Thanks to "Daily Homilies for Sunday and Weekday Masses" by FAITH Catholic Publishing.
@2017 FAITH Catholic Publishing and Communications
Catholic Diocese of Lansing, Vol. 49, No. 3
1) Sirach 27:30-28:7
2) Romans 14:7-9
3) Matthew 18:21-35
Gospel related: CCC 982, 2227, 2843, 2845
FOCUS: Jesus calls us to forgive others as we have been forgiven.
Most of us live with some form of financial debt these days. It might be the mortgage or the car payment. Perhaps there are student loans that paid for our education. We’re used to debt and we’re used to getting statements reminding us to pay our debts. Of course, one of the great fears we have is that there may be circumstances in which we’re not able to repay what we owe.
Imagine, then, going to your mailbox and getting a note telling you that all your debts have been paid. In fact, they have been paid in full. My guess is that our first reaction would be, “Wow!” And then, after a few moments, being the wise and worldly people that we are, we might wonder, “So, where’s the catch?”
Think about that in light of today’s Gospel, in which the servant’s huge, un-payable debt is kindly and fully forgiven by the king. While the servant seems to leave with a sense of relief, what he does not clearly understand is that there is a catch to all this. He, the servant, must forgive the debts of others, as he, the servant, has been forgiven by the gracious king. And that’s the catch for all of us: realizing that in his great mercy, God has forgiven our sins, and thus we are called to be a people of forgiveness to others.
I know it can be uncomfortable to focus on our sinfulness. We know it’s there, but we much prefer to focus on the good in ourselves. Yet every now and again, we have to stop and think about the reality that we do, in fact, sin. At the very beginning of the Mass, we acknowledge this reality as we ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Penitential Rite. We realize that Jesus’ mercy is amazing, and in that realization, we come to know not only that we are forgiven, but that we must be generous in forgiving others.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus speak about the breadth of the forgiveness we are called to offer. We are called to forgive not just once and not just seven times. We are called to forgive seventy-seven times – we are called to forgive overwhelmingly, just as the king forgives the servant in the parable, just as God forgives each of us.
Jesus leads the way in this, forgiving the woman caught in adultery, forgiving Thomas in his doubting and forgiving Peter for denying him three times. Jesus forgives us. How different would our world be if we practiced this kind of forgiveness constantly?
The Eucharist we celebrate today is the first sacrament of forgiveness. In it, we acknowledge our debts and through it we receive the Lord’s own gift of forgiveness. In the Eucharist, we come to know we are forgiven so we can go out into the world and be generous in loving and forgiving others.
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Monday, September 18, 2017 MONDAY OF 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
1) 1 Timothy 2:1-8
2) Luke 7:1-10
FOCUS: We are saved and redeemed by Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
Today’s first reading tells us that Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity. What is a mediator? Webster’s dictionary defines a mediator as “one that mediates, especially one that mediates between parties at variance.” A mediator’s role, in secular terms, is to help two disputing parties resolve their differences. And reconciling humanity to God was at the core of the Jesus’ saving mission.
The profound depth of who Jesus is and why he came to earth seems to have been lost on much of modern society because he tends to be seen only in worldly terms. The secular world often sees Jesus as a “do-gooder” who shows us how to love each other and be nice to each other. But that was hardly the extent of Jesus’ mission. Ultimately, his mission was to bring about the salvation of humanity. That’s what his role as mediator – as the “go-between” between God and humanity – is all about.
Jesus was fully human and fully divine. By becoming human, he did not give up his divinity. And in his divinity, Jesus did not become any less of a man. Our fallen and sinful natures notwithstanding, God redeemed us through the passion, death and resurrection of his son, Jesus.
In the first reading, Paul tells us that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all – as the paschal Lamb who was offered and who offered himself for us to take away the sins of the world. This act, by which Jesus draws into deeper union with himself, is perpetuated until the end of time through the Eucharist.
We will receive Communion in a few minutes, and just before we do, let us pray over and reflect on the profoundly powerful fact that we will receive Jesus Christ himself – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In becoming one Incarnate man with two natures, one fully human and one fully divine, and in sacrificing himself for our redemption and salvation, Christ is an unbreakable link between humanity and God.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017 Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr
1) 1 Timothy 3:1-13
2) Luke 7:11-17
Gospel related: CCC 994, 1503
FOCUS: Let us turn to Jesus in times of trouble.
