Branching-Out

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday of Advent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Dec 17, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 7:10-14)

Ahaz was the ruler of the kingdom of Judah in the eighth century before the birth of Jesus, at a time when Judah and other small nations were allied against the Assyrian Empire which was more powerful and certainly brutal. But Ahaz refused to be true to the coalition, so some of the nations that should have been his partners turned against him. While Judah was under attack from two directions, “The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord your God…. But Ahaz answered “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord.” This was a phony excuse designed to mask Ahaz’s lack of faith. Isaiah told him, “Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel”—a promise that Judah, the nation of David, would endure—in spite of its enemies and in spite of Ahaz.

Isaiah never tells us who the virgin is nor who the child is, except to say that his name will be Emmanuel which means “God with us.” The prophesy was fulfilled, not in Ahaz’s time but with the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)

“Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.” Today, and every day, let us ask God to enter ever more deeply in our minds and hearts.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 1:1-7)

In this letter to the Christian community in Rome, Paul does two things. He lays claim to his credentials as “a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,” and he explains more specifically that, through Jesus, he had “received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Christians in Rome were being arrested and martyred every day. We do not risk our lives or suffer for the faith as the martyrs in Rome did, but we need to remember that our forebears in faith suffered and, in other parts of the world, many do today.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 1:18-24)

This gospel passage focuses on Joseph who had a critical decision to make. Mary had not yet lived with Joseph, but she was pregnant. How? By whom? What should he do?

Matthew is the only evangelist who tells this story: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” Then Joseph had a dream in which the angel of the Lord said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins…. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”

Each of us has difficult decisions to make throughout our lives, usually without the help of angels in our dreams. Praying and asking for counsel from family or friends can help, and then asking the Holy Spirit to guide us by helping us discern God’s will can lead us to the best decisions in troubling times.

✝️

Painting: St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, oil on canvas, by Guido Reni (1575-1642). Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Public Domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: St. Joseph, say yes to God's will, fourth sunday of advent

Moving Fast

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 13, 2022 6:15:00 AM

Here we are, moving fast and counting down the days until Christmas! It is truly a challenge not to get caught up in all the hype and lose sight of the hope of which the season of Advent is supposed to remind us. The hope is all about Jesus rescuing humanity from the throes of sinfulness, selfishness, and misplaced adoration. It is a very joyful hope.

In our haste, how easy it is to think about sales instead of souls! Black Friday sales started even before the day after Thanksgiving this year. Retailers were eager to rid themselves of inventory accumulated during COVID shutdowns. How about spiritual shutdowns? Maybe we should take stock of our immortal soul and those of our beloved family and friends. We all are not preachers and ministers, but we can certainly exemplify simple ways to point to the true spiritual joy of the Christmas preparation time. Advent calendars don’t have to involve only a piece of candy or a little toy each day of the countdown. What if even a small child were blessed with hearing a small prayer or truth about Jesus each day?

Decorations for Christmas have been out in the retail stores and in people’s yards since October! We compete to save money and show our decorating skills. More importantly, wonderful declarations about the promised Savior stand out in numerous verses in the Bible all year long, and especially in this Advent season. The entrance antiphon on the second Sunday of Advent declared:

   O people of Zion, behold, the Lord will come to save the nations, and the Lord

   will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of your heart. (Isaiah 30:19, 30)

We are exhorted to rejoice because the Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5). The gospels of Matthew for the Sunday liturgies have John the Baptist telling people to prepare for the One to come, and later we are reminded of how Mary conceived Jesus (Matt.1:18-24). We are urged by John the Baptist to repent, not to be rushing to store for rebates or refunds.

Hurry up! Get to the Christmas party at work! Or at the sports club! Be careful about priorities though! Parties are fun breaks from work and chances to reconnect socially with friends, family and co-workers. Why not take some important spiritual breaks and attend a few extra masses or some brief prayerful visits before the Blessed Sacrament?

 We hear Santa’s laugh often during this holiday season: “Ho! Ho! Ho!” May we try to help ourselves and others to be holy, holy, holy as we await the celebration of our Savior’s coming!

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Topics: everyday prayer, Advent, Advent prayer, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday of Advent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Dec 10, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 35:1-6a, 10)

This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, a day of rejoicing because of the great promise that we hear from Isaiah. The prophet addressed this message to the Jewish people in the sixth century before the birth of Jesus—a time of crisis: exile from their homeland, the destruction of their homes and temple, and their enslavement by a foreign power. Yet, amid all their suffering, Isaiah has this powerful message of hope: “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God; he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”

We do not face the same kind of horror in our society, but what sufferings are you going through now that may seem hopeless or at least painful? Have any of your relationships caused you suffering? How can you bring healing rather than continuing the pain? Have you allowed relatively minor troubles to diminish your joy? How can you turn that around into thankfulness for all you have been given?

