Lectionary Cycle B
LIVING THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM
A LAYMAN'S LOOK AT THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - What's in it for me?

Whenever we are faced with having to make adult choices, it is very difficult for us to be totally selfless.   We are innately self centered. Subconsciously, at least, we are always asking: "What's in it for me?"

Religious decisions are no exception.   If we deliberately choose to become disciples of Jesus, we, too, like James and John, might ask: "What reward do you promise? Will we become powerful and famous? "

Jesus doesn't play those kinds of games.   He makes it very clear that, if we choose to follow Him, we are asking to become suffering servants, I like Him.    We will be expected to make ourselves vulnerable and expendable. The only greatness we can expect is to be asked to make great sacrifices, to become heroes through suffering and humiliation.

Why, then, do millions of people continue to choose deliberately to become disciples of Jesus?  Obviously, this discipleship must offer its own rewards   not in terms of power and possessions, but in terms of great inner peace, of fulfillment, and of the great satisfaction that comes from loving and serving unselfishly .

Persons, who, like Jesus, are willing to die to self for the love of God and neighbor, are rewarded with an incomparable sense of joy and well being.   They are freed up from grasping, greed, insecurity, disappointment and despair. They truly find fulfillment: in serving others rather than in being served.   They are content to be considered the least.   They measure their importance in terms of their compassion and sensitivity.

All of this may seem very theoretical, just a lot of words. But we are all challenged by the demands of the Gospel in the real world of our daily lives.   We are expected to be just, to be forgiving, to be servants, to be poor in spirit, to be merciful   and, with each decision, we might well ask: "What's in it for me?" 

Obviously the answer can only come from the depths of our love for Jesus, and from the example of His own life, death and resurrection.  It is coming around full-circle in our understanding of His words: "whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all."
 
The mission of Jesus surrounds all of us.  It is a call to follow in the footsteps of the Lord and of his first disciples.  This Sunday, October 19th, the Holy Father will officially proclaim Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a "Blessed of God" - and I think it is quite interesting that the Gospel points to this particular passage on a day that celebrates one who devoted sixty-five years of her life serving the poor, the homeless and the destitute of this earth - a person who never once asked "What's in it for me?"

Mother Teresa spent her entire life taking care of those she lovingly called "the poorest of the poor."  She said she saw Christ in the faces of the poor, the outcast, the maimed and the dying. She felt they all deserved what she called "the delicate love of God."

Wherever she went, her message was the same: Love the poor. "I think it is really important that we all realize they are our brothers and sisters", she once said, "and we owe that love and care and concern to one another."

"We can do no great things; only small things with great love."   This was her driving force - her way of looking at life and dealing with its harsh realities.  With the gentle touch of her hand, with the compassion of her immensely loving heart, and with the courage of a warrior in battle, she not only worked for the poorest of the poor, but she immersed herself in their lives and lived their life to the fullest.

Very few of us are able to dedicate ourselves so totally to others, as Mother Teresa did throughout her life.  But if most of us honor her life's work by giving just a little more of ourselves to our brothers and sister, then the healing will be easier and the world will be better for it.

The Lord is not necessarily calling us to such drastic measures to preach the Gospel.  But He is calling us to get our priorities straight; He is asking us to speak out and to do something real and concrete about injustice and human dignity; and He is challenging us to sacrifice our complacency and comfortable-ness for the sake of our fellow pilgrims, at home as well as abroad. 

If we can do just this, then we will find that the answer to "What's in it for me?" is far beyond what we could have ever hoped for.

