The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19  +  1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13  +  Luke 4:21-30
February 3, 2013

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”  [Jeremiah 1:5]

               In the year of Our Lord 1273, Saint Thomas Aquinas recognized God calling him to a standard far higher than the one he had set for himself.  In that year on December 6th, as St. Thomas was celebrating Mass, he had a mystical vision.  After that vision he rarely spoke for the rest of his life.  He never described exactly what the vision was.  But it was because of that vision that he stopped his work on the greatest project of his career:  an encyclopedia of Catholic theology that he had begun seven years earlier.

The Presentation of the Lord

The Presentation of the Lord
Malachi 3:1-4  +  Hebrews 2:14-18  +  Luke 2:22-40
February 2, 2013

“And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek….”  [Malachi 3:1]

Today’s feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is a little off kilter.  After all, the Church’s season of Christmas ended some weeks ago, but today we celebrate another mystery of Jesus’ early life.  The season of Christmas used to be much longer.  February 2nd falls forty days after Christmas Day, creating an obvious parallel to the Resurrection and Ascension (especially given that the Temple foreshadows Heaven).  Nonetheless, no matter how long Christmas lasts, today’s feast points our attention towards the giving of presents.

Friday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time - Feb. 1

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 10:32-39  +  Psalm 37  +  Mark 4:26-34
February 1, 2013

“…the smallest of all the seeds on the earth… once it is sown…
springs up and becomes the largest of plants….”  [Mark 4:31-32]

Jesus today proclaims two parables about the Kingdom of God.  In wanting to understand these parables, we might wonder what exactly the Kingdom of God is.  Is the Kingdom of God the realm of Heaven, or is it the Church, some measure of both, or something else entirely, such as the individual Christian’s soul?

St. John Bosco - Jan. 31

St. John Bosco
Hebrews 10:19-25  +  Psalm 24  +  Mark 4:21-25
January 31, 2013

“Since through the Blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his Flesh….”  [Hebrews 10:19-20]

The Letter to the Hebrews portrays Christ Jesus is exalted terms.  When the letter describes Him as mankind’s “high priest”, the emphasis on the word “high” is strong.  The portrait of Jesus offered here might make Him seem unapproachable, yet the author of Hebrews is at pains to show us many reasons to approach Him.

Wednesday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time - Jan. 30

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 10:11-18  +  Psalm 110  +  Mark 4:1-20
January 30, 2013

“And he taught them at length in parables….”  [Mark 4:2]

Given that Saint Mark’s Gospel account—the shortest of the four—focuses more on Jesus’ actions than His preaching, we ought to take special note of the preaching that Mark does choose for inclusion in his Gospel account.  We might consider the parables Mark includes as a “best of…” list.

Tuesday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 10:1-10  +  Psalm 40  +  Mark 3:31-35
January 29, 2013

 “By this ‘will’, we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  [Hebrews 10:10]

At weekdays Masses in Ordinary Time, it’s rare for the First Reading and Gospel passage to correspond closely in theme.  But today these two readings link closely not only with each other, but also with the Responsorial.  Our First Reading quotes from today’s Responsorial.  The common link among all three is “the will of God”.

St. Thomas Aquinas - Jan. 28

St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Hebrews 9:15,24-28  +  Psalm 98  +  Mark 3:22-30
January 28, 2013                     

“Christ is mediator of a new covenant….”  [Hebrews 9:15]

In the Church’s calendar, St. Thomas Aquinas is referred to by two titles.  He was a priest and a Doctor of the Church.  The latter is a far more rare title.  Only 35 members of the Church have been declared such a great “teacher” (the literal meaning of “doctor”) of the Catholic Faith.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Nehemiah 8:2-4,5-6,8-10  +  1 Corinthians 12:12-30  +  Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
January 27, 2013

“Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand.”  [Nehemiah 8:2]

Laws (or rules, if you want to call them that), are placed on our shoulders by lots of different people:  our boss at work, teachers at school, parents at home, politicians in our civil government, and… even our Church herself.  All of them place laws on our shoulders.  And we learn early in life that, to get along, to be part of the group, we have to “follow the rules.”
For example, if a student signs up for a class, he has to accept the teacher’s rules for all sorts of things:  conduct in the classroom, a certain format for writing a paper, and participating in class discussion.  Or to use another example:  if a man accepts the call to be a priest, he accepts the obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times a day; he accepts the decision not to enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony; and he also accepts the Church’s law that says that priests cannot run for any sort of political office.

