St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
585-671-1100
Masses: Sat 5:00 pm
Sun 7:30; 9:00 (children's liturgy); 10:30 am
Weekdays 8:15 am
Reconciliation: Saturdays from 3:30-4:30 pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Fri 9:00 to 12:00 pm

An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 23, 2017

The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
Good and Evil Intertwined
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE...

In our Gospel reading the Sunday (Matthew 13:24-43), Jesus explained three aspects of the kingdom of heaven. These parables draw on knowledge of the knowable to explain the unknowable. The first parable helps explain why God permits good and evil to exist alongside each other. The second is an understanding of how the Church could grow so large from such a small group of believers and how our tiny faith can lead us to heaven; and the third parable is an example of how even a small amount of faith, or the smallest good deed (yeast) can transform our lives and the world.

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
 
He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'" He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
 
His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Our first reading (Wisdom 12:13,16-19) is an ancient Jewish prayer to God. In it is the expression of the belief in God's power, yet God's clemency and the example we are to live by. As God is just yet kind, so must we be.

There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity. But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.


In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:26-17), St. Paul reminds us that in our weakness and inadequacy of prayer, the Holy Spirit joins with us in our efforts and intereceds for us on our behalf. 

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.

It is through such prayers as our first reading that we can express to God our reverence and our trust, knowing that the Holy Spirit joins us in our prayer and intercedes on our behalf. We also know that, through the parables of Jesus, even the tiniest effort can transform us and can grow to immense proportions. And as for the evil among us existing along with the good? Perhaps, God remains hopeful until the very end that even the evilest among us will repent and be saved.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 23, 2017
 
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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 16, 2017

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinaty Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) 
THE SEED THAT FALLS ON GOOD GROUND WILL YIELD A FRUITFUL HARVEST This Sunday's scripture readings offer some thought provoking analogies of the power of the word of God, how we respond to it and its effect on us.

In our first reading (Isaiah 55:10-11), Isaiah draws on the natural world and the cycle of life to remind us that the word of God, just like the spring rains, feeds our souls and transforms us, allowing God's word to return to him, achieving the good that he intended.
 
Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Our Gospel reading (Matthew 13:1-23) is the familiar parable of the Sower. We hear Jesus preaching to the crowds and then explaining in more detail to his disciples. The question to consider is how do we respond to God's word; that is what determines the kind of soil we are.

(Abridged version - click HERE for full verson Matt 13:1-13)
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:18-23), St. Paul talks about our current sufferings while we wait for the glory to come. Our "groaning pains" will one day give way to the "glorious freedom". And while we wait, it is the word of God that sustains and feeds us.

Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

There are three actors in the parable of the sower - the one who sows, the seed itself and the one who receives the seed. We already know that the seed and the one who sows it is God himself. The variable in the story is us. How we receive God's word and Eucharist is what determines the good that it will do and whether it will return to God having accomplished the good that he intended. Pray God that it does.

Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 16, 2017
 
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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 9, 2017

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
Jesus Meek and Humble of Heart
TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU AND LEARN FROM ME FOR I AM MEEK AND HUMBLE OF HEART

This Sunday, we are reminded that Jesus comes to us not in might and grandeur, but meekly riding on the foal of an ass, in peace and humility.

In our first reading (Zechariah 9:9-10), we hear a Jewish prophesy of a future time when our King would come as our savior; not as a military ruler but meek and humble, riding on a donkey, coming in peace, yet banishing instruments of war.

Thus says the LORD: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior's bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

In our Gospel reading (Matthew 25:30), Jesus thanked the Father for the things he has revealed to his "little ones", his followers, and then offered them his peace and his rest - for those who come to him. 

At that time Jesus exclaimed: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
 
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:9, 11-13), St. Paul tells us that we, who find rest in Jesus, are not in the flesh, but live in the Spirit.

Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you. Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

A message for us today might be that we who are burdened need only to come to Jesus, surrender what burdens us to Jesus, and take rest in his peace and humility. It is a message for today's troubled times as well as for our eternal life with Jesus.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 9, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - July 2, 2017

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
 
WHOEVER RECEIVES YOU RECEIVES ME, AND WHOEVER RECEIVES ME RECEIVES THE ONE WHO SENT ME.

