Archive for the ‘Sunday Reflections’ Category

Second Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 16, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Glory in Sight: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Lent

Readings:

Genesis 15:5–12, 17–18
Psalm 27:1, 7–9, 13–14
Philippians 3:17–4:1
Luke 9:28–36

In today’s Gospel, we go up to the mountain with Peter, John, and James. There we see Jesus “transfigured,” speaking with Moses and Elijah about His “exodus.”
The Greek word “exodus” means “departure.” But the word is chosen deliberately here to stir our remembrance of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt.

By His death and resurrection, Jesus will lead a new Exodus—liberating not only Israel but every race and people; not from bondage to Pharaoh, but from slavery to sin and death. He will lead all mankind, not to the territory promised to Abraham in today’s First Reading, but to the heavenly commonwealth that Paul describes in today’s Epistle.
Moses, the giver of God’s law, and the great prophet Elijah, were the only Old Testament figures to hear the voice and see the glory of God atop a mountain (see Exodus 24:15–18; 1 Kings 19:8–18).

Today’s scene closely resembles God’s revelation to Moses, who also brought along three companions and whose face also shone brilliantly (see Exodus 24:1;34:29). But when the divine cloud departs in today’s Gospel, Moses and Elijah are gone. Only Jesus remains. He has revealed the glory of the Trinity—the voice of the Father, the glorified Son, and the Spirit in the shining cloud.

Jesus fulfills all that Moses and the prophets had come to teach and show us about God (see Luke 24:27). He is the “chosen One” promised by Isaiah (see Isaiah 42:1;Luke 23:35), the “prophet like me” that Moses had promised (see Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22–23; 7:37). Far and above that, He is the Son of God (see Psalm 2:7;Luke 3:21–23).
“Listen to Him,” the Voice tells us from the cloud. If, like Abraham, we put our faith in His words, one day we too will be delivered into “the land of the living” that we sing of in today’s Psalm. We will share in His resurrection, as Paul promises, our lowly bodies glorified like His.

First Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 9, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Forty Days: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday of Lent

Readings:

Deuteronomy 26:4–10
Psalm 91:1–2, 10–15
Romans 10:8–13
Luke 4:1–13

In today’s epic Gospel scene, Jesus relives in His flesh the history of Israel.
We’ve already seen that, like Israel, Jesus has passed through water and been called God’s beloved Son (see Luke 3:22; Exodus 4:22). Now, as Israel was tested for forty years in the wilderness, Jesus is led into the desert to be tested for forty days and nights (see Exodus 15:25).

He faces the temptations put to Israel: Hungry, He’s tempted to grumble against God for food (see Exodus 16:1–13). As Israel quarreled at Massah, He’s tempted to doubt God’s care (see Exodus 17:1–6). When the Devil asks for His homage, He’s tempted to do what Israel did in creating the golden calf (see Exodus 32).

Jesus fights the Devil with the Word of God, three times quoting from Moses’ lecture about the lessons Israel was supposed to learn from its wilderness wanderings (see Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:12–15).

Why do we read this story on the first Sunday of Lent? Because like the biblical sign of forty (see Genesis 7:12; Exodus 24:18; 34:28;1 Kings 19:8; Jonah 3:4), the forty days of Lent are a time of trial and purification.

Lent is to teach us what we hear over and over in today’s readings. “Call upon me, and I will answer,” the Lord promises in today’s Psalm. Paul promises the same thing in today’s Epistle (quoting Deuteronomy 30:14;Isaiah 28:16; Joel 2:32).
This was Israel’s experience, as Moses reminds his people in today’s First Reading: “We cried to the LORD . . . and He heard.” But each of us is tempted, as Israel was, to forget the great deeds He works in our lives, to neglect our birthright as His beloved sons and daughters.
Like the litany of remembrance Moses prescribes for Israel, we should see in the Mass a memorial of our salvation, and “bow down in His presence,” offering ourselves in thanksgiving for all He has given us.

Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted: March 2, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Heart and Mouth: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings:

Sirach 27:4–7
Psalm 92:2–3, 13–16
1 Corinthians 15:54–58
Luke 6:39–45

In today’s readings we hear Jesus speaking in Galilee as well as a Jewish sage named Sirach writing in Jerusalem more than a century earlier. The two of them touch upon a single truth: The words that come out of us make known the hidden thoughts within us. Speech reveals the secrets of the heart.

