Archive for the ‘Sunday Reflections’ Category


First and Last: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:
Isaiah 55:6–9
Psalm 145:2–3, 8–9, 17–18
Philippians 1:20–24, 27
Matthew 20:1–16

 

The house of Israel is the vine of God, who planted and watered it, preparing the Israelites to bear fruits of righteousness (see Isaiah 5:7; 27:2–5).

Israel failed to yield good fruits and the Lord allowed His vineyard, Israel’s kingdom, to be overrun by conquerors (see Psalm 80:9–20). But God promised that one day He would replant His vineyard and its shoots would blossom to the ends of the earth (see Amos 9:15; Hosea 14:5–10).

This is the biblical backdrop to Jesus’ parable of salvation history in today’s Gospel. The landowner is God. The vineyard is the kingdom. The workers hired at dawn are the Israelites, to whom He first offered His covenant. Those hired later in the day are the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, who, until the coming of Christ, were strangers to the covenants of promise (see Ephesians 2:11–13). In the Lord’s great generosity, the same wages, the same blessings promised to the first-called, the Israelites, will be paid to those called last, the rest of the nations.

This provokes grumbling in today’s parable. Doesn’t the complaint of those first laborers sound like that of the older brother in Jesus’ prodigal son parable (see Luke 15:29–30)? God’s ways, however, are far from our ways, as we hear in today’s First Reading. And today’s readings should caution us against the temptation to resent God’s lavish mercy.

Like the Gentiles, many will be allowed to enter the kingdom late—after having spent most of their days idling in sin.

But even these can call upon Him and find Him near, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We should rejoice that God has compassion on all whom He has created. This should console us, too, especially if we have loved ones who remain far from the vineyard.

Our task is to continue laboring in His vineyard. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, let us conduct ourselves worthily, struggling to bring all men and women to the praise of His name.

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 12, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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The Debt We Owe: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Sirach 27:30–28:7
Psalm 103:1–4, 9–12
Romans 14:7–9
Matthew 18:21–35

Mercy and forgiveness should be at the heart of the Christian life.

Yet, as today’s First Reading wisely reminds us, often we cherish our wrath, nourish our anger, refuse mercy to those who have done us wrong. Jesus, too, strikes close to home in today’s Gospel with His realistic portrayal of the wicked servant who won’t forgive a fellow servant’s debt, even though his own slate has just been wiped clean by their master.

It can’t be this way in the kingdom, the Church. In the Old Testament, seven is frequently a number associated with mercy and the forgiveness of sins. The just man sins seven times daily; there is a sevenfold sprinking of blood for atonement of sins (see Proverbs 24:6; Leviticus 16). But Jesus tells Peter today that we must forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven times. That means: every time.

We are to be merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful (see Luke 6:36; Matthew 5:48). But why? Why does Jesus repeatedly warn that we can’t expect forgiveness for our trespasses unless we’re willing to forgive others their trespasses against us?

Because, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle, we are the Lord’s. Each of us has been purchased by the blood of Christ shed for us on the Cross (see Revelation 5:9). As we sing in today’s Psalm, though we deserved to die for our sins, He doesn’t deal with us according to our crimes. The mercy and forgiveness we show to others should be the heartfelt expression of our gratitude for the mercy and forgiveness shown to us.

This is why we should remember our last days, set our enmities aside, and stop judging others. We know that one day we will stand before the judgment seat and give account for what we’ve done with the new life given to us by Christ (see Romans 14:10, 12).

So we forgive each other from the heart, overlook each other’s faults, and await the crown of His kindness and compassion.

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 5, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

To Win Them Back: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Ezekiel 33:7–9
Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9
Romans 13:8–10
Matthew 18:15–20

As Ezekiel is appointed watchman over the house of Israel in today’s first Reading, so Jesus in the Gospel today establishes His disciples as guardians of the new Israel of God, the Church (see Galatians 6:16).

He also puts in place procedures for dealing with sin and breaches of the faith, building on rules of discipline prescribed by Moses for Israel (see Leviticus 19:17–20; Deuteronomy 19:13).

The heads of the new Israel, however, receive extraordinary powers—similar to those given to Peter (see Matthew 16:19). They have the power to bind and loose, to forgive sins and to reconcile sinners in His name (see John 20:21–23).

But the powers He gives the Apostles and their successors depends on their communion with Him. As Ezekiel is only to teach what he hears God saying, the disciples are to gather in His name and to pray and seek the will of our heavenly Father.

But today’s readings are more than a lesson in Church order. They also suggest how we’re to deal with those who trespass against us, a theme that we’ll hear in next week’s readings as well.

Notice that both the Gospel and the First Reading presume that believers have a duty to correct sinners in our midst. Ezekiel is even told that he will be held accountable for their souls if he fails to speak out and try to correct them.
This is the love that Paul in today’s Epistle says we owe to our neighbors. To love our neighbors as ourselves is to be vitally concerned for their salvation. We must make every effort, as Jesus says, to win our brothers and sisters back, to turn them from the false paths.
We should never correct out of anger or a desire to punish. Instead, our message must be that of today’s Psalm—urging the sinner to hear God’s voice, not to harden their hearts, and to remember that He is the one who made us, and the rock of our salvation.


For Your Life: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Jeremiah 20:7–9
Psalm 63:2–6, 8–9
Romans 12:1–2
Matthew 16:21–27

Today’s First Reading catches the prophet Jeremiah in a moment of weakness. His intimate lamentation contains some of the strongest language of doubt found in the Bible. Following God’s call, he feels abandoned. Preaching His Word has brought him only derision and reproach.

But God does not deceive—and Jeremiah knows this. God tests the just (see Jeremiah 20:11–12), and disciplines His children through their sufferings and trials (see Hebrews 12:5–7).

What Jeremiah learns, Jesus states explicitly in today’s Gospel. To follow Him is to take up a cross, to deny yourself—your priorities, preferences, and comforts. It is to be willing to give it all up, even life itself, for the sake of His gospel. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we have to join ourselves to the passion of Christ, to offer our bodies—our whole beings—as living sacrifices to God.

By His Cross, Jesus has shown us what Israel’s sacrifices of animals were meant to teach: we owe to God all that we have.
God’s kindness is a greater good than life itself, as we sing in today’s Psalm. The only thanks we can offer is our spiritual worship—to give our lives to the service of His will (see Hebrews 10:3–11; Psalm 50:14, 23).

Peter doesn’t yet get this in today’s Gospel. As it was for Jeremiah, the cross is a stumbling block for Peter (see 1 Corinthians 1:23). This too is our natural temptation—to refuse to believe that our sufferings play a necessary part in God’s plan.

That’s how people think, Jesus tells us today. But we are called to the renewal of our minds—to think as God thinks, to will what He wills.

In the Mass, we once again offer ourselves as perfect and pleasing sacrifices of praise (see Hebrews 13:15). We bless Him as we live, confident that we will find our lives in losing them, that with the riches of His banquet, our souls will be satisfied.


‘Oh, the Depths!’: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 22:15, 19–23
Psalm 138:1–3, 6, 8
Romans 11:33–36
Matthew 16:13–20

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” Paul exclaims in today’s Epistle. Today’s Psalm, too, takes up the triumphant note of joy and thanksgiving. Why? Because in the Gospel, the heavenly Father reveals the mystery of His kingdom to Peter.

With Peter, we rejoice that Jesus is the anointed Son promised to David, the one prophesied to build God’s temple and reign over an everlasting kingdom (see 2 Samuel 7).

What Jesus calls “my Church” is the kingdom promised to David’s son (see Isaiah 9:1–7). As we hear in today’s First Reading, Isaiah foretold that the keys to David’s kingdom would be given to a new master, who would rule as father to God’s people.

Jesus, the root and offspring of David, alone holds the kingdom’s keys (see Revelation 1:18; 3:7; 22:16). In giving those keys to Peter, Jesus fulfills that prophecy, establishing Peter—and all who succeed him—as holy father of His Church.

His Church, too, is the new house of God—the spiritual temple founded on the “rock” of Peter, and built up out of the living stones of individual believers (see 1 Peter 2:5).
Abraham was called “the rock” from which the children of Israel were hewn (see Isaiah 51:1–2). And Peter becomes the rock from which God raises up new children of God (see Matthew 3:9).

