St. Francis of Assisi Weekly Reflections

Do you also need to See and Touch like Thomas?

04-28-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 2

It’s hard to beat eyewitness testimony, especially testimony from multiple eyewitnesses, and people whom you can trust, to boot. It was not enough for Thomas, though. He needed to see. He needed to touch. So the following week he makes sure to be there. Jesus, returning to the Twelve, does not reprimand Thomas; in fact, he invites him to prove it to himself. But then he praises those who believe without seeing, without witnessing firsthand, without being able to prove it. These are the “great numbers of men and women” in the first reading, who come to believe when they see the faith and hear the testimony of disciples like Peter (Acts 5:14). These are the ones who will hear Johns’ visions from Revelation, which Jesus insisted he write down. These are also the people seated around you today, men and women, young and old, who gather in Jesus’ name each week. Though it may be two thousand years later, we too are the ones for whom the testimony of the disciples, the evangelists, the visionaries, and the letter writes was meant. Now, in turn, we are those witnesses—witnessing to our faith in the risen Lord, here and now, when we gather in this sacrament, in his Body and Blood, in Word and Eucharist.

How can you bear witness to others?

READ MORE

Living Without Fear

04-28-2019Question of the Week

Reading I Acts 5:12-16 - Signs and wonders
Reading II Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 - First vision
Gospel John 20:19-31 - Appearance to the disciples; Thomas
Key Passage He placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:17b.18a)

Adults: When has your faith in the living Christ helped you overcome fear?

Kids: What could you do this Easter season to help someone feel less afraid?

READ MORE

He had to Rise from the Dead

04-21-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 2

Resurrection changes everything. It stunned the disciples. Mary Magdalene, Peter, the disciple whom Jesus loved, the other apostles—they were all surprised, “for they did not understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). Keep in mind that Jesus’ disciples did not write letters, or testimonies, or Gospels until years later. What we hear today was written well after they had encountered the risen Lord in one way or another. It was also after they realized that Jesus had prepared them for his resurrection well before they had come to Jerusalem. That first Easter morning, they were not expecting this. This mission that appeared to have ended in failure had been turned upside down. The tomb was empty. Jesus could not be contained in this place for the deceased. He had defeated death. He lives! And because he lives, we who have been baptized into his death live as well. This is why Paul tells the Colossians to seek what is above. This is why Paul tells the Corinthians to throw out the old yeast and bake a fresh batch of dough. Jesus is new yeast and we are new dough. With Christ in us, we shall rise as well. This is our Easter hope. This is our Easter joy.

How does the Easter message change the way you live your life?

READ MORE

Made New by Christ

04-21-2019Question of the Week

Reading I Acts 10:34a, 37-43 - Peter's discourse
Reading II Colossians 3:1-4 - Mystical death and resurrection
Gospel John 20:1-9 - Peter and the disciple at the tomb
Key Passage Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

Adults: What change could the hope of the resurrection of Christ inspire you to make?

Kids: What bad habit would you like to “clear out” during the hopeful time of this Easter season?

READ MORE

Why do we Renew our Baptismal Promises?

04-21-2019Liturgy CornerMarlon De La Torre, MA, MEd. and Stephen Beale

Baptism is a crucially important sacrament. It’s the only sacrament mentioned explicitly in the Nicene Creed. Christ’s specially appointed forerunner was John the Baptist. And the first thing Christ did in His public ministry was to get baptized. Our human identity is intimately linked to the sacrament of Baptism. This may come as a surprise to some but the reality of our existence is intertwined to this first sacrament of initiation because it provides us with a rebirth as sons and daughters of God. The solemn significance of baptism is underscored by the fact that it can only be done once and is irreversible. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, baptism cannot be repeated.”

READ MORE

Love and Betrayal

04-14-2019Question of the Week

Reading I Luke 19:28-40 - Welcomed with palms
Reading II Isaiah 50:4-7 - Salvation only through the Lord's servant
Gospel Philippians 2:6-11 - Jesus, compassionate high priest
Key Passage The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” (Luke 22:61)

Adults: When have you felt that you betrayed the confidence of another, as Peter did when he denied Jesus?

Kids: When have you let someone down who trusted you? How did you feel?

