout the ages, the exercise of this power has been the source of many things: first and foremost - the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of her far-reaching influence, the Church has fostered ages of enlightenment - the worldwide spread of education and art - and has always striven for the betterment of mankind. Yet the zealousness of some were also responsible for the Inquisition, the waging of the Crusades, and both revolution and Schism.
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Hands to the Plow
As adults, we can claim to have seen a lot in our lives.  We are experienced in some of the rough parts of life.  We have had promises broken, been betrayed and have had our share of disillusionment.  Our instinct for survival fights fiercely against any threat to our identity and our existence. We can easily become frustrated,  cynical and totally self-absorbed. Yet there is a trusting child within each of us - one who is willing to put his/her life into the hands of the one who walked the road to Jerusalem, to trust him and to follow wherever he would lead.  
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Taking Up the Cross
If Christianity is to have a worthwhile message for the contemporary world, it must be based on the vision of God that we have received from Jesus himself. It must be based on what He himself saw his mission to be. And it must be rooted in who we believe Jesus to be.
Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ - Christ Among Us and Within US
We gather this weekend to remember and celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ. We listen to Christ's words as shared by Paul: "Do this in remembrance of me..." and we hear again Paul's exhortation "for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes." Today, we again remind ourselves that when Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites each of us to take his life into the very center of our being. The life which he offers is the very life of God himself.
Trinity Sunday - The God We Profess
Pope Francis once commented on how today's Catholics can proclaim Christ and live the Gospel message in the modern world.  The key to become effective "proclaimers" of God's Word, he said, is lived witness. "The love of Christ, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, enables us to live like this, to be like this: as persons always ready to forgive: always ready to trust, because we are full of faith in God; always ready to inspire hope, because we ourselves are full of hope."
Pentecost Sunday - Making Mischief
"The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief..." - Sr. Simone Campbell For Fifty Days we have lived and breathed the miracle of Easter/Pentecost.  Hopefully we have reflected and understood - better than ever before - that this is not just a spectacular episode of Salvation History that happened a long time ago, but that it still touches us with its reverberations.  For us as a people of faith, Easter/Pentecost is NOW.  It is the continuing invitation from our God for an ongoing, ever new encounter with Him and with others.
7th Sunday of Easter - Integrity and Unity
One of the last things for which Jesus prayed while He was still among us was unity. It was His hope that all mankind - men and women of all races, creeds and beliefs - recognize their shortcomings, put aside their prejudices, and come together to rejoice in the Gift that God has given to us all: redemption, freedom from ignorance and illusion, and the grace to love one another as He loved us.
5th Sunday of Easter - How Will They Know Us?
"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." This is the heart of the Gospel message - the foundation stone of our Christian faith: love is a gift of God; when we learn to love, we experience God...and our love only reflects God when it is not focused on self but on others. Our love is only God-like when it is given unconditionally, and without being earned... and when it seeks no return.
3rd Sunday of Easter - Tending Sheep
Jesus began his message with friendship, not only because it is powerful, but also because it is hopeful. It is the key, the only key, that can unlock the door to a worthwhile future in love. Jesus saw the truth of that 20 centuries ago. Instead of organizing institutions, he started a movement based on friendship, on love. That is the only solution to the problems of the human heart. People can live together under almost any conditions if they are friends, if they are in love. - Sr. Jayne Kelly

The resurrection appearances of Jesus are filled with surprises and mystifying details. His friends do not recognize Him. He appears through locked doors. He has broken out of a tomb, but carries the wounds of His dying. He speaks of peace and forgiveness. He promises the gift of His Spirit. He sends His disciples to change the world.
Easter Sunday - Shattering Tombs
Easter is about rebirth. It is about re-creation. It is about new life. It is about the fact that Jesus now invites us to open our hearts to his new Easter power. Easter is about shattering tombs. Jesus wants to give us the power to rise from tombs of darkness after our hope has been washed to pieces. He wants to give us the power to rise from the tomb of discouragement after our love has been rejected. He wants to give us the power to rise from tombs of doubt after our faith has been shaken. This is the good news of Easter.
