Pastor’s Desk

Gospel Reflection; Sunday Aug 16, 2020

Gospel Reflection; Sunday Aug 16, 2020

In today’s first reading, the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah during a time of political upheaval and moral decline. The prophet had warned of God’s judgment against people for the feelings of self-importance they found in their possessions, and condemned them for various forms of economic injustice such as exploiting the poor and immigrants. Good stewards know that Isaiah’s message is as compelling today as it was in the time of the kingdom of Judah: Do the right thing. Offer justice and compassion toward others. Be honest in all your dealings. And remember to observe the day of the Lord.

ICSC August E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection – Sunday Aug 9, 2020

Gospel Reflection – Sunday August 9, 2020

Today’s Gospel reveals what miraculous things can happen when one embraces a single-minded faith in Jesus Christ. Peter gets out of a wind-tossed boat when the Lord calls him. His faith is tested by his obedience to Jesus who is calling him out onto the water. In the midst of the waves and the wind, Peter gets out of the boat and walks toward Jesus. Good stewards heed Christ’s call to them. Sometimes that call directs them to take on seemingly impossible challenges. This week, reflect on how the Lord could be calling you out of the safety of your own “boat” to take on the impossible. In today’s first reading, the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah during a time of political upheaval and moral decline. The prophet had warned of God’s judgment against people for the feelings of self-importance they found in their possessions, and condemned them for various forms of economic injustice such as exploiting the poor and immigrants. Good stewards know that Isaiah’s message is as compelling today as it was in the time of the kingdom of Judah: Do the right thing. Offer justice and compassion toward others. Be honest in all your dealings. And remember to observe the day of the Lord.

ICSC August E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection; Sun Aug 2, 2020

Today we jump ahead in our reading of Matthew’s Gospel to Chapter 14. Last week we heard Jesus conclude his discourse with the crowds about the Kingdom of Heaven. In Matthew’s narrative, Jesus then leaves the crowds and returns to Nazareth, where he is rejected. Matthew then recounts the story of John the Baptist’s arrest and execution at the hands of Herod. Today’s Gospel reading begins at this point.

Gospel Reflection; Sunday Aug 2, 2020

Upon hearing the news of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus seeks to withdraw, but the crowds follow him. Jesus reaches out to them in compassion and heals the sick. At the end of a long day, the disciples encourage Jesus to send the crowds away so that they might find provisions for themselves. Jesus again responds with compassion for the crowd. Jesus tells his disciples to provide food for the crowd. The disciples reply with a report of the meagerness of their own provisions—five loaves and two fish. The result is the very familiar miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that 5,000 men were fed, and this number does not even include the women and children.

Jesus’ blessing brought abundance from the meager provisions of the disciples. In this action, Jesus offers us a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven that he has been teaching about in the parables. A feast results from the smallest of portions—remember the mustard seed and the yeast. In this miracle we witness an example for Christian life and ministry. Even the smallest of offerings can produce abundant results when placed in the service of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We find the story of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fish in each of the four Gospels. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus performs this same miracle on two separate occasions. The story of this miracle is an anticipation of the Eucharist in which we are fed by the abundant grace of God. The importance of the Eucharist has been a defining element of Christian life from the very beginning.

Loyola Press – E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection Sun July 26, 2020

Today’s Gospel concludes three weeks of readings from the 13th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Throughout these three weeks we have heard Jesus teaching crowds about the kingdom of heaven, and we have heard Jesus interpret some of his teachings for the disciples. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus offers three more short parables.

The first two parables describe the great value of the kingdom of heaven. In the first parable, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a buried treasure that is worth possessing even if it means giving up everything else. In the second parable, Jesus proposes that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great worth for which one will sell everything else to possess. These parables teach us that we are to place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God.

The third parable that Jesus proposes in today’s Gospel is different from the first two, but it is reminiscent of the parable of the sower heard in last week’s Gospel. The kingdom of heaven is compared to fishing with a wide net. After the fish have been collected, the good fish are kept and the bad fish are thrown away; so too, in the final judgment, will the wicked and the righteous be separated.

