Archive for the ‘Sunday Reflections’ Category

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 17, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Hope in Tribulation: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Daniel 12:1–3
Psalm 16:5, 8–11
Hebrews 10:11–14, 18
Mark 13:24–32

In this, the second-to-the-last week of the Church year, Jesus has finally made it to Jerusalem.

Near to His passion and death, He gives us a teaching of hope—telling us how it will be when He returns again in glory.

Today’s Gospel is taken from the end of a long discourse in which He describes tribulations the likes of which haven’t been seen “since the beginning of God’s creation” (see Mark 13:9). He describes what amounts to a dissolution of God’s creation, a “devolution” of the world to its original state of formlessness and void.

First, human community—nations and kingdoms—will break down (see Mark 13:7–8). Then the earth will stop yielding food and begin to shake apart (13:8). Next, the family will be torn apart from within and the last faithful individuals will be persecuted (13:9–13). Finally, the Temple will be desecrated, the earth emptied of God’s presence (13:14).
In today’s reading, God is described putting out the lights that He established in the sky in the very beginning—the sun, the moon and the stars (see also Isaiah 13:10; 34:4). Into this “uncreated” darkness, the Son of Man, in whom all things were made, will come.
Jesus has already told us that the Son of Man must be humiliated and killed (see Mark 8:31). Here He describes His ultimate victory, using royal-divine images drawn from the Old Testament—clouds, glory, and angels (see Daniel 7:13). He shows Himself to be the fulfillment of all God’s promises to save “the elect,” the faithful remnant (see Isaiah 43:6; Jeremiah 32:37).

As today’s First Reading tells us, this salvation will include the bodily resurrection of those who sleep in the dust. We are to watch for this day, when His enemies are finally made His footstool, as today’s Epistle envisions. We can wait in confidence knowing, as we pray in today’s Psalm, that we will one day delight at His right hand forever.

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 10, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Widows’ Faith: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

1 Kings 1:10–16
Psalm 146:7–10
Hebrews 9:24–28
Mark 12:41–44

We must live by the obedience of faith, a faith that shows itself in works of charity and self-giving (see Galatians 5:6). That’s the lesson of the two widows in today’s liturgy.

The widow in the First Reading isn’t even a Jew, yet she trusts in the word of Elijah and the promise of his Lord. Facing sure starvation, she gives all that she has, her last bit of food—feeding the man of God before herself and her family.

The widow in the Gospel also gives all that she has, offering her last bit of money to support the work of God’s priests in the Temple.
In their self-sacrifice, these widows embody the love that Jesus last week revealed as the heart of the Law and the Gospel. They mirror the Father’s love in giving His only Son, and Christ’s love in sacrificing Himself on the Cross.

Again in today’s Epistle, we hear Christ described as a new high priest and the suffering servant foretold by Isaiah. On the Cross, He made sacrifice once and for all to take away our sin and bring us to salvation (see Isaiah 53:12).

And again we are called to imitate His sacrifice of love in our own lives. We will be judged not by how much we give—for the scribes and the wealthy contribute far more than the widow. Rather, we will be judged by whether our gifts reflect our livelihood, our whole beings, all our heart and soul, mind and strength.

Are we giving all that we can to the Lord—not out of a sense of forced duty, but in a spirit of generosity and love (see 2 Corinthians 9:6–7)?

Do not be afraid, the man of God tells us today. As we sing in today’s Psalm, the Lord will provide for us, as He sustains the widow.

Today, let us follow the widows’ example, doing what God asks, confident that our jars of flour will not grow empty, nor our jugs of oil run dry.

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 3, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

The Law of Love: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Deuteronomy 6:2–6
Psalm 18:2–4, 47, 57
Hebrews 7:23–28
Mark 12:28–34

Love is the only law we are to live by. And love is the fulfillment of the Law that God reveals through Moses in today’s First Reading (see Romans 13:8–10; Matthew 5:43–48).
The unity of God—the truth that He is one God, Father, Son, and Spirit—means that we must love Him with one love, a love that serves Him with all our hearts and minds, souls and strength.

