Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Readings: January 14, 2018, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • 1 Samuel 3:3-21

           “Speak, God. I’m Ready to Listen”

Samuel was sleeping in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested. Then God called out, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Yes? I’m here.” Then he ran to Eli saying, “I heard you call. Here I am.” Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” And so he did. God called again, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, “I heard you call. Here I am.” Again Eli said, “Son, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” (This all happened before Samuel knew God for himself. It was before the revelation of God had been given to him personally.) God called again, “Samuel!”—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.”

That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out,

“Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.”

Samuel grew up. God was with him, and Samuel’s prophetic record was flawless. Everyone in Israel, recognized that Samuel was a true prophet of God.     

  • 2 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a, 17-20

Brothers and sisters: the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body! God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body.

As it is written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.”

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?

Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

  • John 1:35-42

           Come, See for Yourself

John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.” The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”   He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.” They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.

Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”).

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: January 14, 2018, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19    1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20     John 1:35-42

None of us can say that there is only one way God speaks to our life and our heart. It come on many different occasions and different times on our life’s journey. The readings tells us Samuel did not catch on right away to Jesus’ call to Him, but the Lord was very patient knowing that it takes time. All of the prophets of old testament which the Lord called did not fully grasp what He was asking, and what the outcome would be. But they all ultimately said yes regardless of the price they had to pay.

Jesus today keeps sending all kind of messages our way. Even though He knows we will miss some of them or most of them in the commotions of life. I am sure that the Lord has said several things to us even in the beginning of this new year. Things that we can do to make ourselves a better person and more available to the Lord. Also things that we can do to help others. We can be spreaders of peace and acceptance. How we can really spread love during a time of so much hate.

When you attend Mass if you feel your heart is being moved even if its only by one phrase from the homily or the readings act on it. Remember it is not only emotion. It could be the Holy Spirit stirring within you. If someone ask for your attention it may be that the Lord is asking you to be of comfort to them, to take time to listen.

Remember if today we hear His voice let us not harden our hearts. What does it mean to serve? It means to be a family in the name of Christ. A challenge for us in the year 2018. Never give up and we never say life could not be better. Jesus has proven time and time again that this is certainly not so. We say Amen and welcome our new king, our new savior into the world.

May each of you have a blessed and peace-filled New Year.

 

Readings: January 7, 2018, Feast of the Epiphany

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

  • Isaiah 60:1-6

      People Returning for the Reunion

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, but God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness.

Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you: your sons coming from great distances, your daughters carried by their nannies. When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!

All those people returning by sea for the reunion, a rich harvest of exiles gathered in from the nations! And then streams of camel caravans as far as the eye can see, young camels of nomads in Midian and Ephah, pouring in from the south from Sheba, loaded with gold and frankincense, preaching the praises of God.

  • Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

        The Secret Plan of God

Brothers and sisters; I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself.

The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.`

  • Matthew 2:1-12

        Scholars from the East

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

 

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: January 7, 2018, Feast of the Epiphany

Isaiah 60:1-6    Ephesians 3:2-6     Matthew 2:1-12

Each year on the Feast of the Epiphany, we get an opportunity to see just how significant the role of foreigners coming into our midst can be. The three Kings were immigrants who came from many different parts of the world. They came to share the same faith, the same blood of the new born king. As they came from afar they brought with them gifts of hospitality, friendship, love and acceptance. The physical gifts were symbolic. We can see the strangest in our midst can be of real love and support in our human journey because after all we are one human community.

We can learn a lot from this Feast Day as we think of the importance of welcoming others to our home, to our parish, to our community and to our country. Indeed the more we welcome others the more blessed we are. This new year of 2018 will offer us many opportunities to face these kind of challenges. But isn’t it good to know that the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph has shown us the way. Remember the two migrated to Bethlehem for the birth of the new born king.

Lets remember our efforts in being a friend to a friend and seeing in every brother and sister the face of our Lord in such a way but it will never be the same again. May God continue to bless you and may you have a Holy and Peace – filled New Year.

 

Readings: December 31, 2017, Feast of the Holy Family

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

  • Genesis 15:1-6; 15:1-3

The word of God came to Abram in a vision, saying: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”

Abram said, “God, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I’m childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?” Abram continued, “See, you’ve given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all.”

Then God’s Message came: “Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir.”

Then he took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!”

And he believed! Believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.”

God visited Sarah exactly as he said he would; God did to Sarah what he promised: Sarah became pregnant and gave Abraham a son in his old age, and at the very time God had set. Abraham named him Isaac. When his son was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded.

  • Hebrews 11:8, 11-12,17-19

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, “Your descendants shall come from Isaac.” Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that’s what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar.

  • Luke 2:22-40

Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.

In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, ‘This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, a figure misunderstood and contradicted — the pain of a sword-thrust through you — but the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.

When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: Feast of the Holy Family, December 31, 2017

Genesis 15:1-6; 15:1-3    Hebrews 11:8, 11-12,17-19    Luke 2:22-40

Today’s Feast Day relives the beauty of The Nativity. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph were not a typical nuclear family.

