Posts Tagged ‘Dr Scott Hahn’

26th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Posted: September 24, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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 17, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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 10, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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).

23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time

Posted: September 3, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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.


To Go up Higher: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Sirach 3:17–18, 20, 28–29

Psalm 68:4–7,10–11

Hebrews 12:18–19, 22–24

Luke 14:1, 7–14

________________________________________

We come to the wedding banquet of heaven by way of humility and charity. This is the fatherly instruction we hear in today’s First Reading, and the message of today’s Gospel.

Jesus is not talking simply about good table manners. He is revealing the way of the kingdom, in which the one who would be greatest would be the servant of all (see Luke 22:24–27).

This is the way, too, that the Father has shown us down through the ages—filling the hungry, sending the rich away empty, lifting up the lowly, pulling down the proud (see Luke 1:52–53).

We again call to mind the Exodus in today’s Psalm—how in His goodness the Lord led the Israelites from imprisonment to prosperity, rained down bread from heaven, made them His inheritance, becoming a “Father of orphans.”

We now have also gained a share of His inheritance. We are to live humbly, knowing we are not worthy to receive from His table (see Luke 6:7; 15:21). We are to give alms, remembering we were ransomed from sin by the price of His blood (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

The Lord promises that if we are humble we will be exalted and find favor with God; that if we are kind to those who can never repay us, we will atone for sins and find blessing in the resurrection of the righteous.

We anticipate the fulfillment of those promises in every Eucharist, today’s Epistle tells us. In the Mass, we enter the festal gathering of the angels and the firstborn children of God. It is the liturgy of the heavenly Jerusalem in which Jesus is the high priest, the King who calls us to come up higher (see Proverbs 25:6–7).


Gateway to Life: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings

Isaiah 66:18–21

Psalm 117:1, 2

Hebrews 12:5–7, 11–13

Luke 13:22–30

________________________________________

Jesus doesn’t answer the question put to Him in this Sunday’s Gospel. It profits us nothing to speculate on how many will be saved. What we need to know is what He tells us today—how to enter into salvation and how urgent it is to strive now, before the Master closes the door.

Jesus is “the narrow gate,” the only way of salvation, the path by which all must travel to enter the kingdom of the Father (see John 14:6).

In Jesus, God has come—as He promises in this week’s First Reading—to gather nations of every language, to reveal to them His glory.

Eating and drinking with them, teaching in their streets, Jesus in the Gospel is slowly making His way to Jerusalem. There, Isaiah’s vision will be fulfilled: On the holy mountain He will be lifted up (see John 3:14), and He will draw to Himself brethren from among all the nations to worship in the heavenly Jerusalem, to glorify Him for His kindness, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

In God’s plan, the kingdom was proclaimed first to the Israelites and last to the Gentiles (see Romans 1:16; Acts 3:25–26), who in the Church have come from the earth’s four corners to make up the new people of God (see Isaiah 43:5–6; Psalm 107:2–3).

Many, however, will lose their place at the heavenly table, Jesus warns. Refusing to accept His narrow way they will weaken, rendering themselves unknown to the Father (see Isaiah 63:15–16).

We don’t want to be numbered among those of drooping hands and weak knees (see Isaiah 35:3). So, we must strive for that narrow gate, a way of hardship and suffering—the way of the beloved Son.

As this week’s Epistle reminds us, by our trials we know we are truly God’s sons and daughters. We are being disciplined by our afflictions, strengthened to walk that straight and narrow path—that we may enter the gate and take our place at the banquet of the righteous.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 13, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Consuming Fire: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Jeremiah 38:4–6, 8–10

Psalm 40:2–4, 18

Hebrews 12:1–4

Luke 12:49–53

Our God is a consuming fire, the Scriptures tell us (see Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24). And in this week’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of fire to describe the demands of discipleship.

The fire He has come to cast on the earth is the fire that He wants to blaze in each of our hearts. He made us from the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7) and filled us with the fire of the Holy Spirit in Baptism (see Luke 3:16).

We were baptized into His death (see Romans 6:3). This is the baptism our Lord speaks of in the Gospel this week. The baptism with which He must be baptized is His passion and death, by which He accomplished our redemption and sent forth the fire of the Spirit on the earth (see Acts 2:3).

The fire has been set, but it is not yet blazing. We are called to enter deeper into the consuming love of God. We must examine our consciences and our actions, submitting ourselves to the revealing fire of God’s Word (see 1 Corinthians 3:13).

In our struggle against sin, we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding our own blood, Paul tells us in this week’s Epistle. We have not undergone the suffering that Jeremiah suffers in the First Reading this week.

But this is what true discipleship requires. To be a disciple is to be inflamed with the love of the God. It is to have an unquenchable desire for holiness and zeal for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.

Being His disciple does not bring peace in the false way that the world proclaims peace (see Jeremiah 8:11). It means division and hardship. It may bring us to conflict with our own flesh and blood.

But Christ is our peace (see Ephesians 2:14). By His Cross He has lifted us up from the mire of sin and death—as He will rescue the prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 38:10).

And as we sing in the Psalm this week, we trust in our deliverer.


Faith of Our Fathers: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Wisdom 18:6–9

Psalm 33:1, 12, 18–22

Hebrews 11:1–2, 8–19

Luke 12:35–40

We are born of the faith of our fathers, descending from a great cloud of witnesses whose faith is attested to on every page of Scripture (see Hebrews 12:1). We have been made His people, chosen for His own inheritance, as we sing in this Sunday’s Psalm.

The Liturgy this week sings the praises of our fathers, recalling the defining moments in our “family history.” In the Epistle, we remember the calling of Abraham; in the First Reading we relive the night of the Exodus and the summons of the holy children of Israel.

Our fathers, we are told, trusted in the Word of God, put their faith in His oaths. They were convinced that what He promised, He would do.

None of them lived to see His promises made good. For it was not until Christ and His Church that Abraham’s descendants were made as countless as the stars and sands (see Galatians 3:16–17, 29). It was not until His Last Supper and the Eucharist that “the sacrifice . . . the divine institution” of that first Passover was truly fulfilled.

And now we too await the final fulfillment of what God has promised us in Christ. As Jesus tells us in this week’s Gospel, we should live with our loins girded—as the Israelites tightened their belts, cinched up their long robes and ate their Passover standing, vigilant and ready to do His will (see Exodus 12:11; 2 Kings 4:29).

The Lord will come at an hour we do not expect. He will knock on our door (see Revelation 3:20), inviting us to the wedding feast in the better homeland, the heavenly one that our fathers saw from afar, and which we begin to taste in each Eucharist.

As they did, we can wait with “sure knowledge,” His Word like a lamp lighting our path (see Psalm 119:105). Our God is faithful, and if we wait in faith, hope in His kindness, and love as we have been loved, we will receive His promised blessing and be delivered from death.

18th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Posted: July 30, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

The Fool’s Vanity: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21–23

Psalm 90:3–4, 5–6, 12–13, 14, 17

Colossians 3:1–5, 9–11

Luke 12:13–21

Trust in God—as the Rock of our salvation, as the Lord who made us His chosen people, as our shepherd and guide. This should be the mark of our following of Jesus.

Like the Israelites we recall in this week’s Psalm Response, we have made an exodus, passing through the waters of Baptism, freeing us from our bondage to sin. We too are on a pilgrimage to a promised homeland, the Lord in our midst, feeding us heavenly bread, giving us living waters to drink (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

We must take care to guard against the folly that befell the Israelites, that led them to quarrel and test God’s goodness at Meribah and Massah.

We can harden our hearts in ways more subtle but no less ruinous. We can put our trust in possessions, squabble over earthly inheritances, kid ourselves that what we have we deserve, store up treasures and think they’ll afford us security and rest.

All this is “vanity of vanities,” a false and deadly way of living, as this week’s First Reading tells us.

This is the greed that Jesus warns against in this week’s Gospel. The rich man’s anxiety and toil expose his lack of faith in God’s care and provision. That’s why Paul calls greed “idolatry” in the Epistle this week. Mistaking having for being, possession for existence, we forget that God is the giver of all that we have, we exalt the things we can make or buy over our Maker (see Romans 1:25).

Jesus calls the rich man a “fool”—a word used in the Old Testament for someone who rebels against God or has forgotten Him (see Psalm 14:1).

