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

First Reading – Exodus 22:20-26 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 17(18):2-4, 47, 51 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alternative Acclamation – John 14:23

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:34 – 40 ©

(NJB)

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen to the word of God, creator of the universe.

God wills that we take care of the stranger in our company, that we do not oppress her or him.

This is the way to holiness.

Love the immigrant and the alien, show compassion to the widow and the orphan, do not abuse the poor or put them in your debt.

Consider this:

There are times when a psalm of thanksgiving is little more than an appeal to vanity; the psalmist gives credit to God for saving him, but it was not God. God did not hear his voice alone among all of the others and fly from the temple to save him.

The psalmist saved himself, or he was saved by his allies, though he may have been spared only by chance.

We know this is true because God, the creator of the universe, God does not favor one child over another, not one family, not one tribe, not one nation, not one sect. God loves all of God’s children equally, no matter whether they live in sin and rebellion or in the peace that comes through faith.

God, the creator of the universe; God is not like Zeus or Jupiter, Indra or Thor. God does not step onto the battlefield, shoot arrows and hurl lightning.

It is foolish to think so.

Therefore be mindful of the life you live and set the example for all those you meet as you follow the way.

God is with you. God will hear you, and though God will not intervene in this world to spare you any pain, God has a plan to resolve all pain in a place beyond time and the bounds of space.

Be mindful of this! The grace of God is not transactional, and while love fosters love, there is always love and God is always with you. The divine love is always present to you, even when you are at your worst, when you are most hateful and your most destructive self.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

This is the way, it is the core of Jesus’ teaching, it is the sacred path to the divine.

Any interpretation of Jesus’ life and mission that do not reflect these teachings are false.

Every pericope and parable; every metaphor, simile and analogy; every story, fable and myth must adhere to this canon.

We only encounter God through each other, in relationship to one another. We serve God through the service we give to the other another. The love we bear toward God is only made resplendent in this light.

First Reading – Exodus 22:20-26 ©

If You Are Harsh with the Widow and Orphan, My Anger Will Flare Against You

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the sons of Israel this:

‘“You must not molest the stranger or oppress him, for you lived as strangers in the land of Egypt. You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry; my anger will flare and I shall kill you with the sword, your own wives will be widows, your own children orphans.

‘“If you lend money to any of my people, to any poor man among you, you must not play the usurer with him: you must not demand interest from him.

‘“If you take another’s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him before sunset. It is all the covering he has; it is the cloak he wraps his body in; what else would he sleep in? If he cries to me, I will listen, for I am full of pity.”’

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 17(18):2-4, 47, 51 ©

I love you, Lord, my strength.

I love you, Lord, my strength,

  my rock, my fortress, my saviour.

My God is the rock where I take refuge;

  my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.

The Lord is worthy of all praise,

  when I call I am saved from my foes.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

Long life to the Lord, my rock!

  Praised be the God who saves me,

He has given great victories to his king

  and shown his love for his anointed.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ©

You Broke with Idolatry and Became Servants of God; You Are Now Waiting for His Son

You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.

Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:34 – 40 ©

The Commandments of Love

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

First Reading – Isaiah 25:6-10 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©

Second Reading – Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 1:14, 12

Alternative Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:1 – 14 ©

(NJB)

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

Listen to the prophet and remember this, God, the creator of the universe, God seeks the well-being of all people. God is working toward the salvation of every single one of us.

The prophet asks us to do the same; to hope for it, to pray for it, and to wait for it in humility, with kindness and patience.

Everyone has a seat at the table; all people of all nations, from every clan and tribe, everyone will be healed.

Listen to the psalmist!

God is shepherd to us all, and if we walk in the way of God, we may serve as a shepherd to our sisters and brothers.

Whenever the circumstances of our life are such that we struggle with wants and needs, when we experience a sense of lack in our lives, know this: our time in this world is not the end of all things.

Everything is transitory.

If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a time. If we thirst, it is but for a moment.

We live and breathe but for a time, before we are called to the divine.

Trust in God, there is peace in it.

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

It is not only because God loves you that God guides you, but it is for God’s own sake that God blesses you. Follow the way, when your table is set share it with the world, and turn enemies into loved ones.

