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-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-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 22:19-23 ©

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

Second Reading – Romans 11:33-36 ©

Gospel Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 16:18

The Gospel According to Matthew 16:13 – 30 ©

 

(NJB)

 

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

 

 

Listen!

 

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

 

Know this:

 

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

 

God does not play favorites.

 

Consider the words of the psalmist:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Listen to the apostle!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This is piece of propaganda.

 

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

 

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

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 22:19-23 ©

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart:

you have heard the words of my mouth.

In the presence of the angels I will bless you.

I will adore before your holy temple.

 

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

 

I thank you for your faithfulness and love,

which excel all we ever knew of you.

On the day I called, you answered;

you increased the strength of my soul.

 

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

 

The Lord is high yet he looks on the lowly

and the haughty he knows from afar.

Your love, O Lord, is eternal,

discard not the work of your hands.

 

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

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 11:33-36 ©

 

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

 

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

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 16:18

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 16:13 – 30 ©

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

First Reading – Ezekiel 43:1-7 ©

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

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 118:36, 29

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 23:9, 10

The Gospel According to Matthew 23:1 – 12 ©

 

Memorial

 

First Reading – Isaiah 9:1-7 ©

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

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:28

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 ©

 

(NJB)

 

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

A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

 

 

Be mindful!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Always bear this in mind:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Listen!

 

The way is one of humility.

 

The way is the path of love.

 

It costs us nothing to be polite.

 

Be humble, walk humbly, perform humble service.

 

This is the way of God.

 

Listen!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Be mindful!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Consider the gospel for today.

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

First Reading – Ezekiel 43:1-7 ©

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace,

peace for his people and his friends.

His help is near for those who fear him

and his glory will dwell in our land.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

The Lord will make us prosper

and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

 

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 118:36, 29

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 23:9, 10

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 23:1 – 12 ©

 

Practice What you Preach

 

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

 

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

 

 

Memorial

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 9:1-7 ©

 

A Son is Given to Us

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Alleluia!

 

Praise, O servants of the Lord,

praise the name of the Lord!

May the name of the Lord be blessed

both now and for evermore!

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

From the rising of the sun to its setting

praised be the name of the Lord!

High above all nations is the Lord,

above the heavens his glory.

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Who is like the Lord, our God,

who has risen on high to his throne

yet stoops from the heights to look down,

to look down upon heaven and earth?

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

From the dust he lifts up the lowly,

from the dungheap he raises the poor

to set him in the company of princes,

yes, with the princes of his people.

 

May the name of the Lord be blessed for evermore!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 1:28

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

Blessed art thou among women.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 ©

 

‘I Am the Handmaid of the Lord’

 

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

 

 

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

A Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

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

First Reading – Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 ©

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

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

Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:23

The Gospel According to Matthew 15:21 – 28 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

God will lead the way, have no fear.

 

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

 

Consider the words of the psalmist:

 

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

 

Know this!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Be mindful of the meandering mind of the apostle.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Know this!

 

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

 

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

 

There is just the one shepherd, one sheepfold.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Have faith!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

 

There are multiple currents taking place in this passage.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then the woman asks again for his help.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Know this!

 

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

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 ©

 

I Will Bring Foreigners to My Holy Mountain

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

O God, be gracious and bless us

and let your face shed its light upon us.

So will your ways be known upon earth

and all nations learn your saving help.

 

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

 

Let the nations be glad and exult

for you rule the world with justice.

With fairness you rule the peoples,

you guide the nations on earth.

 

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

 

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you.

May God still give us his blessing

till the ends of the earth revere him.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:23

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 15:21 – 28 ©

 

The Canaanite Woman Debates with Jesus and Saves Her Daughter

 

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

 

 

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

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

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

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

Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It is true for everyone.

 

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

 

Jesus loves us.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jesus would not have it.

 

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

 

This is not the way.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

 

Come and Eat

 

Thus says the Lord:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

How good is the Lord to all,

compassionate to all his creatures.

 

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

 

The eyes of all creatures look to you

and you give them their food in due time.

You open wide your hand,

grant the desires of all who live.

 

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

 

The Lord is just in all his ways

and loving in all his deeds.

He is close to all who call him,

who call on him from their hearts.

