Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Readings: September 24, 2017, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Isaiah 55:6-11

Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”

God’s Decree.

“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

  • Philippians 1:20-30

Brothers and sisters: “So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.

As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues.

Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.

  • Matthew 20:1-16

  A Story About Workers

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.

“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.

“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’

“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.

“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’

“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar.

Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’

“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’

“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

 

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: September 24, 2017, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-11   Philippians 1:20-30    Matthew 20:1-16

Justice is a theme that we reflect upon often. Indeed it means different things to different people. For some it means the minimum that we can do to be just. To many of us it means the over whelming generosity of God as we read in last Sunday’s gospel.  The Lord can never be out done in generosity. If all we ever had in life was “what we deserve” it wouldn’t be much.

After all we fall very short of the Lord’s expectations. God’s justice is about treating everyone with dignity and honor and it’s a matter of assurance that each person is loved and cared for. No one gets left behind. In our society we hear much about justice and retribution that those who work the hardest are compensated  the most, and others deserve what they don’t have. The justice of God goes way beyond this. For He looks beyond our faults and sees our needs. The justice of God includes love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation. After all, He gave up His only Son to save each of us.

At this time when there is so much hate and suffering we must know that our Lord is not only concerned, but that He does something about it. Indeed generosity and justice go hand in hand. Maybe we should take a look at this week what our own notion of justice may be, and how does it play out in our day to day affairs? God gives us not what we deserve, but what we need.

 

 

Readings: September 17, 2017, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Sirach   27:30 – 28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

© New American Bible

  • Romans 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

                           © New American Bible

  • Matthew 18:21-35

A Story About Forgiveness

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt. “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by thethroat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’  “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

© The Message Bible

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: September 17, 2017, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30-38:7    Romans 14:7-9    Matthew 18:21-35

At the beginning of Pope Francis’ Papacy he talked about the importance of forgiveness and mercy. As a matter of fact we completed A Year of Mercy.

Since that time he has repeatedly spoken of the marvelous truth that God’s mercy has no bounds. That’s the crust of today’s gospel. We must always forgive others as we have been forgiven. When we put limits on our mercy and forgiveness we act in contrary to what we ask from others and from God. Imagine how it would be if there was no forgiveness for all of our misdeeds. There would be no such thing as eternal life or Heaven for us. As it is God’s Mercy is boundless. That’s how deeply He loves us.

So my dear brothers and sisters struck by the depth of God’s love, how could we do anything but bow down to him and worship, and show that same mercy to the people around us. Mercy and forgiveness does not mean that we overlook sin, injustice, hatred, and bigotry. We must always stand up to these moral challenges. The golden rule is we hate the sin, but could never hate the sinner. God’s forgiveness is made to be at the heart of how we think and act, and live each day. It’s to be a way of life.

During these trying times there is so much hatred. It is easy to have a hard heart. Indeed there is hardly any challenge in life which is greater than this. We must be able to be reconciled and ready to forgive those who have hurt us, harmed us, or those that we love. God grant us the ability to do this. Grant us the ability to see the face of God in all no matter how far they have gone away from God.

 

 

Readings: September 10, 2017, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible (© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)  

  •          Ezekiel 33: 7-9

Thus says the Lord: “You, son of man, are the watchman. I’ve made you a watchman for Israel. The minute you hear a message from me, warn them. If I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked man, wicked woman, you’re on the fast track to death!’ and you don’t speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways, the wicked will die unwarned in their sins and I’ll hold you responsible for their bloodshed. But if you warn the wicked to change their ways and they don’t do it, they’ll die in their sins well-warned and at least you will have saved your own life.

  •         Romans 13: 8-10

Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of — finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is Love.

  •         Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to His Disciples: “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.  “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”

 

Refelction from Fr. Taylor: September 10, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 33:7-9    Romans 13:8-10    Matthew 18:15-20

Throughout all of biblical history the Lord has sent prophets and teachers to show us how to live and to give us guidance through our challenging world. They were sent to us for the good of the entire community. They call us to community, to lives of justice and mercy and to turn away from selfishness, evil, and sin. God’s prophets have focused on the needs of the poor, the weak, the sick, the homeless, migrants and immigrants. The Lord has also sent modern day folks into our lives who do the same thing like Pope Francis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Dorothy Day and Bishop Romero.

