15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 14, 2019

15C19.   Deuteronomy 30:10-14.  Moses is encouraging the people to be faithful to the Law, especially the great commandment to love God with all one’s heart and soul.  To love God is to do what our hearts and mind already know is good and right.

Luke 10:25-37.  The scribe or scholar of the law responds to Jesus’ question, saying, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” In turn, Jesus responds, “Do this and you will live.”  Death comes from disobedience to God’s will; but life, from love of God and his will.  The scribe, who did not wish to appear shallow, since he had to move on so quickly with such an easy answer that did not show any depth of knowledge, continued by asking Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Usually the term neighbor only included someone who was connected to one by blood, ethnic or religious lines and not the alien.  In the Old Testament this issue of welcoming the alien or foreigner was addressed because there were times when the Israelite himself was an alien.  The priest and the Levite passed the victim by because they would have become ritually impure according to the Law by coming into contact with wounded man’s blood.  Besides that it was an oxymoron, an impossible contradiction, for there to be a ‘good Samaritan’.  The Jews who worshiped in Jerusalem considered the Jews who worshiped in Samaria to be fake Jews who desecrated true Judaism by worshiping in Samaria and not Jerusalem.  Jesus was saying to the scribe that loving as God loves all of us is the love that God calls us to.  Then “Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

Colossians 1:15-20.  The notes in ‘The New American Bible’ says concerning this reading: “As the poetic arrangement indicates, these lines were probably an early Christian hymn,” that declares the absolute centrality of Jesus to our faith.  As we love God with everything that we have, so too we must love Jesus totally.  In Jesus is the invisible God made visible.  At one and same time, he is created and so he is a creature, yet also at one and the same time, the creator.  “Through him to reconcile all things” he makes “peace by the blood of his cross” so to bring to God all that was aliened from God by sin.  He is preeminent, the head of the body, the church, drawing all to himself and then through him to God the Father.  All is made whole and holy as he leads his followers to be made new in him.  As the Old Testament reading said, “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you.”  We only need to have Jesus as the measure of all things.  Jesus says in John 15:12, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 7, 2019

14C19.   Isaiah 66:10-14c.  Isaiah was calling the Hebrew people to rejoice despite the fact that they were living in troubled times.  “For thus says the Lord: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river.”  “Exult, exult with Jerusalem all you who were mourning over her!” “The Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.”

Psalm 66.  “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth.”  Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!” “Therefore let us rejoice in him.’”  “He rules by his might forever.”

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20.  Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples in pairs “to every town and place he intended to visit.” He told them to pray for more laborers for the harvest of souls because the laborers are few.  He warns them that they will face troubles, saying, “Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”  He sends them out without any physical resources, only spiritual resources to cure the sick and drive out demons.  When they enter a house, they are to “first say, ‘Peace to this household.’  If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment.”  In John 20:19, Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you,” because they had the doors locked “for fear of the Jews.”  God is almighty wishing to use his might to care for us and protect us.  If we live without God, we have good reason to fear, to be without peace, since there are many who are stronger than we and may wish to prey upon us.  When the disciples wish the resident peace, they are calling upon them to be at one with God.  If a peaceful person lives there, is to say that that person has already been at one with God, even before the disciples came.  If the person who lives there is not at peace or one with God, they will be without the resources to defend or sustain themselves and so they will perish terribly.  The seventy-two rejoiced in the power that was at their disposal.  Jesus responds, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because you names are written in heaven.”  We must keep our priorities in the right order.  We must think as God thinks and not as human beings do.  However, only if live at peace or at one with God, can we accomplish that.

Galatians 6:14-18.  “Brother and sisters: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  In Galatians 2:19b-20, Paul also wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”  Paul is saying that Jesus is now his life, no longer he himself but rather Paul’s dominion over himself  had died, been crucified, so that Jesus is his Lord and his life.  Paul was so united to Jesus in his crucifixion that Paul has been given the stigmata, i.e. the marks of nails in his hands and feet and the marks of the spear in his side. Exult because God is our savior.  His victory over sin and death is now our victory!  “Therefore let us rejoice in him!”

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 30, 2019

13C19.   1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21.   As a prophet, Elijah is the spokesperson and messenger of God.  God tells Elijah to anoint Elisha. That anointing is not recorded here but rather Elijah invests Elisha with the power to be a prophet by throwing his own special cloak of one who is a prophet over Elisha, as our priests who are to receive Holy Orders are invested with the priests’ chasuble and stole.  According to the commentaries I have read, Elisha drove one yoke of oxen while eleven servants drove the other eleven.  In those times the prophets were readily recognized, though not always obeyed.  When Elisha kisses his parents goodbye, they would have recognized the seriousness of his calling and not have tried to interfere with it.  By slaughtering the oxen and giving the meat to his people to eat, Elisha was terminating his means and future in farming as a way of finalizing his goodbye, completing the fullness of his acceptance of God’s calling.

