25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 24, 2023

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 24, 2023

25A23.    Isaiah 55:6-9.   “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near.”  Lost in our humanness, some may think that God does not seem to show up anywhere in one’s life. They think that perhaps God is lost in some other world.   God is not lost, we are.  God can be found; he has always been right here.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”  But the Spirit has been given to us to make God’s ways our ways by making room for God to be the very center of our lives, around whom and in whom our lives are lived.

Mathew 20:1-16a.  In this parable the landowner, who I believe is to be identified as Jesus speaking of himself, is saying that he will give heavenly goods not only to those who inherited them by birth, the Jews, but also to others who now receive heavenly goods by only recently putting their faith in Christ.  “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?” “Are you envious because I am generous?  Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  We receive God’s heavenly gifts here on earth by living a life of faith in him and thus becoming first.

Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.  Paul is saying that his life is all about Christ who is his life.  Everything Paul does, thinks or says reflects the Christ who is the one who is what Paul’s life is all about.  For Paul going up to heaven to have a complete and total union with Jesus would be great but there is still so much more to be done here on earth to accomplish the work that Jesus has for him to do for the benefit of the people to whom Jesus has sent Paul.  Paul is wonderful example for us to live our lives in the Lord.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2020

25A20.   Isaiah 55:6-9.   “Seek the Lord while he may be found.”  God is the only source of all that is good.  Those who are not dependent on the Lord for guidance will wonder around in the darkness and be hopelessly lost.   “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”  With the guidance of the Lord we will sink into an abysmal abyss of chaos and worthlessness.

Matthew 20:1-16a.  In reading the Scriptures, context is extremely important.  This reading follows the scene of Jesus’ encounter with the rich man where Jesus responds to Peter in Matthew 19:27, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?”  Jesus’s response is that they will receive a hundred times more than what they have given up plus eternal life.  Jesus then concludes as he does in today’s gospel: “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”  Who are the first and who are the last?  My understanding is that the ‘first’ are those who live by this world’s standards that those who get out and get whatever they can for themselves have more, i.e. grab what you can for yourself.  Jesus is saying that they will end up last. Those who live out of God’s generosity and so are considered in the eyes of this world to be last rather than living by their own greediness will end up first.  The Lord says in the first reading: “So high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”  When we live by God’s generosity, we will receive a hundred times more than what we put in.  When we live by human standards, we get back only what one gives.

Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a.  Paul wrote:  “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”  As Mary said in her “Magnificat,” also Paul is saying that whether he lives or dies, his body or person proclaims the greatness of the Lord.  Paul continues, “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” His life is all about Christ, whether he is in this world or the next, nothing else but Christ.  Life wherever we live it must be all about Christ.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

25A.   Isaiah 55:6-9.  “Seek the Lord while he may be found.”  Our time is limited here on earth.  While we are here, we have the opportunity to draw closer to him and he will draw us higher to him.  Our God is a generous God, “slow to anger and of great kindness.”  See how empty and meaningless is our life without God.  So high are his ways above our ways.

Matthew 20:1-16a.  At first it would seem that this parable is about the opposition of the human demands for fairness and justice versus God’s desire to be generous.  The parable starts off with the phrase that Jesus often used, “The kingdom of heaven is like.”  The usual daily wage that the parable is referring to is the reward of entering into heaven at the end of a life on earth in which we have successfully worked for heaven.  In that sense we all get the same wage.  The parable was pointed toward the Jews who thought that they were better than the rest of humanity and that God would always give them more.  “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  He was telling the Jews to live in God’s generosity and not their own sense of being a privileged people.  He was also telling the Gentiles that God would reward latecomers to faith in the one God with heaven just as much as the Jews who had longed toiled in the vineyard of the Lord.

