St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
585-671-1100
Masses: Sat 5:00 pm
Sun 7:30; 9:00 (children's liturgy); 10:30 am
Mon-Fri 8:15 am
Reconciliation: Saturdays from 3:30-4:30 pm;
Wednesdays after morning Mass (about 8:45)
Office Hours: M-Th 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Fri 9:00 to 12:00 pm

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - June 16, 2019

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
“When The Lord Established The Heavens,
I Was There!”
 
The Sunday after Pentecost always celebrates the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. The thing about mysteries is that they are mysterious, unknowable. Attempting to fully understand this mystery is like trying to fit the ocean into the thimble of our mind.  Many Catholics invoke this mystery multiple times a day in blessing themselves, ”In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit . . . .”, yet we rarely give thought to its import. Our readings for today give us a glimpse into this mystery of who is the Holy Trinity - three distinct persons in one God. 
 
In our First reading from the book of Proverbs (Prov 8:22-31), we hear of the mysterious creature Wisdom, who was there before the beginning of creation. Many Scholars have thought Wisdom in this passage to represent Jesus and / or the Holy Spirit. Today’s passage calls to mind the opening of John’s Gospel, referring to Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.” (John 1:1-4)
 
Thus says the wisdom of God: "The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water; before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet the earth and fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.
 
"When the Lord established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep; when he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth; when he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race."
 
In our Epistle reading (Romans 5:1-5), St. Paul explains the fruits of our relationship with the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, which is the outflowing of the perfect love between the Father and the Son. It is through this unity and the gift of faith that we receive pardon for our sins (justification) and peace in our lives. Paul gives us a new understanding that we can “even boast of our afflictions”, as an opportunity to unite our sufferings with Christ and thus be strengthened by it.
 
Brothers and sisters: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
 
Our Gospel reading (John 13:12-15) is an excerpt from Jesus' farewell discourse to his disciples at the last supper. Jesus was preparing them for the days to come within the limits of their capacity to understand. In this brief passage we find embodied the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
 
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."
 
By our human nature, God has given us the desire to understand the unknowable, to come closer in relationship to our Creator, to fill the "God-shaped" hole in our hearts. Our readings today help us understand the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; that it is the Holy Spirit and the presence of Jesus that draws us closer to the Father. We find this presence in no greater place and in no greater measure than in the Holy Eucharist. Through it, we commune with God. 
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 9, 2019

Pentecost Sunday

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

“Receive The Holy Spirit”

This is the celebration of Pentecost. For Christians, it commemorates the decent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus. 'Pentecost' is a Greek word meaning 'fiftieth”. In Judaism, the Festival of Weeks (Shavu’ot) was celebrated seven weeks and one day after the Passover. It commemorated the day the first fruits of the harvest were brought to the temple. It also commemorated the day God gave the Torah to the people of Israel. All Jews of age were required to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the celebration. Pentecost Sunday is often referred to as the birthday of the Church - the day when we Christians became Church. 
 
Our first reading (Acts 2:1-11) tells the story vividly. Ten days after Jesus had been taken up to heaven, the disciples were celebrating the harvest festival of Pentecost. Jerusalem was filled with “devout Jews from every nation under heaven”. “And suddenly, there came from the sky . . . .“
 
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."
 
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 12:3, 12-13), St. Paul explains the many different spiritual gifts that come from the same Spirit. And yet, there is also one gift of the Holy Spirit common to all Christians—belief that “Jesus is Lord.”
 
Brothers and sisters: No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
 
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
 
Our Gospel reading (John 20:19-23) is significant in that it is when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the Apostles and gave them the authority to forgive sins. This Sacrament of Reconciliation is Jesus' gift directly to us. It is the direct action of the Holy Spirit that enables the Father’s love, through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus, to forgive all of our sins.
 
