St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
Masses: Sat 5:00 pm
Sun 7:30; 9:00 (children's liturgy); 10:30 am
Weekdays 8:15 am
Reconciliation: Saturdays from 3:30-4:30 pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Fri 9:00 to 12:00 pm

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - September 17, 2017

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

Last Sunday's readings reminded us of our God-given responsibility to care for and correct one another. This Sunday, that theme is brought to its natural fulfillment in our duty to forgive others, always.
In our first reading (Sirach 27:30 - 28:7), the author Ben Sira teaches us that the refusal to forgive, clinging to "wrath and anger", are in themselves sinful acts.
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.
In our Gospel passage (Matthew 18:21-35), we hear a continuation of last Sunday'sGospel, where Jesus instructed his disciples on the process of reconciliation and then gave them the power to reconcile sinners. In the very next sentence, Peter asked Jesus how often must he forgive. Jesus' answer probably shocked him, as it went far beyond what would have been Jewish custom of the time.
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.  
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
Our Epistle reading (Romans 14:7-9) is a short passage, probably taken from a poem or song, that underscores the transcendent nature of our relationship with Christ. When we die, we do not lose our relationship with the Lord.  
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.
Forgiveness is the opposite of vengeance; you can't have both at the same time. When we find ourselves resenting the fact that we must forgive someone over and over for the same offense, it might do us good to consider that our Father in heaven has already forgiven us far more than seventy-seven times. 
Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, September 17, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - September 10, 2017

The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

One message that could come from this Sunday'sreadings is, "We are our brothers' and sisters' keeper".  Our readings today focus on our God given responsibility to care for and correct one another, in a spirit of love.
In our first reading (Ezekiel 33:7-9), God appoints the prophet Ezekiel to be watchman for the people of Israel. God holds him personally responsible if he does not warn the people of their evil ways. God calls Ezekiel "son of man", a term of humility that Jesus often used to describe himself.
Thus says the LORD: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, "O wicked one, you shall surely die, " and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself. 
In our Gospel reading (Matthew 18:15-20), Jesus lays out the proper order of reconciliation back into the Church for someone who has fallen. First, one-on-one, then with a few, and if still unsuccessful, with the whole Church. As in the first reading, the goal is reconciliation, not condemnation.  Then, Jesus gives his disciples the power to reconcile sinners.
Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
In our Epistle reading (Romans 13:8-10), St. Paul continues his exhortation of last week to "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice" by telling us how - - to live in love. He reminds us that all violations of the law have at their root a failure to love one another. It is this love that drives our desire for reconciliation and concern for each other. 
Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another as fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, " and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
How often do we judge others' wrongdoing out of a sense of superiority or self-righteousness? The duty to correct must be borne out of love, not judgement, and done as privately as possible.  
Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, September 10, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - September 3, 2017

The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

Today, we hear a tale of two suffering servants, both answering the call of God. One (Jeremiah) cries out in anguish of his pain and rejection, yet discovers he cannot refuse his calling. The other (Jesus), embraces his passion and willing goes to his place of his suffering.

In our first reading (Jeremiah 20:7-9), we hear the beautiful lament of the prophet Jeremiah, who suffered greatly because of what God has called him to do. He tried to quit but discovered he cannot resist and must continue speaking out God's truth. It "burns like fire" within him.

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
You may remember that in last week's Gospel, Peter was elevated to the "rock" upon whom Jesus would build his Church. In this very next passage in today's Gospel, (Matthew 16:21-27), Peter is rebuked as "Satan" for suggesting that Jesus must not suffer as he described to his disciples. Here, we see Peter fearful and lamenting but not Jesus. Jesus understood what Peter, and Jeremiah, did not, "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it".

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "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. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct."
In our Epistle reading (Romans 12:1-2), St. Paul teaches us how we are to take up our cross and carry it, following Jesus example, offering "our bodies as a living sacrifice". 

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
To most, it would seem unthinkable to live our lives in "derision and reproach" for speaking the truth of God; and few of us would take up that cross gladly. But that may be precisely what the Spirit is calling us to do in today's readings.  When and if we do, we may very well discover, as Jeremiah did, that it "burns like fire in our hearts" as we "grow weary holding it in."