It would be fascinating to talk to the young man we hear about in today's Gospel. He was dead and Jesus brought him back to life for the benefit of the man's mother, who was a widow and had no other children.
Jesus knew how hard it would be for this widow. He took pity on her and gave her son back to her. But the Gospel never mentions that Jesus made any demands of the young man. Being brought back to life seems like it would inspire a person to lead an exemplary life, but Jesus performed this miracle from the generosity of his heart, because he was moved with pity, or compassion, for the woman.
Compassion means to share feelings; to feel what someone else is feeling, especially when those feelings are ones of distress or pain. The word implies a desire to help alleviate the pain or distress. Jesus was able to do that as no one else ever has. He was fully man, with all the feelings and pains and troubles we have, yet he was also fully God, with all the power of the universe and a love for humankind that is beyond measure.
The widow of Nain was fortunate that Jesus came along as her son was about to be buried. But how fortunate are all of us that he is present to us anywhere we are, any time we need a compassionate presence. He may not bring our loved ones back to us, but he will be there to help us through whatever is causing us pain.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus works in and through others who care about us to offer comfort and reassurance. He gives us the gift of himself in the Eucharist to draw us closer to himself, and to give us the grace to persevere in living our faith in good times and in bad. Jesus speaks to us through sacred Scripture, and he speaks to us when we pray with the still small voice we hear in the silence of our hearts.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017 Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest,
and Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
1) 1 Timothy 3:14-16 IN ORDINARY TIME
2) Luke 7:31-35 (OBL MEM
FOCUS: Let us strive to live in the way God calls us to live.
Expectations have some great benefits. They help establish norms for living with others. For example, athletes are expected to follow the rules of their sport; without these rules and these expectations, the game would be utter chaos. As citizens, we are called upon to follow the laws, pay our taxes and our debts, vote, and treat others with civility. Schools and places of business set their own expectations for teachers, students, employees and customers. In the first reading, Paul tells Timothy that he is writing to tell him how one ought to behave in the household of God. He is laying down and clarifying per se the expectations for living as a disciple of Jesus and a member of the Church.
But expectations also have a downside in that a person can have preconceived ideas or expectations that blind them from the truth. Jesus laments this reality in today’s Gospel with regard to the many people of his time who, blinded by their own preconceived ideas and expectations regarding the Messiah, were rejecting and critical of him as well as John the Baptist.
So today’s Gospel reminds us that we are to let go of any preconceived ideas or expectations we may have about God or others for they can blind us to the truth. Instead, one set of expectations should govern our lives, and that is the way God calls us to live as his dearly beloved sons and daughters. We are blessed in that God has clearly revealed to us how he expects us to live through his commandments, through the teaching and example of his son, Jesus, and through the teachings of the Church.
Living in the way God calls us to live will bring us to lead lives which help build up God’s kingdom on earth, bring us to experience more fully the blessings of peace and joy, and help to ensure we are judged worthy of eternal life in heaven.
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Thursday, September 21, 2017 SAINT MATTHEW, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST - FEAST
1) Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
2) Matthew 9:9-13
Gospel related: CCC 581, 589, 2100
FOCUS: As we accept the invitation to follow Christ and receive his mercy, we extend this same invitation to others.
From time to time, people are asked to extend an invitation through an invited guest for others to come to a gathering or dinner. The host is glad to have more guests. The one invited is happy to bring others along with him.
On this feast of Saint Matthew, we hear the Gospel account of his call to be a follower of Jesus. As Matthew leaves his customs post to follow Jesus, he receives Jesus into his home for dinner. But he also became the means by which the invitation to follow Jesus was extended to others. The Gospel says that many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. Matthew did not restrict Jesus to himself. From the beginning of his acceptance of Jesus’ call, Matthew was an extension to others of the invitation to follow Jesus.
To accept Jesus into one’s life is to accept God’s mercy into one’s life. No one knew the need for God’s mercy more than the tax collectors and sinners. They were constantly reminded by the Pharisees and religious leaders that they were despised by society and by God. Since Jesus was a man of God, eating at table with him was seen as an acceptance not only by Jesus, but also by God. Matthew not only experienced God’s mercy through Jesus, he became an extended invitation of God’s mercy to his fellow tax collectors and sinners who joined him at table with the Lord. It was a banquet of mercy, feasted upon by the ones who knew they needed God’s mercy.
