Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Readings: December 10, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Advent

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

  • Isaiah 40:1-5, 8-11

        Messages of Comfort Prepare for God’s Arrival

“Comfort, oh comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem, but also make it very clear that she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!

She’s been punished enough and more than enough, and now it’s over and done with.”

Thunder in the desert! “Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God. Fill in the valleys, level off the hills, smooth out the ruts, clear out the rocks. Then God’s bright glory will shine and everyone will see it. Yes. Just as God has said.”

Climb a high mountain, Zion. You’re the preacher of good news. Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem. You’re the preacher of good news. Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid! Tell the cities of Judah, “Look! Your God!” Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power, ready to go into action.

He is going to pay back his enemies and reward those who have loved him. Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.                

  • 2 Peter 3:8-14

The Day the Sky Will Collapse

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.

But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.

Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but /we’ll/ hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.

So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.

  • Mark 1:1-8

     John the Baptizer

The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you; He’ll make the road smooth for you.

Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!

John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

 

Refelction from Fr. Taylor: December 10, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 8-11     2 Peter 3: 8-14      Mark 1: 1-8

In this Sunday’s readings from Isaiah, chapter 40, there is a special meaning of comfort as we prepare for the way of the Lord. Isaiah speaks to people who are in turmoil. They have been troubled. They have been in exile and want a way to come back home. Isaiah speaks of the forgiving nature of Jesus who is ready to take us back after a period of cleansing.

We for our part are asked to do what John the Baptist reminds us of ”make straight in the wasteland our highway for our God.” We must make every valley filled in. We must make every mountain low. We must make a way for each other in our troubled world to see not only is there a way out, but there is every reason to have hope. This requires reflection, prayer, and devotion. It also requires of us the necessary element of seeing ahead. We are celebrating now the beginning of salvation history during the Advent Season. We are asked to take a look with new eyes and with new vision what God has in store for us.

The birth of Jesus does not remove all the trouble and hardships that are part of our existence, but it did give us a new opportunity to see that we will always overcome evil when Jesus is the center of our lives. As we continue during this Advent Season in our resolutions to be better, to live better, and to serve better let us continue to remind ourselves that we are all in this together. John the Baptist preached this way as he was a fore runner of the Lord, but he also is preaching to us. He calls us to be redeemed, calling us to be repentant, and most of all asking us to put into practice, the baptismal call that all of us have.

May you have a Holy and Peace-filled Advent Season

Readings: December 3, 2017, 1st Sunday of Advent

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

  • Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64: 2-7

O, Lord, You are our living Father, our Redeemer, famous from eternity! Why, God, did you make us wander from your ways? Why did you make us cold and stubborn so that we no longer worshiped you in awe?

Turn back for the sake of your servants. You own us! We belong to you! For a while your holy people had it good, but now our enemies have wrecked your holy place. For a long time now, you’ve paid no attention to us. It’s like you never knew us.

Can We Be Saved?

Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend, make the mountains shudder at your presence — As when a forest catches fire, as when fire makes a pot to boil — to shock your enemies into facing you, make the nations shake in their boots! You did terrible things we never expected, descended and made the mountains shudder at your presence.

Since before time began no one has ever imagined, no ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who happily do what is right, who keep a good memory of the way you work.

But how angry you’ve been with us! We’ve sinned and kept at it so long! Is there any hope for us? Can we be saved? We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are grease-stained rags. We dry up like autumn leaves — sin-dried, we’re blown off by the wind.

No one prays to you or makes the effort to reach out to you Because you’ve turned away from us, left us to stew in our sins.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters: may all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.

Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

  • Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:“ No one knows the exact day and hour, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don’t know the timetable. It’s like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don’t want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: December 3, 2017, 1st Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 63: 16b-17, 19b  64:2-7    1 Corinthians 1:3-9      Mark 13:33-37

Be watchful and alert! In today’s Gospel on the first Sunday of Advent we are taught to be serious, be alert because one never knows the day or the hour when the Lord will choose. We should not look forward to this in fear and trembling, but we do know that each day God gives us  is a serious day. It is one in which we have to make decisions and decide where our life is going and where our priorities are.

One big theme in the Advent Season is “O Come O Come Emanuel”. We anticipate His birth at Christmas, but also the final coming. We see ourselves as Kingdom Builders. We are one big family of God with different gifts, different talents, with different cultures and nationalities, but with the same goals.

Advent tells us that no one is really saved alone. We always must bring others with us. In The church, we stress Community Serving. We bring our gifts as a family gift. Let’s be sure that we are using this Advent Season as a time of grace hope and anticipation. As busy as the season may be nothing is more important than searching for more ways to have our faith and life on a firm foundation.

May God Continue To Be With You In This Holy Advent Season.

 

Readings: November 26, 2017, Feast of Christ the King

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

  • Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

“‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.

“‘And as for you, my dear flock, I’m stepping in and judging between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—and the very last enemy is death!

When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!                      

  • Matthew 25:31-46

   The Sheep and the Goats

Jesus said to His Disciples: “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave e clothes,s sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth:

Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because —

I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me–you failed to do it to me.

“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: November 26, 2017, Feast of Christ the King

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17    1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28     Matthew 25:31-46

Seldom do we look at Jesus as a judge who wants to condemn us.  But in all of the parables in the Gospel we learn that there are real consequences with how we live in this world.

On this last Sunday before we begin the Advent Season the Gospel clearly reminds us about this.  Life is not a place where we go through the world as we please, who we want to please, regardless of how it affects our brothers and sisters.  The reason why Jesus put us in this world is that we can become a community of believers who love and support each other on the way to the kingdom.

This is a shared responsibility.  In these days and times we can see how much actions have consequences either good or bad.  We can also make a resolution that as we begin the Advent Season it will be a time of renewal so wherever life’s journey takes us we will be sure that someone is journeying with us.  We will sing often “O come O come Emanuel” during the Advent Season.  The Lord, our king wants this world to be ready for His arrival.

May God bless all of us as we start a new church’s year and as we look forward to His kingdom.

 

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.