The word Jesus uses—“church” (ekklesia in Greek)—was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for the “assembly” of God’s children after the Exodus (see Deuteronomy 18:16; 31:30).

His Church is the “assembly of the firstborn” (see Hebrews 12:23; Exodus 4:23–24), established by Jesus’ exodus (see Luke 9:31). Like the Israelites, we are baptized in water, led by the Rock, and fed with spiritual food (see 1 Corinthians 10:1–5).

Gathered at His altar, in the presence of angels, we sing His praise and give thanks to His holy name.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 15, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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A Foreigner’s Faith: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 56:1, 6–7
Psalm 67:2–3, 5, 6, 8
Romans 11:13–15, 29–32
Matthew 15:21–28

Most of us are the foreigners, the non-Israelites, about whom today’s First Reading prophesies.

Coming to worship the God of Israel, we stand in the line of faith epitomized by the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel. Calling to Jesus as Lord and Son of David, this foreigner shows her great faith in God’s covenant with Israel.
Jesus tests her faith three times. He refuses to answer her cry. Then, He tells her His mission is only to Israelites. Finally, He uses “dog,” an epithet used to disparage non-Israelites (see Matthew 7:6). Yet she persists, believing that He alone offers salvation.

In this family drama, we see fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy and the promise we sing of in today’s Psalm. In Jesus, God makes known among all the nations His way and His salvation (see John 14:6).

At the start of salvation history, God called Abraham (see Genesis 12:2). He chose his offspring, Israel, from all the nations on the face of the earth to build His covenant kingdom (see Deuteronomy 7:6–8; Isaiah 41:8).

In God’s plan, Abraham was to be the father of many nations (see Romans 4:16–17). Israel was to be the firstborn of a worldwide family of God, made up of all who believe what the Canaanite professes—that Jesus is Lord (see Exodus 4:22–23; Romans 5:13–24).

Jesus came first to restore the kingdom to Israel (see Acts 1:6; 13:46). But His ultimate mission was the reconciliation of the world, as Paul declares in today’s Epistle.

In the Mass we join all peoples in doing Him homage. As Isaiah foretold, we come to His holy mountain, the heavenly Jerusalem, to offer sacrifice at His altar (see Hebrews 12:22–24, 28). With the Canaanite, we take our place at the Master’s table to be fed as His children


Sinking Fear: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

1 Kings 19:9, 11–13
Psalm 85:9–14
Romans 9:1–5
Matthew 14:22–33

How do we find God in the storms and struggles of our lives, in the trials we encounter in trying to do His will?

God commands Elijah in today’s First Reading to stand on the mountain and await His passing by. And in the Gospel, Jesus makes the disciples set out across the waters to meet Him.

In each case, the Lord makes himself present amid frightening tumult—heavy winds and high waves, fire and earthquakes.

Elijah hides his face. Perhaps he remembers Moses, who met God on the same mountain, also amid fire, thunder, and smoke (see Deuteronomy 4:10–15; Exodus 19:17–19). God told Moses no one could see His face and live, and He sheltered Moses in the hollow of a rock, as He shelters Elijah in a cave (see Exodus 33:18–23).

The disciples, likewise, are too terrified to look on the face of God. Today’s Gospel is a revelation of Jesus’ divine identity. Only God treads across the crest of the sea (see Job 9:8) and rules the raging waters (see Psalm 89:9–10). And the words of assurance that Jesus speaks—“It is I”—are those God used to identify himself to Moses (see Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10).
Even Peter is too overcome by fear to imitate his Lord. His fears, Jesus tells him, are a sign of his lack of faith. And so it often is with us. Our fears make us doubt, make it hard to see His glory dwelling in our midst.

Yet, we should know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that His salvation is near to those who hope in Him. By faith we should know, as Paul asserts in today’s Epistle, that we are heirs to the promises made to His children, Israel.

We must trust that He whispers to us in the trials of our lives—that He who has called us to walk along the way of His steps. He will save us whenever we begin to sink.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 1, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Food in Due Season: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 55:1–3
Psalm 145:8–9, 15–18
Romans 8:35, 37–39
Matthew 14:13–21

In Jesus and the Church, Isaiah’s promises in today’s First Reading are fulfilled. All who are thirsty come to the living waters of Baptism (see John 4:14). The hungry delight in rich fare—given bread to eat and wine to drink at the Eucharistic table.

This is the point, too, of today’s Gospel. The story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 brims with allusions to the Old Testament.

Jesus is portrayed as a David-like shepherd who leads His flock to lie down on green grass as He spreads the table of the Messiah’s banquet before them (see Psalm 23).

Jesus is shown as a new Moses, who likewise feeds vast crowds in a deserted place. Finally, Jesus is shown doing what the prophet Elisha did—satisfying the hunger of the crowd with a few loaves and having some left over (see 2 Kings 4:42–44).

Matthew also wants us to see the feeding of the 5,000 as a sign of the Eucharist. Notice that Jesus performs the same actions in the same sequence as at the Last Supper—He takes bread, says a blessing, breaks it, and gives it (see Matthew 26:26).

Jesus instructed His Apostles to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him. And the ministry of the Twelve is subtly stressed in today’s account. Before He performs the miracle, Jesus instructs the Twelve to give the crowd “some food yourselves.”

Indeed, the Apostles themselves distribute the bread blessed by Jesus (see Matthew 15:36).

And the leftovers are enough to fill precisely 12 baskets—corresponding to each of the Apostles, the pillars of the Church (see Galatians 2:9; Revelation 21:14).

In the Church, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God gives us food in due season, opens His hands and satisfies the desires of every living thing. Now, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.


Treasures of the Kingdom: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

1 Kings 3:5, 7–12
Psalm 119:57, 72, 76–77, 127–130
Romans 8:28–30
Matthew 13:44–52

What is your new life in Christ worth to you?
Do you love His words more than gold and silver, as we sing in today’s Psalm? Would you, like the characters in the Gospel today, sell all that you have in order to possess the kingdom He promises to us? If God were to grant any wish, would you follow Solomon’s example in today’s First Reading—asking not for a long life or riches, but for wisdom to know God’s ways and to desire His will?

The background for today’s Gospel, as it has been for the past several weeks, is the rejection of Jesus’ preaching by Israel. The kingdom of heaven has come into their midst, yet many cannot see that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises, a gift of divine compassion given that they—and we—might live.
We too must ever discover the kingdom anew, to find it as a treasure—a pearl of great price. By comparison with the kingdom, we must count all else as rubbish (see Philippians 3:8). And we must be willing to give up all that we have—all our priorities and plans—in order to gain it.

Jesus’ Gospel discloses what Paul, in today’s Epistle, calls the purpose of God’s plan (see Ephesians 1:4). That purpose is that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers.
His words give understanding to the simple, the childlike. As Solomon does today, we must humble ourselves before God, giving ourselves to His service. Let our prayer be for an understanding heart, one that desires only to do His will.

We are called to love God, to delight in His law, and to forsake every false way. And we are to conform ourselves daily ever more closely to the image of His Son.

If we do this, we can approach His altar as a pleasing sacrifice, confident that all things work for the good—that we whom He has justified will also one day be glorified.


Of Wheat and Weeds: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Wisdom 12:13, 16–19
Psalm 86:5–6, 9–10, 15–16
Romans 8:26–27
Matthew 13:24–43

God is always teaching His people, we hear in today’s First Reading.

And what does He want us to know? That He has care for all of us, that though He is a God of justice, even those who defy and disbelieve Him may hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance.

This divine teaching continues in the three parables that Jesus tells in the Gospel today. Each describes the emergence of the kingdom of God from the seeds sown by His works and preaching. The kingdom’s growth is hidden—like the working of yeast in bread; it’s improbable, unexpected—as in the way the tall mustard tree grows from the smallest of seeds.

Again this week’s readings sound a note of questioning: Why does God permit the evil to grow alongside the good? Why does He permit some to reject the Word of His kingdom?

Because, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He is just, Jesus assures us—evildoers and those who cause others to sin will be thrown into the fiery furnace at the end of the age. But by His patience, God is teaching us—that above all He desires repentance, and the gathering of all nations to worship Him and to glorify His name.

