17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 25, 2021

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 25, 2021

17B21.      2 Kings 4:42-44.  “A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits and fresh grain in the ear.”  When Elisha ordered the offering to be given to the people, his servant objected that it would not be enough for a hundred people.  Elisha responded that he is to give it to the people anyhow because the Lord says, “They shall eat and there shall be some left over,” and there was.  God provides and will always provide in abundance.

John 6:1-15.  Because he was performing many miracles to cure the sick, a large crowd followed Jesus.  Philip says that a large sum of money “would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”  Andrew said to Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”  Jesus had the crowd of about five thousand men and those accompanying them recline.  After they ate their fill, “twelve wicker baskets with the fragments from the five barley loaves” were collected.  “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.’   Since Jesus realized that they were going to try to make him king, he fled to the mountain alone to escape them.  He had come to be the Messiah of a spiritual kingdom and not of an earthly one.   The miracle of the multiplying of the earthly food was to proclaim that he would feed all people of all times with a spiritual food that gives life for all eternity.

Ephesians 4:1-6.  While in prison, Paul calls upon the Christians of the Church of Ephesus to bear “with one another through love so to be one body that breathes its life through one Spirit in “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” having one God and Father of all.”  He “is over all” and lives “through all and in all.”  When we live in Christ, we live in Christ together.  We are still each unique, united though different, diverse yet not divided.  Our life is God’s love for us; his love is the life that binds us to one another.

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

17B18.    2 Kings 4:42-44.   “Elisha insisted, ‘Give it to the people to eat.’  For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” The Lord provides abundantly.  Spiritually, if we try to live on our own efforts with little or no support from God, we will starve to death.

John 6:1-15.  “Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.  A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.”  He feeds them all, five thousand men plus at least as many women and children, from five barley loaves and two fish.  “When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’  So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragment from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.”  The power of God is infinite and he is always ready and willing to use it out of love for use.  However he wants nothing to be wasted, never using his power uselessly as just a way of flexing his divine muscles. He wants to see results or fruit that will benefit us eternally.  The people wanted to make him an earthly king but he wanted them to get to heaven where he would be their eternal king.  He had given them the bread of this world so that they would put their faith in him so to seek the spiritual life on earth that would give them a life in heaven.  He filled their stomachs for a day so to fill their souls for all eternity.

Ephesians 4:1-6.  If the bread of our spiritual life is God, then we are bound to one another in the one God who is the same source of spiritual life, common to all who find life from Him.  He gives us the love to bear with one another, since we all find that love in the “one God and Father of all.”  We are made one united by all going to the same table to feed our spiritual lives, Jesus, who keeps us in communion with him by sharing his divine life with us.  In Romans 12:4-5 Paul wrote: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.”  In Ephesians 4:15-16 Paul writes: “Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love.”  In Colossians 1:17 Paul wrote: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  We receive him Body and Blood so to have him as the source of the body’s life, the unity that is the Church, over which he is the head.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 18, 2021

16B21.    Jeremiah 6:1-6.   The leaders or shepherds of God’s People had not led the people well.  The Lord says, “You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds,” “I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble.” “I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely.”  “This is the name they give him: ‘The Lord our justice’.”  As Christians, we understand that shepherd to be Jesus.

Psalm 23.   “The Lord is my shepherd.”  He cares for us so that we live securely in his gracious love.  “Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come” in heaven.

Mark 6:30-34.  His disciples had just returned from a very demanding but wondrously fruitful mission.  Now Jesus wants them to retreat to a restful place so to grow spiritually in prayer.  However, people arrived there on foot ahead of them.  “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and began to teach them many things.”  We must be hungry for what only the Lord has and not lost in the consumerism of this world.  What this world gives does not satisfy and is only good to the grave.

