Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19: 20-21
July 25, 2017 After more than three months of Lent and Easter, we return today to Sundays in Ordinary Time. We will be hearing from the Gospel of Saint Matthew for the rest of the year, with the first reading intended to prepare us in some way for the day’s Gospel. The second readings proceed through several of Saint Paul’s letters. As we settle down to summer living, these next few Sundays focus on what it is like to be a disciple. Let us pray to have hearts open to what the Lord is telling us. The Gospel passages for today and next week are from the “Mission Sermon,” second of the five great sermons in Matthew’s Gospel. What we hear today is prefaced earlier in Chapter 10 with “Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus”. These words are addressed not only to disciples long ago and far away, but to us, right here and now. Ominous indeed are Jesus’ predictions of what faithful disciples will face. Challenging, His expectations of how courageous we should be. Jesus is straightforward about our obligation to bear witness in a dangerous, cynical world. His warning is matched to the first reading from Jeremiah. Whenever the Gospel issue is the cost of discipleship, we hear from that prophet whose life was a testimony to fidelity in the face of rejection and cruelty. Less dramatic, but no less painful, is the experience of anyone who today dares defend Catholic teaching on a wide spectrum of moral or social issues. But our obligation to do so derives from our Baptism, which anoints us to the prophetic office, and from Confirmation, which strengthens us for witnessing by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The “whispers” Jeremiah heard, especially from those he thought were his friends, are familiar to anyone who takes seriously discipleship’s call to bear witness. It is important, then, for us to hear another command that Jesus issues three times in this one passage: “Do not be afraid!” First, the general counsel: “Fear no one.” Then more specifically: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”. Finally, most comfortingly, Jesus invokes an image particularly apt as spring unfolds to early summer: “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”. If we fear anything, perhaps we ought to be afraid that discipleship has cost most of us very little indeed. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: If you were to give public witness to God’s action in your life, what is the worst that could happen to you? Is it anything that God can’t or won’t handle?
June 18, 2017
Today, we are gathered at Eucharist to celebrate the meaning of the Eucharist. Today’s solemnity is called the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Let us pay particular attention to the words and gestures at today’s Mass, and when it comes time for Communion, let approach the altar with joy in our hearts and gratitude for this gift of the Eucharist. In verses preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus declares, “Whoever believes has eternal life. Today, Jesus replaces “believes” with “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”. By using “flesh,” John’s word for the whole of human nature, John challenges us who receive Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist to assimilate the whole of Jesus’ humanity, that is, Jesus self-sacrificing-unto-death lifestyle, as our distinctive manner of being human. For Paul, Eucharistic bread and cup are both signs of what the community is called to be and source of the community’s strength to live that ideal. John’s Last Supper account lacks bread, wine, and Eucharistic institution, focusing instead on Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet. John’s Eucharistic theology today, and Paul’s teaching that Eucharistic sharing makes us one with Christ and each other, indicate that an authentically Eucharistic community both worships Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and serves Christ’s presence in the “least.” Ideally, we who devoutly adore Jesus in the tabernacle should also serve the poor in a real and hands-on way. How fitting for the Eucharistic Christ to be carried in Corpus Christi’s traditional procession through the very streets Christ’s disciples travel when carrying the Church’s care to those in need. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How will I set aside time both to adore Christ present in the Eucharist and to serve the poor in a hands-on-way?
