Wednesday in the 20th Week of the Church Yearworkers

Saint for the day: St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Ezekiel 34:1-11

Psalm 23

Matthew 20:1-16

“Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” These words from the end of payingtoday’s Holy Gospel give us yet another side of the “first shall be last” theme from yesterday’s liturgy. But don’t forget the Ezekiel reading, which brings in the theme of the “Good Shepherd.” If we look at these scripture passages closely we should be able to see that the overriding point needs toshepherd start with the care and concern for the other. We’re not in this for our own, selfish benefit, but for the care of those who have no one else to care for him or her. The Gospel parable of the workers in the vineyard brings in another side of” the first shall be last” theme but turns it around, coming at it from the other side. There’s no way to get around the notion that God takes care of His own in a way that is not always easy for us to grasp: the good shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go out in search of the one lost sheep; the land owner pays a just wage even though those who worked the whole day – for an agreed-upon wage – feel cheated. GodWhat we can’t do is try to cheat God’s generosity. We can’t hide in the alleyways hoping that we’ll get hired towards the end of the day and not have to put in a full days’ work. That attitude only gives us a variation of the theme and we soon find out that the last are last! What kind of “bottom line” can we get from today’s liturgy? In the first place I think that we have to be honest to ourselves. There was a line in “The Nun’s Story” movie that I’ve always remembered. It’s toward the end when Sr. Luke is making her decision to leave her religious community. In her talk with the Mother Superior, Sister Luke is told, “You can cheat your sisters, but you cannot cheat yourself or God.” God wants to give us the fullness of His life and love. All we have to do is let Him be the God He wants to be in our lives. Is that too hard for us to accept? God lavishes His love upon us at all times. Our trouble usually centers on our miss-guided notion that we have to work at getting His free gifts. Amen!

 

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Tuesday in the 20th Week of the Church Yearcamel

Saint for the day: St. John Eudes (1601-1680)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Ezekiel 28:1-10

Deuteronomy 32:26 … 35

Matthew 19:23-30

 

 

“Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of washHeaven.”(The beginning verse of today’s Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew) And then, just in case we are confused by this Gospel we’re given another “corker” in the closing verse of the same Gospel: “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” We hear these words of today’s Holy Gospel up against our first Scripture reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. However, we’regive not following sequentially and we are hopping around some but I think the message still gets through that we aren’t to think of ourselves as having absolute control over our lives. When the Holy Gospel tells us that it will be difficult for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom we need to look at that phrase in the broadest sense of the world and not only in terms of monetary wealth. Even the person who has very little in terms of monetary wealth can still be seen as rich if they let their ideas of worth be centered in the things that they have control over. This is where the scripture from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel paints a picture of those who see power as a sign of God’s favor to them as being gift when it is really a curse. The “key” to understanding today’s Scripture readings might be found in the Gospel where Jesus says, “Anyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:28ff)

It’s interesting that the scripture readings for today’s Liturgy come right after I just watched an “oldie but Goldie” 1959 classic nunmovie: “The Nuns Story” with the one-time love of my life, Audrey Hepburn! It was set in the 1930’s war-torn Europe and the Belgian Congo and reflected a spirituality that took this passage above as key to being a faithful religious. Sometimes it was followed at the cost of de-humanizing the reality that we are flesh and blood people trying to follow the Lord as best we can. We’re not angels, yet and cannot forget that we are first and foremost required to let charity be our guiding word in all that we do. Even if it means we will be last – in whatever line we’re in but … just in case … first in the kingdom! Amen.

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20th Sunday of the Church Year

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm 67
Romans 11: 13 … 32
Matthew 15:21-28

Today is the last day of a few days off that I have enjoyed over on the California coast by Bodega Bay.  It’s hard not to believe in God if you are sitting on the beach and watching the waves continually pounding the sand and doing their twice daily “clean-up” of the beach.  In so many ways, God tries His best to clean up the messes that we make of his world and the ocean is certainly a miracle of God’s goodness in spite of what we do to His wonders.  I can’t help but think of the times I spent in Kenya and went to a retreat on the Indian Ocean.  Maybe some of the water I’m watching here might one day make its way to work on the beaches there.  That idea fits in well with today’s Liturgy, which reminds us that God’s presence in our world is ‘trans-national’ and way beyond tribal or ethnic boundaries.  This is a theme that Jesus repeats and is echoed in our 1st and 2nd readings for today’s Liturgy.

These concepts are not easy for any of us to grasp since we are people of one nation/nationality or another and only have that as a reference point. Yet Jesus (and St. Paul, too) constantly reminds us that we are to go out to all the world proclaiming the Reign of God.

Isaiah talks about ‘the mountain of the Lord’ and this mountain is – at one and the same time – the ‘mountain of revelation’ for Moses as well as the “mountain of transfiguration” for Peter, James and John … and you and me too.  It is also a mountain of controversy in that it makes it seem as if God has some favorites and some who are outside of his chosen people.  The Israelites, just like us, need to understand that even though God blesses us and bestows his gifts upon us we are still to go out to the entire world. On the Transfiguration Mountain we are given a glimpse of the “Glory of God” but we can’t stay there because we all have one more mountain – the Mount of Calvary – to climb.  This is where many of us balk at following Jesus.  Yet, for most of us, our “Calvary” will not be as dramatic as it was for Jesus or today’s saint, Joan of the Cross-who had a dramatic conversion to reach out and help the poor and destitute.