Consider the life of the apostle:

It is sad to read of him begging for money. This is not something that Jesus is ever depicted doing in the gospel.

Jesus never asked for anything for himself, but only for the poor.

It is sad to read of the apostle promising the communities of believers that God will reward them lavishly now that they have given him everything he needs…neither salvation not its promise is a commodity to be exchange.

Much harm has come to the world because of these words, many priests and bishops and would be prophets have enriched themselves while doing little for the poor.

Listen!

Do not repeat the errors of John, do not depart from the message that all people are the children of God, we do not come into being by any other power, not by a power that comes from within us, neither by a power that is external to us. We are born as children of God, created in the Word, by the Word and through the Word.

Our status as children of God is as unconditional as God’s love for us.

Remember this, and meditate on the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

May each and every one of come to the full knowledge of God. There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember this, the hopes you have for yourself and for those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even those you do not love, for that is the way God leads us and that is the way God heals us.

If you think that God has promised riches and glories to be the inheritance of the saints; remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

Know this, God considers the greatest glory to be the divine parents living in relation to us, that is the secret of the Gospel.

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

It is shameful when the Gospel writers betray the teaching and mission of Jesus, when they allow their own fears and their own reflections on the tribulations they suffered to warp the Good News that Jesus proclaimed as the way to God.

Let it be understood that heaven is not a kingdom, it is a garden, and God is not a king, god is a loving parent. Jesus is not a princeling, he is our brother.

Any reflection on the way that does not reflect those principles, is a distortion or a deliberate deception.

God does not command troops, God is not a warrior, God does not deliver the death sentence as punishment for any crime.

God’s Justice is merciful, it is loving and kind.

As Isaiah said, God has laid a table for everyone to share. God has invited the good and the bad alike, the rich and the poor, the friend and the stranger, everyone to a place there.

The feast at God’s table is less a wedding celebration and more of a family reunion, the feast is not to celebrate the joining of two, who were not one already, but the celebration of a unity that pre-exists all things.

All people are the children of God.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we know it or not.

At the feast in the garden, there are no wedding garments, we wear no badges, we are not asked to present credentials. Everyone is welcome and none are rejected, there will be no darkness, no weeping and no gnashing of teeth.

First Reading – Isaiah 25:6-10 ©

The Lord Will Prepare a Banquet for Every Nation

On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.

On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever.

The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his people’s shame everywhere on earth, for the Lord has said so.

That day, it will be said: See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.

We exult and we rejoice that he has saved us; for the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd;

  there is nothing I shall want.

Fresh and green are the pastures

  where he gives me repose.

Near restful waters he leads me,

  to revive my drooping spirit.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

He guides me along the right path;

  he is true to his name.

If I should walk in the valley of darkness

  no evil would I fear.

You are there with your crook and your staff;

  with these you give me comfort.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

You have prepared a banquet for me

  in the sight of my foes.

My head you have anointed with oil;

  my cup is overflowing.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

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.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

Second Reading – Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 ©

With the Help of the One Who Gives Me Strength, There Is Nothing I Cannot Master

I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel Acclamation – John 1:14, 12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Word was made flesh and lived among us: to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.

Alleluia!

Alternative 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 22:1 – 14 ©

Invite Everyone You Can to the Wedding

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

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

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

First Reading – Isaiah 5:1-7 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):9, 12-16, 19-20 ©

Second Reading – Philippians 4:6-9 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:16

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:33 – 43 ©

(NJB)

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

Be mindful of the prophet’s words, and know this:

God, the creator of the universe, God does not directly intervene in the affairs of human beings, but nevertheless there is an intention behind creation and God is pulling all of us toward God’s desired end.

God wills that we be good and just, loving and kind, humble and accepting, but God does not create us with these qualities fully matured, preferring that we develop them naturally throughout the course of our lives.

The prophet likens humanity to a vineyard:

In one generation a vineyard will produce beautiful fruit, in another generation it will be sour.

A single vine in the vineyard will produce fruit of mixed quality, some branches will dry up and wither, while others go on to produce a wonderful bounty.

In one year a vineyard will go to rot, in another it will be restored.

Briar patches and thorns may impede the vine in one season, while at the same time returning vitality to the soil.

