Immersed in Christ: Thursday 8/31/17

Thursday, Week Twenty-One The Responsorial (Psalm 90) anticipates the joy that comes with arrival at the “perfection of love”: “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy.” In 1Thessalonians 3:7-13 Paul can’t thank God enough “for all the joy we feel in his presence because of you.” It is a divine joy, caused by the divine gift of faith he sees in them: meaning grace and “perseverance in and attachment to the Christian way of life.”[1] Their faith is not perfect: “We ask that we may see you... and remedy any shortcomings in your faith” — whether in instruction or in applying it to life.[2] Time is for growing. Paul prays God will “make you increase and overflow with love for o

Immersed in Christ: Wednesday 8/30/17

Wednesday, Week Twenty-One In 1Thessalonians 2: 9-13 Paul holds himself up as an example and gives an exhortation to the Church: He reminds them “how irreproachable our conduct was toward you” and how he “encouraged and pleaded” with them to imitate his example by lives “worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” The Church is a fellowship — a “common unity” — of mutual support by example and prayer. In the Intercessions of the Eucharistic Prayer we show this support by praying for all the members of the Church, living and dead. We also ask the support of others’ prayers — the living and the dead. And we draw support from the example of those whose lives and victory giv

Immersed in Christ: Tuesday 8/29/17

Tuesday, Week Twenty-One The Responsorial (Psalm 139) reminds us to find our peace in God’s knowledge of our hearts: “You have searched me and you know me, Lord.” In 1Thessalonians 2:1-8 Paul, in revealing his own heart, also describes the spirit of love and unity that should pervade the Christian community. It is a spirit of selfless service based on love. Paul’s motives “met the test.” He, Silvanus and Timothy preached “in the face of great opposition,” out of an awareness of mission — like “men entrusted with the good tidings,” who “strive to please God.” “We were not guilty,” Paul says of “buttering up” anybody, of greed or desire for glory, and did not “insist on our own importance as

Immersed in Christ: Monday 8/28/17

Monday, Week Twenty-One We all have various things on our mind when we come to Mass. Various feelings about being there. Various feelings about the people we are going to be with. The Responsorial (Psalm 149) recommends God’s attitude: “The Lord takes delight in his people.” In 1Thessalonians 1:1-10 Paul gives a guideline to every community that assembles for Eucharist: We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Does seeing the community assembled for Mass fill you with joy? Do you feel thankful for each one? Glad to be th

Immersed in Christ: Sunday 8/27/17

THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR A One People Questions to Ask Yourself How do you feel about the Church? What is your emotional tone when you say “the Church”? What people are you thinking of? The hierarchy? The priests? Your grandmother? Your “drinking buddies”? People like Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day and Cesar Chavez? All of the above? Really all of the above? Or do you see the Church as represented by a few? Ideas to Consider In the Entrance Antiphon we are obviously worried. “Save your servant who trusts in you.” Not everything we see around us, even (or at times especially) in the Church gives us confidence. But we know the answer to worry – all worry: “I call to you all day long

Immersed in Christ: Saturday 8/26/17

Saturday, Week Twenty The Responsorial (Psalm 128) acclaims the fruit of love: “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.” To “fear” the Lord in Scripture is to respect and honor him by obeying his commands. His “great command” is to love. The message of Ruth 2:1-11 and 4:13-17 is that love gives life. The story focuses on physical life, but as the germ of a fertility beyond imagination. Ruth’s story is an echo of Abraham’s. Boaz said as much when Ruth asked him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” Boaz replied: All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you lef

Immersed in Christ: Friday 8/25/17

Friday, Week Twenty The Responsorial (Psalm 146) captures the Mass: Praise the Lord, my soul.” Ruth 1:1-22 is a story of faithful love – love rooted in the bond of family relationship. In the story, the bond of the chosen covenant of marriage takes precedence for Ruth over the bond of inherited kinship. When her immigrant husband dies, Ruth chooses, like Abraham before her, to leave her “country, her [natural] kinsfolk and her father’s house” and “go” to the land of the Covenant. She said to her mother-in-law the beautiful words, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”[1] These words could be the theme of everything

