A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

First Reading – Deuteronomy 18:15-20 ©

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

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:16

The Gospel According to Mark 1:21 – 28 ©

(NJB)

The priesthood, any priesthood, perhaps every priesthood that ever was, none of them were ordained by God, but by human beings. Priests and priesthoods, both were ordained to serve the interests of human beings, typically those of the ruling class, most often their own. Even those individuals who are well intentioned serve human motivations, even when they come close to approximating the divine, it is only the pale image of the divine they hold in their hearts that they are attempting and most often failing to approximate.

There are no prophets, there is no prophecy, there are only human beings. Human beings have the innate ability to perceive and recognize what is true. But we are all, each of us compromised; every expression of the truth coming from a human being is conditioned by that compromise, and therefore it is necessarily flawed, and yet despite these flaws we sometimes do good work, but because of these flaws all human works are suspect.

Listen to 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, no matter how distressing or troubling, everything comes from God and will redound to the good.

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

Be mindful!

Even the apostle is liable to asserting his personal beliefs and foibles into the rubrics of the Church. Not everything he says should be accepted on its face as wise and good.

Paul believed that people should withdraw from public life, stop procreation and wait on God to deliver humanity from the miseries of the world. If he could have, he would have had all of us living chaste and celibate lives behind the walls of the cloister, men living with men and women living with women.

The apostle errs, but the church is not obligated to follow him in this error, the more humble thing would be to acknowledge the truth and move on.

This is the truth:

It is the desire of God, the creator of the universe, it is the desire of God that we follow the way that Jesus taught, to be merciful, love justice and walk humbly all the days of our life, to prosper and multiply.

Know this!

The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s illustrates.

The way of Jesus is not a long con, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.

God, the creator of the universe, God has hidden nothing from us. The truth is in the open for anyone to see. The wise and the powerful, the learned and the clever, the weak and the meek, everyone has access to the same truth, to the knowledge of God, of justice, of hope and love.

Who are the wise and powerful, who are the learned and the clever, who are the faithful and childlike? In every generation, you will see a new group labeling the elder group as out of touch, blind, privileged, in the dark, corrupt. It is an endless cycle, and the truth remains the same; love justice, be merciful, do good, serve God through the loving service you provide to one another: your family, your friend, your neighbor, the stranger, even your enemy.

Just because a person may be wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the Church, does not mean they recognize the truth when they see it, or act upon it when they do.

It is not your station in society, it is not how other people regard you, it is not the titles you have earned or the ways that you have been marginalized that give us the tell on how you will fulfill the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope.

When you speak from the scriptures be careful.

When you observe the authors attempting to fit their narrative of the life of Jesus into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction about the future, be wary; this is always a falsehood.

Even if a prediction had been made, and even if Jesus did the thing that was predicted, it is a false narrative to suggest that Jesus’ actions were in fulfillment of prophecy.

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons; to engender hope and to warn of danger.

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 the cases when the prophet is addressing an issue of universal truth, such as the nature of justice, which is itself unchanging.

Know this!

The Gospel writers were propagandists; they fabricated many of the details of Jesus’ life. They fabricated those details to suit their narrative about who Jesus was, why he was necessary, and what his life and death meant for the early church.

In this narrative the Gospel writers place Jesus directly in the tradition of John the Baptist, with the words “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is a continuation of that narrative, meant to harness the energy of John’s movement, after his arrest and murder.

Consider the Gospel for today, it is packed with nuance.

Begin by unpacking:

This is the first record of Jesus in his ministry as a public teacher.

He is still in Palestine but he has travelled to the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. He is beyond the borders of Judea, half-way between Jerusalem and Damascus.

He gives his teaching in a synagogue, indicating his status as a Rabbi. The synagogues belong to the diaspora, Jewish communities outside of the Holy Land. Synagogues are the seat of the Pharisaic sect of Judaism, and Rabbis are teachers in that movement. Pharisees are a distinct group of teachers; they promulgate the law. They are different from the Scribes, and the priests of the temple. All of these distinctions are communicated in the opening paragraph:

Jesus the Pharisee, Jesus the Rabbi is teaching with authority, unlike the Scribes in Jerusalem.

One man calls him out. Not because he is possessed by demons, but because he afraid of what Jesus’ teaching represents.

