Monday, March 28, 2011

April 3rd, 2011 - 4th Sunday of Lent


1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Psalm 23:1-6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

Eyesight to the Blind
God’s ways of seeing are not our ways, we hear in today’s First Reading. Jesus illustrates this in the Gospel - as the blind man comes to see and the Pharisees are made blind.

The blind man stands for all humanity. “Born totally in sin” he is made a new creation by the saving power of Christ.

• As God fashioned the first man from the clay of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (see John 9:11).
• As God breathed the spirit of life into the first man, the blind man is not healed until he washes in the waters of Siloam.

Siloam is a name that means “Sent.”
Jesus is the One “sent” by the Father to do the Father’s will (see John 9:4; 12:44).

He is the new source of life-giving water - the Holy Spirit who rushes upon us in Baptism (see John 4:10; 7:38-39).
This is the Spirit that rushes upon God’s chosen king David in today’s First Reading.

A shepherd like Moses before him (see Exodus 3:1; Psalm 78:70-71), David is also a sign pointing to the good shepherd and king to come - Jesus (see John 10:11).

The 23rd Psalm in light of our readings (and with the help of Scott Hahn's reflection!). . . . .  

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want:  We remember this as we as we sing in today’s Responsorial Psalm, "The Lord is our shepherd."

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  He leads us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of life, the Church.

He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul:  
In the restful waters of Baptism He has refreshed our souls.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.Yea though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil: By his death and Resurrection He has made a path for us through the dark valley of sin and death

For Thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou annointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over: He has anointed our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spread the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever:  With the once-blind man (from our Gospel reading) we enter God's house to give God praise and to renew our vow: “I do believe, Lord!”

You can listen to Scott Hahn's reflection here.

“The Lord looks into the heart,” we hear today. Let Him find us, as Paul advises in today’s Epistle, living as “children of light” - trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 27th, 2011 - 3rd Sunday of Lent


"I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink." 
Later Jesus would pour forth his blood. Remember what Jesus said in John 6:53: " I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you."
The rock of Horeb = Jesus.

"Harden not your hearts." 
After the Bread of Life discourse in the Book of John 6:60:  "Many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
Remember in John 6:66 many followers DID harden their hearts: "As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 

"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  

Striking the Rock
The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they saw His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First
Reading - a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty too in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans. But Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31-32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6,24-41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshiping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12-14,18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst - as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

You can listen to Scott Hahn's reflection here!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 20, 2011 - 2nd Sunday of Lent

On the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration 
Genesis 12:1-4 
The LORD said to Abram . . . . "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you . . . "

Psalm 33:4-5,18-20, 22
R.  Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

2 Timothy 1:8-10
"Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God." 
This essence of this reading is VERY hard to capture in any partial quote. It is amazing and needs to read in full. Ironically, it is a very short passage. :-)

Matthew 17:1-9 
And (Jesus) was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

EMBER DAYS precede this Sunday! Remember that Wednesday, Friday and Saturday  after Quadragesima Sunday (the first Sunday of Lent) are known as "Lenten Embertide."  Liturgically, the lessons for the Wednesday and Saturday Masses focus on the Commandments given to Moses by God, and on the promises to those who keep them well, all ending with the story of the three lads saved by an angel from Nabuchodonosor's furnace, as is so for all but Whit Embertide.

The Gospel readings speak of:
Our Lord discoursing on the sign of Jonas, and how exorcised spirits can return (Matthew 12:38-50)
Healing the paralytic (John 5:1-15)
The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9)

Listen to Him (Author, Scott Hahn / Edited by Soutenus)
This Sunday's Gospel (the 2nd Sunday of Lent/cycle A) portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.
    Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God’s presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24,34).
But in today’s Lenten Liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today’s Epistle calls God’s “design . . .  . from before time began.”
With his promises to Abram in today’s First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.
    He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham he raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:24; 3:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David's sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).
    In Jesus’ transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills his divine plan from of old.
    Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the “beloved son” promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15-18; Psalm 2:7; Matthew 1:1).
    Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:15,18) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.
    By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7-9; Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.
So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: “Listen to Him!”

You can listen to the above post here!
On the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration
Scott Hahn's reflection on the Gospel from last year (2010 Cycle C) The reading was from Luke 9:28-36; the subject remains - the Transfiguration of Christ.
In this Gospel reading, we go up to the mountain with Peter, John and James. There we see Jesus “transfigured,” speaking with Moses and Elijah about His “exodus.” 
The Greek word “exodus” means “departure.” But the word is chosen deliberately here to stir our remembrance of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt.
By His death and resurrection, Jesus will lead a new Exodus - liberating not only Israel but every race and people; not from bondage to Pharaoh, but from slavery to sin and death. He will lead all mankind, not to the territory promised to Abraham in today’s First Reading, but to the heavenly commonwealth that Paul describes in today’s Epistle. 
Moses, the giver of God’s law, and the great prophet Elijah, were the only Old Testament figures to hear the voice and see the glory of God atop a mountain (see Exodus 24:15-18; 1 Kings 19:8-18)
Today’s scene closely resembles God’s revelation to Moses, who also brought along three companions and whose face also shone brilliantly (see Exodus 24:1; 34:29).
But when the divine cloud departs in today’s Gospel, Moses and Elijah are gone. Only Jesus remains. He has revealed the glory of the Trinity - the voice of the Father, the glorified Son, and the Spirit in the shining cloud.
Jesus fulfills all that Moses and the prophets had come to teach and show us about God (see Luke 24:27).
  • He is the “chosen One” promised by Isaiah (see Isaiah 42:1; Luke 23:35)
  • the “prophet like me” that Moses had promised (see Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37)
  • Far and above that, He is the Son of God (see Psalm 2:7; Luke 3:21-23)
“Listen to Him,” the Voice tells us from the cloud. If, like Abraham, we put our faith in His words, one day we too will be delivered into “the land of the living” that we sing of in today’s Psalm. We will share in His resurrection, as Paul promises, our lowly bodies glorified like His.
Catechism 556 -
  • On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; 
  • On the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. 
Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.

