Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his disciples:

If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen, 
take one or two others along with you,
so that  every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them. 

— Matthew 18:15-20

The peace of the Lord be with you. Today, Jesus reminds us that when two or more are gathered in his name he is in our midst and is giving us counsel. Jesus often speaks to us through our brothers and sisters in the Lord to help us to grow in his love and to help us avoid those pitfalls that can distance us from him and each other. It is important that we listen for His voice from those who only have our best interest at heart and want to ensure our eternal happiness. At times, this may include things we do not want to hear or cannot see, but nonetheless are valid concerns. 

Lord today help me hear your voice and give me the grace and wisdom to apply your guidance that I may grow in your love. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin

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 becomes humble 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.

— Matthew 18:1-5,10, 12-14

The peace of the Lord be with you. Children are innocent, curious, hopeful, and amazed by what surrounds them. Unfortunately, this often get lost as we travel through life. Today, Jesus encourages us to keep and maintain these type of child like traits. Children accept that they are dependent on others for their well being and their life. We too must remember that despite all we have done, learned, or achieved we are utterly dependent on God — for everything is gift from Him.

So today, as we are told to grow up and be realistic, let us also maintain that child like quality that helps us to appreciate our dependence on the goodness of God. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joke written by George Goldtrap:

A pastor hired a painter to paint a sign for the church. The painter painted a sign which read:

Church of Christ. 

The pastor saw the sign and was very unhappy. 

This is not a Church of Christ

he scolded the painter. So, the sign painter reworded the sign to say:

This is not a Church of Christ. 

This time the pastor was furious. Exasperated, the painter packed his tools and told the pastor:

When you make up your mind, call me!

We must remain steadfast in our faith even when we are faced with adversity!

In our 1st reading, from 1st Kings, we hear of an exasperated prophet named Elijah. We all know Elijah. The greatest of prophets! He has given up, he fears for his life, he simply wants to die. He separates himself from God’s people. He journeys to the desert. God intervenes seeing that Elijah isn’t fulfilling his mission as a prophet. Even Moses stayed with his people.  So, God provides him with nourishment and sends him to a cave on a mountain to wait for God to come to him. As we hear, God doesn’t come to him in the ways that others might suspect (fire, earthquake, etc.), but rather in a gentle, whispering breeze. After God’s visitation to Elijah, Elijah knows what must be done, and fulfills his mission.

We must remain steadfast in our faith even when we are faced with adversity.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear of the story of the Apostles being tossed by waves and wind, in a boat, and Jesus coming to them walking on the water, and calming the sea. Instead of a boat, I want you to do the same as Matthew, I want you to think of the Church as the boat. When tough times happen such as this pandemic, when the Church gets rocked with scandal, when the future of the Church seems uncertain — trust in the Lord, He’ll be the one who will calm our storm, and He is the one who will save us!

Of course, the story in Matthew’s Gospel, has a little add on, doesn’t it? Yep, Peter gets out of the boat, and Jesus invites Peter to come to him, and immediately fear takes over and Peter begins to sink, but Jesus immediately catches him. So, the obvious question is: What should Peter have done? The answer: Stayed in the boat! This is true for all of us! We must stay in the Church! The Body of Christ saves us!

We must remain steadfast in our faith even when we are faced with adversity!

In the Eucharist, we experience Christ’s power in a profound way.  He has made it possible for us to receive him in his body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Let us approach his altar with faith, trust, and confidence in him who can calm all our storms.

Readings for Sunday, August 9, 2020

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his disciples,

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.

— Matthew 16:24-28

The peace of the Lord be with you. Some years ago now I was listening to a Sunday morning radio show called On Being on public radio. The guest that particular week was a chief Rabbi. In the conversation that day, the Rabbi talked about the story of Noah and the ark. He indicated that the story of the ark is a metaphor for God and how God takes care of creation. This rabbi pointed out that Noah never sleeps and he knows precisely what each animal needs and make sure that the needs of that animals are taken care of. God never takes a break from taking care of what God has created.

I think this is precisely what Jesus is trying to tell us today. He’s trying to remind us that to be the most God-like is to always put the needs of someone or something ahead of our own. That does not mean that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves, but it does mean that we should always have our eyes opened to those who perhaps are lonely, hungry, isolated, or who don’t really have a voice. When we become the individuals who attend to the needs of those who find themselves in these places we are a reflection of both God the Father and God the Son. We are our brothers keeper; we are guardian of the planet and created things.

Loving Lord help me to keep my priorities straight today, to remind me that I’m meant to use my time, talent, and treasure to help serve and meet the needs of others. Help me to reflect your likeness and presence in my place and time. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Friday, August 7, 2020

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, 
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them; 
his face shone like the sun 
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,

Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.

When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,

Rise, and do not be afraid.

And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,

Do not tell the vision to anyone 
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.

— Matthew 17:1-9

The peace of the Lord be with you. Today we observe the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. As we see in Gospel reading today Jesus reveals that he is the fulfillment of the covenants between God and humankind. Just as we see described in the Book of Daniel, Jesus is the one who will assume the throne and who has existed before the beginning of time. Since the fall of the human race God has been calling and pleading with us to come back to live in union and harmony with him. Jesus, being both divine and human, finally fulfills God’s call and paves the way for us to follow as well. Once again Peter says something prophetic indicating that “it is good that we are here“.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we receive the fruits of the new covenant and no longer need to fear death — which is separation from God, our source of life. So those words of Peter are a call again today that it is good that we are here. All glory and praise to the lamb. In the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,

Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.