He asks a good question, “What do you have to do with us?” This indicates that Jesus is an outsider.

He asks, “Are you here to destroy us?” This indicates that he perceives Jesus’ teaching to be a threat to the established order, and therefore quite possibly to his entire community.

He addresses the claim that Jesus’ followers are promoting, that he is the “Holy One of God.” He asserts this in an unfriendly manner, quite possibly as a charge against Jesus: a charge of hubris at the least, though it is potentially a charge of blasphemy.

By raising this charge he intends to undermine Jesus’ authority in the synagogue. Jesus commands the man to silence, and Jesus prevails. This scene is depicted dramatically in the gospel, as if Jesus were commanding an unclean spirit to come out of the man, a spirit of disobedience and falsehood. It is presented as Jesus casting out a demon or demons, and healing a man who was possessed. Though it should be presented as Jesus commanding his authority to convert a dissident into a believer.

The narrative does not depict a supernatural challenge to Jesus’ authority, but an ordinary challenge from a member of the community. It was not easy for Jesus to convince the man, it was a convulsive struggle, but Jesus prevailed; he prevailed because the community had been ready to receive Jesus’ teaching at the outset, and his victory in the disputation with the man who argued with him, how he managed the situation as a healer bolstered his authority all the more.

Be like Jesus in your ministry, be a healer; it is the best way to serve the interests of the divine.

First Reading – Deuteronomy 18:15-20 ©

I Will Raise Up a Prophet and Put My Words into His Mouth

Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. “Do not let me hear again” you said “the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die”; and the Lord said to me, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”’

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 – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 ©

Give Your Undivided Attention to the Lord

I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:21 – 28 ©

Unlike the Scribes, He Taught Them with Authority

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-5, 27, 29 ©

Second Reading – Romans 16:25-27 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:38

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26 – 38 ©

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

All people of good faith should be mindful of this:

God, the creator of the universe; God does not appoint kings.

God dwells in all places at all times, and there is no place where God is not. There is no heart that God does not speak to, no people that God does not love.

God was never confined to a tent, nor ever to a temple. God does not favor kings or their sons. God is not a royalist.

God does not speak to God’s servants in words, like the words that I write here.

Strike these ideas and the myths that perpetuate them from the sacred text, they represent the vanity of human beings and nothing more.

The sacred texts are not a good place for nationalism and jingoism.

We must reject this language wherever we find it!

God, the creator of the universe, God does not favor one person over another, one family, one tribe, one nation.

God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of palace intrigues, not a God of battles.

God, the creator of the universe, God is wise. We are each created in the divine image, and God’s wisdom resides there, like a seed, the whole is in the part.

Jesus exemplified this. He did not exemplify how faith (which means trust in the divine plan), made him obedient, but how faith (his trust in God) freed him to do what he knew in his heart was right.

God does not wish us to be servants and slaves, but partners in in the a ministry of justice and mercy.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

Whatever the truth is regarding the birth of Jesus, known by his family Joshua son of Joseph, we may say this the way, which he preached is not served by false narratives.

The stories of Jesus’ birth, the annunciation as we have it presented here, these are myths. If we read them literally we are perpetuating propaganda and lies.

God is truth, and the way of God is not served by such prevarications.

First Reading – 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 ©

Your House and Your Sovereignty will Always Stand Secure Before Me

Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’

But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:

‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-5, 27, 29 ©

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;

  through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.

Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,

  that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one;

  I have sworn to David my servant:

I will establish your dynasty for ever

  and set up your throne through all ages.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

‘He will say to me: “You are my father,

  my God, the rock who saves me.”

I will keep my love for him always;

  with him my covenant shall last.’

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

Second Reading – Romans 16:25-27 ©

The Mystery is Revealed that was Kept Secret for Endless Ages

Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith. This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:38

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the handmaid of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.

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 Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ©

Gospel Acclamation  Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

The Gospel According to Mark 1:6 – 8, 19 – 28 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Consider the teaching of the prophet!

Praise God and praise God’s servant when the will of God is done, praise God when the divine way is taught with clarity and purpose.

Know this, God is the author of our well-being, if we are able to lead lives of integrity it is God, the creator of the universe who has shown us the way, guiding us and drawing us the divine.

This is God’s constant desire and it is right to praise God for the good things we experience and the good things we are able to do in this world insofar as all good things emanate from divine.

