Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-26-2017Weekly Reflection

"Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" The anti-anxiety message Jesus gives us today is not just ancient pop psychology. The point of this passage isn't to give us a "strategy" for coping with our fears. Jesus is proposing something much more profound. He is teaching us how to eliminate our fears altogether. To put it simply, he tells us to get our priorities straight. This whole reflection on worrying culminates in the instruction to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." That's where our freedom lies. When we concern ourselves with being in right relationship with God, our other concerns melt away. Deep down, we know that this life isn't about bodily health or comfort. Those things don't last anyway. But freedom from fretting is more than simply thinking about how it'll all work out--eventually--in heaven. No. Jesus offers us more. He insists that our heavenly Father will provide for us, here and now. We only need to take him at his word. That means sticking to our part of the bargain by putting God first.

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Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-19-2017Weekly Reflection

"Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow." Today Jesus continues the powerful teaching of his Sermon on the Mount. Typical of this famous sermon, here he urges us to see things in a new way, specifically regarding situations and people who bother us. First, he tells us not to seek revenge. Instead, we are to demonstrate incredible generosity. Then, he instructs us to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." These instructions don't come naturally to most of us. We are much more inclined to want to get even with those who cause us to suffer, and to wish ill for those who have hurt us.

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6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-12-2017Weekly Reflection

"Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus presents two paths for us today: we can break his commandments or obey them. And the result corresponds to our choice. If we decide not to follow God's guidelines, we will not enjoy the fullness of the kingdom of heaven. But if we choose otherwise, eternity will look much brighter for us!

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5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-05-2017Weekly Reflection

"You are the light of the world." Speaking to his followers, Jesus tells them of the influence they are meant to have. Like the seasoning that gives food its flavor, they are to be "the salt of the earth" and like a lamp on a lampstand that "gives light to all in the house." Clearly, their influence on the people around them is meant to be positive and substantial. But what is the source of this irreplaceable influence? Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus declares that HE is "the light of the world" (cf. Jn 8:12). So when he tells his disciples that "your light must shine before others," he is speaking about the light that comes from following him, from believing in him, from living their lives for him and with him. The light of Christ brightens the world, showing us the truth and meaning of our existence. And to the extent that we have that light in our hearts, it naturally spreads out to impact those around us.

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4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

01-29-2017Weekly Reflection

"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven." Here, in a nutshell, is the Christian belief about the afterlife. We trust that heaven is open to believers who accept the gift of salvation and follow the way of the Lord, even (or especially) when that way is difficult!

The beatitudes in today's Gospel give us a program for following the path to heaven. These famous words offer a kind of twofold image. There are, on the one hand, the beatitudes about what we should do and be: poor in spirit, meek, merciful, clean of heart, and peacemakers. Such qualities are reflections of the nature of God in whose image we are meant to live. When we embrace and reflect this image to the world, there is no doubt we are walking on the path of God's will.

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3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

01-22-2017Weekly Reflection

"He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him." Peter, Andrew, James, and John's lives would never be the same. They were going about their usual business--fishing on the Sea of Galilee--when Jesus approached them and said, "Come after me." And that's just what they did. "At once they left their nets and followed him." Such a quick response to such a radical request!

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2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

01-15-2017Weekly Reflection

"Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God." John the Baptist had an important message to impart. He was called by God to prepare the people of Israel to recognize Jesus' true identity. In a sense, he helped establish credibility for Christ by confirming that he was in fact the Messiah. Jesus didn't just have to claim it on his own; John also "testified" to the fact. We, of course, also benefit from the witness of John the Baptist recorded for us in the Gospels. And we have additional witnesses from the rest of the people throughout the Gospels who knew and recognized Jesus as the Son of God. But we also have the benefit of two thousand years of Church history! We have countless testimonies of saints and believers throughout the centuries who have known Jesus in their own lives and acted accordingly.

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The Epiphany of the Lord

01-08-2017Weekly Reflection

"They prostrated themselves and did him homage." The Magi were men of great faith. Their worldly position and power could have made them scoff at the sight of this humble infant. Their treasury of wealth could have blinded them to the true value of this child king. But instead these men placed themselves at the feet of Jesus in a gesture of complete submission. Then, as a sign of their devotion, they "opened their treasures" and offered this baby costly and precious gifts. Only a deep and sincere faith could justify such a surprising scene.

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Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

01-01-2017Weekly Reflection

As Catholics, we firmly believe in the incarnation of our Lord: Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Lk 1:26-38 and Mt 1:18-25) Through her, Jesus Christ--second person of the Holy Trinity, one-in-being (consubstantial) with the Father, and true God from true God--entered this world, taking on human flesh and a human soul. Jesus is true God and true man. In His person are united both a divine nature and a human nature.

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The Nativity of the Lord

12-25-2016Weekly Reflection

"She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Today we celebrate that the prophetic dream of St. Joseph was fulfilled! Jesus is born! A Savior has come to deliver us-Emmanuel, "God is with us." Christmas is a feast of fulfillment, a holiday of deep and enduring happiness not only because God became man and was born of a woman, but because along with his Incarnation, God brought us freedom. Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah who sets us free from the misery of our own sins. This is the ultimate gift of Christmas Day.  

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

12-18-2016Weekly Reflection

"She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus." Joseph heard these prophetic words in a dream. They were words of anticipation, of what was to come. And in a sense, they ushered in a kind of Advent for Joseph. With this divine message, Joseph began a period of holy waiting. He now knew that the Messiah was going to be coming into his own home, and he had just nine months to prepare! We can only imagine how Joseph might have spent these precious days. Most likely he did more than prepare a physical home for his soon-to-be born Son; he must have also used these days to prepare his heart, mind, and soul for such a tremendous mission.  

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Third Sunday of Advent

12-11-2016Weekly Reflection

"The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised." Jesus has quite a résumé. When asked whether or not he is the long awaited Messiah, Jesus replies with this list of his credentials as proof of his position. These signs and wonders speak volumes, to be sure. But perhaps the most interesting line on the list is his concluding one, "the poor have the good news proclaimed to them." Why does he count this among his litany of miracles? What is so remarkable about sharing good news?

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Second Sunday of Advent

12-04-2016Weekly Reflection

"Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance." John the Baptist does not mince words. He tells it like it is. When the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees show up piously for baptism, John calls them out, saying, "You brood of vipers!" Not welcoming words, to say the least. Then he tells them that being part of the religious club (i.e., children of Abraham) isn't enough. No, "every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

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