 

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

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

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

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Man does not live on bread alone,

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

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

 

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

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

First Reading – Isaiah 55:10-11 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 64(65):10-14 ©

Second Reading – Romans 8:18-23 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 3:9

Alternative Acclamation – John 6:68

The Gospel According to Matthew 13:1 – 23 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Be mindful!

 

The things we do and say have consequences.

 

Our words matter, not only the words of God, or God’s messengers, but the words that belongs to each and every one of us. Even the words we do not utter in any place, other than that we speak them in the chamber of our hearts, those words matter too; they matter especially, because each of them is like a seed that brings forth fruit according to its nature.

 

Know this!

 

It is right to praise God, the creator of the universe. When we make promises to God we must never imagine that our promises have been fulfilled, and know that God would prefer that we make no promises, swear no oaths or take any vows at all.

 

Do not look for God to answer your petitions, because God has made us and all of creation free; God does not interfere in our lives, or the course of the universe.

 

We live out our lives before God; God sees us in our sins, bears witness to our transgressions, but God knew of this of us, even before God created us, God knew this and God loved us.

 

Be mindful!

 

God has chosen all people to be with God.

 

God is the author of our well-being.

 

Temples and houses are not holy places.

 

If you seek justice then live justly, and remember that true justice is never present without mercy,  mercy is the ultimate gift, mercy is what we seek from God, and mercy is what God expects from us.

 

Consider what the apostle says.

 

There is a cosmic purpose behind the suffering we experience in the created order.

 

We do not suffer because we are evil, we do not suffer as a punishment for sin. We are not to blame for the sinfulness of our animal nature, though we are meant to transcend it, and through grace we can.

 

The universe was made this way by God, with all of the suffering hat it entails, and because it was made this way by God we know that there is a loving purpose behind it.

 

Our suffering is only temporary. All suffering is a finite reality.

 

There is a future world where we will all be, together with God, the creator of the universe, where our suffering will attain its final meaning, and the importance of it will fall away like old skin, the resolution of sin and suffering will be just, the ultimate expression of God’s love for one and all.

 

Share the faith of the apostle:

 

It is wise and good to anticipate the coming of God. It is wise and good to desire to be in the presence of God. Anticipate that moment, relish it, cherish it, all the while remaining present to the people and to the events that are actually unfolding in our lives.

 

Listen!

 

The reward for your faithful service is peace, it is peace in this life and the knowledge that you have lived well, acted justly, done good.

 

God has prepared you for eternity, in the same way that God has prepared everyone, but do not think for a moment that eternal life is a reward, like a boon granted for good service.

 

It is the gift of God to everyone.

 

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.

 

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 each other.

 

Do it now!

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

 

Be wary of the scriptures that extol the virtues of the disciples, and the apostles who were the founders of the Church.

 

There are many more times in the Gospels when Jesus gives a different teaching, when the message is not: “to anyone who has, more will be given,” and “but anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

 

More often than this, Jesus teaches; “the first will be last, and the last will be first.” And “to whom much has been given, much will be expected.”

 

Remember!

 

The enemy is not Satan (a fictitious being), the evil one.

 

Know that the enemy is the fear and impatience, it is gluttony, the enemy is the avarice that lies within the heart of each and every one of us.

 

Be mindful of how you live out the Christian life.

On one day the birds may eat the seed that you cast, on another day, when you cast your seeds on the same field they may not. Some seed will always be lost to the birds of the field, but the birds will deposit it elsewhere, and the grain will grow wild, in places you never expected.

 

Even seeds cast among thorns will grow; if the grain is not harvested when it matures, those seeds will fall to the ground, only to grow again in the next season.

 

The seed is never static, in time even the seed left unharvested in thorny places, even those seeds will produce, growing strong enough to uproot the thorns that threatened the harvest.

 

Do not be aggrieved at the seed that falls on shallow soil, amend the soil and cast your seed again.

 

The lesson is this:

 

Always be prepared in your ministry and never be overconfident.

 

Even the farmer who has fields of rich soil, even the farmer who is able to produce an abundant harvest in one season, may find their fields barren and scorched in the next.

 

The conditions of our lives and those of our ministry are always changing.

 

 

First Reading – Isaiah 55:10-11 ©

 

The Word that Goes out From My Mouth Does Not Return to Me Empty

 

Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 64(65):10-14 ©

 

Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.

 

You care for the earth, give it water,

you fill it with riches.

Your river in heaven brims over

to provide its grain.

 

Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.