Be mindful, while it is true that God is the eternal source of all goodness, God waits on us and the choices we make for good ness and integrity to manifest themselves in our lives.

Rejoice in the divine, rejoice that we who are infinitely less than the infinite have been graced by the blessing of God.

Rejoice in God’s mercy and do not fear; rejoice.

Consider the teaching of the apostle and know that these words are meant for everyone, for all of God’s children whether they have entered the church or not.

It is God’s desire that we be happy and give thanks for all that we receive, for this is the way that Jesus taught us to live by.

Look for the spirit of God in all whom you meet, because God is with them as God is with you.

It is right and good to pray for perfection, but do not expect to find it in this world, its promise will find you in the next.

Listen!

The reading for today is a revisionist narrative. It does not represent the teaching of Jesus.

It is false and propagandistic, demonstrating the worst tendencies of the early church to stifle dissent among its members and sweep its competitors away, to sweep them out over the fast-hold of the threshing room, the followers of John among them.

Be mindful!

Jesus was not God, Joseph and Mary’s son is not the creator of the universe, and John was not sent by God to bear witness to anything; this is true even though John bore witness to much.

John and Jesus, like all prophets, bore witness to injustice and spoke against it where they saw it.

They were killed for it, put to death by the prevailing powers of their day.

In their heart, they heard the voice of God, they listened to that voice in the same place where God dwells and speaks to each of us, through that aspect of ourselves that God created in God’s own image, the imago dei.

Know this!

All of us bear a seed of God’s Word within us, the divine logos is present to us, and where God is present, God is present fully.

God was present in Isaiah, in John, in Mary, in Jesus, in Paul, as God is present in you and me and everyone.

The light that John bore witness to, is a light that dwells within us all.

Christians are called to follow the way of Jesus, as Jesus followed in the way of John; the way is a path of service and sacrifice, anoint yourself with these and you will be a light to others.

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11 ©

He has Sent Me to Proclaim a Year of Favour from the Lord

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

‘I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity, like a bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels.

‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow, as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.’

Responsorial Psalm – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 ©

My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul glorifies the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.

He looks on his servant in her nothingness;

henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

My soul rejoices in my God.

The Almighty works marvels for me.

Holy his name!

His mercy is from age to age,

on those who fear him.

My soul rejoices in my God.

He fills the starving with good things,

sends the rich away empty.

He protects Israel, his servant,

remembering his mercy.

My soul rejoices in my God.

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ©

May You All be Kept Safe for the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

Gospel Acclamation  Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia!

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:6 – 8, 19 – 28 ©

‘There Stands Among You the One Coming After Me’

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness,

as a witness to speak for the light,

so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light,

only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 ©

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

Second Reading – 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©

Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4, 6

The Gospel According to Mark 1:1 – 8 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Consider the words of the prophet:

There is great hope expressed by Isaiah, a profound hope for the future wellness of all people,

As seen through his understanding of our common destiny as children of God, the creator of the universe. The prophet expresses certainty in regard to the expectation of atonement, not just for the people of Israel or the children of Judah, but for all people.

Be mindful!

This teaching serves as the principle foundation of the early church, and the whole of Christian faith accordingly.

John the Baptist, stood in the tradition of Isiah, his was a voice crying out in the wilderness; he called the faithful to action, instructing them to prepare the way. His was a voice of expectation instructing the faithful that the entire creation will bend to the will of God; every valley and every mountain, from the cliffs to the plains, everything will yield to God.

Furthermore, we are instructed to believe that despite the omnipotence of God, we are to regard the creator like a shepherd who feeds the flock, like a mother ewe among her children, not as a lord or a king or a general leading armies.

To be clear: Isaiah also speaks of God as the punisher, reminding the people of Judah of the punishment they have suffered for their crimes and of future punishments to come if they persist in their sinful ways.

Remember this, their crimes were crimes against the people, their crimes took place in the world. They made enemies among foreign powers and they suffered on account of their wickedness and vanity, and broken promises. They were not punished by God. The justice they encountered was the justice of human beings. It was harsh, it was painful, many people were slaughtered, many more were taken into captivity, but this was not the work of God, the creator; we know this  because God does not intervene in the affairs of the world.