June 11, 2017
Each of us has been baptized into the mystery of the Holy Spirit. We invoke the Holy Trinity every time we sign ourselves with the cross. So today we pause to acknowledge this mystery and to give thanks for the God of life who has sent the Son and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. May our Christian life together reflect the love among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thunder, lightning, and law accompanied God’s revelation to Moses on Sinai. But today, Exodus quotes God’s own self-description: “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity”. Paul presents this one God’s trinity of personal manifestations: “grace, love, fellowship” – literally “communion” – qualities that should mark our own lives, both as a community and as individuals. John’s Gospel proclaims God’s plan as infinitely loving: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him”. In fact, when we proclaim the three Persons in prayer, we do not make a circular or triangular gesture that would visually connote the Trinity’s eternal existence or equality of Persons. Rather, the specific sign by which we have come to know the nature of our Triune God is the sign of the self-sacrificing love of the second Person, Jesus, who took our human flesh so that we might be reborn to new life in the name of the Holy Trinity. So, although pronouncing the names of all three Persons, we trace over ourselves only the sign of Jesus’ cross. Moreover, from our Baptism and until our dying and the burial that follows, others who love us trace that same sign over us, hoping that by often speaking those three names while making that one sign, our lives will be shaped, day by day, year after year, to a truer image and likeness of God’s own love. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How many times a day do I make the sign of the cross and invoke the name of the Most Holy Trinity? How can I make that sign and invocation more intentional?
June 4, 2017
We have reached the end of the Easter season, our “week of Sundays” of reflection on the Easter mysteries of Christ’s resurrection and our Baptism. How appropriate that we conclude with a celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit to our Church and to the world. May our prayer today be one of gratitude for each of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Traditionally celebrated as “the birthday of the Church,” Pentecost focuses our faith on the Church’s spiritual mother- hood – birth, not death; the womb (an ancient image for the baptismal font), not the tomb. In this year’s Easter Vigil Gospel, Jesus’ greeting to the women who found the tomb empty should hearten us: “Do not be afraid. Go tell”. “On the last and greatest day of the feast” of Easter’s fifty days, Jesus reassures us: He will satisfy our thirst, lead us beyond our fear, and strengthen us to live our baptismal mission of evangelization. When the Spirit comes in Acts, there is “a strong driving wind,” but the fire, reminiscent of Sinai, does not terrify but comforts, as it “parted and came to rest on each one of them. The speaking in different tongues at the Spirit’s prompting is central to the uniqueness of Christian Pentecost. But though this seems at first to reverse Babel’s confusion of tongues, the unity the Pentecost Spirit creates is not uniformity, but a wonderful unity-in-diversity. Thus, the gospel going forth into the world is one, but its manifestation – in worship and witness, in liturgy and ministry – is richly diverse: “We hear them speaking in our own tongues”. Jesus breathes His re-creating Spirit on the disciples, shows them His wounds, then sends them (and us) forth to love as He loved, to forgive and reconcile. Jesus adds, “Whose sins you retain are retained”. But like the disciples, having been forgiven so many of our own sins of denial, desertion, and cowardice, how could we dare not to forgive the sins of a truly repentant person? QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Catholic tradition, referring to Isaiah, lists seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Can I identify seven gifts the Holy Spirit has given me? How will I use each of them this week for the good of others?
May 28, 2017
Our Easter season is nearing its conclusion. We have spent these weeks trying to grasp the meaning of Christ’s resurrection and our own Baptism. Like the disciples in today’s first reading, we are about to devote ourselves with one accord to prayer. Let us pray during today’s celebration that we will be strengthened to bear fruit for the reign of God in the world. Today we will hear one more passage from Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. If we believe that we are the body of Christ here on earth, then the wonderful prayer of Jesus in today’s Gospel proclamation must be written on our own hearts. Let us allow Jesus to pray for us today as He did on that night so long ago for the apostles. Jesus often talks of joy, often the joy of God in forgiving a sinner. The big joy of God seems to be mercy, and even in the memory of His own death Jesus finds joy in the chapel of the home of St. Francis Xavier in Navarre, the crucifix is of the “smiling Jesus”. He smiles not in comfort and ease, but in love and sacrifice. While we think today of the loss of Jesus, we are invited to rejoice as He leaves one way of being with us – on earth, to another way of being with us – from heaven. He both awaits us there and helps us get there, the mystery of the Divine Son who is one of us. The mystery goes further in that we are invited and called into sharing this life of His on earth, for in each of us is the life of Jesus, who makes His home in us. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How can I share my life of Jesus with someone this week?
St. Brendan's Catholic Church of Clearwater, FL, located on Island Estates, is a loving, vibrant Catholic Church seeking for each and every member a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.