We can look at today’s readings in two ways. On the one hand, we can be intimidated by the warnings. Jesus talks of people who have died tragically and unexpectedly. Twice he warns, “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Luke 13:3, 5). Saint Paul warns the Corinthians that many Israelites disobeyed God and were struck down, an example for future generations. On the other hand, we also hear of God’s mercy. God hears the Israelites’ suffering and rescues them, leading them to the promise land. Should we be worried or consoled? The two aspects come together in the parable Jesus tells in today’s Gospel. The owner of the orchard threatens to cut down a barren fig tree because it hadn’t borne fruit for three years. But the gardener pleads for mercy, promising to care for it and feed it for another year. He makes a deal: if it doesn’t bear fruit after another year, it can be cut down. The warning was not empty, but the promise takes precedence. Despite continually failing to bear fruit, the fig tree gets a final chance.
How can you bear fruit, given another chance?READ MORE
When you go to a movie, what do you see first? Trailers, right? Teasers for upcoming movies. Clipped scenes and arresting images designed to intrigue you. What’s going on? What does it mean? Wow! Today’s readings are life a trailer. Look at all the vivid images: an old man looking up at the stars, animals being scarified, birds of prey swooping down among the carcasses, a flaming torch floating between the corpses in the dark of night. Still reeling from all that, now you witness a man’s face morphing as his clothes became dazzling white, two old men back from the dead talking to him, a voice out of the clouds. What’s going on? What does it all mean? Peter, James, and John much have had these questions, not knowing that what they were seeing was a preview of Jesus’ return to the Father in glory. Jesus (in dazzling robes) prepares to fulfill his destiny after God (symbolized by that flaming torch) had fulfilled the covenant made with Abraham (the old man). Like the voice-over in a movie trailer, the voice from the cloud speaks to Peter, James, and John: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him” (Luke 9:35). Coming attractions: Easter and the whole Easter season.
What might the trailer for the rest of your life look like?READ MORE
Reading I - Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 - The covenant with Abram
Reading II - Philippians 3:17–4:1 - Christ our goal
Gospel - Luke 9:28b-36 - Jesus transfigured
Key Passage - But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
Adults: How are your priorities affected by your faith in Jesus Christ?
Kids: When you have important choices to make, do you and your family pray to make the right choice?READ MORE
The Holy Spirit, who came upon Jesus at his baptism, who came upon each of us at our own baptism, plays two major roles in today’s Gospel. First, the Holy Spirit is the one who leads Jesus out into the desert. Jesus’ forty days in the desert recall the Israelites’ journey of forty years. Unlike the Israelites, who grumbled about their hunger, chose to worship other gods, and wished they were back in Egypt, Jesus was able to resist temptation. Which brings us to the other role played by the Holy Spirit, the role that may be overlooked even though it is revealed in the first five words of today’s Gospel: “Filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was able to resist every temptation the devil offered. Each temptation was an opportunity for Jesus to use his divine power for his own benefit. This is not why God became human. This is not why Jesus was sent. Just the opposite; he came not to save himself, but to save others. We too received the Holy Spirit. We too are filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we too can rely on the Holy Spirit, God’s presence within us, to help us resist temptation.
How are you able to resist temptation?READ MORE
Lent is the season that prepares us to celebrate Easter. The main reason Lent is important is that Easter is our most important feast. On Easter we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose passage beyond death into life offers redemption to believers. The resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian faith. The mystery of Christ’s rising from the dead is so deep that the church invites us to six weeks of preparation before we fully celebrate it. We call that period Lent.
For the faithful, Lent is a time of penitential practices and spiritual discipline. During this time we acknowledge our sins and seek God’s help to overcome them. Traditionally, we engage in acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Together these actions show our dependence on God, our renunciation of the fascinations of this world and our desire to better the lives of others.READ MORE
Reading I Deuteronomy 26:4-10 Thanksgiving for the Lord's goodness
Reading II Romans 10:8-13 - The faith of the Christian
Gospel Luke 4:1-13 - Temptation in the desert
Key Passage For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13)
Adults: How willing are you to profess your faith in Jesus Christ openly to others?
Kids: Would you still be able to say that you believe in Jesus if others made fun of you for it?READ MORE
Both Sirach and Luke pack a lot of aphorisms into just a few verses. Each is trying to give moral guidance to his audience, as Jesus is to his disciples. In the Gospel, Jesus reinforces the lessons that we heard the last two Sundays. Recall what he said: Blessed are the poor. Woe to those who have plenty. Love your enemies. Be merciful, as God is merciful. Today Jesus warns us about the human tendency to ignore our own flaws while we point out the faults in our neighbor. Not merciful! “Every tree is known by its own fruit,” he tells us (Luke 6:44). What we produce is dependent upon what we have stored in our heart. We may have a store of goodness, but also store of evil. A splinter, a branch, or maybe a whole beam may be blocking some of that goodness. We must remove this, and compassionately help others remove theirs, in order to bear more and better fruit. Remember, “the fruit of a tree show the care it has had” (Sirach 27:6). We are called to provide that care—to ourselves and to others—so that your fruit and our fruit is better, richer, and more abundant.
What kind of fruit do you bear to the world?READ MORE
Reading I Sirach 27:5-8 - All tested by their speech
Reading II 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 - Glorification of the body
Gospel Luke 6:39-45 - All known by their works
Key Passage Jesus said, "How can you say to your neighbor, 'Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see The wooden beam in your own eye?" (Luke 6:42a)
Adults: When have you most felt like a hypocrite? How did you overcome this feeling?
Kids: Is it a good thing or a bad thing to act differently from what you are really feeling? Why?READ MORE