Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops Readings: 2 Tm 1:1-8; PS 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10; Mk 4:21-25 Notes: [Paul said,] I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
How we are to behave, viz, grace and mercy
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
What we have received
Laying on of Hands
All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen
Anointing with Chrism
N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Newly confirmed: Amen. The minister of the sacrament adds: Peace be with you. Newly confirmed: And with your spirit.
First reading I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.
Responsorial Psalm Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Alleluia Verse A lamp to my feet is your word, a light to my path.
Gospel Portion He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
Greetings on this the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle Readings: Acts 22:3-16; PS 117:1bc, 2; Mk 16:15-18 Notes: If you have to choose between my reflection and the Franciscan’s, choose the Franciscan’s (link below).
Conversion can be quite dramatic as in the case of Paul. He had a uniquely and intense encounter with the risen Jesus. Today we read the second account of his encounter. The first is recorded in Acts 9. Link: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/acts/9?19#52009019
In both accounts
Encounter: He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Calling: Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do. Discernment: For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. Baptism: you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit. Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized. Mission: he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
In a sense I wonder if we all receive a similar visitation from Jesus. The parameters and circumstances are different, but the elements are the same: Encounter, Calling, Discernment, Baptism and Mission.
May any scales remaining in our eyes fall away!
First reading Then he [Ananias] said, ‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice; for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.’”
Responsorial Psalm Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
Alleluia Verse I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
Gospel Portion Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.
Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Readings: Heb 10:1-10; Ps 40:2 and 4ab, 7-8a, 10, 11; Mk 3:31-35 Notes: (Alternate title of the Homily: Rescuing Jesus – which title do you like better?)
Jesus loved his family and they loved him. His family, worried about Jesus, deeply worried.
His family, worried about Jesus and his confrontations with the religious and political authorities, they came to rescue him.
His family, worried about his eating so little, doing so much and being pressed on every side by strangers, they came to rescue him.
Seeing his great generosity, holiness and healing spirit, being taken advantage of by one and all, his family worried about him, so they came to rescue him.
Seeing Jesus in proximity of danger, dangerous men and evil spirits, his family worried about him, so they came to rescue him.
Instead they found:
Jesus confident in his mission.
Jesus selecting men (the disciplines and Apostles) to follow in his path.
Jesus challenging all the more those who would destroy themselves by sinning against the holy Spirit.
Jesus willing to be poured out that we might be willing to enter the circle.
Circle of the Lord
Now, who has stood in the council [circle] of the LORD, to see him and to hear his word? Who has heeded his word so as to announce it? (Jer 23:18).
Had they stood in my council [circle], they would have proclaimed my words to my people, They would have brought them back from their evil ways and from their wicked deeds(Jer 23:22).
I will gather you, Jacob, each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold [circle], like a herd in its pasture; the noise of the people will resound (Mic 2:12).
First reading The law has only a shadow of the good things to come.
The writer of Hebrews places the words of Psalm 40:7-8 in the mouth of Jesus:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”
Responsorial Psalm Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
Alleluia Verse Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
Previously Mark: When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Now present Mark: The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.
A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Greetings on this the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children Readings: Genesis 1:1—2:2; Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 11:33-36; Psalm 119:88; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 Notes: Readings from Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life
Mass For Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life (no. 48/1 of the Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions), celebrated with white vestments, or the Mass For the Preservation of Peace and Justice (no. 30 of the Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions), celebrated with violet vestments.”
Since we are in an age of slogans as wisdom, then my slogan is: Love the Mother, Save the Child.
Some try to empty the meaning of the Incarnation to make Mary but a vessel and vassal, not a true Mother. This same reasoning makes the baby in the womb as if there is no Mother but a vessel and vassal. This is the real problem. It is an ancient problem with a new veneer.
If we reverse the order of presentation of the sacred scripture as it is presented not obviating the meaning at all but bringing a great fruitfulness of fulfillment of the Ten Commandments:
God wants to save everyone including the Mother.
Everyone is a child including the Mother (shameful I have to type that out).
Do not despise a human including the Mother.
Angels are always helping including the Mother.
Receive children as if receiving God himself including the Mother.