READ MORE

Jesus Teaches Us Compassion

04-14-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 2

He had to have heard him. Even on the cross, his last breath just hours away, Jesus heard the criminal next to him when he addressed him, so he must have heard him when he’d said to the other criminal, “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes” (Luke 23:41). He makes no pretense of innocence. He makes no excuse for his sentence, so his crime must have been particularly heinous. But now, hours away from death himself, he addresses Jesus with one thing, one thing only: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (23:42). Jesus, who throughout his Passion had acted with boundless compassion (“compassion” literally meaning “to suffer”), praying that Peter’s faith not fail (22:32), praying that disciples not suffer (22:40), healing the high priest’s servant’s ear (22:51), comforting the women who accompanied him (23:28), and asking forgiveness of those who condemned him (23:24), now assures this criminal, this criminal whom he has heard admit that he was condemned justly and sentenced appropriately, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (23:43). What consolation it must give us to know the extent of Jesus’ compassion.

Follow the example of Jesus, how can you be compassionate even while you are suffering?

READ MORE

The Meaning of "Hosanna"

04-14-2019Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner, © Resource Publications, Inc.

In today’s Palm Sunday Liturgy, we start with the Opening Antiphon of “Hosanna to the Son of David…”. Also, in every Liturgy of the Eucharist, we say or sing “Hosanna in the highest…” during the Holy, Holy in the Eucharistic Prayer. Even though we say it every week or every day, do we know what it means? The word’s origin comes from a Hebrew phrase for an exclamation of praise, especially for Jewish festivals, such as Passover.

The word Christians use today is the Greeks’ creation. They used Greek letters to create the pronunciation of a Hebrew phrase: hoshiya na, meaning, “Save, please!” The word “hosanna” came in liturgical usage to serve as an expression of joy and praise for deliverance granted or anticipated. When Jesus came to Jerusalem for his final presentation of himself to Israel, the expression came readily to the lips of the Passover crowds.

READ MORE

False Pride

04-07-2019Question of the Week

Reading I Isaiah 43:16-21 - Promise of restoration
Reading II Philippians 3:8-14 - Breaking with the past
Gospel John 8:1-11 - The adulteress
Key Passage Jesus straightened up and said, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Adults: Have you ever been too willing to "cast the first stone" when you disapproved of someone's behavior? How can you resist these feelings?

Kids: When have you criticized or made fun of someone? What could help you act differently?

READ MORE

Neither Do I Condemn You

04-07-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 1

The people who gathered in the temple area that day expected to witness a stoning. The woman had been caught in adultery, so according to Moses, she deserved to be stoned. But instead they end up witnessing a dramatic act of redemption. Jesus outwits the authorities who want to trap him. When no one is left to condemn the woman, Jesus forgives her, releases her, and tell her to sin no more. She had expected to be killed, but instead she is set free. She has been brought back to life. Brought back to life like the Israelites, out of bondage and into the promised land in Moses’ time. Brought out of exile and back home, in Isaiah’s era. Brought back to life like Saint Paul, who had persecuted Christians, but now was “taken possession of by Christ” (Philippians 3:12). We come here today as sinful people. If we were judged by the worst we have done or failed to do, would we not be condemned? Yet we too are touched by God’s grace. In God’s care, in Christ’s hands, we sinners, like the adulterous woman, like the Chosen People, like Saint Paul, are redeemed. We are brought back to life.

Do Jesus’ words give you pause when you are about to cast stones?

READ MORE

Restoring Our Bond with God

03-31-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 1

Reconciliation is a powerful act. It takes a bond that has been broken and makes it whole again. It restores the unity of a relationship, of a family. Today’s Gospel—the parable of the prodigal son—is a beautiful example of reconciliation. The younger son broke his bond with his father and the unity of his family. When he returned home after dissipating his money, his morals, and his dignity, he thought that that bond was too broken for reconciliation. But his father, in welcoming him back without judging him, without even asking what had happened, restored the bond. They were whole again. In the first reading, God reconciled with the Israelites, restoring them to their native land—the promised land—which once again could provide them with sustenance and freedom. Then we hear Saint Paul tell us that God and the world are reconciled through Christ, restoring the relationship that had been broken repeatedly through sin. The example of the prodigal son’s father gives us hope, hope that we are never beyond reconciliation, hope that on matter how broken our relationship, it is always able to be made whole again.

How is my relationship to God broken? How are my relationships with others in need of reconciliation?

READ MORE

Repent or Parish

03-24-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 1

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

This is my Chosen Son; Listen to Him

03-17-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 1

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

Transformed by Christ

03-17-2019Question of the Week

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

Filled with the Holy Spirit

03-10-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 1

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

03-10-2019Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner, © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

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

Salvation through Faith

03-10-2019Question of the Week

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

What Are You Storing in Your Heart?

03-03-2019Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 44, No. 1

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

Authentic Living

03-03-2019Question of the Week

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