Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 23, 2022

3C22. Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10. God reassures his People who had just returned after the exile that he is with them. They are not alone in reestablishing their homeland. Their Almighty God is present and active in the rebuilding of his People. Ezra tells them to rejoice that their God loves them so dearly as to guide them in his ways with the written Law, the Torah.

Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21. Luke begins his “narrative of the events” that the eyewitnesses to Jesus have handed down to his followers long after Jesus had physically departed from them so that they “may realize the certainty of the teachings (you) they have received.” Jesus had returned to his hometown of Nazareth to proclaim that he was that unique person that would be an even greater sharing of the presence and person of God than He was when he gave them the Torah.

1 Corinthians 12:12-30. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” “and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” “You are Christ’s body and individually parts of it.” God created us all to be loved by him and to bring his love to one another. In John 15:12 Jesus said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” Not only are we responsible for our own salvation but we are also responsible to help others gain their salvation. Loving means the sharing of ourselves or giving

something of ourselves to the one we love. When one of our loved ones dies we grieve that loss greatly because, when we love, we give something of ourselves over to that other person and something of that other person comes to be part of our lives. We suffer the loss of something of ourselves, when someone we love dearly, departs. The love that God has for us calls upon us to be connected to one another in God’s love. In John 12:5, Jesus said, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” Let us come to realize how much God shares himself with us daily and, in turn, let us come to share more of ourselves and the presence of God in us with others daily.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2019

3C19. Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10. The Law or the Torah was God’s way of making the Hebrews into his faithful Chosen People. The faithful practice of the Law was to unite them together as one people belonging to the one God. Ezra the priest was speaking to the people as God’s representative. He told that rejoicing in the Lord must be their strength. That must be our strength too.

Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21. Luke, the evangelist, writes to his readers as though writing to one person named Theophilus, which means in Greek “one who loves God’. “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” As the human aspect of Jesus was given over to the power of the Spirit so should we be daily, following the example of Jesus. As Ezra read the Scriptures to the people, so does Jesus. Jesus reads from Isaiah 6:1-2 what Isaiah had written regarding the restoration of God’s people to their land but now applies this passage to his ministry to establish a new People of God as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Jesus says to those in the synagogue, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-30. “We were all given to drink of one Spirit, since the many members of the church, using our many Spirit-given gifts for the benefit of the whole body of the church make us one body with Christ as the head, as did the Law make the Hebrews one in God. As Ezra proclaimed the Law of the Lord to unite the people as one people in God, so too Jesus proclaimed the fulfillment of the Old Testament in his Person and ministry to create a one, new people of God. It would seem that Paul wrote this section to address problems in the Corinthian community where there may not have been adequate respect for the spiritual gifts that others had received and /or some members were claiming that their gifts were superior to others thus creating dissension

and disunity, thus offending the unity that God’s Church must have.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 16, 2022

2C22.    Isaiah 62:1-5.    “Nations shall behold your vindication and all the kings your glory.”  The Hebrews were looked upon as being so lowly because of their captivity.  However now God has made his people to be glorious.  Those who were thought to be forsaken by the Lord, “you shall be called “My Delight.” “As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoices in you.”  God transformed defeat into victory.

John 2:1-11.   I take the liberty to explain this gospel passage with the help of various commentaries and with my understanding of what took place at Cana.  “There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.”  The wine ran short more than likely because of the presence of Jesus’ disciples.   Mary, Jesus’ mother, recognizing that the cause of the shortage of wine was the fact of Jesus’s disciples being there, put the burden of supplying for the lack of wine on her son.  At first Jesus did not think that God, his Father, had called upon him to perform miraculous deeds at this time, and so refused to intercede.  However, Jesus changes his mind and so with spectacular generosity, made the best of wines available.   John, the Evangelist, takes this physical event and gives it a deeper spiritual meaning, by saying, with the words of the headwaiter, “you have kept the good wine until now,” that God has replaced the Old Testament Torah or Law with the presence of God in the person of Jesus, his Son.  Jesus himself, so to speak, is the new good wine.  The miracle of the wedding feast of Cana symbolizes that what was old is transformed into what is new.  The Old Testament Law is transformed into Jesus, God himself who is present in the midst of his people.

Corinthians 12:4-11.   The Holy Spirit makes the water to become wine, that is, he takes what is natural and raises it to produce supernatural benefits.  The water that Jesus made to become wine also symbolizes the natural attributes that God gives us humans that are now raised to become the divine gifts of the Spirit so to work in us humans his supernatural wonders even while we are here on earth.

