In the Gospel last Sunday Jesus sent the Apostles out on a mission to preach the Good News to heal the sick and to free people of unclean spirits. Today, a bit later in the Gospel of Mark the Apostles have returned and are telling Jesus all that they did and said on their mission. Jesus sees the need for them to rest after their successful journeys so He gets them to go to a secluded place with him. Jesus is “tending to His flock” here, He is seeing to the needs of His closest followers making sure that they have food and rest after their labor. Next we see this crowd of people who have followed Jesus and His disciples to this isolated area “like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus then turns his attention to this “flock” and tends to their needs, teaching them the Good News.
In this Gospel Jesus recognizes the needs of the people around Him, His disciples need for rest and the crowds have need for the message of the Gospel. Jesus also recognizes our needs and is still active in the world, through the Church, strengthening us through the sacraments, especially through the Eucharist in which we receive Him as the food that gives everlasting life.
We all have needs to be met, but when we only look to the world to have our needs met we are missing the mark. Let us take the example of the Apostles and the crowd in the Gospel, let us take our needs to our Lord and Savior who gives us what we truly require.
Your servant in Christ,
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23 5th week ordinary time, cycle B
In today’s reading from St. Paul to the church in Corinth he states that he preaches the Gospel not for pay but because he has a divine commission that he has to fulfill and woe to him if he does not preach it. Paul understands the importance of his mission he does not preach the Gospel as a job to do and be paid for, he preaches the Gospel because he has been commanded by God to do so, this is the compulsion of a prophet. There is nothing for Paul to do than to preach the Gospel and that the reward for preaching is that very thing, to preach the Gospel without payment! It is as if there is a fire burning within Paul which compels him to preach the word of God and that the only way to gain any relief from this fire is to do that which he is compelled to do, preach that word! Paul, here, sets a very high standard for following the will of God in his life but God does not want everyone to be a Paul. We are all, however, called by God to discern what His will is for us at this point in our lives, no matter what age we are or what our station in life is. We must always pray that we are doing our best for ourselves and our families in keeping with our responsibility to love our God and neighbor as best we can, and to change the things in our lives that prohibit us from doing so. As brothers and sisters in Christ we can always implore our Father in Heaven for direction in life and ask that the Holy Spirit within each of us gives us the strength and courage we need to go where ever we are called.
Your Servant in Christ,
Christ the King 2017
There are numerous titles for Christ in our religious vocabulary and rightly so because Christ is the Savior of all and He is over all. Today as we celebrate the title of Christ the King of the Universe we are given an interesting image of His kingship. We have an enthroned Christ judging the nations and interestingly enough He is judging based on how the people treat Him the King. The twist in this parable is that the king is represented as being hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and in prison, all hardly situations that one would think that a king would be in. Obviously this king places himself in the midst of his people, becoming one of them, the one in need! As we see the intimacy between the king and his people and how the king places himself in the person of the one in need, we see the humble loving nature of our King, Christ the Lord who gives Himself up for us in sacrifice. Expecting the same self-sacrifice from His people, the King judges on the unique criteria of failure on our part to care of those who are in need. We are expected to emulate the loving giving nature of God when interacting with those in need, showing them the same loving concern that Christ demonstrated to us in His life, death and saving resurrection. So as we move into the season of Advent next week let our expectation of the birth of our King and Savior be an examination of how we treat one another, especially those in need, in order to be ready to meet the Christ child with open arms and a pure heart.
Your servant in Christ,
32nd Sunday Ordinary Time cycle A
Each one of us is going to die and we all know it and the readings we have for this weekend are about this very fact. In the early years of the Church it was thought that the second coming of Jesus was going to be very soon, that Christ would return within their lifetimes, therefore Paul writes about those who have already “fallen asleep” and those “who are left until the coming of the Lord.” The end will surely come for each and every one of us some sooner and some later and we do not know “the day nor the hour.” The Gospel message is very clear for us, even in the form of a parable, that some of us will be ready as the wise virgins were and some of us will not be ready as the foolish virgins were. This being so, what steps might we take to ensure that we have the “extra oil’ for our “lamps” when the Lord comes for us. It is interesting to note that oils are used in four of the seven sacraments of the Church, with no less than 2 oils used in Baptism alone, our first sacrament of initiation. In pointing to the sacraments we see, as Catholics, an important connection between ourselves and God, what better way to be ready to “meet our Maker” than participating in the gifts that He has given us in order to stay close to Him during our time on Earth. Being faithful to the Mass so that we can receive our Lord weekly in Communion and not just when it is convenient for us but even if it takes a great effort, demonstrates our love of God and enriches our souls with grace. Becoming regular attendees of the sacrament of Penance, not obsessively but regularly, helps us to reorder our lives in a way that moves ourselves away from our sins and toward God. Having regular prayer lives, communicating ourselves to God and being attentive to His responses is another way to ensure we are keeping our lives on the right track. In short keeping ourselves close to God here on Earth is a very good way to ensure that we will be with Him in eternity. Amen.