Even though we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit will intercede for us, Paul promises in today’s Epistle. But first we must turn and call upon Him, we must commit ourselves to letting the good seed of His Word bear fruit in our lives.

So we should not be deceived or lose heart when we see weeds among the wheat, truth and holiness mixed with error, injustice and sin.

For now, He makes His sun rise on the good and the bad (see Matthew 5:45). But the harvest draws near. Let’s work that we might be numbered among the righteous children—who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.


The Word’s Return: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 55:10–11 Psalm 65:10–14 Romans 8:18–23 Matthew 13:1–23
Today’s readings, like last week’s, ask us to meditate on Israel’s response to God’s Word—and our own. Why do some hear the word of the kingdom, yet fail to accept it as a call to conversion and faith in Jesus? That question underlies today’s Gospel, especially.

Again we see, as we did last week, that the kingdom’s mysteries are unfolded to those who open their hearts, making of them a rich soil in which the Word can grow and bear fruit.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, in Jesus, God’s Word has visited our land, to water the stony earth of our hearts with the living waters of the Spirit (see John 7:38; Revelation 22:1).

The firstfruit of the Word is the Spirit of love and adoption poured into our hearts in Baptism, making us children of God, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle (see Romans 5:5; 8:15–16). In this, we are made a “new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), the firstfruits of a new heaven and a new earth (see 2 Peter 3:13).

Since the first humans rejected God’s Word, creation has been enslaved to futility (see Genesis 3:17–19; 5:29). But God’s Word does not go forth only to return to Him void, as we hear in today’s First Reading.

His Word awaits our response. We must show ourselves to be children of that Word. We must allow that Word to accomplish God’s will in our lives. As Jesus warns today, we must take care lest the devil steal it away or lest it be choked by worldly concerns.

In the Eucharist, the Word gives Himself to us as bread to eat. He does so that we might be made fertile, yielding fruits of holiness.

And we await the crowning of the year, the great harvest of the Lord’s Day (see Mark 4:29; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10)—when His Word will have achieved the end for which it was sent.


A Yoke for the Childlike: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Zechariah 9:9–10
Psalm 145:1–2, 8–11, 13–14
Romans 8:9, 11–13
Matthew 11:25–30

Jesus is portrayed in today’s Gospel as a new and greater Moses.

Moses, the meekest man on earth (see Numbers 12:3), was God’s friend (see Exodus 34:12, 17). Only he knew God “face to face” (see Deuteronomy 34:10). And Moses gave Israel the yoke of the Law,
through which God first revealed Himself and how we are to live (see Jeremiah 2:20; 5:5).

Jesus too is meek and humble. But He is more than God’s friend. He is the Son who alone knows the Father. He is more also than a law-giver, presenting Himself today as the yoke of a new Law, and as the revealed Wisdom of God.

As Wisdom, Jesus was present before creation as the firstborn of God, the Father and Lord of heaven and earth (see Proverbs 8:22; Wisdom 9:9). And He gives knowledge of the holy things of the kingdom of God (see Wisdom 10:10).

In the gracious will of the Father, Jesus reveals these things only to the “childlike”—those who humble themselves before Him as little children (see Sirach 2:17). These alone can recognize and receive Jesus as the just savior and meek king promised to daughter Zion, Israel, in today’s First Reading.

We too are called to childlike faith in the Father’s goodness, as sons and daughters of the new kingdom, the Church.

We are to live by the Spirit we received in Baptism (see Galatians 5:16), putting to death our old ways of thinking and acting, as Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle. Our “yoke” is to be His new law of love (see John 13:34), by which we enter into the “rest” of His kingdom.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, we joyously await the day when we will praise His name forever in the kingdom that lasts for all ages. This is the sabbath rest promised by Jesus—first anticipated by Moses (see Exodus 20:8–11), but which still awaits the people of God (see Hebrews 4:9).

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: June 20, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Be Not Afraid: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Jeremiah 20:10–13
Psalm 69:8–10, 14, 17, 33–35
Romans 5:12–15
Matthew 10:26–33

Our commitment to Christ will be put to the test.
We will hear whispered warnings and denunciations, as Jeremiah does in today’s First Reading. Even so-called friends will try to trap us and trip us up.

For His sake we will bear insults and be made outcasts—even in our own homes, we hear in today’s Psalm.

As Jeremiah tells us, we must expect that God will challenge our faith in Him, and probe our minds and hearts, to test the depths of our love.
“Do not be afraid,” Jesus assures us three times in today’s Gospel.

Though He may permit us to suffer for our faith, our Father will never forget or abandon us. As Jesus assures us today, everything unfolds in His Providence, under His watchful gaze—even the falling of the tiniest sparrow to the ground. Each one of us is precious to Him.

Steadfast in this faith, we must resist the tactics of Satan. He is the enemy who seeks the ruin of our soul in Gehenna, or hell.
We are to seek God, as the Psalmist says. Zeal for the Lord’s house, for the heavenly kingdom of the Father, should consume us, as it consumed Jesus (see John 2:17). As Jesus bore the insults of those who blasphemed God, so should we (see Romans 15:3).

By the gracious gift of himself, Jesus bore the transgressions of the world, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. In rising from the dead, He has shown us that God rescues the life of the poor, that He does not spurn His own when they are in distress. In His great mercy, He will turn toward us, as well. He will deliver us from the power of the wicked.

That is why we proclaim His name from the housetops, as Jesus tells us. That is why we sing praise and offer thanksgiving in every Eucharist. We are confident in Jesus’ promise—that we who declare our faith in Him before others will be remembered before our heavenly Father.

Trinity Sunday

Posted: June 6, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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How God Loves: Scott Hahn Reflects on Trinity Sunday

Readings:

Exodus 34:4–6, 8–9
Daniel 3:52–56
2 Corinthians 13:11–13
John 3:16–18

We often begin Mass with the prayer from today’s Epistle: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” We praise the God who has revealed Himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.
Communion with the Trinity is the goal of our worship—and the purpose of the salvation history that begins in the Bible and continues in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church.
We see the beginnings of God’s self-revelation in today’s First Reading, as He passes before Moses and cries out His holy name. Israel had sinned in worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 32). But God does not condemn them to perish. Instead, He proclaims His mercy and faithfulness to His covenant.

God loved Israel as His firstborn son among the nations (see Exodus 4:22). Through Israel—heirs of His covenant with Abraham—God planned to reveal Himself as the Father of all nations (see
Genesis 22:18).

The memory of God’s covenant testing of Abraham—and Abraham’s faithful obedience—lies behind today’s Gospel.
In commanding Abraham to offer his only beloved son (see Genesis 22:2, 12, 16), God was preparing us for the fullest possible revelation of His love for the world.

As Abraham was willing to offer Isaac, God did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all (see Romans 8:32).

In this, He revealed what was only disclosed partially to Moses—that His kindness continues for a thousand generations, that He forgives our sin, and that He takes us back as His very own people (see Deuteronomy 4:20; 9:29).
Jesus humbled himself to die in obedience to God’s will. And for this, the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead (see Romans 8:11), and gave Him a name above every name (see Philippians 2:8–10).

This is the name we glorify in today’s Responsorial—the name of our Lord, the God who is Love (see 1 John 4;8, 16).

Pentecost Sunday

Posted: May 30, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A Mighty Wind: Scott Hahn Reflects on Pentecost Sunday

Readings:

Acts 2:1–11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34
1 Corinthians 12:3–7, 12–13
John 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 (see 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 (see 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 (see 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 (see 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 (see Genesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 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 (see also John 7:37–39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a “new creation” in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 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 in Easter

Posted: May 24, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Knowing God: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventh Sunday in Easter

Readings:

Acts 1:12—14
Psalm 27:1, 4, 7—8
1 Peter 4:13—16
John 17:1—11

Jesus has been taken up into heaven as we begin today’s First Reading. His disciples—including the Apostles and Mary—return to the upper room where He celebrated the Last Supper (see Luke 22:12).
There, they devote themselves with one accord to prayer, awaiting the Spirit that He promised would come upon them (see Acts 1:8).
The unity of the early Church at Jerusalem is a sign of the oneness that Christ prays for in today’s Gospel. The Church is to be a communion on earth that mirrors the glorious union of Father, Son, and Spirit in the Trinity.

