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
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 - May 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
 
LORD SEND OUT YOUR SPIRIT, AND RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH.(Psalm 104) 
 
On this Pentecost Sunday, there are separate and multiple optional readings for the Vigil Mass and the Masses during the day. So this week, we will concentrate on the readings for the Sunday Masses during the day.
 
'Pentecost' is a Greek word meaning 'fiftieth day' and is the biblical feast commemorating the day God gave the Torah to the people of Israel. It was celebrated fifty days after the Passover Feast. In biblical times, all Jews of age were required to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the celebration. Pentecost Sunday is often referred to as the birthday of the Church - the day when we Christians became Church.
 
Our first reading (Acts 2:1-11) tells this story vividly. Fifty days after Jesus' Passover supper, the disciples were celebrating the harvest festival of Pentecost or Shavuot (feast of weeks). Suddenly, the promised Advocate descended upon them and enlightened and emboldened them. 
 
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."
 
In our Gospel reading (John 15:26-27; 16:12-15) Jesus promised his disciples that the Advocate (Holy Spirit) would come. He "will guide you to all truth". Everything the Father and Jesus shared will be declared to them.  
 
Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
 
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."
 
In our Epistle reading (Galations 5:16-25), St. Paul exhorts his readers to live in the Spirit, not in the flesh. He then clearly outlines what each means. He highlights sixteen vices of the flesh and nine "fruits of the Spirit". If we live in the Spirit, we will evidence those fruits in our daily lives.  
 
Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.
 
 This Advocate, the Holy Spirit came just as Jesus had promised. It was a thrilling and earthshaking event that changed the world. This "Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father and the Son" lives and remains active in our world today. This is our prayer today and always, "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the fact of the earth."
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Saturday, May 19
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, May 20

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 13, 2018

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

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

Jesus' High Priestly Prayer (John 17)
IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE ALSO MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Our first reading and our Gospel reading this Sunday both mention that Judas ("the son of destruction")  acted "in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled". It is a reminder that God's plan, by his design, has unfolded since the beginning of creation. 
 
In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 1:15-17, 20-26), Peter and the Apostles, with the help of the Holy Spirit, replace Judas as Apostle with Matthias. They most likely considered the significance of the number twelve as important in representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the coming of the "reconstituted Kingdom of Israel" in heaven. 
 
Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers - there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place -. He said, "My brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. "For it is written in the Book of Psalms: May another take his office.
 
"Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection." So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place." Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. 
 
 In our Gospel reading (John 17:11-19), we hear a segment of what is known as Jesus' "High Priestly Prayer". It was his final farewell discourse before he was arrested. In it, Jesus talks directly with his Father on behalf of his disciples. He consecrated them to the Father in truth and to their mission on earth. Jesus spoke of his ministry in the past tense as he began to focus on what was to come.
 
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."
 
In our Epistle reading (1 John 4:11-16), we hear a continuation of last Sunday's epistle on the nature of God (God is love) and our response to God's love. John writes that God's entire being is love and God's love is expressed through the gift of his Son as expiation for our sins. And we are called to emulate that love by loving one another, in the same manner that Jesus has loved us.
 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
 
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 
 
The unity that Jesus speaks of between him and the Father is the same unity he speaks of between him and his disciples. Jesus is the bridge. It is the same union John speaks of in his epistle of love. "Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God." It is impossible to remain in God and not love one another, especially those for whom the world or our experience deems unlovable. The more we love, the more we are in God and God in us. 
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, May 13
  • Click HERE to listen to the entire Farewell Discourse of Jesus

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - May 6, 2018

The Sixth Sunday of Easter

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

 
IN THIS IS LOVE: NOT THAT WE HAVE LOVED GOD, BUT THAT GOD HAS LOVED US.

In today's readings, the person of God is clearly defined for us. In each of our readings, we hear an aspect of God's boundless love; all saying the same thing: God isLove!