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Without a Shepherd
The warning of Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of God, bemoans those "shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture." The "shepherds" that Jeremiah is referring to are Israel's rulers. The nation's rulers, along with the priests and prophets, were supposed to play a role in helping the nation fulfill its vocation as God's people. Yahweh had carefully and lovingly shepherded Israel and Judah. But those whose duty it was to be His instruments were, for the most part, a huge disappointment. Without good and righteous leadership, the very covenant between God and the people had suffered.
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Being Sent
The Scriptures speak to us today about election, about being chosen by God to be His instruments and witnesses, and about putting our trust in His presence and power to accomplish our mission.  
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - How It Is With The Kingdom Of God
There are thirteen parables in the Gospel of Mark. Two of them appear in today's Gospel. And Jesus introduces today's parables by saying, "This is how it is with the kingdom of God…." "Let me tell you about the kingdom of God..."
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Where are We?
The Genesis story in our First Reading today sums up the human situation then and now; our human existence is broken, relationships are destroyed by blame and mistrust. We all yearn for the Garden of Eden - how it was before sin was introduced into the world.  And we all have a sense of how life should be, how we desire it to be. But we are always confronted with the harsh realities of how it really is. 
2nd Sunday of Easter - A Word that Changed Lives
Today's Scripture reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus brings the gift of peace, and the mission of forgiveness. It also captures the early skepticism of Thomas, and certainly that of many others with him.
Holy Week: Living Holy Week Every Day...
The story of the Passion is a one which continues today – and every day - in our lives and the lives of the people all over the planet – in the lives of the poor, in the lives of refugees and immigrants, in the lives of people in prison, in the lives of people on death row, in the lives of single parents, in the lives of the elderly, in the lives of soldiers and combatants and noncombatants, in those who are victims of racism, in those who are powerless,  and even in the life of the planet earth which has been so abused.
2nd Sunday in Lent - Change and Conflict
The second Sunday of Lent in all three liturgical cycles features Abraham and Sarah’s story.  Today’s reading is a focal one in Genesis and in the faith history of the Jewish people.  It begins with God’s command, "Go forth."  But underneath the story of Abraham and Issac is the very common story we all participate in.  All stories have the same characteristic, they contain some kind of change and conflict along the way to new life.  This is the hope this story of Abraham stirs up.  The promise isn't that things will be easy; what makes the end hopeful is that God promises to “Go Forth” with Abraham and Sarah as well.
2nd Sunday of Easter - Shock and Awe
Aftershocks are very disconcerting. They keep us living on the edge. They give us a radically new outlook on the permanency and security of physical things. They unclutter our lives very swiftly, effectively, and sometimes very painfully. They open our eyes and let us see how fragile we really are.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Testimony and Witness
There is a grace present in all of Scripture, a grace that we too often narrowly associate only with scriptural figures. The God of today’s Jonah story is the same God we see Jesus reveal to us in the Gospel. Both readings today are tales of mercy, freely given, unlimited and unearned. God, it seems, is free to bestow mercy on whomever God chooses.   Yet that same grace is eternally present and given, just as freely, to each of us.
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Called by Name to Serve
The Gospels over the last few weeks have asked us to think about some very important things: the revelation of God's presence in the world with the Feast of the Epiphany; our remembering the beginning of His public mission with the feast of His Baptism; the very personal invitation that we all have received from the Lord at our baptism - and the commitment we that we make to that invitation.
The Baptism of the Lord - Beloved of God
Christmas and Epiphany have come and gone, but we are not finished with the revelations, epiphanies and manifestations of Jesus. We can point to three mysteries that celebrate the Lord's Epiphany: the arrival of the Magi at the birth of Jesus; the story of the changing of water into wine at Cana in John's Gospel and the stories of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan. These early Gospel stories begin the revelation to us of who Jesus is and what his mission will be.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Inner Circle
One of the hardest things to overcome in human nature is the tendency to categorize people between those who are "in" and those who are "out."  We all want to be accepted by our own inner circle of family and friends,  and exclusion by contemporaries can be painful and even damaging.  People derive a sense of self worth and a way of exerting power over others by belonging to a group that, in their own eyes, seems to be better than others.  To maintain acceptance we may even keep silent when we should object to unkind behavior or conversation by our peers.
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Smallest of Seeds
The Church's liturgical year revolves around the focal points of the mystery of our faith, and are divided into "seasons" that mirror the major feasts celebrated by the community: The Seasons of Advent and Christmas, the Seasons Lent and Easter.  Today, we return to "ordinary" time.