Ephesians 2:13-18.  Through Jesus’ sacrificing himself on the cross both Jews and Gentiles are united in Christ.  Jesus “came and preached peace to you who were far off (the Gentiles of Ephesus) and peace to those who were near (the Jews), for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For in the Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” The same God who created us so that we may a life of love in him wishes us to be all united to one another in love of him.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

16B18.   Jeremiah 23:1-6.  Jeremiah prophesies that God will appoint shepherds who will lead God’s People in God’s ways and not mislead them as past shepherds had.  Jeremiah goes on to write, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David, as king he shall reign and govern wisely; and on to: “In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security.”  It seems to me that Jeremiah is thinking of an earthly king; whereas, we as Christians apply this to Jesus, the spiritual king, who will shepherd his people wisely.

Mark 6:30-34.  This gospel reading picks up from last Sunday’s reading after Jesus had sent the Twelve Apostles out to be the new shepherds of Israel, preaching repentance and validating and reinforcing their mission by curing the sick and driving out demons.  After that very demanding work, he says, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  Jesus felt that they needed to retreat from the intense busyness of this world to nourish themselves interiorly with prayer.  However, the people were in such great need for what Jesus had to offer they hastened to that deserted place on foot.  “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  He is the One to save them from being lost spiritually, and likewise us too.

Ephesians 2:13-18.   “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.”  The Gentiles have been brought near to their salvation by the redemption he has given them by offering himself as a sacrifice on the cross.  Paul also wrote in Colossians 1:20, “and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross [through him], whether those on earth or those in heaven.” Jesus made Jew and Gentile one “through his flesh, abolishing the law” “that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.” “Through him we both have access to one Spirit to the Father.”  Paul wrote in Colossians 3:11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.”  Jesus shepherds his flock together to the gates of heaven.

Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6.  “The Lord is my shepherd.” “He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake,” for he is true to who he is, the God of righteousness.  “I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”  God is a fatherly, all powerful God who uses his strength to care for me.  “You spread the table before me;”  “my cup overflows.”  God provides generously for all our needs. “In verdant pastures he gives me repose; besides restful waters he leads me.”  In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Caring for us as a mother cares for her young; he looks to see that we are refreshed to face the challenges that are to come.  He neither overwhelms us with his demands nor allows us to be overwhelmed.  He is the awesome God using his might to protect us, yet at the same time a God so meek and humble of heart looking after us in the smallest details.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 11, 2021

15B21.     Amos 7:12-15.   Amaziah, priest of Bethel, rejects Amos as a prophet.  Nevertheless, Amos declares that, even though he was only a humble shepherd, the Lord said to him, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”  Likewise, Jesus and his followers found that, though chosen by God, they too would be rejected by some.

Mark 6:7-13.  In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus had brought his disciples to his own hometown of Nazareth but was rejected by the people who knew him in the days before he started his public ministry, when he was still just a carpenter.  In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus sent out his Apostles “two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.”  They were to bring almost nothing for their personal physical needs but be dependent on the accommodating hospitality of those who welcomed them.  For those who rejected them, Jesus told them to “shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”  They “preached repentance,” “drove out many demons,” and “anointed with oil many, who were sick, and cured them.”  For using the spiritual power that Jesus gave the Apostles, they were to be justly compensated, “for the laborer deserves his payment.”  (Luke 10:7b)   Those who reject the spiritual grace that God gives in his paternal care will be without any resources whatever after death.

Ephesians 1:3-14.  God the Father chose us “to be holy and without blemish,” that is God chose us to be saints by living our lives in Christ and not as people buried in the ways and spirit of this world.  We were chosen from all eternity to be saints “so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.”  In baptism we “were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.”  May our lives be living acts of praise and worship of the God who has lavished us with the riches of his infinite love!   Accepting God’s love daily we are rich because of his infinite care for us.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

15B18.   Amos 7:12-15.   Amos tells Amaziah, priest of Bethel, that he had a way to earn bread as a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.  The reason why he is a prophet was not to earn bread, but that God himself called him to be a prophet.

