Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Reflection from Fr. Taylor, May 8, 2016, 7th Sunday of Easter

May 8, 2016, 7th Sunday of Easter

Jesus prayed that we all may be one. The Gospel after The Ascension our Lord makes two assertions.  Jesus tells us we are to be one, and we are to convert the world.  At first glance this looks like a difficult challenge.  We as Christians are divided into many different churches.  Even the Catholic Church suffers from deep and painful divisions among its members, but as for converting the world we have a long way too to go. We cannot give to others what we do not possess ourselves.

If you read through the lines you can see a lot of good news as well.  Even though many of our denominations are separated from one another, we know that it is never the way it was intended to be and we cannot settle for it.  We have to keep striving for union and reunion.  Jesus himself wanted us to be “One flock and one Shepherd”.   We must emphasize what unites all of us.  We share baptism, and the same Creed, whatever divides us is much less than what unites us.

Today we don’t talk so much about conversion as we do Evangelization and the heart of evangelization is sharing our gifts, our faith and talents with one another.  If we do this others will see the good that we do.  Some of the best evangelization is done one person to another.

One thing this Easter Season has taught us is that we can rise above many of the things that separate us and emphasize those things that unite us.  This is a good attitude to have especially as we are planning for the future in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. We are One Church in six different counties with different needs, different gifts, different talents but we all work to support one another.

 

 

 

 

Readings: May 1, 2016, 6th Sunday of Easter

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

  • Acts 15:1-2, 23-29

      To Let Outsiders Inside

It wasn’t long before some Jews showed up from Judea insisting that everyone be circumcised: “If you’re not circumcised in the Mosaic fashion, you can’t be saved.” Paul and Barnabas were up on their feet at once in fierce protest. The church decided to resolve the matter by sending Paul, Barnabas, and a few others to put it before the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem.

Everyone agreed: apostles, leaders, all the people. They picked Judas (nicknamed Barabbas) and Silas—they both carried considerable weight in the church—and sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas with this letter:

From the apostles and leaders, your friends, to our friends in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Hello!

We heard that some men from our church went to you and said things that confused and upset you. Mind you, they had no authority from us; we didn’t send them. We have agreed unanimously to pick representatives and send them to you with our good friends Barnabas and

Paul. We picked men we knew you could trust, Judas and Silas—they’ve looked death in the face time and again for the sake of our Master Jesus Christ. We’ve sent them to confirm in a face-to-face meeting with you what we’ve written.

It seemed to the Holy Spirit and to us that you should not be saddled with any crushing burden, but be responsible only for these bare necessities: Be careful not to get involved in activities connected with idols; avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians (blood, for instance); and guard the morality of sex and marriage.

These guidelines are sufficient to keep relations congenial between us.

And God be with you!

  • Revelation 21:10-14, 22-29

         The City of Light

The Angels took me away in the Spirit to an enormous, high mountain and showed me Holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God, resplendent in the bright glory of God.

The City shimmered like a precious gem, light-filled, pulsing light. She had a wall majestic and high with twelve gates. At each gate stood an Angel, and on the gates were inscribed the names of the Twelve Tribes of the sons of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, three gates on the west. The wall was set on twelve foundations, the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb inscribed on them.

There was no sign of a Temple, for the Lord God—the Sovereign-Strong—and the Lamb are the Temple. The City doesn’t need sun or moon for light. God’s Glory is its light, the Lamb its lamp!

  • John 14:23-31

Because a loveless world,” said Jesus to His disciples, “is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, they will carefully keep my word and my Father will love them—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

“You’ve heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.

“I’ve told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: May 1, 2016, 6th Sunday of Easter

May 1, 2016, 6th Sunday of Easter

The Holy Spirit will teach you everything. The early church had to cope with the problem of how to accept all people, the Jewish and converts, in the early church. They were guided by the Holy Spirit. In today’s gospel readings Jesus tells the Disciples at the Last Supper that after He is gone He will send the Holy Spirit to teach them all truths.

We all live our own traditions but the main thing is that we use the power of God and the Holy Spirit to be inclusive in areas of our life. Jesus said the Spirit will teach us, that means we must always be ready to learn. Some of us are teachers. All of us are learners. Being respectful of tradition does not mean having a closed mind. We must be ready to let God do something new, and sometimes this can be difficult. Some of the changes in the Second Vatican Council are still difficult for people to accept, but we have to remember the main thing is what brings us closer to one another and to the Lord.