3rd Sunday of Easter - Follower... Disciple... Witness
  Things really didn't turn out the way the disciples had planned. They traveled with Jesus for almost three years, had observed many wonderful things and probably expected more of a "return on their investment." With all his miracles and victorious confrontations against the religious authorities, with the crowds flocking to him, he looked like a winner to all of those who followed him. They had secretly hoped to sit in glory with him when he came into his earthly kingdom.   
3rd Sunday of Lent - Bearing Fruit
We continue to travel through the season of Lent on our way to celebrate the Easter Vigil - the sacred, ancient ritual that enshrines the essential mystery of our faith - passion, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In a very brief time, we will have walked the road of salvation history, listening to the words and stories, watching signs and symbols, seeing unfold before us God's plan and promise for human life.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Like Little Children
The story of the disciples arguing over “who is the greatest” is a wonderful lesson in humility. But it is also one of accountability. Page after page of the Gospels speak of Jesus’ unwavering concern for the beggars, the widows and orphans, the homeless, the jobless, the rejected and the oppressed. But the disciples just don’t seem to have a clue. We can almost seem to hear them protest: "What has any of this to do with the kingdom of God?
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Coming to Sight
If Christianity is to have a worthwhile message to the contemporary world, it must be based on the vision of God that we have received from Jesus himself. It must be based on what He himself saw his mission to be.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ephphatha
  In some ways, what we do at Eucharist every week is a kind of “practice field” for how we should behave when we leave the altar to return to our daily lives as Christians in the world.  If we really listen, if we are truly paying attention to what The Word is saying to us, then we will have recognized the true meaning of what we are experiencing; we will truly know the one we seek. And maybe we may be awakened to the fact that what we are hoping for in a messiah and what we actually have in Jesus, are very different indeed!
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Moment of Decision
  Today, we come to a very important  "moment of decision" faced by Jesus' disciples. Will they continue to follow him in a way that will bind them into a covenanted community - diverse, yet one people? Or will they, too, return to their former life and walk away? Their decision will not only connect them to Jesus, but to each other and will also affect each and every day of their lives.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Gathering the Remnant
The warning of Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of God, bemoans the "shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture." The "shepherds" that Jeremiah is referring to are Israel's rulers. The nation's rulers, along with the priests and prophets, were supposed to play a role in helping the nation fulfill its vocation as God's people. Yahweh had carefully and lovingly shepherded Israel and Judah. But those whose duty it was to be His instruments were, for the most part, a huge disappointment.
4th Sunday of Easter - I know mine and mine know me...
The Gospels over the next weeks are drawn from the Gospel of John leading up to Jesus' farewell discourse to his disciples.  The season is Easter, just after the celebration of Christ's resurrection, but these readings take us back to the table when Jesus shares a meal with his disciples and speaks his final words to them. Very often in John, Jesus describes himself using the words "I am..," - "I am the true vine...I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life...."   And when we reflect on the metaphors that he uses to identify himself, we learn more and more about who Jesus is in our lives.  We also learn about much about ourselves and who we are to be.
4th Sunday of Lent - Reason to Rejoice
  The fourth Sunday in Lent is traditionally known as “Laetare” (Rejoice) Sunday. In the midst of Lent, the liturgy reminds us of what we are about during this holy season. We rejoice because, as we hear in today's Gospel, we who look to Jesus have received healing for our broken spirits.  And we believe that if we live by the kind of love Jesus shows us from the cross, we too can be life-giving for a broken and suffering world. We are called to mirror what we see in Jesus' life, death and resurrection - and we hope that those who are just as broken can look to us to find help and healing.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Teaching with Authority
A prophet is a person who claims to have a sense of vision, a special gift of perceiving the truth, and a claim to the authority to proclaim that truth publicly and courageously, especially in the face of opposition.   The idea of “teaching with authority” is central to our understanding of the role of the prophet in Scripture. 
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Grace of Discipleship
There is a grace present in all of Scripture, a grace that we too often narrowly associate only with scriptural figures. The God of today’s Jonah story is the same God we see Jesus reveal to us in the Gospel. Both readings today are tales of mercy, freely given, unlimited and unearned. God, it seems, is free to bestow mercy on whomever God chooses.   Yet that same grace is eternally present and given, just as freely, to each of us.
5th Sunday in Lent - A Different Path