In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48), we hear about Peter visiting the home of Cornelius, the (Gentile) Centurion. While Peter is speaking, the Holy Spirit descends upon all who are listening. Thus, It is clear to Peter and those with him that "God shows no partiality" and that "whoever fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to him", Jews and Gentiles alike.

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. Peter, however, raised him up, saying, "Get up. I myself am also a human being." Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, "In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him."

While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?" He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
.
In today's Gospel (John 15:9-17), we hear the continuation of Jesus' teaching from last Sunday's Gospel on the vine and the branches. In this segment, Jesus describes what love is and who the Father is (Love). The kicker at the end - "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you."

Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another."

In our Epistle reading (1 John 4:7-10), St. John describes God as being Love itself. It is not just an attribute of God, it is who God is. There can be no better or clearer description of who God is. It is this Love that sent his only son as "expiation for our sins."

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Here is a personal reflection on what it means that God is Love: All the many ways that we refer to God are anthropomorphic in nature, meaning they are human characteristics we assign to God in an effort to understand what is beyond our understanding, except one - Love. Love is not a human characteristic we assign to God, it is God's character that he assigns to us. To love is to be like God; it is how we are in the image of God. For anyone who has ever loved another person so completely as to sacrifice everything for the good of that person, has seen God. 
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, May 6

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 29, 2018

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

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

 
REMAIN IN ME AS I REMAIN IN YOU

Our readings during this Easter season are a special delight because our first readings are always from the Acts of the Apostles, telling the story of the formation of the early Church. Our second readings are mostly from the First Letter of St. John, focusing on love and our relationship to God, remaining (living) in him and he is us. Our Gospel readings are from the Gospel of John, focusing on the true identity of Jesus, his relationship to the Father and our relationship to the Father through Jesus.

In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31), we hear how the Apostles were afraid of this new convert Saul (Paul), who had formerly persecuted them with a vengeance. Now, since Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1), he "spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord."
 
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem, and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord. He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus. 
 
The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers. 

In our Gospel reading (John 15:1-8), Jesus describes himself as the "true vine", us as the branches and the Father as the vine grower. Just as branches cannot live apart from the vine, so we cannot live apart from Jesus. If we remain (abide) in him, we will bear much fruit.

Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

In our Epistle reading, (1 John 3:18-24), St. John lays out the intimate relationship we have with God - a relationship of Love. We are commanded to love one another. In so doing, and in believing in Jesus, the Christ, we remain (abide) in him and he in us.

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.

We who live in the wine region of New York can especially relate to the metaphor of the vine, the branches and the bearing of fruit. We understand how the vine must be pruned in winter and we understand what happens to the branches that are cut off from the vine. We know the relationship the vine grower has to his vines and the grapes. We are called to believe in Jesus, the son of God and remain (abide) in him. What a comfort that is.
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, April 29

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 22, 2018

 
 

The Fourth Sunday of Easter

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

I AM the Good Shepherd 

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD, AND I KNOW MINE AND MINE KNOW ME.
 
The fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday and also Vocation Sunday. It is an opportunity for us to ponder the great love the Lord has for us and the special relationship we have with him and with the Father through him.

Our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 4:8-12) is a continuation of the events following the healing of the cripple at the temple gate by Peter and John (Acts 3). Now they have been brought before the chief priests and questioned. Peter speaks boldly with the authority given him by Jesus. What he tells them, they do not want to hear.

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: "Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."

In our Gospel reading (John 10:11-18), Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd. Unlike the hired man, who runs away when the wolf comes because he has no "skin in the game", so to speak. Jesus has more than skin, he has his whole body and life in the game. The relationship between sheep and shepherd has always been a great metaphor for describing our relationship with our Lord. Notice the contrast between the wolf (Satin, the great scatterer) and the Shepherd (Jesus, the great gatherer). Whom do we follow?

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father." 

In our Epistle reading (1 John 3:1-2), St. John reminds us of our special relationship with the Father through Jesus. When the fullness of time is revealed, we know we shall be like God for we shall see him as he is. 

Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 

All of our readings today are about relationship - with Jesus and with our Father. Our first reading tells us it is through Jesus alone that we find salvation. He is the cornerstone of our lives. Our Epistle reminds us that we are God's children, which means God is our Father. Our Gospel reading describes Jesus as our Good Shepherd. He knows us and we know his voice and we follow him. He lays down his life for us. Relationships are two-way propositions. It is we who should act like children of God. It would be good to remember that we also have "skin in the game".  
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, April 22

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 15, 2018

The Third Sunday of Easter

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

Jesus Appears to his Disciples 
GOD HAS BROUGHT TO FULFILLMENT WHAT HE HAS ANNOUNCED BEFOREHAND 
 
In this Third Sunday of Easter, our readings remind us that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied  throughout all of the Hebrew Scriptures. Peter proclaims this in our first reading and Jesus himself "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" as he appeared to his disciples that first Easter Sunday night.

In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15, 17-19), St. Peter speaks to the crowd gathered just after he healed the cripple at the "Beautiful Gate" of the temple. He proclaims the risen Christ as the "suffering servant" of Isaiah foretold long ago, raised up by the God of Abraham. He calls them to repentance and conversion.

Peter said to the people: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in Pilate's presence when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away."

In our Gospel reading (Luke 24:35-48), we hear Luke's telling of that first Easter Sundaynight, when Jesus appeared to his disciples. The two disciples who were on the "road to Emmaus" have just told of their encounter with Jesus. Then Jesus appeared to the group and showed them that he is alive and not a ghost by showing his wounds and sharing a meal with them. Then he "opened their minds" to all that was written about him and commissioned them to preach the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness in his name.

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
 
While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.
 
"He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

In our Epistle reading (1 John 2:1-5), St. John calls us to repentance but offers comfort that when we do sin, Jesus the Advocate will intercede for us. He is expiation for our sins. 

"My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, "I know him," but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.  

Our readings remind us that from the very beginning, it is God's plan that the Christ would suffer and die for our sins and that we would be offered forgiveness and right relationship with the Father. St. John tells us that to know Jesus is to keep his commandments. May we know Jesus!
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, April 15

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 8, 2018

The Second Sunday of Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday

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

 
Divine Mercy Sunday 
"PEACE BE WITH YOU!" 
 
Easter is such a glorious event, we celebrate it for 50 days - from EasterSunday to Pentecost Sunday. This is the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a feast enacted at the request of Our Lord himself through his revelations to St. Faustina Kowalska.

During this Easter season, all of our first readings are taken from the Acts of the Apostles and most of our Gospel readings are taken from the Gospel of John. It is a special time when we learn about the early life of the Church and who Jesus truly is as he revealed himself to his disciples. It is a time when we should pay especially close attention to the readings and prayers at Mass.

In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35), we hear how the early Church came together as one community, working, praying and breaking bread together. They shared their resources and took care of one another.

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

Our Gospel reading (John 20:19-31) has two distinct messages. One is the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus appeared to his disciples in the locked room and gave them his peace and the power to forgive sins. The other message is a call to faith, which, by its very nature, is a belief in someone or something we have not seen but know to exist. It is the story of Thomas the doubter, who demands to touch the wounds of Jesus before he will believe that Jesus is risen.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
 
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
 
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
 
In our Epistle reading from the First Letter of St. John (1 John 5:1-6), we are reminded of the oneness of being that Jesus has with the Father and the special relationship we have with the Father when we believe in Jesus. We who believe that Jesus is the Son of God can conquer the world.

Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
 
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. 

Our readings today urge us to have faith in this Jesus, the crucified, who rose from the dead, thus atoning for our sins and conquering death. With this faith comes the peace of complete trust in Jesus and the ability to show mercy to others. Whenever we show mercy, we show God.

Faith is the bird who feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
-- Rabindranath Tagore 
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Sunday, April 8
     
  • Click HERE to learn more about Divine Mercy Sunday

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An Introduction to Sunday's Scripture Readings - April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday

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

Christ is Risen!"DO NOT BE AMAZED! YOU SEEK JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE CRUCIFIED. HE HAS BEEN RAISED. HE IS NOT HERE."
 
