Liturgy Reflection

Reflections on the Weekend liturgical readings

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 A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God’s service and given over to another use.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!

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: January 15, 2017

Be light for the worldThis is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. We, too, can recognize Jesus when, like John the Baptist, we actively watch for his coming and remain faithful to the mission God has given us. We are called to be more than servants, called to be the body of Christ shining with God’s love to the ends of the earth.

Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by – people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.” Pope Benedict XVI, “Spe Salvi,” 49

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: January 8, 2017

magi abd starThis is the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, and our community’s feast day. We celebrate the reality that God chooses to be manifested in our time, in our world, and in our lives.

The prophet Joel tells us that a time will come when God will pour out the Spirit upon all flesh. Our sons and daughters will prophesy, the old will dream dreams, and the young will see visions. Today we are called to join the long line of seekers for God, a search that began with the dreams of the magi, a dream that reveals to us the majesty of God living in our world. Let us follow the light of that star. Let us believe in the dream God has for us. Happy Feast Day, Epiphany. Let us walk in the light of our God.

The Sunday Readings:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: January 1, 2017

Mary lifting her childToday (New Year’s Day) is the Octave Day of Christmas, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (as well as the World Day of Prayer for Peace).

Theotokos, translated as “God-bearer” or “Mother of God,” is one of the most significant titles given to Mary, and reminds us that Jesus was divine from conception. Thus, this feast of Mary is also a further exploration of the meaning of Christmas.

Mary models the way of bearing God to the world. She is attentive to the ways God is present, responds whole-heartedly to God and continues to ponder her experiences of the holy as she lives out her life. May we do the same, so that in this new year we may be attentive to God’s messengers, respond whole heartedly, be enriched by insights and wisdom, and be sustained in generously sharing the gifts we’ve been given.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: December 25, 2016

EmmanuelToday is the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). Wishing you Christmas peace and joy! We’ve all heard expressions like - words are a dime a dozen. But we have also heard or even said things like – I give you my word, my word is my bond, or, my word is good as gold. Words alone, if they are to carry any value or merit, must be backed up with real concrete action. I love you is a wonderful sentiment, but is meaningless if not followed up by deeds of care, thoughtfulness, and service… Words, if they are truly to mean something, must become flesh!

What we celebrate with Christmas is how God’s words of love and mercy were backed up with one of the greatest actions ever in human history, the Word becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ – the mystery of the Incarnation, expressed beautifully in the poetic prologue we hear in John’s gospel Christmas Day.

In Jesus, God literally gives us God’s Word, A Word that is God’s bond, A Word even greater than gold. In Jesus, all that God has said in Salvation history and through all the prophets becomes flesh. And that Word, in the person of Jesus, makes its dwelling among us – Emmanuel, our God is with us!