In the midst of all the that the children of Israel and the people of Judah suffered came Isaiah, whose voice cried out in the wilderness, then came John followed by Jesus hundreds of years later, reminding the people that God is with them still, and that in the end all things will be resolved in love.

Listen!

God is the creator of the entire universe, everything belongs to God; all lands, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them.

You should know that God did not end the captivity of the children of Israel, they did.

This is not hubris.

It is greater hubris to think that God loves a special people, one tribe above all others, it is much greater to think that than to think that the Israelites escaped bondage under their own power.

Know this!

God is never angry or indignant with the people,  neither does God rescue us from our plights or the miseries of the world; that is for us to do for ourselves, it is for us to do for each other.

Bear witness to Peter’s struggle.

His mission was to call people to holiness and to a just way of life. He spoke about the fruits of such a life and the reasonable expectation that if you live a good life good things will come to you…though if truth be told there is no guarantee of that.

Peter knew this.

Treating all people with goodness and mercy, telling the truth as best as you understand it, in no way does doing these things guarantee that you will be treated the same. Therefore we may understand that the divine promise is not that you will experience justice and mercy in this world, but that there will be justice and mercy in the next.

Peter had been preaching on this and the return of Jesus for many years, believing that the Church would usher in the new world of justice and grace, but two thousand years has gone by and it has not happened, not yet.

You should know that there are many people preaching the same message, not for the good of others but for their own enrichment, as the years and decades and centuries and millennia pass, the teaching on Christian hope has become elongated elongated, the expectation is no longer that you will receive justice in this life with the return of Jesus, but in eternity.

Be mindful!

God will bring the world to an end only when God’s purpose for the world has been fulfilled. Trust that God is loving and God is patient, and it is God’s desire to save everyone. It is God’s desire to leave no one behind, and that is the true foundation of Christian faith, in keeping with the tradition of Isaiah.

Read your histories. Though it has had a mixed record of success the Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities.

The study of the Christian tradition gave birth to modern historical and literary criticism, without which, as a culture, we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever.

Appreciate the fact that this took eighteen hundred years to develop.

Our narrative concerning the life and mission, the arrest and killing of Jesus are a part of the testimony of our faith. These stories helps us to locate in time the singular moment when our cultural commitment to the teachings of Jesus took place.

Through the liturgy we remember the rule of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, the Herodian dynasty and Pontius Pilate. We recall the role that Pilate played in killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; that Jesus suffered under his hand, was crucified and buried. This story is told unceasingly and without end.

Be mindful!

It is long since time that we, as heirs to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, forgive Pilate for the role he played in that political murder.

John the Baptist taught us to repent and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us to simply forgive. He forgave those who killed him even as they were torturing him; and he asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross breathing his last painful breaths. It is time we followed his example and did the same. The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness cannot be received by us unless and until we do.

Know this!

God is the author of our salvation but we are the agents of it, and it is incumbent on us to proceed with the healing, if the human race is to be healed.

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

Isaiah did not predict the coming of John and Jesus. We know that this is true, because we believe that God, the creator of the universe, created us in freedom, and nothing in the world is pre-determined.

Isaiah’s movement took place over the course of a decade or more, its followers and proponents witnessed the collapse of David’s kingdom and the scattering of the Israel into the remote reaches of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.

Neither did John the Baptist predict the coming of Jesus, though he may have expressed the hope that someone like Jesus would come after him and continue his work.

In the time of John and Jesus the people of Judah and the children of Israel were in much the same place as they had been six hundred years earlier. They had rebuilt their cities, re-dug their wells and constructed a new temple in the land of their forebears, but they were still divided among themselves, factionalized and politically weak. They were still subject to foreign powers, and still subject to the capriciousness of kings.

John saw his death coming because he understood the political temper of the men and women in power in his day, like Jesus who came after him he accepted that death rather than risk the lives of his followers in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable.

First Reading – Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 ©

The Glory of the Lord Shall be Revealed and All Mankind Shall See It

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord.

Make a straight highway for our God across the desert.

Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low.

Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion.

Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem.

Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him.

The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

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

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,

  peace for his people.

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 – 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©

We Are Waiting for the New Heavens and the New Earth

There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.

Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.

Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4, 6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:1 – 8 ©

A Voice Cries in the Wilderness: Prepare a Way for the Lord

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

“Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.