We should treasure most the new life we have been given in Christ and seek what is above, the promised inheritance of heaven. We have to see all things in the light of eternity, mindful that He who gives us the breath of life could at any moment—this night even—demand it back from us.


Asked and Answered: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Genesis 18:20–32

Psalm 138:1–36–8

Colossians 2:12–14

Luke 11:1–13

Though we be “but dust and ashes,” we can presume to draw near and speak boldly to our Lord, as Abraham dares to do in this week’s First Reading.

But even Abraham—the friend of God (see Isaiah 41:8), our father in the faith (see Romans 4:12)—did not know the intimacy that we know as children of Abraham, heirs of the blessings promised to his descendants (see Galatians 3:729).

The mystery of prayer, as Jesus reveals to His disciples in this week’s Gospel, is the living relationship of beloved sons and daughters with their heavenly Father. Our prayer is pure gift, made possible by the “good gift” of the Father—the Holy Spirit of His Son. It is the fruit of the New Covenant by which we are made children of God in Christ Jesus (see Galatians 4:6–7Romans 8:15–16).

Through the Spirit given to us in Baptism, we can cry to Him as our Father—knowing that when we call He will answer.

Jesus teaches His disciples to persist in their prayer, as Abraham persisted in begging God’s mercy for the innocent of Sodom and Gomorrah.

For the sake of the one just Man, Jesus, God spared the city of man from destruction (see Jeremiah 5:1; Isaiah 53), “obliterating the bond against us,” as Paul says in this week’s Epistle.

On the Cross, Jesus bore the guilt of us all. He canceled the debt we owed to God, the death we deserved to die for our transgressions. We pray as ones who have been visited in our affliction and saved from our enemies, as ones who have been spared.

We pray always a prayer of thanksgiving, which is the literal meaning of “Eucharist.” We have realized the promise of this week’s Psalm: we worship in His holy temple, in the presence of angels, hallowing His name.

In confidence we ask, knowing that we will receive, that He will bring to completion what He has done for us—raising us from the dead, bringing us to everlasting life along with Him.


Waiting on the Lord: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Readings:

Genesis 18:1–10

Psalm 15:2–5

Colossians 1:24–28

Luke 10:38–42

God wants to dwell with each of us personally, intimately—as the mysterious guests once visited Abraham’s tent, as Jesus once entered the home of Mary and Martha.

By his hospitality in this week’s First Reading, Abraham shows us how we are to welcome the Lord into our lives. His selfless service of his divine guests (see Hebrews 13:1) stands in contrast to the portrait of Martha drawn in this week’s Gospel.

Where Abraham is concerned only for the well-being of his guests, Martha speaks only of herself—”Do you not care that my sister has left me by myself . . . ? Tell her to help me.” Jesus’ gentle rebuke reminds us that we risk missing the divine in the mundane, that we can fall into the trap of believing that God somehow needs to be served by human hands (see Acts 17:25).

Our Lord comes to us not to be served but to serve (see Matthew 20:28). He gave His life that we might know the one thing we need, the “better part,” which is life in the fellowship of God.

Jesus is the true Son promised today by Abraham’s visitors (see Matthew 1:1). In Him, God has made an everlasting covenant for all time; He has made us blessed descendants of Abraham (see Genesis 17:1921Romans 4:16–1719–21).

The Church now offers us this covenant, bringing to completion the word of God, the promise of His plan of salvation, what Paul calls “the mystery hidden for ages.”

As once He came to Abraham, Martha, and Mary, Christ now comes to each of us in Word and Sacrament. As we sing in this week’s Psalm: He will make His dwelling with those who keep His Word and practice justice (see also John 14:23).

If we do these things, we will not be anxious or disturbed. We will not have our Lord taken from us. We will wait on the Lord, Who told Abraham and Who tells each of us: “I will surely return to you.”


What We Must Do: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Readings:

Deuteronomy 30:10–14

Psalm 69:141730–3133–3436–37

Colossians 1:15–20

Luke 10:25–37

We are to love God and our neighbor with all the strength of our being, as the scholar of the Law answers Jesus in this week’s Gospel.

This command is nothing remote or mysterious—it’s already written in our hearts, in the book of Sacred Scripture. “You have only to carry it out,” Moses says in this week’s First Reading.

Jesus tells His interrogator the same thing: “Do this and you will live.”

The scholar, however, wants to know where he can draw the line. That’s the motive behind his question, “Who is my neighbor?”

In his compassion, the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable reveals the boundless mercy of God, Who came down to us when we were fallen in sin, close to dead, unable to pick ourselves up.

Jesus is “the image of the invisible God,” this week’s Epistle tells us. In Him, the love of God has come very near to us. By the “blood of His Cross”—by bearing His neighbors’ sufferings in His own body, being Himself stripped and beaten and left for dead—He saved us from the bonds of sin and reconciled us to God and to one another.

Like the Samaritan, He pays the price for us, heals the wounds of sin, pours out on us the oil and wine of the sacraments, and entrusts us to the care of His Church until He comes back for us.

Because His love has known no limits, ours cannot either. We are to love as we have been loved, to do for others what He has done for us, joining all things together in His Body, the Church.

We are to love like the singer of this week’s Psalm—like those whose prayers have been answered, like those whose lives has been saved, who have known the time of His favor, have seen God in His great mercy turn toward us.

This is the love that leads to eternal life, the love Jesus commands today of the scholar and of each of us: “Go and do likewise.”


Harvest Time: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

 

Readings:

Isaiah 66:10-14

Psalm 66:1-71620

Galatians 6:14-18

Luke 10:1-1217-20

Jesus has a vision in this week’s Gospel: Satan falling like lightning from the sky, the enemy vanquished by the missionary preaching of His Church.

Sent out by Jesus to begin gathering the nations into the harvest of divine judgment (see Isaiah 27:12–13; Joel 4:13), the seventy are a sign of the continuing mission of the Church.

Carrying out the work of the seventy, the Church proclaims the coming of God’s kingdom. She offers His blessings of peace and mercy to every household on earth, “every town and place He intended

to visit.”

Our Lord’s tone is solemn today, for in the preaching of the Church “the kingdom of God is at hand,” the time of decision has come for every person. Those who do not receive His messengers will be doomed like Sodom.

But those who believe will find peace and mercy, protection and nourishment in the bosom of the Church, the Mother Zion we celebrate in this week’s beautiful First Reading, the “Israel of God” Paul blesses in this week’s Epistle.

The Church is a new family of faith (see Galatians 6:10) in which we receive a new name that will endure forever (see Isaiah 66:22), a name written in heaven.

In this week’s Psalm, we sing of God’s “tremendous deeds among men” throughout salvation history. But of all the works of God, none has been greater than what He has wrought by the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Changing the sea into dry land was but an anticipation and preparation for our passing over, for what Paul calls the “new creation.” And as the Exodus generation was protected in a wilderness of serpents and scorpions (see Deuteronomy 8:15), He has given His Church power now over “the full force of the enemy.” Nothing will harm us as we make our way through the wilderness of this world, awaiting the Master of the harvest, awaiting the day when all on earth will shout joyfully to the Lord and sing praise to the glory of His name.


Taking the Call: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

1 Kings 19:16–21

Psalm 16:1–257–11

Galatians 5:113–18

Luke 9:51–62

In this week’s First Reading, Elijah’s disciple is allowed to kiss his parents goodbye before setting out to follow the prophet’s call.

But we are called to follow a “greater than Elijah”, this week’s Liturgy wants us to know.

In Baptism, we have put on the cloak of Christ, been called to the house of a new Father, and been given a new family in the kingdom of God. We have been called to leave behind our past lives and never look back—to follow wherever He leads.

Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind and his disciple was given a double portion of his spirit (see 2 Kings 2:9–15).

Jesus too, the Gospel reminds us, was “taken up” (see Acts 1:2, 11, 22), and He gave us His Spirit to live by, to guide us in our journey in His kingdom.

As this week’s Epistle tells us, the call of Jesus shatters the yoke of every servitude, sets us free from the rituals of the old Law, and shows us the Law’s fulfillment in the following of Jesus, in serving one another through love.

His call sets our hands to a new plow, a new task—to be His messengers, sent ahead to prepare all peoples to meet Him and enter into His Kingdom.

Elijah called down fire to consume those who wouldn’t accept God (see 2 Kings 1:1–16). But we have a different Spirit with us.

