Immersed in Christ: Saturday 9/30/17

Saturday, Week Twenty-Five The Responsorial pledges: “The Lord will guard us, like a shepherd guarding his flock” (Jeremiah 31: 10- 13). We tend to look only at what is happening in our time. The Scriptures invite us to look at what is happening in God’s time, in which past, present and future are all one. We see time as a straight line: the past is behind us, the future ahead, and only the present actually exists. God sees time as a circle: everything is present to him at once. In Zechariah 2: 5-15 God invites the Jews to look at the Jerusalem he sees: a prosperous city with a rebuilt temple, in the midst of which God dwells, attracting “many nations” to himself. Christians are offered this

Immersed in Christ: Friday 9/29/17

Friday, Week Twenty-Five The Responsorial Psalm tells us not to put limits on what we expect from God: “Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God” (Psalm 43). Haggai 1:15 to 2:9 deals with the negativism of people who are always looking backwards: “You that saw this house in its former glory; how do you see it now? Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?” People see the Church being renewed before their eyes, and complain because it isn’t like the Church they grew up in. They are like people who would like to regenerate the dinosaurs, just to have them die out again for lack of habitat. Environments are constantly changing. We adapt or we die. But we don’t just adapt; we initi

Immersed in Christ: Feast of the Archangels

Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, And Raphael (Feast day reflection; daily reflection follows). The Responsorial (Psalm 138) invites us: “In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord. ”What does it mean to live “in the sight of ” the angels? When we gather for Mass, we are conscious that the angels gather with us. And are involved. In the Penitential Rite each of us asks “all the Angels and Saints,” along with the rest of the assembly, to “pray for me to the Lord our God.” And we end the Preface before Eucharistic Prayers II and IV saying, “with the Angels and all the Saints we proclaim your glory, as with one voice we sing, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’” Scripture shows the angels i

Immersed in Christ: Thursday 9/28/17

Thursday, Week Twenty-Five The Responsorial Psalm gives us a reason for worshipping together with celebration: “The Lord takes delight in his people” (Psalm 149). In Haggai 1: 1-8 the Persian king Darius II has given permission to resume building the temple after opposition had blocked it. But the people have lost their enthusiasm. So God inspired the prophet Haggai to reanimate them. “This people says, ‘Not now has the time come to rebuild the house of the Lord’… Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” Haggai has no authority except truth and God’s inspiration. But as a leader he urges into action both civil and religious authorities: the gov

Immersed in Christ: Wednesday 9/27/17

Wednesday, Week Twenty-Five The Responsorial proclaims that God is a merciful God in good times and bad: “Blessed be God, who lives forever” (Tobit 13: 2-8). “He casts down… and he brings up…. Exalt him… because he is… our Father and God forever.” Ezra 9: 5-9 gives us Ezra’s prayer in response to a report that “Neither the Israelite laymen nor the priests… have kept themselves aloof from the peoples of the land and their abominations…. Furthermore, the leaders and rulers have taken a leading part in this apostasy!” (9: 1-2). But after acknowledging Israel’s guilt, Ezra still trusts in God’s friendship: “Yet our God has not forsaken us… but has extended to us his steadfast love… to give us ne

Immersed in Christ: Tuesday 9/26/17

Tuesday, Week Twenty-Five The Responsorial Psalm is: “I rejoiced when I heard them say: let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122). Ezra 6: 7-20 reports the dedication of the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. This was the work of the whole community: “the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites — everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so” (Ezra 1:5). This is the work to which each member of the Church is called. But the temple we are building is the Church itself, made of “living stones”: “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?... For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1Corinthians 3: 16-17; see 1Peter 2:5; J

Immersed in Christ: Monday 9/25/17

Monday, Week Twenty-Five The Responsorial (Psalm 126) declares: “The Lord has done marvels for us” But he uses human beings as instruments to accomplish his work. Ezra 1: 1-6 tells how Cyrus, king of Persia from 538 to 529 B.C., let the Jews exiled in Babylon return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Isaiah calls Cyrus God’s “anointed,” made victorious because God was using him as an instrument: “He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose” (Isaiah 44:28 to 45:1). God wanted to form a Jewish nation. He used Cyrus, a pagan, to bring them home, and a century later he made two Jews, Ezra and Nehemia, the leaders most responsible for the reorganization of Jewish life. The communit