Luke 9:51-62.  “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  As with Elisha, Jesus had already declared that he had left his family in Nazareth to proclaim the kingdom of God, when in Luke 8:21b, he said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” I believe that the words at the beginning of this reading that say, “When the days  for his being taken up were fulfilled,” means that he had accomplished what he want to do outside of Jerusalem and now must make his way to Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy he had just made earlier in Luke 9:22 when, “He said, ‘ the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.’”

The Jews in Jerusalem and those in Samaria had rejected one another’s claims to being Jews and reviled one another as being charlatans or fake Jews.  Jesus rejected the disciples request for vengeance because he had come to invite and not force people to follow him.  When someone said that he wanted to follow Jesus, Jesus responded that, in following him, one must accept days a homeless, nomadic life style that Jesus was living in those days.  To another, when Jesus told him to follow him, he requested permission to bury his father.  Jesus knew that his family would demand that he stay to replace his father who had just died.  Custom and tradition would require him to take the place of his father.  To another who wanted to say farewell, Jesus said to him that he could not have his heart in two places.  Choose Jesus or your family at home.

Galatians 5:1, 13-18.  Again the call is to serve one or the other. Here it is the Spirit or the flesh.  To serve the Spirit gives us the freedom to serve what is for our eternal joy; to serve the flesh makes us slaves to our destruction.  Paul calls the Galatians to love one another because, as he writes to them, “if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.”  If we live by the Spirit and not the flesh we gain the glorious inheritance that belongs to the children of God.

Psalm 16.   “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”

Corpus Christi – June 23, 2019

CorpChristiC19.   Genesis 14:18-20.  Abram had just returned from a great victory against his enemies. He recovered his nephew “Lot and his possessions, along with the women and the other captives. (Genesis 14:16b)  In celebration of the great victory God had given Abram, “Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine and being a priest of God Most High” and also said, “blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.” This prefigures the Eucharist which is liturgy of thanksgiving celebrating the work of God.

Luke 9:11b-17.  “Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God.” He was helping to establish that kingdom, not a worldly one but a spiritual, heavenly one, by curing the sick and feeding the five thousand men plus women and children.  These miracles testified not only to the veracity of his message but also to his divinity.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26.  In the study of the historical development of Christianity from the time of Christ on, it has been found that the earliest writings of Christianity were the epistles of Paul.  Here Paul is writing to the Corinthian Christians concerning their practice of the liturgy of the Eucharist.  When Jesus took the bread and broke it, he said, “This is my body,” and of the cup of wine, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”  He handed to his Apostles what was the bread and the cup of wine to eat and drink but now is his body and blood.  In John 6:54, Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”  The bread and wine still appear to be as they were, but because he is the infinitely almighty God, whatever he says is done, is done.  After first changing the bread into his body and then the wine into his blood, each time he says, “Do this in remembrance of me.  This Jesus repeats twice.  We obey Jesus’ command when we celebrate the liturgy of the Eucharist.  Proclaiming the death of the Lord is to proclaim his sacrificing of himself to God the Father which gained for us forgiveness of our sins which, in turn, opened the Gates of Heaven to us and gives us eternal life.

Most Holy Trinity – June 16, 2019

TrinityC19.   Proverbs 8:22-31.  Here ’wisdom’ is personified, as if it were a divine person whom God employed, to help him create the world.  I believe that this passage was put here this Sunday as way of prefiguring Jesus’ work and presence in the Holy Trinity.

John 16:12-15.  “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now now.’”  As eighth grade material is not taught to a student who is on the fourth grade level, likewise Jesus’ disciples need to be taught by the Spirit in steps.  That is true of us too.  “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”  Jesus gives us the divine teacher, the Holy Spirit, who uses the bible, the Church, the priests and other ministers and whatever else he desires, to teach us the truth or genuine reality of all that is forever.  The Holy Spirit, along with other members of the Trinity, the One God, because of his divinity, is the only one who knows the fullness of what is the truth or reality.  The Spirit teaches not as a person separate from the oneness of God but from the wholeness that is the three Persons who is the One God.  He does not just teach us facts about God but gradually reveals God himself to us so that we may have eternal life.  Jesus prays to the Father as the disciples listen in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:1-5.   Paul had been brought to Rome as a prisoner in chains.  He says we can “even boast of our afflictions” because he himself is now afflicted with imprisonment.  The Spirit helps to develop our holiness through our afflictions as faith grows because we can no longer remain in Christ on our own but only with the strength of the Spirit.  Faith gives us access to the grace we need to remain firm in Christ because it roots us in Christ.  We are a people of hope because we know from past experiences that the love of our God for us never lets us down.  “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Pentecost Sunday – June 9, 2019

