Gospel Reflections

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ  commemorates the transfiguration  of Christ on Mount Tabor, when our Lord appeared in His divine glory before the Apostles Peter, James, and John.  This feast is  celebrated on the sixth of August. The blessing of grapes, as well as other fruits and vegetables on this day is the most beautiful and adequate sign of the final ­transfiguration of all things in Christ. It signifies the ultimate flowering and fruitfulness of all creation in the paradise of God’s unending Kingdom of Life where all will he transformed by the glory of the Lord.

Remember to bring fruit for blessing which will be held following each Liturgy on:

Saturday, Aug. 6 at 4:00 p.m. ( St. Anne)

Sunday, Aug. 7 at 9:30 a.m. (St. Michael) 

Sunday, Aug. 7 at 10:00 a.m. (St. Anne)

My transfigured Lord, You are glorious beyond imagination, and You revealed a small glimpse of this glory to Your disciples to help them trust You more fully. May I also trust in You more completely, knowing that all You have spoken to me is true. Please remove any doubt and fear in my life so that nothing keeps me from embracing Your holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

August 7 – GOSPEL  REFLECTION:

Matt 14: 22-34

Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” 

What a wonderful expression of faith!  Saint Peter, caught in stormy conditions on the sea, expressed his complete confidence that if Jesus were to call him out of the boat to walk on water, it would happen.  Jesus does call him to Himself, and St. Peter begins to walk on water.  Of course, we know what happened next.  Peter was filled with fear and began to sink.  Fortunately, Jesus caught him, and all was well.

Interestingly, this story reveals much to us about our own lives of faith and much more about the goodness of Jesus.  So often we begin with a faith in our head and have every intention of living that faith.  Like Peter, we often make firm resolutions to trust in Jesus and to “walk on water” at His command.  However, all too often we experience the same thing Peter did.  We start to live the trust we express in Jesus, only to suddenly waver and give in to fear in the midst of our hardship.  We begin to sink and have to cry out for help.  

In some ways, the ideal would have been if Peter expressed his faith in Jesus and then walked to Him without faltering.  But, in other ways, this is the ideal story, in that it reveals the depth of Jesus’ mercy and compassion.  It reveals that Jesus will catch us and draw us out of our doubts and fears when our faith gives way.  This story is much more about Jesus’ compassion and the extent of His help than it is about Peter’s lack of faith.

 

July 31 – GOSPEL  REFLECTION:

Matt 14: 14-22  

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. 

 

Do you ever feel as though you have little to offer?  Or that you cannot make an impact in this world?  At times, we may all dream of being someone “important” with great influence so as to do “great things.”  But the fact of the matter is that you can do great things with the “little” you have to offer.   Today’s Gospel passage reveals that God was able to take something very small, five loaves of bread and two fish, and transform them into enough food to feed tens of thousands of people. “Five thousand men, not counting women and children.” This story is not only a miracle for the purpose of providing the necessary food for the crowd who came to listen to Jesus in a deserted place, it’s also a sign to us of the power of God to transform our daily offerings into exponential blessings for the world.

 

Our goal must not be to determine what we want God to do with our offering; rather, our goal must be to make the offering of all we are and all we have and leave the transformation to God.  Sometimes our offering may seem small.  It may seem like what we offer will have no benefit.  For example, making an offering to God of our mundane daily chores or the like may seem unfruitful.  What can God do with this?  The same question could have been asked by those with the loaves and fishes.  But look what Jesus did with them!

 

We must daily trust that everything we offer to God, whether it appears to be great or small, will be used by God in an exponential way.  Though we may not see the good fruits like those in this story did, we can be certain that the good fruit will be abundant.