We have come to the climactic conclusion of our roller coaster liturgical week. First, Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, then the loving example of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday ("As I have done, so you also must do.") Then on Good Friday, the abject sorrow of Jesus' passion, death on the cross and burial. And now, that passion, that sorrow has been turned to incalculable joy as we learn that "He has been raised! And with him, so too will we rise to be with the Lord forever.

There are two distinct liturgies for the Easter celebration, each with its own selection of scripture readings:

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil
The Vigil Mass features numerous Old Testament readings that highlight many of the key moments in salvation history beginning with the creation story (Genesis 1:1-2:2),
"In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss . . . ."

Following is the story of God testing Abraham with the sacrifice of his only son (Genesis 22:1-18) which is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son,
"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. . . ."

Then comes the story of God parting the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 14:15 - 15:1)
'The Lord said to Moses, 'Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two. . . .'"

   The next reading is the prophesy of the Prophet Isaiah near the end of the Israelite's exile in Babylon (Isaiah 55:1-11). Isaiah looks forward to the day of liberation,
"All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!"

In our Epistle reading (Romans 6:3-11), St. Paul teaches us that as we also died with Christ, so too, we will receive new life in Christ,
"We are 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.,"

In our Gospel reading (Mark 16:1-7), we hear Mark's account of the resurrection, as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James found the stone rolled back and the tomb empty,
"Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised. He is not here."

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
The Easter morning readings are shorter and focus more succinctly on Jesus' resurrection. The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles
(Acts 10:34, 37-43)   and is an excerpt of St. Peter's speech in Caesarea where he boldly proclaimed the risen Christ, 
"You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. . . They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, . . . He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."
 
Our  Gospel reading (John 20:1-9) is John's telling of the events on Easter morning.
"Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them . . .They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter . . .When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head . . .For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead"

On this glorious Easter Day, may we reflect on the words of Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus - 1986):
"We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery - the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. 'We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!'"

 God, grant that we may sing Alleluia with our lives all year long.
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the fu ll readings for Easter Vigil,Saturday, March 31, 2018
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the full readings for Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018

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

Palm Sunday

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

MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME?

This Sunday begins the climax of our liturgical year as we walk with Jesus on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, then to his last supper with his friends, his arrest and crucifixion and his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday

This Sunday, we begin our liturgy with the Gospel at the Procession (Mark 11:1-10) as we process into the Church with voices joyously proclaiming "Hosanna to the Son of David", just as they did that Palm Sunday two thousand years ago. This is a different kind of King, coming in peace, "humbly riding on the back of a donkey." (Zachariah 9:9)

When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone should say to you, 'Why are you doing this?' reply, 'The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.'" So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!"
 
As we continue the Mass with our first reading (Isaiah 50:4-7), we recall Isaiah's prophesy of the suffering servant, persecuted for his righteousness and yet he does not flinch. This prophesy, written around the late 6th century B.C., is said to clearly prefigure Christ.

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
 
Our Epistle reading (Philippians 2:6-11) continues to emphasize the humility of Jesus, taking on the human form to unite with us, bear our suffering and atone for our sins, once, for all.   

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
   
Our Gospel reading is the Passion of Our Lord according to Mark (14:1 - 15:47). In Mark's account, the cross is depicted as Jesus' way to glory in accordance with the divine will. Thus the passion narrative is seen as the climax of Jesus' ministry.

The Gospel reading is too lengthily to present here, but please, click HERE  to read and reflect on the Gospel account of the Passion of Our Lord.
 
May we not pass by this opportunity to reflect deeply on this mystery of God's salvation gift to us, his beloved children. Also, it would be good to reflect on Jesus' intense suffering so that we may be united with the Father as he is united with the Father.. May we emulate the humility, the obedience and the love of Jesus.
 
Click HERE to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, March 25, 2018
 
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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

UNLESS A GRAIN OF WHEAT FALLS TO THE GROUND AND DIES, IT REMAINS JUST A GRAIN OF WHEAT..

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

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