16th Sunday

July 21: Jesus and the disciples went off in the boat by themselves

My dear brothers and sisters, as we gather this Sunday to reflect upon the sacred readings, we are reminded of the profound care and compassion of our God, who is always attentive to our needs and deeply concerned about our well-being. Today’s readings invite us to contemplate the nature of true shepherding, the peace that Christ brings, and the compassionate heart of our Lord.                      

In the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, we hear a stern warning against the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of God’s pasture. The term “shepherd” here refers to the leaders of Israel who have failed in their duty to guide and care for the people. God, through Jeremiah, pronounces woe upon these leaders because they have neglected their responsibilities, causing the people to stray and suffer.                                                                                     

God’s response to this failure is not to abandon His people but to promise a future of hope and restoration. He declares that He Himself will gather the remnant of His flock, bringing them back to their meadow where they shall increase and multiply. God promises to raise up righteous shepherds who will care for His people, ensuring that they no longer live in fear or go astray.                                    

This promise culminates in the prophecy of a righteous shoot from the line of David—a king who will govern wisely and bring justice and peace to the land. This prophecy points to the coming of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who embodies God’s justice and righteousness. In Jesus, we find the fulfillment of God’s promise to shepherd His people with love and care, leading them to true security and peace.                                                                          

In the second reading, St. Paul speaks to the Ephesians about the transformative power of Christ’s peace. He reminds them that through the blood of Christ, those who were once far off have been brought near. Christ has broken down the dividing wall of enmity, creating unity and peace among those who were previously divided.                                 

St. Paul explains that Jesus has abolished the law with its commandments and legal claims, establishing a new covenant that transcends old divisions. By his death on the cross, Christ has reconciled humanity with God, forming one new person in place of the two. This profound act of reconciliation not only unites us with God but also with one another, making us one body in Christ.              

The peace that Jesus brings is not merely the absence of conflict but a deep and abiding sense of wholeness and harmony. It is a peace that heals wounds, mends broken relationships, and restores unity. As followers of Christ, we are called to live out this peace, becoming instruments of reconciliation in our world, breaking down the walls that divide us, and fostering unity and love.            

In the Gospel reading from Mark, we witness the compassionate heart of Jesus. After the apostles return from their mission, they gather around Jesus to report all that they had done and taught. Recognizing their need for rest, Jesus invites them to come away to a deserted place. However, the crowds, eager to be near Jesus, follow them, arriving at the place even before Jesus and His disciples.                                                                        

When Jesus sees the vast crowd, He is moved with pity for them because they are like sheep without a shepherd. Despite His own need for rest, Jesus’ heart is filled with compassion, and He begins to teach them many things. This scene beautifully illustrates the depth of Jesus’ love and concern for His people. He is the Good Shepherd who is always attentive to the needs of His flock, ready to guide, teach, and nourish them.                                                              

Jesus’ reaction to the crowd also challenges us to reflect on our own response to the needs of those around us. Do we allow ourselves to be moved with compassion? Are we willing to put aside our own comfort to reach out and care for others? Jesus sets an example for us, demonstrating that true shepherding involves selfless love and a readiness to serve, even when it is inconvenient.                                     

Dear brothers and sisters, today’s readings call us to embrace the heart of the Good Shepherd. We are reminded of God’s unwavering commitment to care for us, the peace that Christ brings through His sacrifice, and the boundless compassion of Jesus. Let us strive to be like Christ, living as instruments of His peace and compassion in our world. May we heed the call to be righteous shepherds in our own spheres of influence, guiding others with love and care, and always reflecting the heart of our Lord.               

As we continue with this Eucharistic celebration, let us ask for the grace to be true disciples of Christ, embodying His love, peace, and compassion in all that we do.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 14: Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two

Dear brothers and sisters, today’s readings bring us profound insights into God’s calling, our identity in Christ, and the mission entrusted to us as His followers. They remind us that God chooses ordinary people to fulfill His extraordinary purposes, and He equips us with the grace and strength needed for our journey.                                    