 

And thus you provide for the earth;

you drench its furrows;

you level it, soften it with showers;

you bless its growth.

 

Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.

 

You crown the year with your goodness.

Abundance flows in your steps,

in the pastures of the wilderness it flows.

 

Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.

 

The hills are girded with joy,

the meadows covered with flocks,

the valleys are decked with wheat.

They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

 

Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.

 

 

Second Reading – Romans 8:18-23 ©

 

The Whole Creation is Eagerly Waiting for God to Reveal his Sons

 

I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – 1saiah 3:9

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:

you have the message of eternal life.

 

Alleluia!

 

Alternative Acclamation – John 6:68

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

The seed is the word of God, Christ the sower;

whoever finds this seed will remain for ever.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 13:1-23 ©

 

A Sower Went Out to Sow

 

Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

 

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

 

Then the disciples went up to him and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied, ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:

 

You will listen and listen again, but not understand,

see and see again, but not perceive.

For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,

their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,

for fear they should see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their heart,

and be converted

and be healed by me.

 

‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.

 

‘You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’

 

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

A Homily – Holy Week, Holy Saturday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Genesis 1:1-2:2 ©
Psalm 103(104):1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24,35 ©
Second Reading – Genesis 22:1-18 ©
Psalm 15(16):5, 8-11 ©
Third Reading – Exodus 14:15 – 15:1 ©
Canticle – Exodus 15 ©
Fourth Reading – Isaiah 54:5-14 ©
Psalm 29(30):2, 4-6, 11-13 ©
Fifth Reading – Isaiah 55:1-11 ©
Canticle – Isaiah 12 ©
Sixth Reading – Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4 ©
Psalm 18(19):8-11 ©
Seventh Reading – Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28 ©
Psalm 41(42):2-3, 5, 42:3-4 ©
Epistle – Romans 6:3-11 ©
Psalm 117(118):1-2, 16-17, 22-23 ©
The Gospel According to Matthew 28:1 – 10 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Holy Saturday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Listen!

Take this away from the story of creation, and set everything else aside:

God created the Earth and everything in it and saw that it was good, from the beginning to the end God saw that it was good.

God created human beings in God’s own image, as rational creatures God created us, male and female we were made as beings in relationship, and God saw that it was good.

God saw the whole of it, all of us and God saw that we were good.

Remember this!
God is the creator of the universe, the eternal God is the first source and center of all things.

The infinite God engenders all potentialities, and yet interferes with none of them.

The universe that God created, God created it free from coercion, and yet the entirety of what is, moves according to God’s eternal purpose.

Therefore listen and be mindful, because there is much that is errant in scripture.

God did not interact with Abraham in the way God is depicted as doing in this tale from The Book of Genesis.

God never ordered the sacrifice of Isaac, but the culture Abraham came from did. His culture demanded that he make a sacrifice of his firstborn son.

Abraham rejected that demand, showing the people that God would accept something different in return: a lamb in the place of a human child.

It is not that God wanted the sacrifice of the lamb, God did not. Blood cannot serve for the expiation of guilt, only mercy can achieve that.

But God desired a reform in the tradition of Abraham’s people, God desired movement away from the horrors of human sacrifice.

Abraham gave God what God wanted.

This same impetus is reflected in the last acts of Jesus in this world. He gave his life, not as a sacrifice, but so that others would be spared.

God did not want Jesus’ blood, but God loved what Jesus did, God loved him for his fearlessness, for the compassion he showed his people and the mercy he showed to his persecutors on his way to his death on the cross.

Be mindful!

Jesus’ death was not a cosmic event, it was a political murder, it was ordinary in every respect.

There is nothing more to it than that.

Saint Paul and the Gospel writers did a disservice to the Church when they narrated his death as such, they deviated from the way when they translated the story of his death into a substitutionary sacrifice for the expiation of sin.

Jesus was not a goat or lamb, and good never desired the blood of animals for anything.

It was never that.

Take strength from the example of Jesus and trust in God. Faith and confidence are their own reward.

God is good, and all that is good flows from God, everything flows from divine and exists within it.

Look for the good of God in all creation, in everything that unfolds, find the good in you.

There are no alien gods, there are only misconceptions of the one God, including our misconceptions, be especially mindful of them.

All images of God are the stuff of idols, whether they are made of metal, of stone, of wood, or of words, whether they are painted on canvass, or merely colored in the mind.

