Liturgy Reflection

Reflections on the Weekend liturgical readings

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: March 26, 2017

Blind manThis is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The experience of the man born blind recognizing Christ as the light of the world is a powerful account about how one person comes to see while so many others continue to be trapped by their own blindness. We all have our personal blind spots and prejudices, as do our cultures. Christ calls to be free and to see in a new way, just as Samuel learned to see “not as humans see but as God sees.” Christ wants us to have open eyes and ready hearts, so that we can see and then have the freedom to act with justice and love. How do we need to see things in a new way, to be able to encounter and accompany those we meet?

Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.” (Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2017)

This Lent 2017 we are focusing on our common call to ENCOUNTER and ACCOMPANY… Pope Francis encourages us to build a culture of encounter and accompaniment. “We must do what Jesus does: encounter others….we must create a culture of encounter, a culture of friendship, a culture in which we find brothers and sisters, in which we can also speak with those who think differently,…we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time.” We can encounter and accompany some of those most in need through supporting Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services. How is Christ inviting you to see with new eyes this Lent?

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: March 19, 2017

Woman at the wellThis is the Third Sunday of Lent. The ministry of Jesus is inclusive, offering Living Water to all. Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman in today’s gospel story, which amazes the disciples. Rabbis did not casually talk to women or Samaritans. Despite all the conventions of the time, Jesus talks to her and everything is changed. She runs off in excitement to share with the whole village, and becomes the first follower in John’s gospel to spread the good news. The whole town is changed. The Samaritan woman in some way represents all in the world whose gifts are not recognized, who experience oppression, and who struggle for justice. Her encounter with Jesus is an encounter of liberation for her and then for her whole village. ”The encounter with Christ can completely change our life.” (Pope Francis on Twitter)

This Lent we are focusing on our common call to ENCOUNTER and ACCOMPANY… Pope Francis encourages us to build a culture of encounter and accompaniment. “We must do what Jesus does: encounter others….we must create a culture of encounter, a culture of friendship, a culture in which we find brothers and sisters, in which we can also speak with those who think differently,…we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time.”

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: March 12, 2017

Encounter ChristThis is the Second Sunday of Lent 2017. Our focus this season of Lent 2017 is “Called to ENCOUNTER and ACCOMPANY.”

Pope Francis encourages us to build a culture of encounter and accompaniment. “We must do what Jesus does: encounter others…we must create a culture of encounter, a culture of friendship, a culture in which we find brothers and sisters, in which we can also speak with those who think differently…we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time.

The experience of the transfiguration causes the disciples to see in a new way. Jesus urges them not to build tents and stay on the mountain, but sends them forth with a new vision. They are to bring good news to the poor, the outcasts, the disheartened - which soon takes Jesus to Jerusalem and his final days. The gospel invites us, too, to see things anew, and from other viewpoints. What keeps us from “coming down the mountain” and participating fully in the lives of those most in need?

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: March 5, 2017

EncounterThis is the First Sunday of Lent. Our focus this season of Lent 2017 is “Called to ENCOUNTER and ACCOMPANY.”

Pope Francis encourages us to build a culture of encounter and to offer a spirituality of accompaniment. “Faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others...with our faith we must create a culture of encounter, a culture of friendship, a culture in which we find brothers and sisters, in which we can also speak with those who think differently,… following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time.”

We, like Jesus, face temptations. God formed humans for life in a creation garden of God’s love, but our desire for power, to “be like gods,” has led us into a desert wasteland of lies and death. We justify the use of power, violence and manipulation as the necessary means to feed our human hungers. But we are invited to more – real fullness of life through conversion to our true selves, as God created us to be. We begin this Lenten season of renewal and new life with the ancient spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that can help us accomplish this renewal as individuals and as a community. You’re invited this Lent to experience encounter and accompaniment by supporting immigrant families through Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services. Watch for upcoming opportunities to learn, pray and serve!

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: February 26, 2017

Trust in God to care for youThis is the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. How do you measure God’s care? God doesn’t measure it; it is poured out abundantly, though at times we may not recognize it. Someone devastated by war or terrible loss finds it hard to believe that God not only loves but is love itself.  We do not need to worry excessively about everyday struggles. God is with us, loving us in all situations, and the ultimate outcome of life is in God’s hands. May we be open to receive God’s care, and strengthened to manifest that same love even in difficult circumstances.