A voice cries in the wilderness:

Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.”

And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 63:16-17& 64:1, 3-8 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19 ©

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 84:8

The Gospel According to Mark 13:33 – 37 ©

(NJB)

The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Listen to the prophet and trust in God, God the creator of the universe.

Listen!

God is parent to us all, and we are all laden with guilt, bearing countless transgressions: transgressions that have born fruit in the world, transgressions that have festered in our hearts, transgressions that have done real harm to ourselves and others.

As the prophet says: we wear our integrity like a filthy cloth.

And despite all of this, God loves us. God has promised to deliver us, all of us together.

Be mindful!

The psalmist misunderstands how historical events unfold and how the will of God is manifest in them.

Know this:

God is the shepherd of all people, not of Israel only.

God does not reside on a throne and God is not the general of armies. Those are human institutions and when we imagine God thus we do a disservice to the creator of the universe, the divine parent.

God’s face shines upon everyone, look for it in the face of your neighbor, in the face of your enemy, in the faces of those who persecute you. Know this, and know that God will rescue no-one from the human conditions, from the dilemmas face, the machinations of other people, or natural catastrophe.

God did not rescue the Israelites from Egypt.

God did not send the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ptolemy’s, or the Romans, to punish the people.

God did not destroy the temples.

God will not protect you, or show you favor in this world.

It is up to us, God’s children, to love, show mercy and care for those who are downtrodden.

This is the task we have been given.

Listen to the Paul and be mindful!

If you have been baptized you have been appointed by God to be an apostles and to share the good news, the good news of God’s love for us and the promise that God has prepared the way for our salvation; for the salvation of humanity, of all people in all times and all places.

We are all people of the way.

We are all saints in the making.

Remember this and know that Jesus is not a lord, he is not our king, he was our brother, and he is our friend.

God is faithful, but God, the creator of the universe; God does not work in the world the way the apostle imagines.

God is revealed every day in the good works done by one human being for another, whether they are done in the name for God that we recognize or not.

Be mindful!

God will not steady you and keep you without blame.

God has made you free, whether you live a good life or a bad life is up to you. God will speak to you, from your heart, God will speak about the good life, but so will the voices of fear and greed, and hate.

It is for you to decide which you will listen to, and because you are human you will vacillate.

Whichever way you wander, God will forgive you, just as God asks that you forgive those who have harmed you, God also asks you to accept the forgiveness of those you have harmed, and ultimately to forgive yourself.

Remember:

God is the creator of the entire universe, all lands belong to God; all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies, everything and everyone that is in them.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

We are called to diligence and mindfulness, to perpetual and continuous watchfulness.

That is what it means to be in the way.

The way of loving service is never ending, but so long as we are engaged in it, we are living in the garden.

Love is love, hope is hope, and trust is trust…to live out the faith means to actively trust in the goodness, the mercy and the justice of God, God the creator of the universe.

To live in a state of hope, requires only that we extend the hope we have for ourselves, for our friends and for our families, to the stranger in our midst, to the person who owes you money, to the person to whom you are indebted, even to your enemies.

To be in love, you must be loving.

Stay awake, be mindful, keep the lamp lit.

The way is like a great river; it is flowing, flowing all the time.

First Reading – Isaiah 63:16-17& 64:1, 3-8 ©

O That You Would Tear the Heavens Open and Come Down

You, Lord, yourself are our Father, ‘Our Redeemer’ is your ancient name.

Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways and harden our hearts against fearing you?

Return, for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance.

Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!

– at your Presence the mountains would melt.

No ear has heard, no eye has seen any god but you act like this for those who trust him.

You guide those who act with integrity and keep your ways in mind.

You were angry when we were sinners; we had long been rebels against you.

We were all like men unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing.

We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind.

No one invoked your name or roused himself to catch hold of you.

For you hid your face from us and gave us up to the power of our sins.

And yet, Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19 ©

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,

  shine forth from your cherubim throne.

O Lord, rouse up your might,

  O Lord, come to our help.

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,

  look down from heaven and see.

Visit this vine and protect it,

  the vine your right hand has planted.

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,

  the man you have given your strength.

And we shall never forsake you again;

  give us life that we may call upon your name.