Jesus has proclaimed God’s name to His brethren (see Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 22:23). The prophets had foretold this revelation—a new covenant by which all flesh would have knowledge of the Lord (see Jeremiah 31:33–34; Habakkuk 2:14).

By the new covenant made in His blood and remembered in every Eucharist, we know God as our Father. This is the eternal life Jesus promises. And this is the light and salvation we sing of in today’s Psalm.

As God made light to shine out of darkness when the world began, He has enlightened us in Baptism, making us new creations (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), giving us knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (see Hebrews 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Our new life is a gift of “the Spirit of glory,” we hear in today’s Epistle (see John 7:38–39). Made one in His name, we are given a new name—“Christians”—a name used only here and in two other places in the Bible (see Acts 11:16; 26:28). We are to glorify God, though we will be insulted and suffer because of this name.

But as we share in His sufferings, we know we will overcome (see Revelation 3:12) and rejoice when His glory is once more revealed. And we will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 16, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Alive in the Spirit: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 8:5–8, 14–17
Psalm 66:1–7, 16, 20
1 Peter 3:15–18
John 14:15–21

Jesus will not leave us alone. He won’t make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us “orphans,” He assures us in today’s Gospel (see Romans 8:14–17).
He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.
We see the promised gift of His Spirit being conferred in today’s First Reading.
The scene from Acts apparently depicts a primitive Confirmation rite. Philip, one of the first deacons (see Acts 6:5), proclaims the Gospel in the non-Jewish city of Samaria. The Samaritans accept the Word of God (see Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) and are baptized.

It remains for the Apostles to send their representatives, Peter and John, to pray and lay hands on the newly baptized—that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of our sacrament of Confirmation (see Acts 19:5–6), by which the grace of Baptism is completed and believers are sealed with the Spirit promised by the Lord.

We remain in this grace so long as we love Christ and keep His commandments. And strengthened in the Spirit whom Jesus said would be our Advocate, we are called to bear witness to our salvation—to the tremendous deeds that God has done for us in the name of His Son.

In today’s Psalm, we celebrate our liberation. As He changed the sea into dry land to free the captive Israelites, Christ suffered that He might lead us to God, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

This is the reason for our hope—the hope that sustains us in the face of a world that cannot accept His truth, the hope that sustains us when we are maligned and defamed for His name’s sake.

Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit, Paul tells us today. And as He himself promises: “Because I live, you will live.”


What Are We To Do?: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday in Easter

Readings:
Acts 2:14, 36–41
Psalm 23:1–6
1 Peter 2:20–25
John 10:1–10

Easter’s empty tomb is a call to conversion.
By this tomb, we should know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah, as Peter preaches in today’s First Reading.

He is the “Lord,” the divine Son that David foresaw at God’s right hand (see Psalm 3; 110:1; 132:10–11; and Acts 2:34). And He is the Messiah that God had promised to shepherd the scattered flock of the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:11–14, 23; 37:24).

As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus is that Good Shepherd, sent to a people who were like sheep without a shepherd (see Mark 6:34; Numbers 27:16–17). He calls not only to the children of Israel, but to all those far off from Him—to whomever the Lord wishes to hear His voice.

The call of the Good Shepherd leads to the restful waters of Baptism, to the anointing oil of Confirmation, and to the table and overflowing cup of the Eucharist, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Again on this Sunday in Easter, we hear His voice calling us His own. He should awaken in us the response of those who heard Peter’s preaching. “What are we to do?” they cried.
We have been baptized. But each of us goes astray like sheep, as we hear in today’s Epistle. We still need daily to repent, to seek forgiveness of our sins, to separate ourselves further from this corrupt generation.
We are called to follow in the footsteps of the Shepherd of our souls. By His suffering He bore our sins in His body to free us from sin. But His suffering is also an example for us. From Him we should learn patience in our afflictions, to hand ourselves over to the will of God.

Jesus has gone ahead, driven us through the dark valley of evil and death. His Cross has become the narrow gate through which we must pass to reach His empty tomb—the verdant pastures of life abundant.


Emmaus and Us: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Easter

Readings:
Acts 2:1422–28
Psalm 16:1–257–11
1 Peter 1:17–21
Luke 24:13–35
 
We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in today’s Gospel. Downcast and confused, they’re making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred.

They know what they’ve seen—a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for—that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don’t know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.
They can’t even recognize Jesus as He draws near to walk with them. He seems like just another foreigner visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

Note that Jesus doesn’t disclose His identity until they they describe how they found His tomb empty but “Him they did not see.” That’s how it is with us, too. Unless He revealed himself we would see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death.
How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets “all the Scriptures” as referring to Him. In today’s First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ’s death according to the Father’s “set plan”—foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is described as a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. He is the One of whom David sang in today’s Psalm—whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life.

After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table takes bread, blesses it, brakes it, and gives it to the disciples—exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14–20).
In every Eucharist, we reenact that Easter Sunday at Emmaus. Jesus reveals Himself to us in our journey. He speaks to our hearts in the Scriptures. Then at the table of the altar, in the person of the priest, He breaks the bread.

The disciples beg him, “Stay with us.” So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, in the Eucharist—as at Emmaus—we know Him in the breaking of the bread.


His Mercy Endures: Scott Hahn Reflects on Divine Mercy Sunday

Readings:
Acts 2:42–47
Psalm 118:2–413–1522–24
1 Peter 1:3–9
John 20:19–31
 
We are children of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. Through this wondrous sign of His great mercy, the Father of Jesus has given us new birth, as we hear in today’s Epistle.
Today’s First Reading sketches the “family life” of our first ancestors in the household of God (see 1 Peter 4:17). We see them doing what we still do—devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, meeting daily to pray and celebrate “the breaking of the bread.”
The Apostles saw the Lord. He stood in their midst, showed them His hands and sides. They heard His blessing and received His commission—to extend the Father’s mercy to all peoples through the power and Spirit He conferred upon them.

We must walk by faith and not by sight, must believe and love what we have not seen (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet the invisible realities are made present for us through the devotions the Apostles handed on.

Notice the experience of the risen Lord in today’s Gospel is described in a way that evokes the Mass.

Both appearances take place on a Sunday. The Lord comes to be with His disciples. They rejoice, listen to His Word, receive the gift of His forgiveness and peace. He offers His wounded body to them in remembrance of His Passion. And they know and worship Him as their Lord and their God.

Thomas’ confession is a vow of faith in the new covenant. As promised long before, in the blood of Jesus we can now know the Lord as our God and be known as His people (see Hosea 2:20–25).

This confession is sung in the heavenly liturgy (see Revelation 4:11). And in every Mass on earth we renew our covenant and receive the blessings Jesus promised for those who have not seen but have believed.

In the Mass, God’s mercy endures forever, as we sing in today’s Psalm. This is the day the Lord has made—when the victory of Easter is again made wonderful in our eyes.

Easter Sunday

Posted: April 11, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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They Saw and Believed: Scott Hahn Reflects on Easter Sunday

Readings:

Acts 10:34, 37–43
Psalm 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23
Colossians 3:1–4
John 20:1–9

Jesus is nowhere visible. Yet today’s Gospel tells us that Peter and John “saw and believed.”

What did they see? Burial shrouds lying on the floor of an empty tomb. Maybe that convinced them that He hadn’t been carted off by grave robbers, who usually stole the expensive burial linens and left the corpses behind.

But notice the repetition of the word “tomb”—seven times in nine verses. They saw the empty tomb and they believed what He had promised: that God would raise Him on the third day.

Chosen to be His “witnesses,” today’s First Reading tells us, the Apostles were “commissioned . . . to preach . . . and testify” to all that they had seen—from His anointing with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan to the empty tomb.

More than their own experience, they were instructed in the mysteries of the divine economy, God’s saving plan—to know how “all the prophets bear witness” to Him (see Luke 24:27, 44).
Now they could “understand the Scripture,” could teach us what He had told them—that He was “the Stone which the builders rejected,” who, today’s Psalm prophesies, will be resurrected and exalted. (see Luke 20:17; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11).

We are the children of the apostolic witnesses. That is why we still gather early in the morning on the first day of every week to celebrate this feast of the empty tomb and give thanks for “Christ our life,” as today’s Epistle calls Him.

