Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012 (cycle B)

commentary by Scott Hahn

Acts 4:8-12
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 29
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

The Shepherd’s Voice
Jesus, in Sunday’s Gospel reading, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10-13, 23-31).
His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8; John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.
In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15-17).

Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10-13; 1 Peter 2:4-7).

Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.

In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did—as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22-23; Revelation 21:7).

Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Third Sunday of Easter (B) - April 22, 2012

The readings today are full of Easter excitement!
• Peter is speaking to a crowd of Jewish spectators who have come to witness the man whom Peter and John had cured from paralysis. He had been begging for money, but the two apostles could not give him silver or gold, but rather a recovery of his mobility through the Holy Spirit.

• Peter begins his speech with a kind of Scripture lesson. He reminds them that the God of their religious fathers, the Patriarchs, has revealed Jesus to be the servant of the Scriptures. 

• Peter reviews how the listeners had been complicit in the handing over of this Servant to His death. 

• Peter ends with a comforting call to repentance and life offered through Jesus Whose death and resurrection was written in their very own Holy Scriptures. 

• He invites his listeners to drown themselves in the forgiveness of Christ, Who before He was born, was buried in their own prophetic writings. Remember . . . .  the Old Testament prefigures the New. The New Testament fulfills the Old.

• This Christ, the Servant of Suffering, once buried in a tomb, now is alive and giving life to all who believe.

Responsorial Psalm: 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9    Lord, let your face shine on us!
This psalm is an individual lament in which a pious Israelite calls out for deliverance and receives an answer in the form of vindication from his/her enemies. Thus vindicated, the plaintiff can lie down and sleep peacefully.

Since Christ is “the Holy and Righteous One,” this psalm can be applied to his death and resurrection. He was in distress and called upon the Lord, who raised him from the dead and vindicated him.

His work thus accomplished, he can sit down at the right hand of God.
To apply to Christ the words “I will lie down and sleep” (responsorial psalm) does not imply that he is inactive.
Jesus is our “advocate” (“paraclete,” literally “helper”) in heaven. Sin still occurs in the Christian life (when 1 John was written, the Gnostics were perfectionists who believed that proper Christians were sinless), but the exalted Christ still pleads our cause with the Father. 
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.
This gospel represents a departure from the norm in series B, which is to follow a course of readings from Mark, supplemented by John during Lent and the Easter season. It is the counterpart of John 20:19-23, which we read last week.

The Gospel of Luke has its own Easter event. 
• Two disciples had been taking their exit-walk from Jerusalem back to Emmaus. Jesus had met them, responded to their invitation to stay with them and while eating with them was known to them in the “breaking of the bread”.  This is so important! What is the sacrament in which we know Jesus in the breaking of the bread?  The Eucharist.
• Then Jesus vanishes, but their hearts were so flooded with joy that they decided to return and reveal to the others what they had experienced.

What we hear in today’s Gospel is the rest of the story!

While the disciples are relating their being accompanied, (literally) by Jesus, the very same Jesus appears in the midst of the group and extends “peace” to all. Terrified and thinking they were seeing a ghost, the assembly has a real Easter dinner. Knowing their doubt, Jesus invites them to touch His body and then asks for something to eat. 

Luke is greatly aware that his Greek readers were skeptical about such a thing as rising from the dead. How comforting this must be to such skeptics! Jesus is offered some fish and eats it as a sign that He is truly Himself. Ghosts don’t have bodies nor do they eat.

Jesus concludes this appearance with clear evidence from the writings of Scripture. 
The law, the Prophets and the Psalms all speak of the Servant having to suffer, die and rise. Remember . . . .  the Old Testament prefigures the New. The New Testament fulfills the Old. 
This is a perfect example of that. The disciples lived this revelation. Thinking about this always reminds me of this quote: 
"If Jesus didn't rise, an even greater miracle happened: 12 relatively uneducated guys changed the world & were martyred to protect a lie."
This Good News is meant to affirm Jesus as the Messiah and that forgiveness of sins is to be preached from the top of the Jerusalem Hill to the ends of the earth. Those who have seen Jesus’ risen Body are now to become that Body by living His life and giving His life to the world. 

• Larry Gillick, S. J., of Creighton University’s Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality, writes this reflection for the Daily Reflections page on the Online Ministries web site at Creighton.
Preaching the Lectionary:
The Word of God for the Church Today

Reginald H. Fuller. The Liturgical Press. 1984 (Revised Edition)
pp. 260-262.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012 - Third Sunday in Lent

A wonderful reflection by Deacon Jim Miles!
Based upon what was published yesterday in the New York Times, I have re-written my homily of the today.  It follows.

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.

