Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Readings: September 10, 2017, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  •          Ezekiel 33: 7-9

Thus says the Lord: “You, son of man, are the watchman. I’ve made you a watchman for Israel. The minute you hear a message from me, warn them. If I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked man, wicked woman, you’re on the fast track to death!’ and you don’t speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways, the wicked will die unwarned in their sins and I’ll hold you responsible for their bloodshed. But if you warn the wicked to change their ways and they don’t do it, they’ll die in their sins well-warned and at least you will have saved your own life.

  •         Romans 13: 8-10

Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of — finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is Love.

  •         Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to His Disciples: “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.  “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”

 

Refelction from Fr. Taylor: September 10, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 33:7-9    Romans 13:8-10    Matthew 18:15-20

Throughout all of biblical history the Lord has sent prophets and teachers to show us how to live and to give us guidance through our challenging world. They were sent to us for the good of the entire community. They call us to community, to lives of justice and mercy and to turn away from selfishness, evil, and sin. God’s prophets have focused on the needs of the poor, the weak, the sick, the homeless, migrants and immigrants. The Lord has also sent modern day folks into our lives who do the same thing like Pope Francis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Dorothy Day and Bishop Romero.

In today’s gospel Jesus suggests to His disciples about their moral responsibilities to  each other. We find ways to do this in our own lives. One thing we have to remember is that when we are correcting others that we need the same correction. St. Paul takes up this theme in his book to the Romans. He says “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Jesus gives an example of how to be reconciled with one another. He demands that we forgive because we are always asking for forgiveness. If God can forgive us for every thing that we have done how can we turn down those who ask for forgiveness. The old saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still relevant today.

 

Readings: September 3, 2017, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Jeremiah 20:7-10

You pushed me into this, God, and I let you do it. You were too much for me. And now I’m a public joke. They all poke fun at me. Every time I open my mouth I’m shouting, “Murder!” or “Rape!” And all I get for my God-warnings are insults and contempt. But if I say, “Forget it! No more God-Messages from me!” The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. I’m worn out trying to hold it in. I can’t do it any longer! Then I hear whispering behind my back:

“There goes old ‘Danger-Everywhere.’ Shut him up! Report him!” Old friends watch, hoping I’ll fall flat on my face: “One misstep and we’ll have him. We’ll get rid of him for good!”

  • Romans 12:1-2

         Place Your Life Before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

  • Matthew 16:21-27

           You’re Not in the Driver’s Seat

Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!”

But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.”

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

“Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.”

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: September 3, 2017, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-20    Romans 12:1-2    Matthew 16:21-27

Our readings today ask difficult questions to reflect upon in tough times. The prophet Jeremiah reflects in his lamentations about the difficulties and suffering in following the Lord. He knows he can not walk away from the call. Jesus says “whoever wishes to  come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

We learn that sadness, suffering, difficulties, and ultimately death happens to all both the good and the bad and the in between. We sometimes question this and wonder if our good works maybe should give us an easier life. It did not do so for the Lord, the disciples and all of those who followed Him. Even our Blessed Mother through the suffering and the cross of her son Jesus became the Mother of Sorrows.

But death never has the last word for at the end of time those who are just will have a reward. Right now when there is a lot of injustice and bigotry perhaps we might say we did not earn this, we did not struggle for this, but why do we have to face it. We also learn that in all times there is a struggle for doing what is right. We may be disillusioned at times, can be weak of faith and hope, but ultimately we know that our good deeds will be vindicated. It was difficult for our Lord Jesus to have the support of all of those around Him especially as He was heading for Jerusalem, but He never gave up.

This week we can reflect upon the cross and the difficulties that we have to take up in our lives. What is the responses to them? Are they making us a better person? And how  does it relate to our discipleship in Jesus Christ?

 

Readings: August 27, 2017, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Isaiah 22:19-24

          The Key of the Davidic Heritage

The Lord spoke to Shebna, maser of the palace: “On that Day I’ll replace Shebna. I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I’ll dress him in your robe. I’ll put your belt on him. I’ll give him your authority. He’ll be a father-leader to Jerusalem and the government of Judah. I’ll give him the key of the Davidic heritage. He’ll have the run of the place—open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He’ll secure the Davidic tradition. Everything will hang on him—not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house.