Baptized into His death and Resurrection, we live the heavenly life of the risen Christ, our lives “hidden with Christ in God.” We are now His witnesses, too. But we testify to things we cannot see but only believe; we seek in earthly things what is above.
We live in memory of the Apostles’ witness, like them eating and drinking with the risen Lord at the altar. And we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come—the day when we too “will appear with Him in glory.”

Passion Sunday

Posted: April 4, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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All Is Fulfilled: Scott Hahn Reflects on Passion Sunday


Readings:

Isaiah 50:4–7
Psalm 22:8–917–2023–24
Philippians 2:6–11
Matthew 26:14–27:66
 
“All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Matthew 26:56).
Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

By the close of today’s long Gospel, the work of our redemption will have been accomplished, the new covenant will be written in the blood of His broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull.

In His Passion, Jesus is “counted among the wicked,” as Isaiah had foretold (see Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant the prophet announced, the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today’s First Reading and Psalm.

The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (see Matthew 27:31), as His hands and feet are pierced, as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Matthew 27:35), and as His enemies dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Matthew 27:39–44).

He remains faithful to God’s will to the end, does not turn back in His trial. He gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, as He speaks in today’s First Reading: “The Lord God is My help. . . . I shall not be put to shame.”

Destined to sin and death as children of Adam’s disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father’s will (see Romans 5:12–1417–19Ephesians 2:25:6).

This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in His Name. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know we will never be forsaken. We know, as the centurion today, that truly this is the Son of God (see Matthew 27:54).

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.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 8, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Light Breaking Forth: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings

Isaiah 58:7–10
Psalm 112:4–9
1 Corinthians 2:1–5
Matthew 5:13–16

Jesus came among us as light to scatter the darkness of a fallen world.
As His disciples, we too are called to be “the light of the world,” He tells us in the Gospel this Sunday (see John 1:4–4, 9; 8:12; 9:5).

All three images that Jesus uses to describe the Church are associated with the identity and vocation of Israel.
God forever aligned His kingdom with the kingdom of David and his sons by a “covenant of salt,” salt being a sign of permanence and purity (see 2 Chronicles 13:5, 8; Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 43:24).

Jerusalem was to be a city set on a hill, high above all others, drawing all nations towards the glorious light streaming from her Temple (see Isaiah 2:2; 60:1–3).
And Israel was given the mission of being a light to the nations, that God’s salvation would reach to the ends of the earth (see Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).

The liturgy shows us this week that the Church, and every Christian, is called to fulfill Israel’s mission.
By our faith and good works we are to make the light of God’s life break forth in the darkness, as we sing in this week’s Psalm.

This week’s readings remind us that our faith can never be a private affair, something we can hide as if under a basket.
We are to pour ourselves out for the afflicted, as Isaiah tells us in the First Reading. Our light must shine as a ray of God’s mercy for all who are poor, hungry, naked, and enslaved.

There must be a transparent quality to our lives. Our friends and family, our neighbors and fellow citizens, should see reflected in us the light of Christ and through us be attracted to the saving truths of the Gospel.
So let us pray that we, like St. Paul in the Epistle, might proclaim with our whole lives, “Christ and him crucified.”


Presenting the Present: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Presentation

Readings:

Malachi 3:1–4
Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Hebrews 2:14–18
Luke 2:22–40

Today’s feast marks the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple, forty days after he was born. As the firstborn, he belonged to God. According to the Law, Mary and Joseph were required to take him to the Temple and “redeem” him by paying five shekels. At the same time, the Law required the child’s mother to offer sacrifice in order to overcome the ritual impurity brought about by childbirth.

So the feast we celebrate shows a curious turn of events. The Redeemer seems to be redeemed. She who is all-pure presents herself to be purified. Such is the humility of our God. Such is the humility of the Blessed Virgin. They submit to the law even though they are not bound by it.

However, the Gospel story nowhere mentions Jesus’ “redemption,” but seems to describe instead a religious consecration—such as a priest might undergo. Saint Luke tells us that Jesus is “presented” in the Temple, using the same verb that Saint Paul uses to describe the offering of a sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Another parallel is the Old Testament dedication of Samuel (1 Sam 1:24-27) to the Temple as a priest.

The drama surrounding Jesus’ conception and birth began in the Temple—when the Archangel visited Mary’s kinsman, Zechariah the priest. And now the story of Jesus’ infancy comes to a fitting conclusion, again in the Temple.

All the readings today concern Jerusalem, the Temple, and the sacrificial rites. The first reading comes from the Prophet Malachi, who called the priests to return to faithful service—and foretold a day when a Messiah would arrive with definitive purification of the priesthood.

Likewise, the Psalm announces to Jerusalem that Jerusalem is about to receive a great visitor. The Psalmist identifies him as “The LORD of hosts . . . the king of glory.”
Christ now arrives as the long-awaited priest and redeemer. He is also the sacrifice. Indeed, as his life will show, He is the Temple itself (see John 2:19-21).

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 25, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

History Redeemed: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 8:23–9:3
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14
1 Corinthians 1:10–13, 17
Matthew 4:12–23

Today’s liturgy gives us a lesson in ancient Israelite geography and history.
Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s First Reading is quoted by Matthew in today’s Gospel. Both intend to recall the apparent fall of the everlasting kingdom promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Psalm 89; 132:11–12).

Eight centuries before Christ, that part of the kingdom where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali lived was attacked by the Assyrians, and the tribes were hauled off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).

It marked the beginning of the kingdom’s end. It finally crumbled in the sixth century BC, when Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and the remaining tribes were driven into exile (see 2 Kings 24:14).

Isaiah prophesied that Zebulun and Naphtali, the lands first to be degraded, would be the first to see the light of God’s salvation. Jesus today fulfills that prophecy—announcing the restoration of David’s kingdom at precisely the spot where the kingdom began to fall.

His Gospel of the Kingdom includes not only the twelve tribes of Israel but all the nations—symbolized by the “Galilee of the Nations.” Calling His first disciples, two fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, He appoints them to be “fishers of men”—gathering people from the ends of the earth.

They are to preach the Gospel, Paul says in today’s Epistle, to unite all peoples in the same mind and in the same purpose—in a worldwide kingdom of God.

By their preaching, Isaiah’s promise has been delivered. A world in darkness has seen the light. The yoke of slavery and sin, borne by humanity since time began, has been smashed.
And we are able now, as we sing in today’s Psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord, to worship Him in the land of the living.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 18, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Perfect Offering: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 49:3, 5–6
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7–10
1 Corinthians 1:1–3
John 1:29–34

Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: “‘You are My servant,’ He said to Me.” Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus—to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46–47).

Before the first exodus, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites’ door posts. The blood of the lamb identified their homes and the Lord “passed over” these in executing judgment on the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:1–23, 27).

In the new exodus, Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” as John beholds Him in the Gospel today (see 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18–19). Our Lord sings of this in today’s Psalm. He has come, He says, to offer His body to do the will of God (see Hebrews 10:3–13).
The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach (see Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice—that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.

Only Jesus could make that perfect offering of Himself. And through His sacrifice, He has given us ears open to obedience, He has made it possible for us to hear the Father’s call to holiness, as Paul says in today’s Epistle.
He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, to offer our bodies—our lives—as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (see Romans 12:1).

Baptism of the Lord

Posted: January 11, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Anointed Ones: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Baptism of the Lord

Readings:

Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10
Acts 10:34–38
Matthew 3:13–17

Jesus presents himself for baptism in today’s Gospel not because He is a sinner, but to fulfill the word of God proclaimed by His prophets. He must be baptized to reveal that He is the Christ (“anointed one”)—the Spirit-endowed Servant promised by Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

His baptism marks the start of a new world, a new creation. As Isaiah prophesied, the Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove—as the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep in the beginning (see Genesis 1:2).
As it was in the beginning, at the Jordan also the majestic voice of the Lord thunders above the waters. The Father opens the heavens and declares Jesus to be His “beloved son.”

God had long prepared the Israelites for His coming, as Peter preaches in today’s Second Reading. Jesus was anticipated in the “beloved son” given to Abraham (see Genesis 22:2, 12, 26), and in the calling of Israel as His “first-born son” (see Exodus 4:22–23). Jesus is the divine son begotten by God, the everlasting heir promised to King David (see Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14).