Today, as we begin our third week of Lenten discipline, we give thanks to Holy Mother Church.  We give this thanks because, without her guidance and authority , we like so many smaller “non-denominational” Christian churches could take a piece of scripture like the one proclaimed in the Gospel and run with it.  We could develop a complete view of Jesus’ message based upon this one incident where he drives the money changers and merchants from the Gentile Court of the Temple in Jerusalem.
You may say to yourselves; “What is the Deacon talking about?”  But taken out of context, this one verse could direct a group of unsophisticated believers down a path of violence.  And there are people willing to listen to violence, especially when the alternative is to lie down and be walked on. 
This is especially apparent today because it is the way we should all be feeling. If you feel about the Church, as Jesus obviously felt about the temple, then your blood should be about boiling right now. 
Jesus became irate because he walked into the temple and saw that unscrupulous merchants had taken over a part of the temple normally set aside for non-Jewish people to come and pray – the region called the “Gentile Court”.  Instead of accepting the invitation to worship God from this place, they had set up merchant stalls, taking advantage of Hebrew pilgrims coming in from all over the world. 
These pilgrims would come needing to sacrifice at the temple and pay their temple-tax.  They faced two challenges.  First, if they were coming a long way, and most were, they would need to carry this animal with them to be sacrificed in accordance with Hebrew Law and it needed to be alive.  It was much easier to purchase one at the end of their pilgrimage.  The second challenge they faced was they were going to have to pay a “temple tax”.  It was like passing the collection basket once a year.  The problem here again was the temple did not accept Roman currency, only the Tyrian half-sheke was accepted and those traveling from other parts of the empire needed to change their money.
When Jesus entered and saw these merchants had turned a place of prayer into a place of commerce, he became outraged.  Scripture tells us that he uncharacteristically use physical force to drive those who preyed upon the pilgrims from the Gentile Court.  In taking that physical stance against them, he probably signed his own death warrant.  Not only did he create animosity on the part of the Temple leadership (who were likely getting a piece of the action) but he also created enmity between he and the secular profiteers whom he had displaced.
We understand why the Lord became so upset.  As St. Luke says, his disciples recalled Psalm 69 “…Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Now the question; Does it consume you?  All but the most ardent Catholics will be unaware of what landed in the New York Times yesterday.  A secularist group from Wisconsin spent $52,000 to take out a full page ad inviting us to “…quit the Roman Catholic Church.”  That’s right, the New York Times basically accepted a blatantly anti-Catholic advertisement that attacks our Church as “…a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club?
If past experience is any indicator, there will be little or no mention of this undisguised “Hate Speech” in the broader media.  Just like the HHS Mandate, which has been pointedly ignored by the major news sources –ABC, NBC, CNN and the rest, this attack will not be reported for what it is.  Secularists do not like it when the Church gets “uppity” and complains when their rights get trampled on.  It’s OK for the Catholic faithful to be forced to pay for someone else’s pills and, according to the popular press, it’s not OK for us to object. Brothers and Sisters, we must object.  Zeal for our Father’s house must consume us.
It is ironic that the very freedoms we feel are threatened by the administration’s stance - that conscientious objection to policies that violate our religious freedom are irrelevant, is being challenged by a group depending upon the same Bill of Rights provisions to protect their freedom of speech. We should all share a great sadness that this kind of attack is supported through complicity by so many.
Today our quest for the peace of Christ is once more disrupted by persecution.  Those that seek only freedom from responsibility and to embrace the “sins of the flesh” have decided to lash out.  Holy Mother Church guides us to remember that the Lord calls us to love our enemies so today, even as we feel the justified outrage at their hatred, we return what Christ calls on us to return – love.  We must feel sorrow for those, so misguided as to think our moral character can be compromised by mere words.  This action does have one positive impact – it reminds us that this battle is not won, rather it is just beginning.

Link to the open letter published by the NYT

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Commands are Cures for A Christian – A Reflection on the First Reading for the Third Sunday in Lent

The first reading today contains the Ten Commandments and thereby communicates a brief but sweeping summary of the Christian and Biblical moral vision. Now, there is a tendency to reduce the Christian moral vision merely to a set of rules. And it is a sad fact that the Catholic Church is often identified by many more for her rules than anything else.

TO be fair, EVERY group and activity has rules. If you join a bowling league there are rules, if you drive on the highway there are rules, if you go work or even to the store there are rules. If you speak a language there are rules. Rules are a necessary reality whenever two or more people interact.

But to see the Christian Moral vision, or the Ten Commandments  simply as a set a rules is to wholly miss the point. For the Commandments seek not so much to have us obey as to have us be open to what God can do for us. They seek not so much to compel us as to conform us unto the image of the transformed and glorious humanity that Christ died to give us.

The Commandments do not so much prescribe, as describe the what the transformed human person is like. And their imperative form is not merely to order us about, but rather is to convey the power that comes from God’s Word. For the same God who commands: “Let there be light” and thus there is light,  also says, “Be holy” and thus conveys to us the power to actually become holy, if we will accept his transformative work. He thus commands to create in us the very holiness he announces.

If we would but see the Commandments as promises, as power, as proleptic (i.e. announcing ahead of time what we will become fully the case later), we would be far let resentful and far more joyful in what the Lord offers. Lets consider aspects of these Commandments today that may help us come to a more helpful understanding of the Christian and Biblical moral vision. For they describe the life Jesus died to give us, a wholly transformed and increasingly glorified life, as we see sins put to death and every kind of virtue come alive.

I. I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. In the first Command, is the promise that we experience increasing love God above all things, above all people and above life in this world itself.

We were made to know God and to have our life centered on him. This is what properly orders and orients us. Whenever we prize any thing or person above God, our lives become miserable and disordered very quickly. If we live for money, power, sex, possessions, popularity, or anything less than God, we are unhappy and our life goes out of order very quickly.
In the first commandment God promises us an increasingly well ordered heart that loves him and his heavenly kingdom above any earthly things. He promises us freedom from the shackles and slavery of this world which seek to claim us, divide our hearts and disorder our life from our true goal.
In this command the Lord seeks to heal our duplicitous and adulterous hearts and to order us to the “one thing necessary,” which is to know and love God above all things. What a blessing, what promise to have our petulant, divided and wounded hearts made whole and directed to God.
So much serenity comes from being focused on the ONE, who is God. And God can do this for us.

II. You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain – In this command the Lord  promises a heart with which to love him. For to revere the Name of God is to have deep love for God, a deep experience of wonder and awe. It is to have also experienced God’s tender and abiding love for us. And with this gift to love God, comes a heart that is sensitive and open to every gift the Lord wants to give.
When we love God we keep his ways not because we have to but because we eagerly want to. To fear his name is revere and love God, to have deep gratitude and to be docile and open to his every word. We love God’s name because we love him.
God can give us this gift to love him in a deep and  abiding way. He promises it in this commandment.

III. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. In this Commandment the Lord promises us a joyful sense of resting in him and of allowing him to minister to us.
Too many see Church as a duty, but to those who are transformed by God and alive in his love, Holy Mass is the greatest privilege of their life. What a joy to go and be with God and among God’s people, and to hear the joyful shout, and to praise the God we love. What a privilege to be taught by God and fed with his Body and Blood, to be strengthened for every good work.
And as the Lord begins to transform our hearts, we begin to look forward to the greatest day of the week, Sunday. We joyfully anticipate going to be with our Lord and hearing his voice and having deep communion with him and all the saints and angels.
Yes, God can give us a heart for worship, a desire for praise, a hunger for his Word, and for the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. No more is Mass a tedious ritual, it is a transformative reality. Again, God promises this and he can do it for us.

IV. Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you. Here too is a promise of God to give us a deep love for our parents, elders, lawful authority and an openness to the wisdom of the elders who have long preceded us. He promises to cool our pride and the rebellion that close us off from the blessings of obedience and reverence for the wisdom of the elders.
One of the chief problems of the modern age is our disrespect for elders. Even parents and elders who are not perfect (and none are) have important things to teach me. I learned probably as much from my parents struggles as from their strengths.
But without reverence and respect there can be no teaching, no handing on of previous wisdom and knowledge. We live in times that are largely cut off from the past and we are dismissive of previous generations.
Because of our pride there comes forth a hermeneutic of discontinuity, of disconnectedness from the past. We do a lot of stupid things and lack wisdom that was common in the past. In this command the Lord promises us a heart that is docile, i.e. open to instruction, a heart that reveres and listens to the wisdom of elders, lawful authority and past generations.
The Lord wants to unlock for us the collected wisdom of thousands of years of experience wherein he taught our ancestors and guided them over and through many trials, difficulties, victories and joys.  In this command the Lord describes and promises to quell the rebellion and pride that lock us down and turn us in ourselves.

V. You shall not kill. - In this Command the Lord promises to quell the anger, hate, resentfulness and revengeful spirit that eat at us and unleash terrible destruction.
The Lord describes a transformed person who has authority over his anger and is able to love even his enemies, who is able to forgive and keep serenity even under trial.
The Lord describes a person who loves and respects life, a person who works to build up life in others rather than tear down.
He describes a person who reverences the sacredness of every human life and sees in it hand and the love of God.
God describes here one who is joyful at life, ecstatic over eternal life and eager to share life and love with others, both here and in the life to come. What a gift simply to love others. And God can do this for us.

VI. You shall not commit adultery. – Here the Lord promises to quell the often unruly passions of lust. He declares that the transformed human person has authority over his or her sexuality. The Lord also offers us a joyful reverence for the sacredness of human life in its origins and for marriage.
Too many people today are enslaved to sexuality through terrible addictions to pornography. Many have difficulty with fornication, masturbation, adultery. Homosexual acting out is also a terrible problem today. And the consequences of all the sexual bondage of our times is high: STDs, AIDS, abortion, teenage pregnancy, single motherhood (absent fatherhood), high divorce rates, cohabitation, and the huge toll all this takes on children who are raised in all this confusion, and lack of proper family foundations.
God wants to set us free. He wants to cool our lusts, give us authority over our sexuality and bring us to sexual maturity.
The transformed human person God describes here reverences the gift of sexuality and knows is purpose and place. God can give us pure hearts, and minds and promises it in this commandment.

VII. You shall not steal. - In this commandment the Lord wants to instill in us a gratitude for what we have, and to quell our greed, and cool our fear. For some steal out of fear that they do not have enough, others on account of greed, still others because they are not satisfied with what they already have.
God also, in this Commandment wants to give us a love for the poor and desire to share our excess with them. For if I have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor. And to unreasonably withhold my excess from the poor is a form of theft.
The transformed human person God describes, is generous, grateful, and increasingly free of the fear that makes him hoard. Here too, God promises a new and generous heart and he who commands it is he who will accomplish it.

VIII. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. - God here describes and promises a great love for the truth and a reverence for the reputation of others. In a way there is nothing more precious in human terms than our reputation for by it all other doors are opened.
The transformed human person loves others and is eager to point to their gifts when others would detract or calumniate. He is not interested in sharing or hearing unnecessary information about others and says only the good things that people really need to hear.
The transformed person also speaks the truth in love. He or she has a well trained tongue and speaks only to glorify God. His conversation is always full of grace, seasoned with salt (Col 4:6). God who commands this is the same God who can will do this for us.

IX & X . You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him. Here the Lord whats to quell within us the fires of Greed. Greed is the insatiable desire for more. And when greed takes off we are miserable, never having enough, always wanting and needing more.
The Lord wants to set us free from the aching desire to possess what another has.
He wants to give us a heart that is increasingly set upon and satisfied with the good things waiting for us in heaven. Yes, the Lord describes the transformed human person as once again freed from enslaving passions.
God who commands this is also the God who can do this.

See how different this understanding is from understanding the Christian and Biblical moral vision as rules? They are not rules, they are releases. They are not hoops to jump through, they are hopes that inspire. How do you see the Commandments?

In the Gospel today Jesus cleanses the temple and says they have turned it into a marketplace. But you are the Temple of God, and the danger for us is that we sell ourselves short by accepting mediocrity. We sell our souls to the world, the flesh and the devil, and take, in exchange, their false and empty promises.

The Lord enters the temple of our souls and seeks to drive out every huckster who seeks to buy us out. Jesus has already paid the price of our redemption. And our totally transformed life, the life described in the Commandments and the moral vision of the Scriptures is the life that Christ died to give us. Do not settle for anything less. 99 1/2 won’t do, Got to make a Hundred.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday, March 5, 2012 - Second Sunday in Lent

This is a great homily by Msgr Charles Pope for the 2nd Sunday in Lent

Beams of Heaven As I Go – A Meditation on the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent

What is it that gives hope, shalom peace and serene joy to the Christian life? Briefly put, it is the vision of glory, a glimpse into the Promised Land of heaven which the Lord can and does give to his people. Today’s Gospel shows forth a kind of process wherein the Lord lays the foundations of hope, peace and joy for his disciples and for us. Lets look at four aspects of how the Lord lays this foundation.