They lived as a faith filled family of their day was expected to live. They went to the temple to present Jesus to God the words of praise inspired all families, even all families to-day. All of us are Children of God who promised to be with us throughout our lives. We need the closeness of families more than ever before.

It still remains true today that our faith starts with the family. Both Mary and Sarah had children in un-usual kinds of ways. This shows us even today that nothing is impossible with God.

As we come into this New Year which begins to-morrow we pray and hope that it is one blessed. We have many challenges ahead but if we continue to focus on the manger in Bethlehem that will show and lead us the way. The Holy Family came from the poorest roots changed the world in such a way that it will never be the same again.

May God continue to Bless you and may you have a Holy and Peace-filled New Year.

 

Readings: December 24, 2017, 4th Sunday of Advent

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

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12, 14a,16

            God’s Covenant with David

The king made himself at home and God gave him peace from all his enemies. Then one day King David said to Nathan the prophet, “Look at this: Here I am, comfortable in a luxurious house of cedar, and the Chest of God sits in a plain tent.”  Nathan told the king, “Whatever is on your heart, go and do it. God is with you.”

But that night, the word of God came to Nathan saying, “Go and tell my servant David: This is God’s word on the matter: You’re going to build a ‘house’ for me to live in? I took you from the pasture, tagging along after sheep, and made you prince over my people Israel. I was with you everywhere you went and mowed your enemies down before you. Now I’m making you famous, to be ranked with the great names on earth. And I’m going to set aside a place for my people Israel and plant them there so they’ll have their own home and not be knocked

around any more. Nor will evil men afflict you as they always have, even during the days I set judges over my people Israel. Finally, I’m going to give you peace from all your enemies.

“Furthermore, God has this message for you: God himself will build you a house! When your life is complete and you’re buried with your ancestors, then I’ll raise up your child, your own flesh and blood, to succeed you, and I’ll firmly establish his rule. He will build a house to honor me, and I will guarantee his kingdom’s rule permanently. I’ll be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me.

Your family and your kingdom are permanently secured.  And your royal throne will always be there, rock solid.”

  • Romans 16:25-27

Brothers and sisters, all of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes!   `

  • Luke 1:26-38

     A Virgin Conceives

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.   “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

And Mary said, “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.

Then the angel left her.

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: December 24, 2017, 4th Sunday of Advent

A Holy and Blessed Christmas to All.

In this Sunday’s Gospel we read of the acceptance of Mary to be the mother of God. Being human like us she questions how this could come about, but she never had any hesitation about saying yes. Because of this we can go  into the Christmas holiday celebration.  Advent has reminded us of God’s promise to share his everlasting reign with us. All we ever have to do is reflect on Mary’s yes, and say with her “may it be done to me according to your word”.

As we celebrate Christmas we say yes to the savior of the world who has come into the world in this dark time of the year both physically and spiritually to remind us that God is still with us and we never have to give up hope. Regardless of the world conditions Jesus always comes again into our lives. At this time we are challenged by many things among the human community, but the nativity story tells us how Jesus came into a family of poverty, poor physically but very rich spiritually. Jesus was one like us, to live like us in everything but sin. And so on this Christmas we have every reason to have  faith and hope renewed.

To be sure the Christmas Season does not remove all of the challenges and difficulties which we face every day. The Lord reminded us that the cross would always be present. But with hope and vision and we can rise above them. Over the Advent  Season we were given many opportunities to grow closer to the Lord. This is especially true as we go about helping those who are sick, poor and troubled. This will remain a real challenge for us in the year 2018, but we never give up and we never say life could not be better.

We say Amen and welcome our new king, our new savior, into the world. May each and everyone of you have a blessed and peace-filled  Christmas season.

Readings: December 17, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Advent

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

  • Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11

            Announce Freedom to All Captives

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a day of vindication by our God.

I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.

For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24

Brothers and sisters: be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!

  • John 1:6-8,19-28

There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way

Thunder in the Desert

When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: “I am not the Messiah.”

They pressed him, “Who, then? Elijah?”

“I am not.”

“The Prophet?”

“No.”

Exasperated, they said, “Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself.”

“I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.”

Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: “If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”

John answered, “I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him.”

These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: December 17, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11     1 Thessalonians 5:16-24     John 1:6-8, 19-28

In today’s Gospel John makes it clear that he is not Jesus Christ, but he comes to prepare for Him. “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert make straight the way of the Lord” this is the voice that is needed so much in our world. We are called to profess the truth, decency and love of one another. We are called to stress morality, and doing of the right thing toward each other.

One thing that all of us can do is use this next couple of weeks to reach out to many in need and make their life a little better. Maybe we can patch up a quarrel that we have had with somebody. If there is something in our life that doesn’t belong there maybe we should put it at the top of our resolutions for next year.

This Sunday also is often referred to as rejoice Sunday and how could we not possibly rejoice in thinking of what we are preparing for. We can not change the whole world but we can change ourselves, our attitude and how we live. If we meet a mountain or valley in our life we can level them. We can rise above them.

May you continue to be blessed during this Holy time. May you continue to have a Holy and Peace-filled Advent Season