A Homily – The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 27:33-28:9 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 9-12 ©

Second Reading – Romans 14:7-9 ©

Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68

Alternative Acclamation – John 13:34

The Gospel According to Matthew 18:21 – 35 ©

(NJB)

The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Be mindful of the sage, let wisdom points to the way.

Love your neighbor, including the stranger among you. Pray for those who persecute you, forgive and seek forgiveness, accept it when it is offered.

Walk with humility, be merciful and love justice all the days of your life, these are the teaching of Jesus.

Where the author of Ecclesiasticus errs is when he suggests that God keeps account of our sins; the creator of the universe is not a bookkeeper, or a banker. Our lives are not summarized by a double entry ledger, marking our merits and demerits.

The economy of salvation is not a marketplace where we exchange mercy for mercy.

Grace is a gift, and all of God’s children receive it freely.

No one is left out.

Consider the words of the psalmist:

Give thanks to God, for the peace of God’s blessing, for the blessing of life, of freedom, of self-determination and every other aspect of our being that contributes to our personhood.

Give thanks to those who are loving, to the peacemakers and bless them as you are able.

Bless all of God’s children, as God does, love them all, both the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.

And remember this, God is not a king, God is not a Lord. God does not favor one group over another. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings.

God, the creator of the universe, God is the God of everything, of everyone, in all places and all times.

God always identifies with us, desires what is good for us and works in subtle ways to bring us toward that end. God is confident of God’s plan and the fulfillment of God’s will, even if we are not.

Listen!

When leaders arise among us we must acknowledge them; when that leadership is pure, and we see that their work is holy we must acknowledge that. Though in acknowledging these things it is important that we do not embellish.

Know this:

God speaks to all people. God speaks in the human heart. God is present to anyone who will listen, but God does not favor some over others, and God does not appear in visions.

In every way, but the way of the hear, God is silent.

This is the good news: God loves you and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn your salvation, you are saved because God loves you.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

God has prepared you as God has prepared everyone, for eternal life.

Believe it!

Let the goodness of the promise flow through you now, and start living this life as if it were true.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to one another.

Love one another.

To follow Jesus is to lead with love.

Love as Jesus loved. Be humble, be merciful, be just.

Be prepared to risk everything for the sake of love, even your life.

In this way you will be true to Jesus, there is no other way.

Faith (which is the trust we place in God); faith is not about words, it is about actions. Faith is not ideology, it is not partisan, it is not dogmatic, it is not doctrinaire. Faith is not a legally binding agreement or a contract. Faith is not concerned with creeds, or secrets, or magic words.

Faith is love.

Consider the gospel for today:

Forgive, be merciful.

Forget every word in this passage except these:

Do not settle on merely forgiving someone seven times, but forgive them seventy-seven times.

Do not place limits on your mercy.

If it is in your power to forgive someone, forgive them.

Forgive your sister and brother, your father and mother, your neighbor, the stranger, even the one who persecuted you.

Forgive them from your heart, and forgive yourself.

Do not be like the servant who receives mercy, and then refuses to be merciful.

Do not be like Peter who time and time again failed to understand the teaching of Jesus.

The writers of Matthew’s Gospel remembered to articulate the endless bounty of Jesus’ compassion. They remembered this and placed that at the beginning of this passage.

Forgive the wrongdoer, Jesus said, not once, not twice, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

They remembered this and then quickly drafted a parable in which the principle actor fails to follow suit, forgiving his servant once, but not a second time.

Follow Jesus, and correct the Church.

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 27:33-28:9 ©

Forgive Your Neighbour the Hurt He Does You; and When You Pray, Your Sins Will Be Forgiven

Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found with the sinner.

He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin.

Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.

If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?

Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins?

Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?

Remember the last things, and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments.

Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4, 9-12 ©

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord

  all my being, bless his holy name.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord

  and never forget all his blessings.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,

  who heals every one of your ills,

who redeems your life from the grave,

  who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

His wrath will come to an end;

  he will not be angry for ever.

He does not treat us according to our sins

  nor repay us according to our faults.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

For as the heavens are high above the earth

  so strong is his love for those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west

  so far does he remove our sins.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

Second Reading – Romans 14:7-9 ©

Alive or Dead, We Belong to the Lord

The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. This explains why Christ both died and came to life: it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening: you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – John 13:34

Alleluia, alleluia!

I give you a new commandment: love one another just as I have loved you, says the Lord.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 18:21 – 35 ©

To Be forgiven, You Must forgive

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’

The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Homily – The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Ezekiel 33:7-9 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

Second Reading – Romans 13:8-10 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 17:17

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

The Gospel According to Matthew 18:15 – 20 ©

(NJB)

The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen to the prophet and be mindful!

We are one family and we are made to love one another, to care for one another, to be watchful and take steps to protect one another. This is what it means to be in community, to live together as a family, and this is what Ezekiel intends to convey.

However, today’s reading makes the mistake of promoting an image of God and God’s justice that deviates from the way Jesus followed and encouraged us to join. Ezekiel’s instinct is to circumscribe God’s love, making God a cruel judge and an executioner rather than a healer.

Consider this wisdom from the psalmist.

It is God who makes us well, who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing.

God is our wellbeing, but God is not a king, and there are no other gods.

All of creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that frightens us, everything comes from God and will redound to the good, ultimately.

It is good that we show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, but remember, God is our loving parent, and God has prepared each of us for God’s blessing.

Listen to the apostle when he says that love is the law!

Let the knowledge of the law fill your heart, so that it governs you interpretation of it; love with justice, justice with mercy, love with respect, respect with caring.