In our first reading, we encounter the prophet Amos, who is confronted by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. Amaziah tells Amos to flee to Judah and never again prophesy in Bethel. Amos responds by revealing his humble origins: he was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores, not a professional prophet. Yet, it was the Lord who took him from following the flock and commanded him to prophesy to Israel.  This passage highlights a significant truth: God often calls the unlikely and the ordinary to carry out His work. Amos had no formal training or status, but God chose him because of his willingness to listen and obey. This should encourage us all. We may feel unworthy or ill-equipped, but God’s call is not based on our qualifications. He sees our potential and empowers us to fulfill His purpose. When God calls, He also provides the grace and strength needed to carry out His mission.        

In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us of the incredible blessings we have received in Christ. We have been chosen, adopted, and redeemed. God’s plan for us was set before the foundation of the world. We are called to be holy and blameless before Him, destined for adoption through Jesus Christ. In Him, we have redemption and the forgiveness of our transgressions.                                                                          ‘

This passage beautifully outlines our identity and destiny as Christians. We are not random products of chance but intentional creations of a loving God. Our lives have purpose and meaning because we are part of God’s grand design. This understanding should fill us with profound gratitude and inspire us to live in a manner worthy of our calling. Knowing that we are chosen and loved by God should motivate us to spread this message of love and redemption to others.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends out the Twelve Apostles two by two, giving them authority over unclean spirits. He instructs them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money. They are to rely on the hospitality of those they meet and, if not welcomed, shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against those towns.                                                                                                           

Jesus’ instructions to the Apostles emphasize the importance of trust and dependence on God. By taking nothing for the journey, the Apostles had to rely entirely on God’s provision and the generosity of others. This radical trust is a powerful witness to the world. It shows that the mission of spreading the Gospel is not about material resources or human strength but about God’s power and faithfulness.                             

The Apostles went out, preached repentance, drove out demons, and healed the sick. Their success was not due to their abilities but to the authority and power given to them by Jesus. This is a reminder that when we step out in faith and obedience, God works through us to accomplish His purposes. Our mission is to proclaim the Good News, trusting that God will provide and work through our efforts.                     

As we reflect on these readings, let us be reminded of our own calling and mission. Like Amos, we may feel unqualified, but God calls us to speak His truth and live out His love. Like the Ephesians, we are blessed, chosen, and redeemed, called to a life of holiness and purpose. Like the Apostles, we are sent out to proclaim the Gospel, relying not on our strength but on God’s power and provision.                                                    

Let us embrace our identity in Christ and answer His call with faith and courage. May we trust in His provision, depend on His strength, and faithfully carry out the mission He has entrusted to us. And as we do, may we experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from living out God’s purpose for our lives.

14th Sunday In Ordinary Time

July 7: A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.

Today’s readings invite us to reflect on the themes of prophecy, weakness, and faith, and how these elements interplay in our lives as followers of Christ. From the Old Testament to the New Testament and into the Gospel, we see a pattern of divine revelation, human resistance, and the transformative power of God’s grace.                                                        

In the first reading from Ezekiel, we encounter a profound moment where the spirit of the Lord enters Ezekiel, setting him on his feet and commissioning him as a prophet to the Israelites. These Israelites are described as rebels who have continuously turned away from God. Despite their obstinate hearts and rebellious nature, God sends Ezekiel to proclaim His message. This passage highlights two key points: the perseverance of God’s call and the challenge of human resistance. God does not abandon His people, even when they are hard-hearted. He continues to reach out, offering opportunities for repentance and renewal. Ezekiel’s mission is daunting, but it underscores a fundamental truth: God’s word must be proclaimed regardless of the audience’s receptiveness. Whether they heed or resist, they will know that a prophet has been among them. This speaks to our role as modern-day prophets, called to bear witness to God’s truth in a world that often resists His message.                                                                                                                