From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:  
Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says:
“Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?” 

Jeff Cavins has a wonderful reflection, as well:

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John on a mountain and appears in dazzling white clothing along with Moses and Elijah. This scene happens shortly after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God. God reaffirms this statement on the Mount of Transfiguration by declaring that Jesus is His Son. From this moment, Jesus sets out for Jerusalem. He now begins His road to the cross. Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah about His coming “departure for Jerusalem.” Their words to Jesus must have been reassuring to Him. We can travel in our Lenten journey with the assurance of God’s plan for our lives and with the assurance that Jesus is the Christ.


SOURCES: Scott Hahn
USCCB Readings
Preparing for the Mass CycleC @ Catholic Notebook
Jeff Cavins

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 13, 2011 - 1st Sunday of Lent

Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-6; 12-14,17
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

Tale of Two Adams

In today’s Liturgy, the destiny of the human race is told as the tale of two “types” of men - the first man, Adam, and the new Adam, Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-59).

Paul’s argument in the Epistle is built on a series of contrasts between “one” or “one person” and “the many” or “all.” By one person’s disobedience, sin and condemnation entered the world, and death came to reign over all. By the obedience of another one, grace abounded, all were justified, and life came to reign for all.

This is the drama that unfolds in today’s First Reading and Gospel.

Formed from the clay of the ground and filled with the breath of God’s own Spirit, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38), created in his image (see Genesis 5:1-3). Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (see Psalms 8:6-8; 91:11-13). He was made to worship God - to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.

Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent’s temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in his hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed - and drove the devil away.

Still we sin after the pattern of Adam’s transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (see Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God’s promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation.

But the grace won for us by Christ’s obedience means that sin is no longer our master.
As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (see Romans 5:5; Hebrews 8:10).

As we do in today’s Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence

 You Can Listen Here!

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 6, 2011 - 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Deuteronomy 11:18, 26–28  
Psalm 31:2–4, 17, 25
Romans 3:21–25, 28  
Matthew 7:21–27

This Sunday’s Gospel takes us to the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Remember when we read the Beatitudes on January 30th - the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time?

Before we leave these wonderful readings from the Sermon on the Mount . . . I want to share with you the Devil's Beatitudes (then onward to specifics about this Sunday's Readings!).
  • Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, or too distracted to go to Mass - they are my best workers.
  • Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked - I can use them.
  • Blessed are those who claim they "don't get anything out of Mass" -- they honor me by default.
  • Blessed are the touchy who stop going to church - they are my missionaries.
  • Blessed are those who need to be entertained at church - they are putty in my hands.
  • Blessed are the troublemakers - they shall be called my children.
  • Blessed are the complainers - I'm all ears to them.
  • Blessed are those who are bored with the priest or deacon's mannerisms and mistakes - for they get nothing out of his homily.
  • Blessed is the parishioner who expects be be invited to his own church - for he is a part of the problem instead of the solution.
  • Blessed are those who gossip - for they shall cause strife and divisions that please me.
  • Blessed are those who are easily offended - for they will soon get angry and quit.
  • Blessed are those who do not give their offering to carry on God's work - for they are my helpers.
  • Blessed is he who professes to love God but hates his brother and sister - for he shall be with me forever.
  • Blessed are you who, when you read this, think that it is about other people and not yourself - I've got you too!

Now let's hone in on this week's readings with the help of Dr. Scott Hahn:

Solid Rock
Like Moses in this week’s First Reading, Jesus climbed a mountain to deliver the Word of God’s covenant to His people (Ex 24:12–18). This covenant Word requires a great deal from us. Far more than our simple hearing and acceptance of Jesus’ “message.”

That’s because the Gospel is not a philosophy, a set of good ideas for living. It is God’s fatherly will for history. It is the good news of His kingdom, of the divine family He has come to create on earth in His Church.

~~> The Word of God comes to us as a call to the obedience of faith (Rm 16:26).
~~> We must take this Word to heart, letting it dwell richly within our souls (Col 3:16).
~~> We must allow ourselves to be led, to be guided by the Word that comes to us in His name.

That’s what we mean in this week’s Psalm—when we sing of the Lord as our rock of refuge. Jesus also gives us this image of the solid rock. He promises that if we live by His Word we will have an eternal foundation to withstand the storms and trials of our lives.

Jesus is the new Solomon, bringing us the Wisdom of God (1Kings 3:10–12). And like Solomon, he builds a house of God, a Temple, on a rock of foundation (1Kings 5:17; 8:27). Jesus is the Wisdom of God made flesh. The Church is the new household and Temple of God, built on the cornerstone of Christ (Lk 7:35; Eph 2:19–22). 
We will be judged by his Word. But this is not a matter of external works, as Jesus makes clear. That is Paul’s point too in this week’s Epistle. We must do the Father’s will, which is our sanctification—knowing we’ve been justified, made right before God, by Christ’s saving death (1Thes 4:3). It’s this redemption, our expiation by His blood, that we celebrate and participate in this Eucharist.
Note from Soutenus:   Remember, also, that faith without works is dead.
James 2:17 
So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God."
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route?
For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Listen Here!