In today's Gospel, the visit by the Greeks, who ask Philip, “we would like to see Jesus,” is the occasion for Jesus to talk about his death.  It is also an opportunity for Jesus’ followers to be be reminded that they must be willing to be like Jesus – a grain of wheat dying so as to bear “much fruit.”   At first the request and response might seem to be disconnected;  but they are not.  In response to the request of the Greeks, Jesus moves our attention to his suffering, death and resurrection, which we will soon be celebrating during our Triduum.  He will face his death with a determination to see it through and not flee. Contrary to our experience of death as a final destruction, Jesus sees it as a moment to give glory to His Father.  Those who see his death through eyes of faith will also see God’s hand in rescuing Jesus from death. 
3rd Sunday of Lent - Cleansing the Spirit
Depending on our situation at different times in our lives, we can find comfort and be encouraged by one or more of the many artistic interpretations that we have of Jesus.  We always look for the image that speaks to us in our needs.  But I wonder if there ever would be a time in our lives that we would search out an image of Jesus running through the temple with a whip of cords in his hand driving out the merchants and money changers?  Not the most approachable image of Jesus, is it?  Well, at least not at first glance.
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Look to the Signs
You can tell we are drawing to an end of this liturgical year.  It happens each year at this time, just before the feast of Christ the King and the start of a new cycle of gospels at the beginning of Advent.
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Being Noticed
We are coming to the end of our liturgical year.  In the he next few weeks the Gospels will show Jesus speaking in apocalyptical terms about the end of things; our securities and where we place our trust will be challenged and tested under trial.  Perhaps this is why he spent so much time teaching his disciples about the gracious love of the Father; His words always resonated with trust and hope.  Today, we are once again reminded that our religious practice must flow from a sincere love of God and generous service to others.
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - We Are a Broken People
We are a broken people.  We always have been.  From the first moments of history, mankind has been frail against the elements, weak against his enemies, selfish and self-centered in regard to his fellow man.  Deep within our beings we have always longed to become whole, to be complete, to find peace, to experience love and to give of ourselves totally to another.  But we also know that we cannot achieve this on our own.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - What's in it for me?
It is very difficult for us to be totally selfless.   We are innately self centered. Subconsciously, at least, we are always asking: "What's in it for me?" Religious decisions are no exception.   If we deliberately choose to become disciples of Jesus, we, too, like James and John, might ask: "What reward do you promise? Will we become powerful and famous?  Can we sit at your right hand?"
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Agenda v. Commitment
There is a basic difference between taking an initiative and responding to a call.  In the first instance, the movement starts from within: an individual is the initiator.  In the second case, it starts outside the individual: another person is the initiator.  Throughout the Gospels, we see many instances when Jesus initiates the call to discipleship; but we also see that sometimes those who take initiatives do not always become disciples.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fidelity in a Broken World
Today we see two examples of both the blessings and responsibilities of marital fidelity:  one from the book of Genesis and the other from the Gospel of Mark. Both readings are particularly signifcant in light of recent discussions concerning marriage, divorce, remarriage, and strict fidelity to law versus compassion for God's people. 
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Speaking Plainly
Our journey of faith is a never-ending one - one of constantly coming to know The Father through Jesus. It kind of parallels the journey of the first disciples and followers of Jesus'  their coming to faith - their coming to understand who the Father was - and how they came to know him. This is the story that Jesus told over and over again - but it is not just His story; it's our story as well.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - From the Heart
We tend to think of “spirituality” as a practice or a pursuit reserved for a very few elitist of souls.  We think of the lucky ones who have the extra time (and money) to pray more, meditate daily, go to special retreats, or read books on the subject.  Most of us would claim our lives are far too busy at this time for “spiritual pursuits.”  We try to get to church and say a few extra prayers while we shave or do our hair.  But as far as “developing our spiritual lives,” that will have to wait till we get more time;  maybe after the kids leave the house, or when we retire.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Woe to the shepherds...
There was a news item a while back reporting how the transit authority of a Connecticut town had asked its patrons to help them improve the services they were giving. They asked folks who used their transit system on a daily basis to use their cell phone cameras to document deteriorating facilities, graffiti and other inoperable systems or unacceptable conditions, and to forward them to their main offices so that they could work to provide better service and better conditions for everyone involved. They wanted their patrons to feel that they had valuable input and a stake in making their transit system the best in the area. After all, who would have a better knowledge of “daily life on the rails” than those who rode the trains day after day?