Ss. Timothy and Titus - Jan. 26

Sts. Timothy and Titus, bishops
2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5  +  Psalm 96  +  Mark 3:20-21
January 26, 2013

“I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.”  [2 Timothy 1:6]

On the memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, the First Reading must be taken from their feast day, instead of from the corresponding day of Ordinary Time.  In fact, there are two options for the feast’s First Reading: one is from St. Paul’s second epistle to Timothy; the other, Paul’s epistle to Titus.

Conversion of St. Paul - Jan. 25

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22  +  Psalm 117  +  Mark 16:15-18
January 25, 2013

“ ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ ”  [Acts 22:8]

The Conversion of St. Paul is such an important celebration of the Church year that it has its own proper readings.  Today, then, we do not hear from Hebrews or the third chapter of Mark.  Nonetheless, we can view St. Paul’s conversion through the lens of Hebrews.

St. Francis de Sales - January 24

St. Francis de Sales, bishop and Doctor of the Church
Hebrews 7:25—8:6  +  Psalm 40  +  Mark 3:7-12
January 24, 2013
“Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer.”  [Hebrews 8:3]

The Epistle to the Hebrews proclaims a profound theology of the priesthood.  While the epistle is wrongly used by some to teach against the ordained priesthood of the Catholic Church, you’ll often find those same persons teaching clearly that every Christian is part of a “priestly people”.

St. Vincent - January 23

St. Vincent, deacon and martyr
Hebrews 7:1-3,15-17  +  Psalm 110  +  Mark 3:1-6
January 23, 2013
“ ‘Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?’ ”  [Mark 3:4]

Jesus’ question is rhetorical.  The Pharisees understand Jesus’ question, and are very sure of His answer.  What they seem unsure of is whether Jesus would practice what He preached.

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
Hebrews 6:10-20  +  Psalm 111  +  Mark 2:23-28
January 22, 2013

“And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.”  [Hebrews 6:15]

Today is the fortieth anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.  The horror of a single human life being deliberately taking is compounded by the sanction of such an act by the government and so many of its politicians (many of whom assert that they are Catholics).  The bishops of our nation have asked all Catholics to fast and do extra penance today as a small reparation for the millions of abortions committed in our country, and for the legal approval of these actions.

St. Agnes - January 21

St. Agnes, virgin martyr
Hebrews 5:1-10  +  Psalm 110  +  Mark 2:18-22
January 21, 2013
“ ‘Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.’ ”  [Mark 2:22]
One possible entrance antiphon for the memorial of Saint Agnes begins, “Behold, now she follows the Lamb who was crucified for us…” [Common of Martyrs].  This antiphon plays on the similarity of Agnes’ name to the Latin word for “lamb”, “agnus”.  Iconography of St. Agnes often portrays her embracing a tiny lamb, and on her feast day at the Vatican sheep are shorn for the wool from which pallia are made for archbishops who will be appointed in the new year.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time  [C]
Isaiah 62:1-5  +  1 Corinthians 12:4-11  +  John 2:1-11
January 20, 2013

“Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory….”  [John 2:11]

               In the year of our Lord 1070, a twenty-year old woman named Margaret became the queen of Scotland, when she was united in Holy Matrimony to Malcolm, the king of Scotland.  As she grew in her role as queen, she grew to be a saint.
               Margaret grew up in luxury (at least as much luxury as the eleventh century could offer), as the daughter of one of the princesses of Hungary and one of the princes of what today we call England.  When William the Conqueror came barreling through their family’s lands, Margaret’s family was forced to go into exile.  They royal family was shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland, then a separate kingdom from their own.  King Malcolm, practicing one of the corporal works of mercy, offered shelter to the homeless.  He also fell in love with Princess Margaret, and the two were soon married.

Saturday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 4:12-16  +  Psalm 19  +  Mark 2:13-17
January 19, 2013
“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  [Mark 2:17]

In today’s Gospel passage from the second chapter of Mark, Jesus lays part of the foundation for his public ministry.  The events of today’s Gospel took place not long after Jesus’ Baptism, which inaugurated His public ministry.  The last sentence of the passage holds several clues for us about Jesus’ earthly mission.

Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 4:1-5,11  +  Psalm 78  +  Mark 2:1-12
January 18, 2013

“Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest….”  [Hebrews 4:11]
We proclaim as our Responsorial refrain, “Do not forget the works of the Lord!”  Psalm 78 refers to God’s works in salvation history, on behalf of Israel.  However, the First Reading speaks of His works in creation history:  “his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world.  For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner….”

St. Anthony the Abbot

St. Anthony, abbot
Hebrews 3:7-14  +  Psalm 95  +  Mark 1:40-45
January 17, 2013

“Then He said to him, ‘See that you tell no one anything….’ ”  [Mark 1:44]

The saint whose feast the Church celebrates today was an Egyptian monk who lived for 104 years in Egypt during the third and fourth centuries.  One of the earliest “Desert Fathers”, Saint Anthony is considered both in the East and the West to be one of the founders of monasticism, not only because of his innovative idea to live in the wilderness, but also due to the biography of his life written by the great Doctor of the Church, St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

Wednesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 2:14-18  +  Psalm 105  +  Mark 1:29-39
January 16, 2013

“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”  [Mark 1:35]

Today’s Gospel passage, from the first chapter of Mark, notes two particular traits about Jesus’ earthly life that are worth our reflection.  These two points come in the last third of the passage.  Today’s Gospel passage is really made up of three rather distinct but brief “mini-passages”.  In each, Jesus is what we might today call a “busy bee”.  This portrait of Jesus is typical of Mark’s account of the Gospel.

Tuesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 2:5-12  +  Psalm 8  +  Mark 1:21-28
January 15, 2013

“Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers’….”  [Hebrews 2:11]

This year the Church proclaims the Letter to the Hebrews at weekday Mass during the first four weeks of Ordinary Time.  Meanwhile, the Gospel passage will come from Mark for the first nine weeks of Ordinary Time (though Lent and Easter will interrupt these weeks).  The First Reading and Gospel passage at weekday Mass are not meant to correspond to each other.  Each runs on its own track, so to speak.

Monday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 1:1-6  +  Psalm 97  +  Mark 1:14-20
January 14, 2013

“ ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ ”  [Mark 1:17]

Back in Ordinary Time, we hear today an extraordinary description of the Son of God.  In theology, the sort of lofty description in our First Reading is called a “high Christology”, focusing more on the divine nature of the Son of God.  St. John of the Cross, in commenting on Hebrews 1, points out why the Covenant established by Jesus is not only the “new Covenant”, but the “new and everlasting Covenant”:

The Baptism of the Lord [C]

The Baptism of the Lord [C]
Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7  +  Acts 10:34-38  +  Luke 3:15-16,21-22
January 13, 2013

               In the year of Our Lord 387, Saint Augustine was washed in the waters of Baptism, dying to death, and entering a new way of life.  Of all the saints of our Church’s history, Saint Augustine’s would probably make the best Hollywood screenplay:  drama was a constant part of his life.  Born in what today is the country of Algeria, Augustine was the child of a pagan father, who was well-off, but with a violent personality; his mother Monica was a devout Christian who instructed all her children in the practice of the faith.  However, infant baptism was not yet the norm in the Church:  it was often put off until the moment of death, so that a person could be sure of entering heaven.

January 12 - Christmas Weekday

Christmas Weekday
1 John 5:14-21  +  Psalm 149  +  John 3:22-30
January 12, 2013

“All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.”  [1 John 5:17]
On this last weekday of the Christmas Season, our First Reading consists of the final eight verses of the First Epistle of Saint John.  It seems to end on an odd note:  “Children, be on your guard against idols.”  St. John offers no words of farewell and gives no specific instructions.  Of course, the 21 New Testament books commonly called “epistles” were not written by their human authors according to a single format.  St. Paul’s epistles are much closer in form to the manner in which you or I write a letter (or email) today.  St. John, on the other hand, writes his first epistle about some general Christian beliefs:  most especially God’s divine nature as Love.

