St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
Masses: Sat 5:00 pm
Sun 7:30; 9:00 (children's liturgy); 10:30 am
Mon-Thurs 8:15 am
Reconciliation: Saturdays from 3:30-4:30 pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Fri 9:00 to 12:00 pm

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 25, 2018brfaha

The Second Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Transfiguration of Jesus
As we continue our lenten journey toward the cross, we are asked to ponder God's unfathomable love for us, so great that he did not withhold from us his own beloved son. 

In our first reading (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18), we hear to vivid story of Abraham as he freely offers "his only son Isaac, whom he loves," as a holocaust to God. Even though complying with God's request would have meant an end to God's promise for "descendants as countless as the stars", he did not question. His love for God was greater than all else. We see in Abraham's absolute trust in God as a model for us.

God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am!" he replied. Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you." 

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD's messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Here I am!" he answered. "Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son." As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son. 

Again the LORD's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing-all this because you obeyed my command."

In our Gospel reading (Mark 9:2-10), we hear of the Transfiguration of Jesus on a high mountain. There are many elements of this story that directly link Jesus to the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. In it, Jesus is revealed in all his divine glory. This takes place shortly before Jesus passion and death - from divine glory to the agony of crucifixion. At the conclusion of this scene, we hear the voice of God saying, "This is my beloved son. Listen to him."

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; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they 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.

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:31-34), St. Paul reassures his Christian audience that, even in the midst of relentless persecution, they can be no less glorified in their suffering than God's own son, whom God "handed over for us all".
Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died-or, rather, was raised - who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

One of the things we learn today is that God's call is personal and demanding. It is not always easy. We follow in the footsteps of God's own son. But we know where those footsteps lead. Beyond the suffering, beyond the hardships, beyond even death, we know God's unfathomable love for us will transcend it all. "It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?" When God calls to us, how should we respond? As Abraham, "Here I am."

  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 25, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 18, 2018

The First Sunday of Lent

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

"The Temptation"
Used with permission ©Eric Armusik

We have now begun our Lenten journey. It is a journey that will prepare us to fully experience Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Our readings this Sunday ask us to consider our own Baptism and to turn our attention to prayer, fasting and works of penance. These will temper our sinful nature and bring us closer to Jesus.

In our first reading, (Genesis 9:8:15), we hear God's covenant with Noah. After Noah's salvation through the waters of the flood (prefiguring our baptism), God promises to never again destroy humanity with the waters of a flood. From that point on, water has always symbolized cleansing, rebirth and baptism.
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. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings."
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:12-15), we hear of Jesus' temptation in the desert, which occurs in Mark's Gospel immediately after his baptism. These two events (baptism and temptation) signify Jesus' willing entry into the human experience. Jesus willingly submits to both as a sign of his solidarity with all of humanity. This marks the beginning of his public ministry as he proclaims, "The Kingdom of God is at hand . . ."

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

In our Epistle reading (1 Peter 3:18-22), St. Peter draws a direct connection between the sinfulness of man, the saving waters of Noah's new life and Jesus's entering into our world through his own baptism as well as his suffering with us and for us. 
Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Jesus is often referred to as the "new Adam" in contrast to the first Adam, who allowed Satan's temptation to have mastery over him. In today's Gospel, Jesus triumphs over Satan and his empty promises. This sets the stage for the beginning Jesus' public ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God. It is also the start of our Lenten journey toward the cross and Jesus' final mastery over Satan and death. We are called to the same ideal, through the grace of God. This is the season to "repent and believe in the Gospel."
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 18, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 11, 2018

The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Cleanses the Leper 

Our readings this Sunday call our attention to the norms of purity and social boundaries. There was a clear and impenetrable boundary between the "clean" and the "unclean". It was a time when affliction was thought to be a punishment from God for past sins.

In our first reading (Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46), we hear the beginning and end of a long prescription on how to deal with someone with a scaly skin infection. Cast out from society, considered unclean added misery upon misery.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his descendants. If the man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head. "The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!' As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp." 

In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:40-45), we hear just how easily and quickly Jesus was to cast aside social taboos in his compassion and love for the suffering and downcast. Not only does the leper cross the boundary by approaching Jesus, but Jesus renders himself impure but touching the person with leprosy. The lepor's faith is met by Jesus healing touch.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 10:31 - 11:1), St. Paul sums up his teaching with the What to Do and the How to Do of Christian life. What: "Do everything for the glory of God"; How: "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ."

Brothers and sisters, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 

Boundaries are comfortable; they are easy. St. Paul challenges us to be "imitators of Christ". That may mean crossing the boundaries of social norms in the name of Compassion - in the name of Christ. 
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 11, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 4, 2018

The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Cures Simon's 
Our readings this Sunday focus on the human condition of suffering, the healing power of God and our response to it.
In our first reading (Job 7:1-4, 6-7), we hear part of Job's lament of his suffering. In a sense, Job mirrors all of human suffering and tries to understand it. It is a lament that could often be heard today.
Job spoke, saying: Is not man's life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?" then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:29-39), we hear of the suffering multitude flocking to Jesus for his healing touch and Jesus responds as only God could respond. We hear about the tender moment of Jesus grasping the hand of Simon's sick mother-in-law. He helps (raises) her up. Her response to Jesus' healing touch is to get up and offer her service to the Lord.
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23), St. Paul provides us a model of how we are to live our life of service to the Lord - freely, without recompense. His is an obligation, imposed upon him the Jesus himself. His servitude to the people and to the Lord is the essence of his freedom.