Sirach teaches that speaking is “the test of men” and their character (Sir 27:7). One who is upright will utter words that are truthful and encouraging to others. But one whose heart is cluttered with “refuse” will be exposed, since the “fruit” of his mouth speaks volumes about the “tree” that produces it (Sir 27:6). Sirach also compares the testing of our words to clay fired in a kiln—if properly prepared, a useful vessel emerges; but if the clay is not fully dried, it will break apart in the extreme heat (Sirach 27:5).

In a similar way, Jesus insists that a person speaks “out of the abundance of the heart” (Luke 6:45). He too compares our speech, whether good or bad, to what grows on a tree: “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit” (Luke 6:43).

Both readings urge us to make wholesome speech a habit. After all, much about who we are is brought to light through what we say. But there’s an additional step: The Lord is asking us to look inward, to examine our hearts and fill them with the “good treasure” that God desires.

Why do purity of heart and speech matter so much? Because, as Jesus declares elsewhere: “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:37). They matter because they help to decide our final judgment, and this is where the Second Reading comes in. Paul reminds us that God will destroy death forever, and if we are to share in this victory and live forever with the Lord, then we must take all steps necessary to give our hearts and lips to what is good.

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted: February 23, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Davids and Sauls: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings:

1 Samuel 26:2, 7–9, 12–13,
22–23
Psalm 103:1–13
1 Corinthians 15:45–49
Luke 6:27–38

The story of David and Saul in today’s First Reading functions almost like a parable. Showing mercy to his deadly foe, David gives a concrete example of what Jesus expects to become a way of life for His disciples.

The new law Jesus gives in today’s Gospel would have us all become “Davids”—loving our enemies, doing good to those who would harm us, extending a line of credit to those who won’t ever repay us.
The Old Law required only that the Israelites love their fellow countrymen (see Leviticus 19:18). The new law Jesus brings makes us kin to every man and woman (see also Luke 10:29–36). His kingdom isn’t one of tribe or nationality. It’s a family. As followers of Jesus, we’re to live as He lived among us—as “children of the Most High” (see Luke 6:35; 1:35).
As sons and daughters, we want to walk in the ways of our heavenly Father, to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Grateful for His mercy, we’re called to forgive others their trespasses because God has forgiven ours.

In the context of today’s liturgy, we’re all “Sauls”—by our sinfulness and pride we make ourselves enemies of God. But we’ve been spared a death we surely deserved to die because God has loved and shown mercy to His enemies, “the ungrateful and the wicked,” as Jesus says.
Jesus showed us this love in His Passion, forgiving His enemies as they stripped Him of cloak and tunic, cursed Him and struck Him on the cheek, condemned Him to death on a cross (see Luke 22:63–65; 23:34). “He redeems your life from destruction,” David reminds us in today’s Psalm.

That’s the promise, too, of today’s Epistle: that we who believe in the “last Adam,” Jesus, will rise from the dead in His image, as today we bear the image of the “first Adam,” who by his sin made God an enemy and brought death into the world (see 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted: February 16, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Rich in Poverty: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings:

Jeremiah 17:5–8
Psalm 1:1–4, 6
1 Corinthians 15:12, 16–20
Luke 6:17, 20–26

The blessings and woes we hear in today’s Gospel mark the perfection of all the wisdom of the Old Testament.
That wisdom is summed up with marvelous symmetry in today’s First Reading and Psalm: Each declares that the righteous—those who hope in the Lord and delight in His Law—will prosper like a tree planted near living waters. The wicked, who put their “trust in human beings,” are cursed to wither and die.

Jesus is saying the same thing in the Gospel. The rich and poor are, for Him, more than members of literal economic classes. Their material state symbolizes their spiritual state.

The rich are “the insolent” of today’s Psalm, boasting of their self-sufficiency, the strength of their flesh, as Jeremiah says in the First Reading. The poor are the humble, who put all their hope and trust in the Lord.
We’ve already seen today’s dramatic imagery of reversal in Mary’s “Magnificat.” There, too, the rich are cast down while the hungry are filled and the lowly exalted (see Luke 1:45–55 also 16:19–31).

That’s the upside-down world of the Gospel: in poverty we gain spiritual treasure unimaginable; in suffering and even dying “on account of the Son of Man,” we find everlasting life.