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10)

“Lord, come and save us.” Those words resonate with us thousands of years after they were written. How and when have you asked God to save you or someone you love? Do you feel you were heard?

A reading from the Letter of St. James

(Chapter 5:7-10)

James is telling his hearers to be patient for the coming of the Lord. Of course, he is talking about the Second Coming which the Christians of that time thought would occur any day. Today, we are not impatient for the Second Coming. We hardly think about it, but we should always be thinking and praying for the continuous coming of Jesus into our minds and hearts. Let us think of Christmas not as the coming again of the baby Jesus. That only happened once, 2000-plus years ago. Rather, let us rejoice in the remembrance of that event that changed the world and shaped our lives so profoundly, and then enter into an even deeper bond with Jesus whose Spirit lives in us.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 11:2-11)

Put yourself in John’s shoes, or rather sandals, for a minute. Here he is, a man with a mission from God to prepare the way for the long-awaited Messiah, and he is stuck in prison. He is giving it his all, but he wants to make sure Jesus is the real deal, so he sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” John is risking his life, and he wants to be sure. Jesus answers, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”

How many times has Jesus healed you, not necessarily from a physical ailment but emotionally or mentally? How many times has Jesus brought you or someone you love back from the death of sin or addiction or some other deep darkness? This week is a good time to remember all the times when Jesus healed you or a loved one in any way.

Maybe it is right now that you feel powerless or deeply injured. Ask Jesus to be present to you to help heal you. And this Christmas, let us thank Jesus for all the times of healing and all the gifts he has given us.

✝️

Painting: The prophet Isaiah, fresco by Michelangelo Buonarotti from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: St John the Baptist, Second Sunday of Advent

Human Dignity vs. Dehumanization: Determining Mental Culpability

Posted by Alice Hugh Brown on Dec 6, 2022 9:06:36 AM

Richard Stephen Fairchild  (November 17, 1959 – November 17, 2022)

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Topics: justice, Catholic social teaching, death penalty, Dignity and the Death Penalty, mental incompetence, mental health

Open Flight

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 6, 2022 6:00:00 AM

There I sat, in the passenger’s side of our pickup truck, for hours and hours as my husband drove us from Connecticut to our new residence in Royal Palm Beach Florida. Being of short stature, I had the pleasure of the sun in my face when the visors were not long enough; but I also had wonderful views of large birds gliding among the clouds high in the sky above us. I noticed how gracefully they flew, how unencumbered their flights were in contrast to the sometimes jerky, crowded, stop-and-go vehicle traffic below them. I also became aware of how wide open and full the wingspreads of the birds were. Those natural aviators were fully open to the power and directions of the wind currents. While I could not ask the birds their opinions, their travels looked very peaceful and delightful.

So I propose the question to all of us: do we open our wings fully to the power and direction of the Lord? Apart from all the confusion and distractions of our daily lives, are we able to open ourselves up to the love and inspirations from the Holy Spirit? Not one of those birds had its wings open only halfway or one-sided. There was a complete openness to that which would offer efficient and safe propulsion. With the resources of prayer and sacraments, we can get through our busy traffic, and now, the holiday traffic…with a cushion of faith and confidence.

At the same time, we have the joy of the season of Advent when we can try to spread our wings fully, to open up and prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s nativity. It is so easy to get “jammed up” with lists, shopping, decorating, rearranging, parties and party-planning, wrapping, and errands that can really cramp our style. Circumstances can ruffle our feathers! At the end of a busy day, who feels like praying? And yet, what and who should be our real priorities?

I suggest we wrap up a little prayer-time gift for Jesus every day. If we spread ourselves out and lift up our thoughts and imaginations with gratitude and trust in our loving Savior, we can be pleasantly surprised at the gifts we receive, even before Christmas Day! Open up to the Lord!

We might choose to look to St. Paul for some scripture verses to form the bases of our prayer-time gifts:

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Or we might look to Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    on your own intelligence do not rely;

In all your ways be mindful of him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

Let’s take flight this Advent!

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Topics: everyday prayer, Advent, Advent prayer, Sharon Krause

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Second Sunday of Advent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Dec 3, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 11:1-10)

The prophets of Israel preached several messages, some hopeful and some judgmental, but all intended to awaken the people of Israel during hard times and give them courage. Here, Isaiah talks about a new leader, a future king. “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord…. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. Justice shall be the band upon his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.”

