Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Readings: November 19, 2017, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

Hymn to a Good Wife

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.

Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need,  reaches out to help the poor.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Give her everything she deserves!  Festoon her life with praises!            

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—”We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.

But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart.                                            

  • Matthew 25:14-30

The Story About Investment

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also haddoubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make

no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

“Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’         

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor, November 19, 2017, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31    1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6    Matthew 25: 14-30

We have been given many gifts by the Lord. The big difference is some of us use these gifts abundantly while some of us hardly use them at all. Whenever we do this it really makes a difference and it has everything to do about our spiritual life and where we are with God. During this Thanksgiving time we begin to think about and reflect on how abundant those many gifts are.

The Gospel reminds us about the moral responsibilities in how we use the things that we have in this world. If we are not generous with them then we take a chance of losing out on the Lord’s Kingdom. During this time of year we think about giving to the needy and the poor. Most of what we give is from our abundant surplus. That which with we can usually do without, but even if we just have a small amount we can share that with others as well.

This year on the day after Thanksgiving there is a special event called Amen to Action where we all can volunteer down at the David Lawrence Convention Center to help pack a million meals for those poor among us. Then it is distributed to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank and other organizations. This is a way to join others in helping those who least are among our brothers and sisters. This is what today’s Gospel is all about. Perhaps we should think in our own lives what are we doing with our talents, with our  gifts.

 

 

Readings: November 12, 2017, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Wisdom 6:12-16

The Value of Wisdom

Wisdom shines bright and never grows dim; those who love her and look for her can easily find her.   She is quick to make herself known to anyone who desires her.   Get up early in the morning to find her, and you will have no problem; you will find her sitting at your door.

To fasten your attention on Wisdom is to gain perfect understanding. If you look for her, you will soon find peace of mind, because she will be looking for those who are worthy of her, and she will find you wherever you are. She is kind and will be with you in your every thought.

Good News Translation

  • 1 Thessalonians  4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.                                          © 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

  • Matthew  25: 1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.

The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’

While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.

Afterwards the other virgins came and said, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!”

But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

                   © 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: November 12, 2017, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 6: 12-16    1 Thessalonians 4:13-18    Matthew 25:1-13

Last week we celebrated the Feast Days of All Souls and All Saints. We remember those who have lost loved ones especially over the past year. Along with these feasts we have reminders that we have a mandate to be alive and well, and attuned to what is going on around us.

Being spiritually prepared is not just something good to do, it is absolutely a necessity. There are many dangers and distractions all around us that allow us to waste time and not take life serious. However today’s Gospel teaches that there is a real danger in doing this. The problem is when we pass from this life to the next, there is no coming back to redo what has happened before.

In these days and times there is  much to fear. Mass murders happening almost routinely, the fear and warnings of war, and hatred and animosity among different people. In all these occurrences we are asked to make a response. There is much that goes on around us which seem to be beyond our control. But our attitude, priorities, and the way we live every day can make a real difference in human outcomes.

Each day is an opportunity for us to ask the Lord to lead us and guide us  in the direction that no matter what dangers we may encounter we will make the right choices and decisions. The Gospel reminds us there are real consequences in not taking this serious. As we come near the end of the church’s year, let us be reminded that life is a difficult adventure, but is one with many blessings. It is one in which we are called to always be alert and know that God is always on our side.

 

Readings: November 5, 2017, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Malachi 1:14a-2:2b, 8-10

“I’m a great king, says the God of Hosts, honored far and wide, and I will be kept in awe and held in respect!

         Desecrating the Holiness of God

“And now this indictment, you priests! If you refuse to obediently listen, and if you refuse to honor me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, in worship, then I’ll put you under a curse.

“You have abandoned the way of priests. Your teaching has messed up many lives. You have corrupted the covenant of priest Levi. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. And so I am showing you up for who you are. Everyone will be disgusted with you and avoid you because you don’t live the way I told you to live, and you don’t teach my revelation truly and impartially.”

“Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together?

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13

Brothers and sisters:

We were gentle with you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.

You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you.

And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!

  • Matthew 23:1-12

 Religious Fashion Shows

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do.

Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: November 5, 2017, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Malachi 1:14a-2:2b, 8-10     1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13    Matthew  23:1-12

Today’s scripture shows us we must practice what we preach, and live out what we say to others.  The real test of a disciple is living life that we preach and teach about.  This is not only pastors and ministers but teachers, church leaders, religious educators, parish ministers, and all of those who take leadership roles among  people.  To be a real minister we have to pay attention to and be with the people.