Matthew perpetuated his ministry to be an extended invitation to follow Jesus and to receive his divine mercy through his work as an evangelist. Clearly, the ministry of evangelist was recognized as a God-given gift for building up the Body of Christ, as Saint Paul explained to the Ephesians. Matthew not only embraced his apostolic call to proclaim the Good News of God’s mercy through Jesus, he handed down a written account of teachings, healings and forgiveness by which people could be confident in God’s mercy for them, and be challenged to become extensions of God’s mercy to others.
Through the Gospel of Matthew, we are the recipients of the invitation to follow Jesus that was extended through Matthew. Jesus receiving us as his own is a sign of his mercy poured out upon us. Like Matthew, discipleship demands that we extend the invitation to follow Jesus and reveal his mercy to others. Matthew started with his friends and co-workers at table in his house. This may be exactly where we need to start.
Jesus is always happy to receive more guests at his banquet of mercy. He always extends a call to follow him. Let us rejoice in the fact that we are one with the Apostles and evangelists in extending Jesus’ invitation to others.
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Friday, September 22, 2017 FRIDAY OF THE 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
1) 1 Timothy 6:2c-12
2) Luke 8:1-3
FOCUS: Compete well for the faith.
A widely known proverb in our culture is that “money is the root of all evils.” Today’s first reading reveals the origin of this aphorism, even if it shows that the author, Saint Paul, did not say that it was money itself that was the root of all evil, but the love of it.
Today we hear about a group of holy women who placed a higher priority on their discipleship than their wealth ─ and it would appear they were women of some means. Luke tells us specifically that they supported Jesus and the Apostles out of their resources.
After encountering Jesus, they chose a different path from chasing after the riches of this world. Instead, they did what Paul advised Timothy, pursuing righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. They did this because, in Jesus, they found eternal life, a richness greater than anything this world can offer.
The story of the women who helped Jesus and the Apostles, and the warnings of Saint Paul that we heard today are not a call for all of us to embrace radical poverty and give away all our possessions as Saint Francis of Assisi did. Rather, it is a reminder that we are to love God above all things, and make loving him and living as faithful disciples of Jesus the number one priority in our lives. Perhaps through our witness, others may come to know Jesus and place their faith in him. Let’s compete well for the faith, and lay hold of eternal life.
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Saturday, September 23, 2017 Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest
1) 1 Timothy 6:13-16
2) Luke 8:4-15
Gospel related: CCC 368, 1151, 2668, 2731, 2847
FOCUS: Jesus is God’s living Word made flesh for the salvation of all humanity.
Owning and operating a bird-feeder has its joys as well as its challenges. The joy is in seeing various and sundry birds come to the feeder to eat the seeds. The challenge is to keep it stocked with seed, clean and protected from the squirrels. As the birds feed and the squirrels weasel their way onto the feeder, some of the seed inevitably falls to the ground. There, some seeds are eaten by the ground critters, some take root but soon wither, and some grow into various orphan plants. You may see corn stalks or rye grass in abundance.
The bird-feeder is a good image of God’s word in the Bible. God provides the Scriptures for our nourishment. The Bible is there for us to read and feast upon. Imagine how spiritually healthy we would be if we were to take time every day to nourish our hearts with God’s word just as the birds feed themselves at bird-feeders each day. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (#21) from the Second Vatican Council reminds us that we are nourished at the table of the word of God just as we are nourished at the table of the Body and Blood of Christ. Today’s Scripture readings are just such a source of nourishment.
Listening to and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ is the task for all Christians, as seen in a particular way in today’s reading from the first Letter of Timothy. Saint Paul admonishes Timothy to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until Jesus returns in all his glory at the end of time. Timothy was chosen by Paul to lead the Church of Ephesus and spread the Gospel. Keeping the commandment means that Timothy must take his responsibilities as a Christian seriously by doing God’s will. Like Timothy, we are also called by God and commissioned through baptism to follow his commandments. God provides the strength we need to accomplish this through his work.
Now in today’s Gospel, Jesus is going about his Father’s business of teaching the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Who is the audience? In addition to us, the “crowd” is made up of the Apostles, the women of Galilee who have chosen to follow Jesus and people from various towns who have journeyed to hear Jesus. Jesus teaches this mixed group the parable of the sower and the seed.
