Liturgy Reflection

Reflections on the Weekend liturgical readings

Reflections on Sunday’s Reading: September 21, 2014

PaymentThis is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. What employer would pay the same salary to one who worked 2-3 hours as the one who worked 8 or more? The answer is easy: None. Not if they want to remain in business. However, today’s gospel is not about business practices. It’s about the abundance of God’s love. It’s a crazy, upside down, backwards kind of love. It’s a love that takes us where we are and gifts us with a lavishness of grace that can draw us ever closer to God.

We who are children of God are blessed. We are invited, constantly, to enter into relationship with God. God calls us to himself at every moment of our lives. Yet, we get to choose: Will we work in God’s vineyard, providing fruitful labor for others or not? There are no promises of easy labor. Today’s second reading comes from Paul while in prison. Paul, who worked mightily for the gospel, suffered much. If asked “why” I can almost hear him say, “Because the rewards are beyond anything I could imagine. I live with God’s everlasting love. Nothing is more important than that.” Might Paul not then turn and ask his questioner, “How are you responding to Jesus’ gift and call?”

Reflections on Sunday’s Reading: September 14, 2014

CrossThis is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. As Catholic Christians, the cross plays a prominent role in our prayer life. As we enter Church, we dip our fingers in the holy water from the baptismal font and make the sign of the cross. Eucharistic liturgies (the Mass), communal and devotional prayers always begin with the sign of the cross. Infants, children and adults being initiated into our Catholic faith are always signed with the cross by their parents/godparents/sponsors. Why? The sign of the cross is our sign of victory. Jesus is exalted on the cross, raised up. Our entrance antiphon of today says it well: “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.”

Readings for this Sunday:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: September 7, 2014

WatchmanThis is the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Think of a time when you saw something happening that you knew was not right, where your conscience tugged at you. Maybe it was a child being treated roughly or abusively - maybe on the street, in a grocery store, or even in your family or church. Maybe at work, a coworker was being harassed and put down, or someone lied about what happened and another person was getting the blame. Maybe you are out with friends and one of them makes a racist statement or treats someone less than human.

It could be a bigger issue where a school policy was unkind or even cruel, or as a veteran, you discovered the war you were asked to fight in was not right, or the boss tells you that the way to get ahead was do deceive others. Maybe you are a nurse who knows policies are being made at the hospital that were bad for care of the patient, but good for the bottom dollar. Or maybe we are the one being wronged.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 31, 2014

Carry crossThis is the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time. Today’s gospel makes it clear: We who wish to be disciples of Christ will suffer. Jesus suffered. The disciples suffered. Early Christians suffered. Christians today suffer.

Rather than escaping the unpleasant parts of our lives, we are called to “deny [ourselves], take up [our] cross[es] and follow.” Follow whom? Jesus Christ, our savior who promises that lives lived this way will be repaid with everlasting life. What a gift for temporary suffering!

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 24, 2014

Jesus TeachesThis is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: How do we understand authority? What does it mean to lead God’s people? How are leaders chosen? What qualities must a leader have? What role does faith have in choosing a leader? What role does faith have in “being” chosen to lead the people of God? Is authority a “service”? Our readings today will help us reflect on some of these questions.

Readings for this Sunday:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 17, 2014

Cannanite WomanThis is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Diversity. What a loaded word. We see bumper stickers that say “celebrate diversity.” In our diverse community here at Epiphany we often speak of the value “unity in our diversity.” If we look deeply into this reality, however, the challenges come forth. For diversity is often related to those other words, “division” or “different.”

We sing our psalm today, “let all the nations praise you.” This is a call to celebrate a unity too. And what is that unity that we pray for? The psalmist tells us what it means: All the nations rule their people with equity! All on the earth are guided by God. A pretty bold and laudatory call. For what do we see today but division. Nations at war, persecution of the other, be it from religion, race, fights over resources, debasement of people for their difference, be it tribe, class, status, gender, sexual orientation, or just those differences over who has land, water, money, power or just security.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 10, 2014

ElijahThis is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Where is God? The first reading answers the question in a new way for the Israelites. Elijah is waiting for the fulfilment of the message, “the Lord will pass by.” Believing the message, Elijah seeks God in the grandness of nature. After all, this is the Lord that will be present. Earthquake, strong winds, fire passed in turn. However, it wasn’t until a “tiny whispering sound” that Elijah knew God was present. In response, Elijah “hid his face in his cloak”.

To understand the depth of today’s first reading, let us look at another story of Elijah. As is the norm, Elijah the prophet had a tough time. His message is not popular. He fights the worship of false idols instead of the true worship of God. At one point he offers a test: Two altars are built. Two sacrifices prepared. Prophets of Baal are invited to ask their gods to burn the sacrifice. Nothing happens. Before asking God to send fire on his sacrifice, Elijah saturates the slaughtered animal with water. His prayers bring fire that consumes not only the added water and sacrifice but the stones as well.

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: August 3, 2014

Loaves and fishesThis is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our readings this weekend are rich! We see that the heart of Christianity lies in “relationships”: God’s relationship with us…our relationship with one another…our relationship with God. During our growing season (summer) these readings impact. We can delight ourselves in “rich food,” fruit of the earth which we ourselves can plant and harvest. Through the power and love of God we have the ability to feed those who hunger. (Epiphany’s custom of collecting nonperishables and bringing them to the altar at the Offertory; Epiphany’s ‘grow an extra row of vegetables’ for the poor.) We have the ability to change systems that keep people hungry e.g. working with EACM and other agencies. As God satisfies our needs, we in turn must be ready to satisfy the needs of our neighbor both close by and afar. Our nourishment comes through the ministry of others.

Readings for this Sunday:

Reflections on Sunday’s Readings: July 27, 2014

PearlThis is the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The news around the world today is confronting us with images and stories that get to the core of our faith and conscience and lead us to seek out meaning and understanding. Or they should, unless we keep our head in the sand, just look away because it is too much to handle, or perhaps we even let fear or ignorance lead us to justify the violence we see. The invasion of Gaza with the mounting deaths from the violence, the obliteration of 298 passengers over Ukraine by a missile, the tens of thousands of child refugees on our border, the rape of a 6 year old in India, or the police choking to death of an unarmed man in New York City all sear open hearts. These are the stories on one day’s USA Today supplement in the local paper on Sunday.

Our readings from the Old Testament and the Gospel this weekend offer us some insight into how we might see and respond to these realities.

Reflections on Sunday Readings: July 20, 2014

PrayerThis is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The theme for this Sunday is Prayer. We all know we are supposed to regularly engage in prayer – not just when lives fall apart or a quick “thanks” when all is going well. Of course these are good times to pray and during crisis, it is especially important to do so. Paul, in our second reading, reminds us “we do not know how to pray as we ought” but the Spirit will help us. The great preacher John Chrysostom (347-407) tells us “we ought to yield to the Creator….[since God] knows what steps must be taken for our salvation.”