To live by His Spirit is to face opposition and rejection, as the Apostles do in this week’s Gospel. It is to feel like an exile, with no lasting city (see Hebrews 13:14), no place in this world to lay our head or call home.

But we hear the voice of the One we follow in this week’s Psalm (see Acts 2:25–32; 13:35–37). He calls us to make His faith our own—to abide in confidence that He will not abandon us, that He will show us “the path to life,” leading us to the fullness of joy in His presence forever.

Corpus Christi

Posted: June 18, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Trinity Sunday

Posted: June 11, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Glorious Processions: Scott Hahn Reflects on Trinity Sunday

Readings:

Proverbs 8:22–31

Psalms 8:4–9

Romans 5:1–5

John 16:12–15

In today’s Liturgy we’re swept through time in glorious procession—from before earth and sky were set in place to the coming of the Spirit upon the new creation, the Church.

We begin in the heart of the Trinity, as we listen to the testimony of Wisdom in today’s First Reading. Eternally begotten, the firstborn of God, He is poured forth from of old in the loving delight of the Father.

Through Him, the heavens were established, the foundations of the earth fixed. From before the beginning, He was with the Father as His “Craftsman,” the artisan by Whom all things were made. And He took special delight, He tells us, in the crowning glory of God’s handiwork—the human race, the “sons of men.”

In today’s Psalm, He comes down from heaven, is made a little lower than the angels, comes among us as “the Son of Man” (see Hebrews 2:6–10).

All things are put under His feet so that He can restore to humanity the glory for which we were made from the beginning, the glory lost by sin. He tasted death that we might be raised to life in the Trinity, that His name might be made glorious over all the earth.

Through the Son, we have gained grace and access in the Spirit to the Father, as Paul boasts in today’s Epistle (see Ephesians 2:18).

The Spirit, the Love of God, has been poured out into our hearts—a Spirit of adoption, making us children of the Father once more (see Romans 8:14–16).

This is the Spirit that Jesus promises in today’s Gospel.

His Spirit comes as divine gift and anointing (see 1 John 2:27), to guide us to all truth, to show us “the things that are coming,” the things that were meant to be from before all ages—that we will find peace and union in God, share the life of the Trinity, and dwell in God as He dwells in us (see John 14:23; 17:21).

Pentecost Sunday

Posted: June 4, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

A Mighty Wind: Scott Hahn Reflects on Pentecost Sunday

Readings:

Acts 2:1–11
Psalm 104:12429–3134
1 Corinthians 12:3–712–13
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 23:15–21Deuteronomy 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 3:2–8Romans 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 15:4547).

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 5:17Galatians 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.

7th Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 28, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Perfection as One: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 7:55–60
Psalm 97:1–26–79
Revelation 22:12–1416–1720
John 17:20–26


(In dioceses where Ascension is celebrated on Sunday, see also the reflection for the Ascension of the Lord.)

Jesus is praying for us in today’s Gospel. We are those who have come to believe in Him through the Word of the Apostles, handed on in His Church.

Jesus showed the Apostles His glory, made known the Father’s name and the love He has had for us from “before the foundation of the world.”

He revealed that He and the Father are one (see John 14:9).

Jesus is the “first and the last” (see Isaiah 44:6), the root of David (see Isaiah 11:102 Samuel 7:12), as today’s Second Reading declares.

Wrapped in clouds and darkness as God was at Sinai (see Exodus 19:16), He is “the king . . . the Most High over all the earth,” as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Exalted at God’s right hand, as Stephen sees in the First Reading, the Lord calls to us through the Church, His Bride.

He calls us to “the tree of life,” to communion with God. This is the goal of His love, His saving purpose from all eternity—that each of us enter into the life of the Blessed Trinity and be “brought to perfection as one” with the Father and Son in the Spirit.

The story of Stephen, the first martyr, shows us how we are to answer His call.

Listen for the echoes of the Crucifixion: Stephen, like Jesus, sees the Son of Man in glory and dies with words of forgiveness and self-offering on his lips (compare Acts 7:56–60Matthew 26:64–65Luke 23:24,46).

We, too, are to commend our spirits to the Father, to pray and offer our lives in love for our brethren, awaiting His coming in judgment. We renew our vows in every Mass, coming forward to receive the gift of His life.

We answer His call by crying out a call of our own: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

And in our communion we answer our Lord’s prayer: “That they may all be one, as You, Father are in Me and I in You.”

Ascension of the Lord

Posted: May 26, 2022 by CatholicJules in Great Catholic Articles
Tags: ,

The Good News: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Ascension of the Lord

Acts 1:1–11
Psalm 47:2–3, 6–7, 8–9
Ephesians 1:17–23 or Hebrews 9:24–28; 10:19–23
Luke 24:46–53

In today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and He has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.

The truth of this feast shines forth from the Letter to the Hebrews, where we read of the great high priest’s passing through the heavens, the sinless intercessor’s sacrifice on our behalf (see Hebrews 4:14–15).

Indeed, His intercession will lead to the Holy Spirit’s descent in fire upon the Church. Luke spells out that promise in the First Reading for the feast of the Ascension: “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). The Ascension is the preliminary feast that directs the Church’s attention forward to Pentecost. On that day, salvation will be complete; for salvation is not simply expiation for sins (that would be wonder enough), but it is something even greater than that. Expiation is itself a necessary precondition of our adoption as God’s children. To live that divine life we must receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit we must be purified through Baptism.

The Responsorial Psalm presents the Ascension in terms familiar from the worship of the Jerusalem Temple in the days of King Solomon: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord” (Psalm 47). The priest-king takes his place at the head of the people, ruling over the nations, establishing peace.

The Epistle strikes a distinctively Paschal note. In the early Church, as today, Easter was the normal time for the baptism of adult converts. The sacrament was often called “illumination” or “enlightenment” because of the light that came with God’s saving grace (see, for example, Hebrews 10:32). Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians, speaks in terms of glory that leads to greater glories still, as Ascension leads to Pentecost:

“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,” he writes, as he looks to the divinization of the believers. Their “hope” is “his inheritance among the holy ones,” the saints who have been adopted into God’s family and now rule with Him at the Father’s right hand.

This is the “good news” the Apostles are commissioned to spread—to the whole world, to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem—at the Ascension. It’s the good news we must spread today

6th Sunday Of Easter

Posted: May 21, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Council of Jerusalem: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter 

Readings:

Acts 15:1–2, 22–29 

Psalm 67:2–3, 5–6, 8

Revelation 21:10–14, 22–23

John 14:23–29

The first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem we hear about in today’s First Reading, decided the shape of the Church as we know it.

Some Jewish Christians had wanted Gentile converts to be circumcised and obey all the complex ritual and purity laws of the Jews.

The council called this a heresy, again showing us that the Church in the divine plan is meant to be a worldwide family of God, no longer a covenant with just one nation.

Today’s Liturgy gives us a profound meditation on the nature and meaning of the Church. The Church is One, as we see in the First Reading: “the Apostles [bishops] and presbyters [priests], in agreement with the whole Church [laity].”

The Church is Holy, taught and guided by the Spirit that Jesus promises the Apostles in the Gospel.

The Church is Catholic, or universal, making known God’s ways of salvation to all peoples, ruling all in equity, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

And the Church, as John sees in the Second Reading, is Apostolic—founded on the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

All these marks of the Church are underscored in the story of the council.

Notice that everybody, including Paul, looks to “Jerusalem [and] . . . the Apostles” to decide the Church’s true teaching. The Apostles, too, presume that Christian teachers need a “mandate from us.”

And we see the Spirit guiding the Apostles in all truth. Notice how they describe their ruling: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.”

Knowing these truths about the Church, our hearts should never be troubled. The Liturgy’s message today is that the Church is the Lord’s, watched over and guarded by the Advocate, the Holy Spirit sent by the Father in the name of the Son.

5th Sunday Of Easter

Posted: May 14, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

New For All Ages: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifth Sunday of Easter 

Readings:

Acts 14:21-27

Psalm 145:8-13

Revelation 21:1-5

John 13:31-35

By God’s goodness and compassion, the doors of His kingdom have been opened to all who have faith, Jew or Gentile.

That’s the good news Paul and Barnabas proclaim in today’s First Reading. With the coming of the Church—the new Jerusalem John sees in today’s Second Reading—God is “making all things new.”