Our hearts must always be focused on the other, knowing that God is present in the spirit of our neighbors.

Listen!

You cannot lie and serve God at one and the same time.

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation. Everyone is reconciled in the loving embrace of God, God who created the universe. The members of the church are meant to be ambassadors of this good news.

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members for whom the reward is reconciliation. The reconciliation has already occurred, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time.

The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

Always be wary of the scriptures that cast Jesus in the role of a litigator, a legislator, as the author the law code. These are the machinations of later generation, writing into the sacred text a justification for the authority they have usurped. They put words into the mouth of Jesus, making both him and themselves into liars.

This is the summary of the reflections Jesus gave on the law:

Love God with all your strength, all your heart and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

That is the whole of the law.

The ministry of Jesus was a ministry characterized by mercy. He said do not forgive seven times, but seventy-seven times, and if you go to prayer while there is a conflict between you and your sister or brother, go first to your sister or brother, resolve the conflict, and do not return to prayer until you do.

Every community has a duty to protect itself from dangerous people and predators. Jesus was not suggesting that we keep our doors open to violent, deranged and dangerous people…our hearts yes, but not our doors.

However, if the recalcitrant member of the community is just a stubborn person, or merely argumentative, if they are someone with a different understanding of the faith and the way, and they will not conform to the norms of the community…by all means treat them as Jesus would have treated a pagan or a tax collector, invite them dinner, sit down and eat with them, do not refuse them anything.

This is the way.

Do not believe the Church when it claims to have the authority to free people, or put them in chains, either here or in the world to come. The Church does not have that authority, the disciples did not have that authority. The claim to possess that authority is derived from fear, the fear of losing control over the communities they presided over.

Every single one of us possess the power to forgive, to forgive those who have done us harm, so that the harm they have done ceases to have power over us. We have the power to forgive ourselves…more importantly to accept the forgiveness of those we have harmed, so that our guilt does not continue to be a stain on us, and a determinant of our path in life.

We have both the power and the obligation as followers of the way to do so.

First Reading – Ezekiel 33:7-9 ©

If You do not Speak to the Wicked Man, I Will Hold You Responsible for His Death

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.’

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 94(95):1-2, 6-9 ©

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;

  hail the rock who saves us.

Let us come before him, giving thanks,

  with songs let us hail the Lord.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come in; let us bow and bend low;

  let us kneel before the God who made us:

for he is our God and we

  the people who belong to his pasture,

  the flock that is led by his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

O that today you would listen to his voice!

  ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

  as on that day at Massah in the desert

when your fathers put me to the test;

  when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Second Reading – Romans 13:8-10 ©

Your Only Debt Should be the Debt of Mutual Love

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

Gospel Acclamation – John 17:17

Alleluia, alleluia!

Your word is truth, O Lord: consecrate us in the truth.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Alleluia, alleluia!

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 18:15 – 20 ©

If your Brother Listens to you, you Have Won Back your Brother

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

  ‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’

The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

The Patron Saint of Doubters, Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Sometimes I get ahead of myself, I think we all do at times, we project what we want to see, over and against the reality of what is, as in the title of this piece.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta; the patron saint of doubters.

In truth, the Church has named Mother Theresa the Patron Saint of World Catholic Youth Day, and that is fair: in her time the good mother inspired many young people, providing that inspiration through her life of austerity and selflessness; she inspired many of us to good things, to want to be good people, to emulate her in that way.

She was a tiny woman, but she was strong. She inspires through her strength and her commitment to her ideals, despite the painful realities that she experienced and despite her understanding that the suffering she sought to ease would never cease, and her knowledge that the suffering of the world has no end.

We must be like the wise mother and pray for strength, pray for wisdom, for understanding and perseverance. Mother Theresa did not expect that by praying for these things God would transform her, or that God would give her supernatural powers, but that the act of praying would fortify her, that it would give her the strength she needed to get through the day, her day, each and every day.

Mother Theresa was sainted for her life-long commitment to the good, to serving the poor, for setting an example of patience and endurance; for setting such a strong example that if each of the rest of us were able to approximate a small degree of her fundamental stance toward justice and compassion, to give a small part of ourselves over to the healing of the world, the world might stop spinning in its spiral of violence and in that moment we might see something of the true glory that belongs the God of peace and mercy and grace.

It is right and good to praise God, the creator of the universe, because creation is miraculous and mysterious, and beyond the scope of human comprehension.

And while it is right and good to praise God, to doubt God’s purpose in the world is not a sin. Mother Theresa taught us this, she taught that doubt it is a natural movement the heart, beating within the breast of a person who loves, of someone who confronts the pain and suffering in the world and subsequently falls into despair.

It is not sinful to doubt God or God’s purpose in the world, neither is it sinful to doubt the traditions of the Church, its doctrines and decrees and decretals.

The Good Mother taught us this, and so let us be clear about a few things:

God is not a giver of victories. God has no enemies. In God, within whom all things exist and have their being…there is no conflict.

It is not God’s justice that is shown in the work of human beings, it is human justice, and when human justice approximates the justice of God, it is expressed in mercy and compassion and that is good, The Good Mother taught us to aspire to things even in the midst of human misery and despair.

Pope Francis, canonized Mother Theresa on September the 4th, 2016, on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, her feast was celebrated for the first time and from that day forward, on the 5th of September, which is today.

Christians of every stripe, and non-Christian alike, remember Saint Theresa for her desire to embrace all people, no matter how flawed or marginalized they might be, and all people will remember this brilliant woman, servant and sister, this theologian; they will remember her for her brilliance which grows even greater in her afterlife.