PentC19.   Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.  Here the account is of the astounding scene of Pentecost and the events that flowed from it.  “They were all filled with Holy Spirit.” That gave them the gift to proclaim “the mighty acts of God” and those who were listening heard them in their own tongue which were many.  The almighty God demonstrated his might with filling the room with “a noise like a strong driving wind” and the Holy Spirit “appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”  In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist says that the Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and a fire that will burn up the chaff, i.e. those who refuse to repent.  In this Pentecost passage, however, I think that the fire that Holy Spirit brings to the Apostles and Mary will be an intensity of enthusiasm to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, an intensity that this world cannot quench.  Genesis 1:2b relates “a mighty wind that swept over the waters.  I think that in that passage as well as the one for Pentecost the mighty wind signals the entry of the almighty God on to the scene.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.   This passage begins, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  As I understand it, Paul is virtually saying the same thing Jesus says in John 15:5c, “Without me you can do nothing” (good).  The Spirit uses us as his visible instruments to do his good works in this world, each of us in various and sundry ways.  “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”  In doing our assigned part together we build the one church through the work of the Spirit in us, who enables us to function as one coordinated entity for good of all, unity in diversity.  Jesus says in John 17:22: “I have given then the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one.”

Romans 8:8-17.    “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  According to biology, human beings are classified as the animal homo sapiens.  Animal life has a beginning and an end where it rots and the remains go back into the soil.  Spiritual life has a beginning but no end.  For each one of us, our lives are a journey from the beginning to the end either by choosing to live the animal life by pleasing our bodies, i.e. to live according to the flesh and rejecting what God wants of us, or to choose to live the spiritual life by pleasing only God.  Those who daily choose to have the Spirit dwell in them receive the spiritual life from him and are led by him to become children of God through the power of the Spirit.  As children of God, we become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”  By choosing Christ we alienate ourselves from the world, which will reject and even punish us for making that decision.

John 20:19-23.  After the resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples to commission them to preach the gospel, saying, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”  First he gives them Holy Spirit and then the power to forgive sins.  When they went out to preach the gospel, they brought with them the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Forgiving sins was a power that only God could exercise prior to this. Now the Holy Spirit makes them the instruments of his forgiveness so that the converts to Christianity could have the Spirit dwell within them.

John 14:15-16, 23b-26.  Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give another Advocate to be with you always.”  To have God as our God we must love him with the love he gives us and obey his Will because his Will is love.  Jesus said, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”  The Apostles and all of us who teach the faith throughout the ages will be informed and guided by the Holy Spirit so that we will not stray from the truth.  The Catholic Church and its officials, the Bible, the holy buildings and books, the sacraments are instruments of the Spirit to move us day by day on the road to the heaven.  We have God the Holy Spirit as the insurance from God the Father and Son to keep faithful and enriched for the work that God wants accomplished on earth.

The Ascension of The Lord – June 2, 2019

AscC19.   Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.  “Jesus presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”  Jesus proved to his followers that he not only died to redeem us from our sins but also conquered sin and death, the fruit of sin, by his resurrection from the dead.  Then Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  In turn with the imminent arrival of the Spirit, Jesus departed from this world in his physical, bodily state, ascending up to heaven.  He will return again someday at the end of the universe.

Luke 24:46-53.  Jesus asserts his own prophetic calling to suffer and rise from the dead in order to bring all people to himself through the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus ascends to heaven to make way for the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:17-23.  May “the eyes of your hearts” see the hope for the riches of your glorious inheritance in all eternity that “the surpassing greatness of his power” has worked “for us who believe.”  God’s power has raised Jesus from the dead and then taken him up into heaven to be at his right hand. “And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”  Jesus ascended gloriously into heaven to have us follow him there.

Hebrew 9:24-28; 1019-23.  Jesus, the unique high priest who offered himself on the cross “once to take away the sins of many,” “will appear a second time,” coming back down from heaven “to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trust worthy.”

Psalm 47.    “God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts.” “Sing hymns of praise.  God reigns over the nation.” The One who is gloriously almighty  loves each one of us dearly.

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 26, 2019

East6C19.   Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29.   Some of the Jewish converts to Christianity said to the other converts, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”  They obviously thought that Jesus was the Messiah or Savior only for the Jews, since they were saying that one must Jewish in order to be Christian.  This teaching upset many and disturbed their peace of mind.  Paul and Barnabas were among those who did not accept this understanding of Christianity.  There was much dissension. To decide this issue, the apostles and presbyters met in Jerusalem.  The result was: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.”  The Holy Spirit inspired them to recognize that salvation comes “through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11) and not through observance of the Mosaic Law.

