St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
Masses: Sat 5:00 pm
Sun 7:30; 9:00 (children's liturgy); 10:30 am
Mon-Thurs 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 - March 18, 2018

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass


This is our last full week of Lent before we experience the Triduum, Holy Week. Our readings this week focus on the New Covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah and coming to fulfillment in Jesus. The hour has come!

In our first reading (Jeremiah 31:31-34), we hear the beautiful and tender call of God to a new order, a new covenant, a personal covenant, written on our hearts. Unlike the old covenant, which was physical and temporal, this covenant is spiritual and everlasting. It is based on a love relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ.

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

In our Gospel reading (John 12:20-33), we hear of Jesus' very human reaction to the thought of his coming "hour", when he would be lifted up on a cross, hung there to die. It was one of terror. And yet, his trust in his heavenly Father allowed him to proceed with peace in his heart. This is the institution of the New Covenant of which Jeremiah spoke in our first reading. Jesus' "hour has come."

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

In our Epistle reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (5:7-9), the author more fully describes Jesus' very human fear of death as "loud cries and tears". And yet his obedience to the will of the Father was what made him "perfect."

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Just as Jesus was transformed through his suffering and death into eternal glory with the Father, so too are we transformed in the Eucharist. In every Mass, we participate in the relived experience of that terrifying night and Jesus' tortuous death on the cross and then glorious resurrection and triumph over the evil one of this world. When we receive his Body and drink his "Blood of the New Covenant", we take into our being the law which is written on our hearts. "I will be their God and they shall be my people." How could we ever miss such an opportunity.

Click HERE to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, March 18, 2018


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - March 11, 2018

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

John 3: 16
This Sunday, our Lenten journey brings us face to face with God's ever-present and inscrutable love and our response to that love throughout history.

In our first reading (2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23), we hear a condensed history of the repetitive cycle of the people of Israel turning away from God, God sending his love through his prophets to call them back, the people rejecting that love, then suffering the consequences of their actions, and then God lovingly restoring them into right relationship.

In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD's temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the LORD against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy. Their enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon, where they became servants of the king of the Chaldeans and his sons until the kingdom of the Persians came to power. All this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah: "Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled."
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!"

In our Gospel reading (John 3:14-21), we hear the well known passage, "God so loved the world that he gave his only son ..." but presented in the context of salvation history. The reading opens with a reference to Moses raising a bronze serpent on a staff to save the Israelites from deadly serpents (Numbers 21:4-9). And the comparison is made to Jesus, now being raised on the cross to save God's people from the evilest of all serpents, the devil himself. This passage also contains a warning that those to reject God's love condemn themselves.

Jesus said to Nicodemus: "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
For 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. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

In our Epistle reading (Ephesians 2:4-16), St. Paul succinctly describes God's tender mercy and great love for us, even though we have sinned and turned our backs to God. Paul reminds us that even the faith we have is a gift from God, through no merit of our own.

Brothers and sisters: God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ - by grace you have been saved - , raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

As we continue our Lenten journey toward the cross and resurrection, perhaps we can be mindful of our own cycles of sin and redemption and realize that God's love is ever-present, never fading, no matter what! Perhaps we can encounter God's tender mercy face-to-face in Reconciliaton this Wednesday between 12:30 and 7:30 pm at any Catholic Church in the Diocese - they're all open. Will you be open to it?

Click HERE to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, March 11, 2018


An introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - March 4, 2018

The Third Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Ten Commandments - Right Relationship with God and Each Other 

This third Sunday of Lent, we are reminded that Lent is a time to refocus our efforts on being in Right Relationship with God and with each other.

Our first reading (Exodus 20:1-17) is a listing of the Ten Commandments, given by God himself. It is evidence of a personal, loving God calling his chosen people into a covenant relationship. In the first three, God calls us into relationship with himself as the one, true and only God. In the remaining commandments, God calls us into relationship with each other, in a bond of love and respect - an image of the loving relationship God has with us.

In those days, God delivered all these commandments: "I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments. "You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished the one who takes his name in vain.

"Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. "Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him."

In our Gospel reading (John 2:13-25), we hear the story of Jesus chasing the money-changers out of the temple. His was rightfully angry that the holy dwelling place of his Father was no longer treated with reverence. Jesus used this Passover setting to point to the coming Passover scene when he himself, the true Temple of God, would be destroyed and raised up again in three days.

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.

In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 1:22-25), St. Paul presents the paradoxical mystery of "Christ crucified" as the wisdom of God. It is a stumbling block and foolishness for many; for how could the ignominious public execution of one man lead to anything but death and disgrace?

Brothers and sisters: Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Developing a right relationship with God is much the same as being in right relationship with our spouse or children. It is a life-long endeavor. It is an exercise in communication - both ways. We must continuously talk to God, as the loving friend and parent that he is, and also learn to listen to God. Coming into tune with God is what happens in prayer. The more we work at it, the better tuned-in we are. Prayer helps us tune out the static of our world and tune in to the frequency of God.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for March 4, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 25, 2018brfaha

The Second Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Transfiguration of Jesus
As we continue our lenten journey toward the cross, we are asked to ponder God's unfathomable love for us, so great that he did not withhold from us his own beloved son. 