The kings that followed the greatest king, David, were far from the image Isaiah presents. They led their country poorly, so Isaiah wants to give the people some hope. We believe that this promised new ruler is Jesus, the Christ, and we place our hope in him.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17)

The psalmist gives us the qualities of a true leader: “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.” The psalmist gives us the qualities of a true leader. Would that that were always the case.

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 15:4-9)

Paul is writing for both Jews and gentiles who followed Jesus, knowing that these groups did not always get along. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Throughout history, there have been differences of opinion among us Christians even to the point that large groups broke away from the Church and formed new denominations. We live in a time of divisions between the old order and emerging challenges in which not doctrine but rather rules and traditions are being questioned. In this atmosphere, we need to keep focused on what Jesus himself preached and practiced, loving God and one another. That has not changed in two thousand years, nor will it ever.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 3:1-12)

“John the Baptist appeared preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…. It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said, ‘A voice crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’”

John must have been a sight to behold. He “wore clothing made of camel hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.”

But John was not fooled by the hypocrisy of many of the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming for baptism. He said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? And do not presume to say to yourselves ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones…. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John knew his role in life. As popular as he was, he knew that he was to prepare the way for Jesus, not be the message himself. His mission, his very life, was short but essential for the mission of Jesus. Each of us also has a role to play in the living and sharing of our faith. We too are not the message, but we are the messengers.

✝️

 

Painting: St. John the Baptist in the Desert, Tiziano Vecelli (Titian), circa 1542. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venise. Public domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: St John the Baptist, Second Sunday of Advent

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: First Sunday of Advent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 2:1-5)

“In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills…. For from Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples.”

The two important points here are that God will “judge between the nations” and that God’s word comes “from Jerusalem.” What is God’s word to the nations? “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” If they do these things, they will “walk in the light of the Lord.”

If only nations obeyed this command, millions of innocent people would not have been killed and many others would not be dying today. Jesus himself preached and lived non-violence as should we, as individuals, as societies, as nations.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 122)

“Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.” Do you and I rejoice when we come for Mass each week, or do we take it for granted and as an obligation rather than a gift worthy of rejoicing?

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

(Chapter 13:11-14)

Paul tells the Romans, “For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul knows that he will be killed and so he wants to let the Roman Christians know how important it is for them to stay the course and not fall into bad habits that were rampant in the city. Of course, the same holds true for we who live in an age that is all too prone to excuse these same excesses.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

(Chapter 24:37-44)

After Jesus died many believed that he would come again on the last day. But when? Matthew tells people, “Stay awake! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

This belief that Jesus would come back, perhaps in their lifetime, and that the world would then end was very popular among Christians in the decades after the death of Jesus. It was intensified by the constant threat of prison and execution at the hands of the Romans. Even today, there are sects of Christianity that believe that the world will end soon, and Jesus will return. They go up to a mountain or some other remote place and wait until it becomes apparent that the time is not now.

We have no idea when the world as we know it will end, but we do know that our lives here on earth will end at our deaths. We know not the day or the hour. Rather than worrying about that, we should make the most of each day—serving God and each other—as we look forward to a new life forever in the divine presence.

✝️

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: First Sunday of Advent, second coming of Christ

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 19, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Second Book of Samuel

(Chapter 5:1-3)

In this passage we read that David was called to be king and leader of Israel. The Christian biblical writers saw Jesus as both the successor and the perfection of David’s rule—not only over Israel but over the whole world. These days, most kings and queens have only ceremonial functions where they exist at all. When the Church began observing this solemnity in 1925, it was identifying Jesus with the power still being exercised by royalty in many places but contrasting his eternal rule with the finite dominion of earthly kings. Today, we recognize that Jesus' kingdom embraces all mankind, but we focus too on the loving, healing aspects of his power.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 122)

“Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.” Do you and I rejoice when we come for Mass each week, or do we take it for granted and as an obligation rather than a gift worthy of rejoicing?

A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians

(Chapter 1:12-20)

“He is the head of the body, the church.” This is a central teaching of our faith, that there is a bodily connection between Christ who is the head of the body, and the Church, which is itself the body of Christ. You can’t get any closer. “In him were created all things.” Everything was created in and for Christ. This was a hymn in the early Church, and it reflected what the followers of Jesus believed from the beginning and what we believe and experience in the assembly of the Church and in the Eucharist.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke

(Chapter 25:25-43)

The soldiers mockingly tell Jesus, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” And one of the other two men being crucified that day implores Jesus, “Save yourself and us.” But Jesus uses his saving power not for himself but in response to the penance of one of those men who admitted his guilt and asked Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus forgives him and promises him eternal life. This is the climax of Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as a loving, forgiving savior, something we have heard throughout this liturgical year. The “good thief,” as he is often described, was a lucky man indeed. And so are we lucky. Each of us has that same chance for forgiveness at any and all times in our lives. We need only ask.