5th Sunday of Lent - Hearts Recreated
This Sunday's Gospel moves from fiction to reality. Last week, we heard Jesus draw a touching picture of His Father through the parable of the Prodigal Son. But today's Gospel passage is from real life. It doesn't deal with imaginary characters in a made-up situation, but with a woman of the region with a bad reputation, caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees and scribes - the "good guys" - just happened to be in the right place to spy on the lady, and, of course, felt obliged to denounce her. Conveniently, so they thought, they could at the same time embarrass Jesus and undermine His popularity and authority. They were certain that He would lose face, no matter how He handled the situation. It was a no-brainer situation for them! A great stroke of luck.
4th Sunday of Lent - Lost and Found
In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent Jesus is confronted by those who complain that He "welcomes sinners and eats with them." In the complete passage from Luke Jesus leaves us three vivid images to teach us about the Father's mercy - that of the lost sheep, the lost coin and finally the lost son. The first two stories end with the incredible words: "I tell you, there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine who have no need to repent." These words sound almost unreal but Jesus said them.
3rd Sunday of Lent - Our Burning Bushes
In every age, Jesus continues to invite people to have faith in Him as Son of God and Savior. His mission is always the same - to reveal the Father's love to the world. His method is always the same: to give us clear signs, leading us to believe in Him and to serve one another.
2nd Sunday in Lent - Knowing God is Near
Part of the theology that most of us inherited taught that our journey of faith was one of living our lives "according to God's plan", of accepting our state in life - whatever it may be - as part of His will for us and submitting to the sometimes unreasonable demands that we seem to think He makes upon us. The soul is spirit, noble, most God-like. The flesh is lowly, corruptible, and definitely mortal. We were trained to struggle against the desires of the body, to subdue, to repress. Our ultimate goal is our reunion with our God in the heavenly kingdom and our earthly journey is one of "earning" our citizenship in heaven.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Is Anyone Really Listening?
The vision of Jesus was a prophetic one. It was a call to change the world by changing the hearts and minds of those living within it. This was a radical and social response to life and God and to one another. The problem that Jesus faced was a narrowness of vision on the part of those around him. But more significant is the fact that they may have "heard" what Jesus was saying, but they weren't really "listening." One cannot respond to a call if one doesn't first listen.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Anointed by the Spirit
I suppose we would find it hard to imagine being in the presence of Jesus and not recognizing him. It's hard to imagine that He would be just another face in the crowd, and that there would be nothing remarkable or exceptional that would make him stand out from all the rest.
2nd Sunday: Ordinary Time - Extraordinary Things
In these days that immediately follow our celebrations of Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus, all of the lights and decorations, all of the wreaths and pine boughs, all of the signs of these special feasts are gone. Our sanctuaries are relatively bare. And the focus of attention is now on us, the people of God, the followers of Jesus; we, too, who have been anointed by the Spirit of God we too have been baptized in His Spirit; we too have been sent to complete His mission.
The Baptism of the Lord - The Challenge of Baptism
Today we celebrate the baptism of the Lord, the beginning of His public ministry. It is a special moment in His Life. "You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased…" Jesus never did anything "by the book." John the Baptist pleaded with him that it was he who should be baptized. Peter argued that He would never wash his feet. The Pharisees pointed out that anyone who frequented with tax collectors and sinners could not possibly be the Messiah, the long-awaited conqueror. But Jesus reveals the startling difference that the reign of God will come about not through military conquest, but through compassion and peace ("a bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench"). The Baptism of Jesus was a beginning - the beginning of the mission of compassion and justice, pre-figured in the Servant passage of Isaiah and echoed by the heavenly voice.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - Do You Hear What I Hear?
As we look toward a new year of promise and hope, as we finish off the last of the Christmas cookies, and start thinking about re-packing decorations until next year, we might do well to take a moment or two and reflect: What are the voices of Christmas? What words did they speak to us? As the Christmas Carol asks: Do you hear what I hear?
A Christmas Reflection for Our Time...
Something different for this Christmas, 2018...    Lest we forget our own story, I'd like to share some excerpts from "Yes, There is a War on Christmas" by John Pavlovitz: "Christmas is a child of Palestinian Jewish parents desperately fleeing politically ordered genocide.

Christmas is a dark-skinned refugee, born amid the smell of damp straw and animal dung, because no human-worthy welcome could be found.