John 14:232-29.  “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”  God must be respected and treated as God and not as just another person that we to have knowledge of.  As our God, especially as the God who loves us dearly, we owe our submission to his authority over us.  Jesus, who soon no longer was to be physically present, promises to send the God the Holy Spirit to continue the task of bringing salvation to whole world.  Jesus then says, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you.”  And then, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  His divine loving presence is always with us.  We need to draw a strength from his presence that will always keep us peaceful, free of fear.  Romans 8:31b reads: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:37 reads: “No, in all things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”  Peace and joy are a sure sign that we are living in Christ.

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23.  “The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”  This coming week we will celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven, as the Lamb of God.  This reading prepares us to envision him gloriously there. “I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.  The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”  Our faith is in the person of God.  All the physical things that exist in this world as a part of our faith, the Scriptures, church documents, church buildings, the Church governed from Rome will disappear when Jesus comes the second time because all physical things will disappear.  Their purpose was to help us live our lives out of the presence of God himself who becomes and is our life.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 19, 2019

East5C19.   Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27.    Paul and Barnabas go from place to place establishing the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ among the Gentiles.  As they prepared to leave each place and go on to the next, “they appointed elders for them in each church” so that the work of the church had a firm structure on which to continue until the Second Coming of Jesus.  Finally they went back to Antioch which had been their starting point.  “They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”  When the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the ‘church’, it is always referring to the people who had chosen to follow Christ.  In the beginning there were no church buildings, only synagogues and peoples’ homes. What makes a building a church is that is where God’s people gather to express and celebrate their faith, individually and communally.

John 13:31-33a, 34-35.  “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. In John 15:12, Jesus again says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus changes the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31; Matthew 19:19 & 22:39; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8) The measure in Christianity for loving is not how much we love ourselves but rather to love to the degree that Jesus loved and loves us, to the cross.  Secondly, we can love as Jesus loved to the degree that we live in Christ and draw upon his love for us.  Only after we have received God’s love, will we have a love, divinely received, that we can bring to others. Human love is filled with self-interest, giving so that we can receive from the ones to whom we have given. As Christians we ought not so much bring a love that we naturally have for ourselves to others but rather a supernatural love that we have received from Christ to bring to others.  In John 15:5 Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”  When we do what God has commanded of us, we do it, not out of own resources but out of what we have received from God. 1 John 4:19 reads: “We love because he first loved us.” To have any spiritual resources or grace we must remain in him as he remains in us. (John15:4a)  In John 17:26 Jesus said: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”  When we love as Christ has loved, all will know that we are his disciples.

The sign that Jesus’ passion and death is to begin is Judas’ departure from the Last Supper.  Then Jesus says, “Now is the son of Man glorified.”  His astounding act of love in his offering of himself to redeem us not only gives him glory but also the Father glory.  1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Revelation 21:1-5a.  God will and does now dwell with the human race “and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.”  “The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”  God takes all that was fallen and lost and makes it new by his love.

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 12, 2019

East4C19.   Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52.  Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to the synagogue to announce Jesus as the Messiah.  The next Sabbath the crowds that came to hear Paul and Barnabas were so great that the Jews “were filled with jealousy and contradicted them with violent abuse.”  To the delight of the Gentiles Paul and Barnabas announced to the Gentiles that they were now invited to follow Jesus because the Jews had rejected him.  The Jews “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.” “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”  To follow Christ is a joy in part because discipleship means that God the Holy Spirit lives in us giving us his heavenly life. This first reading says, “All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.”  I understand this to mean that God can see the future and know who will freely choose Christ and those who will choose to reject him.

John 10:27-30.  Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Jesus takes possession of those who have chosen to belong to him.  We listen to him as the only one who has eternal truth and follow him personally each day throughout the day.  We live with great joy because of the security we have knowing that he will never abandon us but will fiercely fight to keep us as his loyal sheep.  Jesus asserts that he says these things, not as only a human being but as God Himself.  His allegiance to us is based on his divinity and can never fail.

Psalm 100.   Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.”  In Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me (follow me) must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’”  I believe that the cross that is essential to be being Christian is that we must reject belonging to ourselves and our own will but rather to radically accept that we belong to God and his will alone.  To accept the status of being his sheep we must reject personal independence and live in total dependence on Jesus our Shepherd.  He is God alone.  Human nature, every moment of our lives, calls upon us to be independent, god of our own lives.  As long as we live on this earth we only successfully challenge our human nature with the endless help of the Holy Spirit.  Only he can enable us to live as true sheep of Jesus, the Shepherd.

Revelation 7:9, 14b-17.  “John had a vision of a great multitude,” which “stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”  Massive numbers of saints who had attained heaven stood before their all-powerful God.  They survived great persecution and attained the glory of the crown of martyrdom.  The Lamb, Jesus who offered himself up as the sacrificial offering to redeem us from our sins, shepherded them to heaven.  God wiped “away every tear from their eyes.”