I. The Paradoxical Prelude - The Text says Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. Note how the Lord, in order to get them to a place where they can see glory must first lead them “up a high mountain.”

Now we often pass over this fact, that they had to climb that mountain. And the climb was no easy task. Any one who has been to the sight of Tabor knows what high mountain it is. The climb was almost 2000 feet, high and steep. It may have taken the better part of a day and probably had its dangers. Once at the top it is like looking from an airplane window out on the Jezreel Valley (a.k.a. Megiddo or Armageddon). So here is a symbol of the cross and of struggle. A climb was up the rough side of the mountain: exhausting, difficult, testing their strength.

I have it on the best of authority that as they climbed they were singing gospel songs:  
I’m comin’ up on the rough side of the mountain, and I’m doin’ my best to carry on! Another songs says, My soul looks back and wonders how I got over! 
Yet another says, We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, every round goes higher, higher.
Now, this climb reminds us of our life. For often we have had to climb, to endure and have our strength tested. Perhaps it was the climb of getting a college degree. Perhaps it was the climb of raising children, or building a career. What do you have that you really value that did not come at the price of a climb…. of effort and struggle? And most of us know that, though the climb is difficult, there is glory at  the top, but we have to endure and push through. Life’s difficulties are often the prelude to success and greater strength.

And herein lies the paradox, that peace and joy and hope are often the product of struggles, of climbs, of difficulties. These things are often the prelude, the paradoxical prelude to seeing and experiencing glory. Scripture says
  1. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady (Romans 5:3-4)
  2. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return (1 Peter 1:6).
Yes, there is a paradoxical prelude to glory and it can only come through God’s wisdom, for human being just don’t think this way. An old hymn says:
Trials dark on every hand. And we cannot understand, all the ways that God will lead us to that blessed promised land. But he guides us with his Eye and we follow till we die and we’ll understand it better by and by.

II. The Practices Portrayed – The text lays out various aspects of how they come to experience a joyful peace in the presence of the Lord’s glory. The text says:  
And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  
In effect we can see three ways that they come to this joyful peace:

1. They are those who See – The text speaks first of the event itself that they see. It uses a word that says the Lord was μετεμορφώθη (metemorphothe), that he was “transfigured,” that his appearance was gloriously altered. In many ways this word, while common in the Christian vocabulary is mysterious and difficult to understand. The text supplies some data, telling us of a brightness that shown through the Lord, a kind of dazzling light.

But we ought not get lost in speculation and miss the point. And point is that Peter, James and John are given a glorious vision! Beams of heaven! Yes, this is Jesus. This is who he really is. And the magnificence of his glory so astounds them that they fall down in reverence.
Have you ever seen or experience glory? Maybe it was at the birth of a child, or upon hearing wonderful news. Perhaps it was a profound experience of relief, or a deep vision in prayer or at the liturgy. Yes, look for glory and rejoice when it comes!

We have got to learn to see things as they really are. What ever trials and struggles we must endure on the way, if we are faithful, our end is glory.
So look for glory and expect to find it. The Lord can and does give us glimpses of glory in our life, beams of heaven as we go! Do not minimize glories when they are revealed and cultivate a spirit of wonder and awe and what God has done and continues to do in creation, and in your life. Glory is all around us. And learning to see this glory is one of the ways God produces peace in us.

2. They are those who are Scriptural - Do you notice how the text says that Moses and Elijah appeared with him. Why them? Because Moses and Elijah represent the the Law and the Prophets, which is a Jewish way of speaking of the Bible. And thus, another way of having peace produced in us is to search the Scriptures. The other day I “cheated” and looked at the last page of the Bible. I know, we are not there yet, but looked anyway, and guess what it says? It says Jesus wins and so does everyone who is with him. We have got to stay rooted in our story, and the end of our story, if we stay with Jesus is glory. Know your scriptures, and thereby know your story, a story which ends with glory.

3. They are those who Savor – Peter wants to stay on the mountaintop, to pitch tents and stay put. Some preachers give him a hard time for this, but I see it as a good thing in itself, even if excessive. The point is to savor glory;  to store our good memories and experiences of joy and glory deep in our soul; to cultivate a deep gratitude for the good things the Lord has done for us; yes, to savor deeply our experiences of glory.

III. The Prescription Proclaimed - The text then says,  
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
The prescription couldn’t be simpler and yet how poorly we often follow it: Listen to Jesus! In other words, carefully ponder every word of his teaching and begin to base your life on what he says.

How much pain, anxiety and strife come into this world and our lives simply because we do not listen to the Lord and obey his teachings. Our stubbornness, our lack of forgiveness, our unchastity, our greed, our lack of concern for the poor, our idolatry, our lack of spirituality and the fact that we are often just plain mean, bring enormous suffering to us and to others.

If we would but give our life to the Lord and ask him to conform us to his word, so much suffering would vanish. We would have so much more peace and experience greater joy and hope.
Listen to Jesus and by his grace actually conform your life to what you hear him say. There is not greater source for joy, peace and hope.

IV. The Persevering Purpose – The text says,  
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
There is a fairly universal agreement that the purpose of this mountaintop experience of glory was to prepare the apostles for the difficult days ahead. And thus, while Jesus tells them to keep it to themselves, they were to keep it, they were to remember it! Having seen and savored glory, having “seen what the end shall be,” having been bathed in beams of heaven, they need to keep this memory alive and remember who Jesus is as the passion sets in. If they do this, they will be able to endure the folly and suffering of the Cross.

Did they successfully persevere in keeping the memory alive? Well, only John made it to the foot of the cross but, frankly, one out of three isn’t so bad. Having experienced peace, joy and seen the Lord’s glory, John made it to the cross, enduring its shame and remembering the glory he had seen.

