Liturgy Reflection

Reflections on the Weekend liturgical readings

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 30, 2016

Zaccheaus in a treeThe 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. This weekend’s scriptures remind us that the God who created the universe in all its immensity cares for each part of it, including the entire human family. Jesus makes a special point to encounter those sometimes least-expected in the reign of God – those like the tax collector, Zaccheaus. Jesus doesn’t condemn Zaccheaus, or demand him to change; but after his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus is changed. On this Stewardship Sunday, do we recognize how Jesus is calling us? How is Christ inviting us to serve? We add our prayers to those of Paul, that each of us continue to bring to fulfillment the gifts God has given to us.

The Sunday Readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 23, 2016

God of JusticeThis is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s scriptures remind us that the prayer of the humble reaches God, and that our God is a “God of justice who knows no favorites.” What does justice look like today, especially in relationship to the poor, the oppressed, and the abandoned? Who are our favorites - do we, like God, take the side of the poor, working for justice for the most vulnerable? In receiving Eucharist we become the body of Christ, and together we can love and serve as Jesus. May others be able to recognize Christ in us by the way we live...

“Embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison…” Pope Francis Homily: March 19, 2013

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 16, 2016

PrayerThis is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We need to pray, but prayer is more than a matter of words. Like the Gospel, it should be on our lips, in our minds, and in our hearts. As Moses, we may need to pray with our whole selves, and get support from the community. Paul encourages Christ’s followers to be rooted in the Scriptures and proclaim the gospel. Jesus in today’s gospel tells his disciples about the necessity to pray always and persistently. This is a good time to consider our prayer lives... What helps you maintain a constant connection with God? What kinds of prayer help you to listen to the Spirit?

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)

The Readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 9, 2016

GratitudeThis is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s scriptures tell of God’s faithfulness, and God’s desire for us to be whole – to have fullness of life. God has given us so many gifts, but do we remember to give thanks? Take a few minutes to consider:

  • What is my greatest need for healing right now?
  • For what gifts in my life am I most grateful?

The Readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 2, 2016

Mustard SeedThis is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The scriptures for this weekend speak of the wonderful, positive power of faith amid all kinds of problems and challenges. The violence of which Habakkuk speaks in the first reading has been made real in our generation in wars and acts of terrorism, genocide, domestic violence, and in all sorts of disputes. War, bombings, ethnic clashes, and foreign interference continue in in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Chechnya, Ukraine... Wealthy nations and corporations continue to exploit and control. Extreme poverty continues economic inequality is increasing dramatically. Ideological disputes continue in U.S. politics, making Congress ineffective. Personal attacks are part of public discourse. We can easily feel discouraged and disgusted with everything in our public life.

Today we are reminded that God has a different vision. There is alternative to violence and discord. Our faith can make a miraculous difference. Active nonviolence and peace are possible. Habakkuk writes “… the vision still presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.” God calls us all to live in peace and justice. We need that increase in faith that can only come from God. We are not in charge of everything, and we don’t have to be in charge of everything. We don’t have to use force. We don’t have to be more than we are. [“When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'"] With this sort of “servant” realism and humility, we will have the wisdom to talk to one another, to avoid violence, and bless the world with Christ’s gift of peace and justice.

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.