Philippians 1:20c-24.  Paul says, “For me life is Christ, and death is gain.”  In 2 Cor. 5:8, Paul says, “Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.”  Paul’s statements show the fruit of a genuine spiritual life in Christ.  Living is all about God living in us and being our life.  This world wants us to put off thinking about departing from here and the spiritual preparations we need to make by crowding our minds and hearts with worldly cares and fear of death.  Life in Christ while we are here in this world allows us to live in the truth and security of an eternal reality where there is no need for fear or worry.  Interior peace comes from what is eternally true and not just exciting and passing.  Living Christ daily calls us to live in the light and put away the darkness.   Paul goes on, “I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better.” He is following up on, “Life is Christ and death is gain.”  To grow in a life in Christ is to realize how ridiculous fear of death is and how wonderful it is to look forward to the fullness of life in Christ in heaven. “Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.”  Always Paul remains obedient to God’s will.  God is saying to Paul, “Do my work for you in the world.  Wait on me to call you to heaven.”  May we all be obedient to that voice for us.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 17, 2023

24A23.   Sirach 27:30 – 28:7   “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.  Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord.”  What we ask for ourselves from God or neighbor, we ourselves should be willing to give.

Matthew 18:21-35.  Interestingly, the debtor/servant received forgiveness only once, not seventy-seven times.  Jesus’ message in this parable is be forgiving as God is forgiving, to forgive others as God has forgiven us.  God calls upon us to forgive with love from our hearts as God forgives us with love from his heart.

Romans 14:7-9.  Everything in our lives should be drawn out of the goodness that the Lord gives us.  Everything that is truly good is gift from the Lord.  Since everything that is worthwhile is from the Lord, we belong to the Lord.  Our God is both the origin and goal of our lives.  “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.” “We are the Lord’s.”  Our God is everything for us.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2020

20A20.   Isaiah 56:1, 6-7.   “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants,” “them I will bring to my mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.”  “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”   I assume that what Isaiah meant was that God was inviting all peoples to become Jews when he says for all who “hold to my covenant” that the Lord made to the original Israelites.  Nevertheless, now all peoples are invited to become God’s Chosen People.   Today’s Ps. 67 says: “May all the peoples praise you” and “may all the ends of the earth fear him.”  I understand the word ‘fear’ here means that all people should respect God as the God over us all and as the infinite God who created us to love as he loves.

Matthew 15:21-28.  This passage often scandalizes people.  The point of the Church’s including this scripture is that the invitation to salvation is extended to all peoples.  However, it raises two other concerns.  First, when the Canaanite woman for her daughter’s sake pleads to Jesus, “Lord, help me,” Jesus answers: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Immediately because of her faith, Jesus acquiesces to her request.  In Matthew 10:5a-6 Jesus said to the twelve disciples, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews saw his calling to be only to the Jews.  Jesus was raised Jewish.  The Jews saw themselves as people separated from all others, singled out to be the only People chosen by God. Jesus reflects his childhood upbringing in his initial answer to the Canaanite woman. Secondly, in his humanity Jesus grew and matured as any other human being does.  Luke 2:52 says: “and Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  Hebrews 5:8 says, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for who obey him.”  I see this event in the life of Jesus as a learning experience for him.  Not only did the Holy Spirit inspire the Canaanite woman to say, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters;” but also the Spirit inspired Jesus to  respond, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it done for you as you wish.”  Jesus, in his humanity, was learning every day; in his divinity, he knew, knows and will know all forever.  The Church’s magisterium teaches that Jesus was one divine person but had two natures, the human and the divine. Some may be tempted to think that the above means that he was half- human and half-divine.  NO!  Jesus was one divine person that had two natures.  Like the Trinity this is one of those divine mysteries that we only superficially fathom. Let the example of Jesus help us in our humanity to learn every day, especially in the spiritual realm.

Romans 11:13-15, 29-32.  Paul gives us something of a maze here.   My understanding is that the sinfulness of the sinner invites God’s mercy.  As the Gentiles received God’s mercy in their sinfulness so may the Jews receive God’s mercy in their sinfulness, their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.`  “For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.”  We are all sinners seeking to be saints.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

20A   Isaiah 56:1, 6-7.  Their captors, having themselves been defeated, can no longer hold the Israelites captive.  A remnant of the Israelites returns to restore Zion.  However, not only are the Israelites invited to build Zion.  In Isaiah56:3a, b, we read, “Let not the foreigner say, when he would join himself to the Lord, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”  As long as Gentiles become good Jews, abiding faithfully in the Law, they will make themselves acceptable to the Lord.  “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.  Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: Others will I gather to him besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:7c-8)

Matthew 15:21-28.  When sending out the twelve Apostles to bring people to believe in him, Jesus instructs them saying, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Mt. 10:5b, 6)  In Mt. 18:17, Jesus says, “If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” To be treated as a Gentile means to be treated as one who is not chosen to be one of his own people, which is to say that what belongs to God’s people belongs to them and only to them and not to the people who have not been chosen.  This is all to give a background as to why Jesus says to the Canaanite woman in our Gospel reading for this Sunday, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”   In summary, in the initial stages of his ministry, Jesus sees his mission as to only the Jews loyal to Jerusalem.

