Tag Archives: Luke

Year A – Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God – January 1, 2014 – Gospel Reflection

Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 1:1-2; Luke 2:16-21Image

We return again to Bethlehem and the visit of the shepherds to meet their Savior.  While much of the reading focuses on the shepherds, what they saw and said, today’s feast directs us to Mary, providing Pau’s only reference to her and a helpful image of her from Luke’s Gospel.  In his most fiery letter, Paul notes that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…”  On this feast celebrating Mary as the mother of God, Paul’s words provide the earliest designation of her as mother of God’s Son.  God not only lowered himself to our human estate; he made himself, for a short time, subservient to Mary, his human mother.  If Christ made himself subservient to Mary, how much more so should we be obedient to her as well?

Luke gives us a prayerful perspective on Mary, presenting her as the woman who ponders, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  She is a fitting example to imitate as a new year begins.  She invites us to ponder and reflect on who Christ is for us and for our world.  We live in such a non-stop, 24/7, busy-busy-busy world.  Mother Mary calls us to sit down beside her and ponder the mystery of the Father sending his Son into the world to give us life.

What does Mary invite you to ponder?  When we serve her and follow her example, then we will begin to imitate Jesus Christ.  It is then that we will grow stronger in our faith.

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Year A – Fest of Our Lady of Guadalupe – December 12, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Judith 13:18bcde, 19 (R/. 15:9d); Luke 1:39-47Image

A few days after celebrating Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we honor her as Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The feast of Mary’s being conceived without sin can seem to separate her from us as the sinless one, but today reminds us that this privilege only served to make her close to us.  Because she was the mother of Jesus, she is now mother to all God’s children, especially the poor and most abandoned.

When Mary appeared to a poor native convert, Juan Diego, she asked him to go to the bishop and tell him that she wished a chapel be built to which all peoples would come to worship, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, the mighty and the lowly – and know each other as God’s children.  She is truly the mother of the Church, of God’s pilgrim people.  The Gospel presents Mary’s great song of joy, praising God not only for what God has done for her, having looked with favor on her, but for also what God will do through Jesus: lift up the lowly, cast down the mighty from their thrones, fill the hungry with good things.

What does Mary want to bring together in our day?

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Year A – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – December 9, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; cf. Luke 1:28; Luke 1:26-38

God’s word gives us two vivid images of the relationship we can have with God.  A shadow has fallen over Eden with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, their no to God’s command.  After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit that the serpent promised would make them like God, knowing good and evil, all they discovered was that they were naked.  They had broken not their bond with God but with each other and with creation.  Notice how mutual blame and suspicion have entered the world.  Soon they will be barred from Paradise.

With Mary’s yes, a new day has dawned.  The communion with God that was lost has been reestablished.  Mary’s consenting word built a bridge over the divide when she answered the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to your word.”  Today’s feast celebrates the gift of intimacy that Mary shared with God since the moment of her conception.  It also signals to us that God wishes to bless us with every blessing in the heavens, for God has chosen us in Christ.

How can you respond to God’s invitation to deeper intimacy?

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Year C – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 24, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 1:12-20; Mark 11:19, 10; Luke 23:35-43

The image of a shepherd became linked to the role of the king in the Old Testament.  David, the youngest son of Jesse, who tended sheep, exalted the Lord through his harp music, and slew Goliath, was destined to become king of Israel.  The leaders of Israel came to David and asked him to shepherd them as king, fulfilling what the Lord had said to David, “You shall shepherd my people Israel and be commander of Israel.”

The life of David foreshadowed the life of Christ:  Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David prefigures Christ, the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds of Christ; the betrayal by his trusted counselor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s Sacred Passion; finally, many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clearly typical of the Messiah.  Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe is not an earthly king though.  His crown is a crown of thorns, his royal purple robes are draped over his beaten body in mockery, his throne is a cross, and the only jewels he has are the nails that pierce his hands and feet.  They hang a sign on the cross above his head that says, “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum,” (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”)  It is through this unearthly image of a king that he shepherds human souls into his kingdom.

Jesus picked up the image of the Good Shepherd in his preaching to human souls and carried it out in his actions as he sought to shepherd his flock into the kingdom, searching out the blind and the deaf, the lame and the sick, the possessed and the grief-stricken.  He became the king of the poor, the weak, and the suffering.  He is our king.  He is not just the king of a nation, or even of the world; he is king of the entire universe.  He is a king so powerful and feared that Herod tried to kill him as a defenseless newborn baby.  He is so powerful that he may shepherd those most astray back to the flock, no matter how far they have gone or how long they have been away.  He gives hope to those most in need and ushers them into his everlasting kingdom.  A kingdom, as he told Pilate, which is not of this world.  He ushers all in like sheep with wool, white and pure.