4th Sunday of Advent - Word Become Flesh
The image of Mary greeting Elizabeth is filled with meaning for us as we begin our celebration of the feast of Christmas. On the surface, it is the meeting of two cousins - just a friendly visit. But these two women have been favored by the Lord and filled with unexpected new life. It is the child in Elizabeth's womb who leaps at the approach of Mary carrying the soon-to-born Messiah.
3rd Sunday of Advent - What Should We Do?
The crowds asked John an Advent question: "What should we do?" Like people in every age, they were beset with fear, anxiety, and discouragement. We have as many reasons as they to be afraid, to be filled with concern about health, economics and social evils. Every day we face a barrage of images that show us - quite explicitly - how broken our world has become. Every day we are confronted with aggression, competition, greed and the lust for property and power, and the growing disregard the poor, the homeless and the displaced. There seems to be far too much for us to handle anymore. 
2nd Sunday of Advent - Prepare the Way... Maranatha!
The readings early in Advent point to the overturning and the renewal of the whole world. The Scriptures prepare us to pray with the church our Advent prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus," and they bring a promise from our God, that God will bring renewal to God’s people; not just an interior change, but by a transformation of the world.
1st Sunday of Advent - Be Watchful, Always
"Be watchful, praying always that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man." - Luke 21:36 "Be Watchful" is not exactly a very pleasant phrase to be heard as we prepare for the holidays on this first Sunday of Advent. It can mean a lot of different things to different people: "be careful," "stay awake," "keep on your toes," "heads up!" But for the Christian, the phrase "be watchful and pray always" implies that one should make the most of all opportunities, be attentive to the presence of God at each moment of life, and prepare for the Kingdom already present in this world.
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
The feast of Christ the King signals the end of the liturgical year, and our preparation for the season of Advent We acknowledge Jesus the Christ as our King, we look to His kingdom - already but not fully present - and we proclaim Him as Lord of the Universe. We acknowledge that in the realm of faith, our leader is, now and always, Jesus Christ, the shepherd-king, who remains always the perfect example of how power is to be used for service.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Persevering in a Broken World
November is a transitional time of year. Most all of the trees have lost their leaves, the weather is getting colder and more brisk, and we look to the rapidly approaching winter. In November, everything seems a bit quieter. It's supposed to be a good time to "take stock" - to think about being thankful for the events of the past year, and of looking forward in hope to the coming of a new year.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Identifying With The Mission
The struggle between Good and Evil is one that humanity has been dealing with from the first moments of time. Certainly within the last few weeks, it has not taken much to recognize the presence of evil in our world, but we find it much more difficult in our daily lives to see God's invitation to Love and then to respond to it.
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Making Our Way to Jerusalem
 The human story is filled with broken dreams. Created in the image of God, we can fashion marvelous possibilities of success, fame and pleasure, and spend much of our time and effort trying to make at least some of these dreams come true. But we will always encounter along the way people or circumstances that will shatter those dreams.
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Bearing the Image of God
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain.”  After listing the "beatitudes" - characteristics that identify His followers - Jesus gives His listeners a road map outlining how they are to live out their lives as His followers. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you … Give to all who ask … Do to others as you would have them do to you ... Stop judging ... Stop condemning ... Forgive."  This is the path each one of us must follow.  This is the journey of faith on which we find ourselves day after day.
1st Sunday in Lent - Finding Strength in the Desert
Traditionally, the Season of Lent begins with the Gospel Reading of Jesus' temptations in the desert. We all know the story very well. The Lord ventured out into the wilderness for 40 days - a time He needed to spend alone in the presence of His Father. We imagine that He needed this time - to reflect, to pray, to prepare for the ministry that He came to Live.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Reimagining The Fire Of The Gospel
"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division."
I have to admit I've always had some difficulty with these words. The Lord asks and answers his own question, without even giving us a chance to answer. And the answer he gives is certainly not one that any of us would have given.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Inclusive Discipleship
The Gospel passages chosen for these last couple of Sundays before Lent comprise the substance of what we traditionally know as Luke's "Sermon on the Plain" - the counterpart to the "Sermon on the Mount" found in the Gospel of Matthew.  These words of Jesus as recounted by Luke make up the heart of the Gospel message, the substance of the "Good News."  At the core of the sermon is Jesus' teaching on the love of one's enemies, that has as its core God's graciousness and compassion for all humanity and Jesus' teaching on the love of one's neighbor that is characterized by forgiveness and generosity.
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