30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 27, 2019

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 27, 2019

30C19.   Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18.   “God hears the cry of the oppressed,” the orphan, the widow, the lowly and of those who serve him. Those who feel a need for God and who recognize that only God can give them what they need and desires to help those call upon him in their need, he will judge as being just and right.

Luke 18:9-14.   The Pharisee implies that he is better than the rest of humanity because he, and he himself only, makes himself better than the rest of humanity.   He knows what to do and gets the job done on his own without the help of anyone, not even God.  The tax collector, on the other hand, recognizes he needs God because without God he falls short of what God wants him to do and be; and so, he has become a sinner.  Jesus finishes this parable saying, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Humility requires of us to recognize that only with God’s help can we become holy and just.  Only with God actively working for us in our lives can we reach heaven.  Those who delude themselves in thinking that they can reach heaven without God will end up in hell.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18.   Paul is confident that he will go to heaven because he knows that day after day he did God’s will and worked with the strength that God had given him to promote the belief that Jesus is the Savior of the world.  He especially recognized the strength of the presence of God when he was being threatened with death for his preaching.  Paul finishes by writing: “The Lord will rescue from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.  To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”


30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 23, 2016

30c 10/23/2016

In the first reading(Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18) the author states that Yahweh is not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he does hear the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, the lowly, always affirming what is right.  In other words, those who are powerful because they have earthly resources can depend and use what they have at their fingertips, but those who are without earthly resources have God to call upon to enable them to obtain what is just and right.

The gospel reading this Sunday (Lk 18:9-14) starts: “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”  The Pharisee starts off by thanking God that he is so much better than ‘the rest of humanity’.  However, it is not recognize what God does that makes him so much better but what he does: “I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.”  The tax collector, however, has much to be sorrowful for but he puts himself in the hands of God’s mercy and power.  When God does it, it is truly done.  When we think we do it without God, it is a mirage.  If we please ourselves and not God, we are lost.  If we please God, no matter what others think, we have truly accomplished something.

In the second reading (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18), Paul sees himself as having been poured out like a cup of sacrifice and now he is empty.  He sees the Lord as ready to award him, and all who have lived longing for his appearance, “the crown of righteousness.”  Then Paul goes on to relate how “the Lord stood by me and gave me strength.” “And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2 Timothy 4:14 – Paul relates that Alexander the coppersmith had done Paul great harm.  Paul in insinuates that he had to defend himself against Alexander.)  “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.  To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  Paul proclaims his absolute dependence on God.  It is to God’s glory that we are saved, we are made holy, we are rescued from the evils of this world, from our own self-righteous inclinations.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 20, 2019

29C19.   Exodus 17:8-13.  The Israelites were battling the Amalekites to the death.  “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.  Aaron and Hur helped Moses keep hands up until Joshua, commander of the Israelite forces, mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”  The “Lord, who made heaven and earth,” helped his people to victory because Moses appealed to him persistently with raised hands.

Luke 18:1-8.  ”Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.”  He then tells of a widow who keeps bothering the unjust judge persistently without any sign of giving up until she got a fair decision against her adversary.  Widows were considered powerless without a male to protect them but this widow put her faith in God without any earthly being to help her.  In Luke 11:10 Jesus says: “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  People of faith entrust themselves into the hands of God, our Father, as do babies into the hands of their parents.  1 John 5:14 reads, “And we have confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Our journey through life on the way to heaven is filled with joys and troubles.  Trusting in the Lord through it all requires, demands, makes it absolutely necessary to live each moment with the Lord as the strength that will enable us to remain faithful till our final moment here.  Jesus ends this reading with a question that deals with our discouraging earthly frailty: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  I think that Jesus answers his own question in John 17:12: “When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.”  This Sunday’s psalm 121 reads: “The Lord is your guardian;” and further on: “The Lord will guard you from all evil; he will guard your life.”  He never sleeps; he is always vigilant.  Jesus says in John 16:33 to assure us:  “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.  In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18.  As with any journey we must know where we are going and how to get there.  As we go through life, we need to take advantage of every opportunity to learn the “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  The Holy Spirit is forever active in guiding us by using Scripture and the wisdom (mind) and courage (heart) given to us through others who become part of our lives through the years.  The Holy Spirit is “our help from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” He uses some of the things of this earth (as in the pages of the Scripture) and the people (whom he sends us on this earth) as the earthly means to help us for our spiritual benefit.  We must be ever mindful that life has been given us as a one-time opportunity to reach eternal happiness.  If we are mindless and careless, we risk eternal hell.


