Normally when we hear this selection from John’s Gospel it’s on Good Friday in the lengthy account of the Passion of Our Lord. When just these few verses are excerpted—featuring Pilate’s initial questioning of Jesus—we really get a sense of how obsessed Pilate is with the possibility that Jesus is a king. It is a tendency among political leaders, no matter the size of their “kingdom,” to put their highest priority on retaining their power. Jesus was said to be a king and so Pilate saw him as a potential threat to his power. But Pilate misunderstood. As Jesus tells Pilate, he did not come to seize power. He came instead to testify to the truth. This is what distinguishes God’s kingdom from any kingdom of this world. It is not obsessed with power. It does not need to be. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion,” we hear in the first reading (Daniel 7:14). “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” the beginning and the end and everything in between (Revelation 1:8). Every kingdom of this world is temporary; God’s kingdom is eternal.
How can you build God’s kingdom without grasping for power over others?READ MORE
Reading I Daniel 7:13-14 - Daniel's vision of one like the Son of man
Reading II Revelation 1:5-8 - Praise to Jesus Christ
Gospel John 18:33b-37 - The blood and water
Key Passage To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation: 1:5b–6)
Adults: In what ways is Jesus the ruler of your life?
Kids: How can you show that you honor Jesus as the king of your life?READ MORE
The images that begin today’s Gospel are dramatic and frightening: “the sun will be darkened...the stars will be falling from the sky...the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Mark 13:24 -25). They echo what we hear from Daniel in the first reading, of “a time unsurpassed in distress” (Daniel 12:1). Many times we may have felt the same way about the world today. Wars, genocide, natural disasters, mass shooting, rising sea levels—sometimes it feels as though the end of the world is right around the corner. But in between the scary images in today’s readings and the warning that no one knows the day or the hour, there is a note of reassurance. The Son of Man will come in power and glory, overcoming the darkness, overcoming evil. Whatever horrible things may be happening in the world, Christ our Light is stronger. Jesus Christ, both priest and victim, “offered one sacrifice for sins,“ transcending space and time, conquering sins everywhere and anytime, past, present and future (Hebrews 10:12). We live with the assurance of God’s only Son coming again in glory, for the reign of God will have no end.
How can you bring the light of Christ to the world today?READ MORE
Reading I Daniel 12:1-3 - Daniel's conclusion to the apocalypse
Reading II Hebrews 10:11-14, 18 - Christ's eternal sacrifice
Gospel Mark 13:24-32 - The Second Coming
Key Passage Jesus said, “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33)
Adults: What would you be doing differently in your life if you truly believed you would meet Christ soon?
Kids: What would you do for others today if you thought you would not have another chance to do it?READ MORE
Reading I 1 Kings 17:10-16 - Elijah and the widow
Reading II Hebrew 9:24-28 - The sacrifice of Jesus
Gospel Mark 12:38-44 - Hypocrisy of the scribes, and the widow's mite
Key Passage Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43–44)
Adults: What are you willing to give out of love for God thatwould be a hardship for you?
Kids: What would you be willing to give up for someoneelse?READ MORE
The readings today provide us with two models of faith and generosity. The widow in the first reading is in dire straits. She and her son have no food but a handful of flour and a little oil. “When we have eaten it, we shall die,” she tells Elijah heartbreakingly (1 Kings 17:12). Yet she will share the last of what she has with this stranger who makes promises on behalf of his foreign god. Elijah has such strong faith in the Lord that he promises this pagan woman that God would make sure that she would not run out of food. The widow’s generosity, sharing the very last of what is keeping her alive, is rewarded. In the Gospel, Jesus lauds the same kind of generosity. Another unnamed widow takes center stage. She gives “all she had, her whole livelihood” to the temple, to the Lord (Mark 12:44). Her faith and generosity are lauded. But the ultimate model of faith and generosity is Jesus. He is faithful to his Father’s will. He gives his very life to save humankind. As we hear in the second reading, “Once for all he has...take(n) away sin by his sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:26).
How are you a model of faith and generosity to others?READ MORE
Today Mark invites us to put ourselves in the shoes of the scribe who asks Jesus, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” (Mark 12:28). As the commandments are instructions of how a faithful person should act, the scribe was basically asking Jesus what one principle above all should guide his actions. Unlike most religious authorities who came to Jesus with questions, he was not trying to trick him or test him or find something that could be used against him. One can tell from the way he responded to Jesus’ answer that he sincerely wanted to know which of the 613 precepts of the Jewish law was paramount. Jesus responds by quoting the passage from Deuteronomy that we hear in the first reading, “You shall love the Lord your God,” as well as Leviticus, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12;30, 31). It was not enough to state just the first. The scribe wanted just one, but he got two. A few days ago we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, recognizing those who put their faith into action, living lives that serve as models for us. Today we are the scribe, being told by Jesus the way to act, the way to live.
How do you put your love of God and neighbor into action?READ MORE
Reading I Deuteronomy 6:2-6 The Great Commandment
Reading II Hebrews 7:23-28 Jesus, the eternal high priest
Gospel Mark 12:28b-34 The Greatest Commandment
Key Passage [The scribe] asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:28–30)
Adults: Why is love of neighbor as important as love of God?
Kids: When do you show that you love God and your neighbor with your whole heart?READ MORE