The moral of this parable is that the word of God will flourish in some hearts, and die away in others. Having heard God’s word, it is up to each of us to provide the rich soil of a loving heart so that God’s word produces abundant fruit in our lives.
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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2017 TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
1) Isaiah 55:6-9
2) Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
3) Matthew 20:1-16a
Gospel related: CSDC 541
FOCUS: God owes us nothing and yet he has given us everything, placing us forever in his debt.
Everyone has a sense of justice ─ that voice of conscience that tells us what is right and what is not. You might feel it’s an injustice at work when someone gets the promotion you felt you earned. In school, the student who studied hard for the test and got a C certainly doesn’t like the one who didn’t prepare at all and got an A. When we see someone we feel to be less deserving walking around with a pocket of blessing, we might ask God, “Why them and not me?”
Would we ask the same question if we saw someone who was dying, paralyzed or who just lost their job? It’s doubtful.
The parable in Matthew’s Gospel is a challenge for all of us. Our first instinct is to take sides with those laborers who sweat it out all day and didn’t make any more money for their efforts than those who just showed up to collect a check at the end of the workday. Insult is added to injury when the last get paid first and those who worked longest and hardest are made to wait. This kind of generosity shocks some and angers others. Our parents raised us to believe in an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work.
This parable raises more questions than it answers. Why did the landowner keep returning to the square to pick more workers for his vineyard? In Israel at harvest time, it was essential to bring in the crops as fast as possible before the flooding fall rains set in. Why do those men stand around all day? They had no property. No power. It was the luck of the draw. They waited in hopes that someone would employ them so they could afford to feed their families.
God is much like the landowner – generous in forgiving as Isaiah said in today’s first reading. We owe him a debt we can never repay. The Lord doesn’t charge some more than others. He sent his Son to die for all of us. God owes us nothing, and yet he has given us everything, placing us forever in his debt.
All the men called to work in the vineyard were equals ─ they all had hungry mouths to feed. The landowner had mercy on all of them, giving them what they needed – not what they earned. This shows us how God has loved us in Christ. We are called upon to be as giving and forgiving of others as God has been to us. God loves all of us equally – the cradle Catholic the same as the convert, the sinner as much as the saint, every person in every pew.
God calls all of us to labor in his vineyard of mercy, and to conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
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Monday, September 25, 2017 MONDAY OF 25TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
1) Ezra 1:1-6
2) Luke 8:16-18
FOCUS: Listening to God’s word isn’t enough; acting on it strengthens our faith and makes a difference.
“Use it or lose it.” If we don’t exercise our bodies, our muscles weaken. If we don’t use our minds, they stagnate. The same is true of our spiritual life. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that listening to his message isn’t enough. We need to put it into practice.
It’s one thing to believe in Jesus. It’s another thing altogether to follow him. This requires opening our hearts to God’s healing and saving grace, placing our faith in Jesus and making the conscious choice to follow him each day. This helps ensure we are living our faith with integrity.
Integrity means wholeness. It means that our insides match our outsides, that we don’t say one thing and do another. It means we don’t bury the light of God’s truth beneath fear or prejudice.
When we’re enlightened by our faith, it forms us, making a difference in the way we act in our daily lives. If it doesn’t, what good does it do us? It might as well be a light squelched under a basket. The light of faith doesn’t do us – or anyone else – a bit of good unless we let that light shine. That’s easy enough to do when we’re with like-minded people. It’s harder to let our light shine in the darkness, but that’s where light is most needed.
Letting God’s light shine in and through us in the darkness is an act of integrity. It might be as simple as responding courteously when someone is rude or unkind to us, or letting someone out in front of us in traffic.
Every time we make the difficult correct choice instead of the easy wrong one, we are letting God’s light shine. None of us will do it perfectly, but every time we exercise our faith muscles, they grow stronger. We who act on the faith we have truly will be given more.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2017 Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs
1) Ezra 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20
2) Luke 8:19-21
FOCUS: Living as a follower of Jesus requires loving God above all things, and living according to Jesus’ teachings.
How difficult it must have been for the Jewish people returning from exile in Babylon. They had heard stories of Jerusalem and the once-glorious Temple, but very little was left for the generations who returned. They had memories handed down from their parents and grandparents, and some writings carefully preserved. They also had a strong desire to repair, not just the Temple, but their relationship with God. They saw the destruction of Jerusalem and their exile as punishment for not being faithful to the Lord, for worshipping false Gods, and for ignoring his commandments. The Law was their key to binding themselves, as a people, to God again.
