Category Archives: Daily Mass Readings

It’s the Cow’s Fault

I always feel a little bad about digging in my purse during Mass, grabbing a pen and paper and writing. I feel like the priest or deacon preaching the homily is up there, looking at me, upset that I’m not paying attention. Even though, this is just what our pastor has suggested that we do, as we are supposed to be listening, especially during the Gospel, to what God is saying to *me*. And the homily is meant to break open the Word.

Today, I drove out to Plymouth for Mass, as I was scheduled to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Deacon Chris is a transitional deacon who is assigned to our parish for the year. As he proclaimed the Gospel today — the story of the Prodigal Son — I was reminded of the first reading, of the Israelites making and worshiping the golden calf.

As Deacon Chris read the Gospel, I thought about the different characters in the story. Today, I lingered on the person of the older brother. The first reading gave some insight (or perhaps I just had a wacky thought) on the older brother.

The Israelites were fine with following God when He was in their midst day and night. Of course, this isn’t to say that they were grateful for what they had. On the contrary, they complained about food, water, walking…. But things really began to unravel when God went up the mountain and left them at the base of the mountain with with Aaron. Once God wasn’t immediately present to them, they put their focus on something else and their priorities in their affections became skewed. Suddenly, this golden calf became the center of their worship.

I think something similar was going on with the older brother. Although we didn’t specifically hear it in the Gospel, we can assume that he was fairly okay living with his father. From his later statements and actions, we can surmise that he wasn’t entirely grateful for the life he had in his father’s household, but that he felt like he was a slave within his father’s house, “working” for him. But it wasn’t until the prodigal son came back home that this disorder within his heart was revealed. What he pointed to as being the problem was the fact that the father killed the fatted calf for the welcome home party.

Again, this calf distracts from the blessings offered by the father.

It’s all the cow’s fault.

Lop eared Calf

Rescued from the Pit of Despair

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Memorial of St. John of God, religious

Today’s readings:
Hosea 14:2-10
Mark 12:28-34

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith. Unfortunately, there was an error in the bulletin this week and the reflection from yesterday was reprinted for today.]

For those of you who are like me and less inclined, perhaps, to poetry, the reading from Hosea can tend to be something which we skim over without extracting a lot of meaning. I know, for me, I need to make a conscious effort to slow down and think about the images being presented and what they mean.

In the first stanza (Is that what it’s called? I’m really bad at poetry. Really bad. I mean verses 2-3.), they are talking about a people who have hit the proverbial rock-bottom. They aren’t able to stand on their own; they have collapsed. Their “friends” won’t be there to help them. They don’t have any defenses. They are utterly incapable of saving themselves. Even the most pitiable people in their society — orphans — pity *them*.

Think about that for a minute. Have you ever been in a situation that was dark and seemingly hopeless? Where everything seems to have crumbled away? Where you were tempted to despair? Savor that emotion for just a moment.

Now, let’s read what comes next in verses 4-7. God is telling them that He is going to break into their lives — into their despair and hopelessness — and He is going to not only restore them, but transform them (and the situation) into something precious and beautiful.

To be swept from the absolute worst of situations to the best of situations… What an amazing feeling! And a reality that happens to us far more frequently than we realize.

Eternal Life Starts Now

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Memorial of Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 7:23-28
Luke 11:14-23

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

Today’s reflection speaks of keeping the end in sight. Always knowing where it is that we are headed. And, hopefully, we are all striving to reach heaven. I suppose a “terminal” diagnosis should have had some profound effect on me and how I view my life.

But you know… It really didn’t.

Last week, Fr. John gave us our parish mission, during which he spoke of the 5 levels or thresholds of discipleship, as outlined in Sherry Weddell’s book, “Forming Intentional Disciples.” Forgive me for talking “off the cuff” as it were, but as I recall, the five thresholds were: Trust, Curiosity, Openness, Seeking, and Intentional Discipleship. The difference between the Seeking and the Intentional Discipleship stage was that when you are Seeking, there is still something that is holding you back from giving everything to God. Or, to put it another way, you have some safety net, security blanket, something to which you are clinging instead of completely abandoning yourself to God. So he invited us to drop our nets.