We love Him because He has loved us first. We love our neighbor because we can’t love the God we haven’t seen unless we love those made in His image and likeness, whom we have seen (see 1 John 4:19–21).
And we are called imitate the love that Christ showed us in laying His life down on the cross (see 1 John 3:16). As we hear in today’s Epistle, by His perfect sacrifice on the cross, He once and for all makes it possible for us to approach God.
There is no greater love than to lay down your life (see John 15:13). This is perhaps why Jesus tells the scribe in today’s Gospel that he is not far from the kingdom of God.
The scribe recognizes that the burnt offerings and sacrifices of the old Law were meant to teach Israel that it is love that He desires (see Hosea 6:6). The animals offered in sacrifice were symbols of the self-sacrifice, the total gift of our selves that God truly desires.
We are called today to examine our hearts. Do we have other loves that get in the way of our love for God? Do we love others as Jesus has loved us (see John 13:34–35)? Do we love our enemies and pray for those who oppose and persecute us (see Matthew 5:44)?
Let us tell the Lord we love Him, as we do in today’s Psalm. And let us take His Word to heart, that we might prosper and have life eternal in His kingdom, the heavenly homeland flowing with milk and honey.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 27, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Seeing the Son of David: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Jeremiah 31:7–9
Psalm 126:1–6
Hebrews 5:1–6
Mark 10:46–52

Today’s Gospel turns on an irony—it is a blind man, Bartimaeus, who becomes the first besides the Apostles to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. And his healing is the last miracle Jesus performs before entering the holy city of Jerusalem for His last week on earth.

The scene on the road to Jerusalem evokes the joyful procession prophesied by Jeremiah in today’s First Reading. In Jesus this prophecy is fulfilled. God, through the Messiah, is delivering His people from exile, bringing them back from the ends of the earth, with the blind and lame in their midst.

Jesus, as Bartimaeus proclaims, is the long-awaited Son promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 23:5). Upon His triumphal arrival in Jerusalem, all will see that the everlasting kingdom of David has come (see Mark 11:9–10).

As we hear in today’s Epistle, the Son of David was expected to be the Son of God (see Psalm 2:7). He was to be a priest-king like Melchizedek (see Psalm 110:4), who offered bread and wine to God Most High at the dawn of salvation history (see Genesis 14:18–20).

Bartimaeus is a symbol of his people, the captive Zion which we sing of in today’s Psalm. His God has done great things for him. All his life has been sown in tears and weeping. Now, he reaps a new life.

Bartimaeus, too, should be a sign for us. How often Christ passes us by—in the person of the poor, in the distressing guise of a troublesome family member or burdensome associate (see Matthew 25:31–46)—and yet we don’t see Him.
Christ still calls to us through His Church, as Jesus sent His Apostles to call Bartimaeus. Yet how often are we found to be listening instead to the voices of the crowd, not hearing the words of His Church?

Today He asks us what He asks Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Rejoicing, let us ask the same thing of Him—what can we do for all that He has done for us?

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 20, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Cup of Salvation: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 53:10–11
Psalm 33:4-5,18–20, 22
Hebrews 4:14–16
Mark 10:35–45

The sons of Zebedee hardly know what they’re asking in today’s Gospel. They are thinking in terms of how the Gentiles rule, of royal privileges and honors.
But the road to Christ’s kingdom is by way of His cross. To share in His glory, we must be willing to drink the cup that He drinks.

The cup is an Old Testament image for God’s judgment. The wicked would be made to drink this cup in punishment for their sins (see Psalm 75:9; Jeremiah 25:15, 28; Isaiah 51:17). But Jesus has come to drink this cup on behalf of all humanity. He has come to be baptized—which means plunged or immersed—into the sufferings we all deserve for our sins (compare Luke 12:50).

In this He will fulfill the task of Isaiah’s suffering servant, whom we read about in today’s First Reading.

Like Isaiah’s servant, the Son of Man will give His life as an offering for sin, as once Israel’s priests offered sacrifices for the sins of the people (see Leviticus 5:17–19).
Jesus is the heavenly high priest of all humanity, as we hear in today’s Epistle. Israel’s high priests offered the blood of goats and calves in the temple sanctuary. But Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood (see Hebrews 9:12).
And by bearing our guilt and offering His life to do the will of God, Jesus ransomed “the many”—paying the price to redeem humanity from spiritual slavery to sin and death.