God chose her, as God chooses all of; God chose her from the beginning, to receive the sanctifying spirit, he created her in the divine image, placing within her a seed of the eternal Word to enliven her. God made her this way, in the same way that God makes everyone, but what made the sainted mother different from most of the rest of us was that she saw the truth of it clearly, and in seeing it she understood her purpose in the world. The Good Mother saw the divine image in the people she bent down to serve, she saw the face of God in the poor and the sick, in the blind and the leper, she saw God suffering in them and she responded with the love God had instructed her in.

Mother Theresa is famous for her service and her impressive life, and the inspiration she gave to millions of people, and when I reflect on the life of Saint Theresa of Calcutta, it is her memoirs, which were published after her death, which had the greatest impact on me.

Saint Theresa struggled, like all of us do, with the sense that God had abandoned her, She felt at times as if God had abandoned the world. She managed to do the good works she did, to serve the Church and all of its members, to fulfill her commitment to her order, to lead them; to make of her life a daily sacrifice even in the midst of her own profound doubt and great personal suffering, as she experienced the suffering of other’s (which she shared).

In consideration of her experience she lived with a deep-felt sense of alienation from God.

Saint Theresa persevered in goodness even in the face of her doubts, she admitted to the pain that she brought to others, even as she tried to serve them, she confess and ask forgiveness and they allowed her to lead them. She bore witness to the suffering of the world, she held God accountable for it in her heart, and yet she still followed the calling of the Spirit despite her indictment of the divine, and that is why she will be known as the Patron Saint of Doubters.

Mother Theresa was different from the disciples who followed Jesus and witnessed his miraculous life. Her example of how to fulfill the Christian life in the face of the deepest doubts is what makes her life exemplary, a life that will continue to shine on us long after the sun has collapsed and human beings are scattered throughout the galaxy.

We will carry the memory of Saint Theresa of Calcutta with us, as a light shining in the darkness.

There is something historically significant about her relationship to her doubts that we would all do well to be mindful of. We see it reflected in the history of Christianity in India, which has always been connected to the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas, who is in fact the patron saint of doubters, who struggled to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, and did not accept it until he placed his own fingers into the wounds Christ bore, the wounds which still marred his body even after he was reborn.

09.05.2020

A Homily – The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Jeremiah 20:7-9 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 62(63):2-6, 8-9 ©

Second Reading – Romans 12:1-2 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

The Gospel According to Matthew 16:21 – 27 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

Do not ask God to administer the justice you desire. God’s justice is patient, taking place in eternity. God’s justice is loving and kind, and works toward the benefit of all creatures; rather, find it in your heart to administer the justice that God desires.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist:

 

It is right to thank God, the creator of the universe, it is right to thank God for all the good things that come our way, but do not blame God for the hardships we suffer in this life.

 

Good things and bad things come to us irrespective of who we are, regardless of what we do or what we have done, or who we might become. There is no plan to it; God is no respecter of persons, and God does not love anyone of God’s children more than God loves any other.

 

Praise God and give thanks for the good things, do not dwell on the bad.

 

Be mindful!

 

There is peace to be had in patience, in contemplation, meditation and prayer.

 

Make your life a constant prayer for the grace which comes from God, for the grace that brings peace to the spirit.

 

Let the peace of God within you bubble up like a fountain and overflow with abundance so that others may quench their thirst and be nourished by it

 

Consider the words of the apostle:

 

The essence of faith is trust in God, it is the belief that God, the creator of the Universe, the belief that God loves you, that God knows you and that God has a plan for you beyond this world. You must believe that this is true for you, and true for every one of God’s children.

 

Trust God, and allow those beliefs to transform you now, in this world; live as God desires you to live: just, merciful and loving.

 

Remember the life of Jesus, and God whom he called father!

 

Is god glorious?

 

Yes!

 

God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, but God’s greatest place is in relationship to us; God’s children, God greatest glory is the glory of a loving parent.

 

Know this!

 

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember that the hopes you have for yourself and those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even those you do not love, extend the scope of your hope to all people, that is the way God leads us.

 

Be mindful!

 

If you think that God has promised riches and glories as the reward of the saints, remember the words of Jesus: the first will be last and the last will be first, and that true riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

 

Consider the gospel reading for today, the most salient point we should take from this reading does not concern the prophecy of Jesus regarding his death in Jerusalem, and the resurrection that followed,

 

That prophecy is merely an exercise in propaganda.

 

The most salient reading from the gospel for today is not the suggestion that those who follow Jesus must suffer and die for their faith as Jesus did, such a calling is situational not universal.

 

The most salient reading from today is not the notion that there is a divine quid pro quo, that life is restored to those who sacrifice it; the economy of salvation is not a system of barter and trade.

 

The most salient reading is not the notion that there is a reward waiting for us at the end of days, a reward meted out according to measurable behavior that are quantifiable as either good or bad.

 

It is important to note that the disciples, with Peter as chief among them, the disciples did not understand the mission of Jesus, while he was alive and with them they rejected it, even scolding Jesus for his intention to follow the mission he had accepted, because it placed his life at risk.

 

Jesus went so far as to name Peter the enemy, calling him Satan; shortly after that Peter would deny him and any association with him, in the hour of his greatest need.

 

Be mindful of this!

 

Peter and the disciples lived with Jesus, they were closer to him than anyone, they ate with him, prayed with him, walked with him, slept next to him, and even they were confused about his mission.