What is my net?

No. Seriously. What is my net?

Do I have a net?

I have been thinking and praying about this for the last week, and I’m not sure that I do. Perhaps my entrance into the Church came a bit oddly, but it seems to be that in one day I jumped from being the laziest agnostic/atheist in the world to somewhere between Openness and Seeking. And I “dropped the net” sometime during my extensive 2.5 month RCIA experience. 🙂

[Of course, now that I said that, I’m having visions of Fr. John rolling his eyes and placing me firmly in the Pre-Trust category.]

And maybe this is why my life didn’t change too drastically when I got this terminal diagnosis. Because it wasn’t my life to live anyway, at that point. Why would I get incredibly mad or deeply depressed when I don’t think that I am entitled to any specific length of time here on earth? How would I be “missing out” on anything by dying “early” if I hope to enter into eternal life with the Creator? Why would I worry about what I’m going to face, if I know that He will be with me every step of the way?

So I don’t.

I’m not mad, sad, or worried. Or well, I’m not worried about *me*. I am concerned for those whom I love. Even though *I* know that God will be with them, I don’t know that *they* (or all of them, at any rate) know this. So when something happens to me, what will help them to trust in God and not fall into anger and despair? This is probably why discipleship is so important. It’s not for us, although to be sure we definitely benefit, but it’s for others. So they can see our witness and be lead towards the Lord.

This is not to say that every day is bliss. FAR from it! Actually, lately every day is a great struggle. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to make it from minute to minute. Other times, I feel okay and can do more things. Through it all, I have a deep sense of joy. Which is not giddiness. Believe me. Especially when I am curled up in agony. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, most of the time my suffering is not apparent to others. And usually I can still get things done. For which I am so thankful. Because I know that I will be useful until the moment that I die. And I so desire to do as much as I can.

God gave me gifts and talents, and I’m not one to want to bury them, but fling them out there into the world. With glee! And more enthusiasm than is advised by most sane people, but that’s my Tigger-esque personality. I am not one to stand around in hallways waiting for others.

[Oh. Wait. I do wait sometimes. This is, I think, one of the only changes that I’ve made. I tend to wait for my friends, even if it is just to say “Hi” for 5 seconds. Because, next to God, people are the most important. And if I died tonight, I would be sad that I didn’t take that time to say “Hi.”]

I stand here (or bounce, as the case may be) saying, “Here I am, Lord. Use me!” Or I am not feeling well and I intercede for others saying, “Here I am, Lord. Use me!” And perhaps more than the intercessions and requests, and through it all, I pray, “Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!” because it is truly a blessed life.

Um. Yeah. We were originally doing a Scripture reflection, right? I didn’t forget. Jeremiah is actually talking about all this too. In his own way, he is calling the Israelites to drop their nets. To let go of those things which seem to be means of salvation: power, money, status, friendship with powerful allies, foreign gods… And to turn to the One who truly has the power to save them. To repent of their sins and come back into relationship with God.

St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, pray for us!

Do You Believe in What You Do?

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Today’s readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Matthew 5:17-19

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

Today’s reflection speaks of integrity between what you believe and your actions. They suggest you check out a website called “This I Believe.”

The passage in Deuteronomy is a call to the people to this kind of integrity. They have been made God’s Chosen People, so now they must act like it. The same, too, with us. We have been chosen by God for Himself by the means of our baptism, so we must respond to the grace that He has given us by the way in which we live our lives.

They say that the reason why more people aren’t Catholic is because of Catholics. If we claim (as we do) to have the fullness of the means of salvation, then the logical response by others is to assume that we are holier than people who do not have the same kind of access to God’s grace (via the sacramental life, in particular).

However, this is often not the case and is quite a scandal to the world. We are seen then as hypocritical, false, and superficial in our faith. And who would want to join a church like that? We need to first look to ourselves, and make sure that we are adhering to the faith if we hope to pass it on to others. I have to have a flame burning in me, if I hope to light a fire in my neighbor.