  • Romans 11:33-36

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?

Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Matthew 16:13-20

        Son of Man, Son of God

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, /really/ are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: August 27, 2017, 21st Sunday in Ordianry Time

Isaiah 22:12-23    Romans 11:33-36    Matthew 16:13-20

Today’s Gospel takes up the question of leadership in the early church. When it comes to Jesus we have to learn how to think differently about many things. Jesus knew that people wanted to make Him a material king.

He performed many miracles in His own time, but He did not earn his crown by science or miracles but by suffering service, being compassionate to the poor, the lonely, and the sick and ultimately giving his own life. Jesus did not want anything to get in His way from His journey to Jerusalem and so He had to share this with His Disciples. He knew He had to come to offer a humble sacrifice and He was determined to stay faithful to that calling.

We are called to be merciful, loving and forgiving as Jesus is and let nothing distract us from that call and seeing the face of Jesus Christ in all of our sisters and brothers.

 

Readings: August 20, 2017, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

     Salvation Is Just Around the Corner

Thus says the Lord: “Guard my common good: do what’s right and do it in the right way.

For salvation is just around the corner, my setting-things-right is about to go into action.

“And as for the outsiders who now follow me, working for me, loving my name, and wanting to be my servants, all who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it, holding fast to my covenant. I’ll bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’ to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar. Oh yes, my house of worship will be known as a house of prayer for all people.”

  • Romans 11:11-32

Brothers and sisters: it’s you, the outsiders, that I’m concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I’m among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they’ll realize what they’re missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming!

God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded. There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.

  • Matthew 15:21-28

     Healing the People

From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.”

Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.”

Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.”

Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.”

He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.”

She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.”

Jesus gave in. “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: August 20, 2017, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7    Romans 11:11-32    Matthew 15:21-28

In today’s Gospel Jesus characterizes the Canaanite woman as one having great faith. While most of us think of faith as belief in God “Great Faith” often carries special meaning as believing in God even in situations of sadness and sufferings. We know that in suffering situations there could be a temptation to think we have been abandoned by God.

But this “Great Faith”, even when the obvious signs of His presence are missing, acknowledges and knows that He is there. The woman in the story goes further than that, she has an emergency situation, her daughter is afflicted and she would do anything to ask for help. We too have had opportunities in life where it seems like HOPE just does not come to be, BUT WE persist anyway.

God puts someone in our life to help us to show that He did not and will not abandon us. When we realize this, we can remind each other of the deepest truth of who we are and then compassion can flow from us into the situations where it is needed.

 

Readings: August 13, 2017, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

  • 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

When Elijah got to the mountain of God, Horeb, he crawled into a cave where he took shelter. Then the Lord said to him, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.

  • Romans 9:1-5

        God Is Calling His People

Brothers and sisters: that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites . . . If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family. I grew up with them. They had everything going for them—family, glory, covenants, revelation, worship, promises, to say nothing of being the race that produced the Messiah, the Christ, who is God over everything, always. Oh, yes!

  • Matthew 14:22-33

           Walking on the Water

As soon as Jesus finished feeding the people, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: August 13, 2017, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a    Romans 9:1-5    Matthew 14:22-33

In today’s Gospel Jesus talks about courage. Courage is important in all of the events of our life. Courage does not mean that we will always be a success and accomplish what we set out to do, but it means that we have given it our best efforts.

Jesus ask the disciples to have courage as they follow Him in all of the storms of life. In the story Peter has courage but then reality steps in and he sees that he is drowning. Jesus comes to the rescue but also asks Peter where is his faith and where is his real courage. It is a challenge for us each day as well. Sometimes we can be despondent and want to give up on those things that we try to do in life. The Lord reminds us that our better selves could never really do this.  We could never give up because life sometimes seems like an uphill battle in trying to do good  and accomplish good.

The challenge is always there, but so is the faith and trust in God, and so is the redemptive value in our day to day sufferings. Fear is real and it is human, but so is courage. As we come together for Eucharist today, let’s thank God for the courage that we do have and that we also pass this strength on to our sisters and brothers.