21st Sunday in Ordinary - Living the Dream
The human story is one filled with broken dreams. Created in the image of God, we can fashion marvelous possibilities of success, fame and pleasure, and spend much of our time and effort trying to make at least some of these dreams come true. But we will always encounter along the way people or circumstances that will shatter those dreams.  Our dreams will or will not be realized based on the decisions that we make which determine the course of our lives.  We are faced with these decisions every day.
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Not Without Honor
The Scriptures speak to us today about the role of the prophet, about being chosen by God to be His instruments and witnesses, and about putting trust in His presence and power to accomplish that mission. We see three such prophets (Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus) who were rejected and scorned by their very own people for the message they brought. Ezekiel is among his own Jewish exiles, taken off by the Babylonians into captivity. Paul is defending himself and his ministry against those who doubt his authenticity and he is suffering, "hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ."  Jesus is with his own people, in "his native place, accompanied by his disciples." 
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Tales of Two Women
Despite his works of power and acclaim, not everyone was drawn to Jesus. The Gospel of Mark tells us, in fact, that some of the local people had actually begged Jesus to leave them. Some people seem more comfortable living with their own personal demons and sufferings: it gives them something to complain about and allows them to avoid their own responsibilities. As a result, in todays's Gospel story, Jesus is again on the move, on his own side of the lake, back in his own territory. He does not appear to have a plan but is simply and clearly available to the people.
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Moving from Fear to Faith
The journey of faith is a never-ending one… one of constantly coming to know the Father through Jesus.  It parallels the journey of the first disciples - their coming to faith… their coming to understand who the Father was - and how they came to know him. God is always the one who speaks first, who acts first, who loves first; and discipleship always involves a call, an invitation requiring a response. 
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Breaking Through the Roof
At the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus declared his purpose and mission in this life:  "The time is at hand, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."   After curing Peter's mother-in-law, Jesus' first recorded "work of power" is the healing of a solitary leper. The details, as we saw in last week's Gospel, are few but this encounter sets the stage for what would become a problem for Jesus all throughout his ministry. At the end of that account Jesus' fame is already beginning to spread and he is unable to travel anywhere without being recognized. And so, as today's Gospel tells us, after some days spent attending to the people in the countryside,  he returns to Capernaum for a bit of rest. But the news of his presence there soon spreads like wildfire.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Proof Enough
Even in these modern times, there are diseases that still feel the heart with fear and dread - Alzheimer, AIDS and cancer are but a few.  There are some cures and treatments of course - for those who can afford them, catch the disease early enough and can follow-up with necessary medicines and therapies.  But those with serious sicknesses experience isolation.  We are afraid to be with the very sick because being with them reminds us of our own vulnerability and mortality. Out of sight - out of mind.  Some people blame themselves for serious illness; implying they must have done something wrong to deserve such "punishment from God." 
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Longing for the Shade
Job is a character who raises for us the question of innocent suffering. His name has become synonymous with suffering. When his "comforters" come to give him all the stock answers - that he or perhaps his predecessors must have sinned - Job rejects their opinions. The passage we have today reminds us that we do suffer and that there is no satisfactory answer for this suffering. It seems, Job says, that life is a meaningless cycle of misery; but he is also expressing what we feel, what seems to be the human condition. He longs for a rest in the shade. He is voicing a complaint, or in biblical terms, a lament.
4th Sunday of Advent - The Promise of Advent
We are close to Christmas and the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent clearly tells us how close we are.  This part of Advent shifts our attention from the "last things" we heard about during the first part of Advent and last week's announcing by John the Baptist that "one among you.. is coming...."   Today the announcement is about shedding fear and rejoicing at the birth of the "Son of the Most High."  
Solemnity of Christ the King - Servant King
The feast of Christ the King signals the end of the liturgical year, and our preparation for the season of Advent. We acknowledge Jesus the Christ as our King, the shepherd-king, who remains always the perfect example of how power is to be used for service.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Days of Tribulation
As we come to the end of another liturgical year, you'd think we might get happier and more joyful readings. Instead, in response to a question put to him by Peter, James, John and Andrew, we are presented with a picture of the "final days" - before the coming of the Son of Man. In the Gospel for this weekend, Christ asks us to think about some pretty difficult things - the day when the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shed its light, stars will fall from the skies, and the Son of Man will come in power and glory. The readings seem to be all about terrible loss, nightmare, and calamity.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - I Want to See
