Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Readings: October 15, 2017, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Isaiah 25:6-10

Here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will throw a feast for all the people of the world, a feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines, a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts. And here on this mountain, God will banish the pall of doom hanging over all peoples, the shadow of doom darkening all nations. Yes, he’ll banish death forever. And God will wipe the tears from every face. He’ll remove every sign of disgrace from his people, wherever they are. Yes! God says so!

Also at that time, people will say, “Look at what’s happened! This is our God! We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!    This God, the one we waited for! Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation. God’s hand rests on this mountain!”

  • Philippians 4:12-20

          Content Whatever the Circumstances

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.

  • Matthew 22:1-14

            The Story of the Wedding Banquet

Jesus responded by telling still more stories. “God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come! He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’

“They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.

“Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.

“When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn’t properly dressed. He said to him, ‘Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!’ The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, ‘Get him out of here—fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn’t get back in.’

“That’s what I mean when I say, ‘Many get invited; only a few make it.’”

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: October 15, 2017, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 25:6-10   Philippians 4:12-20   Matthew 22:1-14

In the Bible the image of a wedding garment is often used to represent the essential elements of our life in Jesus Christ. It is as a garment of salvation, of obedience, and of purity.

We know the familiar story in John’s Gospel in the 2nd chapter. The wedding hosts were not quite prepared for
the celebration. Actually the Gospel is not about a party at all but it is about our being prepared for the feast of everlasting life.

If we were to apply this parable today, it could look something like this. There are Folks who come to church primarily for show and have no intention of following the Lord. Each Sunday we have to ask ourselves have I
come to this Eucharistic feast with my heart properly dressed. Have I come to attend without thinking about how the bread of life is meant to help me change my heart and be a person different than I’ve ever been before.

Being properly dressed in this context means being open to the Lord’s graces and blessings. Without this preparation we can lose Jesus with the power and love which is at the heart of the Eucharistic Celebration. We
actually would not be thrown out of church as in the gospel story, but it is a warning that if we don’t take the Eucharist seriously we risk not having the grace and the strength that we need to face the challenges and crosses
of each day.

As we attend Mass today let us have an open heart. We must be willing to tell Jesus that we need Him in so many areas of our life. Let us not be in arrush to run out of Mass today on to something else. We remain in prayer
and devotion.

It is a great honor and a blessing to serve as a minister torserve on the altar of Jesus Christ. We should be here early, properlyrdressed, and in a spiritual way prepared to be an essential part of the Eucharistic celebration. Everyone from Greeter, to Choir, to Lectors, to EucharisticrMinisters, Cantors, and Acolyte. You know that you are an essential part of the Sunday Worship experience.

Each Mass is a reminder of thergreat Wedding Banquet that will come when Jesus returns in glory. So if we keep our spiritual garment on now we will be ready when Jesus comes.

Readings: October 8, 2017, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Isaiah 5:1-7

        Looking for a Crop of Justice

I’ll sing a ballad to the one I love, a love ballad about his vineyard:

The one I love had a vineyard, a fine, well-placed vineyard. He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds, and planted the very best vines. He built a lookout, built a wine press, a vineyard to be proud of. He looked for a vintage yield of grapes, but for all his pains he got junk grapes.

“Now listen to what I’m telling you, ou who live in Jerusalem and Judah. What do you think is going on between me and my vineyard? Can you think of anything I could have done to my vineyard that I didn’t do? When I expected good grapes, why did I get bitter grapes?

“Well now, let me tell you what I’ll do to my vineyard: I’ll tear down its fence and let it go to ruin. I’ll knock down the gate and let it be trampled. I’ll turn it into a patch of weeds, untended, uncared for—thistles and thorns will take over. I’ll give orders to the clouds: ‘Don’t rain on that vineyard, ever!’”

Do you get it? The vineyard of God-of-the-Angel-Armies is the country of Israel. All the men and women of Judah are the garden he was so proud of. He looked for a crop of justice and saw them murdering each other. He looked for a harvest of righteousness and heard only the moans of victims.