God calls all of Gods children to God’s self, no one is left out, none are abandoned, not one is lost.

Listen!

It is shameful to portray God as a murderer.

It is shameful to praise the death and destruction of human beings, even those with whom you are fighting.

It is shameful to tell lies, through myth, fable and song, it is shameful to tell lies about the divine nature, and God’s plan for the human family.

Know this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is the parent of us all. God does not lead armies, God does not favor one person, one family, one tribe, or one nation above another. God does not intervene in human affairs, except to saythis:; love one another, be merciful to each other, forgive.
God is not a king. The creator of the universe is not a warrior or a general. God is not the Lord of Hosts. God is the divine parent, parent to us all, including those who have done you wrong.

Be mindful.

The blessings of the lord are often depicted with images of great wealth and ostentatious power.

This is not the way.

What is true in the prophet’s words are these sentiments:

God will never leave us, and the peace of God will not be shaken,

We may not always be able to discern the presence of God., but God is with us. Even when we are disconsolate, unhappy, and feel like we are lost at sea. God is there, experiencing our tribulations with us, and God will deliver us from them in the end.

God, who created the universe, will not intervene in your affairs. God will not lift you up, God will not strike you down. God will not be angry with you, but God does love you, and God’s love is forever.

Listen to the prophet!

The grace of God is free, and all the good things God has in store for us are things God promises to deliver to everyone.

The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the covenant God made with Moses, Joshua and David, is the covenant God made the prophets, with Jesus and is meant to be a blessing on all people, wherever they are, no matter how near or how far.

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

Preach it!

This is the grace of God, this is the way which Jesus instructed us in, this is the way to the fruits of paradise.

There is wisdom in the words of the prophet, follow it:

Be patient; salvation flows from the wellspring of God, from this life into the next world.

Great are the deeds of the creator, the creator of the universe is great.

Listen! Hear these words!

For some life is nasty, brutish and short. Some are born into suffering and die in it; without ever experiencing a moment of relief.

For most life a mixture of sorrow and joy; of grief and delight, of pleasure and pain. How the world apportions these to the individual is not according to any divine plan.

God made us free, and the creator of the universe does not intervene in our affairs.

There is no magic key, there is nothing we can do to bring the favor of the world to us, except that we be mindful, cautious and loving to one another.

We can prepare for famine and prepare against the onset of war. We can treat each other fairly and grow strong in our relationships to one another and the world.

Blessings will flow from there.

But we cannot prepare for the lightning bolt, it strikes without thought of who might be standing in its path.

When the scriptures tell us that the plight of the children of Israel, their expulsion from their homeland, their exile and their suffering were brought about by God, to punish them for their sin, know that this is false.

We suffer what we suffered because of the choices we make, our shortsightedness; we suffer for the choices other people, because of their cruelty, and sometimes we suffer for no reason at all.

God does not intervene in the lives of human beings, in our politics, in our wars, or in our conflicts.

When the scriptures suggest that God will rescue the same people and restore them to their proper place, it is the same old canard. God does not intervene in the lives people or the politics of human beings.

When we pray for deliverance we are praying for spiritual freedom and the grace to transcend the world. God’s rescue of the people of Israel is a metaphor. It is meant to inform us that no matterwho sinful and deviant we are God still loves us, and though we may not feel as if we deserve it God will save us all. God will save us in spite of ourselves.

Take comfort and joy in the presence of God, the creator of the universe is always with you.

When you are persecuted it is not God who has forgotten you, rather it is your persecutors who have forgotten that you, like they themselves are children of God, they have forgotten that God loves you as much as God loves them.

Do not fail to remember this when the wheel turns and you are in a position of power over others. Remember to see the face of God shining in the faces of all others.

Be mindful.

Jesus was not raised to new life for an extraordinary reason, but for the ordinary reason that God intends to raise all to life, out of the superabundance of God’s love.

Eternal life is not the reward a Christian should seek, as if it were payment for having lived a just life, or through the exhibition of grace and mercy.

True life is ours when we live well.

We defeat death when we stop fearing it.

We come to our authentic life when we free ourselves from the fear of death allowing us to live for what is good and beautiful and true, this is the way that Jesus followed, and instructed us to do the same.

It is true that the God is kind, loving, and merciful.

It is true that God comes to God’s children always in this way, even when God is exercising judgment and administering justice.