 

Take this away from the reading for today:

 

If you find yourself confused about the way, do not worry, you are in good company

 

 

First Reading – Jeremiah 20:7-9 ©

 

The Word of the Lord has Meant Insult for Me

 

You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.

 

I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt.

 

Each time I speak the word, I have to howl and proclaim: ‘Violence and ruin!’

 

The word of the Lord has meant for me insult, derision, all day long.

 

I used to say, ‘I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more.’

 

Then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.

 

The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not bear it.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 62(63):2-6, 8-9 ©

 

For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

 

O God, you are my God, for you I long;

for you my soul is thirsting.

My body pines for you

like a dry, weary land without water.

 

For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

 

So I gaze on you in the sanctuary

to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,

my lips will speak your praise.

 

For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

 

So I will bless you all my life,

in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,

my mouth shall praise you with joy.

 

For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

 

For you have been my help;

in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.

My soul clings to you;

your right hand holds me fast.

 

For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 12:1-2 ©

 

Offer Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice

 

Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our mind, so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 16:21 – 27 ©

 

‘Get Behind Me, Satan!’

 

Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord;’ he said ‘this must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

 

‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.’

 

 

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Angelic Doctor of the Church

Augustine of Hippo is arguably the most influential Christian writer of all time, with the possible exception of Saint Paul whose epistles are the earliest Christian writings, and which delineated for the nascent church its primary creeds and basic beliefs concerning who Jesus was and why his life and death were meaningful to us.

 

It is possible that Augustine is more influential than Paul because Augustine’s interpretation of Paul’s letters have dominated Christian thought since his time.

 

Augustine’s life spanned the mid-fourth century to the mid-fifth century CE. He entered the Church just at the Christianity was completing its transformation into the official religion of the Empire, and the indispensable administrative apparatus of the same. Saint Augustine’s fixed that transformative process into the structures that we recognize today.

 

Augustine was midway through his career as a public servant before he converted to Christianity, entered the priesthood and was made a bishop.

 

All of which happened in rapid succession. It only took him four years to go from priest to bishop.

 

His mother was a Christian, but his father was not, and his father had wanted him to have a regular career in the traditional Roman mode of life. Augustine adhered to his father’s wishes for a time, but at the beginning of the fifth Century the Empire was in a process of conversion and all of the good jobs were going to Christians. Eventually he converted, only after becoming convinced that he would have a good career in the Church, and would only encounter dead ends outside of it.

 

His gambit paid off, they put him on the fast track to Bishop.

 

Augustine was a prolific writer, in the modern day he is most famous for his Confessions, and his magnum opus, The City of God.

 

He worked tirelessly against heretical groups like the Manicheans, the Pelagians and the Donatists.

 

He penned the controversial doctrine of creation ex nihillo, as apart of his seminal teaching on original sin. In addition to this, he gave the Church its teaching on sacramental theology, and he argued for the authority of the Church in all matters private and public.

 

His theology would dominate Christian thinking up until the scholastic period, but Saint Thomas Aquinas, the most influential of the scholastic theologians leans heavily on Augustine for nearly all of his views, which is to say that Augustine continued to exercise an indirect influence on the church as the preeminent standard of orthodoxy.

 

Scholastic theologians often deviated from the logic of Augustine, but on the occasion that they might draw a different conclusion from Augustine, they often ran afoul of the hierarchy.

 

By the time of the protestant reformation, both Martin Luther and John Calvin believed that their work represented a realignment of the church with Saint Augustine, and Saint Augustine’s theology continued to dominate protestant thinking.

 

In my own work, Saint Augustine stands as my principle opponent.

 

His doctrine of original sin, his doctrine of double predestination, his teaching that torture can be considered a form of charity if it brings someone to the point of conversion are anathema to the way, and represent a stark contradistinction to the life and ministry of Jesus.

 

Saint Augustine of Hippo has the title of Angelic Doctor of the Church, but he was a villain, he was brutal and cruel, and a hypocrite of the highest order. He should be read in that light.

 

Augustine

 

 

Given 2020.08.28

A Homily – The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 22:19-23 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 137(138):1-3, 6, 8 ©

Second Reading – Romans 11:33-36 ©

Gospel Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 16:18

The Gospel According to Matthew 16:13 – 30 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

Be mindful of the books of prophecy, all too often the writers mistake their own sentiments and dynastic ambitions for God’s. Mistaking their own desires for the will of the divine, and this is not the way.

 

Know this:

 

God does not intervene in human affairs or anywhere in creation, when you read from the book of Isaiah today, remember, God loves the house of David no more and no less than God loves your own house, or any other.

 

God does not play favorites.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist:

 

It is right to praise God, the creator of the universe.

 

It is even better to praise mercy wherever you see it, because mercy is what God and through the exhibition of mercy we serve the divine.

 

Trust in God; the God who does not desire glory, the way to God is one of humility.

 

Listen to the apostle!

 

Everything that exists come from God; God is opposed to nothing and God’s ways are inscrutable.

 

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation of things in God, the creator of the universe. He shares the hope that everyone is reconciled in the loving embrace of the divine.

 

Paul instructs us that the members of the church are meant to serve as messengers and ambassadors of this good news.

 

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members, holding out the reward of reconciliation for those who join.

 

Paul teaches that the reconciliation has already taken place, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time and carries through to the end.

 

The mission of the Church is not to effectuate it, but to proclaim it.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

Matthew’s Gospel was written roughly one hundred years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Saint Paul the Apostle, was the first person to call Jesus the Christ, the anointed one. This was not a term his disciples used of him, nor a term Jesus would have ever used of himself.

 

You should keep this in mind anytime you refer to Jesus as the Christ.

