Live as Children of Light

03-26-2017Weekly Reflections

The second encounter from John’s Gospel this Lent is with a man born blind. As with the Samaritan woman last week, we too are invited to know Jesus in an intimate way, this time as bestowing the sight to recognize him as the One sent by God. Our first reading foreshadows today’s Gospel by presenting the experience of the prophet Samuel, who comes to “see” David, the youngest son of Jesse, as the one God has chosen to replace King Saul, rather than the eldest son, Eliab, whom Samuel assumed would be God’s choice. Eliab, like Saul, is tall. “Don’t judge by appearances,” God chides. In the Gospel, we see once again a person’s gradual coming into the light that is Jesus, finally recognizing him as more than a prophet, as the Son of Man who is the Lord. For those of us who are baptized, seeing goes even further than recognizing Jesus as the Light of the world. As Ephesians proclaims, we who “were once darkness…

now...are light in the Lord” (5:8) and should lead lives of goodness, righteousness, and truth.

Are you a child of the light?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

Jesus brings us to the Well of Salvation

03-19-2017Weekly Reflections

In calling us to return to the Lord with all our heart, our readings put before us in the coming weeks three personal encounters with Jesus. In each one, Jesus reveals who he is and the impact he continues to have on the lives of those who open their hearts to him. Today we reflect on Jesus as the one who satisfies our thirst for God. He is the living water God has sent, just as God provided water for Israel in the desert by having Moses strike a rock. In the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus confronts a hardened heart, and by his loving care and concern for her, leads her to drink from the well of salvation. We see her gradual transformations from a person suspicious of a stranger to one who brings her fellow villagers to him, resulting in their recognition of Jesus as “truly the savior of the world” (John 4:42). Paul reminds us today that the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit at the waters of Baptism.

How do you bring others to Jesus by witnessing to your faith in him?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

Do Not Be Afraid

03-12-2017Weekly Reflections

The Second Sunday of Lent takes us in a different direction than last week, both geographically and spiritually. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. Arriving there, they—and we—get a glimpse of the glory that Jesus set aside when becoming one of us. More importantly, they—and we—hear God speak to us about who Jesus is and who we are to be. Jesus is the Beloved Son who lives in intimate relationship with the Father; we must listen to him. This glimpse of glory encourages us as we enter more deeply into the season of Lent, a time to turn toward God, to open our hearts, so that God can enter our lives more completely and make us more fully a people of the covenant that began when God called on Abram to leave e everything. Because he trusted in God's promises, Abram became the father of a great nation. We are to trust in the promises God makes to us through Jesus by listening and obeying his words, thereby becoming beloved sons and daughters.

"Do not be afraid," Jesus tells us. Are you?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

The Choice is Basic, Follow God's Will or Our Own

03-05-2017Weekly Reflections

Saint Paul quotes a hymn in his letter to the Philippians: "Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave" (2:6-7). This hymn presents a truth: If Jesus chose to be a slave, then we must be willing to serve. Serving involves self-emptying, which is played out in the story of the temptations Jesus faced in the desert and throughout his ministry. In contrast with Adam and Eve, Jesus chose to serve God and not to use his power, whether to feed himself (stones into bread), to test God (throw himself off the Temple), or to submit to anyone other than God. Because of his obedience to the will of the Father, Jesus won salvation for all who believe in him and follow him in service. Temptations came for Jesus and come for all who follow him. The basic choice concerns seeking God's will or our own.

How are you being tested at this time of your life? Do you turn to God's word for strength?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

He will Give You Everything You Need

02-26-2017Weekly Reflections

Pope Francis called us to join in a revolution of tenderness during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. One word for mercy in Hebrew is rahamin, which means a nurturing, life-giving womb. God's merciful, tender, loving care flows from this womb in the imagination of the prophet. Like a loving mother, God watches over us. Then Jesus tells us not to worry about what we are to eat, drink or wear. "Your heavenly Father knows what you need" (Matthew 6:32). This vision challenges us , especially when refugees are drowning trying to reach a place to live in peace, and immigrants live in fear of deportation. God is depending on us to do all we can. Seeking first the kingdom of God means working to bring it about by caring for the weak and powerless. We will not hear the end of the Sermon on the Mount this year, but take a look at Matthew 7:21-27, where Jesus calls his disciples to build their lives on His word so they will have a house that will not collapse.

What efforts are you making to build your life on His word?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

The Spirit of God Dwells in YOU

02-19-2017Weekly Reflections

Paul’s question today provides the foundation on which the other readings can stand: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Paul is writing to the community at Corinth, one characterized by factions, bickering, jealousies, even arguing about whose “spiritual parentage” is greatest. And Paul asks, “Don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know to whom you belong?” by their baptism into the saving mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, Paul argues, the Spirit has been given and dwells in them. God has taken residence in them, individually and communally. We too have to accept and live out of this truth, so we can take in the rest of today’s scriptures, starting with “Be holy, for I the Lord, your God, am holy” and “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart” (Leviticus 19:2, 17). We then move on to the seemingly impossible teaching of Jesus not even to resist one who is evil, but to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. How is this possible? Go back to Paul’s question: “Do you not know?”