Today’s Gospel concludes with a curious statement about the scribe who understands the kingdom of heaven. Here a metaphor is offered: this scribe is like the head of a household who “brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” The scribes referred to here are experts of Mosaic Law. It is possible that Jesus is here instructing the early Christian community on how to proceed in the interpretation of Jewish law with respect to Jesus’ “new” teaching. Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of heaven does not replace the Jewish tradition; it interprets it in a different light. Loyola Press – E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection July 19, 2020

Gospel Reflection July 19, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers three parables to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. He also explains why he speaks to the crowds in parables and interprets the parable of the sower for the disciples. This reading is a continuation of Jesus’ discourse that we began reading last Sunday.

All three parables use commonplace experiences to describe aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven. The first parable is longer and more detailed than the next two, and it alerts us to the two-fold reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. The beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven can be found in this world. The fruition of the Kingdom of Heaven, however, will not be realized until the final judgment. In the meantime, as Jesus’ explanation to the disciples cautions, any effort to judge the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven is premature. Only God, in the final judgment, will distinguish the fruit of the Kingdom of Heaven and offer its reward.

The second and third parables call to our attention the abundance that will result from the small beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as a mustard seed—the smallest of all seeds—will become a large bush, so too God will bring his Kingdom to full bloom. As a small amount of yeast will leaven the entire batch of bread, so too God will bring about the expansion of his Kingdom. In each case the image is of the superabundance that God brings out of even the smallest of signs of the Kingdom.

Contained within these parables are words of caution as well as words of consolation. In the parable of the sower we are warned against judging others. To judge and uproot the “weeds” prematurely will harm the wheat; final judgment rests with God. In the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, we are consoled by the message that God can work wonders and produce abundance from even the smallest beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Loyola Press E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection Sun July 12, 2020

Gospel Reflection – Sunday July 12, 2020

Today’s Gospel reminds us that in order for God’s Word to take root in us and produce abundant fruit, we must endeavor to be like good soil. Families, in particular, hold the responsibility for “preparing the soil” so that the seeds of God’s Word can grow strong. There are many ways in which families do this—family traditions in which faith is celebrated, prayer and reading of Scripture, and instruction on the faith. In these ways, parents fulfill the promises they made at their child’s Baptism.

Gather together as a family and reflect together on the Sacrament of Baptism. Tell the story of the Baptism of each child, showing any pictures that were taken. If you have your child’s Baptism candle or gown, share these as well. Recall together that one of the promises that parents make at their child’s Baptism is to bring them up in the practice of our faith. Talk together about the importance of this promise to your family. Then read together today’s Gospel, Matthew 13:1-23. Reflect together on the ways in which your family practices your faith (daily prayer, Mass attendance, religious instruction, etc.). Remind one another that we do these things as a family so that God’s Word can take root in our lives and produce abundant fruit. Conclude in prayer together by praying today’s Psalm, Psalm 65.

Loyola Press E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection; Sunday July 5, 2020

Gospel Reflection – Sunday July 5, 2020

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel comes after a discourse in which Jesus reproaches people who have witnessed his mighty deeds yet still lack belief. In this context, today’s Gospel explains the reason for this unbelief and reveals what is necessary for faith. Today’s Gospel also continues to enhance our understanding of discipleship as last week’s Gospel did.

Jesus first prays in thanksgiving to God who has made himself known to Jesus’ disciples. He praises God who has made himself known to the “little ones” and not to the wise and learned. As in other recent readings from Matthew’s Gospel, a contrast is made here between the unbelieving Pharisees, who are wise and learned, and the faithful disciples, tax collectors, and sinners with whom Jesus keeps company.

The second part of this reading calls to our attention the unity between the Father and the Son. God has made himself known through Jesus, and in knowing Jesus, we come to know the Father. In Jesus’ life and in his person, God reveals himself to us.

In the concluding sentences of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching is again contrasted to the teaching of the Pharisees. This common theme of Matthew’s Gospel probably reflects tension that existed between Jesus and the Pharisees and between the Pharisees and the community of Christians for whom Matthew wrote. Pharisaic Judaism became the predominant form of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem about 70 A.D. Here that tension is expressed as alternative paths of holiness. The careful observance of the Mosaic law taught by the Pharisees could be experienced by some as difficult and burdensome. In contrast, Jesus’ way of holiness is presented as uncomplicated and even restful.