In His Church, the “old order” of death is passing away and God for all time is making His dwelling with the human race, so that all peoples “will be His people and God Himself will always be with them.” In this the promises made through His prophets are accomplished (see Ezekiel 37:27; Isaiah 25:8; 35:10).

The Church is “the kingdom for all ages” that we sing of in today’s Psalm. That’s why we see the Apostles, under the guidance of the Spirit, ordaining “presbyters” or priests (see 1 Timothy 4:14; Titus 1:5).

Anointed priests and bishops will be the Apostles’ successors, ensuring that the Church’s “dominion endures through all generations” (see Philippians 1:1, note that the New American Bible translates episcopois, the Greek word for bishops, as “overseers”).

Until the end of time, the Church will declare to the world God’s mighty deeds, blessing His holy name and giving Him thanks, singing of the glories of His kingdom.

In His Church, we know ourselves as His “faithful ones,” as those Jesus calls “My little children” in today’s Gospel. We live by the new law, the “new commandment” that He gave in His final hours.

The love He commands of us is no human love but a supernatural love. We love each other as Jesus loved us in suffering and dying for us. We love in imitation of His love.

This kind of love is only made possible by the Spirit poured into our hearts at Baptism (see Romans 5:5), renewed in the sacrifice His priests offer in every Mass.

By our love we glorify the Father. And by our love all peoples will know that we are His people, that He is our God.

4th Sunday of Easter

Posted: May 7, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Shepherd and the Lamb: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Easter 

Readings:

Acts 13:1443–52

Psalm 100:1–35

Revelation 7:914–17

John 10:27–30

Israel’s mission—to be God’s instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth (see Isaiah 49:6)—is fulfilled in the Church.

By the “Word of God” that Paul and Barnabas preach in today’s First Reading, a new covenant people is being born, a people who glorify the God of Israel as the Father of them all.

The Church for all generations remains faithful to the grace of God given to the Apostles, continues their saving work.

Through the Church, the peoples of every land hear the Shepherd’s voice, and follow Him (see Luke 10:16).

The Good Shepherd of today’s Gospel is the enthroned Lamb of today’s Second Reading. In laying down His life for His flock, the Lamb brought to pass a new Passover (see 1 Corinthians 5:7), by His blood freeing “every nation, race, people and tongue” from bondage to sin and death.

The Church is the “great multitude” John sees in his vision today. God swore to Abraham his descendants would be too numerous to count. And in the Church, as John sees, this promise is fulfilled (compare Revelation 7:9Genesis 15:5).

The Lamb rules from the throne of God, sheltering His flock, feeding their hunger with His own Body and Blood, leading them to “springs of life-giving waters” that well up to eternal life (see John 4:14).

The Lamb is the eternal Shepherd-King, the son of David foretold by the prophets. His Church is the Kingdom of all Israel that the prophets said would be restored in an everlasting covenant (see Ezekiel 34:23-3137:23-28).

It is not a kingdom any tribe or nation can jealously claim as theirs alone. The Shepherd’s Word to Israel is addressed now to all lands, calling all to worship and bless His name in the heavenly Temple.

This is the delight of the Gentiles—that we can sing the song that once only Israel could sing, today’s joyful Psalm: “He made us, His we are—His people, the flock He tends.”

Third Sunday Of Easter

Posted: April 30, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Fire of Love: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 5:27–3240–41

Psalm 30:24–611–13

Revelation 5:11–14

John 21:1–19

There are two places in Scripture where the curious detail of a “charcoal fire” is mentioned.

One is in today’s Gospel, where the Apostles return from fishing to find bread and fish warming on the fire.

The other is in the scene in the High Priest’s courtyard on Holy Thursday, where Peter and some guards and slaves warm themselves while Jesus is being interrogated inside (see John 18:18).

At the first fire, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, as Jesus had predicted (see John 13:3818:15-1825-27). 

Today’s charcoal fire becomes the scene of Peter’s repentance, as three times Jesus asks him to make a profession of love. Jesus’ thrice repeated command “feed My sheep” shows that Peter is being appointed as the shepherd of the Lord’s entire flock, the head of His Church (see also Luke 22:32).

Jesus’ question: “Do you love me more than these?” is a pointed reminder of Peter’s pledge to lay down his life for Jesus, even if the other Apostles might weaken (see John 13:37Matthew 26:33Luke 22:33).

Jesus then explains just what Peter’s love and leadership will require, foretelling Peter’s death by crucifixion (“you will stretch out your hands”).

Before His own death, Jesus had warned the Apostles that they would be hated as He was hated, that they would suffer as He suffered (see Matthew 10:16-19,22John 15:18-2016:2).

We see the beginnings of that persecution in today’s First Reading. Flogged as Jesus was, the Apostles nonetheless leave “rejoicing that they have been found worthy to suffer.”

Their joy is based on their faith that God will change their “mourning into dancing,” as we sing in today’s Psalm. By their sufferings, the know, they will be counted worthy to stand in heaven before “the Lamb that was slain,” a scene glimpsed in today’s Second Reading (see also Revelation 6:9-11).

2nd Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 23, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Breath of New Life: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 5:12–16

Psalm 118:2–413–1522–24

Revelation 1:9–1317–19

John 20:19–31

The prophet Daniel in a vision saw “One like the Son of Man” receive everlasting kingship (see Daniel 7:9–14). John is taken to heaven in today’s Second Reading where he sees Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, who appears as “One like a Son of Man.”

Jesus is clad in the robe of a High Priest (see Exodus 28:4Wisdom 18:24) and wearing the gold sash of a king (see 1 Maccabees 10:89). He has been exalted by the right hand of the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

His risen body, which the Apostles touch in today’s Gospel, has been made a lifegiving Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 15:45).

As the Father anointed Him with the Spirit and power (see Acts 10:38), Jesus pours out that Spirit on the Apostles, sending them into the world “as the Father has sent Me.” Jesus “breathes” the Spirit of His divine life into the Apostles—as God blew the “breath of life” into Adam (see Genesis 2:7), as Elijah’s prayer returned “the life breath” to the dead child (see 1 Kings 17:21–23), and as the Spirit breathed new life into the slain in the valley of bones (see Ezekiel 37:9–10).

His creative breath unites the Apostles—His Church—to His body, and empowers them to breathe His life into a dying world, to make it a new creation.

In today’s Gospel and First Reading, we see the Apostles fulfilling this mission with powers only God possesses—the power to forgive sins and to work “signs and wonders,” a biblical expression only used to describe the mighty works of God (see Exodus 7:311:10Acts 7:36).

Thomas and the others saw “many other signs” after Jesus was raised from the dead. They saw and they believed.

They have been given His life, which continues in the Church’s Word and sacraments, so that we who have not seen might inherit His blessings and “have life in His name.”

Easter Sunday 2022

Posted: April 16, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Seeing and Believing: Scott Hahn Reflects on Easter Sunday

Readings:

Acts 10:3437–43

Psalm 118:1–216–1722–23

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 24:2744).

Now they could “understand the Scripture,” could teach us what He had told them—that He was “the Stone which the builders rejected,” that today’s Psalm prophesies His Resurrection and exaltation (see Luke 20:17Matthew 21:42Acts 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, 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 (Palm Sunday)

Posted: April 9, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Passion of the Christ: Scott Hahn Reflects on Passion Sunday

Readings:

Isaiah 50:4–7

Psalm 22:8–917–2023–24

Philippians 2:6–11

Luke 22:14–23:56

“What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Luke 22:37).

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 Luke 22:63–6523:10–1116), as His hands and feet are pierced (see Luke 23:33), as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Luke 23:34), and as three times they dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Luke 23:353739).

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, that one day we too will be with Him in Paradise (see Luke 23:42).

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Posted: April 2, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Something New: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Readings:

Isaiah 43:16–21

Psalm 126:1–6

Philippians 3:8–14

John 8:1–11

The Liturgy this Lent has shown us the God of the Exodus. He is a mighty and gracious God, Who out of faithfulness to His covenant has done “great things” for His people, as today’s Psalm puts it.

But the “things of long ago,” Isaiah tells us in today’s First Reading, are nothing compared to the “something new” that He will do in the future.

Today’s First Reading and Psalm look back to the marvelous deeds of the Exodus. Both see in the Exodus a pattern and prophecy of the future, when God will restore the fortunes of His people fallen in sin. The readings today look forward to a still greater Exodus, when God will gather in the exiled tribes of Israel that had been scattered to the four winds, the ends of the earth.