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, September 3, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 27, 2017

The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Peter is Given the Keys to the Kingdom 
(Matthew 16:13-20)

In our gospel passage this Sunday
(Matthew 16:13-20), Jesus went to the region of Caesaria Philippi and asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?". Their responses form the basis of our Gospel passage today. Peter's response was such that Jesus appointed him leader of his Church on earth. 
And thus our first Pope was commissioned, by Jesus himself. And there has been an unbroken succession of Popes from that day until this day.  This is the "Ex Cathedra", the teaching chair of the Church, which takes its authority directly from Jesus through Saint Peter, our first Pope. What was true then is true today, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven."  

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Our first reading from Isaiah (22:19-23) is a much earlier commissioning of a leader of the people of God that prefigured the commissioning of Peter. In this passage, Eliakim is given the "key of the House of David" by God and called "father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem" much as Peter had been commissioned by Jesus.

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace: "I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim's shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 11:33-36) St. Paul concludes his long lament from the past two weeks that he is heartbroken at the Jew's rejection of Jesus, yet joyful that the invitation has been extended to the Gentile world. In conclusion, he can only marvel at the "inscrutable judgements" of the Lord.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

As we contemplate the teaching authority (magisterium) of the Pope and the Bishops, we trust in the wisdom of Jesus in granting it and marvel at how "unsearchable are his ways". While we sometimes do not fully understand the Church's teachings, we trust in her "unscrutable judgement"; and pray for greater understanding.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, August 27, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 20, 2017

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Caananite Woman's Faith (Matthew 15)

Our readings this Sunday are all about the wideness of God's mercy and the inclusion of all peoples in the kingdom of God.

In our first reading (Isaiah 56:1, 6-7), the prophet Isaiah, speaking on behalf of God, prophesies the day when all peoples who "join themselves to the Lord" will be welcomed into the house of the Lord.

Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants -- all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

In our Gospel reading (Matthew 15:21-28), we hear of a Caananite (Pagan) woman who, though considered as a "dog" by Jews of the day, showed her great faith, "joining herself to the Lord". She begged Jesus to heal her daughter. After testing her three times, Jesus praised her faith and healed her daughter.

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that District came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus' disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me." He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.

In our Epistle reading (Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32), St. Paul rejoices in his ministry as "apostle to the Gentiles". But in so doing, he expresses the hope that the Gentile's "joining to the Lord" will inspire his own countrymen to conversion.

Brothers and sisters: I am speaking to you Gentiles. In as much as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

Most of our ancestors were once Gentiles (non-Jews) who worshiped other gods. And at some point, through the efforts of St. Paul and others, and the courage of the martyrs, they came to "join themselves to the Lord". And thus we have come into the wideness of God's mercy. May we lead others to the same through our own example and witness.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, August 20, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 13, 2017

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Walks on the Water (Matthew 14:22-33)


This Sunday, our readings present two seemingly contradictory aspects of God. But are they really all that different?

In our first reading (1 Kings 19:9, 11-13)the Prophet Elijah is hiding in a cave on the mountain of Horeb because the people are trying to have him killed. He encounters God, not in the grand theophanies of wind, earthquake or fire, but in a "tiny whispering sound".

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD -- but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake -- but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire -- but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Our Gospel reading (Matthew 14:22-33) is the account of the disciples being tossed about by stormy seas and they see Jesus walking toward them on the water. "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid", Jesus called out to them. Peter walked to him on the water but lost faith and began to sink, until he reached out to Jesus. "Lord, save me!". 

"It is I" is seen as a reference to God's self revelation to Moses in Exodus 3, "I AM who AM". The boat can be seen as a metaphor for the Church or for our own lives.

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God."

In our Epistle (Romans 9:1-5) St. Paul expresses his profound anguish over the rejection of Jesus by his own people. He would rather suffer greatly for their sake. He then explains how blessed the chosen people of Israel truly are.

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

What we may learn from our readings today is that even in the midst of the storms and earthquakes of our lives, and our Church, the tiny whisper of our God is the same, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid". What St. Paul expressed in his letter was great anguish over his "kindred" who have rejected that tiny whisper. In our deepest tempest, we but have to call out, "Lord, save me!"

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, August 13, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - August 6, 2017

The Transfiguration of the Lord

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9)


This Sunday, we celebrate the transfiguration of the Lord. In Matthew's Gospel (17:1-9), we hear the account of Jesus appearing before his three favorite apostles with Moses and Elijah. Our gospel today offers a glimpse of Jesus' glorified body after resurrection, which will be ours as well. In this scene, Jesus forms the bridge between the old law (Moses), the prophets (Elijah) and the new covenant (Jesus).