Immersed in Christ: Thursday 8/24/17

Thursday, Week Twenty (Note: This reflection is longer because it tries to explain the theology and flow of the whole Eucharistic Prayer). Judges 11:29-39 is the most tragic story of misguided heroic integrity in the Scriptures. Jephthah makes a one-sided covenant with God: that if he wins in battle he will offer in sacrifice the first person he meets on returning home. It is his only daughter. Feeling bound, he tells her she must die. She asks time to “mourn her virginity” — her childlessness — with her friends. Then her father kills her to fulfill his vow. Some elements of this story are false assumptions. Do we think God was “bound” to sacrifice his only Son in fulfillment of the Covenant

Immersed in Christ: Wednesday 8/23/17

Wednesday, Week Twenty The Responsorial (Psalm 23) reminds us Jesus is our God-given king “O Lord, your strength gives joy to the king.” Judges 9:6-15 takes a negative view of kings. In the parable, the trees want “to anoint a king over themselves.” All the good trees refuse rule while the buckthorn (not even good for shade, and a fire hazard to boot) accepts. “The argument is that the best do not have time to be kings; therefore it usually falls to the worthless to accept the role of monarch....” So why would Jesus accept to be King over us? Why would the Father send and anoint him for it?[1] The answer is in the Eucharistic Anamnesis and the Offering that follows it: “Calling to mind... [

Immersed in Christ: Tuesday 8/22/17

Tuesday, Week Twenty The Responsorial (Psalm 85) reminds us:: “The Lord speaks of peace to his people.” The “remembrance” that is anamnesis means making present something from the past. In Judges 6:11- 24 Gideon’s memory was not anamnesis. The angel had greeted him, “The Lord is with you, O champion,” but Gideon did not see it. “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Where are his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us...? For now the Lord has abandoned us.” Gideon was enclosed in the present, where the Midianite raids were devastating the country. He remembered God’s “being with” his people as something past, not present. But the Lord said, “Go with the st

Immersed in Christ: Monday 8/21/17

Monday, Week Twenty The Responsorial (Psalm 106) asks: “Lord, remember us.” During the Institution Narrative we heard Jesus say, “Do this in remembrance of me.” So immediately afterwards we go into the Anamnesis or “remembrance” of the three key events that were the climax of Christ’s life on earth: “Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven [with the promise to return intrinsic to it], and ready to greet him when he comes again....” Now in Judges 2:11-19 we see Scripture “remembering” a recurrent pattern of events in the history of God’s dealings with Israel and their response. “Abandoning the Lord, the God of t

Immersed in Christ: Sunday 8/20/17

THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR A Questions to Ask Yourself Where do you “find” God? Experience his presence? Feel you are seeing something of the mystery of what and who he is? Does the Eucharist help you do this? Ideas to Consider The Entrance Antiphon invites us to be conscious of God’s presence to us: “If we can be with you even one day, it is better than a thousand without you.” In the Opening Prayer we beg to “love you in all things....” God is the Creator of everything we see, hear, taste and feel. But creation is an ongoing act. If God says, “Be...” he has to hold the note. Our existence, and that of every other person and thing, is an ongoing act of God present in them and acting,

Immersed in Christ: Saturday 8/19/17

Saturday, Week Nineteen The Responsorial (Psalm 16) expresses recognition of God as All Good: “You are my inheritance, O Lord.” Joshua 24:14-29 tells the people to decide. “Decide today whom you will serve.” Will you direct your life by the goals and values of the culture you grew up in —“the gods your fathers served?” Or by the enticements of some new understanding of life you are learning from those “in whose land (social, professional, cultural milieu) you are now living?” “As for me and my household,” Joshua declares, “we will serve the LORD.” If you choose to serve the One God who is all Truth, all Goodness, all Being and Life, you must “serve him completely and sincerely.” To love auth

