"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." Simon got a new name after his profession of faith. As soon as he declared to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus renamed him with a title that means "rock." And with that name he gave Peter the mission to be a solid foundation upon which he would build his church. Not Peter's church. Not James or Paul's church. Not Martin Luther's or John Calvin's or anybody else's. This is Jesus' church, the church of Christ himself, that we call the Catholic Church.READ MORE
"O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." This woman was an outsider. She was a Canaanite, not an Israelite, and as such she would have been considered ritually unclean. But she approached Jesus nonetheless and asked for his help. And Jesus used this opportunity to teach his disciples an important lesson.
In the verses directly before today's passage, Jesus had told Peter that what defiles a person comes from the heart, not from ignoring external purity practices. Then, Jesus traveled with his disciples from Galilee to the region of Tyre and Sidon where they were much more likely to encounter someone considered to be unclean.READ MORE
"Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was, he became frightened." How can we describe Peter? At once faithful and fearful, his jumbled responses remind us that he was no spiritual superman, well-intentioned though he may have been. Peter wanted to believe, and in fact showed a great deal of confidence in Christ, but the temptation to doubt was strong enough to knock him off his feet, literally.READ MORE
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." Oh, to be on that mountain! What a priceless experience for Peter, James, and John. If they had ever doubted, if they wondered whether Jesus was really who he said he was, their confidence surely got a boost on the day of the Transfiguration. Before their very eyes, Jesus' divine beauty radiated gloriously while the two ancient prophets also appeared in miraculous manner. And to top it off, the voice of God the Father spoke from the heavens and confirmed that it was all true: Jesus really is the Son of God!READ MORE
"When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it." Jesus today gives us the image of a merchant who knows he has discovered a great treasure. In fact, its value is so tremendous that the man is willing to sell everything else in order to possess it. Why? Because he knows it will all be worth it. He knows that the pearl will bring him more reward than anything else he has ever owned, more even than all his possessions combined.READ MORE
"The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil." This is not a pretty picture. Jesus shares a parable in today's Gospel that reminds us of a truth we would rather forget: evil is real, and the devil is at work. The bountiful harvest of our faith is something that Satan wants to destroy. And he has a host of diabolical tactics to help him carry out his wicked plans. But there is one strategy in particular that we must be on guard against.READ MORE
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." In the parable of the sower that Jesus tells in today's Gospel, the ideal is to be "the seed sown on rich soil" that yields an abundant harvest. As Jesus explains, this means we should strive to be "the one who hears the word and understands it."
So how do we place ourselves in this category? How do we assure that we will hear God's voice (i.e., the word) and actually understand what lie's saying to us? The answer comes in the parable itself Jesus explains what we need to avoid in order to make sure our seed bears fruit.
First, we must beware of "the evil one" who comes and steals away the seed of God's word. Faithfully praying the Lord's Prayer, with its request to "deliver us from evil," is a good starting point. Placing ourselves under God's protection every day is like taking up a shield against the forces that would seek to derail us.READ MORE
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Is there anyone to whom this doesn't apply? Don't we all have to labor at something, whether it be work, school, relationships, household affairs, or personal, emotional, or mental battles? Aren't we all burdened in some way at some time?
Jesus offers us powerful words of consolation in today's Gospel. He promises us rest. He calls all of us to himself, along with the baggage and burdens that we carry, and assures us that we will find relief. Thank God! What a gift for our tired, weary souls.READ MORE
"Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid." Can it really be true? Is our heavenly Father actually so aware of us? Does the Creator of the universe pay that much attention to me? Jesus says yes. God knows us far more intimately than we even know ourselves. And so, we have nothing to fear.
Being Christian isn't guaranteed to be easy. More and more even in our own culture, following the faith is being criticized and discouraged in the public square. Privately, we may struggle with the demands of the commandments or the ability to believe when we face the inevitable trials that come our way. But passages like this one in today's Gospel are a source of tremendous hope and consolation. We are loved beyond measure. We enjoy the care and concern of God in every situation, big and small. Truly we have no need to worry or be anxious because God is in control.READ MORE
"The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his ﬂesh to eat?'" From the beginning, the Eucharist has been a source of controversy. Some people have always found the teaching difficult to accept. But as Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is at the heart of our worship and our spirituality; we go to Mass to share in the holy sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood, and we receive spiritual nourishment from partaking of this heavenly food. As Jesus himself tells us in today's Gospel, "Whoever eats my ﬂesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."READ MORE
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." We are used to this profound idea, so used to it that we often glaze over the incredible reality: God the Father has a Son who became man and dwelt among us! Too often we blithely make the sign of the cross in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, without realizing what a radical theology we are announcing.
Only Christianity proclaims a triune God. Only Christianity professes that we have one God in three divine persons. Only Christianity declares that the very natureof God is to be relational and literally "personal."Why does this matter? Because we are made in God's image, asthe opening chapters of Genesis tell us. We, therefore, are made in the image of this Trinitarian God who is love.We are built to be like this God! Just asGod the Father loves God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we too are called to love one another. In fact, we are not fulfillingour nature and design when we don't. And just as Godloved the world (that is, us!) so too we are called to lovehim in return.READ MORE
"Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" Then, he said it again. And then, "he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" Jesus brings peace, and he brings the Holy Spirit. Peace, in fact, is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Today, on this feast of Pentecost, we remember the dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit that came upon those first apostles and the peace that came along with it. But we do more than remember. We also celebrate the presence of this same Spirit in our midst.READ MORE