Liturgy Reflection

Reflections on the Weekend liturgical readings

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 25, 2016

Lazarus, the poor manThis is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We tend to ignore those who challenge us to hear the truth about ourselves and how we should live. But we have also learned that when we take to heart the message of Jesus, we grow towards fullness of life. Today’s readings raise some hard questions. Shall we be like the complacent rich in the gospel, blind to those in need around us? What are the needs--for food, shelter, friendship, advocacy, justice—that we tend to ignore? May we hear and put into practice the truth of the gospel given us through Jesus, who rose from the dead.

“‘The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love...hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might’...working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter.” Evangelii Gaudium, 188

The Sunday readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 18, 2016

Serve God by serving othersThis is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s scriptures remind us that we often squander opportunities to gain “true wealth,” and to live boldly the life of love to which we are called. We should handle the things of this world and our daily actions in relation to what is eternal, and with shrewd decisiveness—but whom do we serve? How shall we, like the dishonest steward of the Gospel parable, use even the "dishonest wealth" of this world for the good of others?

The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.” (Pope Francis)

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 11, 2016

Shepherd and lambThis is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The first reading from Exodus is about the process of coming to find a God who is not vengeful, but who is willing to show mercy and forgiveness. It is about finding a God of healing and new life. Jesus tells stories to make his point about the mercy of God. He wants to teach us that God is concerned about redemption and forgiveness. God wants to bring people to the fullness of life, and to reconcile individuals, groups, and nations.

Sometimes even religious people have trouble finding the merciful side of God. So many people fall into the trap of condemning others and showing no mercy. We can be tempted to violence and revenge when we face evil. Nations and groups can be tempted to resort to war or terror rather than understanding, nonviolence, and reconciliation.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 4, 2016

Cost of DiscipleshipThis is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. What is really important to us? Are we willing and able to pay the price our deeper values demand? The first reading reminds us that the world is more than the material. Material possessions are not to be the defining things of our existence. Jesus goes so far as to say that we should renounce our possessions. It seems that so many people spend their life and all their energy getting, protecting and worrying about more and more material things. Jesus invites us to a freedom from all that. In other words, we are called to renounce materialism and keep our values in perspective. We might even hear a call to adopt a simpler style of life and move away from the “consumerism” that dominates our culture.

Jesus goes so far as to say that we should even renounce members of our family. One way to think of this strange command is to see it an invitation to freedom – as an invitation or radical challenge not to see any person as a possession – as a person that we own. Unless parents let go of their children, there can be no healthy adult relationship. Unless we treat each other as adults, filled with the dignity and freedom that comes from God, we cannot really be Christian brothers and sisters. Catholic Social Teaching is based on the dignity of the human person. No person can be the possession of another. No person’s value is found in what they own or control or possess. No one is to be a slave to things. Rather we are all called to be free.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 28, 2016

Option for the poorThis is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Jesus observes the people of his day and tells a story about people seeking the highest place. Something similar sometimes goes on today. Maybe it is not always about the good places at a dinner. Maybe it is about having the nicest car or house or being able to “keep up” with your neighbors or colleagues. Maybe it is about having our own way or about political power or cultural status or some kind of striving for more material things than one really needs. Maybe it is about the use of military or economic power by various nations. Maybe it is about being better than someone else, or consuming more than others.

Jesus proposes that we should consider taking the lowest place. Jesus’ message is a challenge to individual behavior, as well as to institutions and organizations. If we get trapped by the desire always to be better than someone else, saying our group is better than yours, or striving for wealth, material things or powerful status, we miss something. We miss the love, truth and freedom of Jesus Christ.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 21, 2016

God is for All

This is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. In a world divided by wars, violence, dishonesty, economic inequality, discrimination and ethnic distrust, it is fitting that the scriptures should remind us of the all-inclusive nature of God’s plan for the world. The images of the second reading also remind us of God’s desire that “what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.” The Spirit of Jesus invites us to put an end to what separates us by race, gender, class or any other category. The Spirit invites our world into a process of healing – the healing of racial, religious and ethnic divisions – the healing of everything that divides us. May we be strengthened to follow the way of Christ!

“All people are endowed with a rational soul and are created in God’s image; they have the same nature and origin and, being redeemed by Christ, they enjoy the same divine calling and destiny; there is here a basic equality between all people and it must be given ever greater recognition.… forms of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.” (Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, No. 29)

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 14, 2016

Set world on fireThis is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Religious faith should be something that is exciting and energizing. It puts us on fire and sets us free. People become aware of life, aware of others, aware of God, aware of the poor, aware of injustice, aware of the problems, aware of the possibilities, aware of a new vision. Discipleship leads people to awareness, and puts them on fire – on fire with love, filled with life, energized for service and solidarity.

The peace that Jesus gives is not an absence of conflict. Like a sword, the truth of Jesus’ message can cause great division. Not all are able to accept it – even within the same family. Each of us may struggle and resist it from time to time; discipleship is a costly commitment. Ultimately, it should lead us to freedom and life. Ultimately, we should end up on fire even in the midst of opposition. The message has power. It is worth the risk.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 7, 2016

Treasure - HeartThis is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s scriptures remind us that our ancestors walked by faith, and that our hearts abide where our treasure is. We pray that the Spirit will kindle in us the faith that inspired Abraham and Sarah, that we will value what is most important, and find our heart’s home in the love and mercy of God.

One of the treasures of our faith is the inexhaustible mercy of God. As explained in the Church document Misericordiae Vultus that announced this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is focusing on mercy because “We constantly need to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends upon it” (2). In short, “we are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us” (9). And he challenges us: “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers…The Church has an endless desire to show mercy” (10). This week we begin a focus on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: July 31, 2016

True WealthThis is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today we are reminded that laboring for wealth and possessions is not only foolish, but results in sorrow, grief, and anxiety. God has given us creation’s rich bounty. With such generosity ever before us, may we measure life’s worth not by the quantity of possessions, but by the life and love we freely place at the service of others.

There is a temptation in our culture to become addicted to work and accomplishments, to worry about money, to find one’s value in possessions and to judge life by one’s material wealth and status. The scriptures strongly challenge this way of thinking and living. Jesus says "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." Paul writes: “Put to death the greed that is idolatry.” The teacher in Ecclesiastes points out that all the fruit of human toil can sometimes just be vanity.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: July 24, 2016

Holding handsThis is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our God is not a distant God. The readings illustrate that special relationship God has with each of us and with us as a community of believers and provide us with some greater understanding of who God is. In today’s gospel Jesus shows us how to pray. We are to pray to God as a child calls to a generous and caring parent, and we are to ask for what we really need, boldly and persistently. It is persistence in prayer that brings us deeper in our relationship with God and opens us to receive these “good gifts” God offers us.

Prayer is the primary work of the moral and religious life. The root of this life is a free and conscious relationship with God, which then directs everything.” (Theophane the Recluse)