 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2019

2C19.   Isaiah 62:1-5.  Isaiah looks forward to the return of the Hebrew captives to Israel.  “So shall your God rejoice in you” as his people returns to his embrace as his bride.  What great things God will do for his people because his love for them is so great!

John 2:1-11.  When reading John’s gospel, it is absolutely necessary to realize that, more often than not, he intentionally writes with two levels of meaning.  First there is the obvious first meaning or understanding that the text is speaking on a physical, everyday layer of meaning, i.e. the text says just what the common understanding is and nothing more or less.  However, then John the Evangelist expects us to delve into the deeper, more profound meaning he really wants us to perceive.  From the first reading we can see that God wants to see his relationship to his people as a marriage that involves the deep caring that the groom should have for his bride and not just as two people passing each other on the street.  In the coming of Jesus into the world God is forming a new bride whom he wishes to marry in yet a deeper love than before.  Returning to the first obvious level of meaning we should recognize that the disciples of Jesus were, what I refer to, as a lower blue-collar class of hard working people who were used to living a hard and hardy style of life.  In other words, there is a good chance that the reason why the feast ran short of wine was that Jesus’ disciples drank most of it.  Mary is confronting her son with the problem of the lack of wine because she feels he has the responsibility to deal with the shortage that his disciples have created.  At first he is reluctant because he seems to feel that “My hour has not yet come” to work miracles.  Yet Mary persists by saying to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  I feel that Jesus still remains obedient to his Mother and to God the Father who speaks through Mary.  Jesus superabundantly provides for the wine that ran short by turning six stone jars filled with water into 120 to 180 gallons of wine, almost 900 bottles full.  There is a deeper level of meaning to be uncovered in this stupendous miracle.  I believe that Jesus works this miracle at the beginning of his ministry to say that, what was the water of the Old Covenant, he now turns into rich, fine wine, the infinite abundance of his redemptive love that is the New Covenant that Jesus initiates in his ministry. Jesus brings to the world a love that is akin to a deep love a bridegroom has for his bride to make something, new, deeper and better. The headwaiter remarks, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  Jesus thereby announces that he is taking what was good in the Old Testament times and making it infinitely better by his ministry.  John does not relate the reaction of Jesus’ disciples to this miracle directly but indirectly when writes, “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”

1 Corinthians 12:4-11.   “There are different workings (spiritual gifts or service) but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”  “One and the same Spirit produces all of these (spiritual gifts), distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”  Through his ministry Jesus is building a new Holy People of God through the work of the Holy Spirit that includes all peoples and not just Jews.  Psalm 96 says, “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands.” “Tell his glory among all the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.”  Through Jesus’ ministry God’s power flowed then and now into all peoples to build his new Church, to create his new bride.

Baptism of The Lord – January 9, 2022

BaptC22. Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11. “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!” In the Old Testament Isaiah says to make the way of the Lord straight and clear

into his sin- filled peoples hearts as a way of returning them from the punishment of exile. “Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.” Look to the Lord who makes whole what was broken. He is seen here and to be seen in the New Testament as the shepherd who cares for his people with tenderness and love.

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22. “The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.” As what the magi were seeking in following the star, the people now were seeking what God had for them in the person John the Baptist. John makes it clear that he is just preparing the way for the Christ who is much more than John. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” When John was baptizing Jesus, “the Holy Spirit descended upon him.” “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” As in Luke’s Christmas narrative, here the glory of the Lord shone upon Jesus. God the Father calls upon us to daily give glory to Jesus his Son.

Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7. “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly and devoutly.” “He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he

richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savor.” To make his way straight into our hearts, we must live in submission to his will, rejecting our own natural desires to rule our own lives.

Baptism of The Lord – 2019

BaptC19. Isaiah 40:1-2, 9-11. God makes the way ready for his people to return from their captivity in Babylon. God is the glorious savior of his people who benefit from their God’s power. He is not only awesome but gentle, loving and caring. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22. The people were captivated by the severe holiness of John, asking him if he might be the messiah. “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.” Continuing on, he said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The Messiah who is to come will give the Holy Spirit to lead the people to repentance while those who do not repent will be burned and consumed by an ‘unquenchable fire.’ In Mark’s and Matthew’s gospels Jesus is baptized by John; but in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is baptized after John’s ministry has ended because John has already been imprisoned by Herod before Jesus was baptized (Luke 3:20-21). In Luke’s Gospel after John’s ministry ended, Jesus’ ministry began. After Jesus “had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’” The presence of God, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father’s verbal affirmation testified that this person, Jesus who appeared to the people, only in earthly human form is truly the divine Son of God. At Jesus’ death when “the centurion and the men with him who keeping watch over Jesus experienced the earthquake” and all the calamitous events that were happening, “they said, ‘truly, this was the Son of God!’”(Matthew 27:54) Jesus was the divine son of God, spoken of in the baptismal formula: “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19); but at the same he was the human son of God and of Mary. (Luke 1:35) Jesus

