‘ Sunday Reflections ’ Posts

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time


11 November 2018 – The 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

There are two widows in the readings this week…

The first is from the story of the prophet Elijah. The Kings of Israel had turned from the Lord. They “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, and pillars and Ashe’rim on every high hill and under every green tree.” (1Kings 14:22-23) There were many ‘Kings’ during this period following the death of Solomon… each listed as worse than the one before.
Continue reading “32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time”

The 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Love should be the center of all we do

4 November 2018 – The 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the Gospel there is a scribe who comes forth and asks Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” The scribes were the individuals whose life it was to study, meticulously copy, interpret, comment and debate on the Law of God. In ancient times, there were very few people who could read or write, the Scribes in their ability to do both were in a position of respect because of their knowledge, dedication and “appearance” of keeping the Law.

The Scribe in the Gospel comes forth and asks Jesus his question after listening to Jesus respond to a debate amongst the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the ones responsible for maintaining the temple and collecting the temple taxes. The Sadducees had come to Jesus asking about the resurrection: if there were 7 brothers who one by one married the same woman and each left her a widow without child, whose wife would she be in heaven. Jesus points out that they “know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Mark 12:24) “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Mark 12:25) Jesus tells them: “[God] is not a God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:27)

The scribe upon hearing this is intrigued and asks… “Which commandment is the first of all?” Continue reading “The 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time”

30th Week of Ordinary Time

Simon Helps Jesus with his Cross

28 October 2018 – The 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A blind man sits on the side of the road and calls out:

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” – Mark 10:47-49

There are blessings in our sorrows… In our weaknesses…

In the sermon on the mount Jesus teaches the Beatitudes… Blessed are poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who are meek. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst… Blessed are those calling out asking… begging… to be seen by the second set of individuals Christ Blesses: Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those willing to be persecuted for righteousness’s sake… Blessed are those who know their strengths and use them for the benefit of others.

Here on the roadside leading out of Jericho is a man noticeably from the first set… a man considered poor in spirit, mourning in his blindness but eager with a hunger to see. His faith (the spirit is actually strong within him) urges him to call out even though as a blind man, he is considered a nothing… an individual of no worth… by humanity. Many of the people around him mock him. Rebuke him. Tell him to be silent. Even though they are crowded about the Lord, they have no concept of what Jesus REALLY stands for. They are simply eager for the show, the chance of seeing a miracle… of getting a glimpse of this Man who is so very unlike all other men. In telling the beggar to be silent, in rebuking him, they show they are not merciful… They are not pure in heart… They have no love of their neighbor… the blind beggar. Continue reading “30th Week of Ordinary Time”

There are two sets of readings for this mass – one for the vigil and the other during the day. I was more strongly drawn to the vigil readings especially the 2nd reading from the vigil, 1 Peter 1:8-12.

Without having seen him you love him; thought you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have not been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Hoy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

All of the readings focus on the role of prophet. Saint John the Baptist is regarded as ‘prophet’ by both Christianity and Islam. As Christians, we see him as the prophet sent as Christ’s immediate herald, the spiritual successor of Elijah, the fulfillment of Isaiah, the ‘voice crying out in the dessert’ (cf Isaiah 40:3). In Luke we have his family background as the son of Zechariah of the house of Abijah (a priest of the sons of Aaron) and Elizabeth, daughter of Aaron, making John of the House of Aaron by both of his parents. The house of Aaron was the house of the high priests (Exodus 28:1) and John, the son of two descendants, would have also been considered a high priest of the house of Aaron.

In Luke 1:17, we hear of John that “he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Yet John did not accept connection with Elijah. When asked by the priests and Levites in John’s gospel – “’Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you a prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ They said to him then, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.’” (John 1:21B-23)

We are specifically told that like Jeremiah John was chosen before he was born to walk the path he walked. Even his name was chosen and given to his parents by the angel Gabriel beforehand. We hear explicitly how his life, the path he must follow, was predestined by God. As Christians we believe that God has a plan for each of us. Our purpose in life is to find and conform to God’s Will and to walk the unique path he has prepared. With the prophets, this concept of path is more rigidly discussed throughout the Bible. The role of delivering God’s message to his people.

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms to pluck up and the break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:7-10)

We can tell from John’s interaction with the priests that he understood his role and accepted it fully. God had given him the understanding, docility, and fortitude to go forth and walk and speak as God commanded. As with all prophets, it was clear that it was revealed to him that he was serving not himself but the Lord.

Reading through the Bible I find the role of prophet to be the most demanding of God’s Gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is a profound knowing that their life is not their own. A profound knowing of insignificance. This is combined with a command to go forth and say whatever the Lord commands even when others find it irrational, demand them to be silent, and even at times physically silence them. Rarely is what the Lord commands what people want to hear. Regardless, the prophets are commanded to go forth and speak out against the people. Against their Vanity, their Pride, their Greed. Calling others to repent, find their path and walk in the way of the Lord. John himself was of the line of High Priesthood amongst the Jews. He was a son of Aaron. Instead of priesthood, God made him a humble ‘voice in the desert.’ A voice which brought out Jewish priests who found what his said ‘hurtful’ to their pride and ‘business as usual.’ A voice which resulted in his beheading. Prophets are not given the luxury of being concerned with the ‘ways of man.’ They are commanded by God through the Holy Spirit which dwells within them. They are sent out “to pluck up and brake down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” While they can be seen throughout the Bible as arguing with God or trying to run away from God, they cannot renounce their Gift without renouncing their very Soul. For the Gift of Prophesy is a Gift of the Holy Spirit and blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is the only sin for which there is no forgiveness. (cf Mark 3:29) John was truly a unique prophet. We do not hear of him ever complaining or rebelling against his role as we hear of with Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah and so many others… he simply cried out in the desert “Make straight the way of the Lord.”

Vigil 23 June 2018
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4A, 5-6AB, 15AB, 17
1 Peter 1:8-12
Luke 1:5-17

During the Day 24 June 2018
Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalms 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80