  • Philippians 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters: Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

  • Matthew 21:33-44

         The Story of the Greedy Farmhands

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Here’s another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip. When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.

“The farmhands grabbed the first servant and beat him up. The next one they murdered. They threw stones at the third but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘they will respect my son.’

“But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, threw him out, and killed him.

“Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?”

“He’ll kill them—a rotten bunch, and good riddance,” they answered. “Then he’ll assign the vineyard to farmhands who will hand over the profits when it’s time.”

Jesus said, “Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles: ‘The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God’s work; we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!’

“This is the way it is with you. God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed.”

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: October 8, 2017, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 5:1-7    Philippians 2:1-11    Matthew 21:33-43

Today’s Gospel stresses the importance of our Spiritual Leaders and their accountability and responsibility to those who lead us. The Pharisees did not live up to the call that God had given them rather they used it for their own advantage. It also tells us that any power or authority we may have in this world is only for the care and service of others. It is never for our own selfish desires and needs.

The Gospel foreshadows the passion and death of Jesus Christ. The stone that the builders had rejected is the cornerstone. In this life’s journey there are numerous opportunities to use our gifts, talents, and material resources to help others and to make the world a better place. Some do not look at it this way. The world tells us that accumulating for our personal needs is what is really is going to make us happy, but it has proven time and time again not to be the case. The more we keep everything we have to ourselves, the more unhappy we become, and the less fulfilled we are.

In this month of October we are dedicated to respect life. Life is being challenged in so many areas of our society. We especially focus on the many who struggle with challenges due to their abilities both physical and mental. They are here as God’s great gift to us. They are to be nourished, cared for and affirmed. As we work towards better living for the aged we also work toward providing a wholesome and decent life for all of Gods’ children. They are being threatened in so many areas.

As we mature and grow older our needs in life can become very different. A good many of our elderly are often forgotten. Their life has been rich and enriched and they have given so much to all of us.

We remember all of those who have suffered and have died on behalf of goodness in serving others. As we go back to the Gospel we are accountable and responsible for what we have. If we indeed see the face of God in everyone we can not help but to want to respect life and all of its implications.

 

Readings: October 1, 2017, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Ezekiel 18:25-28

Thus says the Lord: “Do I hear you saying, ‘That’s not fair! God’s not fair!’?

“Listen, Israel. I’m not fair? You’re the ones who aren’t fair! If a good person turns away from his good life and takes up sinning, he’ll die for it. He’ll die for his own sin. Likewise, if a bad person turns away from his bad life and starts living a good life, a fair life, he will save his life. Because he faces up to all the wrongs he’s committed and puts them behind him, he will live, really live. He won’t die.

  • Philippians 2:1-11

        He Took on the Status of a Slave

Brothers and sisters: if you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care — then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became /human/!//Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that — a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

  • Matthew 21:28-32

        The Story of Two Sons

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard. “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went.

“The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went. “Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” They said, “The first.”

Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: October 1, 2017, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 18: 25-28    Philippians 2: 1-11    Matthew 21: 28-32

Today’s Gospel could be entitled “action speaks louder than words”. All of us know that at certain times when it comes to making decisions, even moral decisions, we are sitting on the fence deciding which way to go, knowing there are consequences no matter what we do. But even if there is doubt and hesitation and we get the courage to do what is right, the Lord acknowledges that decision.

Free will is something very powerful. It causes us to reflect upon our actions. Today there are so many more decisions that we have to make. It does us well first to take it to the Lord in prayer, and then maybe even consult others, our brothers and sisters  who are in the same kind of dilemma as we. The parable of the two sons reminds us of this. Even if we make the wrong choice isn’t it good to know that the Lord gives us so many opportunities to make up for this.

However there is another saying, “never put off till tomorrow what you can do good today for tomorrow is not promised.” The fact that we are moral decision makers is just a sign of how much the Lord believes in us and trusts us. We for our own part must never take this challenge lightly.

The parable also reminds us that those who are given much power are expected to use it in the right way.  It is something to think about on our daily journey.

 

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.