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
 
We have been reading in the Acts of the Apostles all during this Easter season of the “Mighty deeds and wonders” performed by the Apostles and new disciples of Christ. We also have heard of their incredible bravery and even joy in the face of terrible persecutions and martyrdom. All of this happened because of the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Could the Holy Spirit, would the Holy Spirit give the same gifts to us? Would we want to accept them? It starts with the conviction that “Jesus is Lord.
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - June 2, 2019

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 

“Amen! Come Lord Jesus!”

As we look forward to Pentecost (next Sunday), our readings today are a series of last words. We hear the last words of St. Stephen as he was stoned to death, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”We hear the last words of St. John at the end of the Book of Revelation, “Come Lord Jesus!”, and we hear the very last words Jesus spoke to his disciples before going out into the night to his arrest and crucifixion.
 
In our first reading (Acts 7:55-60), we hear of the first recorded martyr for Christ, St. Stephen, the Deacon. He was arrested for working “great signs and wonders among the people” and for speaking in Christ’s name. He was stoned to death as a blasphemer, even as he called out to God to forgive them.
 
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them;” and when he said this, he fell asleep.
 
Our Second reading (Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20) is from the very end of the Book of Revelation. John tells of the second coming of Christ, who is the beginning and the end. In a series of “I AM” statements, Christ tells us who he is and that he is coming soon.
 
I, John, heard a voice saying to me: "Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates. 
 
"I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star." The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let the hearer say, "Come." Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water. The one who gives this testimony says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
 
Our Gospel reading (John 17:20-26) is taken from the end of Jesus’ farewell discourse at the Last Supper. It is sometimes called the High Priestly Prayer, as Jesus turned his attention to his Father. He prayed an intercessory prayer for his disciples and for those who would come to believe through them. These were the last words spoken by Jesus before he went out to the Garden of Gethsemane. His prayer is for unity, that all may be one, even as Jesus and the Father are one.
 
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."
 
As we look forward to and await the coming of the Lord when our world, as we know it, will end, we sometimes can get the idea that Jesus has not yet come. The end times is Jesus final coming, when he will bring ”the recompense to each according to his deeds.” But it is not his only coming. He came to us at his humble, defenseless birth in a manger; he came to us at Pentecost; he comes to us every day in the Eucharist and he comes to us every time we call upon him in need. “Amen! Come Lord Jesus!”
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 26, 2019

The Sixth Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

Our readings this Sunday give us a glimpse of the past, present and future of our faith and our salvation. The past is the struggles our early Church leaders went through in unifying their fledgling communities of love and sorting out God’s plan for them. The present is Jesus’ dual gifts of his Spirit to guide us and his blessed peace to sustain us. The future is John’s vision of the New Jerusalem to come (the entire people of God) that will be like a massive fortress, gleaming with the splendor of God and basking in the light of the Lamb.
 
In our first reading (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29), we hear of Paul and Barnabas’ great success in converting many Gentiles as disciples. But not without controversy, because those in Jerusalem expected them to conform to all Jewish laws, including circumcision. A council in Jerusalem, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, settled the matter.
 
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved." Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them:
 
"The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: 'It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.'"
 
In our second reading (Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23), St. John describes what the New Jerusalem of paradise will look like in symbolic terms that the Jews of his day would have clearly understood. Despite their current trials, they had something to look forward to. “It’s radiance was like that of a precious stone.” “It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. It had “twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” “The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”
 
In our Gospel reading (John 14:23-29), Jesus continues his farewell address to his disciples at the Last Supper. Here, he gives them two gifts that will guide them and sustain them in their difficult days ahead. The “Advocate” is the Spirit of love between the Father and Son and will be their teacher and guide; the “Peace” he leaves with them will comfort and sustain them like nothing the world has ever seen.
 
Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. 
 
"I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe."
 
Our faith not only has a past and a present, but it has a future. No matter how dire or fearful our past has been or our present seems, our future is what God has planned for us. We remember that Jesus himself promised us, “Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)Our future is the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, where every tear shall be wiped away and God himself will provide the radiance and the light to warm us. In the meantime, we have the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us and the Peace of Christ to sustain us. Ours is to believe it, and prepare our souls to receive it.
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 12, 2019

The Fourth Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Christ is Risen!

