Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Twenty-Six (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Psalm is a recognition that God is constantly restoring, “re-forming” and renewing us: “The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory” (Psalm 102). In Zechariah 8: 1-8 the prophet is looking at a Jerusalem without walls or temple, from which the Jews had been exiled for about sixty-five years. God is saying: I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem; I will rescue my people.… They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice. Throughout the Old Testament it seems God is always moving his people to new places with promises. He called Abraham from Ur to Haran (in modern Turkey) to Canaan. Then Jacob moved the family

Father David's Reflection for Sunday of Week Twenty-Six (Ordinary Time)

One God, One People Inventory To live is to be aware. To be unaware is to be half dead. The readings today deal with complacency, which is one of the worst kinds of unawareness. So we ask ourselves, “Is the God of peace disturbing me?” God’s disturbance always leads to peace and holds the promise of peace. That is how we distinguish it from worry. Input The Entrance Antiphon focuses above all on God’s “greatness of heart” and “unbounded kindness.” This is what gives us the courage to admit that God has “just cause to judge” us, because we “sinned against you and disobeyed your will.” The Scriptures sometimes call the bad things that happen to us on earth God’s “judgments” against us. This do

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Psalm 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 same vision in Revela

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

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 suffer adaptation; we initiate change. T

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

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 governor and the high priest.

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

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 new life to set up the house o

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Psalm is: “Let us go rejoicing 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; John 2: 14-22). So then you are no longer strangers

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Psalm declares: “The Lord has done marvels for us” (Psalm 126). 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 community they established

Father David's Reflection for Sunday of Week Twenty-Five (Ordinary Time)

We Are Called To Responsibility Inventory Does God seem to be reigning on earth today? Where do you see signs that he is and that he isn’t? How do you understand your own role in establishing his reign? Are you inspired by this call? When, where and how can you contribute to establishing the reign of God on earth? Input The Entrance Antiphon celebrates God as the “Savior of all people…. Whatever their troubles, I will answer their cry.” No matter how oppressed people may be, or how much evil seems to dominate, God says, “I will always be their Lord.” This Mass affirms the reign of God on earth and calls us to work to establish it throughout the world. We were consecrated and committed to thi

Father David's Reflection for the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

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.” Wouldn’t you feel that was being realized all around you? That is the “m

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

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, though it sealed his death. He s

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Matthew 5:3 and Psalm 49) gives the key to openness and its fruit: “Blessed 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 issue with everything

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

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 bishops or pastors or to the

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

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 the power of the “gift of t

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

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 these three have something in c

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

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 authorities—the ones Paul had i

Father David's Reflection for Sunday of Week Twenty-Four (Ordinary Time)

THE TWENTY--FOURTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR The Stewardship of Sinners Inventory Do you see yourself as too sinful to exercise leadership in the Church? Input The Entrance Antiphon (Sirach 36:18) asks for peace “for those who wait for you.” But our peace is founded on our faith that God waits for us: waits for us to discover him, to accept him, to convert from sin and return to him. It is faith in God’s fidelity and forgiveness that gives us the trust to ask, “Hear the prayers of your servant and of your people.” In the Opening Prayer(s) we say to God: “You alone are the source of our peace.” Because you are our “creator and guide.” And you “look down upon your people in their moments of need.” We

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Twenty-Three (Ordinary Time)

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 may discern what is the wil

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Twenty-Three (Ordinary Time)

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 more and no less “Catholic.” The Latin Church, however, gr

Father David's Reflection for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Feast Day)

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 offerings to it” (1Kings 18:4). In John 3:13-17 Jesus reve

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