Liturgy Reflection

Reflections on the Weekend liturgical readings

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 18, 2015

Take up your crossThis is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our mission—to be Christ for the world—is a right and duty of all the baptized. Who would think that glory comes out of self-giving, suffering and dying? We need God’s mercy because we so often wander from the path of true discipleship. May we give ourselves wholly to God’s plan and become a servant to all, as Jesus did.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Isaiah 53:10-11. (The conclusion of the great Song of the Servant which we read on Good Friday.) Those who gives themselves as an offering for sin will see the light in fullness of days. Our discipleship takes us to the cross as well as the resurrection.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 11, 2015

Jesus and Young ManThis is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s gospel text portrays Jesus as not merely a teacher of the law but as Lord of the law. Gregory of Nazianzus (a 4th century theologian) explains that the use of the word “good” in the phrase “good teacher” is “applied absolutely to God and only derivatively to created goods. Human understanding is not enough. Rather, divine wisdom is needed to understand what is truly good.

As we near the end of our liturgical year, it is no accident that the cycle of readings turns our focus on the kingdom of God, on eternal life. Today, Jesus, the incarnate God, was asked what is needed to receive eternal life. His answer moves both his questioner and each of us far beyond whatever humanity teaches is good. Only God is good. All other good is less.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: October 4, 2015

Wedding ringThis is the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today, as in any time, we see the ranking of human beings. The rich are more important than the poor. The whiter one’s skin, the more superior one is. The ones who believe my way are saved while those who believe a different way are not. Arabs are less valued, evidenced graphically by the millions of refugees seeking safety and security as they flee home only to come face to face with a wall, be it a wall of stone or barbed wire, or a wall of dismissal or hatred. They are less value. It can often be heard that it is only the deserving poor who should get assistance. And, particularly poignant this month, which is Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month as well as Respect Life month, women are debased and discarded, raped and beaten, lack rights and education, world-wide.

The readings this weekend are about the act of God creating and valuing. God values relationship and intimacy among humans and between humans and God. In the time of these writings, covering a vast period of time, women and children were considered less than human, were inferior or discounted and, worse, discarded. From the time Genesis was put together from different stories of creation, to the time of the Gospel or Mark, to the times of communities of followers of Jesus after he had been gone for a while, these readings are all about relationships, intimacy, respect, equality, value in the different contexts in which they were written. This is what matters to God and to Jesus.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 27, 2015

SpiritThis is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Being a disciple demands radical choices about how we live and relate to others, and God isn’t bound by our thoughts of what is “proper.” We are challenged to see and live as Jesus did, identifying with the “least ones”-- the poor, the hungry, the stranger. How do we try to confine God by our ideas of how things should be? Discipleship is shown by behavior, not by belonging to any special group. Do our actions show that we are following Christ and living in the Spirit? Can we accept the notion of innocent riches?

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 20, 2015

Jesus and childrenThis is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the first reading from the book of Wisdom, the author places on the tongues of wicked people the “fruit” of those without God’s wisdom. Their plan includes torture of the one who corrects them. The last verse states that “according to his own words, God will take care of him” which reminds us to hold fast to our faith in an ever-present God no matter what happens. The psalm reiterates this piece of wisdom in the refrain “The Lord upholds my life.”

Wisdom is clarified in James’ letter as he lists fruits of earthy wisdom and of “wisdom from above.” In the gospel Jesus overhears an argument among his disciples about who is the greatest. In response Jesus draws a child near as he explains the last shall be first and the first last. In that time, children had no status. They were valuable only because of the chores they could accomplish. Yet, Jesus taught an upside-down version of wisdom: Those who wish to be first (in God’s kingdom) must be willing to be last (here on earth) and a servant to all.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 13, 2015

Who is JesusThis is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In today’s gospel, Peter recognizes Jesus as Messiah, but then misses the deeper implications. Once we recognize Jesus as Messiah, do we really embrace the surprising struggle of discipleship? How do our lives express our faith?

The Second Vatican Council offered this reflection on the role of the disciple: “The laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that...they may work for the sanctification of the world from within...In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.” Dogmatic Constitution On The Church (31)

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 6, 2015

HealingThis is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s scriptures show us a vision of God’s reign where all things are made whole and beautiful, and no person is favored more than another. May our eyes be opened to recognize God’s presence everywhere, our ears unstopped to hear the challenge of God’s word, and our tongues loosened to speak of God’s justice and love.

Readings for this Sunday:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 30, 2015

Pharisees and JesusThis is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Recently new notebooks, pens and organizers found their way into thousands of backpacks. Many students dressed in new clothes eagerly grabbed back-packs to wait for car-pool or bus pick-ups in air hinting of fall. For some, the newness reflects the excitement and motivating self-promises. This year will be different, with on-time homework and projects. For others, exterior freshness masks anxiety, boredom, and even slow-burning anger at anticipated demands.

In today’s gospel, Jesus is dealing with exterior appearances and interior realities. He challenges the Pharisees, scribes and those gathered to recognize that what goes on within their hearts can be masked by exterior actions. He explains: “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” Sin starts from within. Simply following purification laws will not prevent evil from entering.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 23, 2015

Words of LifeThis Sunday is the Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Have you ever thought that your only choice was the tough choice? You can walk away taking an easier way out, but you know in your heart and gut that the prize you really want means taking a road much rougher than you planned on.

In our gospel, John has Jesus laying it out to his many disciples. Jesus says that the Spirit is life. Jesus is in the life of the Spirit. Opposed to that is seeking life in the “flesh” which, in the bible means living as if this life on earth simply ends in death, whereas living in the spirit has a horizon past death. Life in the Spirit is a much bigger picture. It includes this life on earth but is much more. Following Jesus means losing your life to gain your life, a life eternal. It is a hard teaching for the disciples. Jesus knows that some of the disciples don’t believe him especially when believing him gives them fear they do not care to face. But Jesus lays it out. Many disciples choose to leave and go back to their normal lives. Twelve stay with him and he asks them if they want to leave too. Peter replies, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” They proclaim their belief in him and will take the road.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 16, 2015

Feasting on the bread of lifeThis is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. God keeps inviting us to wisdom’s feast…do we partake? How do we become Eucharist, the body of Christ for the world?

In our gospel, the Jewish leaders, quarreling among themselves, ask How can this be, how can this man – Jesus – give us his flesh to eat? Their how can it be response has a very different ring from Mary’s how can it be response to the word of the angel in Matthew’s gospel.

Mary’s was one of amazement. She wasn’t questioning the credibility or word of God’s messenger, but acknowledging her condition as a virgin who had not had relations with a man.