January 11 - Christmas Weekday

Christmas Weekday
1 John 5:5-13  +  Psalm 147  +  Luke 5:12-16
January 11, 2013

“So there are three who testify, the Spirit, the water, and the Blood.”  [1 John 5:7-8]
The Christmas Season is a time of beginnings.  During Christmastide we hear a great deal in the Sacred Liturgy from the writings of the Beloved Disciple.  St. John the Evangelist outlived all the other apostles.  The Blessed Mother, who had been entrusted to his care on Calvary, had completed her earthly life.  As he writes his Gospel account and epistles, then, he stresses the fundamentals.

January 10 - Christmas Weekday

Christmas Weekday
1 John 4:19—5:4  +  Psalm 72  +  Luke 4:14-22
January 10, 2013

“He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.”  [Luke 4:15]

The secular world attempts to flatten the Christian Faith into something two-dimensional.  Attacks make clear that what’s really being attack is a straw-man that bears little resemblance to the fullness of the Faith.  For example, Christmas is reduced to a day of remembering Jesus’ birth.

January 9 - Christmas Weekday

Christmas Weekday
1 John 4:11-18  +  Psalm 72  +  Mark 6:45-52
January 9, 2013

“Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” [Psalm 72:11]

In his account of the “Wise Men from the East” who visit the Holy Family and present gifts to the baby Jesus, St. Matthew the Evangelist alludes to today’s Responsorial Psalm.  In fact, the same psalm was proclaimed this past Sunday on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, and out of the six “weekday Masses” this year between the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord,  three of them proclaim this same Psalm 72  for their Responsorial.

January 8 - Christmas Weekday

Christmas Weekday
1 John 4:7-10  +  Psalm 72  +  Mark 6:34-44
January 8, 2013
“In this is love:  not that we have loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”  [1 John 4:10]
The last sentence of today’s First Reading is my favorite verse of Scripture.  I plan, whenever the Lord calls, to have this verse on the holy card at my funeral.  To me it sums up the entire Gospel message.  “In this is love:  not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”

January 7 - Christmas weekday

St. Raymond of Penyafort, priest
1 John 3:22—4:6  +  Psalm 2  +  Matthew 4:12-17,23-25
January 7, 2013
“I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.” [Psalm 2:8]

In this final week of the Christmas Season, the Epiphany of the Lord continues to reverberate through the Sacred Liturgy.  In fact, while we tend to equate the Epiphany only with the narrative of the “three wise men”, the Church actually holds up two other Gospel stories along with that of the “three kings” when she reflects on the meaning of the Epiphany.

The Epiphany of Our Lord

The Epiphany of the Lord [ABC]
Isaiah 60:1-6  +  Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6  +  Matthew 2:1-12
January 6, 2013

“All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.”  [Psalm 72:11]

When you were little, maybe you had an Aunt Wilhemina.  That may not have been her name:  she may have been Aunt Josephine, or Aunt Gertrude or Aunt Mary Catherine.  If her name was different, her Christmas gifts to you were very much the same from year to year.  When I was nine years old, my Aunt Wilhemina (not her real name) gave me for Christmas a pair of green and purple crocheted mittens.  Upon opening this present, the last words on my mind were “thank you.”  Fortunately for me, those words were the first thing on the minds of my parents, and every year during the days of Christmas, my brother and sisters and I were corralled to the dining room table to write our thank you notes.

January 5 - Christmas weekday

St. John Neumann, bishop
1 John 3:11-21  +  Psalm 100  +  John 1:43-51
January 5, 2013

“We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.” [1 John 3:14]

In today’s First Reading the Beloved Disciple shifts gears a bit.  He continues to talk about divine love, which is the topic of all he writes.  But today he focuses more on loving one’s brother, the “new commandment” he had briefly touched on in Chapter 2 (heard at Mass on December 29).  Love is not divine love if we love only God.  Divine love knows no limit.  It is super-abundant and “catholic” (“universal”) in nature.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton - January 4

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious
1 John 3:7-10  +  Psalm 98  +  John 1:35-42
January 4, 2013
“…the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil.” [1 John 3:8]

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, whose feast the Church celebrates today, was one of those rare saints who lived both a vocation to marriage, and also, after being widowed, a vocation to religious life.  The harmony and integrity of those two stages of her life show how much these vocations have in common.  Each, at its heart, is a calling to serve others, and thereby foster love.

The parish I serve

<b>The parish I serve</b>
St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Colwich, Kansas (Diocese of Wichita)