A profound and abiding sense of joy is the hallmark of a person whose faith in Jesus is authentic. This does not mean some sort of superficial and momentary happiness. Nor does it imply an attitude of escapism from the presence of pain and suffering in human experience. But it does mean that our trust in God is not shaken in the face of evil. We are always aware of the presence of the Spirit that permeates our minds and hearts with joy. That joy generates strength and hope, courage and peace.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - What's in it for me?
Whenever we are faced with having to make adult choices, it is very difficult for us to be totally selfless.   We are innately self centered. Subconsciously, at least, we are always asking: "What's in it for me?"
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Culture of Life
The limitations of life are everywhere around us. They enter into the lives of the young and the healthy, creating an atmosphere of resentment and frustration. They enter into the lives of the sick and suffering, the poor and the hungering, spawning a sense of hopelessness and despair. They come into our own lives and unsettle us and our plans for the future. We protest against these limitations and the restrictions they place upon us. Our protest is real and becomes significant because we experience it first-hand - either in our own lives or in those of someone dear and close to us.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Belonging to Christ
There is always a temptation in religious communities to control and possess all the ways God works and not give credit to anyone who is not part of the group or not of like mind. In today's Gospel the apostles forbid a man from casting out demons because he is not "part of their group" of followers of Jesus. The same narrowness of mind shows up in the first reading. Joshua complains that two Israelites are speaking for God with the power of God's spirit. They were not part of the seventy helpers at the special ceremony. Moses answers much like Jesus.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Greatest and the Least
The story of the disciples arguing over "who is the greatest" is a wonderful lesson in humility. But it is also one of accountability. Page after page of the Gospels speak of his unwavering concern for the beggars, the widows and orphans, the homeless, the jobless, the rejected and the oppressed. But the disciples just don't seem to have a clue. We almost seem to hear them protest: "What has this to do with the kingdom of God? Tell us instead about holiness and prayer. Talk to us about salvation. Enough already about the poor!"
Exultation of the Holy Cross - Promises Fulfilled
The human story is filled with broken dreams. Created in the image of God, we can fashion marvelous possibilities of success, fame and pleasure, and spend much of our time and effort trying to make at least some of these dreams come true. But we will always encounter along the way people or circumstances that will shatter those dreams.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Crossing Boundaries
Our journey of faith is a never-ending one… one of constantly coming to know The Father through Jesus. It kind of parallels the journey of the first disciples and followers of Jesus… their coming to faith… their coming to understand who the Father was - and how they came to know him. This is the story that Jesus told over and over again… but it is not just His story; it's our story as well.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Be doers of the word, and not hearers only...
Last week, a letter calling for an end to obligatory celibacy in the Catholic priesthood, and signed by 163 priests of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, was mailed to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The letter expressed their "pastoral concern that the Catholic Church needs more candidates for the priesthood, so that the Church's sacramental life might continue to flourish."
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Beyond the Miraculous
One of the wonderful things about our liturgy is the fact that as we come together to worship each Sunday, we have continuity in the cycle of readings proclaimed and upon which we reflect. We have spent the majority of this year reading and reflecting on the "Cycle B" readings, the Gospel of Mark.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Get Up and Eat
Throughout the last several weeks, the Scripture Readings create a mosaic depicting the sublime mystery of the Eucharist. The narrative shows us how carefully the seeds of this mystery were planted in the early stages of Salvation History. Discouragement, fear, disappointment and frustration can all lead to a first response of shock and rejection. Elijah felt it - and those who first witnessed Jesus' words and works felt it..
18th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Sign and Substance
The Gospel reading this weekend is a continuation of the story of the feeding of the multitude - the sign that Jesus gave, nourishing the people not only with his words, but with something very substantial… something they could touch, taste and assimilate. The crowd was truly hungry for Jesus' words. They had followed him and had come from all walks of life, to listen to his words; and so he rewarded them by removing their spiritual hunger and, with the bread that he provided, their bodily hunger.
17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Practicing Eternity