The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.”  Pope Francis (June 2013)

The Sunday readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: February 19, 2017

Love your enemiesThis is the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. We hear from the Book of Leviticus: “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. … Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminds us that the Spirit of God lives in each person. In a world with many examples of hatred, violence, war, and unnecessary death, Jesus appears with the radical call for us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to trust in the way of peace, and to be especially concerned for those most in need. Do we really believe that this is the way God wants us to live? That this is the way of Jesus?

The dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced!” (Pope Francis, 3/22/13)

You are God’s temple … God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are” (1 Cor 3:16-17). In this temple, which we are, an existential liturgy is being celebrated: that of goodness, forgiveness, service; in a word, the liturgy of love. This temple of ours is defiled if we neglect our duties towards our neighbor. Whenever the least of our brothers and sisters finds a place in our hearts, it is God himself who finds a place there. When that brother or sister is shut out, it is God himself who is not being welcomed. A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God’s service and given over to another use. (Pope Francis, 2/23/14)

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: February 12, 2017

Love is basic to LawThis is the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. God’s wisdom challenges our human perspective and Christ calls us to a higher standard of religious practice. It can seem easy in the abstract, or at the grander scale, to accept God’s ways...but then comes the challenging moments in our relationships: betrayal, injustice, unfaithfulness. Surely, then, we are justified in our anger? Jesus offers us a wisdom that counsels reconciliation, faithfulness, integrity...all manifestations of his radical call to shape our lives by love. God’s compassionate eyes are upon us, encouraging us to choose the path of life.

“The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who ‘does not know what his master is doing’ to that of a friend of Christ.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 1972

The Sunday readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: February 5, 2017

Salt and LightThis is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s gospel proclaims a wonderful and positive statement about the Christian life: followers of Jesus are both salt and light. This might suggest that they are like ordinary necessities, but there is more involved. For Israel, salt was so precious that it was included in covenant offerings made in the Temple. It preserved food, and even if it lost its flavor, it could serve as a fertilizer. In the world of Jesus’ followers, the only artificial light came from the consumption of wax or oil—a self-offering that drove away the darkness. The US Bishops used this imagery when they published Communities of Salt and Light and addressed issues around implementing Catholic Social teaching on the parish level:

“At a time of rampant individualism, we stand for family and community. At a time of intense consumerism, we insist it is not what we have, but how we treat one another that counts. … At a time of growing isolation, we remind our nation of its responsibility to the broader world, to pursue peace, to welcome immigrants, to protect the lives of hurting children and refugees. At a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, we insist the moral test of our society is how we treat and care for the weakest among us. In these challenging days, we believe that the Catholic community needs to be more than ever a source of clear moral vision and effective action. We are called to be the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" in the words of the Scriptures (cf. Mt 5:13-16).” --US Catholic Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light

The Sunday readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: January 29, 2017

BeatitudesThis is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. A powerful and radically challenging key to the Christian life is found in the Beatitudes. The key is summarized in the first reading from Zephaniah in the phrase: “Seek justice, seek humility.” The values of Jesus contrast markedly with the values that we see play out in parts of our contemporary culture where greed, prestige, power, security, wealth, status and the like are often assumed to be signs of success and happiness. The gospel message is clearly “counter-cultural.” The Beatitudes challenge us to look in a new way and live in a new way. We are called to learn from those who are striving for justice, to learn even from those who are poor or sorrowing.

May we come to see with the eyes of Jesus, and recognize all the ways we and others are blessed. Called to follow in the footsteps of Christ, may the way we love and respect others bring Christ’s love to all the world.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: January 22, 2017

Fish for peopleThis is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. In today’s gospel we are reminded that the ministry of Jesus is not thwarted by darkness and death. It is in the midst of the darkness of our broken world, Jesus calls us to love and to serve, and we are baptized to become Christ’s light. “This...guides Jesus’ mission and the mission of the Church: go in search, “fish” for men and women, not to proselytize, but to restore full dignity and freedom to all... This is the essential point of Christianity: to spread the free and regenerative love of God, with a welcoming and merciful attitude toward everyone, so that each person can encounter God’s tenderness and have the fullness of life.” (Pope Francis, 2/7/16)

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25) has a history of over 100 years, in which Christians around the world have taken part in prayer for visible Christian unity. As 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we pray that all Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper "that they all may be one." (cf. John 17:21). May God’s Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts, and draw us into harmony!

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