The new Exodus that Israel waited and hoped for has come in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Like the adulterous woman in today’s Gospel, all have been spared by the Lord’s compassion. All have heard His words of forgiveness, His urging to repentance, to be sinners no more. Like Paul in today’s Epistle, Christ has taken possession of every one, claimed each as a child of our heavenly Father.

In the Church, God has formed a people for Himself to announce His praise, just as Isaiah said He would. And as Isaiah promised, He has given His “chosen people” living waters to drink in the desert wastelands of the world (see John 7:37–39).

But our God is ever a God of the future, not of the past. We are to live with hopeful hearts, “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,” as Paul tells us. His salvation, Paul says, is power in the present, “the power of His resurrection.”

We are to live awaiting a still greater and final Exodus, pursuing “the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling,” striving in faith to attain the last new thing God promises—“the resurrection of the dead.”

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 26, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Found Alive Again: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings:

Joshua 5:9–12

Psalm 34:2–7

2 Corinthians 5:17–21

Luke 15:1–311–32

In today’s First Reading, God forgives “the reproach” of the generations who grumbled against Him after the Exodus. On the threshold of the promised land, Israel can with a clean heart celebrate the Passover, the feast of God’s firstborn son (see Joshua 5:6–7Exodus 4:2212:12–13).

Reconciliation is also at the heart of the story Jesus tells in today’s Gospel. The story of the Prodigal Son is the story of Israel and of the human race. But it is also the story of every believer.

In Baptism, we’re given a divine birthright, made “a new creation,” as Paul puts it in today’s Epistle. But when we sin, we’re like the Prodigal Son, quitting our Father’s house, squandering our inheritance in trying to live without Him.

Lost in sin, we cut ourselves off from the grace of sonship lavished upon us in Baptism. It is still possible for us to come to our senses, make our way back to the Father, as the prodigal does.

But only He can remove the reproach and restore the divine sonship we have spurned. Only He can free us from the slavery to sin that causes us—like the Prodigal Son—to see God not as our Father but as our master, One we serve as slaves.

God wants not slaves but children. Like the father in today’s Gospel, He longs to call each of us “My son,” to share His life with us, to tell us: “Everything I have is yours.”

The Father’s words of longing and compassion still come to His prodigal children in the Sacrament of Penance. This is part of what Paul today calls “the ministry of reconciliation” entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and the Church.

Reconciled like Israel, we take our place at the table of the Eucharist, the homecoming banquet the Father calls for His lost sons, the new Passover we celebrate this side of heaven. We taste the goodness of the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm, rejoicing that we who were dead are found alive again.

Third Sunday Of Lent

Posted: March 19, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Fruits of the Fig: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Lent

Readings:

 Exodus 3:1–813–15

Psalm 103:1–46–811

1 Corinthians 10:1–610–12

Luke 13:1–9

In the Church, we are made children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God who makes known His name and His ways to Moses in today’s First Reading.

Mindful of His covenant with Abraham (see Exodus 2:24), God came down to rescue His people from the slave drivers of Egypt. Faithful to that same covenant (see Luke 1:54–5572–73), He sent Jesus to redeem all lives from destruction, as today’s Psalm tells us.

Paul says in today’s Epistle that God’s saving deeds in the Exodus were written down for the Church, intended as a prelude and foreshadowing of our own Baptism by water, our liberation from sin, our feeding with spiritual food and drink.

Yet the events of the Exodus were also given as a “warning”—that being children of Abraham is no guarantee that we will reach the promised land of our salvation.

At any moment, Jesus warns in today’s Gospel, we could perish, not as God’s punishment for being “greater sinners” but because, like the Israelites in the wilderness, we stumble into evil desires, fall into grumbling, forget all His benefits.

Jesus calls us today to “repentance”—not a one-time change of heart, but an ongoing, daily transformation of our lives. We’re called to live the life we sing about in today’s Psalm, blessing His holy name, giving thanks for His kindness and mercy.

The fig tree in His parable is a familiar Old Testament symbol for Israel (see Jeremiah 8:324:1–10). As the fig tree is given one last season to produce fruit before it is cut down, so too Jesus is giving Israel one final opportunity to bear good fruits as evidence of its repentance (see Luke 3:8).

Lent should be for us like the season of reprieve given to the fig tree, a grace period in which we let “the gardener,” Christ, cultivate our hearts, uprooting what chokes the divine life in us, strengthening us to bear fruits that will last into eternity.

Second Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 12, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Genesis 15:5–1217–18

Psalm 27:17–913–14

Philippians 3:17–4:1

Luke 9:28–36

In today’s Gospel, we go up to the mountain with Peter, John, and James. There we see Jesus “transfigured,” speaking with Moses and Elijah about His “exodus.”

The Greek word “exodus” means “departure.” But the word is chosen deliberately here to stir our remembrance of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt.

By His death and resurrection, Jesus will lead a new Exodus—liberating not only Israel but every race and people; not from bondage to Pharaoh, but from slavery to sin and death. He will lead all mankind, not to the territory promised to Abraham in today’s First Reading, but to the heavenly commonwealth that Paul describes in today’s Epistle.

Moses, the giver of God’s law, and the great prophet Elijah, were the only Old Testament figures to hear the voice and see the glory of God atop a mountain (see Exodus 24:15–181 Kings 19:8–18).

Today’s scene closely resembles God’s revelation to Moses, who also brought along three companions and whose face also shone brilliantly (see Exodus 24:134:29). But when the divine cloud departs in today’s Gospel, Moses and Elijah are gone. Only Jesus remains. He has revealed the glory of the Trinity—the voice of the Father, the glorified Son, and the Spirit in the shining cloud.

Jesus fulfills all that Moses and the prophets had come to teach and show us about God (see Luke 24:27). He is the “chosen One” promised by Isaiah (see Isaiah 42:1Luke 23:35), the “prophet like me” that Moses had promised (see Deuteronomy 18:15Acts 3:22–237:37). Far and above that, He is the Son of God (see Psalm 2:7Luke 3:21–23).

“Listen to Him,” the Voice tells us from the cloud. If, like Abraham, we put our faith in His words, one day we too will be delivered into “the land of the living” that we sing of in today’s Psalm. We will share in His resurrection, as Paul promises, our lowly bodies glorified like His.

First Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 5, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Deuteronomy 26:4–10

Psalm 91:1–210–15

Romans 10:8–13

Luke 4:1–13

In today’s epic Gospel scene, Jesus relives in His flesh the history of Israel.

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

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

Jesus fights the Devil with the Word of God, three times quoting from Moses’ lecture about the lessons Israel was supposed to learn from its wilderness wanderings (see Deuteronomy 8:36:1612–15).

Why do we read this story on the first Sunday of Lent? Because like the biblical sign of forty (see Genesis 7:12Exodus 24:1834:281 Kings 19:8Jonah 3:4), the forty days of Lent are a time of trial and purification.

Lent is to teach us what we hear over and over in today’s readings. “Call upon me, and I will answer,” the Lord promises in today’s Psalm. Paul promises the same thing in today’s Epistle (quoting Deuteronomy 30:14Isaiah 28:16Joel 2:32).

This was Israel’s experience, as Moses reminds his people in today’s First Reading: “We cried to the Lord . . . and He heard.” But each of us is tempted, as Israel was, to forget the great deeds He works in our lives, to neglect our birthright as His beloved sons and daughters.

Like the litany of remembrance Moses prescribes for Israel, we should see in the Mass a memorial of our salvation, and “bow down in His presence,” offering ourselves in thanksgiving for all He has given us.

Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 26, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:


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

In today’s readings we hear Jesus speaking in Galilee as well as a Jewish sage named Sirach writing in Jerusalem more than a century earlier. The two of them touch upon a single truth: The words that come out of us make known the hidden thoughts within us. Speech reveals the secrets of the heart.
Sirach teaches that speaking is “the test of men” and their character. One who is upright will utter words that are truthful and encouraging to others. But one whose heart is cluttered with “refuse” will be exposed, since the “fruit” of his mouth speaks volumes about the “tree” that produces it. Sirach also compares the testing of our words to clay fired in a kiln—if properly prepared, a useful vessel emerges; but if the clay is not fully dried, it will break apart in the extreme heat.


