Archive for the ‘Sunday Reflections’ Category

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 28, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

At Lazarus’ Tomb: Scott Hahn Reflects on the

Readings:
Ezekiel 37:12–14
Psalm 130:1–8
Romans 8:8–11
John 11:1–45
 
As we draw near to the end of Lent, today’s Gospel clearly has Jesus’ passion and death in view.

That’s why John gives us the detail about Lazarus’ sister, Mary—that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:37). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will “die with Him” if they go back.

When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus’ burial cloths and head covering—all details he later notices with Jesus’ empty tomb (see John 20:167).
Like the blind man in last week’s readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for “dead man”—for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death.

John even recalls the blind man in his account today (see John 11:37). Like the man’s birth in blindness, Lazarus’ death is used by Jesus to reveal “the glory of God” (see John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus’ words and deeds give sight to those who believe (see John 11:40).

If we believe, we will see—that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.
By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel’s promise in today’s First Reading. He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today’s Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to we who were once dead in sin.

Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in today’s Gospel—that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—even if we die, we will live.
“I have promised and I will do it,” the Father assures us in the First Reading. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today’s Psalm—that with Him is forgiveness and salvation.

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 21, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Eyesight to the Blind: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings:
1 Samuel 16:16–710–13
Psalm 23:1–6
Ephesians 5:8–14
John 9:1–41
 
God’s ways of seeing are not our ways, we hear in today’s First Reading. Jesus illustrates this in the Gospel—as the blind man comes to see and the Pharisees are made blind.

The blind man stands for all humanity. “Born totally in sin” he is made a new creation by the saving power of Christ.
As God fashioned the first man from the clay of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (see John 9:11). As God breathed the spirit of life into the first man, the blind man is not healed until he washes in the waters of Siloam, a name that means “sent.”

Jesus is the One “sent” by the Father to do the Father’s will (see John 9:412:44). He is the new source of life-giving water—the Holy Spirit who rushes upon us in Baptism (see John 4:107:38–39).

This is the Spirit that rushes upon God’s chosen king David in today’s First Reading. A shepherd like Moses before him (see Exodus 3:1Psalm 78:70–71), David is also a sign pointing to the good shepherd and king to come—Jesus (see John 10:11).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today’s Psalm. By His death and Resurrection He has made a path for us through the dark valley of sin and death, leading us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of life, the Church.
In the restful waters of Baptism He has refreshed our souls. He has anointed our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spread the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing.

With the once-blind man we enter His house to give God the praise, to renew our vow: “I do believe, Lord.”
“The Lord looks into the heart,” we hear today. Let Him find us, as Paul advises in today’s Epistle, living as “children of light”—trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

Third Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 14, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Striking the Rock: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Lent

Readings:

Exodus 17:3–7
Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9
Romans 5:1–2, 5–8
John 4:5–15, 19–26, 39–42

The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they have seen His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First Reading—a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty, too, in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans, but Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31–32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6, 24–41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34–37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38–39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12–14, 18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst—as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

Second Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 7, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Listen to Him: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Lent

Readings:
Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-2022
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9
 
Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.

Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God’s presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24, 34).
But in today’s Lenten liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today’s Epistle calls God’s “design . . . from before time began.”

With His promises to Abram in today’s First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal Himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.
He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host of nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham He raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:243:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David’s sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).

In Jesus’ transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills His divine plan from of old.
Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the “beloved son” promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15–18Psalm 2:7Matthew 1:1).

Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:1518) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.

By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7–9Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.
So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: “Listen to Him!”

First Sunday of Lent

Posted: February 29, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Tale of Two Adams: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday of Lent

Readings:
Genesis 2:7–93:1–7
Psalm 51:3–612–1417
Romans 5:12–19
Matthew 4:1–11
 
In today’s Liturgy, the destiny of the human race is told as the tale of two “types” of men—the first man, Adam, and the new Adam, Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:21–2245–59).
Paul’s argument in the Epistle is built on a series of contrasts between “one” or “one person” and “the many” or “all.” By one person’s disobedience, sin and condemnation entered the world, and death came to reign over all. By the obedience of another one, grace abounded, all were justified, and life came to reign for all.