God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ©

We are Waiting for Our Lord Jesus Christ to be Revealed

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 84:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 13:33 – 37 ©

If He Comes Unexpectedly, He Must Not Find You Asleep

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

A Homily – The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King

First Reading – Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23):1-3a, 5-6 ©

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:31 – 46 ©

(NJB)

The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King

Consider the words of the prophet, this is the divine injunction: Carry out the will of God, the impetus for which is in your heart.

Be forgiving.

Be just.

Be mindful.

Be humble.

Be watchful.

Be caring.

Look after the well-being of all who come your way; as you treat the stranger, so do you treat God, the creator of the universe.

Know this!

God looks out for everyone, the whole of the flock, humanity, is in God’s care, and God is determined not to lose a single one of us. God will seek out the lost, bring back the stray, heal the wounded and strengthen the weak.

As the psalmist says:

God, the creator of the universe, God is shepherd to us all.

If we walk in the ways of God, we will be as a shepherd to our sisters and brothers.

Whatever it is that we experience of lack, our time in this world is not the end of all things. It is transitory. If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a time. If we thirst, it is but for a moment.

Trust in God and find peace therein. In the end you will be fulfilled.

It is not only because God loves you that God guides you, but it is for the God’s own sake that God blesses you.

The power of death and sin are temporary, it is only God that endures forever, and we are the children of God, the divine dwells within us.

If God has set a table before you, share it with the world; turn enemies into loved ones.

Be mindful of the apostle’s words.

The Apostle has a deep liking for circular arguments. The reading for today begins in circularity. Paul insists that Christ must be raised from the dead or his faith, and the faith of Christians everywhere is in vain, because the faith of Christians everywhere is not in vain, he says that we must believe that there is a resurrection, and the risen Christ is the proof of it.

This is not a reasonable argument. Set it aside, because it has no bearing on the main point of this passage.

The main point is this:

Sin and death enter through the world from a single point in time, and it is another singularity that brings sin and death to an end.

Adam causes the fall, Christ lifts creation back up.

The scope of their work is equal and includes the totality of all living beings: past, present and future.

Listen to the apostle; who understand the ways of God. We are created all-together as one. We are one creation in God. In our failures and our faith we are one. 

Remember this!

God is not a king, a prince or a lord.

The Church, following in the way Jesus taught, can never be the extension of a royal dynasty, and should not be seen as one.

The reading for today contains much of what is true, and much that is false.

Let us begin with this:

Jesus is not a king, nor is he an emperor.

Jesus is our brother, Jesus is a friend.

The glory of Christ is expressed in his mercy, you will not find Christ seated on a throne, commanding armies of angels, with the nations assembled before him.

It is the duty of all Christians, of all who would follow in the way of Jesus to reject such images. They lead to fallacies.

What is true is this:

Our love and fidelity to God and Christ is expressed in how we treat one another; rich or poor, weak or strong, right or wrong.

Among the ancient Hebrews, both the sheep and the goats were integral to their community, the Hebrews tended and cared for flocks of each. Both the sheep and the goats belonged to the community..

We are one human family, we are not sheep and goats, we are never divided by God, we are only divided by each other.

We must reject all such efforts to divide us.

In our human family there is good and bad, there are right and wrong. We are called on to foster the good, and forgive the bad. We are called by Jesus to forgive even those who do us harm.

First Reading – Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 ©

The Lord Will Judge Between Sheep and Sheep

The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.

As for you, my sheep, the Lord says this: I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23):1-3a, 5-6 ©

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;

  there is nothing I shall want.

Fresh and green are the pastures

  where he gives me repose.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Near restful waters he leads me,

  to revive my drooping spirit.

He guides me along the right path;

  he is true to his name.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a banquet for me

  in the sight of my foes.

My head you have anointed with oil;

  my cup is overflowing.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me

  all the days of my life.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell

  for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28 ©

Christ Will Hand Over the Kingdom to God the Father; So that God May Be All in All

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.

Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David!

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:31 – 46 ©

I Was Naked and You Clothed Me; Sick, and You Visited Me

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Solemnity of Christ the King

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

First Reading – Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 2:10

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:4, 5

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:14 – 30 ©

(NJB)

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

Consider these words of wisdom and be mindful; everyone has fallen short of perfection.

Know this!

The psalmist is in error.

It is vanity to believe that God will come to your aid when you are engaged in a dispute with your sisters or brothers, or in any dispute in all.