But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,

Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.

He said in reply,

I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

But the woman came and did him homage, saying,

Lord, help me.

He said in reply,

It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.

She said,

Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.

Then Jesus said to her in reply,

O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.

And her daughter was healed from that hour.

— Matthew 15:21-28

The peace of the Lord be with you. Today’s Gospel reading is a great study for perseverance in prayer. Initially, it looks like Jesus will not respond to the woman’s request for healing because she is outside the twelve tribes of Israel. The turning point is when she gives homage to Jesus — somehow she begins to recognize that there is something of the divine about this man to whom she’s making her request. Not only does she recognize the divine in Jesus, but she also recognizes and believes in the mercy of God. Because God lives outside of time and space there is very often lag between our request and the time that God answers our prayers. This Canaanite woman today gives us a model to follow when it appears our request is not going to get answered — we must remain faithful in our hearts and trust in the ever present mercy of God.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to remember today that you know my needs — before I even know them, and before I speak them. Help me to recognize and remember that in your great generosity, in the fullness of time, my prayer will be answered according to your most holy and loving will. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,

Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.

He summoned the crowd and said to them,

Hear and understand.
It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man;
but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.

Then his disciples approached and said to him,

Do you know that the Pharisees took offense
when they heard what you said?

He said in reply,

Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted
will be uprooted.
Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.
If a blind man leads a blind man,
both will fall into a pit.

— Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14

The peace of the Lord be with you. Once again, the words of Jesus give us a lot to think about. Isn’t it so true that our words often really tell what occupies our minds and our hearts? Words are very powerful. They can wound us, as well as heal us, in unseen ways. As God’s children we must be careful about our actions and our words so that both may glorify God and bring people closer to him. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Memorial of Saint John Vianney

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.

It is a ghost

they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them,

Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.

Peter said to him in reply,

Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.

He said,


Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out,

Lord, save me!

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him,

O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,

Truly, you are the Son of God.

— Matthew 14:22-36

The peace of the Lord be with you. Years ago in Drivers Ed, my teacher repeatedly told me where your eyes point your head follows. Throughout the course of my life, that phrase has stayed with me and has reminded me of things on various levels. Where we put our eyes is where our focus will be and we will move in that direction.

A few years back, Father Mark Dollard (the pastor of Saint Rose) gave a homily on this particular gospel passage. Much like my Drivers Ed teacher, he reminded me in his homily that the reason Peter sunk was because he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on elements of the storm. This is a very common problem in our lives — we focus on the problem rather than the place where the solutions come from.

In this uncertain time it is easy to feel overwhelmed and filled with fear. This is one of those times where, like the disciples in the stormy sea, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Not only will he keep us safe, but he will also help us to do things that we did not think we were capable of. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Monday, August 3, 2020

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

A joke by Steve Anderson:

While I sat in the reception area of my doctor’s office, a woman rolled an elderly man in a wheelchair into the room. As she went to the receptionist’s desk, the man sat there, alone and silent.

Just as I was thinking I should make small talk with him, a little boy slipped off his mother’s lap, and walked over to the wheelchair. Placing his hand on the man’s, he said,

I know how you feel. My mom makes me ride in the stroller, too.

Couldn’t you just see the elderly man just smile! 

A whole new perspective!

I’m sure most of you remember the poem called Footprints in the Sand, written by Mary Stevenson, but for those who haven’t, it goes like this:

One night I dreamed…

I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

Other times there was only one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed

That during the low periods of my life,

When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So, I said to the Lord,

You promised me Lord,

That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life

There has been only one set of footprints in the sand.

Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?

The Lord replied,

The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,

is when I carried you.

All three of our scripture readings today give us the common theme that God is on our side, even when we choose not to be on His side. Isaiah prophecies that God wants his people to return to him and enjoy the party!  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus empowers his disciples to give way beyond what they thought even possible — and in the sharing, they have plenty left over — meaning they have much more to give. 

Our second reading from Romans, tries to shake us up, and have a whole new perspective! What is it that can keep us from the love of God? Only, in the way that we see things. In these troubling times, may we work together to build up the kingdom of God, and keep focused to the truth before us!

Readings for Sunday, August 2, 2020

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants,

This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,

It is not lawful for you to have her.

Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,

Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.

The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

— Matthew 12:1-14

The peace of the Lord be with you. I know this won’t surprise you, but I’ll say it anyways: life can be difficult and full of challenges at times.

Both the readings from Jeremiah and the Gospel of Matthew today, remind us that even though we have a relationship with God and He always has our back, it’s not always easy to carry out what we are instructed to do. Thankfully, most of us won’t ever be murdered or killed for our beliefs, but it does happen. I think it’s also very important that we try to choose our words wisely when we’re dealing with individuals who don’t necessarily see things the way we do — that we try to be understanding, thoughtful, and spend more time listening than talking.

That said, conflicts will arise, so we need to be prepared for them. We must accept the world for the way it is, not necessarily the way we think it should be or the way we want it to be. Immersing ourselves in the tools of our faith and trusting that God will provide the proper grace we will need, are important steps to take. Ultimately, God is in control and everything will work out for His good. 

Dear Heavenly Father,

help us not to be filled with fear
but to recognize that you walk before us,
each moment of every day,

and when trouble arises,
you’ll be with us
independent of the outcome.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Readings for Saturday, August 1, 2020