Immersed in Christ: Friday 8/18/17

Friday, Week Nineteen The Responsorial (Psalm 136) and Joshua 24:1-13 list the favors God did for his People from “times past” until their entrance into the Promised Land. Joshua concludes: “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness.” The psalm just keeps repeating, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” Both show the intrinsic connection between remembering what God has done and giving thanks — in word and action. “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving,” the word that, “as early as the Didache and Ignatius of Antioch... came to designate what had hitherto been referred to as ‘the Lord’s supper.’” Its ultimate intelligibility, however... depends on grasping t

Immersed in Christ: Thursday 8/17/17

Thursday, Week Nineteen The Responsorial is just Alleluia! but the verses (Psalm 114) recall the “signs” God worked as he brought his people into the Promised Land. In Joshua 3:7-17 the Lord promises to work wonders for Joshua in the sight of the people “so they may know I am with you.” When Joshua tells the people what they are going to see, he echoes: “This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst....” Note that the “ark of the covenant” is mentioned seven times in the chapter as a visible sign of God’s presence and power. Ideally, we should not have to see to believe, as Jesus told Thomas.[1] But God knows our human nature calls out for something visible to focus our

Immersed in Christ: Wednesday 8/16/17

Wednesday, Week Nineteen The Responsorial (Psalm 66) alerts us to the greatness of the mystery of God’s promises and their fulfillment: “Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire.” In Deuteronomy 34:1-12 God is about to fulfill the promise he made to give his People the “land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that I would give to their descendants.” But the one who would lead them into it was Joshua. He was “filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid his hands on him.” Still in our day, the Church “lays hands” on those perceived to be chosen for a special work, and “calls down” the Spirit upon them. In the Eucharistic Prayer, after “naming” God as holy, the Church “call

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Into Heaven

The Presence of the End Time Questions to Ask Yourself How does the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption into heaven affect your life? Does it increase your faith? In what? Your hope? In what? Your motivation? To do what? Ideas to Consider The Entrance Antiphon begins, “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman….” What does this image, applied to Mary assumed into heaven, signify? She is “clothed with the sun” — the enduring, unchangeable source of all light on earth. And she has “the moon beneath her feet.” The moon is the transitory, the changing light which is, in fact a reflection of the light of the sun. She has “a crown of twelve stars on her head” — which represent the twelve tribes of Israel

Immersed in Christ: Monday 8/14/17

Monday, Week Nineteen The Responsorial — “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem” — should be our spontaneous response to the other verses in Psalm 147 and to the first reading. Deuteronomy 10: 12-22 urges us to be faithful to the Covenant because the One we have made it with is “the LORD your God” and “even the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, as well as the earth and everything on it.” When we begin the Eucharistic Prayer with, “Father, you are holy indeed...” we hear the words of Deuteronomy: “the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome....” The beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer reminds us of the holiness of God affirmed in the First Commandment

Immersed in Christ: Sunday 8/13/17

THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR (Year A-I) Questions to Ask Yourself If you were a Jew, would you find it exciting just to know that you belong to a People who have a Covenant with God? As a Christian, are you aware that you belong to a covenanted People? How does this affect your life? Ideas to Consider In the Entrance Antiphon we ask God, “Be true to your Covenant.” All the Old Testament readings this week are going to deal with the mystery and history of God’s Covenant with his People. And we will see how the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass “remembers” and celebrates his “new and eternal Covenant” with us. The Opening Prayer begins by “naming” God, identifying him, not only as “almighty and

Immersed in Christ: Saturday 8/12/17

Saturday, Week Eighteen The Responsorial (Psalm 18) pinpoints the focus of all religion: “I love you, Lord”; then adds: “my strength.” Deuteronomy 6: 4-13 gives us what Jesus called “the greatest and first commandment” — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This is the essence of religion: to love God, not as the first among those whom we love, but as the All. We are to love God with our whole heart. That love is not divided with anyone. It is unique, the all-embracing response of our being, whole and entire. It is not shared. Nothing is in competition with it. It is absolute: “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!” We obe

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