In the end we, like the Israelites, receive the ‘call’ and know that we are God’s Special People and are also given many examples of the revelation of Jesus as Son of God. Still, we have to fight the reality of our own sinfulness in whatever form it takes as we make our way up Calvary’s mountain for that final transformation: death to self in order to know resurrection life in Christ. Amen!

Monday in the 20th Week of the Church Yearyoung man

Saint for the day: St. Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Ezekiel 24:15-23

Deuternonomy 32:18 … 21

Matthew 19:16-22

 

“A young man approached Jesus and said to Him, ‘Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?’ … Then Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and … then come, follow me.” (words from today’s Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew)

The Gospel is probably one that most of us remember. It’s certainly more memorable than the first reading from Ezekiel which paints a story of how God’s humilityblessings come to us and how we react when they are taken away. A subtle reminder that we have no claim on God’s blessings and that we must always be thankful for what we have been given. The Responsorial Psalm paints a more vivid picture of what happens when we take God for granted with the verse, “You have forgotten God who gave you birth.”

In today’s Holy Gospel the young man approaches Jesus to ask Him, “What good must I do to gain eternal life?” When Jesus gives him the answer he is bold to say that he has done all these things and adds, “what do I still lack?” The answer that Jesus gives is deliberately challenging in an absolute sort of way: “get rid of all of your excess baggage, take care of the poor and then come, follow me.” I think Jesus must have known that not everybody would follow this advice. If that actually happened, who would be left to provide for us? Perhaps the point of this Holy Gospel is found in the last verses which then tell us, “Then come, follow me … but the man went away sad for he had many possessions.”  As I write today’s reflection I’m sitting in a very comfortable house overlooking the Pacific Ocean; I’ve said my morning prayers – using the blessconvenient computer link to “universalis.com” – I have a wireless connection to the internet; I’ve had a nice breakfast and am enjoying my third cup of fresh coffee! I’ve enjoyed a few days of peaceful rest in a setting that many people could not even come close to enjoying. There’s a thin line present whenever we realize how much God has blessed us and what we do with those blessings. “Blessings,” by very their very definition come from outside of us and only become a distraction when we take them for granted. They come to us as free gifts for us to use for building up our frail world. St. Francis stripped himself naked in front of his Bishop but, somehow, was still able to organize and promote a religious order that has existed for hundreds of years. Somebody must have held on to something or his work would not have been as successful as it has been. In the Gospel the young man went away sad and wasn’t able to follow Jesus. Can I enjoy the beauty of this house overlooking California’s Pacific Ocean which has given me a few days of quiet rest and renewed my spirit? Can I see this as a gift from God and not take it for granted? Can I be thankful for all the blessings God has poured into my life and use these gifts for building up the “people of God” and still not let them possess me? I hope so. Since this is what all of us must do if we want to be authentic followers of Jesus. Amen!

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Saturday in the 19th Week of the Church Yearnew life

Saint for the day: St. Stephen of Hungary (975-1038)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Ezekiel 18: 1 … 32

Psalm 51

Matthew 19:13-15

 

“If a person lives by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances, that one is virtuous – and shall surely live, says the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 18:9)

As I read this scripture passage from Ezekiel I could see where Jesus got many of the points for His Gospel preaching. I’m sure that He heart1was very deliberate in doing this so that the Jews – especially those Scribes and Pharisees who were steeped in the Word of God – could see that Jesus, Himself, was the fulfillment of the promises of a Messiah. This passage also repeats a familiar phrase that we have been hearing in all these days, “…make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (Ezekiel 18:31) This must be an important passage for all of us to hear since the Responsorial Psalm 51 hammers on it with the verse, “Create a clean heart in me, O God” which we repeat childrenfour times so that we’re sure to get it! Then, our very short Gospel ends with, “Let the children come to me … for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) I think we have to ask ourselves what does this Gospel have to tell us who are further down the “road of life?” In the first place, children, with their brand new hearts are full of unbridled energy and a naïveté that would allow a child – found sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with cake frosting all over their face and hands - to answer a parents question, “Who got into the frosting?” with a sincere, “I don’t know!” There’s another side to this that I discovered when we were running a summer camp in southern California in the late 60’s. I had taken up a little bit of magic to entertain the boys and found that it was more difficult than doing magic for adults. When I welcome1would hold up some small coin and wave over it with my other hand – telling them to keep their eyes on my closed fist with the coin - they would all shout out, “what’s in your other hand?” I think that this Gospel passage is telling us to follow Jesus with eyes wide open and not to be fooled or misled by anything. We have to remember that Jesus is turning the tables – even on His own disciples – when he welcomes the children since a child in the time of Jesus, had no rights and was often viewed having less value than the animals. But this is exactly what Jesus saw as His role as redeemer: to exclude nobody. To welcome even tax collectors and sinners. And that’s where all of us – in one way or another – are most often found. “Create a clean heart in me, O God!” Amen!

  

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Province of St. Joseph

The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Read More

Our Motto

The Order of Preachers, hence the abbreviation OP used by members, more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Roman Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in France, and approved by Pope Honorius III (1216–27) on 22 December 1216. Membership in the Order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and lay Dominicans.

Founded to preach the Gospel and to combat heresy, the Dominican motto is Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare. To praise, to bless and to preach.

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