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.

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time:Blessed are we

01-29-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13 (promise for Jerusalem)
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (paradox of God's choice)
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12 (the beatitudes)
Key Passage: Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12)

Adult: When you heard the Beatitudes announced today, which one struck you most strongly?
Child: Who is welcome in the reign of God? Who would you like to tell about the reign of God?

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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

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Following Jesus

01-22-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Isaiah 8:23-9:3 (the Prince of Peace)
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 (factions)br>Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23 (Jesus in Capernaum)
Key Passage: Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

Adult: To whom could you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ this week with actions rather than words?
Child: What could you do for someone this week that would tell them something about Jesus?

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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).

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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jesus, the Son of God

01-15-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 (the servant of the Lord)
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (greeting to the church)
Gospel: John 1:29-34 (John's testimony to Jesus)
Key Passage: [John said,] "I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." (John 1:31)

Adult: We witness to Christ as John did, by living lives full of generosity, forgiveness, and mercy toward others. When do you find it most difficult to do this?
Child: Who has surprised you by doing something kind for you when you did not expect it?

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Epiphany: A gift for all people

01-08-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Isaiah 60:1-6 (glory of the new Zion)
Reading II: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 (commission to preach God's plan)
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12 (the visit of the magi)
Key Passage: n the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, "Where is the Child: who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." (Matthew 2:1–2)

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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

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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

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Mary, Mother of God: Helping others to know God’s blessing

01-01-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Numbers 6:22–27 (the priestly blessing)
Reading II: Galatians 4:4–7 (free sons of God in Christ)
Gospel: Luke 2:16–21 (the shepherds' visit, the circumcision)
Key Passage: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. (Numbers 6:24–25)

Adult: How has God blessed and kept your family? What can you do as a family this week to show your gratitude for these blessings?
Child: When have you felt most blessed by God? What can you do to help someone in your family feel the same way?

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