This 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.
This 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.
This 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.
This is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s passage continues chapter six of John’s gospel. Last week’s reading ended with Jesus stating “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This week we hear the Jews murmuring against Jesus. After all, they knew him as the son of Mary and Joseph how could anything more be believed?
Jesus explains that God is the one who will draw people to him. He says “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.” Later, in this week’s passage, Jesus again asserts “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
We who have the luxury of hindsight, know of Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection. Unlike the Jews of Jesus’ day, we know the whole story. We who believe will have eternal life. Wow!
This is the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Change: It is something we are not always comfortable with. Big change: now that is more than uncomfortable. It is scary. The fear we may lead us to resist a change that we know is good for us. And yet change is considered to be what conversion is about. Change is one characteristic of the Spirit. It is good but it may not be easy.
The Israelites in our reading from Exodus have found out that the freedom from the slavery of Egypt is scary. They are following Moses, hence God, and are free, but the fear they feel makes them wish they were slaves back in Egypt. So they grumble and whine. The difficulties and challenges are too much. They would rather have the security of oppression.
Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This is the first of five weekends of John’s gospel focusing on the “Bread of Life,” beginning with the feeding of the multitude. God certainly seems to value nourishing meals. They are among the actions performed by the prophets and they are Jesus’ favorite events for teaching and transformation; they are signs of the presence of the reign of God. Are we receiving the abundance of life God desires for us? Are we sharing Christ’s nourishing love with those around us, especially with those most in need?
This is the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time. As you read this, decide if, at this moment, you are one of God’s sheep or a shepherd. Most of us have been both. Whichever description we choose to name for ourselves may depend upon the happenings of the week, the life stage in which we find ourselves, or the people we encounter. Today’s readings speak to both sheep and shepherds.
Our psalm response reminds sheep that no matter what is going on in our lives, the Lord is with us. We therefore have nothing to fear. A sheep’s challenge is to recognize the Lord’s presence and the never-ending goodness and kindness that are the Lords.
Jeremiah’s passage begins with a woe to the shepherds of the Lord’s sheep since they were scattered, driven away by the shepherds. Jeremiah continues with the Lord’s promise to gather his flock and send new shepherds. In Mark’s gospel Jesus tells his apostles, the shepherds he sent, to rest in a deserted place. The shepherd’s challenges? Follow the teaching and example of Jesus and remember to take time for prayer.
Today is the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We hear and read about the violence and inhumanity of people across the globe, and of people, governments, corporations, who tear up the earth, our home and the home for those to come. The numbers of those who are poor seem endless.
Hundreds of thousands are displaced from their homes and homeland in refugee camps, surviving in the woods, some sold into slavery.
The parade of unjust wars is killing far more civilians than ever before.
Women and girls are debased, abused, and murdered worldwide at alarming rates.
Our mother Earth itself is feeling the effects of climate change already and the disasters that come will hurt the poor first and most. Bank on it.
What “reading of the signs of the times” must do to all of us who pay attention? Leo Tolstoy once said as he witnessed the immense overwhelming poverty around him, “What then must we do?”
This is the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s Scriptures remind us that God raises up prophets among us. Just as our ancestors in faith, we can have trouble getting things right. We can be obstinate, and not very receptive to those who call us back to God’s way. But God calls us to heed prophets, and to answer Christ’s call to love, serve and speak the truth.
This is the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time. In today’s gospel, we have a story within a story. Both are requests for healing. Both require faith – one publically expressed, the other quietly. Jesus is publically asked to come heal a synagogue leader’s daughter. On the way, a woman reaches out quietly to touch Jesus’ garment. Both the girl and the woman are healed.
Jesus heals. No question. But what is our response? Paul offers a strong suggestion in his letter to the Corinthians. He reminds them of Jesus the Christ’s overwhelming love and pushes for a response. The Corinthians are asked to financially help poorer Christians.