Our scripture readings this Sunday instruct us on the importance of receiving the Lord, and those who speak on the Lord's behalf, with hospitality and reverence. And the reward is great for those who do so.

Our first reading from the Second Book of Kings (4:8-11, 14-17) is a story about a Shunemmite woman who recognizes the prophet Elisha as a "man of God" and provides a space for him to stay in her house when he passes through her town. And he rewards her with a son in her old age.

One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine. So she said to her husband, "I know that Elisha is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there." Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. Later Elisha asked, "Can something be done for her?" His servant Gehazi answered, "Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years." Elisha said, "Call her." When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, "This time next year you will be fondling a baby son."

In our Gospel reading   (Matthew 10:37-42), Jesus continues the preparation of his apostles for their commissioning to go out to "the lost sheep of Israel". In this section, Jesus instructs them on the conditions of discipleship and then, what those who receive them ought to expect as their reward from God. Anyone who receives even the "littlest disciple" receives Jesus, and the Father.

Jesus said to his apostles: "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
 
"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple- amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 6:3-4, 9-11), St. Paul teaches us the true meaning of our Baptism. Knowing this, we are called to live accordingly.

Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
 
Our stories about hospitality for the prophets and the righteous can be seen in two ways. First, the physical reception of kindness and hospitality, which is important and necessary. But secondly, in the spiritual sense, we must be willing to receive the word of God in our hearts with reverence and genuine love. Jesus assures us, our reward will be great. 
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, July 2, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - June 25, 2017

The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
"So do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:31)
DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THOSE WHO KILL THE BODY BUT CANNOT KILL THE SOUL.

The readings for this Sunday give us courage to not be afraid in the face of persecution or the scorn of others because of our faith. There is nothing they can do to hurt us.

In our first reading (Jeremiah 20:10-13), we hear one of the laments of the prophet Jeremiah, who was continuously persecuted for speaking the truth of God. Despite the "terror on every side", he remained steadfast in his faith in God.

Jeremiah said: "I hear the whisperings of many: 'Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!' All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. 'Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.' But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O LORD of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!"

In our Gospel reading (Matthew 10:26-33), we hear Jesus preparing his apostles for the persecutions they would experience as he commissioned them to go to the "lost sheep of Israel" to "proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand." 

Jesus said to the Twelve: "Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 

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. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."

In our Epistle reading (Romans 5:12-15), St. Paul compares and contrasts the role of the old Adam with that of the new Adam (Jesus) . One brought sin and death while the other brought life and salvation.

Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned -- for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.
 
But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.

In many ways, we too are called to be prophets, to speak God's truth to the world. And in so doing, we may also suffer persecutions, scorn or ridicule. We should take comfort in knowing, God has our back - so much more so than the sparrow.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, June 25, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - June 18, 2017

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
WHOEVER EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD REMAINS IN ME AND I HIM HIM.

This Sunday is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). It is a celebration of the reality of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and a commemoration of its institution. 

In our Gospel reading (John 6:15-58), we hear Jesus in his own words tell the crowds what his body and blood can be for them. He wasn't talking metaphorically and he didn't use ambiguous words. 

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
 
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

In our first reading (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16), we hear Moses reminding the people how God gave them bread to eat and water to drink in the desert. It is a contrast between physical nourishment of old and the spiritual nourishment of the new covenant.

Moses said to the people: "Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.
 
"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers."
 
In our Epistle Reading (1 Corinthians 10:16-17), St. Paul succinctly explains how we are all united in the breaking of the bread and the participation in the Eucharist.

Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

This Sunday, we are reminded that in the Eucharist, Jesus gives us, and we receive, his total and complete self. It is a gift that unites us, sustains us and redeems us. Believe it!
  • Click Here to learn more about the Feast of Corpus Christi
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, June 18, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - June 11, 2017

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON . . . .

The Sunday after Pentecost is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - a celebration of the central mystery of our faith. It is a reality that is beyond our human understanding, yet is revealed to us by God himself. Father Gonyo's Pastor's Message this week is an excellent discussion of this blessed mystery.

In our first reading (Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9), God reveals himself to Moses not only by name (LORD) but also by attributes (merciful and gracious, etc.). 

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the LORD had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name, "LORD." Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out, "The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity." Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. Then he said, "If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own."

