Sometimes what seems new is not. For what seems new is something forgotten from the past. What we might now experience as new is taking the path of returning to the Garden of Eden, wherein humanity experienced directly the love of God and life without sin. It was an existence in which loving God was more important than anything else and serving each other was always the second consideration. What is too often forgotten is what Jesus Christ came to announce: the presence of the Kingdom of God — something old offered new again.
The Israelites had been held in exile in Babylon for several generations. While in Babylon, some of what the Jews had believed was lost as many of them had been slowly assimilated into Babylonian culture. King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon in 538 B.C., allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem, but what they had left had been destroyed. The Book of Nehemiah describes the rebuilding Jerusalem and the efforts to help the people regain a sense of who they were as a religious people.READ MORE
My brothers and sisters remember that in last week’s Gospel we heard the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, which was Jesus’ first action of many that revealed him to have God-like powers. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus unambiguously verbally declare Himself, for the first time, to be the Messiah, the Anointed One with the Spirit of God. So today is what I like to call the Mic-drop Gospel. For those of you who are, say under 25 years old, a mic-drop is when someone says something so amazing, so shocking, that it leaves everyone else speechless. In which no one can, or dares try to, say anything to counter or top what was just said, it’s that striking. For the audience in that synagogue, I imagine it took several minutes for everyone to pick up their jaws from the floor and even begin to process what Jesus just said, let alone think about what the ramifications of what he said are. Even though our Gospel today stops there, leaving us and everyone gathered to process what Jesus said, next week’s Gospel will pick up right where this left off. So, for those who don’t like cliff-hangers and can’t wait for next week to hear what the people thought and what the ramifications were of what Jesus said, go ahead, I give you permission, class, to read ahead. No really, go ahead, I encourage you, as is good to do every week, to read ahead and reflect for yourself in preparation for next Sunday. But for today, let me unpack the amazing words Jesus said, so that we too can be astonished, and begin to process what they mean for us.READ MORE
In the first reading, Ezra gets a strange reaction from the people to whom he reads the book of the law. First they lie down, with faces to the ground, and then they all are weeping. Remember the background of this reading. The people of Israel had returned from exile and needed to become a unified nation. Most had never heard the laws, so when they learned what was expected of them and realized how much of the Law they had broken, they wept from shame. Many probably didn’t know that they had been breaking the law. Others might have been overwhelmed with all the requirements of the law.
Ezra and Nehemiah console the people by reminding them that their return makes this a day “holy to the LORD” (Nehemiah 8:10). He adds that they would draw strength from “rejoicing in the LORD.” That may be good advice for us also.READ MORE
Maria* was going back to Church after her second-grader enrolled in First Communion classes. She didn’t know what to say to her daughter after being asked why she didn’t go to Communion. Maria had an abortion in her teens and felt that she couldn’t go to confession because she had committed an “unforgivable sin.”READ MORE
I really love our Gospel today. I can honestly say that it is one of my very favorite stories of the Bible. While the actual narrative is fairly short, if one would take the time to consider the detail of what’s going on in this story, to consider and imagine the reality of what’s taking place in each of the lines John presents us with, one could very well walk away with the idea for a best-selling novel, or hit movie, or on a more practical plain, some real solid take a-ways that can radically deepen our spiritual life.
Now my guess is that if you asked several people what the Wedding Feast at Cana was all about that some of the most common things we might hear is that it is where Jesus performed his first miracle, what John called a sign. Others would say, or add to that, that the events of Cana was the start of Jesus’s ministry, that it served as his “Coming Out Party” if you will.READ MORE
After joining the parish with my family in April 2017 and attending weekly Mass, I was still feeling like I needed something more. This feeling has been with me my whole life, but has been heightened since having children. I just couldn’t pinpoint what was missing.
After starting Discovering Christ, I realized that I was missing out on a personal relationship with God. Through the series, I was able to cultivate this relationship. It was like planting a seed that will grow and I will be able to nourish for the rest of my life. It’s had such a profound impact on me and I know that I will always look back on this experience in absolute wonder of its influence.READ MORE
3 weeks ago, Christ was born, and today we flash forward 30 years and celebrate when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and begins his public ministry. So today is the last day of the Christmas season and tomorrow starts Ordinary time.
Most likely, 99% of us here today have been baptized, and for many of us, our baptism was many years ago. And so very few of us remember our baptism and perhaps have lost touch with what really happened, and what the effects are. In today’s society, there are many baptized people in the world but often times we would not be able to recognize those who have been baptized to those who have not; and so the effects of baptism is stripped of it’s power, even for us too. Therefore, for many people, when they think about what baptism is, they might think of as a cleansing or purification, or they think of it simply as an initiation into a faith or a belief, like what you do to be initiated into a club or secret society. In fact, for some Protestant denominations, even if a person was baptized as Catholic or even another Protestant denomination, they have their new members be baptized again because it was not in their faith or belief system. And don’t get me wrong, we are baptized into a faith, into a system of beliefs, into the Church, but it is much more than just an initiation into an organization or club. What I want to do today is, with the help of our Scripture readings and the Catechism, to highlight what the Catholic Church teaches the effects of baptism are, and help us to reflect on if those effects are active in our lives. The opening paragraph on baptism in the Catechism as it succinctly mentions the effects of baptism. Paragraph 1213 says, “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons (or children) of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission”.READ MORE
On the Feast of the Epiphany, it is traditional to bless the home using chalk to write above the main entrance. Here’s a suggested format for the blessing:
Leader: + In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Leader: Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace. Blessed be God forever.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Leader: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.READ MORE
Today is called the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord- epiphany means revelation or manifestation. And so today, we celebrate God revealing and manifesting Himself. For the Magi in our Gospel, seeing the star and finding the Christ-child was an epiphany, a realization, in which they were able to the see the revelation of God, to whom they in did homage and worshipped.
However, as I was preparing this homily, I was intrigued by our 1st reading from Isaiah, and not for the obvious reason because it is a prophecy in which gold and frankincense would be brought to a king, which of course the Magi in our Gospel did bring, and that praises were to be sung to the Lord. But I was intrigued by and with this homily want to reflect on the first 2 lines of our 1st reading. As a reminder, the first verses of our 1st reading is this: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and dark clouds cover the peoples, but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory”. In that context, Jerusalem referred to the Jews, the people of God, as Jerusalem was the city in which the people of God lived. But now, today, Jerusalem also refers to the Church, the new Jerusalem, the new city of the people of God. So really, it refers to all of us, and so, in a way, this prophecy can and should be spoken about us also. In this verse, the word ‘glory’ is used twice- ‘the glory of the Lord shines upon you’ and then ‘over you appears His glory’. When I first read this, knowing the context was to include you and I, I pondered what exactly is ‘glory’- we hear the word often, but rarely do we think about what it means. What is God’s glory, what exactly should shine upon us and appears over us? Intrigued, I did what every good Catholic would do, right? I went to the Church’s google, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Do you ever do that, become intrigued by something- like something you read or maybe a Church teaching- and want to learn more about it, so you do a little research in the Catechism? If you don’t, you should, there is so much more we can learn and love if we were a little more curious and investigative! Anyways, I looked up ‘glory’ in the subject index of the Catechism, read a few of the paragraph’s in which ‘glory’ is spoken of, and focused on 2 paragraphs. By the way, the numbers in the Catechism refer to paragraph numbers, not page numbers. And in case you might be wondering where I am going with this, hang with me, it really does help shine light upon Epiphany and Christmas.READ MORE