It is vanity and foolishness to believe that God will secure the foundation of your house or the peace of your city, the stability of your nation or the well-being of the world.

It is vanity and hubris to assume that those who labor from dawn to dusk are loved less by God than those who do not toil at all.

It is vanity and hubris to believe that God places sons in the wombs of the mothers on behalf of the fathers whom God loves.

God does not favor husbands over wives, God does not favor brothers over sisters, God does not favor sons over daughters.

God does not intervene in our affairs.

Listen to the apostle!

When Saint Paul says that we belong to the light, he is speaking to all of the children of Adam, to the entirety of the human race. He is speaking to the world, his audience is everyone; the message is timeless, unbounded; it comes from the infinite.

Be mindful!

The gift of grace is not transactional; God gives it freely, the creator of the universe gives grace to all, no one is excluded.

God is present throughout creation; there is no place where God is not. God touches every person, God sustains every living-breathing thing, God undergirds the whole created order, Christian and non-Christian alike, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

It is heartbreaking to see the teaching of Jesus betrayed so completely by the writers of the Gospels.

The authors of Matthew, writing a hundred years or so after the death of Jesus, were more concerned with building up and retaining church property than they were with teaching the good news, that Christ has risen, that God loves the sinner, even the worst of them.

It is impossible to know how the way came to be betrayed in such a fulsome and complete manner, but I am thinking it has to do with the fact that over the course of a hundred years, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the leadership of Christian communities throughout the Empire fell to the wealthy, bishops were selected from among leading merchants and tradespeople, from among landowners and people of status.

It is not surprising that in this time the way that Jesus preached about came to be imagined as a kingdom, while abba, the father, became a king.

This parable views God or Jesus as a merchant and a banker, instead of a fisherman or a carpenter, a shepherd or a farmer.

The parable begins with the idea that God will distribute challenges and tasks to the people according their ability, that God knows both the powers and liabilities of God’s children, and consequently God knows what to expect from them.

Therefore, it is out of character for the loving and knowing God to punish the servant who buried his one talent. God knew that this is what this servant would do.

According to the way of Jesus, the servant who buried the talent should be the recipient of mercy, of a loving ministry, not cast out and left in the dark.

One hundred years after the death of Jesus, the leaders of the church had forgotten this.

The servant who hid the talent was not lazy, as the “master” said, but was fearful because he knew that the man he was beholden to was a hard person, who took what he had not worked for, robbing others of the fruit of their labor.

This servant did not multiply his talent as the others had done because he did not want to emulate the corrupt practices of his master as the others were willing to do.

Again, the master, who represents either God or Jesus in this parable, does not deny being hard of heart, and does not deny the charge of being a thief, reaping what he had not sewn, and gathering what he had not scattered.

He is proud of it, and that is the type of behavior he intended to promote.

He charges the frightened servant with laziness, with neglect and stupidity, calling him a good-for-nothing and has him thrown into the dark, into the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, into hell, the place of death.

Through this twist in the narrative the authors of this parable up-end Jesus’ teaching, that the last will be first and the first shall be last.

The true reading of this parable is this:

The man who was thrown out represents the figure of Christ. Like Christ he refused to emulate the wicked practices of the rulers, he refused to profit from the suffering of others, he knew that he would be punished and he accepted the consequences. He was proven right, and he was killed for his convictions.

First Reading – Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 ©

A Perfect Wife – Who Can Find Her?

A perfect wife – who can find her?

She is far beyond the price of pearls.

Her husband’s heart has confidence in her, from her he will derive no little profit.

Advantage and not hurt she brings him all the days of her life.

She is always busy with wool and with flax, she does her work with eager hands.

She sets her hands to the distaff, her fingers grasp the spindle.

She holds out her hand to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty; the woman who is wise is the one to praise.

Give her a share in what her hands have worked for, and let her works tell her praises at the city gates.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 127(128):1-5 ©

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord

  and walk in his ways!

By the labour of your hands you shall eat.

  You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

  in the heart of your house;

your children like shoots of the olive,

  around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Indeed thus shall be blessed

  the man who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion

  all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 ©

God Will Bring with Him Those Who Have Died in Jesus

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.

Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 2:10

Alleluia, alleluia!

Even if you have to die, says the Lord, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:4, 5

Alleluia, alleluia!