was and is both human and divine. In his divinity the Son of God had no beginning, since divinity cannot be created; in his humanity he did have a beginning, then an end in his death on the cross and then a new beginning in his resurrection with a glorified body. Adam is called son of God because he was created by God to be a human being in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26 & Luke 3:38b). However, Adam had no existence before God created him, as did the Son of God.

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7. Grace in Hebrew is said to mean favor, i.e. that is one who is graced has found favor with God. When, as Jesus says, “you are in me and I in you (John 14:20b), Jesus shares himself with us, i.e. his life, his love, his knowledge, his power, so that we grow more and more in the image and likeness of God. As I understand it, grace is that sharing of his divine self with us. In John 15:4a, Jesus says, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” In John 15:7, Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” “Because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior so that we might be justified by his grace.”

Psalm 104. “O Lord, my God, you are great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and glory.” The Lord has shown by the infinite goodness of his works how glorious he is! Without him there is nothing that is good. “When you send forth your spirit,” “you renew the face of the earth.”

Holy Family – December 26, 2021

FamC21.    1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28.  Hannah, unable to bear a child, made a special prayer to God that she be able to bear a son.  God answered her prayer.  Hannah offered her son Samuel as one set aside to serve the Lord in whatever special way He desired.  Hannah said: “As long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.”  Also one day Jesus himself would leave his home in Nazareth to serve God his Father in a very special way.

Luke 2:41-52. Here Jesus was twelve years old, the age that a boy traditionally is considered to be maturing into becoming a man.  Jesus recognizes that not only are Mary and Joseph his earthly parents but also that God is his heavenly Father.  Not only did Jesus have an earthly home in Nazareth but also had a home in the Jerusalem temple where divinity made its earthly home.  My own understanding of this event is that the Holy Spirit inspired Jesus to be mindful of the ministry that one day he would be called to.  One sign that the Spirit had already been preparing him for his ministry was that the teachers or rabbis in the temple “were astounded at his understanding and his answers.”  Jesus was both human and divine.  So as to allow Jesus to develop as a genuine human being, his divinity had to step aside to let him mature naturally, as a creature of this world.  “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  For her part Mary found it quite challenging to raise Jesus, ‘God made man’.   Mary, “his mother, kept all these things in her heart.”

1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.  “Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”  As children of God we are members of God’s family who are given the privilege of calling God our Father. (Matthew 6:9)  Genesis 1:27a&b says, “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him.” We do not know now but “when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  “Those who keep his commandments (that is “do what pleases him”) remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.”  Even while we are natural beings or creatures of this earth, we are called to live also supernaturally or holy.  The Holy Spirit gives us the breathe of divine life daily, so that, despite the fact that we are creatures of earth, we already have something of heaven in us because we live as God’s children.

Holy Family – 2018

FAMC18.   1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28.   God was always active and involved in the lives of his Chosen People, the Israelites.   He guided them through the prophets he personally appointed and raised up.  In order to understand this first reading please read the first chapter of the book of Samuel.  God answers the prayer of Hannah by allowing her to bear a son, Samuel.  Through Samuel, God was to lead King David and his People to be a great nation.  In the third reading God gives Mary a son Jesus to lead the peoples of all times to heaven.

Luke 2:41-52.   Mary and Joseph are referred to as Jesus’ parents because Joseph is Jesus’ father by adoption.  Joseph is, in effect, Jesus’ earthly father.  God is still Jesus’s heavenly father but in part exercises his fatherly care through Joseph while Joseph is still alive.  I believe this incident of the Holy Family in Jerusalem has been given in the Scriptures to further confirm that Jesus was both thoroughly human as well as thoroughly divine.  Jesus’ divinity had to carefully keep enough of a distance from his humanity to allow his humanity to be fully human because his divinity is so incredibly powerful that his humanity would have been overwhelmed, if his divinity became too involved with his humanity.  Around the age of twelve a Hebrew boy can celebrate his ceremonial age of becoming a man, his bar-mitzvah, fully responsible to follow the Law.  Jesus in his humanness had achieved a certain level of maturity by the age of twelve that he was able to sit “in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,” to the extent that “all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.”  However, at the age of twelve he had not yet gained the mindfulness to think of asking his parents for the permission to remain in Jerusalem.  In no way did Jesus mean to reject obedience to his parents but was simply being thoughtless in his humanity.  He was to grow yet further in his maturation process. This passage continues on saying, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.” This gospel finishes by saying, “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  In his divinity he was all-knowing and so could never learn more but in his humanity he needed to and did learn more and more as he grew older and older.