What of us? Have you seen the glory of the Lord? Have you experienced his love and glory deeply enough that, when difficulties come they cannot overwhelm you? Have you come to experience and possess a peace and joy that the world did not give and the world cannot take away? Have you allowed the Lord to lay in a foundation of hope in your life? Have you let him take you up the mountain and show you you glory? Have you seen into the promised land and have you seen what the end shall be? This is what this gospel describes and promises.

There is an old hymn by Charles Tindley that says,  
Beams of heaven, as I go, / Through this wilderness below / Guide my feet in peaceful ways / Turn my midnights into days / When in the darkness I would grope / Faith always sees a star of hope / And soon from all life’s grief and danger / I shall be free some day.

Notice what it is that gets us through: “Beams of heaven!” Yes, it was those same beams of heaven that Peter James and John saw on the mountaintop. And those beams, having been experienced and remembered, shine on every darkness and show the way. Those beams of heaven give us hope and turn our midnights into day.

Let the Lord show you his glory, savor every moment and never forget what the Lord has done for you. And the light of his Glory will lighten every way. The hymn goes on to say: 
Burdens now may crush me down / Disappointments all around / Troubles speak in mournful sigh / Sorrow through a tear stained eye / There is a world where pleasure reigns / No mourning soul shall roam its plains / And to that land of peace and glory / I want to go some day.
And a wonderful reflection by Father Cassian Sama . . . 
Today's gospel reading, Jesus invites us to the mountain to be with Him. There are some steps we can take to have a mountain experience to be still before God. 
First of all we need to find a quiet place for prayer. We can go to our rooms and close our doors. Let us be realistic, it is very difficult nowadays since we are always distracted with computers, TV, and persons around the house. 
The next best alternative is to go to the church or chapel where Christ is present in the tabernacle as a prisoner of love in the form of bread waiting for us to reveal Himself and our true self. 
Also, if you really want an authentic mountain experience, I will encourage those of us who are very very busy to take time off and go for a five days or weekend silent retreat at a monastery or a Catholic retreat center. A retreat is simply a withdrawal from ordinary activities for a period of time to commune with God in prayer and reflection. We need retreats to be refreshed and recharged; to get rid of unnecessary baggage that weigh us down from climbing our mountains to pray in silence with Christ in solitude --> Father Cassian Sama,OP

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 19th 2012 - Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25
Psalms 41:2-5, 13-14
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Mark 2:1-12 (see also “Who is the Son of Man?”)

God’s Great ‘Amen’
Today’s Gospel makes explicit what has been implied in preceding weeks. Namely, that in healing the sick and casting out demons, Jesus is manifesting God’s forgiveness of His people’s sins.

The gospel relates two contrary responses to Jesus' ministry. One group illustrates how far the hearts of some have strayed from God, because their theological stumbling blocks keep them from recognizing who Jesus is and from allowing him to extend his healing forgiveness to others.

The other group is so open to Jesus that they crowd around him, are utterly astounded by his words and deeds, and are led to glorify God because of them. Truth be told, both contrary responses are present today, in the world and in our own hearts.

We hear in today's First Reading that, "They had wearied of God, refused to call on His name." Despite that, God promised to remember their sins no more.

Sin is often equated with sickness in Scripture (see Psalm 103:39). And today’s Psalm reads like a foretelling of the Gospel scene - the man is helped on his sickbed, healed of his sins, and made able to stand before the Lord forever.

The scribes know that God alone can forgive sins. That’s why they accuse Jesus of blasphemy. He appears to be claiming equality with God. But today's Gospel  turns on this recognition. The scene marks the first time in the gospels that Jesus commends the faith of a person or persons who come to Him (see Matthew 9:2; Luke 5:20).

With the eyes of faith, the paralytic and his friends can see what the scribes cannot - Jesus’ divine identity. He reveals himself as the “Son of Man” - alluding to the mysterious heavenly figure the prophet Daniel saw receive kingship over all the earth (see Daniel 7:13-14).

His retort to the scribes even echoes what God said to Pharaoh when He sent plagues upon Egypt: “That you may know that I am the Lord” (see Exodus 8:18; 9:14).

As Paul says in today’s Epistle, Jesus is God’s great Amen. Amen means “so be it.” In Jesus, God has said, “So be it,” fulfilling all His promises throughout salvation history.

We are the new people He formed to announce His praise. He calls each of us what Jesus calls the paralytic - His child (see 2 Corinthians 6:18).

But do we share this man’s faith? To what lengths are we willing to go to encounter Jesus? How much are we willing to sacrifice so that our friends, too, might hear His saving word?

Who is the Son of Man?
Jesus calls himself the “Son of Man” in the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (see Mark 2:10). What does that mean?

The term appears more than 100 times in Scripture, often as another way of saying “man” or “human” (see Numbers 23:19; Psalm 8:4).

But Jesus is referring to the prophet Daniel’s mysterious vision of “one like a son of man.” In Daniel’s vision, the son of man travels on the clouds of heaven and is presented before God. He receives from God “an everlasting dominion” and “nations and peoples of every language serve him” (see Daniel 7:13-14).

The Son of Man is the king of heaven and earth, as Jesus makes clear. The son has authority to forgive sins (see Mark 2:10), is Lord of the sabbath (see Mark 2:28), and will judge people according to their deeds (see John 5:27; Matthew 25:31).

As the Son of Man, Jesus is enthroned in heaven, seated at the right of the Father - as He promised He would be (see Mark 14:62; Acts 7:56).

Connecting the Gospel
to the first reading: Despite the Israelite's infidelity and their having become awearisome burden for God, God nevertheless comes to deliver them and forgive their sins. The divine compassion and mercy described by Isaiah are revealed in Jesus, the incarnate healing and forgiveness of God.
to experience: We can be "hidebound": so trapped in our own way of thinking or self-righteousness that we are unable to entertain any new way of seeing things or to receive anyone who holds contrary positions. In order for God to break whatever binds our minds and hearts, we must be open to  God.  This is very timely for me . . . . I must do what my priest mentioned to me in confession . . . . take time to prayerfully listen for God.