Mark 6:7-13.  As God had sent out Amos, Jesus sends out the Twelve, representing his founding the new Israel, to preach repentance to bring the people into his new People of God.  He sends them out with the spiritual authority over unclean spirits but with little material resources.  Those who accept the invitation to follow Christ are to supply for the material needs of the Apostles; those, who do not, will have testimony given against them.

Ephesians 1:3-14.  This text is incredibly rich.  We have been blessed because God the Father has chosen us in Christ, “before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with  the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved” Christ.  To be the sons and daughters of the Father, God’s People, we have been called to be holy as he is holy so that we may live with him who is our Father in our new family home, heaven.  To become holy as he is holy is the work of the Spirit in us through the grace that our Father has lavished on us.  In accepting his redemption of us, we gain our inheritance to become “God’s possession, to the praise of his glory,” God’s holy People made new in Christ.” Life on the way to heaven is a daily experience of growing in our friendship with God by cooperating with the Spirit.  Every day is a wondrous joy because more and more Christ becomes our life, helping us to live a little more of heaven even while we are here on earth.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 4, 2021

14B21.       Ezekiel 2:2-5.     God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me.” “Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.”  They were locked into their way of thinking and feeling.  How natural it is for humans to become self-complacent and self-indulgent, and to make that our normal way of being.  We can easily think, ‘I know what I think and who I am,’ and that’s that.  So many say to God: “I feel right at home with the way I am.  Go away and do not disturb me by demanding that I change what feels so comfortable and right for me.” We do not want to trade what feels so normal and comfortable for something else.

Mark 6:1-6a.    Jesus returns to Nazareth but with his disciples, which is to say he is a wholly different person than the boy those towns people knew when he left there.  The people of Jesus’ hometown were astounded at the change and refused to accept that he was so different than the boy and young adult they knew for so many years.  “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?”  “Where did this man get all this?”  For them, he was asking too much of them to accept him to be so much more than what they had so long  thought of him to be.  “And they took offense at him.”  “So he was not able to perform any mighty deed (miracle) there.”  Jesus performed miracles to enable and lead people to believe in him as the Messiah or Savior.  When they locked the door against belief in him as Messiah, performing miracles made no sense because they refused to believe in him no matter what he did.  “He was amazed at their lack of faith,” their obstinance of heart.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  Apparently Paul had an affliction, which he does not name, that he “begged the Lord about,” “that it might leave.”  However, the Lord responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  In other words, the Lord was saying to Paul, ‘Your weakness invites me and enables me to be your strength.’  And so Paul writes: “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” because I am strong by the Lord’s strength and not my own useless attempt at self-sufficiency.  Our weakness leaves us open to replace our weakness with God’s strength. We live from what God supplies.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

14B18.   Ezekiel 2:2-5.   God sends his spokesman to his people who do not want to be God’s People but rather want to belong to themselves and not to God.  God says, at least, they will know that Ezekiel is a prophet sent to them by God.