 

Jesus and his disciples did contend with the title “Son of Man.” Among certain sects of the Jewish people this phrase is associated with the coming of a messiah, an individual that could represent humanity as humanity is meant to be, the human being in its most exalted state, and also free the Children of Israel from the grip of foreign rule.

 

The title, “Son of Man,” had been circulating in Jewish literature for about two-hundred years prior to the time of Jesus, and it is most closely associated with the books of Daniel and Enoch in the Old Testament. Apart from scripture, the “Son a Man” was a wildly popular archetype in a period of time known as the “inter-testamental” era, this heroic figure proliferated among non-canonical and apocryphal writers.

 

The authors of Matthew’s Gospel are doing a couple of things, they are connecting the ministry of Jesus, and so by extension their ministry, to this wider body when they refer to Jesus as the “Son of Man,” as well as when they call him the Christ in keeping with the very popular writings of Saint Paul.

 

The authors of Matthew make these claims in order to redirect popular understanding of who the expected “Son of Man” might be; the “Son of Man” was not John the Baptist, and neither is Jesus, John the Baptist returned. The “Son of Man” is not Elijah or one of the other prophets, neither is Jesus the second coming of one of them.

 

The Authors of Matthew are clear that the “Son of Man” is Jesus, the Christ, uniquely able to claim the mantle of sonship in relation to the living God.

 

This is piece of propaganda.

 

The Gospel propagandizes the ministry of Jesus, the ministry of the disciples and the faction of the church most closely associated with Saint Peter.

 

There are no cosmic truths being disclosed here, there is only the struggle of the Church to claim an identity that both carries on the most popular traditions in and around the apostolic era, and to differentiate itself from those traditions at the same time.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 22:19-23 ©

 

I Place the Key of the House of David on My Servant’s Shoulder

 

Thus says the Lord of Hosts to Shebna, the master of the palace:

 

I dismiss you from your office, I remove you from your post, and the same day I call on my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah.

 

I invest him with your robe, gird him with your sash, entrust him with your authority; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the House of Judah.

 

I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open.

 

I drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a throne of glory for his father’s house.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 137(138):1-3, 6, 8 ©

 

Your love, O Lord, is eternal: discard not the work of your hands.

 

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart:

you have heard the words of my mouth.

In the presence of the angels I will bless you.

I will adore before your holy temple.

 

Your love, O Lord, is eternal: discard not the work of your hands.

 

I thank you for your faithfulness and love,

which excel all we ever knew of you.

On the day I called, you answered;

you increased the strength of my soul.

 

Your love, O Lord, is eternal: discard not the work of your hands.

 

The Lord is high yet he looks on the lowly

and the haughty he knows from afar.

Your love, O Lord, is eternal,

discard not the work of your hands.

 

Your love, O Lord, is eternal: discard not the work of your hands.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 11:33-36 ©

 

All that Exists Comes from Him; All is by Him and from Him.

 

How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything? All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 16:18

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.

And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 16:13 – 30 ©

 

You Are Peter and On this Rock I Will Build My Church

 

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’ Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

 

 

The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

A Homily – The Annunciation, Mary Queen of Heaven, A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Ezekiel 43:1-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 118:36, 29

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 23:9, 10

The Gospel According to Matthew 23:1 – 12 ©

 

Memorial

 

First Reading – Isaiah 9:1-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-8 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:28

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, The Annunciation, Mary Queen of Heaven

A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

 

 

Be mindful!

 

It is wrong to place write about the fears and prejudices of human beings, human morality, xenophobia, and to write about them as if they belonged to God.

 

Know this: God does not interfere in the lives of human beings, the creator of the universe does not intervene in our politics.

 

All lands belong to God, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them belong to God, we dwell within God, and not one thing exists without God.

 

Be wary of the sentiments of the psalmist. God did not end the captivity of Jacob, the people did.

 

This is not blasphemy, this is not hubris. It is a greater hubris to think that God loves a special people above all others, far more prideful than to come to the understanding that that the Israelites escaped the bondage of Egypt under their own power.

Always bear this in mind:

 

The things you ask God to do for you are in truth a statement of your intentions for how you want to live your life and the things you want to see happen in it.

 

If you wish to ask God for things and tell God about your desires, that is fine, just know that whatever it is you wish for, it is incumbent on you to make those things happen, and if you should seek divine sanction for your intentions, limit that to you desire to live a lawful life, to understand God’s will, and to transcend the human condition.

 

God has given us the gift to know and desire a holy way of life, but God will not live that life for us; the burden is on us to make the choices that keep us on the path of justice.

 

God’s law has been written on your heart, you may see the path toward its fulfillment reflected in the face of your neighbor, you may see it there when you see yourself looking back at you in their eyes, and know that God is with you.

 

As we traverse the narrow way, and walk the path of truth, you must remember that the closer we are to understanding it the easier it is for us to deceive ourselves.

 

Look to the myths of concerning the fallen angels, remember how Icarus fell when he flew too close to the sun, these stories carry the wisdom of this, and look to the corrupt and the false prophets who are near to us.

 

When you petition God; do not petition God for favor. Do not ask God for special treatment, do not ask God to prefer you over any of God’s children, and do not promise to do for God what is not within your power to do… that is not the way.

 

Do not lie to God or yourself when you petition God. Do not ask from God what it already lies within your power to do for yourself, rather, be wise and ask for wisdom.

 

Listen!

 

The way is one of humility.

 

The way is the path of love.

 

It costs us nothing to be polite.

 

Be humble, walk humbly, perform humble service.

 

This is the way of God.