Scott Hahn, Ph.D. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 12th 2012 - Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thank you to Scott Hahn for his insights:

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

Made Clean
In the Old Testament, leprosy is depicted as punishment for disobedience of God’s commands (see Numbers 12:12-15; 2 Kings 5:27; 15:5).

Considered “unclean” - unfit to worship or live with the Israelites, lepers are considered “stillborn,” the living dead (see Numbers 12:12). Indeed, the requirements imposed on lepers in today’s First Reading - rent garments, shaven head, covered beard - are signs of death, penance, and mourning (see Leviticus 10:6; Ezekiel 24:17).

So there’s more to the story in today’s Gospel than a miraculous healing.
When Elisha, invoking God’s name, healed the leper, Naaman, it proved there was a prophet in Israel (see 2 Kings 5:8). Today’s healing reveals Jesus as far more than a great prophet - He is God visiting His people (see Luke 7:16).

Only God can cure leprosy and cleanse from sin (see 2 Kings 5:7); and only God has the power to bring about what He wills (see Isaiah 55:11; Wisdom 12:18).

The Gospel scene has an almost sacramental quality about it.
Jesus stretches out His hand - as God, by His outstretched arm, performed mighty deeds to save the Israelites (see Exodus 14:6; Acts 4:30). His ritual sign is accompanied by a divine word (“Be made clean”). And, like God’s word in creation (“Let there be”), Jesus’ word “does” what He commands (see Psalm 33:9).

The same thing happens when we show ourselves to the priest in the sacrament of penance. On our knees like the leper, we confess our sins to the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm. And through the outstretched arm and divine word spoken by His priest, the Lord takes away the guilt of our sin.
Like the leper we should rejoice in the Lord and spread the good news of His mercy. We should testify to our healing by living changed lives. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we should do even the littlest things for the glory of God and that others may be saved.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February 5th 2012 - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 147:1-6
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Mark 1:29-39

Marc Chagall's Job in Despair

Raised to Serve 

by Scott Hahn


In today’s First Reading, Job describes the futility of life before Christ.
His lament reminds us of the curse of toil and death placed upon Adam following his original sin (see Genesis 3:17-19). Men and women are like slaves seeking shade, unable to find rest. Their lives are like the wind that comes and goes.

But, as we sing in today’s Psalm, He who created the stars, promised to heal the brokenhearted and gather those lost in exile from Him (see Isaiah 11:12; 61:1). We see this promise fulfilled in today’s Gospel.

Simon’s mother-in-law is like Job’s toiling, hopeless humanity. She is laid low by affliction but too weak to save herself.

But as God promised to take His chosen people by the hand (see Isaiah 42:6), Jesus grasps her by the hand and helps her up. The word translated “help” is actually Greek for raising up. The same verb is used when Jesus commands a dead girl to arise (see Mark 5:41-42). It’s used again to describe His own resurrection (see Mark 14:28; 16:7).

Healing Simon -Peter's Mother-in-Law by John Bridges 19th Century
What Jesus has done for Simon’s mother-in-law, He has done for all humanity - raised all of us who lay dead through our sins (see Ephesians 2:5).

Notice all the words of totality and completeness in the Gospel. The whole town gathers; all the sick are brought to Him. He drives out demons in the whole of Galilee. Everyone is looking for Christ.
We too have found Him. By our baptism, He healed and raised us to live in His presence (see Hosea 6:1-2).

Like Simon’s mother-in-law, there is only one way we can thank Him for the new life He has given us. We must rise to serve Him and His gospel.

Our lives must be our thanksgiving, as Paul describes in today’s Epistle. We must tell everyone the good news, the purpose for which Jesus has come - that others, too, may have a share in this salvation.

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22, 2012 - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 The calling of the brothers in today’s Gospel evokes Elisha’s commissioning by the prophet Elijah
(see 1 Kings 19:19-21).

As Elijah comes upon Elisha working on his family’s farm, so Jesus sees the brothers working by the seaside. And as Elisha left his mother and father to follow Elijah, so the brothers leave their father to come after Jesus.

Jesus’ promise - to make them “fishers of men” - evokes Israel’s deepest hopes. The prophet Jeremiah announced a new exodus in which God would send “many fishermen” to restore the Israelites from exile, as once He brought them out of slavery in Egypt (see Jeremiah 16:14-16).

Jonah 3:1-5,10
Psalm 25:4-9
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20
By Jesus’ cross and resurrection, this new exodus has begun
(see Luke 9:31).
And the apostles are the first of a new people of God, the Church - a new family, based not on blood ties, but on belief in Jesus and a desire to do the Father’s will (see John 1:12-13; Matthew 12:46-50).

From now on, even our most important worldly concerns - family relations, occupations, and possessions - must be judged in light of the gospel, Paul says in today’s Epistle.

The first word of Jesus’ gospel - repent - means we must totally change our way of thinking and living, turning from evil, doing all for the love of God.

And we should be consoled by Nineveh’s repentance in today’s First Reading. Even the wicked Nineveh could repent at Jonah’s preaching. And in Jesus we have a greater than Jonah (see Matthew 12:41).

We have God come as our savior, to show sinners the way, as we sing in today’s Psalm. This should give us hope - that loved ones who remain far from God will find compassion if they turn to Him.

But we, too, must continue along the path of repentance - striving daily to pattern our lives after His.

Listen Here!


Homily for January 22, 2012

My friends, today, I ask for your prayers. I shall preach something which is difficult to say and which may be difficult to hear. Today, I am going to talk about abortion and contraception. This may cause some of you to feel uncomfortable and others to get upset yet it requires a prophet’s voice. I am encouraged by the 1st reading where Jonah’s voice of truth allowed for Conversion of the hearts of the people of Nineveh. Perhaps my simple voice will lead to the conversion of some here or in our society.

