Official Biblical, Liturgical, "Good News" readings.

February 19, 2017


The Cure For Hatred


Reading 1 - LV 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD."

Responsorial Psalm - PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

R. (8A) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Reading 2 - 1 COR 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses,
and again:
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.


So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

Alleluia - 1 JN 2:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel - MT 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Reflection

"Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses." ---Ann Landerslove

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." ---Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." ---Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." ---Jesus Christ, the Lord

The First and Second Readings make one thing very clear to all of us as we keep going through all of our lives: Love is the goal.

Now, what that does that mean? In a day and age where everything seems to take on some sexual overtone, it is good to be clear and honest when we say "love." Moses began a great discussion for us today when he shouted out to the people, "Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." In other words, we might say, God wants us close to Him because He loves us so much. And we stay close to Him by listening closely and following Him even closer. This is the underlying purpose of the Law. It binds us together as a community while strengthening our mutual respect and by staying close to God we hopefully stay close to each other who are following the same Lord.

Jesus teachingWhen Jesus announced that we are also to love our enemies, I am sure that drew a gasp from His first audiences. Unfortunately in a way for some, the English Language really doesn't do Love any justice in the words that we have available to us to describe. The Greek Language, however, does go deeper: There are at least three different levels (and word) for Love. Quickly, for our purposes here, we will suffice to name 1. Eros, which could be describes as passion, attraction and simple. Then there is Filia, which is like or esteemed kind of friendship, for another person, or even for a hobby or for one's neighbors. Then there is Agape which is the kind of love that surpasses all the others and says: "I love you so much that I will sacrifice for you wanting the best for you even if means doing without for me." (must be careful here about promoting co-dependence)

If and when we begin to love our enemies, even appreciate them for their service to us, our love for our friends and families increases. And when that increases, our capacity to love God more and more also flourishes. This is the hope of Discipleship: that we become more loving people.
February 18, 2017


TRANSFIGURATION


Reading 1 - HEB 11:1-7

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,
so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain's.
Through this, he was attested to be righteous,
God bearing witness to his gifts,
and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
and he was found no more because God had taken him.
Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him,
for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen,
with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household.
Through this, he condemned the world
and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Responsorial Psalm - PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.


Alleluia - MK 9:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel - MK 9:2-13

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
"Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
then from the cloud came a voice,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Then they asked him,
"Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
He told them, "Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things,
yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man
that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written of him."

Reflection

Crucifixion
The Only Real Gate to Heaven


"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (First Reading)

The Letter to the Hebrews contains a vision and dream of one who wish to follow the Lord Jesus without reserve or without regret.  It serves as a counter balance to what Jesus will reveal about Himself, not only to the Apostles, but you and me right here, right now. We will survive even the most painful of tests to our faith.

"I will praise your name for ever, Lord." (Responsorial Psalm)

The Son of Man is glorious in every regard, worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise.

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Gospel)

Undoubtedly, the purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus was. Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of Christ as God, the Son of Man, though they could not fully comprehend it. That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death. You and I need the same.

And God said He was pleased and we should listen.
February 17, 2017


The Tower of Babel:
Monument to Confused Speech


Reading 1 - GN 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
While the people were migrating in the east,
they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another,
"Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire."
They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth."

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower
that they had built.
Then the LORD said: "If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language,
they have started to do this,
nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do.
Let us then go down and there confuse their language,
so that one will not understand what another says."
Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth,
and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.
It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm - PS 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia - JN 15:15B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel - MK 8:34—9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

He also said to them,
"Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power."

Reflection

What was the sin surrounded by the infamous Tower of Babel? There are clues that we can find especially in the the fourth sentence of our First Reading. There are four major troubling areas: 1) They desire to build a city. 2) They desire to build a tower in the city that reaches to the heavens. 3) They desire to make a name for themselves. 4) They do not want to be spread over the whole earth. Numbers #1 & 2 correspond to numbers #3 & 4. Building a city is the way one avoids being dispersed over the whole earth and building a tower as high as the sky is at least one way people make themselves famous, thinking they are as great as God and giving in to the obsessive need of being praised.  The city and tower are the outward expressions of their inward sinfulness. These are selfishness, arrogant egoism, and the want to live without the help of God trying to fend for themselves.

God’s will for us is not found in what others think or care about us but simply in knowing and trusting that God knows and loves and cares for each and everyone of us. Our safety and security are found in loving and praising Him all the days of our life.  Keep in mind that this happens after experience of Noah and the flood, which was a clear and dramatic warning for all humanity. What we sadly read is that there is still so much more confusion, just as existed before the Great Flood. In fact, it appears that humanity is no better since the emergence of Original Sin with Adam and Eve. We clearly need help from the surmounting and infectious confusion that has invaded our society.

Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, clears up the confusion. Let us hear again what He said to us in the Gospel:

"Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

The only way to rise and shine above the darkness and confusion is to bear witness to Christ, live in His amazing grace and be ready to ask forgiveness and impart it to others in this life.

With this in mind, we are strengthened by The Word of God and fed with the Bread of the Eucharist. This is the only way to greatness that Jesus has died for us to share and eternally enjoy. We can then agree and sing with His beautiful words found in today's Alleluia Verse:

"I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me."
February 16, 2017


What Do You See?


Reading 1 - GN 9:1-13

God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them:
"Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.
Dread fear of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth
and all the birds of the air,
upon all the creatures that move about on the ground
and all the fishes of the sea;
into your power they are delivered.
Every creature that is alive shall be yours to eat;
I give them all to you as I did the green plants.
Only flesh with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat.
For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting:
from every animal I will demand it,
and from one man in regard to his fellow man
I will demand an accounting for human life.

If anyone sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
For in the image of God
has man been made.

Be fertile, then, and multiply;
abound on earth and subdue it."

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
"See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."
God added:
"This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth."

Responsorial Psalm - PS 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23

R. (20B) From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
"The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die."
R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.
The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence,
That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion,
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.

Alleluia - JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel - MK 8:27-33

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that I am?"
They said in reply,
"John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets."
And he asked them,
"But who do you say that I am?"
Peter said to him in reply,
"You are the Christ."
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Reflection

After  along 40 days and nights, Noah and his family finally were able to walk upon dry earth and witness a new beginning of life and love. The period of darkness and evil atmosphere was over and a virtually a new day had begun. So what did they see? It was beautiful in every way a natural occurrence could be. It was the sign of hope and redemption and the promise of things to come for the rest human history:

"This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."

There would never be a complete end to the hope of where we are destined and how we should arrive at the promise of Heaven. God had not given up on us and gave us a sign that even better things were going to happen, if we just watched and waited.

"But who do you say that I am?"

Jesus as the fulfillment of the Father and the complete and entire hope of humanity would come to save us from the vicious flood or darkness and evil and bring the same kind of joy and hope for each of us to carry with us for all time all the way to the promised land of Heaven. Just as Noah and his family recognized the hope of the rainbow, so Peter and the disciples, the new occupants of the Ship of the Church, would recognize in Jesus that same eternal joy of love which God the Father has promised, what he brought about in Christ who died to win eternal life for us.

What do you see? Nothing but beauty!

February 15, 2017


Reading 1 - GN 8:6-13, 20-22

At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark,
and he sent out a raven,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth.
Then he sent out a dove,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
But the dove could find no place to alight and perch,
and it returned to him in the ark,
for there was water all over the earth.
Putting out his hand, he caught the dove
and drew it back to him inside the ark.
He waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark.
In the evening the dove came back to him,
and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf!
So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth.
He waited still another seven days
and then released the dove once more;
and this time it did not come back.

In the six hundred and first year of Noah's life,
in the first month, on the first day of the month,
the water began to dry up on the earth.
Noah then removed the covering of the ark
and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up.

Noah built an altar to the LORD,
and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird,
he offered burnt offerings on the altar.
When the LORD smelled the sweet odor, he said to himself:
"Never again will I doom the earth because of man
since the desires of man's heart are evil from the start;
nor will I ever again strike down all living beings, as I have done.
As long as the earth lasts,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
Summer and winter,
and day and night
shall not cease."

Responsorial Psalm - PS 116:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (17A) To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia - EPH 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to his call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel - MK 8:22-26

When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked,
"Do you see anything?"
Looking up the man replied, "I see people looking like trees and walking."
Then he laid hands on the man's eyes a second time and he saw clearly;
his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.
Then he sent him home and said, "Do not even go into the village."

Reflection

In today's Scripture passages, we have a front-row seat to the miraculous intervention of our Merciful God upon the human race which He so willingly created and so willingly redeemed. First, there was Noah. We recall earlier how God Himself even regretted starting humanity when all the terrible evil and disobedience erupted. It was time to start all over and thus, the flood waters came and soaked the earth, destroying everything there except those people and animals safe inside the ark. But was that the end of the story? After 40 days, and then some, it was time for a second start, a new order and a clean beginning:

"He waited still another seven days and then released the dove once more; and this time it did not come back."

In the Gospel, something very similar although not that obvious is presented. A blind man was brought before Jesus who takes his own spittle and then lays His hands upon him. Was that the end of the story? Far from it:

"Then he laid hands on the man's eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly."

Our God is a loving and merciful God! He seems never to give up on any of us and continues to seek restoration and renewal in every possible avenue and opportunity. He is that way with us today. Allow Jesus to lead you into a second start, a new order and a clean beginning---every morning!

Then, we will be able to exclaim with the Alleluia Verse:

"May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to his call."

 
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