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


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


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

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 19, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

1 Samuel 26:27–912–1322–23

Psalm 103:1–13

1 Corinthians 15:45–49

Luke 6:27–38

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

The new law Jesus gives in today’s Gospel would have us all become “Davids”—loving our enemies, doing good to those who would harm us, extending a line of credit to those who won’t ever repay us.

The Old Law required only that the Israelites love their fellow countrymen (see Leviticus 19:18). The new law Jesus brings makes us kin to every man and woman (see also Luke 10:29–36). His kingdom isn’t one of tribe or nationality. It’s a family. As followers of Jesus, we’re to live as He lived among us—as “children of the Most High” (see Luke 6:351:35).

As sons and daughters, we want to walk in the ways of our heavenly Father, to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Grateful for His mercy, we’re called to forgive others their trespasses because God has forgiven ours.

In the context of today’s liturgy, we’re all “Sauls”—by our sinfulness and pride we make ourselves enemies of God. But we’ve been spared a death we surely deserved to die because God has loved and shown mercy to His enemies, “the ungrateful and the wicked,” as Jesus says.

Jesus showed us this love in His Passion, forgiving His enemies as they stripped Him of cloak and tunic, cursed Him and struck Him on the cheek, condemned Him to death on a cross (see Luke

22:63–65; 23:34). “He redeems your life from destruction,” David reminds us in today’s Psalm.

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

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: February 12, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Jeremiah 17:5–8

Psalm 1:1–46

1 Corinthians 15:1216–20

Luke 6:1720–26

The blessings and woes we hear in today’s Gospel mark the perfection of all the wisdom of the Old Testament.

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

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

The rich are “the insolent” of today’s Psalm, boasting of their self-sufficiency, the strength of their flesh, as Jeremiah says in the First Reading. The poor are the humble, who put all their hope and trust in the Lord.

We’ve already seen today’s dramatic imagery of reversal in Mary’s Magnificat. There, too, the rich are cast down while the hungry are filled and the lowly exalted (see Luke 1:45–55, also 16:19–31).

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

The promises of the Old Testament were promises of power and prosperity—in the here and now. The promise of the New Covenant is joy and true freedom even amid the misery and toil of this life.

But not only that. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we’re to be pitied if our hope is “for this life only.”

The blessings of God mean that we’ll laugh with the thanksgiving of captives released from exile (see Psalm 126:1–2), feast at the heavenly table of the Lord (see Psalm 107:3–9), “leap for joy” as John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb (see Luke 6:231:4144), and rise with Christ, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: January 29, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Jeremiah 1:4–517–19

Psalm 71:1–615–17

1 Corinthians 12:31–13:13

Luke 4:21–30

God’s words in today’s First Reading point us beyond Jeremiah to Jesus. Like Jeremiah, Jesus was consecrated in the womb and sent as a “prophet to the nations” (see Luke 1:31–33).

Like the prophets before Him, Jesus too faces hostility. In today’s Gospel, the crowd in His hometown synagogue quickly turns on Him, apparently demanding a sign, some proof of divine origins—that He’s more than just “the son of Joseph.”

The sign He gives them is that of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. From their colorful careers Jesus draws two stories. In each, the prophets bypass “many . . . in Israel” to bestow God’s blessings on non-Israelites who had faith that the prophets were men of God (see 1 Kings 17:1–162 Kings 5:1–14). “None . . . not one” in Israel was found deserving, Jesus emphasizes.

His point isn’t lost on His audience. They know He’s likening them to the “many . . . in Israel” in the days of the prophets. That’s why they try to shove Him off the cliff. As He promised to protect Jeremiah, the Lord delivers Jesus from those who would crush Him.

And as were Elijah and Elisha, Jesus is sent to proclaim God’s gift of salvation—not exclusively to one nation or people, but to all who realize in faith that from the womb God alone is their hope, their rescuer, their “rock of refuge,” as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Prophecies, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle, are partial and pass away “when the perfect comes.” In Jesus, the word of the prophets has been brought to perfection, fulfilled in those who have ears to hear, as He declares in today’s Gospel.

Greater than the gifts of faith and hope, Jesus shows us how to love as He loved—to love God as our Father, as the one who formed us in the womb and destined us to hear His saving Word.

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

3rd Sunday In Ordinary Time

Posted: January 22, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

New Day Dawns: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Readings:

Nehemiah 8:2–610

Psalms 19:8–1015

1 Corinthians 12:12–30

Luke 1:1–44:14–21

The meaning of today’s liturgy is subtle and many-layered.

We need background to understand what’s happening in today’s First Reading.

Babylon having been defeated, King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the exiled Jews could return home to Jerusalem. They rebuilt their ruined temple (see Ezra 6:15–17) and under Nehemiah finished rebuilding the city walls (see Nehemiah 6:15).

The stage was set for the renewal of the covenant and the re-establishment of the Law of Moses as the people’s rule of life. That’s what’s going on in today’s First Reading, as Ezra reads and interprets (see Nehemiah 8:8) the Law and the people respond with a great “Amen!”

Israel, as we sing in today’s Psalm, is rededicating itself to God and His Law. The scene seems like the Isaiah prophecy that Jesus reads from in today’s Gospel.

Read all of Isaiah 61. The “glad tidings” Isaiah brings include these promises: the liberation of prisoners (61:1); the rebuilding of Jerusalem, or Zion (61:3–4; see also Isaiah 60:10); the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of priests (61:6; Exodus 19:6); and the forging of an everlasting covenant (61:8; Isaiah 55:3). It sounds a lot like the First Reading.

Jesus, in turn, declares that Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in Him. The Gospel scene, too, recalls the First Reading. Like Ezra, Jesus stands before the people, is handed a scroll, unrolls it, then reads and interprets it (compare Luke 4:16–1721 and Nehemiah 8:2–68–10).

We witness in today’s Liturgy the creation of a new people of God. Ezra started reading at dawn of the first day of the Jewish new year (see Leviticus 23:24). Jesus also proclaims a “sabbath,” a great year of Jubilee, a deliverance from slavery to sin, a release from the debts we owe to God (see Leviticus 25:10).

The people greeted Ezra “as one man.” And, as today’s Epistle teaches, in the Spirit the new people of God—the Church—is made “one body” with Him.

2nd Sunday In Ordinary Sunday

Posted: January 15, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

In the Wedding: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Isaiah 62:1–5

Psalm 96:1–37–10

1 Corinthians 12:4–11

John 2:1–12

Think of these first weeks after Christmas as a season of “epiphanies.” The liturgy is showing us who Jesus is and what He has revealed about our relationship with God.

Last week and the week before, the imagery was royal and filial—Jesus is the newborn king of the Jews who makes us coheirs of Israel’s promise, beloved children of God. Last week in the liturgy we went to a baptism.

This week we’re at a wedding.

We’re being shown another dimension of our relationship with God. If we’re sons and daughters of God, it’s because we’ve married into the family.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible begins and ends with a wedding—Adam and Eve’s in the garden and the marriage supper of the Lamb (compare Genesis 2:23–24 and Revelation 19:921:922:17)?

Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the covenant relationship God desires with His chosen people. He is the groom, humanity His beloved and sought after bride. We see this reflected beautifully in today’s First Reading.

When Israel breaks the covenant, she is compared to an unfaithful spouse (see Jeremiah 2:20–363:1–13). But God promises to take her back, to “espouse” her to Him forever in an everlasting covenant (see Hosea 2:18–22).

That’s why in today’s Gospel Jesus performs His first public “sign” at a wedding feast.

Jesus is the divine bridegroom (see John 3:29), calling us to His royal wedding feast (see Matthew 22:1–14). By His New Covenant, He will become “one flesh” with all humanity in the Church (see Ephesians 5:21–33). By our baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to a husband (see 2 Corinthians 11:2).

The new wine that Jesus pours out at today’s feast is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to His bride and body, as today’s Epistle says. This is the “salvation” announced to the “families of nations” in today’s Psalm.

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Posted: January 8, 2022 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

The Anointing: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Readings:

Isaiah 42:1–46–7

Psalm 29:1–49–10

Acts 10:34–38

Luke 3:15–1621–22

The liturgy last week revealed the mystery of God’s plan—that in Jesus all peoples, symbolized by the Magi, have been made “coheirs” to the blessings promised to Israel. This week, we’re shown how we claim our inheritance.