He is “a covenant of the people [Israel]” and “a light to the nations,” Isaiah says. By the new covenant made in His blood (see 1 Corinthians 11:25), God has gathered the lost sheep of Israel together with whoever fears Him in every nation.

Christ has become the source from which God pours out His Spirit on Israelites and Gentiles alike (see Acts 10:45). In Baptism, all are anointed with that same Spirit, made beloved sons and daughters of God. Indeed, we are Christians—literally “anointed ones.”

We are the “sons of God” in today’s Psalm—called to give glory to His name in His temple. Let us pray that we remain faithful to our calling as His children, that our Father might call us what he calls His Son, “my beloved . . . in whom I am well pleased.”

Feast of the Epiphany

Posted: January 4, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A King to Behold: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Epiphany

Readings:

Isaiah 60:1–6
Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 10–13
Ephesians 3:2–3, 5–6
Matthew 2:1–12

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights, and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise—one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1–3).

Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).
Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth” (see 1 Kings 10:2, 25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6, 14).
One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Feast of the Holy Family

Posted: December 28, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Saving Family: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Holy Family

Readings:
Sirach 3:2–6, 12–14
Psalm 128:1–5
Colossians 3:12–21
Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23

Underlying the wisdom offered in today’s liturgy is the mystery of the family in God’s divine plan.
The Lord has set father in honor over his children and mother in authority over her sons, we hear in today’s First Reading. As we sing in today’s Psalm, the blessings of the family flow from Zion, the heavenly mother of the royal people of God (see Isaiah 66:7, 10–13; Galatians 4:26).
And in the drama of today’s Gospel, we see the nucleus of the new people of God—the Holy Family—facing persecution from those who would seek to destroy the child and His Kingdom.
Moses, called to save God’s first born son, the people of Israel (see Exodus 4:22; Sirach 36:11), was also threatened at birth by a mad and jealous tyrant (see Exodus 1:15–16). And as Moses was saved by his mother and sister (see Exodus 2:1–10; 4:19), in God’s plan Jesus too is rescued by His family.

As once God took the family of Jacob down to Egypt to make them the great nation Israel (see Genesis 46:2–4), God leads the Holy Family to Egypt to prepare the coming of the new Israel of God—the Church (see Galatians 6:16).

At the beginning of the world, God established the family in the “marriage” of Adam and Eve, the two becoming one body (see Genesis 2:22–24). Now in the new creation, Christ is made “one body” with His bride, the Church, as today’s Epistle indicates (see Ephesians 5:21–32).
By this union we are made God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. And our families are to radiate the perfect love that binds us to Christ in the Church.

As we approach the altar on this feast, let us renew our commitment to our God-given duties as spouses, children and parents. Mindful of the promises of today’s First Reading, let us offer our quiet performance of these duties for the atonement of our sins.


God Is with Us: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Readings:

Isaiah 7:10–14
Psalm 24:1–6
Romans 1:1–7
Matthew 1:18–24

The mystery kept secret for long ages, promised through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, is today revealed (see Romans 16:25–26).
This is the “Gospel of God” that Paul celebrates in today’s Epistle—the good news that “God is with us” in Jesus Christ. The sign promised to the House of David in today’s First Reading is given in today’s Gospel. In the virgin found with child, God Himself has brought to Israel a savior from David’s royal line (see Acts 13:22–23).

Son of David according to the flesh, Jesus is the Son of God, born of the Spirit. He will be anointed with the Spirit (see Acts 10:38), and by the power of Spirit will be raised from the dead and established at God’s right hand in the heavens (see Acts 2:33–34; Ephesians 1:20–21).

He is the “King of Glory” we sing of in today’s Psalm. The earth in its fullness has been given to Him. And as God swore long ago to David, His Kingdom will have no end (see Psalm 89:4–5).

In Jesus Christ we have a new creation. Like the creation of the world, it is a work of the Spirit, a blessing from the Lord (see Genesis 1:2). In Him, we are saved from our sins, are called now “the beloved of God.”
All nations now are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to enter into the House of David and Kingdom of God, the Church. Together, through the obedience of faith, we have been made a new race—a royal people that seeks for the face of the God of Jacob.
He has made our hearts clean, made us worthy to enter His holy place, to stand in His presence and serve Him.

In the Eucharist, the everlasting covenant is renewed, the Advent promise of virgin with child—God with us—continues until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20; Ezekiel 37:24–28).

Third Sunday in Advent

Posted: December 14, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Here is Your God: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Advent

Readings:

Isaiah 35:1–6, 10
Psalm 146:6–10
James 5:7–10
Matthew 11:2–11

John questions Jesus from prison in today’s Gospel—for his disciples’ sake and for ours.
He knows that Jesus is doing “the works of the Messiah,” foretold in today’s First Reading and Psalm. But John wants his disciples—and us—to know that the Judge is at the gate, that in Jesus our God has come to save us.

The liturgy of Advent takes us out into the desert to see and hear the marvelous works and words of God—the lame leaping like a stag, the dead raised, the good news preached to the poor (see Isaiah 29:18–20; 61:1–2).

The liturgy does this to give us courage, to strengthen our feeble hands and make firm our weak knees. Our hearts can easily become frightened and weighed down by the hardships we face. We can lose patience in our sufferings as we await the coming of the Lord.

As James advises in today’s Epistle, we should take as our example the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Jesus also points us to a prophet—holding up John as a model. John knew that life was more than food, the body more than clothing. He sought the kingdom of God first, confident that God would provide (see Matthew 6:25–34). John did not complain. He did not lose faith. Even in chains in his prison cell, he was still sending his disciples—and us—to our Savior.
We come to Him again now in the Eucharist. Already He has caused the desert to bloom, the burning sands to become springs of living water. He has opened our ears to hear the words of the sacred book, freed our tongue to fill the air with songs of thanksgiving (see Isaiah 30:18).

Once bowed down, captives to sin and death, we have been ransomed and returned to His Kingdom, crowned with everlasting joy. Raised up we now stand before His altar to meet the One who is to come: “Here is your God.”

First Sunday in Advent

Posted: November 30, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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In a Dark Hour: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday in Advent

Readings:

Isaiah 2:1–5
Psalm 122:1–9
Romans 13:11–14
Matthew 24:37–44

Jesus exaggerates in today’s Gospel when He claims not to know the day or the hour when He will come again.
He occasionally makes such overstatements to drive home a point we might otherwise miss (see Matthew 5:34; 23:9; Luke 14:26).
His point here is that the exact “hour” is not important. What is crucial is that we not postpone our repentance, that we be ready for Him—spiritually and morally—when He comes. For He will surely come, He tells us—like a thief in the night, like the flood in the time of Noah.

In today’s Epistle, Paul too compares the present age to a time of advancing darkness and night.

Though we sit in the darkness, overshadowed by death, we have seen arise the great light of our Lord who has come into our midst (see Matthew 4:16; John 1:9; 8:12). He is the true light, the life of the world. And His light continues to shine in His Church, the new Jerusalem promised by Isaiah in today’s First Reading.
In the Church, all nations stream to the God of Jacob, to worship and seek wisdom in the House of David. From the Church goes forth His word of instruction, the light of the Lord—that all might walk in His paths toward that eternal day when night will be no more (see Revelation 22:5).

By our Baptism we have been made children of the light and day (see Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5–7). It is time we start living like it—throwing off the fruitless works of darkness, the desires of the flesh, and walking by the light of His grace.

The hour is late as we begin a new Advent. Let us begin again in this Eucharist.
As we sing in today’s Psalm, let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord. Let us give thanks to His name, keeping watch for His coming, knowing that our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.


“Today” is the Day: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Malachi 3:19–20
Psalm 98:5–9
2 Thessalonians 3:7–12
Luke 21:5–19

It is the age between our Lord’s first coming and His last. We live in the new world begun by His life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension, by the sending of His Spirit upon the Church. But we await the day when He will come again in glory.
“Lo, the day is coming,” Malachi warns in today’s First Reading. The prophets taught Israel to look for the Day of the Lord, when He would gather the nations for judgment (see Zephaniah 3:8; Isaiah 3:9; 2 Peter 3:7).
Jesus anticipates this day in today’s Gospel. He cautions us not to be deceived by those claiming “the time has come.” Such deception is the background also for today’s Epistle (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3).