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Our Easter celebration continues. In our readings this Sunday, we hear about a Church of united followers of Christ, spreading in leaps and bounds to the ends of the earth. This is a Church in right relationship with their God, following their shepherd wherever he leads them.
 
In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52), we hear about the first of many missionary journeys of St. Paul and his companions. This journey was to Antioch and other cities in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Paul’s success, especially with the Gentiles, bred jealousy in the Jewish leaders and they expelled him from the city of Antioch. Undaunted and “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit”, they continued on to many other cities.
 
Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God. 
 
On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”
 
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
 
Our Second reading (Revelation 7:9, 14-17) is yet another apocalyptic vision of John. This writing offers comfort and reassurance to those of John’s time who were experiencing many persecutions. People of every nation on earth would one day stand before the throne (God) and the Lamb (Jesus) in white robes, having “survived the time of great distress” (persecutions). God will wipe away their every tear.
 
I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
 
“For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
 
In our Gospel reading (John 10:27-30), Jesus was speaking about his relationship with his followers and how, like the Good Shepherd, his sheep know his voice and follow him. This is the “right relationship” Jesus has with us and we with him as he gives us eternal live.
 
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
 
Today, we are reminded to think of Jesus as our Good Shepherd and of the intimate, loving and caring relationship Jesus has with us. It was this relationship that certainly sustained the apostles and disciples on their missionary journeys throughout the territories of Israel, Turkey, Syria and Greece. Would it not sustain us as well on our missionary journeys throughout the territories of our lives? Jesus says, “Yes, I will!”
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the full scripture readings for this Sunday
  • Click HERE to read more about apocalyptic literature and the Book of Revelation

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 5, 2019

The Third Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Christ is Risen!
“Peter, do you love me? ...Feed my sheep”
We continue this Sunday to hear eye-witness accounts of encounters with the risen Jesus Christ and the effect he had on those who encountered him.
 
In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41), the apostles are brought before the Sanhedrin for fearlessly teaching in the name of Jesus after being instructed not to. They were flogged for their offense, yet they went away rejoicing that they were found worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.
 
When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, "We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."
 
The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
 
In our second reading (Revelation 5:11-14), we hear another of John’s apocalyptic visions. This one declaring the kingship and authority of the “Lamb that was slain” (Jesus). “All of creation fall down and worship him.” This reading is full of symbols such as “the elders” (the entire people of God) and “the four living creatures” (the four corners of the earth.)
 
I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing." Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." The four living creatures answered, "Amen, " and the elders fell down and worshiped.
 
In our Gospel reading (John 21:1-19), Jesus appeared a third time to his disciples; this time at the Sea of Tiberias. There are three keynotes in this reading. First, after fishing all night with nothing, Jesus overfilled their nets - a symbol of the great numbers who would become Christians. 
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord."
 
Second, Jesus ate breakfast with them, with Eucharistic overtones in the passing of the bread. 
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.
 
Thirdly, Jesus reversed Peter’s three denials on the night of his trial and installed him as the shepherd of his Church (tend my sheep). 
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." Jesus said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
 
We can find no better example of how to evangelize than the apostles. They boldly and fearlessly proclaimed the risen Christ to the world, regardless of the consequences. “We must obey God rather than men”, they said. Look what these twelve men and others accomplished as a result—not on their own but with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is no less willing and active today, if we but call upon him and trust in him.
 
Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the full scripture readings for this Sunday
 
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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 28, 2019

The Second Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Christ is Risen!
“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
Whose sins you retain are retained.”
We now enter into the Easter Season, the 50 day period between Easter Sunday and Pentecost. Our readings during this holy season are not the normal fare for Sundays. Our first readings are taken from the Acts of the Apostles and highlight the development and spread of the early Christian Church under the fearless leadership of the apostles and St. Paul. The second readings are taken from the Book of Revelation. This book uses symbolic language to describe the end times and the ultimate impact Jesus’ death and resurrection has on eternity. The Gospel readings are taken from the Gospel of John. We hear of the many times Jesus appeared to his disciples before his ascension and also, some of the key teachings of Jesus to his disciples.
 