29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2016

29C 10/29/16

Recently, I tried to use a ball point pen and it just would not write at all.  I tried a few more and, although, I got some of them to work for a little while, they would stop, then start again, and stop yet again.  They had either completely or partially dried up.  Such is our spiritual life when we don’t pray or just pray every now and then.  Our spiritual life runs dry or lackadaisical.  We have spiritual life when we are the branch that is connected to the vine and only insofar as we stay connected.

Prayer has many forms.  Aaron’s raised hands were his way of communicating with Yahweh.  Yahweh answered in return by giving the Israelites the victory as long as he was in prayer, i.e., as long as his hands were raised.  In Luke 18:1-8, it says,   ” Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.”  God will answer our prayers as he sees fit or as he sees things, i.e., according to his will.  I understand the phrase “without becoming weary,” to mean without stopping our prayer or becoming lackadaisical.  Otherwise, we cut ourselves off from the only true source of goodness.

In 2 Timothy 3:14-44:2, Paul writes, “ Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  The sacred Scriptures that Paul is referring to, are what we call the Old Testament.  Paul’s   ‘2 Timothy’ is, in fact, an example or part of the New Testament in the act of being written.  When we read the Scriptures, not only in an intellectual mode, trying to understand what the words are saying, but also in a prayerful mode, trying to listen to what the Holy Spirit may be saying to us through the words of Scripture, then we are capable of receiving “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

In the last line of Luke 18:1-8, it says, ”But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Jesus finds that all too many people fail to respond or respond only half-heartedly to him.  Some do become weary and are not persist.

These Sunday readings require rebirth(Jn.3:1-9), i.e., leaving behind, burying many habits that have become ingrained from our infancy: to be independent, self-reliant, not needing anyone, not even God. The devil and secular society do everything to reinforce those behaviors, those mental & emotional sets. To be truly a follower of Jesus & led by God, the Holy Spirit, we ought to die through the grace of God to one’s old self, to be reborn a new person in Christ, a person who is reliant only on the Lord, dependent on God every moment.

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 13, 2019

28C19.   2 Kings 5:14-17.  “Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God.”  Jesus himself had been baptized in the Jordan.  The symbolism of plunging below the water and rising up can be seen for Naaman as a cleansing as well as a resurrection from all that was sinful and a life lived in the belief of false gods.  Naaman “stood before Elisha and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” He had found not only good health in place of leprosy but even more important a holiness that gave him eternal life.  Elisha rejects Naaman’s gift because he acts only to receive his reward from God and not any human being.  As well as Naaman Elisha lives for what is eternal and not just for what is temporary.

Luke 17:11-19.  Jesus has compassion on the lepers and cleanses them. Only the Samaritan, (who was deemed to be a wretched traitor to what was considered the only true Judaism because worship was thought only acceptable that was centered in Jerusalem) “realizing he had been healed, returned glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Jesus “said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.’” Apparently the other nine were so self-absorbed and self-centered that they could not think beyond and outside of themselves to the Giver of the incredible gift they had just received. The nine received a gift that could only last to the grave; the Samaritan received the gift that was temporary also but more importantly the gift of faith that was eternal. The nine probably thought just of themselves returning to a normal healthy life. Living our lives within the boundaries of our own self is to live in a small insular world; living our lives with God as the center is to live in a world that is boundless.

2 Timothy 2:8-13.  Paul is witnessing from the sufferings of his own life to the necessity to endure the difficulties of staying on the narrow way in world that cannot understand or accept anyone who is not self-serving but is God-centered instead.  Jesus says in John 17:14a, b: “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world.”  Paul writes, “This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.”  This world apart from God is only empowered to provide for us up to the grave and not beyond.  Only God can give what is eternal.

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 4, 2016

28C – 10/4/16

In the first reading from 2Kings 5:14-17 and in the third, from Luke 17:11-19, lepers are cured.  In the OT reading, the prophet Elisha cures the Aramean general Naaman who returns in thanksgiving to embrace the God of the Jews, and reject the gods he had previously worshiped; in the Gospel reading Jesus cures the 10 lepers but only the Samaritan returns to glorify God and kneel before Jesus in thanksgiving.  Both were foreigners.  The Jews had always seen themselves as God’s only Chosen people and consequently all other peoples as rejected, worthless trash, rejected by God.  However, since God cures both Naaman, the Syrian, and the Samaritan (who returns to thank Jesus/God and, in effect take him as his Savior,) both   foreigners/non—Jews, (have been cured and have embraced God as their Savior and, in turn,) God has embraced them as saved and valued by God as his People.  Both of these events contradict the Jews’ belief that they are God’s only People.

