Fourth Sunday of Lent

03-26-2017Weekly Reflection

"Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him." The prevailing theology of Jesus' time led people to believe that any kind of disability was a punishment from God. So Jesus' disciples assumed that the man born blind suffered that affliction because of someone's sin: either his parents' or his own. But Jesus sets the record straight. Not only did he reject the idea that the blindness was a punishment for sin; he also went so far as to suggest that this very trial was an opportunity for God's glory to be revealed.

And sure enough, it was. Jesus worked a miracle of healing for the man who followed his directions and "came back able to see." So it was that the "works of God" became "visible" through a man who was blind! But, ironically, not everyone had the eyes to see the miracle. The Gospel tells us that "there was a division among them" as they debated whether this remarkable healing was really an act of God.


Third Sunday of Lent

03-19-2017Weekly Reflection

"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth." Are we true worshippers? Do we praise and honor God the Father in the way Jesus described to the Samaritan woman at the well? It seems that this woman was caught up in logistics about WHERE to worship more than HOW to worship. Her people worshiped in one place, the Jews in another. She was puzzled by this and, even though she could see that Jesus was a prophet, she challenged him because she thought perhaps he wasn't a true worshipper of God. The Lord's response to her was to shift the focus away from a particular physical location for honoring God. In essence, he told her that what mattered was that we worship God by being filled with his Spirit, "the Spirit of truth, [who] will guide you to all truth," as Jesus will say later in John's Gospel (16:13). This woman, whose life was marked by such a sad string of broken relationships, had been missing the point.


Second Sunday of Lent

03-12-2017Weekly Reflection

"When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid." Peter, James, and John already knew Jesus. They had been following him, learning from him, watching him for quite some time. But what took place before their eyes at the Transfiguration was unlike anything they had yet witnessed. This was not just a miracle or a message: this was a supernatural vision. When Jesus' face suddenly "shone like the sun" and two ancient prophets appeared and spoke, and a heavenly voice announced the true identity of their friend and teacher, these three disciples nearly fainted in fear. It must have been too glorious, too strange, too astonishing to handle.

But Jesus "came and touched them" to rouse them from their prostration. He told them, "Rise, and do not be afraid." What a beautiful moment. The Lord realized that his friends were overwhelmed. He had compassion on their meager ability to comprehend what was really going on. He allowed them to participate in this moment of revelation to help them understand who he was, but he still understood who THEY were--imperfect human beings who could not be expected to completely understand the ways of God.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.