God has no enemies. God does not dwell behind the wall of a city. There are no gates barring access to God.

The divine dwells in all places, at all times, and in the hearts of all people.

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death.

God loves peace, not war.

Consider the Gospel for today, the narrative of the empty tomb, and know this, know that the mythological tropes in this story are not in the least bit instructive.

The tales of an earthquake, the conversation with the “Angel” of the lord, whose face was like lightning and whose robes were white as snow, these images do not elucidate the way.

They do not teach us anything.

What is important is this: It was not the twelve men who we know of as Jesus’ disciples who first heard the Gospel, and who first proclaimed it, it was two women: Mary of Magdala and the other Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.

This could not be unwritten, and it tells us that the earliest leaders of the Church were these brave women.

It is important to life them up, to celebrate their faith in a world that sought to dismiss them.

That is the Eater miracle.
First Reading – Genesis 1:1-2:2 ©

God Saw All that He Had Made, and Indeed it was Very Good

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.

God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called ‘night.’ Evening came and morning came: the first day.

God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the waters to divide the waters in two.’ And so it was. God made the vault, and it divided the waters above the vault from the waters under the vault. God called the vault ‘heaven.’ Evening came and morning came: the second day.

God said, ‘Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.’ And so it was. God called the dry land ‘earth’ and the mass of waters ‘seas’, and God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees bearing fruit with their seed inside, on the earth.’ And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the third day.

God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.’ And so it was. God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.

God said, ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth within the vault of heaven.’ And so it was. God created great sea-serpents and every kind of living creature with which the waters teem, and every kind of winged creature. God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply upon the earth.’ Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce every kind of living creature: cattle, reptiles, and every kind of wild beast.’ And so it was. God made every kind of wild beast, every kind of cattle, and every kind of land reptile. God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’

God created man in the image of himself,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants that are upon the whole earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.

Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing.
Psalm 103(104):1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24,35 ©

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and glory,
wrapped in light as in a robe!

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

You founded the earth on its base,
to stand firm from age to age.
You wrapped it with the ocean like a cloak:
the waters stood higher than the mountains.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow in between the hills.
On their banks dwell the birds of heaven;
from the branches they sing their song.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

From your dwelling you water the hills;
earth drinks its fill of your gift.
You make the grass grow for the cattle
and the plants to serve man’s needs.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
Bless the Lord, my soul!

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
Second Reading – Genesis 22:1-18 ©

The Sacrifice of Abraham, Our Father in Faith

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’

Rising early next morning Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place God had pointed out to him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there; we will worship and come back to you.’

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ he said ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.’ Then the two of them went on together.

When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.

Abraham called this place ‘The Lord Provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain the Lord provides.

The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
Psalm 15(16):5, 8-11 ©

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
Third Reading – Exodus 14:15 – 15:1 ©

The Sons of Israel Went on Dry Ground Right into the Sea

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me so? Tell the sons of Israel to march on. For yourself, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and part it for the sons of Israel to walk through the sea on dry ground. I for my part will make the heart of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them. So shall I win myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, of all his army, his chariots, his horsemen. And when I have won glory for myself, at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and his army, the Egyptians will learn that I am the Lord.’

Then the angel of God, who marched at the front of the army of Israel, changed station and moved to their rear. The pillar of cloud changed station from the front to the rear of them, and remained there. It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. The cloud was dark, and the night passed without the armies drawing any closer the whole night long.

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove back the sea with a strong easterly wind all night, and he made dry land of the sea. The waters parted and the sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea, walls of water to right and to left of them. The Egyptians gave chase: after them they went, right into the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

In the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and of cloud, and threw the army into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could scarcely make headway. ‘Let us flee from the Israelites,’ the Egyptians cried. ‘The Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians!’

‘Stretch out your hand over the sea,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians and their chariots and their horsemen.’

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them.

That day, the Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. Israel witnessed the great act that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord; they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.