Both the OT & the NT readings are asserting that God’s People are those who live in thanksgiving to God for His goodness to them and who worship him as their God, the God of their lives.  God chooses those who choose him to be their God and who recognize Him as the Ultimate Giver of all things good.  God chooses those who consequently live in thanksgiving to God for his daily goodness to them (“Give us today our daily bread).  It is His goodness, his goodness alone that sustains us and that makes us good which is to say, holy, able to live with Him forever in heaven.

Some people might think that they are the ones who work hard to produce the goods that their family has.  Indeed they have worked hard with the life that God gave them, with the talents & capabilities that God gave them, with the education and training and opportunities that God gave them through others.  As a thankful people we choose to recognize that daily our God acts a generous, kind, thoughtful, caring Father.  We choose to be His grateful children who live in his abundance.

St. Paul writes in 2 Timothy, “Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal  glory.  This saying is trustworthy:  If we have died with him, we shall also live with him.”  Paul uses the words “bearing,” “dying.”  Following Jesus means leaving something of ourselves behind forever.  It is quite natural, that is to say, an essential part of human nature to want to run our own lives, provide for ourselves, go with feelings that makes us feel in charge of our person.   For me to choose God as the God, that is Lord and Master, of my life is to die to something that is naturally a part of me.  To follow Christ means to leave something of me behind that is quite naturally a dear part of me, to gain something infinitely greater and more precious. “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 Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.(Galatians 2:19c – 20

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 6th, 2019

27C19.   Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4a.   “How long, O Lord?  I cry for help but you do not listen!”  The disloyalty of Judah to their God brings on their destruction by the Babylonians.  God punishes the evil people but the just suffer too.  “But the just one, because of his faith, shall live.”  Those who remain faithful to the Lord need to remain faithful despite their sufferings.

Luke 17:5-10.   “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”  These fishermen were practical people.  You cannot eat the fish that got away but you could have fun talking about them.  It is one thing to know what you see and have in your hand but another just to simply believe that the Lord will provide while right now you have nothing in hand.  I love this example of the mulberry tree.  When I lived in the country, the mulberry tree was like an unwanted weed because the birds would eat the berries and their droppings would plant them in every place they were not wanted.  For this reason I believe Jesus selects the mulberry tree to be uprooted and destroyed.  The point is not that the purpose of faith is to destroy mulberry trees but to destroy what is malevolent and destructive.  Faith is a life lived in the power of God’s hand and not in the illusion of our own.

This next line can be difficult for many because we wish to be recognized for our own good faith efforts.  We live in a world of hours and wages and files in the personnel office of our work.  Our natural instinct is to be rewarded in proportion to our service and so we are busy calculating that in our own mind and heart.  In the spiritual world, in God’s world, we leave all that to God, free from judging ourselves and others as to what our efforts are worth.  To the degree that we are recipients of the gifts God has given us, we do our best and do not waste our useful time and resources mulling over what rewards we deserve. Leave the measuring our merits to God.  The household of God is like many of our own family households here.  Little will get done if we are measuring what we have done against what others have done or failed to do.  God has entrusted his love for us to move us to love him in return.  God rejoices in love returned for love given but is not dissuaded for love that is not accepted and responded to but continues to love whether accepted or rejected.  If gratitude is given or not, God is our example to never stop loving.

2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14. Some precious verses in this reading are: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”  “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God”.  God gives us the strength we need in persecution or temptation. “Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwell within us.”  The ‘trust’ is like a savings in the bank.  We have been given much; recognize what a treasure it is.  Guard it through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, who is our spiritual life within us.  Without him we will become nothing but the dirt of this earth.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 29, 2019

26C19.   Amos 6:1a, 4-7.   Judah and Israel wallow in their luxury, “yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!”  The House of Joseph is the kingdom of Israel or northern kingdom which was facing total collapse and destruction yet the people were lost in their material and physical pleasures, refusing to face the consequences of being lost in their ‘wanton revelry.”