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and do not be afraid." And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

In our first reading (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14), we hear an apocalyptic vision of Daniel of the end times when "one like a son of man" appears before the "ancient one" (The Father) and is given "dominion, glory and kingship." Son of Man is how Jesus often referred to himself and this passage was seen by early Christians as a clear foretelling of the coming of the Christ.

As I watched: Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened and the books were opened. As the visions during the night continued, I saw: One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

In our second reading (2 Peter 1:16-19), St. Peter describes his eyewitness account of the transfiguration. He calls us to be attentive the Father's declaration, "listen to him".

Beloved: We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
All three readings today show us the majesty and glory of our savior, Jesus, who truly is the beloved son of the Father. As we ponder the call to "listen to him", may it be more than one hour a week. May it be every waking moment of every day.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, August 6, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 30, 2017

The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Treasures Old and New

This Sunday is our third Gospel passage is as many weeks on the parables of Matthew 13. In today's installment (Matthew 13:44-52) are three more parables. The first two compare the Kingdom of Heaven to a priceless treasure, so valuable that one would give up everything to have it. The third parable is like the wheat and the weeds of last week. The good and the bad are allowed to exist together until the final judgement. At that time, the righteous will be gathered and the wicked thrown away.

Jesus said to his disciples: The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
"Do you understand all these things?" They answered, "Yes." And he replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old."

In our first reading (1 Kings: 3-5, 7-12), we hear of a dream King Solomon had where he was visited by God, telling him he could have whatever he asked for. Showing a maturity that belied his age, he asked for an understanding heart so he could judge with wisdom.

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, "Ask something of me and I will give it to you." Solomon answered: "O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?"
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: "Because you have asked for this -- not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right -- I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:28-30), St. Paul tells us that we are God's chosen ones. For those who love God, our vocation is to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

At the end of our Gospel passage, Jesus mentioned the "head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old." Our readings today help illustrate that our treasure is both in the old testament and the new, especially as the old is interpreted and fulfilled in the new. May we treasure both.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 30, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 23, 2017

The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Good and Evil Intertwined

In our Gospel reading the Sunday (Matthew 13:24-43), Jesus explained three aspects of the kingdom of heaven. These parables draw on knowledge of the knowable to explain the unknowable. The first parable helps explain why God permits good and evil to exist alongside each other. The second is an understanding of how the Church could grow so large from such a small group of believers and how our tiny faith can lead us to heaven; and the third parable is an example of how even a small amount of faith, or the smallest good deed (yeast) can transform our lives and the world.

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'" He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Our first reading (Wisdom 12:13,16-19) is an ancient Jewish prayer to God. In it is the expression of the belief in God's power, yet God's clemency and the example we are to live by. As God is just yet kind, so must we be.

There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity. But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:26-17), St. Paul reminds us that in our weakness and inadequacy of prayer, the Holy Spirit joins with us in our efforts and intereceds for us on our behalf. 

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.

It is through such prayers as our first reading that we can express to God our reverence and our trust, knowing that the Holy Spirit joins us in our prayer and intercedes on our behalf. We also know that, through the parables of Jesus, even the tiniest effort can transform us and can grow to immense proportions. And as for the evil among us existing along with the good? Perhaps, God remains hopeful until the very end that even the evilest among us will repent and be saved.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 23, 2017

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 16, 2017

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinaty Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) 
THE SEED THAT FALLS ON GOOD GROUND WILL YIELD A FRUITFUL HARVEST This Sunday's scripture readings offer some thought provoking analogies of the power of the word of God, how we respond to it and its effect on us.

In our first reading (Isaiah 55:10-11), Isaiah draws on the natural world and the cycle of life to remind us that the word of God, just like the spring rains, feeds our souls and transforms us, allowing God's word to return to him, achieving the good that he intended.
Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Our Gospel reading (Matthew 13:1-23) is the familiar parable of the Sower. We hear Jesus preaching to the crowds and then explaining in more detail to his disciples. The question to consider is how do we respond to God's word; that is what determines the kind of soil we are.

(Abridged version - click HERE for full verson Matt 13:1-13)
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:18-23), St. Paul talks about our current sufferings while we wait for the glory to come. Our "groaning pains" will one day give way to the "glorious freedom". And while we wait, it is the word of God that sustains and feeds us.

Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

There are three actors in the parable of the sower - the one who sows, the seed itself and the one who receives the seed. We already know that the seed and the one who sows it is God himself. The variable in the story is us. How we receive God's word and Eucharist is what determines the good that it will do and whether it will return to God having accomplished the good that he intended. Pray God that it does.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 16, 2017