It was then that Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song in honour of the Lord:
Canticle – Exodus 15 ©

Hymn of Victory After Crossing the Red Sea

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength, my song, my salvation.
This is my God and I extol him,
my father’s God and I give him praise.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

The Lord is a warrior! ‘The Lord’ is his name.
The chariots of Pharaoh he hurled into the sea,
the flower of his army is drowned in the sea.
The deeps hide them; they sank like a stone.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

Your right hand, Lord, glorious in its power,
your right hand, Lord, has shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of your glory you crushed the foe.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

You will lead your people and plant them on your mountain,
the place, O Lord, where you have made your home,
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have made.
The Lord will reign for ever and ever.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
Fourth Reading – Isaiah 54:5-14 ©

With Everlasting Love the Lord Your Redeemer Has Taken Pity on You

Thus says the Lord:

Now your creator will be your husband, his name, the Lord of Hosts; your redeemer will be the Holy One of Israel, he is called the God of the whole earth.

Yes, like a forsaken wife, distressed in spirit, the Lord calls you back.
Does a man cast off the wife of his youth? says your God.

I did forsake you for a brief moment, but with great love will I take you back. In excess of anger, for a moment I hid my face from you. But with everlasting love I have taken pity on you, says the Lord, your redeemer.

I am now as I was in the days of Noah when I swore that Noah’s waters should never flood the world again. So now I swear concerning my anger with you and the threats I made against you.

For the mountains may depart, the hills be shaken, but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken, says the Lord who takes pity on you.

Unhappy creature, storm-tossed, disconsolate, see, I will set your stones on carbuncles and your foundations on sapphires. I will make rubies your battlements, your gates crystal, and your entire wall precious stones. Your sons will all be taught by the Lord. The prosperity of your sons will be great. You will be founded on integrity; remote from oppression, you will have nothing to fear; remote from terror, it will not approach you.
Psalm 29(30):2, 4-6, 11-13 ©

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.
Fifth Reading – Isaiah 55:1-11 ©

Come to Me and Your Soul Will Live, and I Will Make an Everlasting Covenant with You

Thus says the Lord:

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.

With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favours promised to David. See, I have made of you a witness to the peoples, a leader and a master of the nations. See, you will summon a nation you never knew, those unknown will come hurrying to you, for the sake of the Lord your God, of the Holy One of Israel who will glorify you.

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.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.
Canticle – Isaiah 12 ©

The Rejoicing of a Redeemed People

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Sing a psalm to the Lord
for he has done glorious deeds;
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Sixth Reading – Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4 ©

In the Radiance of the Lord, Make Your Way to Light

Listen, Israel, to commands that bring life; hear, and learn what knowledge means. Why, Israel, why are you in the country of your enemies, growing older and older in an alien land, sharing defilement with the dead, reckoned with those who go to Sheol? Because you have forsaken the fountain of wisdom. Had you walked in the way of God, you would have lived in peace for ever. Learn where knowledge is, where strength, where understanding, and so learn where length of days is, where life, where the light of the eyes and where peace. But who has found out where she lives, who has entered her treasure house?

But the One who knows all knows her, he has grasped her with his own intellect, he has set the earth firm for ever and filled it with four-footed beasts. He sends the light – and it goes, he recalls it – and trembling it obeys; the stars shine joyfully at their set times: when he calls them, they answer, ‘Here we are’; they gladly shine for their creator. It is he who is our God, no other can compare with him. He has grasped the whole way of knowledge, and confided it to his servant Jacob, to Israel his well-beloved; so causing her to appear on earth and move among men.

This is the book of the commandments of God, the Law that stands for ever; those who keep her live, those who desert her die. Turn back, Jacob, seize her, in her radiance make your way to light: do not yield your glory to another, your privilege to a people not your own.
Israel, blessed are we: what pleases God has been revealed to us.
Psalm 18(19):8-11 ©

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The fear of the Lord is holy,
abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
and all of them just.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

They are more to be desired than gold,
than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey,
than honey from the comb.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.
Seventh Reading – Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28 ©

I Shall Pour Clean Water Over You and I Shall Give You a New Heart

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, the members of the House of Israel used to live in their own land, but they defiled it by their conduct and actions. I then discharged my fury at them because of the blood they shed in their land and the idols with which they defiled it. I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them in foreign countries. I sentenced them as their conduct and actions deserved. And now they have profaned my holy name among the nations where they have gone, so that people say of them, “These are the people of the Lord; they have been exiled from his land.”

‘But I have been concerned about my holy name, which the House of Israel has profaned among the nations where they have gone.

‘And so, say to the House of Israel, “The Lord says this: I am not doing this for your sake, House of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I mean to display the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them. And the nations will learn that I am the Lord – it is the Lord who speaks – when I display my holiness for your sake before their eyes. Then I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land.