The promises of the Old Testament were promises of power and prosperity—in the here and now. The promise of the New Covenant is joy and true freedom even amid the misery and toil of this life. But not only that. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we’re to be pitied if our hope is “for this life only.”

The blessings of God mean that we’ll laugh with the thanksgiving of captives released from exile (see Psalm 126:1–2), feast at the heavenly table of the Lord (see Psalm 107:3–9), “leap for joy” as John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb (see Luke 6:23;1:41, 44), and rise with Christ, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted: February 9, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Into the Deep: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 6:1–8
Psalm 138:1–5, 7–8
1 Corinthians 15:1–11
Luke 5:1–11

Simon Peter, the fisherman, is the first to be called personally by Jesus in Luke’s Gospel.
His calling resembles Isaiah’s commissioning in the First Reading: Confronted with the holiness of the Lord, both Peter and Isaiah are overwhelmed by a sense of their own sinfulness and inadequacy. Yet each experiences the Lord’s forgiveness and is sent to preach the good news of His mercy to the world.

No one is “fit to be called an apostle,” Paul recognizes in today’s Epistle. But by “the grace of God,” even a persecutor of the Church—as Paul once was—can be lifted up for the Lord’s service.
In the Old Testament, humanity was unfit for the divine—no man could stand in God’s presence and live (see Exodus 33:20). But in Jesus, we’re made able to speak with Him face-to-face, to taste His Word on our tongue.
Today’s scene from Isaiah is recalled in every Mass. Before reading the Gospel, the priest silently asks God to cleanse his lips that he might worthily proclaim His Word.

God’s Word comes to us as it came to Peter, Paul, Isaiah, and today’s Psalmist—as a personal call to leave everything and follow Him, to surrender our weaknesses in order to be filled with His strength.
Simon put out into deep waters even though, as a professional fisherman, he knew it would be foolhardy to expect to catch anything. In humbling himself before the Lord’s command, he was exalted—his nets filled to overflowing; later, as Paul tells us, he will become the first to see the risen Lord.

Jesus has made us worthy to receive Him in the company of angels in God’s holy Temple. On our knees like Peter, with the humility of David in today’s Psalm, we thank Him with all our hearts and join in the unending hymn that Isaiah heard around God’s altar: “Holy, holy, holy . . .” (see also Revelation 4:8).

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 2, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Prophet to the Nations: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Jeremiah 1:4–5, 17–19
Psalm 71:1–6, 15–17
1 Corinthians 12:31–13:13
Luke 4:21–30

God’s words in today’s First Reading point us beyond Jeremiah to Jesus. Like Jeremiah, Jesus was consecrated in the womb and sent as a “prophet to the nations” (see Luke 1:31–33).
Like the prophets before Him, Jesus too faces hostility. In today’s Gospel, the crowd in His hometown synagogue quickly turns on Him, apparently demanding a sign, some proof of divine origins—that He’s more than just “the son of Joseph.”

The sign He gives them is that of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. From their colorful careers Jesus draws two stories. In each, the prophets bypass “many . . . in Israel” to bestow God’s blessings on non-Israelites who had faith that the prophets were men of God (see 1 Kings 17:1–16; 2 Kings 5:1–14). “None . . . not one” in Israel was found deserving, Jesus emphasizes.
His point isn’t lost on His audience. They know He’s likening them to the “many . . . in Israel” in the days of the prophets. That’s why they try to shove Him off the cliff. As He promised to protect Jeremiah, the Lord delivers Jesus from those who would crush Him.

And as were Elijah and Elisha, Jesus is sent to proclaim God’s gift of salvation—not exclusively to one nation or people, but to all who realize in faith that from the womb God alone is their hope, their rescuer, their “rock of refuge,” as we sing in today’s Psalm.
Prophecies, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, are partial and pass away “when the perfect comes.” In Jesus, the word of the prophets has been brought to perfection, fulfilled in those who have ears to hear, as He declares in today’s Gospel.
Greater than the gifts of faith and hope, Jesus shows us how to love as He loved—to love God as our Father, as the one who formed us in the womb and destined us to hear His saving Word.

This is the salvation, the “mighty works of the Lord,” that we, like the psalmist, are thankful to proclaim daily in the Eucharist.