Immersed in Christ: Sunday 9/24/17

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year A Inventory Do you hire people for your purposes or to give them purpose? Do you pay people in proportion to their need or their usefulness? Are you nicer to some people than you are to others? Is this the way God acts? If God’s way is different form yours, does that make either one of you wrong? Ideas to Consider The theme of today’s Mass is that God’s way of acting is very different from ours — different, but better. The Entrance Antiphon celebrates God as the “Savior of all people…. Whatever their troubles, I will answer their cry.” And the Responsorial Psalm declares, “The Lord is near to all who call him” (Psalm 145). We, on the other hand, are less likel

Immersed in Christ: Saturday 9/23/17

Saturday, Week Twenty-Four The Responsorial (Psalm 100) is an invitation based on hope: “Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.” 1Timothy 6:13-16 is our last reading from 1Timothy. And it is the “Great Commission” to faithful stewardship. Paul begins solemnly: Before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who in bearing witness made his noble profession before Pontius Pilate.... We are nothing in and of ourselves. We would revert to nothingness without the ongoing gift of existence from God our Father. In answer to the obvious question: “How do I use this ongoing gift of life?” Paul holds up the example of Jesus. He “bore witness” by his “noble profession” of truth, thoug

Immersed in Christ: Friday 9/22/17

Friday, Week Twenty-Four The Responsorial (Matthew 5:3 and Psalm 49) gives the key to openness and its fruit: “Happy the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” In 1Timothy 6:2-12 Paul insists that whoever does not hold to “the sound doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching proper to true religion” should be recognized as “both conceited and ignorant.” And “sick with passion for polemics and controversy.” “From these come... dissension, slander, evil, suspicions.” Who comes to mind? In the Gospels the group that wins hands down are the Pharisees. They were the ones who took it on themselves to attack the teaching of those they considered unorthodox. Like Jesus. They took

Immersed in Christ: Thursday 9/21/17

Thursday, Week Twenty-Four Perseverance in the faith should be a major concern for every Christian: our own perseverance and that of our children, grandchildren, and even our country. Although no society has ever been truly “Christian,” we have seen countries which were once Christian or even Catholic in population and profession become predominantly atheistic or “unchurched.” God will not let the Church die throughout the world, but it could happen here! How? We can blame others for what “turns people off” in the Church. But we must always look first to ourselves. The stern warnings to the “angels” of the seven local churches in Revelation, chapter two, could have been addressed to their bi

Immersed in Christ: Feast of St Matthew

Feast of St. Matthew (Feast day reflection; daily reflection follows). The Responsorial (Psalm 19) says of Matthew and all who spread the Good News to others: “Their message goes out through all the earth.” What is the message? Imagine yourself sitting “when the distribution of Communion is finished [and] the [presider] and faithful spend some time praying privately.” The Instruction directs: “A period of sacred silence is observed” (General Instruction, nos. 43, 88). Suppose at that moment you heard someone quote the words of Ephesians 4:1-13, “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling.”

Immersed in Christ: Wednesday 9/20/17

Wednesday, Week Twenty-Four The Responsorial (Psalm 111) is experience expressed as praise: “How great are the works of the Lord!” Do we find the “mystery of our faith” that Paul summarizes in 1Timothy 3:14-16 made present to us at Mass? We proclaim in the Introductory Rites that God was “manifested in the flesh” in Jesus and is still manifested in us who have taken on a new identity, having “become Christ” by Baptism. In the Liturgy of the Word we hear him “preached among the Gentiles,” to all who have been “made disciples from all nations” and enlightened by his word. We profess that in our lives Jesus has been “vindicated in the Spirit,” in the experience we have had of bearing witness by