In our first reading (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18), we hear to vivid story of Abraham as he freely offers "his only son Isaac, whom he loves," as a holocaust to God. Even though complying with God's request would have meant an end to God's promise for "descendants as countless as the stars", he did not question. His love for God was greater than all else. We see in Abraham's absolute trust in God as a model for us.

God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am!" he replied. Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you." 

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD's messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Here I am!" he answered. "Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son." As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son. 

Again the LORD's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing-all this because you obeyed my command."

In our Gospel reading (Mark 9:2-10), we hear of the Transfiguration of Jesus on a high mountain. There are many elements of this story that directly link Jesus to the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. In it, Jesus is revealed in all his divine glory. This takes place shortly before Jesus passion and death - from divine glory to the agony of crucifixion. At the conclusion of this scene, we hear the voice of God saying, "This is my beloved son. Listen to him."

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

In our Epistle reading (Romans 8:31-34), St. Paul reassures his Christian audience that, even in the midst of relentless persecution, they can be no less glorified in their suffering than God's own son, whom God "handed over for us all".
Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died-or, rather, was raised - who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

One of the things we learn today is that God's call is personal and demanding. It is not always easy. We follow in the footsteps of God's own son. But we know where those footsteps lead. Beyond the suffering, beyond the hardships, beyond even death, we know God's unfathomable love for us will transcend it all. "It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?" When God calls to us, how should we respond? As Abraham, "Here I am."

  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 25, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 18, 2018

The First Sunday of Lent

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

"The Temptation"
Used with permission ©Eric Armusik

We have now begun our Lenten journey. It is a journey that will prepare us to fully experience Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Our readings this Sunday ask us to consider our own Baptism and to turn our attention to prayer, fasting and works of penance. These will temper our sinful nature and bring us closer to Jesus.

In our first reading, (Genesis 9:8:15), we hear God's covenant with Noah. After Noah's salvation through the waters of the flood (prefiguring our baptism), God promises to never again destroy humanity with the waters of a flood. From that point on, water has always symbolized cleansing, rebirth and baptism.
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth."
God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings."
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:12-15), we hear of Jesus' temptation in the desert, which occurs in Mark's Gospel immediately after his baptism. These two events (baptism and temptation) signify Jesus' willing entry into the human experience. Jesus willingly submits to both as a sign of his solidarity with all of humanity. This marks the beginning of his public ministry as he proclaims, "The Kingdom of God is at hand . . ."

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

In our Epistle reading (1 Peter 3:18-22), St. Peter draws a direct connection between the sinfulness of man, the saving waters of Noah's new life and Jesus's entering into our world through his own baptism as well as his suffering with us and for us. 
Beloved: Christ 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. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Jesus is often referred to as the "new Adam" in contrast to the first Adam, who allowed Satan's temptation to have mastery over him. In today's Gospel, Jesus triumphs over Satan and his empty promises. This sets the stage for the beginning Jesus' public ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God. It is also the start of our Lenten journey toward the cross and Jesus' final mastery over Satan and death. We are called to the same ideal, through the grace of God. This is the season to "repent and believe in the Gospel."
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 18, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 11, 2018

The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Cleanses the Leper 

Our readings this Sunday call our attention to the norms of purity and social boundaries. There was a clear and impenetrable boundary between the "clean" and the "unclean". It was a time when affliction was thought to be a punishment from God for past sins.

In our first reading (Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46), we hear the beginning and end of a long prescription on how to deal with someone with a scaly skin infection. Cast out from society, considered unclean added misery upon misery.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his descendants. If the man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head. "The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!' As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp." 

In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:40-45), we hear just how easily and quickly Jesus was to cast aside social taboos in his compassion and love for the suffering and downcast. Not only does the leper cross the boundary by approaching Jesus, but Jesus renders himself impure but touching the person with leprosy. The lepor's faith is met by Jesus healing touch.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 10:31 - 11:1), St. Paul sums up his teaching with the What to Do and the How to Do of Christian life. What: "Do everything for the glory of God"; How: "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ."

Brothers and sisters, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 

Boundaries are comfortable; they are easy. St. Paul challenges us to be "imitators of Christ". That may mean crossing the boundaries of social norms in the name of Compassion - in the name of Christ. 
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 11, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - February 4, 2018

The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Cures Simon's 
Our readings this Sunday focus on the human condition of suffering, the healing power of God and our response to it.
In our first reading (Job 7:1-4, 6-7), we hear part of Job's lament of his suffering. In a sense, Job mirrors all of human suffering and tries to understand it. It is a lament that could often be heard today.
Job spoke, saying: Is not man's life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?" then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:29-39), we hear of the suffering multitude flocking to Jesus for his healing touch and Jesus responds as only God could respond. We hear about the tender moment of Jesus grasping the hand of Simon's sick mother-in-law. He helps (raises) her up. Her response to Jesus' healing touch is to get up and offer her service to the Lord.
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23), St. Paul provides us a model of how we are to live our life of service to the Lord - freely, without recompense. His is an obligation, imposed upon him the Jesus himself. His servitude to the people and to the Lord is the essence of his freedom.