Moving to the second reading from 2 Corinthians, St. Paul shares a deeply personal struggle, revealing his “thorn in the flesh.” This affliction, which he describes as a messenger of Satan, was given to prevent him from becoming too elated by the abundance of revelations he received. Paul’s repeated pleas for relief were met with God’s response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s acceptance of this answer reveals a profound spiritual maturity. Instead of succumbing to despair, he chooses to boast of his weaknesses, understanding that through them, the power of Christ dwells in him. This passage challenges us to reframe our understanding of weakness and suffering. In our culture that often idolizes strength and self-sufficiency, Paul’s message is countercultural. It is in our weaknesses and struggles that God’s grace can shine most brightly. Our weaknesses become the very places where God’s power is most evident. For when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ.

The Gospel reading from Mark presents us with the familiar story of Jesus returning to His hometown, where He is met with skepticism and disbelief. Despite His wisdom and the mighty deeds performed by His hands, the people of Nazareth take offense at Him. They know Him as the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. Their familiarity with Jesus blinds them to His divine identity and mission. Jesus’ remark, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house,” captures the painful reality of rejection that He faced. Their lack of faith astonished Him and hindered His ability to perform many miracles there. This passage is a sobering reminder of how our preconceived notions and lack of faith can limit the workings of God in our lives. The people of Nazareth missed the profound opportunity to encounter the Messiah because they could not see beyond their familiarity with Jesus’ human origins.                                                                                               

Combining these readings, we see a powerful narrative about the challenges and rewards of living out our prophetic call. Ezekiel teaches us about the courage needed to speak God’s truth to a resistant audience. St. Paul shows us that our weaknesses are not obstacles but opportunities for God’s grace to manifest. Jesus’ experience in Nazareth warns us against the dangers of skepticism and the importance of maintaining an open heart to the divine.                                                                                     

As we reflect on these readings, let us ask ourselves: Where is God calling us to be prophets in our own lives? How can we embrace our weaknesses and allow God’s grace to work through them? And what familiar attitudes or beliefs might be hindering our faith and limiting God’s work in our lives?                                                                                   

May we have the courage to proclaim God’s truth boldly, the humility to embrace our weaknesses, and the openness to recognize and welcome the presence of Christ in our midst. Let us be steadfast in our faith, trusting that God’s grace is always sufficient, and His power is perfected in our weakness. 

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time1

June 30: “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary, first option for the Gospel.

Dear brothers and sisters, in today’s readings for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are invited to reflect deeply on the themes of life, faith, and the boundless compassion of God. Through the passages from the Book of Wisdom, Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, and the Gospel of Mark, we witness a profound message that underscores God’s desire for life and wholeness, the call for mutual generosity, and the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ.                       

The first reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us of a fundamental truth: God is the Creator of life, not death. “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” This powerful statement refutes any notion that God finds pleasure in suffering or demise. Rather, God fashioned all things to exist in harmony and wholeness. It is by the envy of the devil that death entered the world. This reflection directs us to recognize that God’s original plan was for life and immortality, not for the corruption brought by sin. It calls us to align our lives with this divine vision, seeking justice and the preservation of life in all its forms.                                                                 

The second reading from 2 Corinthians extends this reflection into the realm of our communal responsibilities. Paul commends the Corinthians for excelling in faith, knowledge, and love, urging them to also excel in generosity. He highlights the example of Jesus Christ, who, though rich, became poor for our sake, so that we might become rich through His poverty. This paradox of divine generosity challenges us to reflect on our own lives. Are we using our abundance to relieve the burdens of others? Paul’s appeal for equality—“your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs”—reminds us that true Christian living involves a continual exchange of support and generosity, fostering a community where no one is in excess, and no one is in want.