In our Gospel reading, (John 3:16-18) we hear the well known passage of God's revelation of the gift of his only Son for the salvation of the world.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
 
In our Epistle reading (2 Corinthians 13:11-13), we hear the conclusion of St. Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth. Paul encourages us in how we are to live with one another. He then concludes his letter with a blessing in the most holy Trinity. 

Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
  • Click Here Read Father Gonyo's comments on the Trinity
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, June 11, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 28, 2017

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
The High Priestly Prayer (John 17)
"FATHER, THE HOUR HAS COME."
This is the last Sunday before Pentecost and we hear the conclusion of Jesus' farewell sermon at his last supper. 

Our Gospel reading (John 17:1-11) is an excerpt from what is known as the High Priestly Prayer. Jesus turned his focus from his disciples to the Father in a final conversation to the one who sent him; a loving plea for his disciples and for his Church.

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
 
"I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you."

Just before Jesus' ascension into heaven (see last Thursday's readings), he told his disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Our first reading (Acts 1:12-14) is the account of the apostles, Mary and other disciples as the gathered in the upper room, to pray and to wait. Next Sunday, we will see that their wait would soon be over.

After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

In our Epistle reading (1 Peter 4:13-16) we hear that in Jesus, suffering and glory are inextricably linked. And so it is with us, especially those who suffer in the name of Christ. In Christ, our suffering is a cause for rejoicing.

Beloved: Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.

Just as the disciples gathered in the upper room to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, so we await as well. Next Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into our world, to be our advocate, teacher and guide who will lead us home to the Father and Jesus. Along that path to home is our own passion and suffering. May we see it as a cause to join with the suffering of Jesus and through our rejoicing, find glory. 
  • Click Here to read and reflect on the readings for Sunday, May 28, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 21, 2017

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
"I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always" (John 14) 
THE ADVOCATE WILL TEACH YOU EVERYTHING AND REMIND YOU OF EVERYTHING I TOLD YOU

As we approach Pentecost Sunday (in two weeks), the Church seeks to direct our attention more toward the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised he would send to be with us always.

Our Gospel reading (John 14:15-21) is a continuation of Jesus' Last Supper Farewell Sermon that we began last Sunday. Here, Jesus promised his disciples he would send another Advocate (Jesus was the first Advocate) who will teach and guide them. This is a sermon of love between friends who truly love each other.

Jesus said to his disciples: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." 
 
Our First Reading (Acts 8:5-8, 14-17) is an account of Phillip's success in bringing the word of God to Samaria. This passage is the first evidence of the rite of Confirmation (laying of hands to receive the Holy Spirit) as a separate event from Baptism. 

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

In our Epistle reading (1 Peter 3:15-18), St. Peter exhorts his readers to be always ready to defend their faith - with gentleness and reverence. A good lesson for us today.

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.
 
We are reminded today that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, is still with us and active in our lives and our world. The signs of the Spirit are all around us if we but look. In the words of George Harrison, "Hear Me Lord": 
At both ends of the road 
To the left and the right 
Above and below us 
Out and in, there's no place that you're not in 
Oh, won't you hear me lord
  • Click Here to read and reflect on the readings for Sunday, May 21, 2017

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 14, 2017

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
 
I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE

Over the next few Sunday's, we will be hearing from Jesus' Farewell Discourse to his disciples, just after the last supper in John's Gospel (Chapters 14-17). It is a heartfelt final message and teaching before Jesus returns to the Father.

In this Sunday's Gospel reading (John 14:1-12), Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for his leaving them and returning to the Father. They are slow to learn but he is patient. He is the way to the Father.

Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
 
Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."

In our First Reading (Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7), we hear about the growing pains of the early Church, as seven "helpers" were chosen to minister to the needs of the Helenists (Greek speaking Jews). Thus, the diaconate was born and servants have been ordained to the mission of ministering to the needs of the people ever since.

As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

In our Epistle reading (1 Peter 2:4-9), St. Peter exhorts his listeners to remain steadfast in following Jesus, the rock of their faith. It was at a time when early Christians were enduring an environment hostile to their way of life, not unlike our own times.

Beloved: Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in Scripture: Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame. Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall. They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. You are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises" of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Our readings today bolster the cornerstone of our faith - that our way to the Father, the truth the Father reveals to us and the life we hope for in the resurrection are all found in Jesus, only in Jesus. 
  • Click Here to read and reflect on the readings for Sunday, May 14, 2017

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