Jesus doesn’t submit to John’s baptism as a sinner in need of purification. He humbles Himself to pass through Jordan’s waters in order to lead a new “exodus”—opening up the promised land of heaven so that all peoples can hear the words pronounced over Jesus today, words once reserved only for Israel and its king: that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God (see Genesis 22:2Exodus 4:22Psalm 2:7).

Jesus is the chosen servant Isaiah prophesies in today’s First Reading, anointed with the Spirit to make things right and just on earth. God puts His Spirit upon Jesus to make Him “a covenant of the people,” the liberator of the captives, the light to the nations. Jesus, today’s Second Reading tells us, is the One long expected in Israel, “anointed . . . with the Holy Spirit and power.”

The word messiah means “one anointed” with God’s Spirit. King David was “the anointed of the God of Jacob” (see 2 Samuel 23:1–17Psalm 18:51132:1017). The prophets taught Israel to await a royal offshoot of David, upon whom the Spirit would rest (see Isaiah 11:1–2Daniel 9:25).

That’s why the crowds are so anxious at the start of today’s Gospel. But it isn’t John they’re looking for. God confirms with His own voice what the angel earlier told Mary: Jesus is the Son of the Most High, come to claim the throne of David forever (see Luke 1:32–33).

In the Baptism that He brings, the voice of God will hover over the waters as a fiery flame, as we sing in today’s Psalm. He has sanctified the waters, made them a passageway to healing and freedom—a fountain of new birth and everlasting life.


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

Readings:

Isaiah 60:1–6

Psalm 72:1–27–810–1112–13

Ephesians 3:2–35–6

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 10:2252 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other

places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:64:614).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “coheirs” 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 scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Feast Of The Holy Family

Posted: December 25, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Our True Home: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Feast of the Holy Family

Readings:

Sirach 3:2–612–14

Psalm 128:1–5

Colossians 3:12–21

Luke 2:41–52

Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God’s plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16–18).

In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We’re to live as His children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it.

The family advice we hear in today’s readings—for mothers, fathers, and children—is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in today’s Psalm. But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth.

Jesus shows us this in today’s Gospel. His obedience to His earthly parents flows directly from His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. Joseph and Mary aren’t identified by name, but three times are called “his parents” and are referred to separately as his “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is all on their familial ties to Jesus. But these ties are emphasized only so that Jesus, in the first words He speaks in Luke’s Gospel, can point us beyond that earthly relationship to the Fatherhood of God.

In what Jesus calls “my Father’s house,” every family finds its true meaning and purpose (see Ephesians 3:15). The Temple we read about in the Gospel today is God’s house, His dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it’s also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19–22Hebrews 3:3–610:21).

In our families we’re to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God—until He reveals His new dwelling among us and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be my son” (see Revelation 21:37).


A Mother’s Greeting: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Micah 5:1–4

Psalm 80:2–315–1618–19

Hebrews 5:5–10

Luke 1:39–45

On this last Sunday before Christmas, the Church’s Liturgy reveals the true identity of our Redeemer:

He is, as today’s First Reading says, the “ruler . . . whose origin is from . . . ancient times.” He will come from Bethlehem, where David was born of Jesse the Ephrathite and anointed king (see Ruth 4:11–171 Samuel 16:1–1317:1Matthew 2:6).

God promised that an heir of David would reign on his throne forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11–12).

Jesus is that heir, the One the prophets promised would restore the scattered tribes of Israel into a new kingdom (see Isaiah 9:5–6Ezekiel 34:23–253037:35). He is “the shepherd of Israel” sung of in today’s Psalm. From His throne in heaven, He has “come to save us.”

Today’s Epistle tells us that He is both the Son of David and the only “begotten” Son of God, come “in the flesh” (see also Psalm 2:7). He is also our “high priest,” from the mold of the mysterious Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” who blessed Abraham at the dawn of salvation history (see Psalm 110:4Genesis 14:18–20).

All this is recognized by John when he leaps for joy in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth, too, is filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. She recognizes that in Mary “the mother of my Lord” has come to her. We hear in her words another echo of the Psalm quoted in today’s Epistle (see Psalm 2:7). Elizabeth blesses Mary for her faith that God’s Word would be fulfilled in her.

Mary marks the fulfillment not only of the angel’s promise to her, but of all God’s promises down through history. Mary is the one they await in today’s First Reading—“she who is to give birth.” She will give birth this week, at Christmas. And the fruit of her womb should bring us joy—she is the mother of our Lord.

3rd Sunday of Advent

Posted: December 11, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

What Do We Do? Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Advent

Readings:

 Zephaniah 3:14–18

Isaiah 12:2–6

Philippians 4:4–7

Luke 3:10–18

The people in today’s Gospel are “filled with expectation.” They believe John the Baptist might be the messiah they’ve been waiting for. Three times we hear their question: “What then should we do?”

The messiah’s coming requires every man and woman to choose—to “repent” or not. That’s John’s message and it will be Jesus’ too (see Luke 3:35:3224:47).

“Repentance” translates a Greek word, metanoia (literally, “change of mind”). In the Scriptures, repentance is presented as a twofold “turning”—away from sin (see Ezekiel 3:1918:30) and toward God (see Sirach 17:20–21Hosea 6:1).

This “turning” is more than attitude adjustment. It means a radical life change. It requires “good fruits as evidence of your repentance” (see Luke 3:8). That’s why John tells the crowds, soldiers, and tax collectors they must prove their faith through works of charity, honesty, and social justice.

In today’s Liturgy, each of us is being called to stand in that crowd and hear the “good news” of John’s call to repentance. We should examine our lives, asking from our hearts as they did: “What should we do?” Our repentance should spring not from our fear of coming wrath (see Luke 3:7–9) but from a joyful sense of the nearness of our saving God.

This theme resounds through today’s readings: “Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all,” we hear in today’s Epistle. In today’s Responsorial, we hear again the call to be joyful, unafraid at the Lord’s coming among us.

In today’s First Reading, we hear echoes of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary. The prophet’s words are very close to the angel’s greeting (compare Luke 1:28–31). Mary is the Daughter Zion—the favored one of God, told not to fear but to rejoice that the Lord is with her, “a mighty Savior.”

She is the cause of our joy. For in her draws near the Messiah, as John had promised: “One mightier than I is coming.”

1st Sunday of Advent

Posted: November 27, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

Heads Up: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Psalm 25:4-5,8-10,14

1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Every Advent, the Liturgy of the Word gives our sense of time a reorientation. There’s a deliberate tension in the next four weeks’ readings—between promise and fulfillment, expectation and deliverance, between looking forward and looking back.

In today’s First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah focuses our gaze on the promise God made to David, some 1,000 years before Christ. God says through the prophet that He will fulfill this promise by raising up a “just shoot,” a righteous offspring of David, who will rule Israel in justice (see 2 Samuel 7:16; Jeremiah 33:17; Psalm 89:4–5; 27–38).

Today’s Psalm, too, sounds the theme of Israel’s ancient expectation: “Guide me in your truth and teach me. For you are God my savior and for you I will wait all day.”

We look back on Israel’s desire and anticipation knowing that God has already made good on those promises by sending His only Son into the world. Jesus is the “just shoot,” the God and Savior for Whom Israel was waiting.

Knowing that He is a God who keeps His promises lends grave urgency to the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel.

Urging us to keep watch for His return in glory, He draws on Old Testament images of chaos and instability—turmoil in the heavens (see Isaiah 13:11, 13; Ezekiel 32:7–8; Joel 2:10); roaring seas (see Isaiah 5:30; 17:12); distress among the nations (see Isaiah 8:22; 14:25) and terrified people (see Isaiah 13:6–11).

He evokes the prophet Daniel’s image of the Son of Man coming on a cloud of glory to describe His return as a “theophany,” a manifestation of God (see Daniel 7:13–14).

Many will cower and be literally scared to death. But Jesus says we should greet the end-times with heads raised high, confident that God keeps His promises, that our “redemption is at hand,” that “the kingdom of God is near” (see Luke 21:31).

Solemnity of Christ the King

Posted: November 21, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

A Royal Truth: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Solemnity of Christ the King

Readings:

Daniel 7:13-14
Psalm 93:1-2,5
Revelation 1:5-8
John 18:33-37

What’s the truth Jesus comes to bear witness to in this last Gospel of the Church’s year?