‘“I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.”’
Psalm 41(42):2-3, 5, 42:3-4 ©

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
the face of God?

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

These things will I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I would lead the rejoicing crowd
into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving,
the throng wild with joy.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

O send forth your light and your truth;
let these be my guide.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

And I will come to the altar of God,
the God of my joy.
My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,
O God, my God.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
Epistle – Romans 6:3-11 ©

Christ, Having Been Raised from the Dead, Will Never Die Again

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin. When a Christian dies, of course, he has finished with sin.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 117(118):1-2, 16-17, 22-23 ©

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 28:1-10 ©

He Has Risen from the Dead and Now He is Going Before You into Galilee

After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke; and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’
Holy Week, Holy Saturday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

A Homily – Holy Week, Good Friday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 30(31):2, 6, 12 – 13, 15 – 17, 25 ©
Second Reading – Hebrews 4:14 – 16, 5:7 – 9 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Philemon 2:8 – 9
The Gospel According to John 18:1 – 19:42 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Good Friday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Be mindful.

The future is not set, and God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings.

Know that the word of God will come from places you do not expect, and from people you have discounted, just as it came from Jesus.

Know this:

The only way we can be healed through the suffering of others is if by witnessing their trials we change what is in our hearts.

There is no other way.

Be mindful.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

God’s refuge is not of this world, The protection God promises is beyond this world.

Have faith in the promises of God.

Trust in God, but do not hope for God to take sides with you in your in your conflicts on this Earth or in the satisfaction of your ambitions.

God will not intervene. God will not rescue you.

And yet the strength of God is in you, the strength to persevere in patience, and love.

Listen to the voice of God in your heart; listen to God tugging at your conscience, let that voice be your guide.

Consider what the apostle says, ask yourself this:

Is it true that in Jesus, the Son of God, there is no sin?

Is it true that all things come into being and have there existence in Jesus, who is God’s eternal Word?

Is it true that not one thing exists apart from God, who is Jesus?

I ask again; is it true that in Jesus there is no sin?

Is there sin? What is it?

Paul saw Jesus as a “high priest,” of sorts, not as God, and in his role as priest he was seen as connected to his followers in an intimate way, connecting them to the divine as an intermediary.

Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as someone who understands people, who relates to them.

We confess that God made every one of God’s children and destined each of us for eternal life. There is no exception, because all things exist in God, and in God’s Word, not one thing exists apart, even human sin.

God asks of us that we walk in justice and pursue the good joyously; knowing that whatever we suffer here is temporary.

It will pass away.

Be mindful of the Church and its vanity.

Jesus was a man like any other, and his death was an ordinary murder.

Do not preach anything else.

When you are the Gospel for today you must be mindful of the mythological nature of the narrative.

The events surrounding the passion did not happen the way John describes them, if they even happened at all, and John’s narrative if far different from those of the other Gospel writers. John imbues them with a theological meaning which was not present in the earlier history of the Church.

Without getting into the particulars of what specific events may or may not happen, we should be mindful to address the theological claims that John makes, insofar as they do or do not elucidate the way.

Elucidation of the ay is the purpose of the Gospel.

Remember, nothing is written.

God made human beings and the whole of creation free, Jesus was free and the future that he faced was not predetermined. He did not know for certain what would happen to him when he went into the Garden, though he went knowing that there would be danger.

Jesus did nothing for the sake of fulfilling prophecy, and it is a misinterpretation of scripture to suggest that when Jesus gave himself up so that others would be spared he did so to fulfill the maxim that the Son of Man would not lose a single one of his followers. The claim that Jesus would not lose a single one is an eschatological claim having to do with the time beyond time when God’s purpose in creation has been fulfilled. It had nothing to do with the dilemma present in his circumstances.

Finally, be mindful of the teaching concerning Jesus’ kingship. Jesus is not a king, he came as a prophet, he came to speak the truth, and he came as a friend.

He died as he came, true to his word.
First Reading – Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 ©

The servant of the Lord, an expiatory Sacrifice

See, my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him – so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human – so will the crowds be astonished at him, and kings stand speechless before him; for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before:

‘Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us, like a root in arid ground.

Without beauty, without majesty we saw him, no looks to attract our eyes; a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces; he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried.

But we, we thought of him as someone punished, struck by God, and brought low.

Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.

On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and the Lord burdened him with the sins of all of us.

Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken; would anyone plead his cause?

Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living; for our faults struck down in death.

They gave him a grave with the wicked, a tomb with the rich, though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.

If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light and be content.

By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.

Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute, he shall divide the spoil with the mighty, for surrendering himself to death and letting himself be taken for a sinner, while he was bearing the faults of many and praying all the time for sinners.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 30(31):2, 6, 12 – 13, 15 – 17, 25 ©

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge.
Let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, set me free,
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

In the face of all my foes
I am a reproach,
an object of scorn to my neighbours
and of fear to my friends.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Those who see me in the street
run far away from me.
I am like a dead man, forgotten in men’s hearts,
like a thing thrown away.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

But as for me, I trust in you, Lord;
I say: ‘You are my God.
My life is in your hands, deliver me
from the hands of those who hate me.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Let your face shine on your servant.
Save me in your love.’
Be strong, let your heart take courage,
all who hope in the Lord.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Second Reading – Hebrews 4:14 – 16, 5:7 – 9 ©

The Lord Burdened Him with the Sins of All of Us

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.
Gospel Acclamation Philemon 2:8 – 9

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

Christ 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 names.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
The Gospel According to John 18:1 – 19:42 ©

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Key: N. Narrator. ✠ Jesus. O. Other single speaker. C. Crowd, or more than one speaker.

N. Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said,

✠ Who are you looking for?

N. They answered,

C. Jesus the Nazarene.

N. He said,

✠ I am he.

N. Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time,

✠ Who are you looking for?

N. They said,

C. Jesus the Nazarene.

N. Jesus replied,

✠ I have told you that I am he. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.

N. This was to fulfil the words he had spoken, ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost.’
Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,

✠ Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

N. The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people.’

Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter,

O. Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?

N. He answered,

O. I am not.

N. Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others.

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered,

✠ I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret. But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said.

N. At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying,

O. Is that the way to answer the high priest?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offence in it, why do you strike me?

N. Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him,

O. Aren’t you another of his disciples?

N. He denied it, saying,

O. I am not.

N. One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said,

O. Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?

N. Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew.

They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves or they would be defiled and unable to eat the passover. So Pilate came outside to them and said,

O. What charge do you bring against this man?

N. They replied,

C. If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you.

N. Pilate said,

O. Take him yourselves, and try him by your own Law.

N. The Jews answered,

C. We are not allowed to put a man to death.

N. This was to fulfil the words Jesus had spoken indicating the way he was going to die.

So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him, and asked,

O. Are you the king of the Jews?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?

N. Pilate answered,

O. Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.

N. Pilate said,

O. So you are a king, then?

N. Jesus answered,

✠ It is you who say it. Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.

N. Pilate said,

O. Truth? What is that?

N. and with that he went out again to the Jews and said,

O. I find no case against him. But according to a custom of yours I should release one prisoner at the Passover; would you like me, then, to release the king of the Jews?

N. At this they shouted:

C. Not this man, but Barabbas.

N. Barabbas was a brigand.

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying,

C. Hail, king of the Jews!

N. and they slapped him in the face.

Pilate came outside again and said to them,

O. Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.

N. Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said,

O. Here is the man.

N. When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted,

C. Crucify him! Crucify him!

N. Pilate said,

O. Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him.

N. The Jews replied,

C. We have a Law, and according to that Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.

N. When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus

O. Where do you come from?

N. But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him,

O. Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt.

N. From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted,

C. If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar.

N. Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. Pilate said to the Jews,

O. Here is your king.

N. They said,

C. Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!

N. Pilate said,

O. Do you want me to crucify your king?

N. The chief priests answered,

C. We have no king except Caesar.

N. So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.’ This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate,

C. You should not write ‘King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said: “I am King of the Jews.”’

N. Pilate answered,

O. What I have written, I have written.

N. When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another,

C. Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.

N. In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled:

They shared out my clothing among them.

They cast lots for my clothes.

This is exactly what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother,

✠ Woman, this is your son.

N. Then to the disciple he said,

✠ This is your mother.

N. And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.

After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said:

✠ I am thirsty.

N. A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said,

✠ It is accomplished;

N. and bowing his head he gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture:

Not one bone of his will be broken; and again, in another place scripture says:

They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus – though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time – and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Holy Week, Good Friday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation