St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
585-671-1100
Weekend Masses: Saturday- 5:00pm
Sunday- 7:30am; 9:00am (children's liturgy); 10:30am
Daily Mass is at 8:15am on Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, and Friday (no Mass on Wednesday)
Reconciliation: Saturday from 3:30-4:30pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9am to 4:30pm; Fri 9-12:00pm

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 18, 2019

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Times

Keep Our Eyes “Fixed On Jesus”

All three readings this Sunday explore the cost of being a disciple of the Lord. In our first reading, we hear the cost visited upon Jeremiah for speaking the truth God commanded him to speak. In the Gospel reading, Jesus prepares his disciples the division that will surely come their way. Just as in the days of old, we also will encounter division in the name of Jesus. In our Epistle, we hear how we are to live out God’s call.A

In our first reading (Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10), we hear the story of how King Zedehiah, at the urging of the court princes, sent Jeremiah to a certain death; and then at the urging of the court eunuch Ebed-melech, reversed himself and rescued Jeremiah. Jeremiah was following God’s call “to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build up and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10)
 
In those days, the princes said to the king: "Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin." King Zedekiah answered: "He is in your power"; for the king could do nothing with them. And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
 
Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: "My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food  in the city." Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.
 
In our Epistle reading (Hebrews 12:1-4), the author of Hebrews teaches us that Jesus had a purpose for how “he endured the opposition from sinners.” - “in order that we may not grow weary and lose heart.”
 
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 12:49-53), Jesus used the symbol of fire to illustrate the division the Word of God might bring. Fire was often used as a metaphor for cleansing and purification, even the presence of God. Jesus made clear to his followers that many will turn away from the Word of God and there will be division, even within families. 
 
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
 
The way of the disciple of Jesus is not an easy one. We are called to speak truth when the world seeks darkness. We are called to live this truth regardless of how others receive it. We are called to be witnesses by our actions as well as our words. We do this “for the sake of the joy” that lies before us. And how are we to do this? Today’s Epistle tells us how: “Rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us . . . and persevere in running the race that lies before us by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 11, 2019

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
“You Also Must Be Prepared!.
 
This Sunday’s readings focus our attention on perseverance in faith and preparedness for when the Master returns.
 
Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom (18:6-9) highlights the Israelites preparedness and faith in God's promise as they prepared to put into effect the “divine institution” of the first Passover. 
 
The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage. Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes. For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned. For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.
 
In our Epistle reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1-2, 8-12), the author teaches the meaning of faith by using the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a model of faithful perseverance. Abraham left everything behind in his homeland and journeyed to the unseen promised land, believing in God’s promise that, despite their advanced age, he and his wife Sarah would have descendants as numerous as the stars.
 
Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.
 
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age - and Sarah herself was sterile - for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. . . .
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 12:32-48), Jesus admonished his disciples to be prepared always, for they know not the hour that the Son of Man will come. Also, to focus on the “inexhaustible treasure in heaven” and not the treasure of this earth.
 
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
 
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
 
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant w who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
 
The Scouts have a motto, "Be Prepared". It is a good motto for Christians as well, for we do not know when the master will come calling. May he find us watchful, faithful and already hard at work. 
 
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 4, 2019

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Be “Rich In What Matters To God”

 
The readings for this Sunday warn us of the folly of placing our worship in material goods. In the end, it buys us nothing. We must keep our focus on God, for, “one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
 
Our first reading (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23) could have been the basis for Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carrol". One could imagine these words uttered by Jacob Marley himself. It is a dire warning that the riches we toil for in this life are left for others to enjoy.
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
 
Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 3:1-5; 9-11), St. Paul tells us what really matters to God and how we are to rightly order our lives. Paul instructs us to put aside earthly desires and “put on the new self.”
 
Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.
 
Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.
 
Our Gospel reading (Luke 12:13-21) builds on the themes from our first two readings with the parable of the Rich Fool. First, Jesus refused to intervene in a property squabble among two brothers and then followed up with a parable to drive home the point—tonight may be your last. 
 
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
 
But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
 
It is often said, "you can't take it with you", referring to power, prestige and possessions. But there is one thing that we can take with us beyond the grave, and that is grace. Grace is the gratuitous gift of Christ; it is the participation in the life of God (CCC 1997, 1999). We cannot earn grace but we can embrace it by following the advice of St. Paul in today's Epistle, by seeking what is above, where Christ is.
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 28, 2019

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

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

 
This Sunday's readings teach us not only what to pray, but how to pray - with persistence and hope.
 
Our first reading (Genesis 18:20-32) is an early teaching of both persistence in prayer and God's willing mercy. Abraham learned that the three divine visitors (from last week's readings) planned on carrying out God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. Abraham implored God, with persistence, to "spare the whole place" for the sake of the few innocents. God granted his request. 
 
In those days, the LORD said: "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out."
 
While Abraham's visitors walked on farther toward Sodom, the LORD remained standing before Abraham. Then Abraham drew nearer and said: "Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?" The LORD replied, "If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." . . . . But Abraham persisted, saying "What if only forty are found there?" He replied, "I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty." . . . . Still Abraham went on, "Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?" The LORD answered, "I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty." But he still persisted: "Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?" He replied, "For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it."
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 2:12-14), St. Paul explains how God, in his infinite love and mercy, has rescued us, despite our bondage of sin; and has forgiven our transgressions, nailing them to the cross. 
 
Brothers and sisters: You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.
 
In our Gospel passage (Luke 11:1-13), the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. His response was the Lord's Prayer, with it’s focus on the Father. Then he followed it with instruction on persistence and the willing mercy and generosity of the Father. 
 
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test." And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
 
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
 
Prayer is said to be “Communicating with God in a relationship of love” (Thomas Zanzig). Prayer is a two-way conversation. Prayer should not be just an as-needed, case-by-case event; it should be a way of life, a life-long conversation. God rewards persistence.
 
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
“There is need of only one thing.”
 
Mary and MarthaThis Sunday's readings are all about hospitality and focus on the Lord. First, we hear of Abraham greeting three divine visitors and then in the Gospel, Martha and Mary attend to their visitor Jesus, albeit in different ways. Their story highlights two important aspects of hospitality.
 
In our first reading (Genesis 18:1-10), Abraham goes overboard in hosting his visitors, but also takes time to listen and be attentive to his visitors. What he didn't realize at the time was that one of the three visitors was the Lord himself. His reward was the promise of a son despite his and his wife Sarah's old age. 
 
The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way." The men replied, "Very well, do as you have said."
 
Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, "Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls." He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before the three men; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. They asked Abraham, "Where is your wife Sarah?" He replied, "There in the tent." One of them said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year,and Sarah will then have a son."
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 1:24-28), St. Paul wrote to his beloved community as he languished in prison and tells how he "rejoices in my sufferings for your sake". He unites his suffering with Christ and calls us to do the same. Unlikely as it may seem, we are often closest to Jesus when we rejoice in our sufferings and unite them with his. 
 
Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 10:38-42), Jesus seemingly rebukes Martha for her fretting about preparing the meal and complaining about Mary's attentiveness to Jesus. Both are important, but the latter more so. Discipleship calls us to listen and be attentive to the word of God. 
 
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
 
Jesus said in our Gospel today, “There is need of only one thing.” It is clear by the context what Jesus means - be attentive to me; listen to me; keep your focus on me; everything else comes second. Do we?
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
Parable of the Good Samaritan“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God”
 
Our readings today focus our attention on the law of God, written in our hearts. Jesus, who came “not to abolish the law but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17), gave a whole new way of understanding the law.
 
Our first reading (Deuteronomy 30:10-14) highlights the simplicity and purity of God's law as originally transmitted by Moses. It is near to us, already in our hearts; it is not hard to understand. We have only to carry it out. 
 
Moses said to the people: "If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.
 
"For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out."   
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 1:15-20), St. Paul opens his letter to the Church in Colossae with a majestic poem or hymn that was probably in common use in liturgies of the day. In it, Paul reminds his listeners of the primacy of Jesus, the "first born of all creation" and the “first born of the dead.” It is this same God who was the giver of the Mosaic Law as it was the teller of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
 
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus was tested by a religious lawyer about how one merits eternal life. When questioned by Jesus, he summarized the law with quotes from the Books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. But Jesus told him a parable that showed the true nature of God's law and mercy, which we are called to emulate. Jesus placed the Samaritan (despised by the Jews) as the hero in his story, in contrast to the Jewish priest and the Levite, who were following Jewish custom and law.
 
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."
 
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."   
 
The question in today’s Gospel, “Who is my neighbor?” was easily answered in the Jewish tradition of Jesus' time - it was someone of one's own clan, tribe or family; certainly not an enemy. Not so, said Jesus. It is even, perhaps especially, an enemy, the downtrodden and the outcast. May our readings today cause us to reflect on the Law of God written in our hearts, our true conscience. When have we ever crossed the road and passed a stranger by instead of stopping to bind his wounds? How shall we act the next time?
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 7, 2019

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be Glad” 

Mission of the 72In our readings this Sunday, we find great Joy in the redemptive love of God and in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ. We boast of our joy, even in our suffering.
 
In our first reading (Isaiah 66:10-14), God spoke through the prophet Isaiah as the Jewish people were returning to rebuild Jerusalem after years of captivity in Babylon. As they found their city and temple in ruins, God promised that the day would come when their beloved Jerusalem would be as a a nursing mother, tenderly caring for her children. That would be a time of great joy.
 
Thus says the LORD: Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her! Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! For thus says the LORD: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.
 
In our Epistle reading (Galatians 6:14-18), we hear the conclusion of St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. In it, Paul reminded his community once again that it is through the glory of the cross of Jesus that we are saved, and worldly issues like circumcision are of no import. His boast is in the sufferings and scars of his apostolic labors. His concern (and ours) is the new creation in Jesus.
 
Brothers and sisters: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and  I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20), we hear of Jesus sending seventy two disciples out to the towns and countryside to preach the Good News. He gave them detailed instructions, and they returned overjoyed at the wonders they were able to do in the name of Jesus.    
 
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house  to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.' Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."
 
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
 
For the Israelites, restoration to their homeland was a joyous and wondrous thing. For we Christians, restoration to our "new creation" in Christ is even more joyous and wondrous. Just as Jesus sent his seventy-two out into the world to preach and to heal, so does he send us. May we take to heart his instructions to his disciples. We too are like lambs sent among wolves. We too should feel the urgency of the mission, not burdened down by the trappings of this world. And just as they returned rejoicing for what God had accomplished through them, so may we reflect that same joy as we live out our redemption.
  • 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 30, 2019

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

“I will follow you wherever you go.”

FollowOur Church has completed it’s Easter season and post-Easter season of Solemnities (Trinity and Corpus Christi). We now return to ordinary time, the numbered (ordinal) weeks between the high seasons of Easter and Advent. Our readings this Sunday focus on God’s call for us to follow him unconditionally, and our response to that call—it must be complete, full-hearted and now!. In our readings, we hear disciples respond with, I will follow you, but not now, later. Jesus responds with Not later; Now!
 
Our first reading from the First Book of Kings (1 KGS 19:16B, 19-21) is the story of the Prophet Elijah being called to anoint Elisha as the prophet to succeed him. Elisha responded with, in a sense, Not just yet; but then he slaughtered all his oxen, gave the meat away and followed Elijah.
 
The LORD said to Elijah: "You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet to succeed you." Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you." Elijah answered, "Go back! Have I done anything to you?" Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
 
In our Epistle reading (Galatians 5:1, 13-18), St. Paul admonishes us to leave behind the things of the flesh, worldly enticements, and live in the freedom of the Spirit, serving one another through love.
 
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.
 
I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 9:512-62), Jesus was making his final journey to Jerusalem to fulfill his destiny. On the way, he met people who wanted to follow him, but not just yet. Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury the dead” (the spiritually dead—those who do not follow—bury their physically dead). In other words, There is no 'later', follow me now! You cannot serve two masters at the same time.
 
When the days for Jesus' being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
 
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."
 
Jesus was resolutely on a mission! There was nothing to get in his way to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to bring it to fruition on earth through his passion, death and resurrection. There is no doubt that each one of us has been called by God to be his disciple, to let nothing in our lives come before serving the Lord and loving one another. There can be no distractions. What remains now, is how we discern and respond to that call. God will grant us the grace if we but ask. 
  • 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 23, 2019

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

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

“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

For the past few Sundays, the Church has been reminding us of the passionate love God has for us and the many gifts he has given to help us abide (rest) in him. First was the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, where God sent his Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us. Last Sunday was the celebration of the Holy Trinity where we were reminded of the sacred mystery of three distinct persons in one God, loving us unceasingly.
 
This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ—the everlasting gift Jesus gave to us at the Last Supper so that he could physically dwell within us. Our readings this Sunday offer two events that prefigure the Holy Eucharist - one Old Testament and one New Testament. Also, the earliest written account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.
 
Our First reading is from the Book of Genesis (Gn 14:18-20). It is an account of Abram’s successful battle with four kings in order to rescue his nephew Lot from captivity. To celebrate the success, Melchizedek, the priest / king of Salem (later to become Jerusalem) offered a sacrifice of bread and wine. Melchizedek is seen as a prefiguring of Christ and the Eucharist. You may have heard the term, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
 
In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
 
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)we hear the first recorded account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Jesus at the Last Supper. Saint Paul describes for us the words Jesus used and how the practice of the Eucharistic meal had been handed down to all Christians. This was Jesus’ gift of himself to us, to ensure that he would always be really and substantially present to us—in body, blood, soul and divinity. These same words are often heard in the sacrifice of the Mass.
 
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 9:11B-17), we hear St. Luke’s account of the feeding of the five thousand. Luke tells us of Jesus’ compassion and love for the people. In these words of Jesus, we hear another prefiguring of the Holy Eucharist, “looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied.”
 
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.
 
The Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, like any blessing, can be taken for granted, even at times seem routine. How often do we ponder the awesome gift and blessing there is in Communion with God? How often do we give thought to the real, true presence of Jesus entering our bodies and our souls. Some people think it impossible for bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of Christ. To this, St. Ambrose once said, “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a portion of those things which already exist can be changed into something else"  Perhaps we can simply be thankful that we have been reminded of how much God loves us and wants us to be like him.
  • 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 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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