Your Servant in Christ,
29th Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle A
Over the past few Sundays we have been listening to Jesus preach in parables to the chief priests, Pharisees and elders of the people, telling them, in essence, that they will be replaced as the leaders of God’s chosen people and that the leadership will be handed over to others. In the second reading from Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul tells the people of the church that they were chosen by God. I believe that this point of being “chosen people” is not something that we think about as much as we should. Christ came into the world in order to bring about the Kingdom of God, to establish that kingdom Jesus chose His followers, the apostles, to be the ones who will begin to build His kingdom, the church, here on earth. Saint Paul, also chosen by Christ Himself, tells his followers that they did not come into the Church merely by hearing the word of God preached to them but that they were also chosen by God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Last Saturday over one hundred of our children and some adults received that same gift of the Holy Spirit at the sacrament of Confirmation, these were also chosen by God to become fully initiated Catholics into the Kingdom of God. The very fact that God not only chooses us but calls us to mission as well, should make us keenly aware of our need to discern what the will of God is in our lives. Since we are chosen and called we should be attentive of the situations that God puts us in and use our free will to choose to do the most good the most loving response that we can make, thus making our lives rich and productive ones in the Kingdom of God!
Your Servant in Christ
A reflection on Matthew 15:21-28
How is your prayer life? We all need to ask this question of ourselves from time to time lest we get into a rut of repetitive, trite or disingenuous prayer. The Canaanite woman in the Gospel today gives us a very good example of how to approach God with our needs. When the woman approaches Jesus initially, she apparently has heard of his fame as a healer and calls him by the title “Lord, Son of David.” When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he opened with “Our Father,” just as the Canaanite woman used the proper address for Jesus so we to use the identifier of our relationship to God daring to call Him our Father. The Canaanite woman is also persistent in her plea to Jesus even as she is ignored by Jesus and even when he refers to her as a household pet compared to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, she is still determined in her response. Jesus himself told us to be persistent in our prayers to the Father when he states, “will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night?” (Luke 18:8) The final characteristic of prayer that the Canaanite woman has is that of humility. The worst footing that we can be on with our Creator is the idea that He owes us something, on the contrary it is us who owes everything to our God, and there is nothing that we possess that He has not given us. Just as the tax collector in the Temple we should bow our heads, acknowledge ourselves as sinners before our Father and ask of His forgiveness. Remember there is always time for prayer even if it is a quick “thank you God” so let us imitate the Canaanite woman in the Gospel and pray with all of your heart.
Your Servant in Christ
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 2017
Christ waits for us. Christ waits for us as we work, as we play, as we sleep, He is ever there, patient and at the ready. There is never a time in our lives that Christ is not present for us to turn to even in our darkest of times. The Lord is faithful the Lord is true to His promises and the Lord is persistent in His search for His prodigal people. We have but to turn to Him even in our sinfulness and He will be there for us.
The presence of Christ in our lives never takes a more meaningful form than that of His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity that we receive in the Holy Eucharist. The Communion line offers us a wonderful analogy of how Christ abides with His people in our lives. The procession that we partake in on our way to receive the Eucharist should be a time of prayer, praise and worship. We reflect on the areas of our lives that need more Christ in them. We celebrate with our fellow worshipers the life giving food that we are about to receive, the food that gives us life eternal. We receive the Eucharist with a reverence and awe due to our Creator and King, and we do all of this together as that other body of Christ, His Church, His people. After the Mass is completed the words “go in peace” reach our ears, urging us to take Christ out into the world and for us to be Christ for all of those that we meet on our path.
This celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ is the celebration of our faith at its pinnacle, in what Vatican II called, “the source and summit” of our spiritual lives. May we be worthy of such a gift and may we be thankful to God for this treasure. Amen.
Your servant in Christ,