Even from the cross, Jesus seeks and saves the lost.  Over the heckling of the crowd and the verbal abuse of one of his crucified companions, Jesus responds to the faith of the nameless thief on his other side.  (Tradition calls him Dismas.)  Through his confession, repentance, and spiritual act of mercy by admonishing the sinner, Jesus absolves the criminal, promising him Paradise that day.  Dismas secures his salvation, becoming the first saint of the Church, through his longing for the kingdom and exaltation of Christ as God and King of the Universe.  Even as Jesus is laying down his life for his sheep, he is also carrying one on his shoulders into the kingdom.

How does it help you to see Christ the king as Jesus the shepherd, leading us to green pastures where he feeds us, gives us rest, and finally leads us through the dark valley of death into the kingdom of light and life?

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Year C – Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 17, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Malachi 3:19-20a; Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9 (R/. cf. 9); 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:28; Luke 21:5-19

As the end of the liturgical year approaches, the readings call our attention to the “end time,” that “Day of the Lord,” referred to by both Old Testament prophets and most New Testament writings.  Throughout history, groups have predicted the end time was right around the corner.  In our own day, such dates have come and gone.  And we are still here!  Most recently, we all survived the supposed Mayan Apocalypse of December 21, 2012.

It may be more helpful to live aware that, while we do not know when the end of the world will come, we do know that one day we will face our own end, dying to this life as we know it.  We can take comfort in Jesus’ final words today, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  For, if we persevere in faith, hope, and love, and if we strive to bring justice, mercy, forgiveness, and peace into our world, whenever the Day of the Lord comes, we will be counted among the just and experience it as the arrival of “the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  In the meantime, as Paul advises, go about your lives, working quietly to bring about the kingdom of God even now.

How does life’s eventual end influence your days?

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Year C – Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 10, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 3:5; Revelation 1:5a, 6b; Luke 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38

Belief in the resurrection of the body comes late in the Old Testament.  This was an issue that was widely debated in Jesus’ time.  The Sadducees, a group of Jewish fundamentalists, did not accept the scriptural books of Maccabees, Tobit, or Wisdom, all of which address the resurrection of the body and life after death, concepts in which the Sadducees also did not accept as they were not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, what we call the Pentateuch.  We hear of the resurrection of the body in today’s first reading.

Jesus himself is tested by the Sadducees because the resurrection of the body was not explicitly mentioned in the Torah.  Their improbably story intends to show the incompatibility of bodily resurrection with the Torah.  To whom would a seven-times-married woman be married at the resurrection?  Anyone present at this encounter or hearing this story at the time would have understood the sarcasm of this question.  The question of a seven-times-married woman clearly alluded to the scriptural passage of Tobit 3:8, in which a woman had been married seven times, but a demon killed each of her husbands.  The Sadducees meant to not only trap Jesus in a hypothetical challenge; they also wanted to poke fun at Jesus’ and his followers’ profession of this book.  This should sound familiar, as some Christians also do not accept this book today.  Jesus and his followers, however, clearly did.  There are other instances in the Gospels in which belief in the resurrection of the body and an afterlife are evident, i.e. Mark 9:2-8, John 11:24.  In addition, Acts 23:8 clearly shows the faulty lack of belief from the Sadducees.

Jesus says two things in response to the Sadducees’ indignant challenge.  First, what happens in the next life is going to be different.  In the life to come, we will be transformed like the Risen Christ.  Looking forward to this eternal life in heaven fills us with the joyful trust and hope in life with Christ.  Second, Jesus turns to the Torah itself, noting how Moses speaks there of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God of the living, not of the dead (Exodus 3:6, 15, 16).  In God all are alive.  With the resurrection, we have hope we will live on through eternity.  If we are living as Christ calls us to live, we need not fear death, for we will live on through Christ.

The Church carries on with this teaching in her Sacraments; all of the Church’s Sacraments are for the living.  Anointing of the Sick prepares the dying for a good death so that they may reconcile with God and live eternally.  Anointing is a sacrament for the living, not the dead; what the Church has for the dead is the “Christian Funeral Rite.”

Life after death awaits those who find delight in keeping the commandments of God like the seven brothers in the first reading.  They made the statement, “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”  We too hope in the resurrection to help us reject sin, knowing that without fidelity no one shall enjoy the life after death with God in heaven (Revelation 21:27).