In Exodus 5:1b, Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and say, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Let my people go.”  Further on in Exodus 5:3, Moses and Aaron reply to Pharaoh’s negative answer, saying, “The God of the Hebrews has sent us word.”  The Old Testament indicates clearly that God had chosen his own people from among many peoples here on earth and not chosen all peoples.  He refers to himself as the God of Israel or of the Hebrews and not as the God all peoples.  That was to come much later but not at the time of the exodus.  This sense of being separate from the other peoples of the earth and chosen apart from other peoples by God was taught to Jesus all through his growing up as a young Jew.  In his humanness that was what he learned and became a part of his ministry.  In Lk. 2:52, we read, “And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  Jesus was truly God and truly man.  His divinity had to hold itself back to allow his humanity to be truly human in the way all human beings are.  Otherwise, his divinity, being as utterly awesome as it is, would have obliterated his humanity. Later, taught by his heavenly Father, his idea of his ministry would expand.  His Father teaches the man Jesus through the faith of the Canaanite woman in this Sunday’s Gospel reading and the faith of the centurion (Mt. 8:5-13) that not only does ministry call forth faith but also faith (the rich soil), or the preparation God has given to person to believe, calls forth ministry.  Wherever one finds the willingness to believe, one ought to minister.

Romans 11:13-15, 29-32.  In Paul’s ministry he finds that the majority of the Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah but many Gentiles accept him as the Messiah.  Paul expresses the hope that the Jews, seeing that the Gentiles have accepted Jesus, will make them jealous of the Gentiles and, by the merciful grace of God, lead them to be obedient to the call of God to accept Jesus as their Messiah too.




23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 10, 2023

23A23.   Ezekiel 33:7-9.    “Thus says the Lord: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel.”  Not only did the Hebrew cities live in danger of being attacked militarily but also morally, by adopting the idol worship of the peoples around them. The Lord appointed watchmen to keep his people on the straight and narrow of the Lord’s way.  In being responsible to God, God requires that we be responsible for one another.

Mathew 18:15-20.  Jesus had not only given authority to Peter over the church in his physical absence but also to small groups.  Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Jesus gave them authority to keep order in his church.  There were a series of procedural steps that they needed to go through but nonetheless Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  God calls us to love one another which includes invoking discipline over one another.

Romans 13:8-10.  Paul wrote, “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”  God acts only with love.  When we act as God acts, we act rightfully.


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2020

23A20.    Ezekiel 33:7-9.  God, speaking to Ezekiel, tells him that he Ezekiel must relay the warning that God wants to be given to the wicked man or else he Ezekiel will be held responsible for the wicked man’s death, should he not repent.  Failure to obey God’s call to warn the guilty party will be seen to be just as evil as that man’s wickedness but, if we do our duty and warn the wicked man, then we will not be punished.

Matthew 18:15-20.  Knowing that he is near to leaving his believers as a person who could physically and visibly walk among his disciples,  Jesus leaves instructions on how keep order and discipline in his church.  First, try to get the sinner to get his life in order by appealing to him one on one; but, if that fails, next bring in one or two others, to help the sinner to straighten out his life.  Yet if that fails, then bring him to the church assembly; but if that fails, treat him as one whom no longer wishes to be one of God’s people.  In other words, Jesus is saying that as his church we have the duty to exercise responsibility for one another as God’s agents in this world.   Church is any assembly or congregation of God’s people, even if it is just two or three believers.  Jesus promises to be present and active in the midst of those who gather in his name.  To gather in his name means that the believers come together as branches that are totally dependent on the one vine that is Jesus. (John 15:5)  Just as soldiers go into battle under one flag, the believers are united to one another through their mutual belief in Jesus as the Messiah.  We who are physically in this world speak and act in behalf of and in the name of Jesus.  We are ambassadors or people who represent Jesus.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20:  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Romans 13:8-10.   Paul says, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” He is saying that we are no longer bound by the Hebrew Law or Torah.  Our only law is to love God who is love and perfect obedience to him.  Jesus said in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”  In John 15:10: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