He has delivered us from death, as we rejoice in today’s Psalm.

We need to hold fast to our confession of faith, as today’s Epistle exhorts us. We must look upon our trials and sufferings as our portion of the cup He promised to those who believe in Him (see Colossians 1:24). We must remember that we have been baptized into His passion and death (see Romans 6:3).

In confidence, let us approach the altar today, the throne of grace, at which we drink the cup of His saving blood (see Mark 14:23–24).

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 13, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Wisdom and Riches: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Wisdom 7:7–11
Psalm 90:12–17
Hebrews 4:12–13
Mark 10:17–30

The rich young man in today’s Gospel wants to know what we all want to know—how to live in this life so that we might live forever in the world to come. He seeks what today’s Psalm calls “wisdom of heart.”
He learns that the wisdom he seeks is not a program of works to be performed or behaviors to be avoided. As Jesus tells him, observing the commandments is essential to walking the path of salvation—but it can only get us so far.
The Wisdom of God is not precepts, but a person—Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Wisdom whose Spirit was granted to Solomon in today’s First Reading. Jesus is the Word of God spoken of in today’s Epistle. And Jesus, as He reveals Himself to the rich man today, is God.
In Jesus we encounter Wisdom, the living and effective Word of God. As He does with the rich man today, He looks upon each of us with love. That look of love, that loving gaze, is a personal invitation—to give up everything to follow Him.
Nothing is concealed from His gaze, as we hear in the Epistle. In His fiery eyes, the thoughts of our hearts are exposed, and each of us must render an account of our lives (see Revelation 1:14).
We must have the attitude of Solomon, preferring Wisdom to all else, loving Him more than even life itself. This preference, this love, requires a leap of faith. We will be persecuted for this faith, Jesus tells His disciples today. But we must trust in His promise—that all good things will come to us in His company.
What, then, are the “many possessions” that keep us from giving ourselves totally to God? What are we clinging to—material things, comfort zones, relationships? What will it take for us to live fully for Christ’s sake and the sake of the Gospel?
Let us pray for the wisdom to enter into the kingdom of God. With the psalmist, let us ask Him, “Teach us.”

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 6, 2018 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

What God Has Joined: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Genesis 2:18–24
Psalm 128:1–6
Hebrews 2:9–11
Mark 10:2–16

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a trick question.
The “lawfulness” of divorce in Israel was never an issue. Moses had long ago allowed it (see Deuteronomy 24:1–4). But Jesus points His enemies back before Moses, to “the beginning,” interpreting the text we hear in today’s First Reading.

Divorce violates the order of creation, He says. Moses permitted it only as a concession to the people’s “hardness of heart”—their inability to live by God’s covenant Law. But Jesus comes to fulfill the Law, to reveal its true meaning and purpose, and to give people the grace to keep God’s commands.
Marriage, He reveals, is a sacrament, a divine, life-giving sign. Through the union of husband and wife, God intended to bestow His blessings on the human family—making it fruitful, multiplying it until it filled the earth (see Genesis 1:28).

That’s why today’s Gospel moves so easily from a debate about marriage to Jesus’ blessing of children. Children are blessings the Father bestows on couples who walk in His ways, as we sing in today’s Psalm.
Marriage also is a sign of God’s new covenant. As today’s Epistle hints, Jesus is the new Adam—made a little lower than the angels, born of a human family (see Romans 5:14; Psalm 8:5–7). The Church is the new Eve, the “woman” born of Christ’s pierced side as He hung in the sleep of death on the Cross (see John 19:34; Revelation 12:1–17).
Through the union of Christ and the Church as “one flesh,” God’s plan for the world is fulfilled (see Ephesians 5:21–32). Eve was “mother of all the living” (see Genesis 3:20). And in Baptism, we are made sons and daughters of the Church, children of the Father, heirs of the eternal glory He intended for the human family in the beginning.

The challenge for us is to live as children of the kingdom, growing up ever more faithful in our love and devotion to the ways of Christ and the teachings of His Church.