It’s the truth that in Jesus God keeps the promise He made to David of an everlasting kingdom, of an heir who would be His Son, “the first born, highest of the kings of the earth” (see 2 Samuel 7:12–16Psalm 89:27–38).

Today’s Second Reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, quotes these promises and celebrates Jesus as “the faithful witness.” The reading hearkens back to Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah would “witness to the peoples” that God is renewing His “everlasting covenant” with David (see Isaiah 55:3–5).

But as Jesus tells Pilate, there’s far more going on here than the restoration of a temporal monarchy. In the Revelation reading, Jesus calls Himself “the Alpha and the Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He’s applying to Himself a description that God uses to describe Himself in the Old Testament—the first and the last, the One who calls forth all generations (see Isaiah 41:444:648:12).

“He has made the world,” today’s Psalm cries, and His dominion is over all creation (see also John 1:3Colossians 1:16–17). In the vision of Daniel we hear in today’s First Reading, He comes on “the clouds of heaven”—another sign of His divinity—to be given “glory and kingship” forever over all nations and peoples.

Christ is King and His kingdom, while not of this world, exists in this world in the Church. We are a royal people. We know we have been loved by Him and freed by His blood and transformed into “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father” (see also Exodus 19:61 Peter 2:9).

As a priestly people, we share in His sacrifice and in His witness to God’s everlasting covenant. We belong to His truth and listen to His voice, waiting for Him to come again amid the clouds

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 13, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Daniel 12:1-3

Psalm 16:5,8-11

Hebrews 10:11-14,18

Mark 13:24-32

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

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

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

First, human community—nations and kingdoms—will break down (see Mark 13:7–8). Then the earth will stop yielding food and begin to shake apart (13:8). Next, the family will be torn apart from within and the last faithful individuals will be persecuted (13:9–13). Finally, the Temple will be desecrated, the earth emptied of God’s presence (13:14).

In today’s reading, God is described putting out the lights that He established in the sky in the very beginning—the sun, the moon and the stars (see also Isaiah 13:1034:4). Into this “uncreated” darkness, the Son of Man, in whom all things were made, will come.

Jesus has already told us that the Son of Man must be humiliated and killed (see Mark 8:31). Here He describes His ultimate victory, using royal-divine images drawn from the Old Testament—clouds, glory, and angels (see Daniel 7:13). He shows Himself to be the fulfillment of all God’s promises to save “the elect,” the faithful remnant (see Isaiah 43:6Jeremiah 32:37).

As today’s First Reading tells us, this salvation will include the bodily resurrection of those who sleep in the dust.

We are to watch for this day, when His enemies are finally made His footstool, as today’s Epistle envisions. We can wait in confidence knowing, as we pray in today’s Psalm, that we will one day delight at His right hand forever.


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

Readings:

1 Kings 1:10–16

Psalm 146:7–10

Hebrews 9:24–28

Mark 12:41–44

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

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

The widow in the Gospel also gives all that she has, offering her last bit of money to support the work of God’s priests in the Temple.

In their self-sacrifice, these widows embody the love that Jesus last week revealed as the heart of the Law and the Gospel. They mirror the Father’s love in giving His only Son, and Christ’s love in sacrificing Himself on the Cross.

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

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

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

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

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

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 30, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Deuteronomy 6:2–6

Psalm 18:2–44751

Hebrews 7:23–28

Mark 12:28–34

Love is only law we are to live by. And love is the fulfillment of the Law that God reveals through Moses in today’s First Reading (see Romans 13:8–10Matthew 5:43–48).

The unity of God—the truth that He is one God, Father, Son, and Spirit—means that we must love Him with one love, a love that serves Him with all our hearts and minds, souls and strength.

We love Him because He has loved us first. We love our neighbor because we can’t love the God we haven’t seen unless we love those made in His image and likeness, whom we have seen (see 1 John 4:19–21).

And we are called to imitate the love that Christ showed us in laying His life down on the Cross (see 1 John 3:16). As we hear in today’s Epistle, by His perfect sacrifice on the Cross, He once and for all makes it possible for us to approach God.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life (see John 15:13). This is perhaps why Jesus tells the scribe in today’s Gospel that he is not far from the kingdom of God.

The scribe recognizes that the burnt offerings and sacrifices of the old Law were meant to teach Israel that it is love that God desires (see Hosea 6:6). The animals offered in sacrifice were symbols of the self-sacrifice, the total gift of our selves, that God truly desires.

We are called today to examine our hearts. Do we have other loves that get in the way of our love for God? Do we love others as Jesus has loved us (see John 13:34–35)? Do we love our enemies and pray for those who oppose and persecute us (see Matthew 5:44)?

Let us tell the Lord we love Him, as we do in today’s Psalm. And let us take His Word to heart, that we might prosper and have life eternal in His kingdom, the heavenly homeland flowing with milk and honey.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: October 23, 2021 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
Tags: ,

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

Readings:

Jeremiah 31:7–9

Psalm 126:1–6

Hebrews 5:1–6

Mark 10:46–52

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

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

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

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

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

Bartimaeus, too, should be a sign for us. How often Christ passes us by—in the person of the poor, in the distressing guise of a troublesome family member or burdensome associate (see Matthew 25:31–46)—and yet we don’t see Him.

Christ still calls to us through His Church, as Jesus sent His Apostles to call Bartimaeus. Yet how often are we found to be listening instead to the voices of the crowd, not hearing the words of His Church.

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


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

Readings:

Isaiah 53:10-11

Psalm 33:4-5,18-20,22

Hebrews 4:14-16

Mark 10:35-45

The sons of Zebedee hardly know what they’re asking in today’s Gospel. They are thinking in terms of how the Gentiles rule, of royal privileges and honors.

But the road to Christ’s kingdom is by way of His Cross. To share in His glory, we must be willing to drink the cup that He drinks.

The cup is an Old Testament image for God’s judgment. The wicked would be made to drink this cup in punishment for their sins (see Psalm 75:9Jeremiah 25:1528Isaiah 51:17). But Jesus has come to drink this cup on behalf of all humanity. He has come to be baptized—which means plunged or immersed—into the sufferings we all deserve for our sins (compare Luke 12:50).

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

Like Isaiah’s servant, the Son of Man will give His life as an offering for sin, as once Israel’s priests offered sacrifices for the sins of the people (see Leviticus 5:17–19).

Jesus is the heavenly high priest of all humanity, as we hear in today’s Epistle. Israel’s high priests offered the blood of goats and calves in the temple sanctuary. But Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood (see Hebrews 9:12).

And by bearing our guilt and offering His life to do the will of God, Jesus ransomed “the many”—paying the price to redeem humanity from spiritual slavery to sin and death.

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

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

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


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

Readings:

Psalm 90:12–17

Hebrews 4:12–13

Wisdom 7:7–11

Mark 10:17–30

The rich young man in today’s Gospel wants to know what we all want to know—how to live in this life so that we might live forever in the world to come. He seeks what today’s Psalm calls “wisdom of heart.”

He learns that the wisdom he seeks is not a program of works to be performed or behaviors to be avoided. As Jesus tells him, observing the commandments is essential to walking the path of salvation—but it can only get us so far.

The Wisdom of God is not precepts, but a person—Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Wisdom whose Spirit was granted to Solomon in today’s First Reading. Jesus is the Word of God spoken of in today’s Epistle. And Jesus, as He reveals Himself to the rich man today, is God.

In Jesus we encounter Wisdom, the living and effective Word of God. As He does with the rich man today, He looks upon each of us with love. That look of love, that loving gaze, is a personal invitation—to give up everything to follow Him.

Nothing is concealed from His gaze, as we hear in the Epistle. In His fiery eyes, the thoughts of our hearts are exposed, and each of us must render an account of our lives (see Revelation 1:14).

We must have the attitude of Solomon, preferring Wisdom to all else, loving Him more than even life itself. This preference, this love, requires a leap of faith. We will be persecuted for this faith, Jesus tells His disciples today. But we must trust in His promise—that all good things will come to us in His company.

What, then, are the “many possessions” that keep us from giving ourselves totally to God? What are we clinging to—material things, comfort zones, relationships? What will it take for us to live fully for Christ’s sake and the sake of the Gospel?

Let us pray for the wisdom to enter into the kingdom of God. With the Psalmist, let us ask Him, “Teach us.”