St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
585-671-1100
Weekend Masses: Saturday- 5:00pm
Sunday- 7:30am; 9:00am (children's liturgy); 10:30am
Daily Mass is at 8:15am on Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, and Friday (no Mass on Wednesday)
Reconciliation: Saturday from 3:30-4:30pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9am to 4:30pm; Fri 9-12:00pm

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - September 15, 2019

An Introduction to the Scripture Readings for
the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
“Your Brother Was Dead And Has Come To Life Again”

The readings for this Sunday demonstrate the unfathomable love our Father has for us and also teaches us about the love and forgiveness we should have for each other.

Our first reading 
(Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14) is a rather folksy tale of the Father's willingness to forgive the transgressions of his people. Moses had the audacity to present his case to God directly. God listened and responded with compassion. Would not he do the same for us?

The LORD said to Moses, "Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the  land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, 'This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!' "I see how stiff-necked this people is, " continued the LORD to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation."  But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, "Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?  . . . . So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Our Epistle reading from the First Letter to Timothy
(1 Tim 1:12-17) is yet another example of God's mercy and forgiveness, this time to Paul who was once a persecutor of Christians. It was this persecutor that God chose to deliver the Gospel to the Gentile world.

Beloved: I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Our Gospel reading 
(Luke 15:1-32) is a collection of three parables, each demonstrating the lengths to which the Father will seek out and rejoice over even one lost sheep. Once the lost one is found, the great joy must be shared. First, (omitted here because of space) Jesus tells the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. Lastly, is the well known parable of the Prodigal Son. The unforgiving “good” son is as much the point of the story as the Father’s unconditional love and forgiveness.

Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. 

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. . . . He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”


So, after these three readings, there should be no doubt — God loves us immeasurably and looks for any and every opportunity to draw us back to him, forgive us and rejoice at our repentance. How do we know this? The bible tells us so.
 

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - September 8, 2019

An Introduction to the Scripture Readings for
the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
“Anyone Who Does Not Renounce All His Possessions
Cannot Be My Disciple”

This Sunday's scripture readings ask us to consider the cost of true discipleship. Like a builder before starting work, we should consider the cost and the resources needed for that task. Our first reading gives us a glimpse into one of the resources available to us—the Wisdom of God.

In our first reading 
(Wisdom 9:13-18), we hear about the unfathomable wisdom of God. It is an excerpt from “Solomon’s Prayer” wherein Solomon asked God to “Give me wisdom”. He knows that even the things of this world are little understood. And yet, the things of God are so much more beyond our understanding. It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we discern any of it. This reading helps set the tone for our Gospel reading; this is the supreme God whom Jesus tells us must be before all else. 

Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends?  For the deliberations of mortals are timid,  and unsure are our plans.  For the corruptible body burdens the soul  and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.  And scarce do we guess the things on earth,  and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;  but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?  Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom  and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

In our Epistle reading from the Letter of St. Paul to Philemon 
(9-10, 12-17), St. Paul gives us an example of the cost of discipleship. Paul is writing from his “imprisonment for the Gospel” in a Roman jail. Paul sends Onesimus, a former runaway slave, back to his master Philemon. Baptized, Onesimus is now "more than a slave, a brother" in Christ.

I, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment; I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary. Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

In our Gospel reading 
(Luke 14:25-33), Jesus cautioned the crowds following him to consider the cost of discipleship before following him. It is not for the weak of heart. Jesus outlined three requirements of discipleship.  The first is that Jesus must come before everyone else in our lives—even our own family. Jesus used the words “hate” one’s family in the Hebrew context that more closely means “to love less”—we must love Jesus more than everyone else. The second requirement is that we must take up our cross and walk the walk that Jesus walks, bearing our suffering in union with his. The third is complete detachment - from all our possessions and worldly desires. They become an anchor weighing us down and keeping us from Jesus.

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”


Imagine telling God, “I’m sorry God, but my family comes before you” - or my wealth or my possessions or my hopes and dreams or desires. What Jesus may really be telling us is, whomever you love, love me more; whatever you love, detach yourself and love me more. As we see in our first reading, with the gift wisdom from the Holy Spirit, "thus were the paths of those on earth made straight." 