Let’s flip this around the other way. Suppose you are someone outside of the Church and you see scandalous behavior from people who call themselves Catholics. Does this mean that the Church itself is corrupt, full of errors, or just not a good idea?

Of course not!

The Church is made up of sinners just as it always has been. But the Holy Spirit is what guides us, not the actions of any particular individual — not matter how heinous his or her actions may have been. We trust *God*, and this is why we have faith in the church that Jesus founded. For He promised to be with us always, to the end of the age. (Cf. Matt 28:20)

Talk About Prayer Under Pressure!

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Today’s readings:
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Matthew 18:21-35

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

The reflection focuses on the beauty of the prayer of those men in the fire. They praise God and acknowledge their sins in the midst of their suffering instead of begging to be spared from the flames. What grace must have been given for them to be able to pray like that!

Again, (this must be my contrary nature!) I feel drawn more to the Gospel reading than the one picked by the people writing the reflections. But perhaps that’s a good thing… Anyhoo…

I think the Gospel is referring to one of the most dangerous prayers that we tend to say several times a day without thinking about what it is that we are saying: the Our Father. In this prayer, we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”

Did you get that?

We are asking God to treat us the way we treat people who have hurt us.

So…. How well do you treat those who hurt or mistreat you? I think the general tendency is to be like the guy in the Gospel reading, who seized the offender and started to choke him. We don’t want them to just apologize or realize what they did to us (although we want this too!), we want them to hurt the way we have been hurt!

And, at the same time, we beg God that He doesn’t treat us the same way.

We can’t possibly live with integrity and hold both of these ideas in our hearts. So, we need to learn how to generously dispense mercy to others. We need to model Jesus. Being merciful does not mean being a doormat and letting bullies get away with anything, but it does mean that we should have a heart for what is in that other person’s best interest in our dealings with them. Sometimes a just punishment or fraternal correction is required, but more frequently, I think that forgiveness, humility and a realization of the many times that we, ourselves, have failed is more in order.

This all kind of goes back to that sense of gratitude that we talked about when reflecting on yesterday’s readings. If we adjust our outlook to one which reflects more on the gratitude we should have toward the many gifts that God gives us, we are more likely to have charity in our hearts to be able to give to others.

Whose Side Are You On?

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Okay, new fun activity…. To reflect on the daily readings! 🙂 In the parish bulletin, they have a page where they list not only the daily readings for Mass, but also include a little blurb about them. I thought that I’d provide the link to “Take Five for Faith” for the daily reflection for your reading pleasure, as well as my [amazing, insightful, colorful] commentary and personal thoughts on the readings.

I was originally going to provide the text of the reflections in my post, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s copyright privileges, so if you are reading this post on the day I posted it, you can click on the link to read it there. If you are reading the post on a different day, you can access the parish bulletin and read them there. This week’s reflections are found on page 9 of the bulletin.

Are you ready?! Let’s go! 🙂

Today’s readings:
2 Kings 5:1-15b
Luke 4:24-30

The reflection written notes how we tend to create divisions between people: it is “us” and “them,” but that this is contrary to how we are to live as the Body of Christ. These divisions are due to a lack of charity, many times. Even so far as to have the townspeople drive Jesus out of town in the Gospel of Luke! We should work to break down some of the divisions which have been created between us and reach out to those on the other “side.”

The other thing that struck me about these readings came from 2 Kings, and how Naaman reacted when he was told to wash himself in the Jordan. He was angry.

Why?

Because he had expectations of how God would intervene in his life.

It wasn’t that he didn’t think that God *would* do something; it was that he had a different idea of *how* God should fix the problem. And don’t we do this ALL. THE. TIME??? And then we have the audacity to be angry with God because He didn’t do things the way that we wanted or expected them to be done? Instead of being grateful that He intervened at all?

Amazing, really, that God loves us so much that He heals us, protects us, guides us, and forgives us — despite the incredible ingratitude that we often show Him every day.

For me, I know that I’m going to spend a few extra minutes in prayer today, just thanking Him and praising Him, instead of asking for Him to do yet one more thing.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your unending love and mercy!