The signs Jesus gives His Apostles seem to already have come to pass in the New Testament. In Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation, we read of famines and earthquakes, the Temple’s desolation. We read of persecutions—believers imprisoned and put to death, testifying to their faith with wisdom in the Spirit.

These “signs,” then, show us the pattern for the Church’s life—both in the New Testament and today.
We too live in a world of nations and kingdoms at war. And we should take the Apostles as our “models,” as today’s Epistle counsels. Like them we must persevere in the face of unbelieving relatives and friends, and forces and authorities hostile to God.

As we do in today’s Psalm, we should sing His praises, joyfully proclaim His coming as Lord and King. The Day of the Lord is always a day that has already come and a day still yet to come. It is the “today” of our Liturgy.

The Apostles prayed marana tha—“O Lord come!” (see 1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20). In the Eucharist He answers, coming again as the Lord of hosts and the Sun of Justice with its healing rays. It is a mighty sign—and a pledge of that Day to come.

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 9, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

To Rise Again: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

2 Maccabees 7:1–2, 9–14
Psalm 17:1, 5–6, 8, 15
2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5
Luke 20:27–38

With their riddle about seven brothers and a childless widow, the Sadducees in today’s Gospel mock the faith for which seven brothers and their mother die in the First Reading.

The Maccabean martyrs chose death—tortured limb by limb,
burned alive—rather than betray God’s Law. Their story is given to us in these last weeks of the Church year to strengthen us for endurance—that our feet might not falter but remain steadfast on His paths.

The Maccabeans died hoping that the “King of the World” would raise them to live again forever (see 2 Maccabees 14:46).

The Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection because they can’t find it literally taught in the Scriptures. To ridicule this belief they fix on a law that requires a woman to marry her husband’s brother if he should die without leaving an heir (see Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5).
But God’s Law wasn’t given to ensure the raising up of descendants to earthly fathers. The Law was given, as Jesus explains, to make us worthy to be “children of God”—sons and daughters born of His Resurrection.

“God our Father,” today’s Epistle tells us, has given us “everlasting encouragement” in the Resurrection of Christ. Through His grace, we can now direct our hearts to the love of God.

As the Maccabeans suffered for the Old Law, we will have to suffer for our faith in the New Covenant. Yet He will guard us in the shadow of His wing, keep us as the apple of His eye, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

The Maccabeans’ persecutors marveled at their courage. We too can glorify the Lord in our sufferings and in the daily sacrifices we make.

And we have even greater cause than they for hope. One who has risen from the dead has given us His word—that He is the God of the living, that when we awake from the sleep of death we will behold His face, and will be be content in His presence (see Psalm 76:6; Daniel 12:2).

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 2, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Lover of Souls: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Wisdom 11:22–12:2
Psalm 145:1–2, 8–11, 13–14
2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
Luke 19:1–10

Our Lord is a lover of souls, the Liturgy shows us today. As we sing in today’s Psalm, He is slow to anger and compassionate toward all that He has made.

In His mercy, our First Reading tells us, He overlooks our sins and ignorance, giving us space that we might repent and not perish in our sinfulness (see Wisdom 12:10; 2 Peter 3:9).

In Jesus, He has become the Savior of His children, coming Himself to save the lost (see Isaiah 63:8–9; Ezekiel 34:16).

In the figure of Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel, we have a portrait of a lost soul. He is a tax collector, by profession a “sinner” excluded from Israel’s religious life. Not only that, he is a “chief tax collector.” Worse still, he is a rich man who has apparently gained his living by fraud.

But Zacchaeus’ faith brings salvation to his house. He expresses his faith in his fervent desire to “see” Jesus, even humbling himself to climb a tree just to watch Him pass by. While those of loftier religious stature react to Jesus with grumbling, Zacchaeus receives Him with joy.

Zacchaeus is not like the other rich men Jesus meets or tells stories about (see Luke 12:16–21; 16:19–31; 18:18–25). He repents, vowing to pay restitution to those he has cheated and to give half of his money to the poor.

By his humility he is exalted, made worthy to welcome the Lord into his house. By his faith he is justified, made a descendant of Abraham (see Romans 4:16–17).

As He did last week, Jesus is again using a tax collector to show us the faith and humility we need to obtain salvation.

We are also called to seek Jesus daily with repentant hearts. And we should make our own Paul’s prayer in today’s Epistle: that God might make us worthy of His calling, that by our lives we might give glory to the name of Jesus

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 26, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

No Favorites: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Sirach 35:12–14, 16–18
Psalm 34:2–3, 17–19, 23
2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18
Luke 18:9–14

Jesus draws a blunt picture in today’s Gospel.
The Pharisee’s prayer is almost a parody of the thanksgiving psalms (see for example Psalms 30, 118). Instead of praising God for His mighty works, the Pharisee congratulates himself for his own deeds, which he presents to God in some detail.

The tax collector stands at a distance, too ashamed even to raise his eyes to God (see Ezra 9:6). He prays with a humble and contrite heart (see Psalm 51:19). He knows that before God no one is righteous, no one has cause to boast (see Roman 3:10; 4:2).
We see in the Liturgy today one of Scripture’s abiding themes—that God “knows no favorites,” as today’s First Reading tells us (see 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34–35; Romans 2:11).

God cannot be bribed (see Deuteronomy 10:17). We cannot curry favor with Him or impress Him—even with our good deeds or our faithful observance of religious duties such as tithing and fasting.

If we try to exalt ourselves before the Lord, as the Pharisee does, we will be brought low (see Luke 1:52).

This should be a warning to us not to take pride in our piety, not to slip into the self-righteousness of thinking that we’re better than others, that we’re “not like the rest of sinful humanity.”

If we clothe ourselves with humility (see 1 Peter 5:5–6)—recognize that all of us are sinners in need of His mercy—we will be exalted (see Proverbs 29:33).
The prayer of the lowly, the humble, pierces the clouds. Paul testifies to this in today’s Epistle, as he thanks the Lord for giving him strength during his imprisonment.

Paul tells us what the Psalmist sings today—that the Lord redeems the lives of His humble servants.
We too must serve Him willingly. And He will hear us in our distress, deliver us from evil, and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 19, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 12, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Returning Thanks: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

2 Kings 5:14–17
Psalm 98:1–4
2 Timothy 2:8–13
Luke 17:11–19

A foreign leper is cleansed and in thanksgiving returns to offer homage to the God of Israel. We hear this same story in both the First Reading and Gospel today.

There were many lepers in Israel in Elisha’s time, but only Naaman the Syrian trusted in God’s Word and was cleansed (see Luke 5:12–14). Today’s Gospel likewise implies that most of the ten lepers healed by Jesus were Israelites—but only a foreigner, the Samaritan, returned.

In a dramatic way, we’re being shown today how faith has been made the way to salvation, the road by which all nations will join themselves to the Lord, becoming His servants, gathered with the Israelites into one chosen people of God, the Church (see Isaiah 56:3–8).
Today’s Psalm also looks forward to the day when all peoples will see what Naaman sees—that there is no God in all the earth except the God of Israel.

We see this day arriving in today’s Gospel. The Samaritan leper is the only person in the New Testament who personally thanks Jesus. The Greek word used to describe his “giving thanks” is the word we translate as “Eucharist.”
And these lepers today reveal to us the inner dimensions of the Eucharist and sacramental life.

We, too have been healed by our faith in Jesus. As Naaman’s flesh is made again like that of a little child, our souls have been cleansed of sin in the waters of Baptism. We experience this cleansing again and again in the Sacrament of Penance—as we repent our sins, beg and receive mercy from our Master, Jesus.

We return to glorify God in each Mass, to offer ourselves in sacrifice—falling on our knees before our Lord, giving thanks for our salvation.
In this Eucharist, we remember “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David,” Israel’s covenant king. And we pray, as Paul does in today’s Epistle, to persevere in this faith—that we too may live and reign with Him in eternal glory.