Brothers and sisters: If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
Even in the midst of the "drudgery" of our lives and all of its suffering, we know that Jesus has already healed us of the ultimate human condition - the slavery to sin. By his sharing in our suffering, he has "raised us up" to new life through our Baptism. Our response, our obligation, is to get up and live our lives in service to the Lord and to others. As St. Paul tells us in today's Epistle, therein lies our freedom.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 4, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 28, 2018

The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Cures the Demoniac
Many of the prophesies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in their time, but partially. When we read the Old Testament in light of the Gospel and knowledge of Jesus, we see the fulfillment in Jesus as the ultimate plan of the Father.
In our first reading (Deuteronomy 18:15-20), Moses gives his farewell address to the Israelites on the banks of the Jordan before they cross over to the promised land. He instructs them to listen to the prophet the Lord will send them. 

Moses spoke to all the people, saying: "A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.' And the LORD said to me, 'This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.'"
In last week's Gospel, Jesus proclaimed, "This is the time of fulfillment, the Kingdom of God is at Hand". In the Sunday's Gospel reading (Mark 1:21-28), we see the an example of this fulfillment - Jesus' first day of public ministry. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophesy of Moses we read about in our first reading. 
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 7:32-35), St. Paul is instructing the disciples of Corinth about the married vs. the unmarried (or celibate) life. Both are good, but the unmarried is more free to serve the Lord completely.
Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
Jesus is the ultimate prophet. He teaches with authority in the synagogue and is the one whom even the demons obey. He is the one of whom Moses proclaimed that God would "raise up from your own kin" and will put "My words in his mouth". Listen to him!
  • For additional insight, read Father Gonyo's commentary on Deuteronomy in this weeks "Pastor's Message" 
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Jan. 28, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 21, 2018

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Call of the First Disciples 
This Sunday's readings continue the theme from last week of discipleship. Last week, we learned that God is persistent in his call. This week, we see examples of how we can respond.
In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah (3:1-5, 10), we hear about Jonah, who eventually heeded God's call to warn the people of the great city of Nineveh of their impending destruction. Jonah initially ran away from God's call, but God was persistent and brought him back. The people of Nineveh heeded God's warning through Jonah and were saved.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: "Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you." So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD'S bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, " when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:14-20), Jesus called the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples. They immediately left their boats and their livelihoods and followed Jesus. It was through these simple fishermen and the other Apostles that Jesus built his Church. It was with the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit that they had the courage and wisdom to follow in Jesus' footsteps.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 7:29-31), St. Paul tells us how we should be detached from this present life, in expectation of the life to come, in God's time. This world is temporary, passing away. The world to come is for all eternity.
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.
A good reflection might be to ponder what it was about Jesus' call that moved the first disciples to immediately leave their boats to become "fishers of men". They experienced that call in the person of Jesus, eye to eye, face to face. What an overpowering moment that must have been. Jesus calls each of us to a life of ministry of some type. How do we respond? Like Jonah who initially ran away? Or do we heed St. Paul's urging of detachment, being free to follow the call, wherever it leads us.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Jan. 21, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 14, 2018

The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus calls his first disciples
This Sunday's readings call us to be followers of Christ and to tell others about him.
In our first reading (1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19), we hear about Samuel, the  young man consecrated to God by his mother and in training under the high priest Eli. He had not yet encountered God and didn't recognize him when God called him in the night; but God was persistent. 
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am." Samuel ran to Eli and said, "Here I am. You called me." "I did not call you, " Eli said. "Go back to sleep." So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. "Here I am, " he said. "You called me." But Eli answered, "I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep."
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening." When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening." Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
In our Gospel reading (John 1:35-42), we hear about disciples of John the Baptist who are seeking the Lord. John points them toward Jesus. Jesus invites them to "come and your will see." Andrew then goes to his brother Simon and tells him, "We have found the Messiah."
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" -- which translated means Teacher --, "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" -- which is translated Christ --. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" -- which is translated Peter.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20), St. Paul tells us that immorality is contrary to life in Christ. You cannot follow Jesus and be an immoral person. 
Brothers and sisters: The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
God's call to each of us is personal, unique and persistent. Christ calls each of us to a unique life with him for a specific purpose. We learn by today's example that in order to find the Messiah, we must seek him. Then we must "go with him and see". Then we must go and tell others, "We have found the Messiah."
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Jan. 14, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 7, 2018