Greatness is reception and reflection of holiness as a child does including the Mother. Alleluia Verse
Mercy precedes obedience, precedes even life, including the Mother. Second Reading
All riches and wisdom and knowledge are from God, including the Mother. Responsorial Psalm
Children are crowned with glory and honor including the Mother. First reading
Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness including the Mother.
First reading In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth – and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters – Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day. Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other. God made the dome, and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened. God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day. Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good. Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good. Evening came, and morning followed—the third day. Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years, and serve as lights in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth. And so it happened: God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day. Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth. Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day. Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good. Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
Responsorial Psalm O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?
R/ O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, put all things at his feet.
R/ O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
All sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R/ O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
Second reading Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Alleluia Verse In your mercy, give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Gospel Portion At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.
Greetings on this the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Readings: Is 8:23—9:3; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4:12-23 Notes: O sacrament of piety! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!
For those of you who have been reading daily this week know we have been focused on the life of Jesus in Galilee. The time between Christmas season and Lent is a particular time of the life of Jesus. Childhood, Adulthood and the beginning of his ministry.
Some of this we covered yesterday but to continue the theme.
Capernaum is often referred to as Peter’s city. Peter lived there and was at the least fairly wealthy in business, and home life.
Capernaum is the perfect fishing village (back then. Today it is offshore by a wide margin). It is also strategically on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee and is a part of a major trading route. There Jesus would meet the local population and anyone traveling North and South. The freshwater springs were particularly helpful to those who fish for a living. Upon return, you need a place to clean and fillet the fish and prepare them for market, either as fresh fish or as salted fish for transport and later consumption. Other boats would come and pick up fresh fish for transport to their communities.
It is here, in this very interactive and busy place, that Jesus began his ministry.
When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
He called his first disciples there.
He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
First reading The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.
Responsorial Psalm The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Second reading I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
Alleluia Verse Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom and cured every disease among the people.
Gospel Portion He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr Readings: Heb 9:2-3, 11-14; PS 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Mk 3:20-21 Notes: We continue the journey of meeting Jesus!
He was a radical thinker. With each encounter he drew them (and us) deeper and deeper into the pathos of God. Jesus is the immanent divinity. Jesus draws us into the transcendent. His simplicity and clarity oddly enough confuses and frightens us.
Think of Naaman the Syrian
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left. But his servants came up and reasoned with him: “My father, if the prophet told you to do something extraordinary, would you not do it? All the more since he told you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Letter to the Hebrews
How have you been enjoying the continuous reading of the Letter to the Hebrews? We are about 2/3 the way through with a completion in the next two weeks. The Letter to the Hebrews was written to bring encouragement and to help people resist falling away from the faith during times of trial and disappointment.
Just like the Jewish people, we too, can suffer from a certain weariness of the Christian life.
In some cases, we can develop envy of the wealth, pleasure and ease of the pagan life.
In other cases, we can be overly judgmental which steals Joy and brings discontent.
In still other cases, a certain type of indifference to the calling not seeing the instant changes we want.
Even in the life of Jesus while in Galilee and among the people who knew him (Gospel of Mark):
He came home. Again [the] crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
(a little further on) His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Matthew version: So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Still elsewhere in Mark, When the people in the [Nazreth] synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
First reading The Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.
Responsorial Psalm God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
Alleluia Verse Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.
Gospel Portion “He is out of his mind.” – thank God!!
My brother and sister, if the prophet told you to do something extraordinary, would you not do it? All the more since he told you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
Greetings on this the Optional Memorial of Saint Sebastian, martyr Readings: 1 Pt 3:14-17; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Mt 10:28-33 Notes: During Eucharistic Adoration this week my reflection (Stretch Out Your Hand) can be a particuarly challenging one when a person has a physical ailment or injury. For example, a man with a stroke paralysis in his right arm may find the reading to be both extreme in hope and extreme in disappointment. Stretch out my hand would be exactly what he would want to be given as a command and the receiving the blessing of the Synagogue that day! Instant Restoration!
It is difficult to imagine that Jesus’ miracles while extensive and superabundant were not the Lord’s final answer to our problems and woes. These are but examples and signs of the divine love and divine power.