Do you know this? Do you believe it?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

Keep the Commandments and they will SAVE YOU

02-12-2017Weekly Reflections

Jesus' program for becoming children of the kingdom of heaven is presented in a series of contrasts between what the law of Moses commands and how Jesus' teaching brings that law to fulfillment. We hear four such contrasts today. Jesus makes it clear that he has come not to abolish but to fulfill the Mosaic law and the prophets. He challenges us to have our righteousness, that is, our right relationship with God and others, exceed that of the teacher of his day. Today's Gospel contrasts what the law says about murder, adultery, divorce, and taking oaths with Jesus' teaching on these matters. In a world of preemptive strikes, Jesus forbids even anger. For Jesus, reconciliation has priority even over worship; adultery includes yielding to lust for another; and speaking with simplicity and integrity renders oath-taking unnecessary. Sirach encourages us: If we choose, we can keep the commandments and they will save us; if we trust in God, we shall live. Paul refers to God's wisdom as not identified with that of this age.

How is the Spirit calling you to trust that God's wisdom and strength will become yours?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

Let Your Light Shine Before Men

02-05-2017Weekly Reflections

Matthew’s Gospel has been called the gospel of the church. His five great discourses are especially aimed at community formation. Matthew’s Jesus sets out how the Christian community is to live with each other and in the world. Today’s two images, following immediately after the Beatitudes, appeal to our imagination, challenging us to be salt and light. Salt both preserves and gives flavor to what it touches. If salt loses its savor, it is useless. Also, the community is light for the world when it does the corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and oppressed, clothing the naked. Isaiah promises, “You shall cry for help, and [the Lord] will say: Here I am!” (58:9). Being communities of salt and light is the social mission of the Church. Pope Francis reminds us that as the baptized, we must be missionary disciples. We are called to live the gospel in the world. Just as salt gives flavor and preserves, our holiness flavors society and preserves it from corruption. We must bring the light of Christ; we cannot hide our light under a bushel basket.

Do you want to live like a light that is on or off?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God

01-29-2017Weekly Reflections

For the next five Sundays, we will hear from the Sermon on the Mount, the first of five great speeches we hear from Jesus in Matthew's Gospel. Since Matthew's community was largely composed of Jewish Christians, the evangelist presents Jesus as the New Moses. Just as Moses was believed to have written the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah, Matthew gives Jesus five great speeches that fulfill the Law of Moses. Notice that Jesus sits down, the posture of a rabbi or teacher, then begins to instruct his followers, called disciples, that is, learners.

READ MORE

A people who were sitting in darkness have seen a Great Light

01-22-2017Weekly Reflections

With the Christmas season over, we return to Matthew's Gospel during the Sundays between now and Lent, starting with the beginning of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. Matthew sets the stage by quoting the prophet Isaiah, today's first reading, applying it to Jesus as he begins to preach his gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (4:17). Jesus along with his message is the great light coming to "people who sit in darkness...dwelling in a land overshadowed by death" (4:16). Immediately, Jesus calls others to join him: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and two other brothers, James and John. He calls them, they respond immediately. The work of Jesus remains the work of the church: teaching and preaching and curing disease and illness. By our Baptism and through the power of the Spirit given to us then, this work unites us and demands our commitment. Jesus, his message, and his work are one and, as Paul reminds the Corinthians, we must not allow any kind of division or rivalry among ourselves to undermine the Lord's work—bringing light and salvation, fullness of life and healing—into our world. Jesus continues to call us.

Do you respond immediately? If not, why not?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

Behold, the Lamb of God

01-15-2017Weekly Reflections

The command "Behold" brings us back into Ordinary Time. "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," John the Baptist testifies on sighting Jesus (John 1:29). John is usually presented as the herald of Good News, but here he is the witness. A herald simply announces the news he is given: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. But a witness is personally engaged. Here John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God who will be led to slaughter, sacrificed for the sin of the world. John also testifies that Jesus "ranks ahead of me", Jesus is "the reason why I came baptizing," and the one on whom the Spirit came down (John 1:30, 31).

READ MORE

Have you witnessed God’s Epiphanies?

01-08-2017Weekly Reflections

The feast of the Epiphany has been called the crowning feast of the Christmas season. Epiphany means a showing or manifestation, referring to God's revealing who God is in Jesus. The story of the magi is Matthew's proclamation to his own mixed community of Jews and Gentiles that in Jesus God came as a savior for all people, and continues to draw all people to search for and find God. In the story this is done through nature (the star) and the scriptures. Today's good news is succinctly captured in the brief reading from Ephesians: God's will is that all people, Gentiles as well as Jews, be "coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus" (3:6). As our own country becomes more diverse with all the promise and challenge this implies, our faith calls us to recognize God as the father of all, who has entrusted creation into our hands to be cherished and tended for the good of all. God continues to draw all to dwell in God's holy city, as Isaiah prophesied.

We may be tempted to think only exotic figures like the magi have seen the epiphanies God offers. But haven't you?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE

God sent His Son, Born of a Woman

01-01-2017Weekly Reflections

As a new year begins, we hear first an ancient blessing that continues into our day, offering protection, grace, and peace. Furthermore, we hear that the God of blessing has adopted us as children by sending the Spirit into our hearts, allowing us to call God, Abba, Father. Celebrating Christmas is like throwing a rock into a pond and watching the ripples that flow out from it. Christmas Day focuses on the gift of Jesus, true God, true man. The feast of the Holy Family reminds us how the Christ event impacts the family, enabling it to be holy. Today we celebrate Mary, the mother of God and of the Church. The Church continues to learn from Mary how to bring Christ into the world. Today’s Gospel again presents Mary as one who reflects, who ponders what others tell her. The shepherds brought her the angel’s message about the child: He is the savior born for all people. It is the work of the Church and all its members to reflect on this mystery and witness to it in the world.

What can Mary teach you about her Son?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

READ MORE