The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

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

The Epiphany of the Lord  

LORD, EVERY NATION ON EARTH WILL ADORE YOU (Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13)
This Sunday is the Feast of the Epiphany (manifestation) of the Lord. It is a revelation not only of the child Jesus as the "newborn king of the Jews", but also that this child is not only King of the Jews, but also of "all the nations on earth."
In our first reading (Isaiah 60:1-6), we hear the prophesy that Jerusalem will "rise up in splendor" and "be a light to the nations" (Gentiles). Caravans shall come bearing gold and frankincense. The fulfillment of this prophesy is what we hear of in today's Gospel reading.   
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD. 
In our Gospel reading (Matthew 2:1-12), we hear the story of the Maji coming from the east coming to do homage to the newborn King of the Jews. This is a sign of the universality of Christ's mission and the future acceptance of the Gentile world that Jesus is Son of the one true God, their savior.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel." Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
In our Epistle reading (Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6), St. Paul proclaims the revelation that the Gentiles are "coheirs, members of the same body". This was hard to accept for many Jewish Christians who believed that Gentiles had to become Jews to be saved..
Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
The word catholic means universal and refers to the undivided Christian Church throughout the world. Our readings today tell us that Christ came to save the entire world, not just the people of Jerusalem; and that Christ's love and mercy would come to be known and accepted throughout the world. The word Catholic is also a call for us Catholic Christians to BE the light by which others will walk.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017
  • Click Here to learn more about the Epiphany of the Lord

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - December 31, 2017

The Feast of the Holy Family Jesus, Mary and Joseph - December 31, 2017

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Feast of the Holy Family  
This Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family; a solemnity established by Pope Benedict XV in 1921 because of the widespread breakdown of the family. The emphasis was to hold up the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the supreme example of Christian life. Could that be any less important today?
Our first reading (Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14) can be summed up in six words - Honor thy father and thy mother. It is a prescription for love and respect within the family.
God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother's authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard. Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.
My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins - a house raised in justice to you.
In our Gospel reading (Luke 2:22-40), we hear the beautiful canticle of Simeon, as Joseph and Mary fulfilled the religious law of presenting the first-born son to the Lord in the temple. Simeon, and the prophetess Anna, recognized the baby Jesus as the "Christ of the Lord", the Messiah. 

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, He took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted -and you yourself a sword will pierce - so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
In our Epistle reading (Colossians 3:12-21), St. Paul offers a lesson in the virtues that would thrive within a Christian family - "And over all these put on love."
Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.
From the beginning of creation, God has established the family as the model of the love that exists between the Father and the Son - a love so powerful as to form an entirely third person, the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a family unit. The virtues, the mutual love and respect alive in the Trinity is the ideal we are all called to. Be it the family unit we are born into or the family at work or church or school or social group, we are all called to these same virtues. "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13)
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017
  • Click Here to learn m ore about the Feast of the Holy Family


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - December 24 & 25, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Advent / Christmas Day

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Because this section will deal with readings for both the fourth Sunday of Advent AND Christmas day, the introductions will be somewhat abbreviated. Please see the links at the bottom of this section to read the full readings for both Masses.
Fourth Sunday of Advent:
This is our last Sunday of Advent. As we get close to Christmas and the birth our Lord Jesus, the Church seeks to remind us that these events were part of God's saving plan from the beginning of time and foretold centuries before. With great expectation and hope, the people of Judah awaited their savior. Now, that hope is about to be fulfilled.
In our first reading (2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14-15), the prophet Nathan relates to King David what God had promised - that his heir would spring up from his loins and would inherit his kingdom, which will last forever. Thus, all would know that the promised Messiah would come from the house of David.
When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!" Nathan answered the king, "Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you." But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: "Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?'
"It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. . . . The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever."
In our Epistle reading (Romans 16:25-27), we hear a short hymn of glory (doxology) at the conclusion of St. Paul's letter to the Romans. 
Brothers and sisters: To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Our Gospel reading (Luke 1:26-38) is an account of the angel Gabriel's annunciation to Mary that she was to be the mother of the Son of God.
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Christmas Day (all liturgies will use the same readings from the Mass at night)
Our readings for Christmas draw a direct connection between what Isaiah prophesied more than 700 years before Christ was born ("For a child is born to us . . .") and what took place that Christmas night when the prophesy was fulfilled in all its humble glory.
In our first reading (Isaiah 9:1-6), we hear the prophesy of Isaiah that is proclaimed every Christmas eve night - God's own Son will come to deliver us - as Prince of Peace.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.
". . . . For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
Our Gospel reading (Luke 2:1-14) is the account of Jesus' humble birth as Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census of the house of David. The first to bear witness were the lowly shepherds from the surrounding hillsides.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
In our Christmas Epistle (Titus 2:11-14), St. Paul leads us to remember that Christ promised to come again and will deliver us from all lawlessness. He teaches us how to live while we await our "blessed hope".
Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.
The birth of the Messiah, the anointed one of God, was not just something that happened long ago. It was an event foretold for centuries and awaited fervently by the people of Israel. From the moment of Jesus' birth to his tragic yet triumphant death, he was the embodiment of humility, patience and love. It is how he calls us to live in this age, "temperately, justly and devoutly". 
We wish for you this Christmas season all the blessings of the Messiah, brought to life on this Christmas night so long ago. May the miracle of Christmas be born anew in our hearts this day and every day as we live out our calling as baptized Catholic Christians - Priests, Prophets and Kings..
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2017