Today's Gospel is taken from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. This one chapter of the New Testament contains the deepest Eucharistic theology in scripture, the chapter of the Bread of Life. It begins with the multiplication of loaves and fish, told using the same words that Jesus uses in the other Gospels when he institutes the Eucharist. 
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time - The Walking Stick of Faith
The Scriptures speak to us today about election, about being chosen by God to be His instruments and witnesses, and about putting our trust in His presence and power to accomplish our mission.  
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - And They Shall Know...
The Scriptures speak to us today about the role of the prophet, about being chosen by God to be His instruments and witnesses, and about putting trust in His presence and power to accomplish that mission. The prophet is a person who claims to have a sense of vision, a special gift of perceiving the truth, and a claim to the authority to proclaim that truth publicly and courageously, especially in the face of opposition.
Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul - Looking Beyond the Question
Today we celebrate Peter and Paul, two great apostles and heroes of our faith.  But that's not how they started out.  Peter continually tried to hide from responsibility and yet it was he whom the Lord chose to lead the disciples and the infant Church community. Paul was a devout Jew who persecuted the early Christians. Yet it was he who championed the rights of all people to embrace the Gospel. Through these two very limited human beings, the work of Spirit was enabled and the community of the people of God within the world began to form and take shape. 
Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ - Being Remembered, and Remembering
We gather this weekend to remember and celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ. The Scriptures speak to us of covenant - of man's relationship to God, of God's enduring faithfulness to man - and we are reminded once again that when Jesus invites his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites each of us to take his life into the very center of our being. That life which he offers is the very life of God himself - the beginning of a "new" covenant, a new relationship between Creator and mankind.
Trinity Sunday - Creator, Savior, Sanctifier
The followers of Jesus were first devastated by his death and then bewildered by his resurrection and ascension. They had come to treasure his presence and friendship; they were captivated by his words and his actions. Most of all, they realized that his message was destined for all people in every time and place. But now he had been taken from them. How could his work be continued?
7th Sunday of Easter - A Four-Fold Prayer
We are approaching the great Feast of Pentecost - the celebration that reminds us that the Spirit of God is preeminently present and at work in the lives of God's people. The first Pentecost brought excitement, passion, and courage to the Christian community.  It completed their sense of identity and clarified their mission. Most importantly, it filled them with power, assured them of the strength they would need to witness to the Gospel, to overcome the spirit of the world, to drive away the darkness of sin and evil.
6th Sunday of Easter - Remain in My Love
The Easter season is coming to a close, and while still rejoicing in the Resurrection, we now be begin to prepare for the Ascension, and we have our first hint of the graces given at Pentecost. We hear of God's universal love and we learn that this Love is not given merely to certain "chosen" ones, but that it is offered freely beyond all national and ethnic boundaries.
5th Sunday of Easter True Vine and True Branches
In the Gospel of last week Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, and He spoke about His role as guide and protector of His flock. Those words are very comforting and reassuring. We know that He will care for us, that He will never leave us as orphans and that we can feel safe within His embrace. His words also speak about the great sacrifice that He must make. As the Good Shepherd, He gives His life for His sheep.  
4th Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherds
The imagery of sheep and shepherd is very touching and significant in a biblical setting. But, in our own time, it has become less appealing, less applicable. We certainly recognize that we need the love and guidance of Jesus. We realize that He died for us, that He knows us personally, and that He is always with us and concerned for our safety and well being.
3rd Sunday of Easter - Called to be Sent
The resurrection appearances of Jesus are filled with surprises and mystifying details. His friends do not recognize Him; He appears through locked doors; He has broken out of a tomb, but carries the wounds of His dying. He speaks of peace and forgiveness. He promises the gift of His Spirit. He sends His disciples to change the world.
2nd Sunday of Easter - What We Believe is What we Become
There are some who will always need in some way to touch the wounds of the Risen Christ in order to come to faith. They will demand some physical proof. Others will become aware of His presence and power in ways that transcend the senses.
Easter Sunday - The Empty Tomb: Easter Dawn
The Easter victory of Jesus Christ continues to send shockwaves down through the centuries, calling people of every age to be survivors with Him in the ongoing battle between good and evil. "Rejoice, heavenly powers! sing, choirs of angels; exult all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!"
5th Sunday in Lent - Resurrection and Reconciliation
We are winding down our observance of the Holy Season of Lent - our time of preparation for the great feast of Easter. Lent can, and should be a solemn and moving experience for us. It should be a time to recall our Baptism, to renew our commitment to our faith and beliefs, to recognize once again our faults and weaknesses, to seek the Lord's forgiveness - and the forgiveness of others - and to become instruments of reconciliation and forgiveness for others.