Do you live in fear of death like the Sadducees and others today?  Or do you live according to the teachings of Christ, the Sacraments, and the resurrection of the body?  What do we need to change?  What can we do better?

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Year C – Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 3, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14 (R/. cf. 1); 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2; John 3:16; Luke 19:1-10

One may say Zacchaeus was ripe for the picking because that is what Jesus did.  The man was up a tree and was plucked like a ripe apple to satisfy God’s hunger for lost souls.  As the head tax collector hence a collaborator with Rome, Zacchaeus would have been hated by most people.  Any crowd would have been a dangerous place, so being short was not the only reason he climbed a sycamore tree.  But the one who went up came down a different person.

Notice that Jesus asked nothing of Zacchaeus, other than inviting himself to his house, but the little man grew that day.  Was it the way Jesus greeted him so urgently saying, “Come down quickly for today I must stay at your house?”  Or did the grumbling reaction of the crowd influence him?  In any case, Zacchaeus was quickly transformed into a generous and repentant man.  Salvation did indeed come to his house in the person of Jesus.  New life flowed into and out of his heart.  In Jesus, who came to seek and save, Zacchaeus knew God as the “Lord and lover of souls” (Wisdom 11:26).

How have you accepted Jesus’ request to come to your home?

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Year C – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 27, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23, (R/. 7a); 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Luke 18:9-14

“The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds,” Sirach teaches.  Indeed, it touches God’s heart. The prayer of the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable certainly does not fall into this category.  It is not necessarily a bad prayer, as the Pharisee stands before God, expressing gratitude for God’s many blessings.  But notice the frequency of “I… I… I… I,” in contrast to the simple prayer of the tax collector, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Jesus concludes by saying, “The latter went home justified.”  To be justified is to be in right relationship with God.  Recognizing our need for God’s mercy and asking for it puts us in right relationship with God.

Luke offers many prayers in his Gospel:  the Canticle of Mary (the Magnificat), “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…”  (1:46-55); the Canticle of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist (the Benedictus), “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel…” (1:68-79); the Canticle of Simeon in the Temple when he takes in his arms the Christ Child (the Nunc dimittis), “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace…” (2:29-32), and the Our Father.  Each recognizes God’s mercy, God’s loving-kindness.  Each calls us to bow our heads humbly before God.

How have you known God’s loving-kindness this week?

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Year C – Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 20, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 (R/. cf. 2); 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2; Hebrews 4:12; Luke 18:1-8

“Persistence pays off,” proclaims today’s parable, one Jesus tells with some humor.  Even though widows were among the most powerless people in the ancient world, here we have a widow who makes a judge cower, a judge described as having no fear of God or anyone else.  The judge himself says that the only reason he finally decides in the widow’s favor is that he fears she might come and haul off and strike him.  The story would have gotten a laugh in Luke’s community, not only for its incongruity, but possibly because some of his listeners would be able to think of someone in their own family like this widow.  Maybe you can as well?

Jesus encourages us to be like this widow and persevere in our prayer, not to give up calling on God.  We can help one another here, just as Aaron and Hur helped Moses to keep praying by holding up his arms.  When we come to mass, we help one another to persist in prayer by praying together in word and song.  By our very presence we “hold up the arms” of others, as they do for us.

Who in your life needs your support to keep praying?

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Year C – Twenty-Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 13, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4 (R/. cf. 2b); 2 Timothy 2:8-13; 1 Thessolonians5:18; Luke 17:11-19

It is a shame we only hear the ending of the story about Naaman, the foreign general with leprosy whom Elisha the prophet heals.  When the prophet sends word to jump in the river seven times, Naaman is incensed.  “The Jordan!  The Jordan?” he mutters.  But, after some prodding, Naaman trusts in the prophet’s words as God’s word.  Result:  skin like a baby’s!  Believing that a God could only work on his own turf, Naaman asks for two mule-loads of earth so he may worship Israel’s God after returning home.

Trusting in the word of Jesus brings about the cure of ten lepers.  Only the Samaritan returns to day thank you.  Notice that he begins by falling on his knees before Jesus, signaling that he recognizes God at work in Jesus.

In both of these readings, faith reveals itself as trust and obedience to God’s word.  Paul reminds us that this word cannot be chained, held down to any one place or time, but it will work its way in the world and in the lives of those who listen for it, and then respond wholeheartedly.

How has God’s word brought healing in your life?

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