This is the way of things, and it is the way of all human  institutions, it is the way of civilization, and the Church is not excepted from this rule.

Be mindful of the writings of the psalmist, the psalmist  frequently misunderstands how historical events unfold in relation to the will of God.

God did not rescue the Israelites from Egypt. God did not send the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ptolemy’s, or the Romans. God did not destroy the temples, and God will not protect you, or show you favor in this world no matter how fervently you pray.

Know this!

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

God does not reside on a throne and God is not a general who comes at the head of an army. When we imagine God thus we do a disservice to the divine.

God’s face shines on everyone, look for it in the face of your neighbor, in the face of your enemy, in the faces of those who persecute you.

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

It is the desire of God that all people be well and happy. God desires that we be tolerant of one another and care for one another, that we serve the happiness of our neighbors with a spirit of charity. Therein rests the peace of God, in the work of a servant

Meditate on what is true, to the truth that ennobles us and is rooted in love. Commit yourself to what is good, known by the good fruit that goodness bears and the benefit that is derived in the community from it.

Be mindful of those who seek honors, speak of virtue and love praise, these are good and lofty things, but we are easily deceived by them and easily deceived for them.

Know this!

The greatest commandment is love, and love is the whole of the law.

To love one another, to give of one’s self to another in love, there is no greater gift.

The love that we are called to is not the love we call desire, though to desire and be desired is an experience of great joy.

We are called to move past desire and to move past the love we have for family and friends, because to love those nearest to us is only a short extension of the love we have for ourselves, seeing ourselves in the faces of our mothers and fathers, seeing our ambitions as tied to the ambitions of our friends. It is good to love in this capacity but we are called to love in a greater capacity than that.

We are called to love to the point of selflessness, to love even those who are against us, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have hurt us and done us harm, to feed the stranger and protect them…to do so out of love.

This is the great commandment.

Consider the Gospel for today, it is a piece of pure propaganda. It is an apology.

It is an attempt by the writers of Matthew’s Gospel, written in the first generation after the Roman conquest of Palestine and the destruction of the Temple, to explain to a largely Jewish audience, the divine purpose behind those events.

While Matthew’s community was predominately Jewish, there were gentile converts among them, and the warning to the readership is this: if you do not give up your insistence on retaining your distinctively Jewish traditions, you will be destroyed and the gentiles among you will take your place a heirs to the promises that God made to your ancestors.

The narrative is one that the writers of Matthew borrowed from the early prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, whose books were also written in the apologetic mode, to explain the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians, the destruction of Judea by the Babylonians and the invasion of the Holy Land by Antiochus Epiphanes.

The basic move that all of these writers make is to explain current events through the lens of past events. In this case they are putting a prophecy in Jesus’ mouth to explain the Roman invasion of Palestine and the destruction of the temple, along with the ongoing persecution of the Jewish people.

The lesson they intended to impart is this:

Everything unfolds according to God’s plan. If you resist God’s plan you will be destroyed and all of your hopes will be dashed. It has happened before and it will happen again.

Be mindful.

All good things come from God.

Nothing you have belongs to you, it can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Listen to me now, this reading is flawed.

First Reading – Isaiah 5:1-7 ©

Against the Lord’s Vineyard

Let me sing to my friend the song of his love for his vineyard.

My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.

He dug the soil, cleared it of stones and planted choice vines in it.

In the middle he built a tower, he dug a press there too.

He expected it to yield grapes, but sour grapes were all that it gave.

And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, I ask you to judge between my vineyard and me.

What could I have done for my vineyard that I have not done?

I expected it to yield grapes.

Why did it yield sour grapes instead?

Very well, I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge for it to be grazed on, and knock down its wall for it to be trampled on.

I will lay it waste, unpruned, undug; overgrown by the briar and the thorn.

I will command the clouds to rain no rain on it.

Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah that chosen plant.

He expected justice, but found bloodshed, integrity, but only a cry of distress.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 79(80):9, 12-16, 19-20 ©

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

You brought a vine out of Egypt;

  to plant it you drove out the nations.

It stretched out its branches to the sea,

  to the Great River it stretched out its shoots.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Then why have you broken down its walls?