Brothers and sisters: If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
Even in the midst of the "drudgery" of our lives and all of its suffering, we know that Jesus has already healed us of the ultimate human condition - the slavery to sin. By his sharing in our suffering, he has "raised us up" to new life through our Baptism. Our response, our obligation, is to get up and live our lives in service to the Lord and to others. As St. Paul tells us in today's Epistle, therein lies our freedom.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for February 4, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 28, 2018

The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus Cures the Demoniac
Many of the prophesies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in their time, but partially. When we read the Old Testament in light of the Gospel and knowledge of Jesus, we see the fulfillment in Jesus as the ultimate plan of the Father.
In our first reading (Deuteronomy 18:15-20), Moses gives his farewell address to the Israelites on the banks of the Jordan before they cross over to the promised land. He instructs them to listen to the prophet the Lord will send them. 

Moses spoke to all the people, saying: "A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.' And the LORD said to me, 'This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.'"
In last week's Gospel, Jesus proclaimed, "This is the time of fulfillment, the Kingdom of God is at Hand". In the Sunday's Gospel reading (Mark 1:21-28), we see the an example of this fulfillment - Jesus' first day of public ministry. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophesy of Moses we read about in our first reading. 
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 7:32-35), St. Paul is instructing the disciples of Corinth about the married vs. the unmarried (or celibate) life. Both are good, but the unmarried is more free to serve the Lord completely.
Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
Jesus is the ultimate prophet. He teaches with authority in the synagogue and is the one whom even the demons obey. He is the one of whom Moses proclaimed that God would "raise up from your own kin" and will put "My words in his mouth". Listen to him!
  • For additional insight, read Father Gonyo's commentary on Deuteronomy in this weeks "Pastor's Message" 
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Jan. 28, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 21, 2018

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
The Call of the First Disciples 
This Sunday's readings continue the theme from last week of discipleship. Last week, we learned that God is persistent in his call. This week, we see examples of how we can respond.
In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jonah (3:1-5, 10), we hear about Jonah, who eventually heeded God's call to warn the people of the great city of Nineveh of their impending destruction. Jonah initially ran away from God's call, but God was persistent and brought him back. The people of Nineveh heeded God's warning through Jonah and were saved.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: "Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you." So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD'S bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, " when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.
In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:14-20), Jesus called the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples. They immediately left their boats and their livelihoods and followed Jesus. It was through these simple fishermen and the other Apostles that Jesus built his Church. It was with the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit that they had the courage and wisdom to follow in Jesus' footsteps.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 7:29-31), St. Paul tells us how we should be detached from this present life, in expectation of the life to come, in God's time. This world is temporary, passing away. The world to come is for all eternity.
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.
A good reflection might be to ponder what it was about Jesus' call that moved the first disciples to immediately leave their boats to become "fishers of men". They experienced that call in the person of Jesus, eye to eye, face to face. What an overpowering moment that must have been. Jesus calls each of us to a life of ministry of some type. How do we respond? Like Jonah who initially ran away? Or do we heed St. Paul's urging of detachment, being free to follow the call, wherever it leads us.
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Jan. 21, 2017


An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - January 14, 2018

The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
Jesus calls his first disciples
This Sunday's readings call us to be followers of Christ and to tell others about him.
In our first reading (1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19), we hear about Samuel, the  young man consecrated to God by his mother and in training under the high priest Eli. He had not yet encountered God and didn't recognize him when God called him in the night; but God was persistent. 
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am." Samuel ran to Eli and said, "Here I am. You called me." "I did not call you, " Eli said. "Go back to sleep." So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. "Here I am, " he said. "You called me." But Eli answered, "I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep."
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening." When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening." Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
In our Gospel reading (John 1:35-42), we hear about disciples of John the Baptist who are seeking the Lord. John points them toward Jesus. Jesus invites them to "come and your will see." Andrew then goes to his brother Simon and tells him, "We have found the Messiah."
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" -- which translated means Teacher --, "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" -- which is translated Christ --. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" -- which is translated Peter.
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20), St. Paul tells us that immorality is contrary to life in Christ. You cannot follow Jesus and be an immoral person. 
Brothers and sisters: The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
God's call to each of us is personal, unique and persistent. Christ calls each of us to a unique life with him for a specific purpose. We learn by today's example that in order to find the Messiah, we must seek him. Then we must "go with him and see". Then we must go and tell others, "We have found the Messiah."
  • Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Jan. 14, 2017