P1000888Gospel Reflections

Our parish sends a weekly Gospel Reflection written by our clergy.

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Scroll below to read our most recent Gospel Reflections.

Gospel Reflection Sept 17 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, September 17

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18: 21 – 25

Gospel:
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Reflection:
I don’t know about you, but I had to get a piece of paper out and calculate what seventy seven times seven equals. Jesus couldn’t have simply just said one times seven is the number of times we should forgive someone, much like Peter asked Him. Actually, Jewish tradition limited forgiveness to three times. So, Peter thought his willingness to forgive seven times was much more generous than Jewish tradition and thus surpassing the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. But knowing Jesus, it needs to be seventy seven times seven…539 times, or in other words, we are to forgive an infinite number of times. Peter’s question indicated that he wanted to count how many times he should forgive, however, Jesus was in effect telling him not to count.

Today’s parable is not intended to just teach us that we need to forgive like the Father does, but it is also to tell us that it is easy to forgive and that it is just a choice that we all need to make. The servant was shown just how easy it was to be forgiven by the king, but he did not take that lesson to heart, he only had his own selfish interests in mind. The point of this parable is clear: Forgiveness lies at the heart of our faith in God and our love for one another. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We probably tend to pray these words with ease and familiarity, but do we live our prayer? Do our actions support our request?

So today when we recite the Lord’s Prayer, and every time we do so in the future, let us live the words of forgiveness by our actions.

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Sept 10 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, September 10

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18: 15 – 20

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

Reflection:
Matthew’s Gospel this week provides us some practical advice in resolving conflicts. With our perceived need today for quick resolutions of conflicts, we may often bypass this sound advice. With social media, cyber bullying, and in our haste to resolve our conflicts to our benefit, we can often seek quick justice in the public forum. In doing so, we achieve neither resolution nor justice. It comes from the misguided notion that placing our case before the public first jump starts public opinion in our favor. What we lose is the desire of first seeking reconciliation with the other party. Jesus outlines a more powerful approach to right a wrong. Once the wrong becomes public, parties are forced only into positioning and defending rather than resolving, and nothing is resolved.

This gospel passage contains three curious messages that can be easily overlooked without a more thoughtful, considered inspection and reflection:

  1. “…testimony of two or three witnesses.” The idea of these witnesses is that they are impartial and not witnesses that are stacking the deck on your behalf. Impartiality is a means of open concern for proper resolution and seeking true justice rather than simply winning the case.
  2. “…treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” At first glance, this may mean to treat the other with contempt – as an outcast to be hated. Rather, it actually means to treat them as an object of ministry. After all, we are instructed at the end of Matthew’s Gospel “…to go and teach all nations….” We should seriously consider that we are being asked to minister to all, even to the ones who may have wronged us.
  3. “…where two to three are gathered in my name…” We should remember that the context of this passage is in resolving a conflict rather than simply just any gathering. It does leave us with the notion that Jesus is especially present to us as we gather to resolve our differences.

Perhaps we can consider reining in our desire to be always right and to seek a quick victory. At the same time, we should restrain our need to make public the ills done to us by others without first considering Matthew’s simple prescription for resolving conflict.

Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Sep 3 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, September 3

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 21 – 27

 

Gospel:
Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

Reflection:
Those of us who have watched old films of the great comedians Laurel and Hardy, can recall Oliver Hardy often complaining to Stanley Laurel: “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” When you hear the readings at Mass this Sunday, the prophet Jeremiah in our 1st reading had the same complaint to make to the Lord. And St. Peter, in the Gospel, was trying to forestall what he perceived a disaster waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem.

St. Peter heard Jesus predicting a “fine mess” of great suffering and eventual death. Peter told Jesus that this was no way for the Messiah to speak. Everyone was waiting for the Messiah to conquer the Roman oppressors and set up an earthly kingdom. As we will hear, Jesus will tell Peter he was thinking as humans think, not as God thinks. He even called Peter “Satan” for tempting him to escape the mess he was facing. We know that Peter will eventually understand what Jesus was saying. History and our Catholic faith have shown us that Peter proclaimed the message of Jesus and literally followed him to death on the cross.

Jesus calls each of us, in our own way, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Taking up our cross is not easy, but like Jeremiah and Peter, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can come to the realization that there are some fine messes we have to get into. For whoever wishes to save his or her life will lose it; and whoever loses his her life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel will save it. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus holds nothing back and invites us to do the same. He invites us into his entry into the “fine mess” of our human life and death. He calls us to share in the “fine mess’ of his sacrifice, the Holy Mass, which leads us through dying to eternal life.

Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection Aug 27 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, August 27

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 13 – 20

Gospel:
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

 

Reflection:
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus asks Peter, “Who do people say that I am?” Later Jesus asks the more pointed and poignant question, “Who do you say that I am?” One thing the preacher could do today is just put that question out there, sit down and let it sit in the silence of the church asking each, in their own heart, to respond to the question. That is hard to do on paper.