  It is plucked by all who pass by.

It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,

  devoured by the beasts of the field.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

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.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

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.

The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Second Reading – Philippians 4:6-9 ©

If there is Anything You Need, Pray For It.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Gospel Acclamation  Jn15:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

I call you friends, says the Lord, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – John 15:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

I chose you from the world to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last, says the Lord.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:33 – 43 ©

This is the Landlord’s Heir: Come, Let Us Kill Him

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

It was the stone rejected by the builders

that became the keystone.

This was the Lord’s doing

and it is wonderful to see?

‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’

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

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

First Reading – Ezekiel 18:25-28 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 24(25):4-9 ©

Second Reading – Philippians 2:1-11 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alternative Acclamation – John 10:27

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:28 – 32 ©

(NJB)

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

Be mindful of the teachings of the prophet.

As much as we might wish it to be so, divine justice is not an analog of human justice, even when human justice is being represented at its best.

The goodness or wickedness of a human being is not based on the sum of their actions, as if you could measure their merit or weigh them in a scale. The relative values of good and evil are considered in relation to a person’s disposition and orientation to those values.

No human can judge the ultimate value, in terms of good and evil, of any person deeds, including their own. The things we do go out from us and take on a life of their own. Good intentions have harmful consequences, and evil deeds have good ones. This is one of the great mysteries. The things a person does in their life continue to shape the world long after they are gone; what matters in terms of merit or culpability is the intention that motivates the action and the reflection that follows.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

Lift up your spirit and give your life to God, the creator of the universe, to God who has given you everything.

Do not expect God to take sides with you in any conflict, because God loves all of God’s children equally. God does not discriminate. God does not pick favorites.

If you ask God to punish the faithless and the promise breakers, you must know that you are asking God to punish you—yourself.

Pray for wisdom and guidance, knowing that God desires for you be well, but God has made you and all of creation free, God will not intervene in the course of your life.

God is merciful, and God has allowed for your existence even knowing of all your crimes; Giod has known these since the beginning of time. God will forgive you for them but God will not forget them.

Remember; all the ways of God are kindness and mercy.

Walk humbly, love justice, act with mercy and compassion. This is the way of faith, which is trust in the Good News; the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God is not concerned with glory. Jesus is not interested in having a name above all other names. Jesus is not a price or a king, he was our friend and brother.

Do not worry about bending the knee, just confess the truth that God is love, reflecting the love of God in your own life, in all the things you do.

Love fosters love, but there is always love and God is always with you.

Be mindful of this: the grace of God is not transactional.

Everyone who is, everyone without exception, follows in the way God has set for them, 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 delay God will wait, as God waits for everyone out of a superabundance of patience, kindness and love.

Believe!

God will not lose a single one of us; none of us will be lost to God. God is with us and there is no place where God is not.

Consider the gospel reading for today, it is a piece of pure politics.

The writers of Matthew’s gospel are making a direct appeal to the remnants of John’s followers, which is a recurring theme in Matthew, who would have us believe that John and Jesus were cousins.

The writers of Matthew are doing everything they can to bring John’s followers into the way, into the new church, both by convincing them that Jesus was the heir to John’s ministry, and by convincing the new church to accept the outcasts, to bring them in and not treat them as outsiders.

The words in the Gospel appear to be directed to the chief priests and elders of the temple, as well as the rabbinical authorities who were the leaders of the synagogues outside of Judea, but at the time Matthew’s gospel is being written they temple had been destroyed and the Jews had been scattered.

In reality these words are being addressed to the leaders of the new church, telling them to make room for the outsider, for the tax collector and the prostitute and the Children of Israel who were fleeing Judea in exile, those remnants of the people looking for safety and comfort in a new home.

First Reading – Ezekiel 18:25-28 ©

When the Sinner Renounces Sin, He Shall Certainly Live

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘You object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 24(25):4-9 ©

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Lord, make me know your ways.

  Lord, teach me your paths.

Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:

  for you are God my saviour.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Remember your mercy, Lord,

  and the love you have shown from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth.

  In your love remember me,

  because of your goodness, O Lord.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

The Lord is good and upright.