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - September 1, 2019

The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass!

“My Child, Conduct Your Affairs With Humility”

Our readings for this Sunday focus our attention on humility and service to those who have no ability to repay.

In our first reading (Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29), we hear from one of the last books of the Old Testament, written by a man named Jeshua, ben Sira. It is a book of wisdom and moral teachings. In this passage, ben Sira extolls the virtues of humility and alms giving. The proud and the haughty will not find favor with God.

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,  and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.  Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,  and you will find favor with God.  What is too sublime for you, seek not,  into things beyond your strength search not.  The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,  and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.  Water quenches a flaming fire,  and alms atone for sins.

Our Epistle reading (Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24), is a study in contrast between the Mosaic Covenant that stressed the “gloomy darkness” of a fearsome God and the New Covenant of Christ, based on the justice of a loving God.  We have approached the heavenly Jerusalem with Jesus as our mediator.

Brothers and sisters: You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them. No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

Our Gospel reading (Luke 14:1,7-14), is a parable on humility and service. Jesus seems to have been echoing the words of Sirach, “Humble yourselves the more, the greater you are.” Jesus also suggested rather than invite those of your own station, invite the poor and the lame, those who have no ability to repay you.

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, 'Give your place to  this man,' and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."  Then he said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite  your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Today’s readings on humility seem to be a good definition of the beatitude, “Poor in Spirit.” It is the opposite of pride. It is the state of being that Jesus calls us to. Humility and service to others go hand-in-hand. It is in those we serve that we find Jesus; it is in our humility that Jesus finds us.

Read and reflect on this Sunday’s full readings at www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090119.cfm

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 25, 2019

The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

“Behold,  Some Are Last Who Will Be first”

Narrow GateOur scripture readings for this Sunday focus our attention on the end times, the final gathering of Israel and the nations into the New Jerusalem. God’s mercy and invitation will call all peoples (Israelites and Gentiles) into relationship with him. Even so said Jesus, all who enter must enter through the “narrow gate”; thus it will not be easy.

In our first reading from the end of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Is 65:18-21), we hear a final prophesy of Isaiah to uplift the Jews were returning to Jerusalem from exile. God will gather “nations of every language” (Gentiles) to see his glory. He will then send them out to gather all the lost people of Israel and bring them back. Some of these Gentiles, God will even take as priests.

Thus says the LORD: I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the LORD in clean vessels. Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

In our Epistle reading (Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13), the author instructs his readers (and us) that their current trials can be seen as a form of training, or discipline from a loving father for the purpose of future peace and righteousness. Rather than losing heart, we should endure our trails with courage as a form of “discipline.”

Brothers and sisters, You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

In our Gospel reading (Luke 13:22:30), Jesus taught a stern message to his followers - those who were initially called but who reject God shall, by their own actions, be denied entry into the Kingdom; while those from afar (Gentiles) who do accept God will be welcomed to the table of the Master. Thus “some are last who will be first.”

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from. And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

There are many messages that can be gleaned from today’s readings, but here are three: 1) God’s invitation to relationship with him is universal—all people and all nations will be gathered into his glory; 2) Those who go through life just going through the motions, paying lip service to their faith and relationship with God, may find themselves on the outside looking in; and 3), rather than disdain and turning away from God, we should embrace our trials and difficulties as an opportunity to more closely unite with our suffering Jesus, keeping our eyes on the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” that will surely come.

 Read and reflect on this Sunday's Scripture Readings at http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090119.cfm

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 18, 2019

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Times

Keep Our Eyes “Fixed On Jesus”

All three readings this Sunday explore the cost of being a disciple of the Lord. In our first reading, we hear the cost visited upon Jeremiah for speaking the truth God commanded him to speak. In the Gospel reading, Jesus prepares his disciples the division that will surely come their way. Just as in the days of old, we also will encounter division in the name of Jesus. In our Epistle, we hear how we are to live out God’s call.A

In our first reading (Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10), we hear the story of how King Zedehiah, at the urging of the court princes, sent Jeremiah to a certain death; and then at the urging of the court eunuch Ebed-melech, reversed himself and rescued Jeremiah. Jeremiah was following God’s call “to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build up and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10)
 
In those days, the princes said to the king: "Jeremiah ought to be put to death; he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such things to them; he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin." King Zedekiah answered: "He is in your power"; for the king could do nothing with them. And so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
 
Ebed-melech, a court official, went there from the palace and said to him: "My lord king, these men have been at fault in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern. He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food  in the city." Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite to take three men along with him, and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he should die.
 