All these things are preparation and anticipation of the final act of blessing – resurrection and eternal life.
It is our task to derive hope and encouragement from the saints and from the institutions and places that we have experienced joy and community. It is our task to read about the divine signs of the Gospel of John as proof and assurance not a particular gift to each and every one, all the time.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Today we celebrate Saint Sebastian.
Photo of Mom’s parish, Woodside, NYC. We laid her to rest at Calvery Cemetery, February, 2020.
From the ordinary weekday reading, the calling of the Apostles: Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. Jesus’ calling is a powerful attraction. The attraction of superabundant love even held, for a while, Judas Iscariot who later betrayed him. Sebastian did better.
The fact that many of the early saints made such a tremendous impression on the Church—awakening widespread devotion and great praise from the greatest writers of the Church—is proof of the heroism of their lives. As has been said, legends may not be literally true. Yet they may express the very substance of the faith and courage evident in the lives of these heroes and heroines of Christ.
First reading Beloved: Even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
Responsorial Psalm The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34 is a highly regarded psalm of praise and trust in the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them.
Alleluia Verse Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life.
Gospel Portion Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Greetings on this the Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Readings: Heb 7:25—8:6; PS 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17; Mk 3:7-12 Notes: We continue with the theme of meeting Jesus.
Jesus is a Judean by birth and lineage. Because he [Joseph] had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth. Nazareth was a Judean enclave in the region of Galilee. He was both Galilean and Judean, if you will allow.
Jesus was also acquainted with the Jewish diaspora in the Egyptian-Libyan area. Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Later in Jesus’ life we see relations and others who knew Jesus from his days in Egypt.
One can surmise that Jesus was both well acquainted with the ways of both communities: the elite of Judea and the poor of Galilee. Jesus was familiar with the Egyptian branch of the people as well.
Joseph a carpenter was an honest, hardworking lower level of the economic class. Joseph no doubt did business with every level of economic and social class. Jesus would also be exposed to the upper and well-educated classes of society. Jesus was instantly identifiable by so many in the Jewish society.
Given the things Jesus was doing and saying is it any wonder that:
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people [followed] from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
Tyre and Sidon – North and West of Israel.
Galilee – top.
Judea – middle.
Jerusalem – Center of Jewish life.
Idumea – south of Judea.
Beyond the Jordan – East and South of the Jordan.
From all points of the compass.
They heard what he was doing in the synagogue of Capernaum. The mystery of Jesus was being revealed in the beginning of the Galilean ministry (Following the Gospel of Mark flow).
The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
The Cure of a Demoniac.
The Cure of Simon’s Mother-in-Law.
The Sabbath (mercy).
The Cleansing of a Leper.
The Healing of a Paralytic.
A Man with a Withered Hand.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.
Those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.
So like yesterday’s homily – Stretch Out Your Hand! And today I say – Press yourself into Jesus!!
First reading Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. He [Jesus] is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.
Responsorial Psalm Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Alleluia Verse Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.
Gospel Portion Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him.
Come! Stretch yourself! Come! Press yourself into Jesus!
Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time Readings: Heb 7:1-3, 15-17; Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4; Mk 3:1-6 Notes: Melchizedek: King of Salem, king of peace, Son of God, High Priest, and Eternal.
He greeted Abram.
He brought bread and wine in victory.
He blessed Abram.
He blessed God Most High.
The letter to the Hebrews makes this observation regarding Jesus:
Another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
This Jesus of Galilee is of the Order of Melchizedek.
First reading Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High. [Jesus,] You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Responsorial Psalm You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Alleluia Verse Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.
Gospel Portion “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”
By the Power of Life – Stretch out your hand.
By the Power of Life – He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
Are you stuck in judgment and law?
They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart.
[My translation] They went out and immediately took counsel with others against him to put him to death.
Do you have difficulty in ascribing good to good? Do you sometimes ascribe good to evil?
Call Evil Good and Good Evil?
Ah! Those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness to light, and light into darkness, who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter! (ISA 5:20).
Crush the Bruised Person?
A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matt 12:20-21).
Misue of Good
Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matt 12:31).