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. Whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:14 – 30 ©

You Have Been Faithful in Small Things: Come and Join in Your Master’s Happiness

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

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

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

First Reading – Wisdom 6:12-16 ©

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

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 24:42, 44

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:1 – 13 ©

(NJB)

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

Remember this!

God, the creator of the universe; God has nothing to do with the appointment of kings or the management of kingdoms.

Wise men and despots alike rise to the role of ruler, though it is more difficult for the wise man than the despot. Justice and mercy, kindness and grace, these qualities are always received as blessings to those in need of them, and the exhibition of them blesses those who administer them as well. However, the kind and the merciful are easily overrun by those whose thoughts are only for themselves.

A despot may rule for generations, founding dynasties that abuse the people whom they are charged to uplift and defend.

This is the way of the world, and this is the way that God made it, even though it is not the way God desires it to be.

God created the universe and our world within it, God brought forth human beings but not the character of human culture, God has left that in our hands, and God calls us to sanctify it.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

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

The good and the bad come to us irrespective of who we are, what we do or have done or who we might become. There is no plan 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; do not dwell on the bad.

There is peace to be had in patience and contemplation, in meditation and prayer. Make your life a constant prayer for the grace which comes from God and brings peace to you spirit.

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

Be mindful of what the apostle says!

Jesus rose from death; this is the gospel, and it will be the same for those who have died in him.

The living have no advantage over the dead. Jesus will bring all of those who die in him, with him, to life everlasting.

Now remember the teaching of John!

All things and beings exist in the Word who is God, and not one thing exists without God.

Through God all things came to be and in God all things continue.

Be mindful!

The future history of the world has not been written.

Any suppositions about our future on earth are guesses. We can speak in terms of possibility and probability, but we cannot know anything about the days and nights to come.

There are thousands of ways in which the plans we have laid and the hopes which we cherish can come undone; lightening will strike, a tornado will blow, a meteor will fall, a volcano explode. A person in the fullness of their life may trip and fall, hit their head and die, leaving everything behind them.

The promises we have received from God are not of this world. God has promised to bring an end to suffering, injustice, hunger, illness. It is wise to believe in these promise, but not to expect them in this life.

Our belief in a loving God, our hope in the words of the prophets, our trust in the Gospel, these allow us to believe that this is true. But anyone who pretends to know for certain, they are over stating their case.

Consider the Gospel for today.

The parable is a rank betrayal of the way.

The writers and editors of Matthew’s gospel, did not understand the basic meaning of the most prevalent teaching that Jesus’ gave, “the last will be first and the first will be last.”

These imposters in the early church betrayed the teaching of Jesus providing justification for their miserly behavior and ambitions. Those who would withhold from others the gifts they had received from God under the mistaken notion that the gifts of heaven are distributed according to some standard other than the selfless love God has for all of God’s children, those people do harm to the promise of the Gospel and obscure the way. A person is not rewarded in because they are smart, people are not punished because they are foolish or unprepared.

The commandment that Jesus issued is simple: Love one another, as I have loved you.

To be a Christian means that you have made a commitment to love God with all your heart, and all your strength and all your mind. A Christian is meant to love their neighbor even as they love themselves. Jesus tells us that within these words the entire code of the law, and all of the teachings of the prophets are contained.

Jesus expressed his understanding of this law in the most beautiful synthesis: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

This parable in today’s Gospel betrays that teaching. The writers of Matthew’s Gospel put a lie in the mouth of Jesus, in doing so they did great damage to everyone who sought to follow in the way after them.

First Reading – Wisdom 6:12-16 ©

Wisdom is Found by Those Who Look for Her

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.

By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her.

Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.

Watch for her early and you will have no trouble; you will find her sitting at your gates.

Even to think about her is understanding fully grown; be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.

She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her and graciously shows herself to them as they go, in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.

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

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

On my bed I remember you.

  On you I muse through the night

for you have been my help;

  in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.

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

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ©

Do Not Grieve About Those Who Have Died in Jesus

We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus: God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died. At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them; to meet the Lord in the air. So we shall stay with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 24:42, 44

Alleluia, alleluia!

Stay awake and stand ready, because you do not know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 25:1 – 13 ©

The Wise and Foolish Virgins

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

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

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)

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)