We hear a similar theme in today’s Gospel. When Jesus hears from members of the gathered crowd that his mother and brothers were waiting to see him, he says that his mother and brothers are those who follow him and live according to his commandments.
Now the question becomes, what do these words of Jesus mean for our lives? Do these words mean that the love and relationships we have with our family are unimportant? By no means. Rather, what Jesus is saying is that the first priority in our lives must always be loving God above all things and living according to his teachings. In other words, the decisions we make must be made with our eye always on him, not on what we are expected to do as a son or daughter, mother or father. The Lord’s call cuts through all human relationships.
Turning our attention back to the first reading, it is important to note that at the time the Temple was rebuilt, the Twelve Tribes of Israel were reduced to the two least significant: Judah and Benjamin. The ties of kinship that had bound Abraham’s descendants had been all but eliminated. The returning exiles found themselves in the midst of the people of the land ─ those who had not been forced into exile and had intermarried with Gentiles (who were referenced in an earlier chapter of Ezra ). Family ties did not bind them to the Lord. But adherence to his Law, and common worship, did bind them.
Are we willing to follow Jesus, even when it causes disruption in our families? When it puts us at odds with those who are nearest and dearest to us? The decision to follow Jesus, and to live our lives following his commandments, is the only thing that determines whether we are his disciples. Nothing, not even family loyalties, should come between us and the Lord.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017 Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest
1) Ezra 9:5-9
2) Luke 9:1-6
Gospel related: CCC 551
FOCUS: We’re empowered by God; let’s use the abilities he gave us to share his love wherever we find ourselves today.
In the first reading we hear about Ezra. The Israelites –including their religious leaders – had intermingled with neighboring pagan communities and adopted their decadent practices. After learning of this, Ezra made a communal confession of sin and offered a prayer of repentance. While not included in today’s passage, Ezra also urged the people, in light of God’s mercy to them, to reform their lives in accordance with God’s will.
Today’s Gospel details Jesus’ instructions to the Apostles. After empowering them for their mission, he sent them to surrounding villages to drive out demons, heal the sick and preach God’s kingdom to any and all who would listen. Jesus told them to rely on God’s providence rather than their own resources.
These two readings are most appropriate on this Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul. For many, Saint Vincent’s name is synonymous with helping the poor. To this day, the Vincentians and the Daughters of Charity carry on his mission to serve the poor and suffering around the world. Saint Vincent, and those joining his efforts, ministered to the imprisoned and to victims of war, poverty and slavery.
He established hospitals for those in need. In addition, Saint Vincent helped reform the lax priesthood in France by developing improved methods of formation for those preparing for ordination. He also offered retreats to nurture spiritual renewal for both clergy and laity.
Like Ezra, Vincent called priests and lay people to repent and turn back to God. Like the Apostles, he healed the sick by establishing hospitals. He drove out demons of ignorance and injustice, and preached the Good News of God’s love through his service to the poor and suffering. He used his God-given abilities to do what he could in the time and place in which he lived.
How can we respond to Jesus’ call to serve today? We don’t have to follow Jesus’ instructions to his Apostles literally. We don’t have to walk from town to town without a walking stick or beggar’s bag to heal the sick, cast out demons or preach the Good News. However, like Saint Vincent de Paul, we can use the skills and resources we each have in the here and now.
Can we donate time or money to help those in need? Can we heal a wounded heart or drive out demons of hate, fear or loneliness with a kind word or smile? Can we share the Good News of God’s love by the way we treat everyone we meet today? We aren’t called to be carbon copies of Ezra, the Apostles or Saint Vincent de Paul, but we are called to do what we can.
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Thursday September 28, 2017 Saint Wenceslaus, Martyr
1) Haggai 1:1-8
2) Luke 9:7-9
FOCUS: Seek God at all times
Today’s Gospel reading has an example of someone interested in Jesus for all the wrong reasons. From the time Herod had heard about Jesus, he had sought him out. He did so, not because he wanted to believe that God had sent a Messiah to his people, but – because he was superstitious and jealous – he sought after Jesus’ power in order to exploit it, and Jesus, for his own use.