In today’s gospel Jesus suggests to His disciples about their moral responsibilities to  each other. We find ways to do this in our own lives. One thing we have to remember is that when we are correcting others that we need the same correction. St. Paul takes up this theme in his book to the Romans. He says “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Jesus gives an example of how to be reconciled with one another. He demands that we forgive because we are always asking for forgiveness. If God can forgive us for every thing that we have done how can we turn down those who ask for forgiveness. The old saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still relevant today.

 

Readings: September 3, 2017, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible (© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)    

  • Jeremiah 20:7-10

You pushed me into this, God, and I let you do it. You were too much for me. And now I’m a public joke. They all poke fun at me. Every time I open my mouth I’m shouting, “Murder!” or “Rape!” And all I get for my God-warnings are insults and contempt. But if I say, “Forget it! No more God-Messages from me!” The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. I’m worn out trying to hold it in. I can’t do it any longer! Then I hear whispering behind my back:

“There goes old ‘Danger-Everywhere.’ Shut him up! Report him!” Old friends watch, hoping I’ll fall flat on my face: “One misstep and we’ll have him. We’ll get rid of him for good!”

  • Romans 12:1-2

         Place Your Life Before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

  • Matthew 16:21-27

           You’re Not in the Driver’s Seat

Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!”

But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.”

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

“Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.”

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: September 3, 2017, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-20    Romans 12:1-2    Matthew 16:21-27

Our readings today ask difficult questions to reflect upon in tough times. The prophet Jeremiah reflects in his lamentations about the difficulties and suffering in following the Lord. He knows he can not walk away from the call. Jesus says “whoever wishes to  come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

We learn that sadness, suffering, difficulties, and ultimately death happens to all both the good and the bad and the in between. We sometimes question this and wonder if our good works maybe should give us an easier life. It did not do so for the Lord, the disciples and all of those who followed Him. Even our Blessed Mother through the suffering and the cross of her son Jesus became the Mother of Sorrows.

But death never has the last word for at the end of time those who are just will have a reward. Right now when there is a lot of injustice and bigotry perhaps we might say we did not earn this, we did not struggle for this, but why do we have to face it. We also learn that in all times there is a struggle for doing what is right. We may be disillusioned at times, can be weak of faith and hope, but ultimately we know that our good deeds will be vindicated. It was difficult for our Lord Jesus to have the support of all of those around Him especially as He was heading for Jerusalem, but He never gave up.

This week we can reflect upon the cross and the difficulties that we have to take up in our lives. What is the responses to them? Are they making us a better person? And how  does it relate to our discipleship in Jesus Christ?

 

Readings: August 27, 2017, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Isaiah 22:19-24

          The Key of the Davidic Heritage

The Lord spoke to Shebna, maser of the palace: “On that Day I’ll replace Shebna. I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I’ll dress him in your robe. I’ll put your belt on him. I’ll give him your authority. He’ll be a father-leader to Jerusalem and the government of Judah. I’ll give him the key of the Davidic heritage. He’ll have the run of the place—open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He’ll secure the Davidic tradition. Everything will hang on him—not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house.

  • Romans 11:33-36

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?

Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Matthew 16:13-20

        Son of Man, Son of God

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, /really/ are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: August 27, 2017, 21st Sunday in Ordianry Time

Isaiah 22:12-23    Romans 11:33-36    Matthew 16:13-20

Today’s Gospel takes up the question of leadership in the early church. When it comes to Jesus we have to learn how to think differently about many things. Jesus knew that people wanted to make Him a material king.

He performed many miracles in His own time, but He did not earn his crown by science or miracles but by suffering service, being compassionate to the poor, the lonely, and the sick and ultimately giving his own life. Jesus did not want anything to get in His way from His journey to Jerusalem and so He had to share this with His Disciples. He knew He had to come to offer a humble sacrifice and He was determined to stay faithful to that calling.

We are called to be merciful, loving and forgiving as Jesus is and let nothing distract us from that call and seeing the face of Jesus Christ in all of our sisters and brothers.