 

Listen!

 

The prophet errs when he ascribes a divine motive, or more, divine action to any event that transpires here on Earth.

 

God the creator of the universe, God made us in freedom; as individuals God made us in freedom, and the whole creation God made free as well.

 

God does not confer glory on anyone, not on any tribe, not on any nation, not on any church; God does not seek glory for God’s self.

 

All such talk is vanity, springing directly from the hearts of men, coming through the mouths of men, falling on the ears of other men.

 

The prophet was wrong to speak of glories, his error being the error of human ambition, representing the limits of the human imagination.

 

However, the prophet was right to speak of this: to speak of hope like a light shining in the darkness, which once perceived gladdens the heart and brings joy.

 

Hope is the way of Jesus and hope leads to God.

 

Be mindful!

 

God’s light shines on us from beyond this world, we will not see the fullness of the divine light until we have left the world behind.

 

Say it again, and carry the knowledge of it in your heart:

 

God does not intervene in the lives of individuals or in the course of human history.

 

God has made us, and the whole of creation free. We are radically free.

 

Praise God, that is wise, be thankful for existence itself, but do not look to God for favor, or justice. In this world, those things are always determined by human agency.

 

Consider the gospel for today.

Whatever the truth is regarding the birth of Jesus, a man who would have been known by his family and his people as Joshua son of Joseph, if in fact there was such a child born to Joseph and Mary, if Joseph and Mary were in fact historical persons, the mission of Jesus as reported in the scriptures, the way of Christ is not served by false narratives.

 

The stories of Jesus’ birth, the annunciation as we have it presented here, these are myths, they are propaganda and lies.

 

The way of God is not served by lies, because God, the creator of the universe, the God of all people is the God of truth.

 

 

First Reading – Ezekiel 43:1-7 ©

 

The Vision of the Coming of the Glory of the Lord to the Temple

 

The angel took me to the gate, the one facing east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. A sound came with it, like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his glory. This vision was like the one I had seen when I had come for the destruction of the city, and like the one I had seen on the bank of the river Chebar. Then I prostrated myself.

 

The glory of the Lord arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; I saw the glory of the Lord fill the Temple. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me. The voice said, ‘Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet. I shall live here among the sons of Israel for ever.’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace,

peace for his people and his friends.

His help is near for those who fear him

and his glory will dwell in our land.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

The Lord will make us prosper

and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 118:36, 29

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Bend my heart to your will, O Lord, and teach me your law.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 23:9, 10

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

You have only one Father, and he is in heaven; you have only one Teacher, the Christ.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 23:1 – 12 ©

 

Practice What you Preach

 

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

 

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

 

 

Memorial

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 9:1-7 ©

 

A Son is Given to Us

 

The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.

 

You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

 

For the yoke that was weighing on him, the bar across his shoulders, the rod of his oppressor, these you break as on the day of Midian.

 

For all the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood, is burnt, and consumed by fire.

 

For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.

 

Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end, for the throne of David and for his royal power, which he establishes and makes secure in justice and integrity.

 

From this time onwards and for ever, the jealous love of the Lord of Hosts will do this.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-8 ©

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Alleluia!

 

Praise, O servants of the Lord,

praise the name of the Lord!

May the name of the Lord be blessed

both now and for evermore!

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

From the rising of the sun to its setting

praised be the name of the Lord!

High above all nations is the Lord,

above the heavens his glory.

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Who is like the Lord, our God,

who has risen on high to his throne

yet stoops from the heights to look down,

to look down upon heaven and earth?

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

From the dust he lifts up the lowly,

from the dungheap he raises the poor

to set him in the company of princes,

yes, with the princes of his people.

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:28

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!

Blessed art thou among women.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 ©

 

‘I Am the Handmaid of the Lord’

 

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

 

 

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, The Annunciation, Mary Queen of Heaven

A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

A Homily – The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3, 5-6, 8 ©

Second Reading – Romans 11:13-15, 29-32 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:23

The Gospel According to Matthew 15:21 – 28 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

This is the promise of God, the creator of the universe. God promises to save all people.

 

It is God’s will that all people come to the mountain Isaiah spoke to us about, God will’s that we all ascend it, take a seat at the table and ,make the holy offering of our lives to God, a sacred gift to be shared with all.

 

Be mindful, the conditions that the prophet sets out for a seat at the table, are conditions that God fully intends for everyone of God’s children to meet.

 

God will lead the way, have no fear.

 

We cannot exhaust the patience of the divine; the integrity of God is everlasting.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist:

 

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to merciful, as we pray we look forward to the promise of God fulfilled.

 

Know this!

 

God is not confined to one place, nor to one time, neither does God belong to one people, one nation, one church or one tribe.

 

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone.

 

Praise the fairness of God; ask for God’s blessing, not just four yourself but for everyone.

 

Be mindful of the meandering mind of the apostle.

 

Saint Paul often allows himself to wander into legalisms that distract us from the way, erecting barriers to the faith and hope which enkindle love and light the path that Jesus set before us.

 

Skip across the mire, do not get bogged down in these tricks of the mind, look to the other side of the morass and see this, the essential truth:

 

It is god’s will to show mercy to every human being. God, the creator of the universe intends to save us all.

 

Know this!

 

The sheep do not choose the shepherd; the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

 

Everything and everyone belongs to the divine, the divine essence infuses everything and the words indwells us all.

 

There is just the one shepherd, one sheepfold.

 

Listen for the voice of the shepherd and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text. Do not concern yourselves with how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger; know that the shepherd speaks to them to, and they listen as they are able.