Yesterday morning, many joined together to march for life.  I was amazed to see all the young people  and all the babies. Everywhere you turned there was new life and there was vitality. Seeing all these babies, it reminded me of a time when I was in Rome. I loved looking at the babies in Rome. You see Italians aren't having children. They average 1.1 children per couple. So when I would see a baby stroller I always wanted to see what the baby looked like. I remember this one time looking into the stroller and in horror saw the ugliest baby ever. I’m serious. It was ugly. It had big teeth and a big nose. Its ears stood up and was real pointy. It was so hairy and it had long tongue. When it spoke, it said rough! It was a dog! They put a dog in a baby stroller. You see this is the secular dream. Do not get married and just be partners, not to have children but to have a couple of dogs and to seek to live a comfortable life where one would do what one would feel like. This is advertised all the time. People don't have babies so they try to make dogs into their babies.

Today, January 22, 39 years ago, the United States supreme court passed a judgement
that has caused the death of over 50 million children. 50 million children - this is twice the number that live in Texas completely wiped out. This has been a genocide on an unthinkable level. There are other areas of life that need attention as well – but none whose evil is as widespread as abortion. The bishops remind us that over 3,000 babies each day die within the womb of their mother.

This creates a great wound in the mothers of these children, those that are involved and throughout society in general. Most of these teen mothers feel forced and coerced into this. They may be scared and feel like they have no one to turn to. I remember a sign I recently saw of a young woman. The top of the sign says pregnancy. Around her head is a thought circle that says, “My mother is going to kill me.” Around the womb of the girl is another thought circle that reads, “My mother is going to kill me.” My friends, as witnesses of life we need to help those who are scared or those who are injured by abortion and help them to receive the healing they deserve. The healing and forgiveness of these wounds can be had through Jesus Christ.

We all can be forgiven. We can live in peace. This wound affects all of us. Even me: I remember when I lived in the fraternity house and one of the brother’s pressured his girlfriend to go to planned parenthood. I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I do know that she ended up having an abortion shortly after and I realized that I had missed an opportunity to intervene in someone’s life and keep them from experiencing such a serious wound in their lives. If you have a similar wound, the Church is here for you. Come to the sacrament of Confession and begin the healing if you have been affected in any way by this. Ministries in the Church like Project Rachel are there to help you heal.

Today, I just don’t want to look at our woundedness from abortion but want to go to an evil that is much more rampant in our society and is the foundation for which abortion comes. It is that of contraception.

In the supreme court case Roe vs. Wade in 1973, it was argued time and again that women needed the availability of abortion in the event that contraceptives would fail. Contraceptives created a mentality that was contrary to life. The natural result of this would lend itself to abortion. Otherwise they would have an unwanted child.

John Paul II in The Gospel of Life said, “Indeed, the pro- abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected" (n. 13).

Ultimately, both abortion and contraception have the same root. It declares a subjective triumph over objective natural law. Contraception states, “I know this act is ordered towards procreation and committed union, but I don't want a baby, but I still want the fun and therefore I will put myself above natural law.” The same is true with abortion. I know that life is sacred yet I will kill the life. This same so-called “right to privacy” has been listed as a reason to allow same-sex unions to be called marriages. It the elevation of the person’s will over natural law. Once this takes root in a society, it opens the door for all sorts of evils and ultimately the destruction of society.

Mother Theresa said once that a society that begins to kill its most vulnerable, its own flesh and blood that it will rapidly and quickly cease to be civilized.

Humane Vitae mentions that this would happen when civil law detached from natural law. With this Paul VI says “Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone?” Didn’t this happen in China under their one – child policy?

This imposition is no longer seen in countries outside of the United States, but in the United States. The current administration under the leadership of the President has declared that all Church’s and religious institutions must be included in the mandatory provision of Contraception and abortion as part of their health care plans. This is the first time that the constitution has been thrown aside so to impose the contraceptive mentality and disregarded individual and communal conscience. This is evil and must be stopped.

My experience as - You are too young to have too many children.
- I love you so much that I need to protect myself. WHAT!!!

Spiritually, if one chooses to prevent conception, this ultimately renders marital sex to a commodity of pleasure where the other person is used to render pleasure to the other. And then what happens when the contraception fails. The child would be deemed us unwanted – a scourge – and must be eliminated. Children no longer are seen as a gift but they are seen as either a commodity something that I can go shopping for - think of invitro-fertilization - or a burden or even worse a disease. Since when have we as a society decided that we would provide pills to alter a normal functioning body system to “protect it” from a baby. The language itself is one of horror. This is a dark shadow of what God intended marital love to be.

God chose to enter into the life of a family. The center piece of every family is the committed love between a man or a woman. The reality is that God by entering into the womb of Mary and into the family structure with St. Joseph as the head, that he shows the great dignity of the family. Moreover when Jesus goes to the wedding feast of Cana, he is showing that the wedding is a great gift. A wedding feast is a time of joy and a time of new life. I have been blessed to go to many marriages of friends and family. Some stand out in my minds more than others. One in particular is a friend who went on a retreat the week before their marriage. Why? They understood that their marriage had a sacramental dimension. It reflects and was an image of God’s love.

We see in marriage an physical example, a physical icon of the love of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and are constantly giving themselves completely over to each other as a self gift. In marriage, the two become one. The two people who give themselves over to each other in acts of self-giving is a icon of this love. The Fruit of the Father’s love for the Son, is the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the husband’s love for the wife is a child. This icon can even be taken to be seen physically when the husband and wife whose very body is God’s image becomes one in consummation. When the couples love is Full, Faithful, Free, and Fruitful, the image of the Trinity is made manifest for the world to see. This shows forth love and life. Marital love needs to be Full, Faithful, Free, and Fruitful.