Luke 16:19-31.  This parable of the rich man and Lazarus does not incriminate the rich man because he was rich but because he did not accept the obligation that his wealth put upon him to share out of his superabundance with Lazarus who had nothing.  In the parable of the separation of the sheep from the goats, Jesus said in Matthew 25:45-46: “The Son of Man will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  As Jesus poured out himself in love for us, we must extend ourselves in love for one another.  In refusing to aid the poor man in his torment the rich man had to face the consequences of his behavior.  Jesus said in John 5:28-29: “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, and but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.”  This is called the final judgment because God has given us our time to live out our choice: to accept him and his reign over us or to go some other way.  He has set our time here.  Once that runs out, there is no more.  What we have chosen we have chosen.  Jesus continues in the parable, saying through Abraham: “Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.”  The rich man appeals yet again, saying, “’If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’”  Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”

1 Timothy 6:11-16.   I want to quote some of the lines from this reading, blending them together in my own way. “Lay hold of eternal life.”  I charge you” “to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ,” “who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see.”  We must prepare to enter heaven by living a heavenly life now.  Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and all your strength.”

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 22, 2019

25C19.   Amos 8:4-7.      Amos bemoans the fact that the well-to-do could follow the Law on one hand but on the other behaved like the devil in the way they mistreated the poor and those who could not defend themselves.  However, the Lord promises just retribution when he says through Amos: “Never will I forget a thing they have done.”

Luke 16:1-13.  In this parable the rich man dismisses his wasteful, squandering steward.  In considering his options the steward shrewdly and ruthlessly develops a plan to provide for his future at the expense of his master.   The parable continues, saying, “And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.”  The word ‘prudently’ in this case means that he cunningly calculated what he needed to do to turn things around to his advantage. The parable continues by saying, “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”  What I think Jesus is saying is that the children of darkness are more diligent, industrious and sophisticated in promoting their dishonesty that the children of light in promoting their Lord and Master.  Jesus goes on to make it clear that we must first be worthy of his trust in us by doing well with the small things he gives us.  The ‘true wealth‘ that Jesus refers to, that we will be entrusted with, is his life in us, his dwelling within us, that will make us fruitful in bringing others to him.  Jesus continues by saying: “No one can serve two masters,” meaning that we must be wholly devoted to one or to the other.  He goes on: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”  Life in this world challenges us day after day. To whom do we belong: the material, the flesh, self-centeredness or God, the spiritual, self- surrender.  Paul in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 wrote, “Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all evils.”  The center and love of our lives must be God, for he is the one and only God, and from our love for him must flow all our other loves.  Jesus said in Matthew 6: 20-21: “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

1 Timothy 2:1-8.   In offering “supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings” we are implicitly saying that it is God upon whom we depend for any and all of goodness in this world.  Then Paul gives a short and concise creed to establish the hub or center around which everything turns: For there is one God.  There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all.”  This is the truth that Paul was commissioned to speak.  Paul continues, “It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.”  Paul is asserting that, if we want anything truly good in our lives, we must go to God in pray.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 15, 2019

24C19.   Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14.   God brought his people out of Egypt BUT they had something of Egypt in them that they brought with them, the worship of idols.  They had lived in Egypt for so long that they had taken on some of the Egyptian ways. Moses had gone up the mountain to listen to what the Lord had to say to him and so Moses had left Aaron in charge of the people in his absence.  However, Exodus 32:25b says, “Aaron had let the people run wild,” saying to Moses who had returned in Exodus 32:22c, “You know well enough how prone the people are to evil.”  Exodus 32:9-10b relates: “I see how stiff-necked this people is.” continued the Lord to Moses. “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.”  However, Moses then convinced the Lord to be merciful to them.  Exodus 32:14, states, “So the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.”  In Exodus 34:6, “Thus the Lord passed before Moses and cried out, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin.”

Luke 15:1-32.   First with two short parables and with the lengthy parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus relates how joyful God and all the heavens are at the repentance of even one sinner.  God has this great joy because of his love and mercy toward and for all his people.   In the parable of the Prodigal Son the older son represents the scribes and the Pharisees who fastidiously follow the Law.  For the older son there is no mercy or forgiveness.  The father represents God our Father.  In the prayer that Jesus taught us are the lines: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Jesus says in Luke 7:37c, “Forgive and you will be forgiven,” and also in Luke 7:38b: “For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured out to you,”   Jesus demands that those who follow him love as he loved, even to the cross.

1 Timothy 1:12-17.  Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Of these I am the foremost.  But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those come to believe in him for everlasting life.”  Paul makes it clear that it was by God’s merciful, patient love and not by Paul’s works that he is saved.  Paul, who was very prominent in so many peoples’ lives, wants to stand out as a sinner who has been put well on the road to sanctity by the merciful, loving forgiveness of God.