✝️

Image: Christ on the Cross Between Two Thieves, unknown author. Illumination from the Vaux Passional in the Peniarth Manuscripts. Public Domain. National Library of Wales.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Jesus Christ the King

The Everyday Gospel: And he shall reign

Posted by Charles Paolino on Nov 18, 2022 6:30:00 AM

One of the memorable images among the events surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth II was of a woman kissing King Charles on the cheek as he greeted members of a crowd gathered outside Buckingham Palace.

The woman, a Cypriot named Jennifer Assiminios, later told the press that she had asked permission to kiss Charles and that he had granted it.

Although Elizabeth had established an emotional bond with many of her subjects, it did not exhibit itself in anything as intimate as a kiss. So perhaps, by accepting that one kiss, Charles nudged the monarchy a little way off of its traditional distance from its subjects.

Not being British, I have no opinion about the British monarchy either as an institution or, for that matter, about the endurance of monarchy in the modern world. I once asked a chemist in Denmark why such a progressive country still had a queen. He said, “Well she is Denmark, isn’t she?” and I suppose that was as good an answer as any.

Many countries have long since dispensed with their kings, queens, and emperors, but there are 44 sovereign states in the world that have monarchs, including 15 that recognize the British monarch as their own. In a few of these places, monarchs have absolute power; in a few, their role is largely symbolic. And in some countries, the king or queen shares the responsibilities of government with an elected body, a parliament or legislature.

Abdullah bin Hussein, the king of Jordan, has gone out of his way to have personal contact with Jordanian citizens. More often, though, kings prefer to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually distant, separate, apart from their subjects, That’s not our King.

As Americans, of course, we have no monarch, but as Christians we have a “King of the Universe” as we will again proclaim Jesus this weekend.

While we have the greatest respect for Jesus and try to live in keeping with what he taught us about love of God and love of each other, we do not have to keep our physical or psychic distance from him. On the contrary, Jesus invites, urges, all of us to approach him in the most intimate way possible.

Jesus is the king who, during his life on earth, made a point of touching people whom others would rather not touch ¾ and that was a clear sign of the relationship he wanted to have with all of us.

This why the Church, Pope Francis in particular, and the American Catholic bishops during the current three-year “Eucharistic revival,” stress the importance of each Christian having a personal encounter with Jesus -- an encounter that occurs in our prayer life, when we speak to Jesus as the loving friend he is, and in our liturgical life when we come in physical contact with him in the Eucharist, in his body and his blood.

In the prophecy of Daniel, we read about the Messiah, “He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him.”

That is a legitimate image of Jesus, the Christ, who is the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity—who is God. But it is indispensable to our Catholic faith to always keep before us, too, the words of the author of the book of Revelation who describes Jesus as “the ruler of the kings of the earth” but in the next breath as “him who loves us.’’

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Topics: RENEW International, The Everyday Gospel: Deacon Charles Paolino, Jesus Christ the King

"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Clone)

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 12, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Malachi

(Chapter 3:19-20a)

“Lo, the day is coming, blasting like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble.”

This is one of many warnings that we read in the Hebrew Scriptures; it is directed at the Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem after having been in exile in the fifth century before the birth of Jesus. Rather than showing gratitude to God for their deliverance, the people and religious figures had become careless about observing divine law. The warning is followed by a message of consolation for the faithful: “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” God makes the same promise to us if we are faithful to him and live according to his law.

 Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 98)

“The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.” When we see all the violence and injustice in the world, it may be hard to believe that the Holy Spirit is alive among and within us. We must look carefully at our own leaders and those throughout the world to see who live and rule based on justice, mercy, and compassion. Did you think about that this past Election Day?

A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians

(Chapter 3: 7-12)

Most of the early Christians were not rich or famous. They worked hard for their food and sustenance. and Paul has strong words for those who could work but refused to. “We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.” It’s a reminder that in all things we should do our part and respect both the work and the privacy of others.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke

(Chapter 21: 5-19

It is hard for us to understand how dangerous and terrifying it was for the early Christians to be faithful to their calling and still stay alive. The Romans often chased them and punished them, sometimes with death. Christians were seen as troublemakers and disloyal to the government. Many of their fellow Jews also persecuted them as heretics.

Jesus predicted it: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself will give you a wisdom in speaking…. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

These were truly troubled times for the young Church, yet through all the suffering and death the community grew and prospered. We may face rejection and even ridicule in different forms, but we, too, should be courageous in witnessing to our faith, relying on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

✝️

Image: Model of the Second Temple in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Published here under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: persecution, courage, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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