In our Epistle reading (Hebrews 12:1-4), the author of Hebrews teaches us that Jesus had a purpose for how “he endured the opposition from sinners.” - “in order that we may not grow weary and lose heart.”
 
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 12:49-53), Jesus used the symbol of fire to illustrate the division the Word of God might bring. Fire was often used as a metaphor for cleansing and purification, even the presence of God. Jesus made clear to his followers that many will turn away from the Word of God and there will be division, even within families. 
 
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
 
The way of the disciple of Jesus is not an easy one. We are called to speak truth when the world seeks darkness. We are called to live this truth regardless of how others receive it. We are called to be witnesses by our actions as well as our words. We do this “for the sake of the joy” that lies before us. And how are we to do this? Today’s Epistle tells us how: “Rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us . . . and persevere in running the race that lies before us by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 11, 2019

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
“You Also Must Be Prepared!.
 
This Sunday’s readings focus our attention on perseverance in faith and preparedness for when the Master returns.
 
Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom (18:6-9) highlights the Israelites preparedness and faith in God's promise as they prepared to put into effect the “divine institution” of the first Passover. 
 
The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage. Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes. For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned. For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.
 
In our Epistle reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1-2, 8-12), the author teaches the meaning of faith by using the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a model of faithful perseverance. Abraham left everything behind in his homeland and journeyed to the unseen promised land, believing in God’s promise that, despite their advanced age, he and his wife Sarah would have descendants as numerous as the stars.
 
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 Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age - and Sarah herself was sterile - for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. . . .
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 12:32-48), Jesus admonished his disciples to be prepared always, for they know not the hour that the Son of Man will come. Also, to focus on the “inexhaustible treasure in heaven” and not the treasure of this earth.
 
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
 
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
 
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant w who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
 
The Scouts have a motto, "Be Prepared". It is a good motto for Christians as well, for we do not know when the master will come calling. May he find us watchful, faithful and already hard at work. 
 
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 4, 2019

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

Be “Rich In What Matters To God”

 
The readings for this Sunday warn us of the folly of placing our worship in material goods. In the end, it buys us nothing. We must keep our focus on God, for, “one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
 
Our first reading (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23) could have been the basis for Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carrol". One could imagine these words uttered by Jacob Marley himself. It is a dire warning that the riches we toil for in this life are left for others to enjoy.
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
 
Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 3:1-5; 9-11), St. Paul tells us what really matters to God and how we are to rightly order our lives. Paul instructs us to put aside earthly desires and “put on the new self.”
 
Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.
 
Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.
 
Our Gospel reading (Luke 12:13-21) builds on the themes from our first two readings with the parable of the Rich Fool. First, Jesus refused to intervene in a property squabble among two brothers and then followed up with a parable to drive home the point—tonight may be your last. 
 
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
 
But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
 
It is often said, "you can't take it with you", referring to power, prestige and possessions. But there is one thing that we can take with us beyond the grave, and that is grace. Grace is the gratuitous gift of Christ; it is the participation in the life of God (CCC 1997, 1999). We cannot earn grace but we can embrace it by following the advice of St. Paul in today's Epistle, by seeking what is above, where Christ is.
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 28, 2019

In the Hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

 
This Sunday's readings teach us not only what to pray, but how to pray - with persistence and hope.
 
Our first reading (Genesis 18:20-32) is an early teaching of both persistence in prayer and God's willing mercy. Abraham learned that the three divine visitors (from last week's readings) planned on carrying out God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. Abraham implored God, with persistence, to "spare the whole place" for the sake of the few innocents. God granted his request. 
 
In those days, the LORD said: "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out."
 