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 5, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Life by Faith: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Habakkuk 1:2–3; 2:2–4
Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9
2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14
Luke 17:5–10

Because of his faith, the just man shall live. We hear in today’s First Reading the original prophetic line made so central by St. Paul (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

We are to live by faith in Christ who loved us and gave Himself on the Cross for us (see Galatians 2:20).

The world, though, can seem to us as seventh-century Judah seemed to Habakkuk—in the control of God’s enemies. The strife and discord we face in our own lives can sometimes cause us to wonder, as the prophet does, why God doesn’t seem to hear or intervene when we cry for help.
We can’t let our hearts be hardened by the trials we undergo. As today’s Psalm reminds us: Israel forgot His mighty works, lost faith in the sound words of His promise. They tested God in the desert, demanding a sign.

But God didn’t redeem Israel from Egypt only to let them die in the desert. And He didn’t ransom us from futility only to abandon us in our trials. He is our God and we are the people He shepherds always—though at times His mercy and justice seem long delayed.

If we call on the Lord, as the Apostles do in today’s Gospel, He will increase our faith, will stir to a flame the Holy Spirit who has dwelt within us since Baptism.

As Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, the Lord will always give us the love and self-control we need to bear our share of hardship for the Gospel—with a strength that can come from God alone.

Our task is to continue doing what He has commanded—to love and to build up His kingdom—trusting that His vision still presses on to its fulfillment.

For His vision still has its time. One day, though we are but “unprofitable servants,” we will be invited to eat and drink at our Master’s table. It is that day we anticipate with each celebration of the Eucharist.

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 28, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

A Great Chasm: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Amos 6:1, 4–7
Psalm 146:7–10
1 Timothy 6:11–16
Luke 16:19–31

The rich and powerful are visited with woe and exile in today’s Liturgy—not for their wealth but for their refusal to share it; not for their power but for their indifference to the suffering at their door.
The complacent leaders in today’s First Reading feast on fine foods and wines, reveling while the house of Joseph, the kingdom of Israel (see Amos 5:6), collapses around them.

The rich man in today’s Gospel also lives like a king—dressed in royal purple and fine linen (see 1 Maccabees 8:14).
The rich man symbolizes Israel’s failure to keep the Old Covenant, to heed the commandments of Moses and the prophets. This is the sin of the rulers in today’s First Reading. Born to the nation God favored first, they could claim Abraham as their father. But for their failure to give, their inheritance is taken away.

The rulers are exiled from their homeland. The rich man is punished with an exile far greater—eternity with a “great chasm” fixed between himself and God.

In this world, the rich and powerful make a name for themselves (see Genesis 11:4) and dine sumptuously, while the poor remain anonymous, refused an invitation to their feasts.

But notice that the Lord today knows Lazarus by name, and Joseph in his sufferings—while the leaders and the rich man have no name.

Today’s liturgy is a call to repentance—to heed the warning of One who was raised from the dead. To lay hold of the eternal life He promises, we must pursue righteousness, keep the commandment of love, as Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle.
“The Lord loves the just,” we sing in today’s Psalm.
And in this Eucharist we have a foretaste of the love that will be ours in the next life—when He will raise the lowly to the heavenly banquet with Abraham and the prophets (see Luke 13:28), where we too will rest our heads on the bosom of our Lord (see John 13:23).

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 21, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Prudent Stewards: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Amos 8:4–7
Psalm 113:1–2, 4–6, 7–8
1 Timothy 2:1–8
Luke 16:1–13

The steward in today’s Gospel confronts the reality that he can’t go on living the way he has been. He is under judgment. He must give account for what he has done.
The exploiters of the poor in today’s First Reading are also about to be pulled down, to be thrust from their stations (see Isaiah 22:19). Servants of mammon or money, they’re so in love with wealth that they reduce the poor to objects; they despise the new moons and sabbaths—the observances and holy days of God (see Leviticus 23:24; Exodus 20:8).

Their only hope is to follow the steward’s path. He is no model of repentance. But he makes a prudent calculation—to use his last hours in charge of his master’s property to show mercy to others, to relieve their debts.

He is a child of this world, driven by a purely selfish motive—to make friends and be welcomed into the homes of his master’s debtors. Yet his prudence is commended as an example to us, the children of light (see 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:8). We too must realize, as the steward does, that what we have is not honestly ours, but in truth belongs to another, our Master.
All the mammon in the world could not have paid the debt we owe our Master. So He paid it for us. He gave His life as a ransom for all, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

God wants everyone to be saved, even kings and princes, even the lovers of money (see Luke 16:14). But we cannot serve two masters. By His grace, we should choose to be, as we sing in today’s Psalm, “servants of the Lord.”

We serve Him by using what He has entrusted us with to give alms, to lift the lowly from the dust and dunghills of this world. By this we will gain what is ours and be welcomed into eternal dwellings, the many mansions of the Father’s house (see John 14:2).

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 14, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Seeking the Lost: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Exodus 32:7–11, 13–14
Psalm 51:3–4, 12–13, 17, 19
1 Timothy 1:12–17
Luke 15:1–10

The episode in today’s First Reading has been called “Israel’s original sin.” Freed from bondage, born as a people of God in the covenant at Sinai, Israel turned aside from His ways and fell to worshipping a golden calf.
Moses implores God’s mercy, just as Jesus will later intercede for the whole human race. Just as He still pleads for sinners at God’s right hand and through the ministry of the Church.

Israel’s sin is the sin of the world. It is your sin and mine. Ransomed from death and made His children in Baptism, we fall prey to the idols of this world. We remain a “stiff-necked people,” resisting His will for us like an ox refuses the plowman’s yoke (see Jeremiah 7:26).

Like Israel, in our sin we push God away and reject our divine sonship. Once He called us “my people” (see Exodus 3:10; 6:7). But our sin makes us “no people,” people He should, in justice, disown (see Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Peter 2:10).

Yet in His mercy, He is faithful to the covenant He swore by His own self in Jesus. In Jesus, God comes to Israel and to each of us—as a shepherd to seek the lost (see Ezekiel 34:11–16), to carry us back to the heavenly feast, the perpetual heritage promised long ago to Abraham’s children.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” Paul cries in today’s Epistle. These are the happiest words the world has ever known. Because of Jesus, as Paul himself can testify, even the blasphemer and persecutor can seek His mercy.

As the sinners do in today’s Gospel, we draw near to listen to Him. In this Eucharist, we bring Him the acceptable sacrifice we sing of in today’s Psalm—our hearts, humbled and contrite.

In the company of His angels and saints, we rejoice that He has wiped out our offense. We celebrate with Him that we have turned from the evil way that we might live (see Ezekiel 18:23).

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: September 7, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Counting the Cost: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Wisdom 9:13–18
Psalm 90:3–6, 12–17
Philemon 1:9–10, 12–17
Luke 14:25–33

Like a king making ready for battle or a contractor about to build a tower, we have to count the cost as we set out to follow Jesus.
Our Lord today is telling us up front the sacrifice it will take. His words aren’t addressed to His chosen few, the Twelve, but rather to the “great crowds”—to anyone, to whoever wishes to be His disciple.
That only makes His call all the more stark and uncompromising. We are to “hate” our old lives, to renounce all the earthly things we rely upon, to choose Him above every person and possession. Again He tells us that the things we have—even our family ties and obligations—can become an excuse, an obstacle that keeps us from giving ourselves completely to Him (see Luke 9:23–26, 57–62).
Jesus brings us the saving wisdom we are promised in today’s First Reading. He is that saving Wisdom.

Weighed down by many earthly concerns, the burdens of our body and its needs, we could never see beyond the things of this world; we could never detect God’s heavenly design and intention. So in His mercy He sent us His Spirit, His Wisdom from on high, to make straight our path to Him.
Jesus Himself paid the price to free us from the sentence imposed on Adam, which we recall in today’s Psalm (see Genesis 2:7; 2:19). No more will the work of our hands be an affliction; no more are we destined to turn back to dust.

Like Onesimus in today’s Epistle, we have been redeemed. We have been given a new family and a new inheritance, made children of the Father, brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We are free now to come after Him, to serve Him—no longer slaves to the ties of our past lives. In Christ, all our yesterdays have passed. We live in what the Psalm today beautifully describes as the daybreak, ready to be filled with His kindness. For He has given us wisdom of heart and taught us to number our days aright.