Jesus asks an eternally living question. It is always asked in the present tense. Over the past few weeks, it has been a question that has challenged me. In the shadow of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, the threats of war in the Northern Peninsula of North Korea and Venezuela the question, “Teresa, who do you say that I am?” has challenged me. In the aftermath of Charlottesville and the bigotry and hatred spewed out from the white supremacists and neo- Nazi groups, the question, “Teresa, who do you say that I am?” has challenged me, confronted me and shaken me to my core.

Some say Jesus came to save me from my sins and save my soul. Others, appreciate Jesus’ teaching and message but don’t believe it has a tremendous or transforming influence on life in the 21st century. I believe that both groups have lost the vision of Jesus. To respond to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” implies that we know Jesus and why he came. Jesus tells us: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:16-19)

As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do I say and do in the midst of concerns about immigration and the move to exclude or deport the immigrant? As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do I say and do with the growing and blatant racism and bigotry? As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do I say and do with intolerance of anyone who is different in skin-color, ideology, theology, sexual persuasion, ethnic or economic background? As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do I say to the philosophy of “might makes right,” or violence is the response that will bring peace? As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do I say and do about poverty, injustice and oppression in all its many disguises? St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel always and, if necessary, use words.”

“Teresa, who do you say that I am.” No matter what words I use to respond to this question presented to me in today’s gospel (and everyday), they mean nothing if my actions, the way I live my life, does not influence and shape how I treat my neighbors, how I treat the poor, the marginalized and those I label ‘enemy’. My words are empty if the focus is only on my own personal conversion and I think little of the common good. My words are meaningless, if I don’t walk the talk.

Peter ‘got it’, as we say. How, we don’t know, but we are also invited into that ability ‘to get’ who Jesus is. We are invited to a relationship that is a stronghold for our faith. We are invited to continue to explore and deepen that relationship. We are invited; we are asked; we are called. As we grow in that desire to deepen that relationship, we, like Peter, will be required to be growing in our responsibility to spread the Gospel as Jesus taught us: by bringing good news to the poor; proclaiming release to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, and letting the oppressed go free. Peter understands the identity of Jesus is more than his name. He recognizes Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

In his homily on August 20, 2017, Pope Francis said:
“Who knows what will happen to us when we open ourselves up to God and allow his Word to work within us? Who can imagine what will happen when we break out of the strangleholds and chains that have prevented us from going to the geographical and existential peripheries of our times and places? We might meet strangers and outsiders who interrupt our lives, stop us in our tracks, and force us to ask deeper questions. We may end up, like Jesus, praising the still greater faith in those strangers and outsiders who end up evangelizing us!”
We might even be able to respond to Jesus, calls us by name and asks, “_______, who do you say that I am?” with our words and our lives.

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection Aug 20 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, August 20

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 15: 21 – 28

 

Gospel:
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Reflection:
What begins as a rejection turns into a healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman. Why, because the mercy and compassion of Jesus in the gospel and in our lives, knows no limits.

The story this Sunday is meant for all of us who doubt that we are worthy of both forgiveness and faith. The gospel makes it clear that we are worth of both. We only must ask with an open heart and with the right intention.

When we open our hearts and minds to Jesus wonderful things happen. While the story of this woman who was a non-Jew, and traditionally an enemy of the Jews during the lifetime of Jesus has her wish granted, the people who heard this story originally would stand up and take notice. Jesus tells the “O woman great is your faith!” Can we do anything less than emulate this poor woman who was in danger of losing her daughter to the forces of evil?

The moral is always ask, never give up or give in, when you petition Lord for His mercy.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Aug 13 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, August 13

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 14: 22 – 33

Gospel:
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Reflection:
Compared to our technologically precise measurement of time, both the ancient Romans and ancient Jews had a more “relative” time. The actual measurement of time lengthened and shortened due to the ebb and flow of the seasons. The day was divided into 12 equal portions, as was the night. These 24 divisions were “an hour,” even if they were 50 minutes or 70 minutes long due to the changes in seasonal daylight.

Within this system, Jews measured sunset to next sunset to constitute a single day, while the Romans gave us the standard of midnight to next midnight. The Romans further divided the night hours into four “watches” of 3hrs each, the amount of time the Roman army believed a guard could stay fully alert in darkness.

With this understanding of Roman and Jewish time, we can surmise that the disciples pushed out into the sea towards the final part of the Jewish day, before the sun had set. “When it was evening,” after sunset in the Jewish reckoning, Jesus has already made it up the mountain and started praying. “Meanwhile,” the text tells us, the disciples are miles from shore in their boat in a storm, getting tossed about. Both Jesus and his disciples are praying, but for very different reasons!

It is not until the “fourth watch of the night” that Jesus walks out to the disciples in the boat. The fourth and final watch of the night fell between 3-6am. Therefore, depending on the season, the disciples were easily on their boat for over 9 hrs being tossed about and threatened with drowning. Their lives certainly flashed before their eyes multiple times. And in the very midst of their terror, they see Jesus. He is in the last place they expected to see him: walking calmly across the waves of the storm threatening them.

The storms in our lives can seem equally endless. Many of us have kept the fourth watch, filled with anxiety or despair. But even in the darkest part of night, we must not give up hope in God’s love. We must keep watch even amid a twilight tempest, knowing that Jesus may soon appear in our lives in the most unlikely of places.

Father Matthew Morris