 

Everyone who is, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.

 

If you resist God will be patient; if you resist God will wait for you, just as God waits for everyone. The God of Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, the God of all people, the God of creation, our God is love; love is patient and love is kind.

 

Have faith!

 

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us.

 

There is not place, not a single place where God is not.

 

Be mindful of the scriptures, especially when the authors are attempting to fit their narrative of the life of Jesus into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction made by a prophet from past ages.

 

In these cases the literal story is always false and cannot be relied on for anything, even to provision a metaphor, if a narrative rests on false foundation even an allegory which comes from it should be treated guardedly.

 

This is the truth, the future is not predetermined, it never has been and it never will be.

 

God, the creator of the universe made us, and creation free.

 

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons; to engender hope and to warn of danger, there is no other purpose and there is no predictive power in it.

 

The words of a prophet are always addressed to the people in their own time, in their own place. Prophecy is never meant to guide the lives of future generations, except in cases when the prophet is addressing an issue of universal truth, such as the nature of justice itself, which is unchanging.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

There are multiple currents taking place in this passage.

 

Note well, this is the only place in any of the Gospels, in all of the scriptures where Jesus is rebuked and corrected by another person.

 

The woman pleads to Jesus as the son of God for aid and is among the first people in the entire gospel narrative to recognize Jesus as King, and the Son of David.

 

Also of enormous significance is the fact that the person who corrects him is a woman, and she is not Jewish, she is not instructed in the law and yet she knows better than Jesus how his gifts are to be directed.

 

Pay attention to the disciples. They uncharacteristically call for Jesus to give the woman what she asks for. However, they are not moved by the spirit of love and mercy, but rather they bothered by her, and her insistence.

 

For his part Jesus is not inclined to give in to her demands; he refuses her, stating in error that his mission and his gifts are only intended for his fellow Israelites.

 

Then the woman asks again for his help.

 

Jesus responds by comparing her to a dog, stating that it would not be right to take food away from the children of Israel and give it to the unworthy.

 

At this point she corrects Jesus; she humbly accepts being likened to a dog, and uses the analogy to make her point, stating that even dogs are fed scraps from their master’s hand beneath the table.

 

Jesus stands corrected and remarks on the strength of her faith, suggesting to the disciples that because her faith is so strong she will receive the gift she has asked for, a gift of healing for her daughter.

 

Here the gospel writers get it wrong, again, make the entire matter transactional: a demonstration of faith in exchange for the miracle.

 

Know this!

 

God, the creator of the universe does not offer God’s favor in exchange for anything. God gives because God loves. God loves all people. God loves all of God’s children without exception, without qualification.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 ©

 

I Will Bring Foreigners to My Holy Mountain

 

Thus says the Lord: Have a care for justice, act with integrity, for soon my salvation will come and my integrity be manifest.

 

Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their holocausts and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3, 5-6, 8 ©

 

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

 

O God, be gracious and bless us

and let your face shed its light upon us.

So will your ways be known upon earth

and all nations learn your saving help.

 

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

 

Let the nations be glad and exult

for you rule the world with justice.

With fairness you rule the peoples,

you guide the nations on earth.

 

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

 

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you.

May God still give us his blessing

till the ends of the earth revere him.

 

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 11:13-15, 29-32 ©

 

With Israel, God Never Takes Back His Gifts or Revokes His Choice

 

Let me tell you pagans this: I have been sent to the pagans as their apostle, and I am proud of being sent, but the purpose of it is to make my own people envious of you, and in this way save some of them. Since their rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, do you know what their admission will mean? Nothing less than a resurrection from the dead! God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.

 

Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience, so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually. God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice, says the Lord, I know them and they follow me.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:23

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 15:21 – 28 ©

 

The Canaanite Woman Debates with Jesus and Saves Her Daughter

 

Jesus left Gennesaret and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Then out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Sir, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he answered her not a word. And his disciples went and pleaded with him. ‘Give her what she wants,’ they said ‘because she is shouting after us.’ He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was kneeling at his feet. ‘Lord,’ she said ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.

 

 

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

A Homily – The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

Second Reading – Romans 9:1-5 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Psalm 129:5

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:22 – 33 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

God, the creator of the universe: God is not a maker of kings. God is not a general leading armies. God does not desire sacrifices of flesh and blood.

 

God, the creator of the universe is a god of love and mercy, of justice and compassion, of humility.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist and know that all things belong to God:, all lands, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them.

 

God did not end the captivity of Jacob, the tribe of Jacob did.

 

This is not hubris. What is hubris is thinking that God loves a special people above all others, and that God would do for them things that God would not do for others, not the understanding that the Israelites escaped their bondage in Egypt under their own power.

 

Know this:

 

God was never angry or indignant with the people, it is not due to God’s anger that people suffer. God does not rescue us from our plight or from the miseries of the world; that is for us to do, we must rescue ourselves and deliver the other.

 

Be mindful!

 

There are no individuals, there are no families, no tribes, no clans, there are no nations of whom it may be said that God loves them more than any other people.

 

Do not chase after vanities, trust in the judgement of God, trust in God’s plan for creation, trust that God loves everyone and desires their salvation.

 

Have faith that God will accomplish what God wills.

 

Remember this, God is not king, or a lord.

 

The creator of the universe does not wear a crown.

 

We do not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation.

 

As we follow the way of Jesus we seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, we seek to serve those in the deepest dark and return them to the light of love.

 

God, creator of the universe, God is patient, loving and kind. God is merciful and just, God is humble and desires that we emulate the divine in these ways

 

Learn from God; become like God, loving, merciful, patient, humble, just and a blessing to all.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

Bear in mind that the events it describes never happened.

 

This myth is a metaphor.

 

It is intended to communicate the idea that Jesus is not merely the Son of God, but the king of the gods. In it Jesus is depicted as master of the storm and lord of the deep, like other God-Kings, in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean region.

 

The image of Jesus walking on water, abating the winds, mastering the weather, and calming the storm, is analogous to the triumph of Zeus over the sea monster Typhon, or Marduk over the forces of Chaos represented in the dragon Tiamat.

 

In the reading for today Jesus is depicted as triumphant over the same forces, walking over the water just as Zeus and Marduk stood over the bodies of their vanquished foes in victory.

The myth is also intended to convey that the early church, represented by Simon Peter, was not entirely comfortable with this narrative, though it set aside its fears and embraced it nonetheless. In this metaphor Peter is the Church (Peter is always the church in Matthew’s Gospel), and the Church has been shaken by the death of Jesus.

 

Jesus had disappeared, returning only as an apparition. Peter moves toward the ghostly figure seeking to embrace it, but he is terrified and begins to lose heart. Peter does not know if they can transform the life and death of his friend and teacher into the grandiose and spectacular narrative that the people who had followed Jesus, who were now following him and the disciples into the narrative that they are hungry for.

 

In the end Peter embraces the mythology, the church sets aside the historical Jesus and embraces it too, in so doing the chaos that was shaking their movement in the wake of the crucifixion settles down. The mythological narrative is advanced and Jesus rises from the dead, he is no longer an ordinary man, the rabbi from Galilee; he is the Son of God, he is Christ the King.

 

Peter understood that in this way the church would survive, the storms would abate, if he and the others could convince people to believe this above all other things.

 

 

First Reading – 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 ©

 

The Lord was Not in the Wind, or the Earthquake, or the Fire

 

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of God, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85):9-14 ©

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace.

His help is near for those who fear him

and his glory will dwell in our land.

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

The Lord will make us prosper

and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

 

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 9:1-5 ©

 

I Would Willingly be Condemned if it Could Help My Brothers

 

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Psalm 129:5

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:22 – 33 ©

 

Jesus Walks on the Water

 

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

 

 

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18 ©

Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen to the prophet, and know that the grace of God is free, all the good things God has in store for us free, and God promises to deliver to everyone.

 

The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the covenant God made with Moses,  Joshua and David, the covenant God made the prophets and with Jesus and is meant to a blessing on all people, wherever they are, because God is with them as God is with you even when you feel lost and alone.

 

God promises to deliver everyone to a state of blessedness, even the stranger and the sinner.

 

God works God’s will through grace, this is the way Jesus instructed us, this is the way to the fruits of paradise.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist and know that he is mistaken, God is not a king.

 

God is the creator of the universe, God is present in all times and places; God is there in the deepest places of the human heart but does not intervene directly in human events.

 

God only issues an indirect influence in our lives. God’s power does not interfere with our freedom.

 

Contemplate the vast power of God and contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, take it for yourself and identify with it, passing through the narrow arch and into the way of goodness and justice and mercy.

 

Consider the words of the apostle, everything he says is true, but it is true for all people, not just for Christians and Jews.

 

It is true for everyone.

 

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ; not one thing, either from within or from without.

 

Jesus loves us.

 

Remember this, God is not a lord. The creator of the universe does not wear a crown.

 

As Christians we are called on to set aside grandiose notions of glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. We are called on to follow Jesus and seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, seeking to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

 

If we live merely to eat we are no different than the beasts of the field and the forest, merely following our noses and the hunger in our bellies, ruled by thirst and subject to the vicissitudes of desire.

 

We can be more than that, we were made to be more than that, we are meant to look beyond ourselves and to be drawn out of ourselves to see in our neighbors another-self and the divine spark that unites us spiritually, that we may be transcendent in following the way.

 

Consider the Gospel for today and the feeding of the multitude.

 

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a metaphor, read it carefully.

 

The feeding of the multitude may have happened, though it is just as likely that the narrative is pure myth. The truth of it does not matter, what matters is the way in which the metaphor supports and endorses a principle of communal living and sharing.

 

The disciples were concerned for Jesus, they wanted to separate him from the crowds, and separate the crowds from his ministry.

 

Jesus would not have it.

 

The disciples as is typical of them, argued for the wrong thing, they wanted to send everyone away, put them on their own, have them fend for themselves.

 

This is not the way.

 

Jesus did not rebuke them, as he often did when they erred like this. He simply showed them the way.

 

Jesus took all that they had and shared it with the multitude, the crowds saw his generosity and shared of what they had, everyone contributed according to the rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, love your neighbor as yourself, serve God by serving the other.

 

Together they generated a superabundance of food, more than enough to feed everyone, and the lesson ended there, with no magic and no miracles, with simple generosity and love.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

 

Come and Eat

 

Thus says the Lord:

 

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come!

 

Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk.

 

Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?

 

Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy.

 

Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.

 

With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favours promised to David.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18 ©

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

How good is the Lord to all,

compassionate to all his creatures.

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

The eyes of all creatures look to you

and you give them their food in due time.

You open wide your hand,

grant the desires of all who live.

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

The Lord is just in all his ways

and loving in all his deeds.

He is close to all who call him,

who call on him from their hearts.

 

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©

 

No Created Thing Can Ever Come Between Us and the Love of God Made Visible in Christ

 

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.

 

For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Man does not live on bread alone,

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

 

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

 

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

 

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining; twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

 

 

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)