  He shows the path to those who stray,

He guides the humble in the right path,

  He teaches his way to the poor.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Second Reading – Philippians 2:1-11 ©

Be United in Your Love

If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:

His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.

Alleluia!

Alternative 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!

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:28 – 32 ©

Tax Collectors and Prostitutes Are Entering the Kingdom of God Before You

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

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

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

First Reading – Isaiah 55:6-9 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):2-3, 8-9, 17-18 ©

Second Reading – Philippians 1:20-24, 27 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Acts 16:14

The Gospel According to Matthew 20:1 – 16 ©

(NJB)

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

Listen, and remember!

God is always near to us, God is present–even in the hearts of the wicked; with the loving God there is always the possibility of repentance, conversion, kenosis, metanoia.

It is wise to reflect on the notion that God, who created the universe and everything in it, that God has a deeper appreciation for the life of creation than we can possibly imagine from our position, conditioned by time and space and the exigencies of nature.

Be mindful of the way the psalmist speaks:

God, the creator of the universe, God is not a king, and know that God is present in all times and places, even in the deepest recesses of the human heart.

While God cares for us, God does not intervene directly in human events. The creator only issues an indirect influence over 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, God’s humility and compassion, the workings of God’s justice toward the benefit of all creation.

Be mindful of the works of the apostle, here he speaks like a contrarian, and that is fine; insofar as his motive is pure. However, his words are easy to misinterpret.

The apostle speaks about life in the flesh as a burden, though a happy burden if he is living as a servant of the Gospel; he speaks of eternal life with Christ as something he desires and something in which he expects the greatest joy, he speaks of this as his greatest reward, when he does so he is speaking in anticipation of his mortal demise, he is talking about death.

The apostle speaks as someone looking forward to the rewards of martyrdom, in so doing he is putting the cart before the horse.

He also calls it a good thing when corrupt preachers teach the gospel even if they do so from impure motives, believing that it is good insofar as they are spreading the fame of Christ.

This is misguided, and there is a lot in this words that are suspect.

Be mindful!

Walk humbly, love justice, act with mercy and compassion all the days of your life.

This is the walk of faith, which means trusting in the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Know that God is not concerned with glory. Jesus is not interested in having a name above all other names. God is not a king and Jesus is not a prince, God is our loving parent and Jesus is our friend and brother.

When you preach to the people, just as when you stand before God, do not worry about beowing and scraping, just confess the truth that God is Love.

Remember!

The creator of the universe does not wear a crown, and we are not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. Following Jesus we are meant to seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, seeking to serve those in the deepest dark and return them to the light of love.

When you are in the darkness God will hear you, God is with you.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

This parable represents the true teaching of the church.

It is one of the most commonly repeated themes, it is a message to every person who would claim to be a follower and teacher of the way.

If you follow the teaching of Jesus you will be rewarded; you receive your reward through the simple act of following. By keeping to the way, you bring Heaven to earth.

The way is not toilsome, though it may require a lifetime of work; the way is gift that when received, is shared with others.

In following the way, we do not layup treasures in Heaven; we do not amass wealth, privilege or honors. Such concerns do not belong to the way.

God, the creator of the universe rejoices and gives the same blessing to the first as God does to the last.

In the eyes of God, the bishop is the same as the priest, the priest the same as the parishioner, they merely have different duties, they are each beloved by God, just as the sinner is loved in equal measure to the saint.

First Reading – Isaiah 55:6-9 ©

My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near.

Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.

Yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):2-3, 8-9, 17-18 ©

The Lord is close to all who call him.

I will bless you day after day

  and praise your name for ever.

The Lord is great, highly to be praised,

  his greatness cannot be measured.

The Lord is close to all who call him.

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.

The Lord is close to all who call him.

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.

The Lord is close to all who call him.

Second Reading – Philippians 1:20-24, 27 ©

Life to Me Is Christ; but Death Would Bring Me More

Christ will be glorified in my body, whether by my life or by my death. Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would bring me something more; but then again, if living in this body means doing work which is having good results – I do not know what I should choose. I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone and be with Christ, which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake.

Avoid anything in your everyday lives that would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ.

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 – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Matthew 20:1 – 16 ©

Why Be Envious Because I Am Generous?

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be

first, and the first, last.’

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

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