1 John 3:1-2, 21-24.  “Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”  In our liturgy at the beginning of the ‘Our Father’ prayer it says, “We dare to say, Our Father.”  How can we be so bold to call the Almighty Creator, Our Father’?  Jesus, his son, made it clear that his Father wants to be a loving, caring Father, but also a demanding Father to us.  His demand is that “we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.  Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them.”  By being obedient to his will, which means the same as keeping his commandments, we become his children and he, our Father.  We are living in him and he; in us; he is our home and we are his home. In other words, we are at home with the Lord daily, sharing endless fellowship with the Lord, much in the same way we feel at home with our families, friends and fellow workers.  The Holy Spirit enables us to be his obedient children, who grow in holiness daily, developing more and more in his likeness as his children, even while we live in a world that rejects God as our Father.

“We do not know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  I believe that means that, as God took our humanity through Mary, when we go to live as God’s children in heaven, he will share with us, in some way or another that is not known to us now, some of his divinity.

4th Sunday of Advent – December 19, 2021

Adv4C21.   Micah 5:1-4a.  Micah the prophet proclaims that “from you (Bethlehem-Ephrathah) shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.”  We understand that that one is Jesus, the Christ or Messiah.

Luke 1:39-45.  Mary, just hearing that she will bear the Messiah, hastens to help Elizabeth to give birth in her old age.  However, Elizabeth, despite her own miraculous pregnancy, is brought by the Holy Spirit to bring Mary to recognize what an earth shattering, heaven proclaiming event has happened to her.  “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  How beyond anything that could be imaginable was what the Lord had done through Mary, the lowliest of the lowly.  God had made her the mother of God made man, of divinity to be human.

Hebrews 10:5-10.   “Sacrifices and offering (of animals) you did not desire.” Instead we are the ones, in union with Christ, who are given up to God the Father.  “We have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Jesus is taking us daily from our earthliness into his heavenliness, from our humanity to share in his divinity, to be a people graced by God.  He assumed our humanity to walk us daily into his divinity.

 

4th Sunday of Advent – 2018

Adv4C18.     Micah 5:1-4a.   The Lord announces to Bethlehem, where David was born, “from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”  “He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord.”  “His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.”  In 2 Samuel 7:12-13, Psalm 89 & Psalm 132:11-12, God declared that an heir of David would rule forever.  We understand that person to be Jesus the Christ.

Luke 1:39-45.  Mary has just been told, right after she accepted her God-given assignment to be the Mother of God-made-man, that Elizabeth in her old age is to bear a child. She immediately recognizes that Elizabeth will need help.  The sixth-month old child in Elizabeth’s womb is so Spirit-filled he “leaped in her womb,” because God-made-man has arrived in Mary’s womb.  “Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,” blesses Mary and her awesome, divine child and expresses her astonishment that Mary, despite her spectacular calling has come to help Elizabeth in her lowliness.  Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  Mary then, after she has answered her call to duty to Elizabeth, rejoices that God “has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” to rejoice that “the Mighty One has done great things for” her.  It seems to me that Mary had been long-suffering in her unrecognized closeness to God amidst many others who were of no account in the eyes of God yet held in high esteem by many in this world.  They were ones who were “arrogant of mind and heart” and others rich in the things of this earth.  Mary had put her life in the hands of God and not of this earth.  God not only was helping Israel his servant but also Mary his handmaid, “remembering his mercy,” for those who “have favor with God.”

Hebrews 10:5-10.   “When Christ came into the world,” God the Father was not looking for just another Old Testament/Covenant offering.  He desired to show the infinite depths of his love for the whole world. Jesus, both divine and human, was to be the once-and-for-all offering.  God “takes away the first to establish the second” Covenant.   God  became a helpless, tiny baby to purposely put himself in the hands of those who would contribute to his handing himself up as a sacrificial redemption for our sins to God the Father.   His incarnation and birth into humanity and then death on the cross were one seamless act of redemption.  In a sense the Annunciation/Incarnation, celebrated on March 25 which tends to fall around Holy Week, is an integral part of Holy Week as one seamless act of redemption.  He became flesh (John 1:14) so to offer himself up on the cross in the flesh (1 Timothy 2:5-6a) (Rom 6:8).