Mark 1-6a. Jesus “came to his native place.”  He preached in the synagogue to the people who knew him from birth.  “Many who heard him were astonished.  They said, ‘Where did this man get all this?’”  “’Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’  And they took offense at him.”  As Catholics we understand that using the terminology ‘brothers and sisters’ does not mean that they are the children of Mary but rather that they are the cousins of Jesus and so members of Jesus’ extended family.  Also, I understand that they “took offense at him” to mean that all those who knew him from birth or for many years before his public ministry thought that they really knew this fellow Jesus and that now Jesus was falsely trying to come off as someone totally different than the person that they had known all those past years.  However, he was proving himself to be someone who had come of age to be the person he was really meant to be all along.  Now he was manifesting the divine call he had received by the authority he was showing in his words and miracles.  The people in Jesus’ native place, his hometown, were too locked into a previous conception they had of the person of Jesus.  They were being too human and nature bound and not allowing the spiritual (Holy Spirit) to change them.  “So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people.”  The object of the miracles of curing people was to build on their faith in him and help increase their spiritual life.  Jesus had no basis to work miracles since they refused to have any faith in him.  “He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10.   “Because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given me, an angel of Satan, to beat me to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’”  The notes that I read claim that Paul was afflicted, not by a physical or spiritual problem but, by person whom he found to be particularly challenging.  Paul had been gifted with quite many visions and ecstasies but, since he was not in heaven dead to this world, he still needed to live in the dirt of this earth.  Paul continues, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insult, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul is content because he knows that hardships endured with Christ on the cross lead to the joy of the resurrection. If we in our own right feel strong without God, that means that we have filled up ourselves with our own selves, leaving no room for God to be in us.  Feeling strong on our own right means that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we can do for ourselves what only God can do for us.   Coming to the recognition and acceptance that only God can give us the strength we need to prosper spiritually against the difficulties of this world is the first step toward holiness. Jesus in John 15:5 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.”

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 27, 2021

13B21.    Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24.    “God did not make death.”  For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.”  In Genesis God the Creator made only good things.  God is the source of all goodness, then and now.  When we live in God, the source of all goodness, our lives are filled with endless blessings.

Mark 5:21-43.  There follows two stories of two females who needed Jesus to supply their needs: one, an adult who suffered for twelve years without any source of relief; another, a twelve year old girl who needed to be brought back from what seemed to be an apparent death.  Both were helpless.  Jesus said to the synagogue official and, in a sense to us, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  It was the woman’s faith that released the curing power from Jesus without Jesus knowing exactly what had happened.   The synagogue official was willing to put his faith in Jesus despite the apparent death of his daughter and the negativity of the mourners.  God is ready to supply for our needs but we must have faith.

2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15. Paul tells the Corinthians that they have excelled in every way but there was yet another way in which they should excel.  Paul calls upon the Corinthians to supply monetarily for the needs of the impoverished Christians in Jerusalem.    Just as Jesus, in a gracious act, left the richness of living in heaven to embrace the poverty of living in this world as a human being, so should the Corinthians be willing to share some of their abundance to help those who have almost nothing.  As God supplies for our needs, we ought to be willing to help others in need.

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

13B18.   Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24.   “God did not make death nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.”  God did not create death but only life.  Death entered the world through the sinful disobedience of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12).  “God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.”  He made us to be his sons and daughters in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), living forever happily with him.

Mark 5:21-43.  Jairus pleads, “My daughter is at the point of death.  Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”  Despite the report that the daughter has died, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  Jesus goes and tells her to arise and she does.  Jesus gives her physical health as a sign to all that he wishes to give us the health that is eternal, called holiness.  He is the God that robs death of its power to be the eternal termination of life.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:52b:  “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:54c-55: “Death is swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

The woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years says to herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”  “She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.  Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my clothes?’”  Although he was jostled about in the crowd and many people were rubbing up against him, none had done so with the faith to be cured at that moment.  Her faith had released the curative energy from Jesus without Jesus even knowing who had done it.  The power of faith is that we hand ourselves to the power of God.  The God who created us to be loved by him and to live in his love forever is the God who will give only good things to those who wish to live in his love.  In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

2 Corinthians 5:21-43.  Apparently, expecting Jesus to return soon after his ascension into heaven to end the world and take all who believed in him to heaven, the Christians in Jerusalem sold all they had, shared the proceeds with one another and waited for the Second Coming of the Lord.  When the Lord did not come, they were living in abysmal poverty.  In this Sundays’ second reading, Paul makes an appeal to the Corinthians to support the Christians in Jerusalem.  Basically Paul is saying be generous as Jesus was generous, giving his life for us.  You who have much should give to those who have nothing so that both of you should have something.  This message blends in with the other two readings in that God is the generous giver who gives good things to those in need, even health to the sick and life to the dead.  Live in the goodness of God!