In today’s first reading, (Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16), we hear of the may signs and wonders done by the apostles. Great numbers of people were converted. And we are reminded of the primacy of the Peter, our first Pope, as just his shadow was considered a blessing to people passing by.
 
Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon's portico. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
 
In our second reading (Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19), we hear one of John’s visions where he is called to testify to the risen Jesus and his final judgement and rule on the “Lord’s Day” (the final day of judgement). John wrote in a time of distress and persecution and sought to give encouragement to those suffering in the name of Jesus.
 
I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God's word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord's day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, "Write on a scroll what you see." Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest.
 
When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld. Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards."
 
Our Gospel reading (John 20:19-31) tells of the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the evening of the first day after the resurrection. Jesus entered the locked room and said,
 
"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Thomas was absent at the time, but on hearing of Jesus’ appearance, said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
 
One week later, Jesus appeared again through the locked door; this time Thomas was with them. Jesus stood in their midst and said to them,
 
"Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
 
During this 50 day celebration of the Easter event, the Church gives us this time to rejoice, to reflect and to pray on "What just happened" in Christ's painful death and glorious resurrection. In a sense, this is a “joyous Lent”, where we are filled with Joy at the love and forgiveness God has for us. And may we say, as did Thomas, “My Lord and my God.” 
  • CLICK HERE to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Christ is Risen!
WHY DO YOU SEEK THE LIVING ONE AMONG THE DEAD? .... HE IS NOT HERE BUT HE HAS BEEN RAISED.
 
Readings for Easter Vigil on Saturday
Our Vigil Mass features four Old Testament readings that highlight many of the key moments in salvation history as well as a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans and a Gospel reading of St. Luke’s account of Easter morning.
 
Our first reading is the creation story (Genesis 1:1-2:2)"In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss . . . ." God created our world as we know it in a methodical, logical order ending by creating man and woman in his image. God gave man stewardship over all of God’s creation.
 
The second reading is the story of God testing Abraham with the sacrifice of his only son (Genesis 22:1-18). Note the corollary between Abraham and Isaac and God the Father and Jesus. Isaac, like Jesus, must carry the instrument of his death on his shoulders. "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust. . . ."
 
The third reading is the story of God parting the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape the Egyptians (Genesis 14:15 - 15:1). Moses prefigures Jesus leading us out of slavery to sin into new life. "The Lord said to Moses, 'Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two. . . .'"  
 
The fourth reading is the prophesy of the Prophet Isaiah near the end of the Jewish people’s exile in Babylon (Isaiah 55:1-11). Isaiah looks forward to the day of liberation, "All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!"  
 
In our Epistle reading (Romans 6:3-11), St. Paul teaches us that as we also died with Christ, so too, we will receive new life in Christ, "We are indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.,"
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 24:1-12), St. Luke writes how the women were the first witnesses to the Resurrection. They found the stone rolled away and Jesus' tomb empty, "...but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised."
 
Readings for Easter Sunday Morning
  The Easter morning readings are shorter and focus more succinctly on Jesus' resurrection. The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 10:34, 37-43) and is an excerpt of Peter's speech to the household of Cornelius. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly proclaimed the risen Christ,
 
"You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. . . They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, . . . He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."
 
The Gospel reading (John 20:1-9) is St. John's telling of the events on Easter morning. Again, as in Luke’s Gospel, a woman was the first to witness the Resurrection. Note the deference given to Peter as the leader of the apostles.
 
"Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them . . .They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter . . .When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head . . .For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead"
 
"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and Hallelujah is our song" -- Pope St. John Paul II
  • CLICK HERE Read, reflect and pray on the Easter Vigil readings
  • CLICK HERE Read, reflect and pray on the Easter Morning readings

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
This Palm Sunday begins our Easter Holy Week as we walk with Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem—his triumphant entry into the city, his passion and death and, as we Christians know, his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. On Holy Thursday, we will commemorate the Last Supper and the washing of the disciples’ feet. At it’s conclusion, Jesus will ask, “Do you realize what I have done for you? . . . I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:12, 15) Then on Good Friday, we will hear the Passion of our Lord. As Jesus draws his last breath on the cross, he utters, “’It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over his spirit.” (John 19:30)
 
In our first reading for Palm Sunday (Isaiah 50:4-7), we hear part of Isaiah's lament of the suffering servant, which so fittingly foretells the passion that Jesus will endure. Persecuted for his righteousness, he does not flinch. “My back I gave to those who beat me . . . my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”
 
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not is graced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
 
In our Epistle reading (Philippians 2:6-11), St. Paul reminds us of the humility of Jesus, the meek and humble servant, coming in human likeness. Because of this, Jesus is greatly exalted by the Father.
 
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
 
Our Gospel reading (Luke 22:14 - 23:56) is St. Luke's account of the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. He then stressed with his disciples the importance of servant leadership, “Let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.”Jesus forewarns Peter of his coming denial. After supper, Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives to pray, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.
 
Then came his betrayal by Judas, his arrest and trial before Pilate, Peter’s denial, and his violent scourging, mockery and crucifixion. As he hung, dying on the cross, he pleaded with his Father, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” At his death, Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
 
Lent is a time for reflection. We urge you to take the time in prayer to read Luke’s full Gospel account of the passion before attending Mass so that you may more fully enter into the mystery of our Lord's gift of self to us.
 
May we not pass this opportunity to reflect deeply on the mystery of God's salvation gift to his beloved and our response to that gift.
 
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Holy Thursday Mass
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Good Friday Service
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Easter Sunday Masses

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Reading - April 7, 2019

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU. GO, AND FROM NOW ON DO NOT SIN ANY MORE.
 
Our Lenten readings seem to get richer and richer. There are many themes that could be gleaned from this Sunday's readings but one could be this: What's happened in the past is but rubbish compared to what glories are to come for those who are faithful.
 
In our first reading (Isaiah 43:16-21), Isaiah prepares the Jews for the day of release from captivity in Babylon, saying it will even eclipse the great Exodus. "Remember not the things of the past." But Isaiah's prophesy goes far beyond Babylon and points to the coming of the New Jerusalem.
 
Thus says the LORD, who opens a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, who leads out chariots and horsemen, a powerful army, till they lie prostrate together, never to rise, snuffed out and quenched like a wick. Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.
 
In our Gospel reading (John 8:1-11), we hear the story of the woman caught in adultery. It is perhaps one of the most intimate and tender stories of Jesus' healing forgiveness - that singular moment when Jesus bends down and asks, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" It should be noted that Jesus did not condone her behavior but admonished her to sin no more. In keeping with our theme from the first reading, Jesus seems to be saying, "Think not of the things of the past (you are forgiven), go now into the future of my truth and my light."
 
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
 
In our Epistle reading (Philippians 3:8-14), St. Paul continues our theme of forgetting what has gone before (considering it so much rubbish) while concentrating on gaining Christ and being found in him.
 
Brothers and sisters: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
 
It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
 
In reflecting on our Gospel reading and the woman about to be stoned for her sins, may we consider that in some ways, She is Us! We are the ones who come to Jesus in our sinfulness and sorrow. It is Jesus who says, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." In today's words from St. Paul's Epistle, we forget what lies behind but strain forward to what lies ahead, continuing our pursuit toward the goal. There is no better place to physically hear those words, "I absolve you of your sins (neither do I condemn you)", than in the Sacrament of Reconciliation - every Wednesday at 8:45 am and every Friday from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.
 
  • Click HERE to read and pray on this Sunday's readings