While Abraham's visitors walked on farther toward Sodom, the LORD remained standing before Abraham. Then Abraham drew nearer and said: "Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?" The LORD replied, "If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." . . . . But Abraham persisted, saying "What if only forty are found there?" He replied, "I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty." . . . . Still Abraham went on, "Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?" The LORD answered, "I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty." But he still persisted: "Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?" He replied, "For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it."
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 2:12-14), St. Paul explains how God, in his infinite love and mercy, has rescued us, despite our bondage of sin; and has forgiven our transgressions, nailing them to the cross. 
 
Brothers and sisters: You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.
 
In our Gospel passage (Luke 11:1-13), the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. His response was the Lord's Prayer, with it’s focus on the Father. Then he followed it with instruction on persistence and the willing mercy and generosity of the Father. 
 
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test." And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
 
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
 
Prayer is said to be “Communicating with God in a relationship of love” (Thomas Zanzig). Prayer is a two-way conversation. Prayer should not be just an as-needed, case-by-case event; it should be a way of life, a life-long conversation. God rewards persistence.
 
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 21, 2019

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
“There is need of only one thing.”
 
Mary and MarthaThis Sunday's readings are all about hospitality and focus on the Lord. First, we hear of Abraham greeting three divine visitors and then in the Gospel, Martha and Mary attend to their visitor Jesus, albeit in different ways. Their story highlights two important aspects of hospitality.
 
In our first reading (Genesis 18:1-10), Abraham goes overboard in hosting his visitors, but also takes time to listen and be attentive to his visitors. What he didn't realize at the time was that one of the three visitors was the Lord himself. His reward was the promise of a son despite his and his wife Sarah's old age. 
 
The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way." The men replied, "Very well, do as you have said."
 
Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, "Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls." He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before the three men; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. They asked Abraham, "Where is your wife Sarah?" He replied, "There in the tent." One of them said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year,and Sarah will then have a son."
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 1:24-28), St. Paul wrote to his beloved community as he languished in prison and tells how he "rejoices in my sufferings for your sake". He unites his suffering with Christ and calls us to do the same. Unlikely as it may seem, we are often closest to Jesus when we rejoice in our sufferings and unite them with his. 
 
Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 10:38-42), Jesus seemingly rebukes Martha for her fretting about preparing the meal and complaining about Mary's attentiveness to Jesus. Both are important, but the latter more so. Discipleship calls us to listen and be attentive to the word of God. 
 
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
 
Jesus said in our Gospel today, “There is need of only one thing.” It is clear by the context what Jesus means - be attentive to me; listen to me; keep your focus on me; everything else comes second. Do we?
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 14, 2019

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
Parable of the Good Samaritan“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God”
 
Our readings today focus our attention on the law of God, written in our hearts. Jesus, who came “not to abolish the law but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17), gave a whole new way of understanding the law.
 
Our first reading (Deuteronomy 30:10-14) highlights the simplicity and purity of God's law as originally transmitted by Moses. It is near to us, already in our hearts; it is not hard to understand. We have only to carry it out. 
 
Moses said to the people: "If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.
 
"For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out."   
 
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 1:15-20), St. Paul opens his letter to the Church in Colossae with a majestic poem or hymn that was probably in common use in liturgies of the day. In it, Paul reminds his listeners of the primacy of Jesus, the "first born of all creation" and the “first born of the dead.” It is this same God who was the giver of the Mosaic Law as it was the teller of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
 
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus was tested by a religious lawyer about how one merits eternal life. When questioned by Jesus, he summarized the law with quotes from the Books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. But Jesus told him a parable that showed the true nature of God's law and mercy, which we are called to emulate. Jesus placed the Samaritan (despised by the Jews) as the hero in his story, in contrast to the Jewish priest and the Levite, who were following Jewish custom and law.
 
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."
 
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."   
 
The question in today’s Gospel, “Who is my neighbor?” was easily answered in the Jewish tradition of Jesus' time - it was someone of one's own clan, tribe or family; certainly not an enemy. Not so, said Jesus. It is even, perhaps especially, an enemy, the downtrodden and the outcast. May our readings today cause us to reflect on the Law of God written in our hearts, our true conscience. When have we ever crossed the road and passed a stranger by instead of stopping to bind his wounds? How shall we act the next time?
  • Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday

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