Archive for the ‘Sunday Reflections’ Category

Pentecost Sunday

Posted: May 19, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A New Wind:

Scott Hahn Reflects
on Pentecost Sunday

Readings:

Acts 2:1–11
Ps 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34
1 Cor 12:3–7, 12–13
Jn 20:19–23

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.
The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (Leviticus 23:15–21; Deuteronomy 16:9–11).
In today’s First Reading, the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (Acts 1:14).
The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (Jeremiah 31:31–34; 2 Corinthians 3:2–8; Romans 8:2).
The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm.
In the beginning, the Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth (Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the face of the earth.
As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (Genesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47).
Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today’s Epistle (John 7:37–39).
We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a “new creation” in Baptism (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).
Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity—fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 12, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Kingdom Remains:

Scott Hahn Reflects
on the Seventh Sunday
of Easter

Readings:

Acts 1:15–17, 20–26
Ps 103:1–2, 11–12, 19–20
1 Jn 4:11–16
Jn 17:11–19

Today’s First Reading begins by giving us a time frame—the events take place during the days between Christ’s Ascension and Pentecost. We’re at the same point in our liturgical year. On Thursday we celebrated His being taken up in glory, and next Sunday we will celebrate His sending of the Spirit upon the Church.
Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel today also captures the mood of departure and the anticipation. He is telling us today how it will be when He is no longer in the world. By His Ascension, the Lord has established His throne in heaven, as we sing in today’s Psalm. His kingdom is His Church, which continues His mission on earth.
Jesus fashioned His kingdom as a new Jerusalem, and a new house of David (Psalm 122:4–5; Revelation 21:9–14). He entrusted this kingdom to His Twelve Apostles, who were to preside at the Eucharistic table and to rule with Him over the restored twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29–30).
The Twelve Apostles symbolize the twelve tribes and hence the fulfillment of God’s plan for Israel (Galatians 6:16). That’s why it is crucial to replace Judas—so that the Church in its fullness receives the Spirit at Pentecost.
Peter’s leadership of the Apostles is another key element of the Church as it is depicted today. Notice that Peter is unquestionably in control, interpreting the Scriptures, deciding a course of action, even defining the nature of the apostolic ministry.
No one has ever seen God, as we hear in today’s Epistle. Yet, through the Church founded on His Apostles, the witnesses to the resurrection, the world will come to know and believe in God’s love, that He sent His Son to be our savior.
Through the Church, Jesus’ pledge still comes to us—that if we love, God will remain with us in our trials and protects us from the evil one. By His word of truth He will help us grow in holiness, the perfection of love.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 5, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Begotten by Love:

Scott Hahn Reflects
on the Sixth Sunday
of Easter

Readings:

Acts 10:25–26, 34–35, 44–48
Ps 98:1–4
1 Jn 4:7–10
Jn 15:9–17

God is love, and He revealed that love in sending His only Son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins.
In these words from today’s Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God’s command and did not withhold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (Genesis 22:16–18).
We see that promise coming to fulfillment in today’s First Reading. God pours out His Spirit upon the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, as they listen to the word of Peter’s preaching. Notice they receive the same gifts received by the devout Jews who heard Peter’s preaching at Pentecost—the Spirit comes to rest upon them and they speak in tongues, glorifying God (Acts 2:5–11).
In His love today, God reveals that His salvation embraces the house of Israel and peoples of all nations. Not by circumcision or blood relation to Abraham, but by faith in the Word of Christ, sealed in the Sacrament of Baptism, people are to be made children of Abraham, heirs to God’s covenants of promise (Galatians 3:7–9; Ephesians 2:12).
This is the wondrous work of God that we sing of in today’s Psalm. It is the work of the Church, the good fruit that Jesus chooses and appoints His Apostles for in today’s Gospel.
As Peter raises up Cornelius today, the Church continues to lift all eyes to Christ, the only one in whose name they can find salvation.
In the Church, each of us has been begotten by the love of God. But the Scriptures today reveal that this divine gift brings with it a command and a duty. We are to love one another as we have been loved. We are to lay down our lives in giving ourselves to others—that they too might find friendship with Christ, and new life through Him.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 21, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Shepherd’s Voice:

Scott Hahn Reflects
on the Fourth Sunday
of Easter

Readings:

Acts 4:8–12
Ps 118:1, 8–9, 21–23, 26, 29
1 Jn 3:1–2
Jn 10:11–18

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10–13, 23–31).
His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.
In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15–17).
Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10–13; 1 Peter 2:4–7).
Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16), and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His Body and Blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.
In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did—as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22–23; Revelation 21:7).
Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

Third Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 14, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Understanding the Scripture:

Scott Hahn Reflects
on the Third Sunday
of Easter

Readings:

Acts 3:13–15, 17–19
Ps 4:2, 4, 7–9
1 Jn 2:1–5
Lk 24:35–48
Jesus in today’s Gospel teaches His Apostles how to interpret the Scriptures.
He tells them that all the Scriptures of what we now call the Old Testament refer to Him. He says that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in His Passion, death, and Resurrection. And He tells them that these Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church—to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
In today’s First Reading and Epistle, we see the beginnings of that mission. And we see the Apostles interpreting the Scriptures as Jesus taught them.
God has brought to fulfillment what He announced beforehand in all the prophets, Peter preaches. His sermon is shot through with Old Testament images. He evokes Moses and the Exodus, in which God revealed Himself as the ancestral God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Exodus 3:6,15). He identifies Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who has been glorified (see Isaiah 52:13).
John, too, describes Jesus in Old Testament terms. Alluding to how Israel’s priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for the people’s sins (see Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9–10), he says that Jesus intercedes for us before God (see Romans 8:34), and that His blood is a sacrificial expiation for the sins of the world (see 1 John 1:7).
Notice that in all three readings, the Scriptures are interpreted to serve and advance the Church’s mission—to reveal the truth about Jesus, to bring people to repentance, the wiping away of sins, and the perfection of their love for God.
This is how we, too, should hear the Scriptures. Not to know more “about” Jesus, but to truly know Him personally, and to know His plan for our lives.
In the Scriptures, the light of His face shines upon us, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We know the wonders He has done throughout history. And we have the confidence to call to Him, and to know that He hears and answers.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Posted: April 8, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Day the Lord Made:

Scott Hahn Reflects
on Divine
Mercy Sunday

Readings:

Acts 4:32–35
Ps 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24
1 Jn 5:1–6
Jn 20:19–31

Three times in today’s Psalm we cry out a victory shout: “His mercy endures forever.”

Truly we’ve known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ pierced side (see John 19:34), we’ve been made God’s children, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

Yet we never met Jesus, never heard Him teach, never saw Him raised from the dead. His saving Word came to us in the Church—through the ministry of the Apostles, who in today’s Gospel are sent as He was sent.

He was made a life-giving Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) and He filled His Apostles with that Spirit. As we hear in today’s First Reading, they bore witness to His Resurrection with great power. And through their witness, handed down in the Church through the centuries, their teaching and traditions have reached us (see Acts 2:42).

We encounter Him as the Apostles did—in the breaking of the bread on the Lord’s day (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

There is something liturgical about the way today’s Gospel scenes unfold. It’s as if John is trying to show us how the risen Lord comes to us in the liturgy and sacraments.

In both scenes it is Sunday night. The doors are bolted tight, yet Jesus mysteriously comes. He greets them with an expression, “Peace be with you,” used elsewhere by divine messengers (see Daniel 10:19; Judges 6:23). He shows them signs of His real bodily presence. And on both nights the disciples respond by joyfully receiving Jesus as their “Lord.”

Isn’t this what happens in the Mass—where our Lord speaks to us in His Word, and gives Himself to us in the sacrament of His Body and Blood?

Let us approach the altar with joy, knowing that every Eucharist is the day the Lord has made—when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes.

Easter Sunday 

Posted: April 1, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

New Morning:

Scott Hahn Reflects on Easter Sunday

Readings:

Acts 10:34, 37–43
Ps 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23
Col 3:1–4
Jn 20:1–9

The tomb was empty. In the early morning darkness of that first Easter, there was only confusion for Mary Magdalene and the other disciples. But as the daylight spread, they saw the dawning of a new creation.

At first they didn’t understand the Scripture, today’s Gospel tells us. We don’t know which precise Scripture texts they were supposed to understand. Perhaps it was the sign of Jonah, who rose from the belly of the great fish after three days (see Jonah 1:17). Or maybe Hosea’s prophecy of Israel’s restoration from exile (see Hosea 6:2). Perhaps it was the psalmist who rejoiced that God had not abandoned him to the nether world (see Psalm 16:9–10).

Whichever Scripture it was, as the disciples bent down into the tomb, they saw and they believed. What did they see? Burial shrouds in an empty tomb. The stone removed from the tomb. Seven times in nine verses we hear that word—”tomb.”

What did they believe? That God had done what Jesus said He would do—raised Him up on the third day (see Mark 9:31; 10:34).

What they saw and believed, they bore witness to, as today’s First Reading tells us. Peter’s speech is a summary of the gospels—from Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan to His hanging on a tree (see Deuteronomy 21:22–23), to His rising from the dead.

We are children of the apostles, born into the new world of their witness. Our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God,” as today’s Epistle says. Like them, we gather in the morning on the first day of the week to celebrate the Eucharist, the feast of the empty tomb.

We rejoice that the stones have been rolled away from our tombs, too. Each of us can shout, as we do in today’s Psalm: “I shall not die, but live.” They saw and believed. And we await the day they promised would come—when we, too, “will appear with Him in glory.”