2nd Sunday in Lent - A Time to Listen
Something in our human nature leads us to think of "signs" in terms of the miraculous and the extraordinary.  On the mountain of Horeb, God appeared to Moses in the form of burning bush that would not be consumed. His gentle voice spoke words of compassion and salvation: "I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry… I know well what they are suffering. I have come down to rescue them and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey." (Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15)
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Our Testing Season
As Jesus approached the final chapter of his life on earth, the shadow of the cross hung over him. He must have found it hard to look ahead, sensing imminent failure, betrayal, suffering and death. And he certainly must have struggled fiercely to hold on his trust in the Father, and his faith in ultimate victory. This was His time of trial and testing. And yet, from the very beginning of His ministry until His final days, everything He did and said pointed towards hope, healing, reconciliation and wholeness.
Feast of the Presentation - A Light of Revelation
The Christmas/New Year/Epiphany cycle has ended… and we have entered into what the Liturgical Cycle calls "Ordinary Time" - the time which celebrates the beginning of Christ's mission, His call of His disciples, the unfolding of His message of Peace… We will recall Christ's many miracles, and how He touched the lives and hearts of all those He met… all of this leading up to the Season of Lent and the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of our Redemption. There is nothing "ordinary" about this.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Time of Fulfillment
The Gospel of Mark is often referred to as the "Kingdom Gospel" because it builds on the initial proclamation found in today's reading. We, like the listeners in Galilee, are invited to repent and believe. Immediately following this invitation, we have two examples of what the invitation requires. The first followers of Jesus immediately abandon their nets, and the sons of Zebedee not only abandon their nets, they also abandon their father.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Come and See for Yourselves
The Gospels over the last few weeks have asked us to think about some very important things: the revelation of God's presence in the world with the Feast of the Epiphany; our remembering the beginning of His public mission with the feast of His Baptism; the very personal invitation that we all have received from the Lord at our baptism - and the commitment we that we make to that invitation.
Feast of the Epiphany - We Have Seen His Star
We begin a new year... and as we do, the Church invites us to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, the feast of Manifestation. The Good News that was quietly proclaimed in a cave on the hillside of Bethlehem is now revealed to the world in the persons of three astrologers - the three kings or wise men from the East.
Feast of the Holy Family - Humble Beginnings...
In a few days, we will celebrate the beginning of a new year - and once again we, as Christians, take this time to proclaim the event and the mystery of the Incarnation - God's explosion into human history in order to give us a share in His own Divinity.  That "explosion" had very humble beginnings. A young, virgin mother and a confused, but faith-filled husband brought their hopes, joys, fears and trust to a stable in Bethlehem - and gave to the world the first-born Son of God, wrapped in swaddling clothes and warmed by the breath of sheep and oxen.
The Nativity of the Lord - Who is this Child?
In these last few days before the feast of Christmas, the Gospel focuses on a young girl who was to become the mother of God. It tells how Mary's dreams for her life were shattered in an instant by the visit of an angel. But the Gospel also reminds us that the shattering of our vision of life - the disappointments, the heartbreaks, rejection, loneliness, confusion - all of these things are part of the preparation for a greater calling. Like Mary, our own personal history becomes sacred history.
3rd Sunday of Advent - Cry Out in the Desert
Listening to Advent Readings, we hear rumblings about the end of the world, threats of judgment, and impassioned pleas for conversion. We hear talk of repentance, reform and forgiveness. We are warned to be ready, to be waiting, to be prepared. But the central message of our Advent is that the Lord has already come, He has put an end to our fears, He has taken away the curse of our sins, He has baptized us in the Holy Spirit, He has comforted us. He has come like a good shepherd to gather the lambs in His arms.
2nd Sunday of Advent - Comfort My People
We listen, and wonder and pray, while we get caught up in the flurry of activities that accompany our preparation for the Christmas holiday. We know this holy season of Advent is important for us. We hear the words of promise and of exhortation. What Isaiah saw in prophetic vision we have learned from history. He described what the person and mission of the Messiah would be like; we know from apostolic witness how perfectly Jesus fulfilled that vision and promise. And through Baptism, we have become members of His kingdom of justice, peace and light.
1st Sunday of Advent - Being Watchful and Alert
The Season of Advent is a time a time of anticipation, preparation, of new beginnings. Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered; and as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second coming at the end of time. Advent is therefore a period for attentive and joyful expectation.

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