This is the drama that unfolds in today’s First Reading and Gospel.

Formed from the clay of the ground and filled with the breath of God’s own Spirit, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38), created in His image (see Genesis 5:1–3). Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (see Psalms 8:6–891:11–13). He was made to worship God—to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.
Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent’s temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in His hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed—and drove the devil away.

Still, we sin after the pattern of Adam’s transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (see Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God’s promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation.
But the grace won for us by Christ’s obedience means that sin is no longer our master.

As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (see Romans 5:5Hebrews 8:10). As we do in today’s Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 22, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Holy as God: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:
Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18
Psalm 103:1–4, 8, 10, 12–13
1 Corinthians 3:16–23
Matthew 5:38–48

We are called to the holiness of God. That is the extraordinary claim made in both the First Reading and Gospel this Sunday.

Yet how is it possible that we can be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?

Jesus explains that we must be imitators of God as His beloved children (Ephesians 5:1–2).

As God does, we must love without limit—with a love that does not distinguish between friend and foe, overcoming evil with good (see Romans 12:21).

Jesus Himself, in His Passion and death, gave us the perfect example of the love that we are called to.

He offered no resistance to the evil—even though He could have commanded twelve legions of angels to fight alongside Him. He offered His face to be struck and spit upon. He allowed His garments to be stripped from Him. He marched as His enemies compelled Him to the Place of the Skull. On the cross He prayed for those who persecuted Him (see Matthew 26:53–54, 67; 27:28, 32; Luke 23:34).

In all this He showed Himself to be the perfect Son of God. By His grace, and through our imitation of Him, He promises that we too can become children of our heavenly Father.

God does not deal with us as we deserve, as we sing in this week’s Psalm. He loves us with a Father’s love. He saves us from ruin. He forgives our transgressions.

He loved us even when we had made ourselves His enemies through our sinfulness. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (see Romans 5:8).

We have been bought with the price of the blood of God’s only Son (see 1 Corinthians 6:20). We belong to Christ now, as St. Paul says in this week’s Epistle. By our baptism, we have been made temples of His Holy Spirit.

And we have been saved to share in His holiness and perfection. So let us glorify Him by our lives lived in His service, loving as He loves.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 15, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Affair of the Heart: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Sirach 15:15–20
Psalm 119:1–2, 4–5, 17–18, 33–34
1 Corinthians 2:6–10
Matthew 5:17–37

Jesus tells us in the Gospel this week that He has come not to abolish but to “fulfill” the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets.

His Gospel reveals the deeper meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral Law of the Old Testament. But His Gospel also transcends the Law. He demands a morality far greater than that accomplished by the most pious of Jews, the scribes and Pharisees.
Outward observance of the Law is not enough. It is not enough that we do not murder, commit adultery, divorce, or lie.

The law of the new covenant is a law that God writes on the heart (see Jeremiah 31:31–34). The heart is the seat of our motivations, the place from which our words and actions proceed (see Matthew 6:21; 15:18–20).

Jesus this week calls us to train our hearts, to master our passions and emotions. And Jesus demands the full obedience of our hearts (see Romans 6:17). He calls us to love God with all our hearts, and to do His will from the heart (see Matthew 22:37; Ephesians 6:6).

God never asks more of us than we are capable of. That is the message of this week’s First Reading. It is up to us to choose life over death, to choose the waters of eternal life over the fires of ungodliness and sin.
By His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has shown us that it is possible to keep His commandments. In Baptism, He has given us His Spirit that His law might be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4).

The wisdom of the Gospel surpasses all the wisdom of this age that is passing away, St. Paul tells us in the Epistle. The revelation of this wisdom fulfills God’s plan from before all ages.

Let us trust in this wisdom, and live by His kingdom law.
As we do in this week’s Psalm, let us pray that we grow in being better able to live His Gospel, and to seek the Father with all our heart.