Immersed in Christ: Tuesday 9/19/17

Tuesday, Week Twenty-Four The Responsorial (Psalm 101) voices a sense of community responsibility: “I will walk with blameless heart.” After the Sign of Peace the liturgy calls for the “Breaking of the Bread” (Latinized “fraction”). This is done visibly, in the sight of all, and should make us conscious that the host each one receives is part of the “one bread” that is Christ. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1Corinthians 10:17). In the light of this, why does Paul, in 1Timothy 3:1-13, seem to make distinctions in the virtue to which all are equally called? He singles out bishops, deacons, and women. Why? The reason is that thes

Immersed in Christ: MOnday 9/18/17

Monday, Week Twenty-Four The Responsorial (Psalm 28) exclaims: “Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.” For whom do we pray? In 1Timothy 2:1-8 Paul urges “that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for every person, especially for kings [say ‘presidents’] and those in authority.” We do this at Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer, after the Institution Narrative (“Consecration”) there are a series of Intercessions, beginning with a prayer for “N. our Pope and N. our Bishop and all the clergy.” We pray especially for them because during this part of the Mass we are focused on unity, and “those in authority” are charged to maintain it. We pray for civil author

Immersed in Christ: Sunday 9/17/17

THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY OF YEAR A The Peace of the Lord Questions to Ask Yourself What word is used most frequently in the Rite of Communion? Ideas to Consider It is “peace” (seven times). In the Rite of Communion three things are presented as inseparable: peace, forgiveness, and the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” The inclusion of “Lamb” tells us that the wedding banquet celebrates, depends on, is incomprehensible without the sacrificial death of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” All forgiveness, all peace, is rooted in that. The Rite of Communion is the blossoming of the sacrifice celebrated in the Eucharistic Prayer. The Entrance Antiphon (Sirach 36:18) begins, “Give

Immersed in Christ: Saturday 9/16/17

Saturday, Week Twenty-Three In 1Timothy 1:15-17 Paul lays down one of the foundational rules of Christian thought, action, and pastoral practice: “You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” That is what the Church is all about: saving sinners. Not condemning them. Not ignoring them. Not driving them away. Saving them. Saving involves conversion, of course. The first word in the proclamation of the Good News is “Repent!”—a poor translation of “metanoiete,” that means: Change your minds and hearts! Put the ax to the root of the tree! Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you

Immersed in Christ: Friday 9/15/17

Friday, Week Twenty-Three (Begin readings from 1Timothy). The Responsorial (Psalm 16) is: “You are my inheritance, O Lord!” An inheritance is something one has a right to. Can we say Christians have a right to Communion? The faith of the Church, the laws of the Church, and the pastoral practice of the Church can give three different answers to that. Is that shocking? Catholic faith allows Communion as soon as a person is baptized. The Eastern rite Catholics give Communion to infants. The Western or “Latin” rite Catholics postpone Communion until children have reached the age of reason and are sufficiently instructed. Roman law is more restrictive than that of the Eastern rites, but it is no

Immersed in Christ: Thursday 9/14/17

Thursday, Week Twenty-Three The Responsorial (Psalm 150) is a response to what we experience in Communion: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!” Colossians 3:12-17 describes about as well as anything the thoughts, feelings, and desires we experience if we just “rest in the Lord” after receiving Communion. “You are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved...” Feel that. Doesn’t it follow that we want to “clothe ourselves” in “kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”? Aren’t we, at this moment, moved to “Bear with one another and... forgive as the Lord has forgiven you”? “Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts.” Haven’t we just expressed our desire for that in the Sign of Peace? An

Immersed in Christ: Thursday 9/14/17

Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Feast day reflection) Commenting on Numbers 21:4b-9, the Jerome Biblical Commentary says, “The cult of the snake was widely practiced in Canaan, probably in connection with fertility rites.” This would make it a symbol of life and healing, and explain why the caduceus —a winged staff entwined with two serpents, the symbol of Hermes or Mercury... became the symbol of the U.S. Army Medical Corps and various other medical organizations (Encarta World English Dictionary). Much later, because the Jews misunderstood its significance, the reformer Hezekiah “broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offeri

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