 

July 24 – GOSPEL  REFLECTION:   Matt 9:27-35

Are there any blind-spots in your life that keep you from recognizing God’s power and mercy? Faith opens the way for us to see the power of God’s kingdom and to experience his healing presence in our lives. The word mercy literally means “sorrowful at heart”.  But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer.  But mercy goes further; it removes suffering.  A merciful person shares in another’s misfortune and suffering as if it were his own. In Jesus we see the fullness of God’s mercy and the power of his kingdom — power to save from death and destruction, to forgive sins and lift the burden of guilt, and to heal infirmities and release the oppressed. Jesus never refused to bring God’s mercy to those who earnestly sought it.

 

How can we seek and obtain God’s mercy?  God gives mercy to those who recognize their need for God and for His forgiveness and healing power.  Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand His truth, and to live in the power of His love.  For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands.  When two blind men approached Jesus, He questioned their earnestness in order to test and strengthen them in faith and trust in his power.  Their faith grew as they responded to His word with confident hope. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in the confident expectation that He will fulfill his promises to us and bring us into the fullness of his kingdom.

 

Do you know the peace and joy of God’s kingdom?

 

 

July 17 – GOSPEL  REFLECTION:   John 17: 1-13

 In His Last Supper discourse Jesus speaks of His glory and the glory of His Father.  What is this glory?  It is the cross which Jesus speaks of here.  In the cross God reveals His great love for sinners and the power of redemption which cancels the debt of sin and reverses the curse of our condemnation.  Jesus gave His Father the supreme honor and glory through His obedience and willingness to go to the cross.  The greatest honor, trust, and love any person can give one’s leader is through his obedience even to the point of sacrificing his own life.   Jesus also speaks of the Father bringing glory to the Son through the mystery of the Incarnation and Cross of Christ.  God the Father gave us His only begotten Son for our redemption and deliverance from slavery to sin and death.  There is no greater proof of God’s love for each and every person on the face of the earth than the Cross of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus also speaks of eternal life.  What is eternal life?  It is more than simply endless time. To have eternal life is to have the life of God within us.  When we possess eternal life we experience here and now something of God’s majesty, His peace, joy and love and the holiness which characterizes the life of God.  Jesus also speaks of the knowledge of God.  Knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally. To see Jesus is to see what God is like.       Do you seek unity of heart, mind and will with God and unity of love and peace with your neighbor?

 

July 10 – GOSPEL  REFLECTION:   Matt 8: 28– 9:1

Do you ever feel driven by forces beyond your strength? Two men who were possessed and driven mad by the force of many evil spirits found refuge in the one person who could set them free. Jesus took pity on these men who were overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. The destructive force of these demons is evident for all who can see as they flee and destroy a herd of swine. After Jesus freed the demoniacs the whole city came out to meet him. No one had demonstrated such power and authority against the forces of Satan as Jesus did. They feared Jesus as a result and begged him to leave them. Why would they not want Jesus to stay? Perhaps the price for such liberation from the power of evil and sin was more than they wanted to pay. Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God.

 Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from his love and saving power?

“Lord Jesus, unbind me that I may love You completely and walk in the freedom of Your way of love and holiness. May there be nothing which keeps me from the joy of living in Your presence.”

 

July 3 – GOSPEL  REFLECTION:   Matt 8: 5-13

In Jesus’ time the Jews hated the Romans because they represented everything they stood against — including foreign domination and pagan beliefs and practices. Why did Jesus not only warmly receive a Roman centurion but praise him as a model of faith and confidence in God.  The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled as well.  He risked the ridicule of his people  by seeking help from an itinerant preacher from Galilee, and well as mockery from the Jews.  Nonetheless, he approached Jesus with confidence and humility.  He was an extraordinary man because he loved his slave.  In the Roman world slaves were treated like animals rather than people. The centurion was also an extraordinary man of faith.  He wanted Jesus to heal his beloved slave.  Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his request. 

Are you willing to suffer ridicule in the practice of your faith?  And when you need help, do you approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?

 “Heavenly Father, You sent us Your Son that we might be freed from the tyranny of sin and death.  Increase my faith in the power of Your saving word and give me freedom to love and serve others with generosity and mercy as You have loved me.”