The Gospel reading from St. Mark presents two intertwined miracles that reveal Jesus’ power over sickness and death and emphasize the importance of faith. Jairus, a synagogue official, comes to Jesus in desperate faith, pleading for the life of his dying daughter. On the way to Jairus’s house, a woman suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years seeks healing by touching Jesus’ cloak. Her faith, though seemingly small and hidden, is profound: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Jesus acknowledges her faith, saying, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”                            

This interaction is interrupted by the news of Jairus’s daughter’s death, but Jesus responds with a powerful call to faith: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” At Jairus’s house, amidst the commotion and weeping, Jesus takes the girl by the hand and commands, “Talitha koum,” meaning, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl’s resurrection is a profound testament to the life-giving power of Jesus and an invitation to trust in His ability to bring life from death.                                    

Both miracles highlight the transformative power of faith. The woman’s private act of faith and Jairus’s public plea both lead to miraculous healings. Jesus’ response to them shows that He is attentive to all acts of faith, whether hidden or openly expressed. They also teach us that faith in Jesus transcends our fears and doubts, enabling us to experience His saving power.                                                                            

As we contemplate these readings, we are called to renew our commitment to living out our faith in tangible ways. We are invited to trust in Jesus’ power to heal and restore, to be generous with our resources, and to support one another in our journeys. Let us strive to create a community where God’s original plan for life and wholeness is reflected, where our faith in Jesus empowers us to overcome fears and extend His compassion to those in need. May we always remember that in Christ, we are called to rise above the forces of death and despair, embracing the abundant life He offers to all.

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 16: The kingdom of God….is like a mustard seed

As we gather here to celebrate the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, this Sunday presents us with a rich tapestry of readings that illustrate the themes of growth, transformation, and the mysterious workings of God’s kingdom. Through the prophetic imagery in Ezekiel, the reflective encouragement in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, and the parables of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel, we are invited to reflect on how God’s grace unfolds in our lives and the world around us.                             

Ezekiel presents a vivid image of God taking a tender shoot from the top of a cedar and planting it on a high and lofty mountain. This shoot grows into a majestic cedar, providing shelter for birds of every kind. This metaphor speaks of God’s sovereign power to transform and elevate. It conveys a message of hope and renewal: God can bring down the mighty and lift up the lowly, causing even the withered to bloom.        

The cedar, a symbol of strength and longevity, represents the enduring nature of God’s kingdom. The tender shoot symbolizes the humble beginnings that, under God’s care, grow into something magnificent. This reading reassures us that God is actively involved in the growth and renewal of His people, nurturing them from small and seemingly insignificant beginnings to greatness and fullness.                            

Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks to the courage and faith required to live in the present while awaiting our eternal home with the Lord. He acknowledges the tension of being “at home in the body” and yet “away from the Lord,” emphasizing the need to walk by faith, not by sight. This passage calls believers to aspire to please God, knowing that everyone will ultimately appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Paul’s message underscores the importance of living a life that aligns with God’s will, despite the uncertainty and challenges of our earthly existence. This call to live by faith rather than sight is a reminder that our actions in the body have eternal consequences. It encourages us to remain steadfast and courageous, trusting that our faithfulness will be rewarded in the life to come.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus uses the parables of the growing seed and the mustard seed to describe the kingdom of God. The first parable highlights the mysterious and autonomous nature of growth in God’s kingdom. The farmer scatters seed and, regardless of his awareness or understanding, the seed grows and eventually yields a harvest. This parable teaches that the growth of God’s kingdom is ultimately beyond human control or comprehension. It reassures us that God is at work, often in ways we do not see or understand, bringing His purposes to fruition.                                                                                                             

The parable of the mustard seed further illustrates this point. The mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, grows into the largest of plants, providing shelter for the birds. This parable emphasizes the surprising and expansive nature of God’s kingdom. From the smallest beginnings, God can bring about immense and unexpected growth. It encourages believers to trust in the potential of small, faithful actions to contribute to the larger work of God’s kingdom.                                                           

Together, these readings offer a profound meditation on the themes of faith, growth, and transformation. They remind us that God’s ways are often mysterious and beyond our understanding, yet always purposeful and directed towards the flourishing of His kingdom. The imagery of growth—from a tender shoot to a majestic cedar, from a scattered seed to a full harvest, from a tiny mustard seed to a large plant—invites us to trust in God’s timing and methods.                             