Loyola Press E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection; Sun June 28th, 2020

Today’s Gospel is the conclusion of the instructions and consolations that we have heard Jesus offering to his disciples during the past few weeks. In this passage, Jesus summarizes both the costs of discipleship and its rewards. Once again our understanding of the Gospel is strengthened by considering the context in which it was written and the perspective of Matthew’s audience.

The conditions of discipleship outlined in Matthew’s Gospel may appear harsh. Yet they underline for us a truth—choosing anything with one’s whole heart has consequences. Choosing life with Christ means that every relationship we have must be understood from a new perspective. For many in Matthew’s community, this choice brought division to their family.

Matthew also outlines the reward of hospitality offered to Jesus’ followers. In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains the difficulties of discipleship, yet reveals that those who welcome the disciples have also welcomed him.

Today’s Gospel also highlights for us the importance of hospitality in the Christian life. To welcome another in Jesus’ name is to extend hospitality to Jesus himself. We have many opportunities in our daily life to reach out to others, to be a welcoming presence and a sign of God’s love.

.Loyola Press

Gospel Reflection Sun Jun 21, 2020

We read today’s Gospel in the context of last week’s Gospel in which Jesus sent the twelve disciples to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. In between last week’s reading and today’s reading, Jesus has predicted that the disciples will face difficulties in their mission. Many people will not receive them well, even within the land of Israel. Even family members will turn away from the disciples because of the disciples’ commitment to Jesus and the kingdom. Today’s Gospel offers the disciples consolation against this difficult truth. This section of Matthew’s Gospel should be read in the context of Matthew’s intended audience, a Jewish-Christian community. The Gospel alludes to the dangers and persecutions that this community has most likely already faced and will continue to face. To reassure this community, Matthew recalls for them the encouraging words of Jesus that we read today. In this Gospel passage, Jesus might be understood as putting suffering in perspective. The disciples of Jesus are called upon to keep their focus on God. Those who can harm the body do not have ultimate power; God does. Still persecution and suffering cannot be avoided or prevented. But Jesus reassures his disciples that God knows and cares about what happens to his children. We might not face the same type of persecution, but we do experience difficulties as we endeavor to live a Christian life. Sometimes we let the opinions of others prevent us from doing what we know to be right. We need the reminder that what God thinks about us is more important. We are reassured by the promise that God cares for us and protects us.

Loyola Press

June 14, 2020 Gospel Reflection

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) Gospel Reflection Sun Jun 14:

This Sunday we celebrate a second solemnity during this period of Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This day was once called Corpus Christi, which is Latin for “Body of Christ.” In the revised Lectionary the name for this day is expanded to reflect more completely our Eucharistic theology.Today’s Gospel is taken from the Gospel according to John. The reading is part of a discourse between Jesus and a crowd of Jews. The discourse comes shortly after the miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes. In John’s Gospel, miracles such as this are identified as “signs” through which people come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. These signs are followed by dialogue, or discourse that interprets and explains the miracle. In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is said to have occurred near Passover, thus linking it to the Exodus story and God’s saving action toward the Israelites.

Having seen Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, the crowd pursues him, perhaps seeking more food but also looking for another sign. Jesus tells the crowd that he is the bread of life. He explains that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent new manna that will give eternal life. It is in this context that Jesus repeats those words in today’s Gospel and tells them again that he is the living bread that came down from heaven.

Jesus’ words are not well understood by the crowd; they argue that Jesus is not from heaven but born of Mary and Joseph. The crowd also has trouble understanding how Jesus could give them his flesh to eat. Jesus tells them that when they eat his flesh and drink his blood, they will remain forever connected to him. These are difficult words, but they are important because they seek to show us our intimate connection with Jesus. Loyola Press

This is the mystery that is at the heart of our Eucharistic theology. In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are truly present. When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus himself comes to dwell within us. This communion with the Lord makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s Body in the world.

Loyola Press

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