 

FEAST OF STS.  PETER & PAUL, Wednesday, June 29

This is a Holy Day of Obligation

and you are required to make an effort to attend Liturgy.

 

Divine Liturgy will be held at:

St. Michael Parish  – 10:00 AM.

St. Anne Parish –  7:00 PM.

In the persons of Sts. Peter & Paul, the Church recognizes its universality as these apostles preached the Gospel to both Jews and gentiles – bringing the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to all people everywhere. Today we continue this work through the ecumenical efforts of our Church to bring unity, not only among Christians, but through dialogue with non -Christian religions as well. Through their martyrdom, Sts. Peter and Paul stand out for us as role models. Although they each demonstrated very real human weaknesses, they were able, through the grace of God, to overcome these traits and live a life totally dedicated to the will of God. Aware of our own frailties, we too can rely on the grace of God to help us remain faithful to God’s word.

 

GOSPEL  REFLECTION: John 3: 13-17

In today’s Gospel we encounter one of the most quoted verses in the Christian world. John 3:16 “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.”

Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to save people. The nature of His mission will also bring judgment for those who choose not to believe.  Within our faith, we are pushed to believe there is more to this passage than simply saying these words and being granted eternal life. We are asked to live these words every day through faith, but also through words and actions. Salvation is a way of life not simply a declaration of faith.

How are we saved? We are saved every time we receive the Eucharist. The salvation offered in the Eucharist is our way of life. This is what we believe every day and it is the way we acknowledge that we need saving.  Do I acknowledge every day that I need to be saved? Do my actions reflect this?

 

GOSPEL  REFLECTION:  John 6: 48-54

 God offers his people abundant life, but we can miss it.  What is the bread of life which Jesus offers?  It is first of all the life of God Himself — life which sustains us not only now in this age but also in the age to come. The Rabbis said that the generation in the wilderness have no part in the life to come. In the Book of Numbers it is recorded that the people who refused to brave the dangers of the promised land were condemned to wander in the wilderness until they died. The Rabbis believed that the father who missed the promised land also missed the life to come. When Jesus offers us real life  He brings us into a new relationship with God, a relationship of trust, love, and obedience.  And He offers us real life which last forever, a life of love, fellowship, communion, and union with the One who made us in love to be Him forever.  To refuse Jesus is to refuse eternal life, unending life with the Heavenly Father. To accept Jesus as the bread of heaven is not only life and spiritual nourishment for this world but glory in the world to come. Do you accept Jesus as the bread of life?

Meditation:

 

Lord Jesus, You are the Living Bread which sustains me in this life.  May I always hunger for the bread which comes from heaven and find in it the nourishment and strength I need to love and serve You wholeheartedly.  May I always live in the joy, peace, and unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, both now and in the age to come”.

 

GOSPEL  REFLECTION: Matt. 10:32-33, 37-38, 19: 27-30

 

Jesus said to his apostles: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”  Matthew 10:37-38

 

Jesus explains an interesting consequence of choosing to love family members more than God.  The result of loving a family member more than God is that one is not worthy of God.  This is a strong statement meant to evoke serious self-reflection.

First, we should realize that the only way to authentically love one’s mother or father, son or daughter, is to first love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength.  Love of one’s family and others must flow from this pure and total love of God.

For that reason, we should see Jesus’ warning as a call to make sure we are not only loving Him fully, but also a call to make sure we fully love our family by allowing our love of God to become the source of our love of others.

 

How is it that we may violate this command of our Lord?  How would we love others more than Jesus?  We act in this sinful way when we allow others, even family members, to take us away from our faith.  For example, on a Sunday morning while you are getting ready to go to church, a family member tries to convince you to skip Mass for some other activity. If you concede so as to appease them, then you are “loving” them more than God.  Of course, in the end, this is not an authentic love of the family member since a decision was made contrary to the will of God.

Whoever acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  Whoever disowns me before men I will disown before my Father in heaven.”