Humane Vitae (Paul VI – 1968) states, “Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who “is love,” the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” My friends this is worth a wedding feast that spans days and years.

My brothers and sisters we are all invited to the marriage feast of the marriage between Christ and His Church. Depending on our state in life God will ask us to be faithful to living out our promises Faithfully, Fruitfully, Fully, and Freely. This is how we can come to the marriage feast clothed in charity as St. Gregory the Great says. This is how we are to ensure that we have put on the wedding garment. It is our decision. May we choose to live a life of true freedom and charity as we celebrate the marriage feast this day.

. . . . and from Facebook Apologetics

Sunday's First Reading Comes from the Prophet Jonah, and Recalls His Experiences Once in Nineveh. The Preceding Chaper of Jonah Recalls His Transport to Nineveh in the Belly of the Whale. Here's an Upbeat Song that Tells the Whole Story. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15, 2012 - Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Ecce Agnus Dei”
by Dienic the Elder Bouts, 1462-64
Readings for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time[1][2]

Readings and Commentary:[3]

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am.  You called me.”
“I did not call you, “  Eli said.  “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am, “ he said.  “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son.  Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.  You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
Commentary on 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19

This passage contains the story of the call of Samuel popularized by the song “Here I Am Lord”. It is clear from the text that this historical period did not have regular contacts with those gifted with prophecy. It was rare for the Lord to speak in those days; it is the priest Eli who recognizes that it is God calling to the young Samuel and tells the boy how to respond.

Although it is not contained in the selection, verses 11-18 provide the context of Samuel’s first oracle which is a punishment upon the family of Eli whose sons have blasphemed. Samuel’s fame, we are told, spreads as his favored status as prophet becomes known.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
   and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

While Psalm 40 is a song of thanksgiving, it is also combined with a lament. The initial waiting is satisfied by favor shown by God to one who is faithful in service to Him. Praise and thanksgiving are given to God whose justice is applied to all.


The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body
Commentary on 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20  

This passage is part of the Apostles address on sexual sins – moral degradation.  Libertines of the day advocated that the “sexual appetite” was akin to the body’s need for food and drink.  St. Paul refutes this idea.  He places the physical body on a higher order; it is to be a temple, glorified in the end times (the Eschaton).

Don’t you know…” the Apostle emphasizes that the Christian body belongs to Christ.  It is incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church.  Because of this unity, degradation of the individual body in sexual sins degrades the whole body.  This type of destruction of the body causes Christ, the bridegroom of the Church to be in intimate relationship with a harlot.  The selection concludes with the exhortation to purity so that the Holy Spirit, in dwelling, may live in a temple set aside – sanctified in baptism for God.

Gospel: John 1:35-42

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Commentary on Jn 1:35-42

Our Gospel shows how John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the Messiah immediately. It also shows the humility of the “Voice” always deferring to the “Word”.  St. John’s disciples hear him identify Jesus as “the lamb of God” and follow Jesus.  St. John, who must “decrease(John 3: 30) encourages his own disciples to follow Jesus.  The impact of the prophet’s pronouncement on two of his disciples is clear, one of whom we will come to revere as one of the Twelve, St. Andrew, brother of Peter follows Jesus and spends the day with him.  He tells his brother, St. Peter (Cephas) “We have found the Messiah”.  In this Gospel Cephas is brought to Jesus, and receives his new name; “Rock”. 

Somewhat ironic is the translation we are given which demonstrates the multi-linguistic nature of the translation.  “…you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.Cephas is from the Aramaic which means “rock”, however the original translation was from Aramaic to Greek.  Rock in Greek is rendered as Petros, our name Peter derives from that form.


We are made, we are called, we respond.  We are made anew in baptism; dedicated to God and sanctified by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In that sense we are in Samuel’s place, in “…the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was.”  The Hebrews believed that while God was omnipresent, he had a special dwelling with the Ark of the Covenant.  In much the same way we believe that while God is present in all his creation, his essence especially resides in the Eucharist   We are in that place and listen for that call.

St. John the Baptist pointed out who it was that came, anointed by God as the Messiah at his Baptism in the Jordan.  He named him to two of his own disciples in the Gospel; “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  Look, he said, there goes the sacrifice that makes us whole; the lamb who is to be the sacrifice of atonement as prescribed under Mosaic Law.  It is the Seder Meal, unleavened bread, taken before our journey to freedom from sin.  All of that was captured for his disciples as the Lord waked by.  How could they not follow him?

And when the reached him, what did they ask?  What was the first thing they wanted to know?  “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?”  They asked “Where do you abide – rest?”  Understanding their intention the Lord invited them to come and see.  It is an invitation we also receive, just as we were called like Samuel we are invited to follow the Lord to the place where he abides.

The parallels are clear, we are made and we called.  The only question that is yet to be answered is how we respond?  That is not an easy answer for any of us because the invitation is extended each day and each day we must respond.  Some days we don not hear it, other days; even though the call is clear enough, our hearts cannot say “Here I am.”

What does that mean – “Here I am.”  The Lord knows where we are, he knows our every move so that response is not like one would call out to one blind-folded “I am over here.”  It is an offer of self.  It means that the Lord may ask what ever he wants and “Here I am.”  That response is our gift to the Father.  It means that we have looked and listened to what he would have from us and we respond in the affirmative “Here I am.”  It means that we do not always take the easiest path, but rather do as the Lord would have us do, follow him to where he is staying.

The difficulty, as always, is that we must know the Lord well enough to know were we are relative to were he wants us to be.  In other words, before we can say “Here I am.”  We must know were we are.  It is through prayer and discernment that we discover our place.  It is through effort and dedication that we come to understand what he calls us to do and be.

Today we hear that call once more.  We hear St. John point and say; look, “Behold the Lamb of God” We hear and pray that we may respond with “Here I am.”


[2] The picture used today is “Ecce Agnus Dei” by Dienic the Elder Bouts, 1462-64
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.