The problem with the Pharisees and Sadducees is that they said one thing and lived another way.  Jesus said many times that I am among you as one who serves and we who in His name, must be the same.  We must be among each other, as ones who serves one another.  Since we are all children of God and are equal before God, we have to know that we are all both givers and takers.  There are times in our life when we need to receive, and there when we need to give, and both of these are blessed by the Lord.

Jesus is challenging us this week.  Do our deeds really match our words of faith?  Can we give concrete examples of this?  Today’s world need so many good leaders who are willing to spend and give themselves on behalf of people.  Since we are people of His flock we follow our leader Jesus in caring out the ministry among our brothers and sisters.

 

Readings: October 29, 2017, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Exodus 22:20-26

Thus says the Lord. “Anyone who sacrifices to a god other than God alone must be put to death. Don’t abuse or take advantage of strangers; you, remember, were once strangers in Egypt. “Don’t mistreat widows or orphans. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure I’ll take them most seriously; I’ll show my anger and come raging among you with the sword, and your wives will end up widows and your children orphans.

“If you lend money to my people, to any of the down-and-out among you, don’t come down hard on them and gouge them with interest. If you take your neighbor’s coat as security, give it back before nightfall; it may be your neighbor’s only covering. What else does the person have to sleep in? And if I hear the neighbor crying out from the cold, I’ll step in, for I’m compassionate.

  • 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

          Convictions of Steel

Brothers and sisters: every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.

Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—/you’re/ the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.

  • Matthew 22:34-40

            The Most Important Command

When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: October 29, 2017, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 22:20-26    1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10    Matthew 22:34-40

The Gospel today about the two Great Commandments goes hand in hand with our first reading. It’s about welcoming aliens and those who may be different from us into our own community.

This is appropriate today when there is so much concern about migrants, immigrants and refugees who are among us. This can not be separated from the two great commandments of Loving God above everything and Loving our neighbor as ourselves.

In the first reading Jesus reminds the Israelites that they must be welcoming to others for He took care of them in their long captivity In Egypt. Many of us have known what it’s like to be a stranger in a foreign place. It makes all the difference in the world when you are welcome and made to feel as a good human being. We must work to create an environment of peace, non-violence, justice and care for all of God’s people. Many who have come into this country as refugees and immigrants have been exploited and taken advantage of in their own native places. We as Americans have a hand in this as so many companies in this country have factories and labor camps in places where people are the poorest.

In our human attempts to love our neighbor, we must be changed by what impacts our neighbor. Any victim of violence makes us all a victim of violence. Our Gospel this week is a call to action, loving our neighbor causes us to never give up speaking the truth of our oneness and solidarity with others. Jesus says “to those who have been given much, much is going to be demanded.” We are among those who have been given much and the Lord in turn ask us to treat our visitors and those among us as we would treat Him.

 

Readings: October 22, 2017, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6

             The God Who Forms Light and Darkness

God’s Message to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he took by the hand to give the task of taming the nations, of terrifying their kings— He gave him free rein, no restrictions: “I’ll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road. I’ll break down bronze city gates, smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances.

It’s because of my dear servant Jacob, Israel my chosen, that I’ve singled you out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work. And you don’t even know me! I am God, the only God there is. Besides me there are no real gods. I’m the one who armed you for this work, though you don’t even know me, so that everyone, from east to west, will know that I have no god-rivals.

I am God, the only God there is. I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, God, do all these things.

  • 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b

I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God’s amazing grace be with you! God’s robust peace!

     Convictions of Steel

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.

  • Matthew 22:15-21

          Paying Taxes

That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”

They said, “Caesar.”

“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”

 

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: October 22, 2017, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The scripture readings remind us today that when God calls leaders, even political leaders, they are instruments of His love and service, and they are accountable for the way they care for their people.

Isaiah was addressing the Israelites during the time of exile in Babylon when life was really harsh and depressing. The Lord called Cyrus to be His instrument of salvation to the people. The prophet sees this as divine intervention done for the sake of his people.

In the Gospel Jesus compares the image of Caesar with the image of God. We are called to live with courage God’s image of, the human heart, mind, and soul  to God.  The political and material world happens under God’s domain. We are all instruments of His service and are called to serve the kingdom.

The fact that the world today has such dire needs is a result of poor stewardship, and lack of concern and care for all of God’s children. Achieving God’s Kingdom is an uphill  struggle, but it is worth the price. Each day God reminds us that we are moral decision makers. We have a choice, and we have a decision to make. These decisions have real consequences not only for us but for others.

We should always start with the two commandments, Love of God and Love of Neighbor. We should make Jesus the center if our lives. If indeed Jesus is the center of our lives, and this earth is a gift from God, we will  always try to be good stewards. Not only for our own possessions, but in sharing them with all of God’s children.