Note: When Jesus uses the expression ‘my commandments’, he is not referring to the ten Commandments of the Old Testament BUT being obedient to his WILL.  His will is his love for us.  The Old Testament commandments were a few ‘do this’ but mainly ‘don’t do this or that.  Obeying God’s will is infinitely more comprehensive than the Ten Commandments.  Do his will; obey his word and absolutely NOTHING else.  His will is his love for us.  Jesus said in John 14:23b:  “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.”  That is heaven on earth.


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

23A   Ezekiel 33:7-9.   Yahweh holds Ezekiel responsible for warning the wicked to the impending danger like the watchman warning the citizens of dangers that he sees approaching.  If Ezekiel fails to issue the warning and the wicked continue in their ways, then both shall be lost; but, if he does warn them, even if the wicked remain wicked, Ezekiel shall not be held responsible.  This theme of having a reasonable sense of responsibility for one another because God demands this of us is continued in the other two readings.

Matthew 18:15-20.  Jesus requires that the church community he is establishing has a system of familial correction to deal with sinfulness in its midst so to maintain a necessary level of spiritual integrity.  First, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”  The church that Jesus desires to establish should be like a family relationship with God as our Father.  The binding force in the church relationship should be our caring for one another in Christ.  After a continuing effort at reconciliation that spirals out like concentric circles including more and more people that calls the sinner to reform and yet the sinner refuses to reform, the sinner must be excommunicated from the church community.  In Jewish terms that meant to treat the sinner as one would a Gentile or a tax collector who were outside the Jewish community.  The Christian church community that Jesus seeks to establish has the right and responsibility to maintain its spiritual integrity that distinguishes it from the world outside of itself and so he said, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  In other words, Jesus endorses the church community’s decision.

Continuing in that same line of standing with the church community’s decisions, Jesus says, “If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  The phrase ‘in my name’ means that we come together under God’s authority and in accord with his will.  “There I am in the midst of them” should be understood to mean that the church community sees itself as an instrument to accomplish God’s will and not its own will apart from God or that God is obedient to the church community’s will.  “All things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:18c)  Now that we have God in our midst there is no longer any need for an Old Testament law.  God is the center of the Church’s life.  We do all through him, with him and in him.

Romans 13:8-10.  Fulfillment of the law by loving one another is the lesson of this second reading.  The measure of how much we love others as the measure by which we love ourselves (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.) is made obsolete by the measure of love by which God loves us in his Passion and Death.  Jesus tells us in John 14:34, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved, so you also should love one another.”  God’s love is the measure by which we should measure our love.  “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 03, 2023

22A23.    Jeremiah 20:7-9.    Jeremiah, like anyone else, desired to live in peace and tranquility but the Lord imbued him with an irresistible drive to confront the Hebrew authorities with their refusal to be obedient to the Lord.  That led Jeremiah to be forced to live being mocked, laughed at and derided.  Our natural desires often must give way to the will of the Lord.  At times that can be painful and disturbing.

Matthew 16:21-27.   Jesus was preparing his followers for his eventual departure from this world in his human state by placing Peter as the head in his place and informing them of his future suffering and death.  Peter, thinking in ways that came to him naturally, told Jesus that he did not think it made any sense for Jesus to suffer and be killed.  Jesus received Peter’s rebuke as a way in which Satan was trying to get Jesus to reject his Father’s Will.  Jesus said to Peter, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human being do.” To belong to God and not to the ways of this world requires that we live in submission to God and reject or deny belonging to ourselves and our ways of thinking.  Only God can see what is truly good for now and for all eternity.  We can easily delude ourselves and think that we have it right and leave what God thinks out of the picture.  Our life time conduct, the lives we actually live in accord with God’s will or not, declare whether we deserve heaven or hell.

Romans 12:1-2.  In replacing the Mosaic Law instead of offering up animal sacrifices as worship, Paul writes that we now spiritually offer up our “bodies as a living sacrifice,” which is to say, we offer up our lives.  Do not think in the way this world thinks “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God,” and do only what is pleasing to him.