As we reflect on these scripture passages, we are called to embrace our role in God’s unfolding plan with faith and courage. We are encouraged to sow seeds of faith, hope, and love in our daily lives, trusting that God will bring about growth and transformation in ways that we cannot foresee. This Sunday’s readings inspire us to remain hopeful and steadfast, confident that God is at work in our lives and the world, bringing forth His kingdom in ways that are both humble and majestic.

10th Sunday in Ordinary Tme

June 9: Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother

Dear brothers and sisters, today’s readings bring us profound insights into the nature of sin, faith, and the transformative power of divine love. As we reflect on these passages, we are invited to consider the depth of God’s mercy and the call to live as members of His divine family.                                                                             

In the first reading, we revisit the moment of humanity’s fall from grace. Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden marks the entry of sin into the world. When God asks Adam, “Where are you?” it is not a question of location but of spiritual state. Adam’s response reveals the first effects of sin: fear and shame. He hides because he is naked, symbolizing his loss of innocence and the rupture in his relationship with God.                

The blame game that follows is telling. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent. This passage highlights how sin disrupts harmony, not only with God but also among humans. The serpent’s deception introduces enmity and division, a stark contrast to the unity intended by God.                                                                               

Yet, even in this moment of judgment, there is a glimmer of hope. God’s words to the serpent hint at a future victory over evil: “He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” This foreshadowing of Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death reassures us of God’s enduring plan for redemption.                                

In the second reading, Paul speaks to the transformative power of faith and the promise of eternal life. He emphasizes that, despite the trials and afflictions of this life, our inner self is being renewed daily. This renewal comes from our faith in the resurrection of Jesus, which assures us of our own resurrection and eternal dwelling with God.                                                                                             

Paul contrasts the transient nature of our earthly existence with the eternal glory that awaits us. This perspective encourages us to focus not on our present sufferings but on the unseen, eternal reality promised by God. Our “momentary light affliction” is producing an “eternal weight of glory.” This profound truth calls us to live with hope and perseverance, trusting in God’s ultimate plan for our lives.             

The Gospel reading presents a challenging and radical teaching of Jesus on the nature of true kinship. When Jesus’ family seeks to restrain Him, fearing He is “out of His mind,” and the scribes accuse Him of being possessed, Jesus responds with a profound truth: “Who are my mother and my brothers? … Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”                                                  

In this declaration, Jesus redefines the concept of family. He emphasizes that spiritual bonds, forged through obedience to God’s will, are stronger and more enduring than biological ties. This redefinition calls us to consider our own relationships and our commitment to doing God’s will.                                                             

Moreover, Jesus’ confrontation with the scribes reveals a critical aspect of His mission: the defeat of evil. By stating that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” Jesus underscores the futility of the scribes’ accusations. His power to cast out demons comes from the Holy Spirit, and to blaspheme against the Spirit is to reject the very source of forgiveness and renewal.                                 

These readings collectively call us to reflect on our identity and mission as members of God’s family. In Genesis, we see the origins of our brokenness and the need for a savior. In Corinthians, we are reminded of the hope and renewal offered through faith in Christ. And in Mark, we learn that true kinship is found in doing God’s will.                                                                                

As we navigate the complexities of our lives, we must remember that our ultimate home is with God. Our earthly struggles are temporary, and through faith, we are being prepared for an eternal dwelling. This perspective should shape our actions, our relationships, and our priorities.                                                         

Let us, therefore, strive to live as true brothers and sisters in Christ, united in our commitment to God’s will. May we support one another in our journeys of faith, continually seeking renewal and transformation through the Holy Spirit. And may we always hold fast to the hope of the eternal glory that awaits us, living each day with the assurance of God’s boundless love and mercy.