24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

09-16-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

We know the signs of defeat: slumped shoulders, downcast eyes, a chastened demeanor. For those of us sincerely trying to follow Jesus, defeat is inevitable. We commit to spending more time with our kids, but that one project still looms. We resolve to be a good person, but our selfishness strikes again. It can be easy to get discouraged over our moral failures. Today's Gospel is a small, intriguing look at this process in the life of St. Peter.

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

09-09-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

Judgment tends to have a bad reputation. We often associate it with condemnation, and in the Gospels, we associate it with the Pharisees. Today's Gospel features the Pharisees doing exactly what we expect. "They observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands." The Jewish people had strict purification laws that applied to all areas of life. The Pharisees attempt to accuse Jesus of not following the ancestral traditions. Jesus doesn't take offense at their judgments per se. He instead points out the hypocrisy of their words. "You hypocrites? this people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

09-02-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

Judgment tends to have a bad reputation. We often associate it with condemnation, and in the Gospels, we associate it with the Pharisees. Today's Gospel features the Pharisees doing exactly what we expect. "They observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands." The Jewish people had strict purification laws that applied to all areas of life. The Pharisees attempt to accuse Jesus of not following the ancestral traditions. Jesus doesn't take offense at their judgments per se. He instead points out the hypocrisy of their words. "You hypocrites? this people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

08-26-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

"This saying is hard; who can accept it?" The words of Jesus' disciples in today's Gospel must sound familiar. At some point in our lives, you and I have said it about some article of our faith. Christianity makes firm demands on our ethical behavior and gives no easy answers for suffering. Many disciples were confused and dismayed by Jesus' words in the Bread of Life Discourse. Not all of them, however, had the same reaction.

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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

08-19-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

In this Sunday's Gospel, the conflict escalates in the Bread of Life Discourse. Confusion is mounting in the crowd. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Their minds were thinking literally, not mystically. Jesus doesn't seem to help, however, and only drives his point home with more emphasis. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." Jesus would later institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper. There he would definitively establish the sacramental reality in which bread and wine become substantially his own Body and Blood. We celebrate this sacrament in the Mass.

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

08-12-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

Have you ever approached a hushed group and were certain they were talking about you? It's an uncomfortable feeling to catch people murmuring about what you did, said, or didn't do. It breeds division and exclusion.

In today's Gospel, Jesus invites us to just the opposite. The reading opens with the crowds "murmuring" their doubts about Jesus after he has proclaimed himself the Bread of Life. "Is this not  Jesus, the son of Joseph? how can he say 'I have come down from heaven'?" In his response, Jesus brings up the Israelites and the manna God brought them in the desert. If you turn back to the story in Exodus, you'll see another similar word: murmuring. As the going got tough, the Israelites doubted Moses and God's plan to protect and care for them as a chosen people. Here, Jesus proposes a difficult theological concept. Jesus himself is "the living bread" and "flesh for the life of the world."

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

08-05-2018Weekly Reflection©2018 Liturgical Publications, Inc.

In an on-demand society, it's not always easy to imagine life with less. The crowds of Jesus' day depended on the weather and successful growing seasons for their livelihood. For many of Jesus' listeners, even "food that perishes" would have been a welcome relief. Jesus acknowledges this but tries to draw them deeper. "You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled." For people who have just witnessed a miracle, the response is strangely marked by ingratitude. "What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert." Jesus fed them for one day, but Moses interceded with God for 40 years of bread. "Jesus," they seem to say, "can't you just give us more?"

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