A similar pattern emerges among God’s people in the first reading, though the Hebrews aren’t curious about God and his power, as Herod had been. In the reading, the prophet Haggai tells the people that they are concerned only about their own comfort. During good times, they didn’t think much about God or want to bother with God. But when times were bad, the people complained that God did not hear them or help them. It was then that they thought about God and sensed his absence. They wanted God’s power only when they wanted things to be better for them.
Saint Wenceslaus and Saint Lawrence Ruiz, along with his companions, are honored today as men who saw God in the good times of their lives. They also relied on God as their help and strength when times were bad. They shared God’s truth with those around them in both good times and bad. Their love for God was so strong that they gave their lives for God and were martyred for their beliefs.
What does this mean for us? God wants a relationship with us. Do we know that God is with us in our everyday situations? Do we see Christ at work in us and through our actions? Do we rely on God only when things are not as good as we would like them to be, or do we seek him in good times as well? Our choice is simple: We can choose to have a real relationship with Christ, communicating with him regularly through prayer and daily reflection; or, we can be like Herod and the ancient Hebrews and look for God’s power only in times of need.
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Friday, September 29, 2017 SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL,
(Lec. 647) ARCHANGELS- FEAST
1) Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or
2) John 1:47-51
FOCUS: You will see greater things than this.
For so much of our lives – even our spiritual lives – we as Christians seem to be caught up in the “nitty-gritty” of everyday life. Perhaps this is why Jesus so often used these ordinary means to show us the way to God. From the work of his fishermen and their catch of fish, to the lamp set on a table stand, to the grain that is buried to bring forth new life, Jesus teaches us through the world we inhabit every day.
Yet, today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we are invited to see beyond earth – to catch a glimpse of the heavenly realm we will only experience fully when we complete our lives on this earth. Today, we get to reflect on the glories of Jesus receiving full dominion over all of creation – in the sight of myriad angels and saints. We get to hear, with the humble Nathanael, Jesus’ promise that we will see so much more than we see now. Now beyond affirming that heaven is our true home, what can we take from these readings today?
It seems the answer can be found in focusing on the three archangels. You might say all three are “down to earth” because they have been sent to human beings as our protectors and guides. Michael is revered the world over as the protector of human beings – not only driving Satan out of heaven but keeping Satan from getting a toe-hold in our spiritual lives. Gabriel is world-famous for the astonishing news he brought to human beings – first to the doubting Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, and then to the humble and obedient virgin, Mary. And Raphael, featured in the book of Tobit, brought guidance and healing to a family beset by trials and suffering.
While the saints whose feast we celebrate today are mentioned in the Bible, they are among myriad angels created not only to worship God night and day for all eternity, but to help each individual member of the human family find their way home to God. One important way that they do this is by interceding powerfully on our behalf that we might be given the grace and strength that we need to persevere in faith and keep our feet firmly planted on the right path. So remember to turn to Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, for their help and intercession. They are there for us.
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Saturday, September 30, 2017 Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
1) Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15a
2) Luke 9:43b-45
Gospel related: CCC 554
FOCUS: We must always be aware of God’s presence in our lives.
In the first weeks of the Ignatian Exercises, one builds a toolbox of consolations that can be used to help in times of desolation or attack by the evil one. Today’s Gospel is reminiscent of Jesus’ attempt to help the Apostles in the same way.
Earlier in Luke Chapter nine, after the miracle of the loaves and fishes and Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus had given his first prediction of his passion and death, as well as the conditions of discipleship. These last two things were easy enough for the disciples to forget when things were going well and Jesus was working wonders and miracles, as when Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of Jesus’ resurrected glory as he was changed and transfigured before them. However, as we heard in today’s Gospel, Jesus brings it home again to the disciples when he mentions his imminent passion and death.
He says to the disciples, Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men. By doing this, it seems that Jesus is trying to make it explicitly clear to his disciples that all the while they have seen the glorious moments of his life and work, they will also be required to witness and experience the hard times, too. It will be at these moments they will need to remember that just as they had seen God at work through Jesus in the good times, God will still work through him in the difficult times.
As disciples of Christ ourselves, we, too, are to make our own toolboxes to use in times of trouble. How do we do that exactly? One way is to be aware of the times in which God has been present in our lives. This requires reflection – spending time prayerfully thinking over where we have seen and experienced God at work in our lives. Spending time with a spiritual director who can help us identify the ways that God has touched our lives is another. Armed with these tools, we can, as “living temples,” share Christ’s light and love more fully with others.
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