If we spend half as much time on the things we have in common  rather than on the things that make us different not only would the world be a much better place but we would be drawing people to Christ all the time. Because after all, when we can see the good and the difference in each other that makes for a church that Jesus came to establish.

May God continue to bless us as we live out His faith.

 

 

 

 

Readings: April 24, 2016, 5th Sunday of Easter

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

  • Acts 14:21-28

        Plenty of Hard Times

After proclaiming the Message in Derbe and establishing a strong core of disciples, they retraced their steps to Lystra, then Iconium, and then Antioch, putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn’t be easy: “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.”

Paul and Barnabas handpicked leaders in each church. After praying—their prayers intensified by fasting—they presented these new leaders to the Master to whom they had entrusted their lives. Working their way back through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia and preached in Perga. Finally, they made it to Attalia and caught a ship back to Antioch, where it had all started—launched by God’s grace and now safely home by God’s grace. A good piece of work.

On arrival, they got the church together and reported on their trip, telling in detail how God had used them to throw the door of faith wide open so people of all nations could come streaming in.

  • Revelation 21:1-5a

      Everything New

Then I, John, I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.

I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death

is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.

  •  John 13:31-35

       A New Command

When Judas had left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!

“Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor, April 24, 2016, 5th Sunday of Easter

April 24, 2016, 5th Sunday of Easter

Today’s Gospel takes us back to the sad events of Holy Week.  Jesus is gathered together with His Disciples to share a meal with them during His time of suffering and pain.  He leaves His    Disciples with a new commandment “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus will exemplify what He is saying through the events of Good Friday.  No one  has greater love than to lay down  His life for His friends.

Many of us have known the sacrifice that comes along with deep love of others.  This can happen when spouses make major sacrifices and put careers on hold to have a family.  Staying at home with a sick child can bring comfort and relief.  Children, changing their way of living to be with a parent sick and in need, show real love.  Some have given up a whole career and job in order to be with a love one who needs them.  These are monumental sacrifices.  It shows the extent we can go if we really love someone.

Jesus tells us that even this is not enough.  We must love everyone, even when that love is not appreciated and returned.  We know that God dwells among us and frees us from pain and suffering, mourning and death, when we can love the person who appears to be unlovable.

This fits in so well with Pope Francis for our Year of Mercy.  Love and Mercy go hand in hand.  Do we practice only the easy kind of love or do we put into effect love in the most difficult circumstances?  “God of love you gave yourself to us by taking on our human flesh and limitations except sin, help us to follow your command to give ourselves  totally to you by the way we love sacrificially”

 

 

Readings: April 17, 2016, 4th Sunday of Easter

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

  • Acts 13:14-52

      Don’t Take This Lightly

Paul and company put out to sea, traveling on to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they went to the meeting place and took their places.  A good many Jews and converts to Judaism went along with Paul and Barnabas, who urged them in long conversations to stick with what they’d started, this living in and by God’s grace.

When the next Sabbath came around, practically the whole city showed up to hear the Word of God. Some of the Jews, seeing the crowds, went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying, making an ugly scene.

But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it, you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life, the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said, I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!”

When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God. They honored God’s Word by receiving that life. And this Message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.

Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave. Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.

  • Revelation 7:9-17

I John, had a vision. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne, Angels, Elders, Animals, fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing: Oh, Yes! The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, The honor and power and strength, To our God forever and ever and ever!

Oh, Yes! Just then one of the Elders addressed me: “Who are these dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?” Taken aback, I said, “O Sir, I have no idea; but you must know.”

Then he told me, “These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve him day and night in his Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.”

  • John 10:27-30

Jesus answered, My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

Reflection from Fr. Taylor, April 17, 2016, 4th Sunday of Easter

April 17, 2016, 4th Sunday of Easter

“I am the Good Shepherd.”

So much is said today about people living up to their commitments. One of the saddest things is that some people who have been entrusted with great care of others betray that trust and do not live up to the commitments they have made.

The image of the Good Shepherd reminds us just how serious caring for others is. We should never walk in and out of those things which have to do with people’s lives. Jesus our “Good Shepherd” gave His life for all and He stood by every commitment that He ever made, and He promised to forgive sin. He carried this out as a priority even in the few resurrection appearances that we have in the Gospels.

Often it is a challenge keeping up with our day to day commitments, but we should think of those who are relying on us, who are being entrusted to our care. This can happen in family relationships work relationships and yes in our different ministries in the church. The bottom line is that when God calls He gives the grace and spirit to carry out the call, but it is up to us to remain steadfast.

Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall not perish.” Who has ever made a greater commitment than this. When we hear of eternal life we tend to think of life after death but we really don’t have to wait. The future is in our hands. It is said in John’s Gospel “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” Eternal life cannot be taken away by death but only by total and final rejection of God’s grace, Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

So we do the best we can in this world knowing that planning for the future starts right now. Not everyone accepts this invitation for eternal life but if we do Jesus promises us a life that will never end, and a life that is secure. Nothing can ever steal these things away from us. In this world we continue to be subject to suffering, sorrow and death, but even in our darkest hour we have this pledge that we will never ever be alone.

Readings: 3rd Sunday of Easter, April 10, 2016

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

  • Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41

The captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the High Council. The Chief Priest said, “Didn’t we give you strict orders not to teach in Jesus’ name? And here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying your best to blame us for the death of this man.”

Peter and the apostles answered, “It’s necessary to obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging him on a cross. God set him on high at his side, Prince and Savior, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven. And we are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey him, corroborates every detail.”

The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles not to speak in Jesus’ name and sent them off. The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name.

  • Revelation 5:11-14

I, John, looked and heard a company of Angels around the Throne, the Animals, and the Elders—ten thousand times ten thousand their number, thousand after thousand after thousand in full song: “The slain Lamb is worthy! Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength!

Take the honor, the glory, the blessing!”

Then I heard every creature in Heaven and earth, in underworld and sea, join in, all voices in all places, singing: “To the One on the Throne! To the Lamb! The blessing, the honor, the glory, the strength, For age after age after age.”

The Four Animals called out, “Oh, Yes!” The Elders fell to their knees and worshiped.

  • John 21:1-19

       Fishing

At that time, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”

The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.

Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”

They answered, “No.”

He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”

When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.

Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.

Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.

Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.

      Do You Love Me?

After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

 

Reflection From Fr. Taylor: 3rd Sunday of Easter 2016

 April 10, 2016: 3rd Sunday of Easter

Today’s Gospel gives us a second resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ. You notice that it takes place in a scene where the Disciples are at work as fishermen and they still are at a loss for their leader, whom they put so much faith in, who has gone. They also live with the guilt that many of them abandoned Him during His greatest hour of need. But they were soon to learn that Jesus is full of mercy and forgiveness and He comes to their aid right away.

In our own lives we can have a profound amount of guilt over the way we have let people down. We can also hold long time grudges over perceived treatment by others. I do believe that in looking at today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that we do have to put these things behind us. We don’t abandon one another because our feelings have been hurt. Our Lord lived this way and He taught the Disciples that it had to be an essential element in their lives of following Him.

Peter proved his loyalty to our Lord by not giving in to the powers that be. He even did this to the point of execution. Love goes much deeper than hurt and offenses. As we continue to celebrate the Easter Season perhaps we should take a look at our own lives. How willing are we to forgive and forget. Are we willing to take the initiative to restore friendship? The church can only grow if we are willing to take these kinds of risks. The wounds of Jesus on the cross certainly heal all human wounds. It enables us to rise above our petty differences. As weak as Peter was our Lord picked him to be the first leader of the church. That is the way it is with our God. He does not pick perfect people. There are none to be found in this world. In the end most of us never have to make such dramatic life or death decisions as Peter in obedience to God. Let’s hope we never have to, but meanwhile we show where we stand by day to day fidelity to what we know is right no matter what the costs.

 

 

 

 

Readings: April 3, 2016, Divine Mercy Sunday

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

  • Acts 5:12-16

      They All Met Regularly

Through the work of the apostles, many God-signs were set up among the people, many wonderful things done. They all met regularly and in remarkable harmony on the Temple porch named after Solomon. But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them. On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both. They even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on stretchers and bedrolls, hoping they would be touched by Peter’s shadow when he walked by. They came from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, throngs of them, bringing the sick and bedeviled. And they all were healed.

  • Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

      His Eyes Pouring Fire-Blaze

I, John, with you all the way in the trial and the Kingdom and the passion of patience in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s Word, the witness of Jesus. It was Sunday and I was in the Spirit, praying. I heard a loud voice behind me, trumpet-clear and piercing: “Write what you see into a book.

I turned and saw the voice. I saw a gold menorah with seven branches,

And in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate, hair a blizzard of white, Eyes pouring fire-blaze, both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice a cataract, right hand holding the Seven Stars, His mouth a sharp-biting sword, his face a perigee sun.

I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, his voice reassured me:  “Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates. Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be.

  • John 20: 19-31

      To Believe

Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.

The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.