"You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." The name Peter is significant. It comes from a word that means "rock." When Jesus gives this new name to Simon, he is identifying this chosen Apostle as a foundation upon which his church will stand. This verse, along with the constant practice of church tradition ever since that moment, explains the office of the papacy. The pope, even to this day, is a direct successor of Saint Peter. An unbroken historical line traces right back to Christ himself when he gave "the keys to the kingdom of heaven" to Peter.
In establishing Peter as the first pope, Jesus was putting a structure in place that has proved to be a brilliant one. Because it is built on a firm foundation, the Catholic Church has been able to persevere for millennia through schisms, wars, scandals, and the persistent presence of sin in its all-too-human members. The church has maintained consistency and unity in her teaching thanks to the headship of the pope. It really is remarkable that an institution so old can still be so vital in this day and age. Thus far, the prophetic utterance of Christ remains true, "the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." Jesus must have been thinking of us, of all future Christians, when he established the papacy. Just as Jesus instructed Peter after the Resurrection to "Feed my lambs...feed my sheep," (Jn 21:15, 17), so too our Holy Father continues the mission to care for us like a good shepherd. We may be thousands of miles from him, but his prayers and his leadership serve our local Catholic community nonetheless. The pope's care for us will always be a reminder of the loving concern of Christ for his church.
Today’s Gospel from the Book of Matthew describes what occurred in Tyre and Sidon when Jesus cured the daughter of a Gentile woman. Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities. The Apostles faithfully followed the Lord wherever He went, just as we are called to do.
There was only one reason that the Lord made this trip (on foot, of course, as that was the only alternative at that time), and that was to cure the daughter of the Gentile woman. Making an effort like that is a sign of Christ’s love and His understanding of a need. He was also trying to teach His followers, which includes us, how important each individual and her or his faith is.READ MORE
In today’s Gospel from the Book of Matthew, we hear the remarkable story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. St. Peter reflects his faith in the Lord when he says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says simply, “Come.” We do not know if Peter stepped into the water or jumped and it does not matter. His faith and trust in the Lord allows Peter, too, to begin to walk on the water. Clearly when Peter’s focus is on Christ, he is able to accomplish this.READ MORE
There are times in our lives that we get the chance to see a glimpse of heaven. It may be through the love of another, loved one or stranger. Sometimes it may even be an event that seems unexplainable, perhaps even supernatural. These occurrences may be the answer to prayer or they may surprise us by coming out of nowhere. But no matter their nature or origin, they give us hope and strength to carry on through life.READ MORE
Jesus presents us with more parables in today’s Gospel from St. Matthew. He opens the first one with “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”READ MORE
Today’s readings remind us of the fact that it is God who guides us, and it is God who influences our decisions through the Holy Spirit. Today’s Gospel is again a series of parables shared by our Lord Jesus to teach us and to explain Holy Scripture.
Jesus tells the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat, which is relatively clear to us in terms of the facts. However, there is an important point within it that we must acknowledge. When the decision is made to allow the weeds to grow with the wheat, it is clear the separation will occur later, not at that moment. When the decision is made as to what will be harvested and kept and what will be destroyed, that is a decision made by God.
It is somewhat a reflection of another point made in scripture. Today’s Gospel comes to us from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13; however, in just a few chapters prior to that (Chapter 7) we are told “Stop judging, that you may not be judged…for as you judge, so will you be judged.” There is no question that there are “weeds” among the flock, but it is not our place to identify them and sort them out. That is the work of God.
As Catholics and Christians we must take care not to be self-righteous and judgmental. Before we call into question someone else’s walk with God, we need to scrutinize and take care of our own. Stewardship is what we do, not what we necessarily think others should do.
In today’s Gospel Reading from St. Matthew, Christ is asked why He speaks in parables. His response in part is the statement, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Christ’s parables, of which there are many, may not always make sense to us, unless we consider them carefully. Christ’s speaking in and relating to parables has everything to do with what we call The Word. If we listen conscientiously to the Word (represented by our readings at Masses and to the homily we hear), we may, and perhaps even should grasp the meaning. The Word is filled with the deeper truths of the Bible. God opens our eyes and ears to these truths, but we must be amenable to them and must be willing to try to understand them. Too often we merely listen and do not hear. We go through the motions when our total concentration should be on what we are being told. First of all, we need to appreciate that only God can open the eyes and ears of each of us.
One of the popular phrases about stewardship is “an attitude of gratitude.” That is so important. On a bad day, even the most hardened of us can find one thing for which to be grateful, and that can adjust everything in our thought processes. Are we closed off to the teachings of Jesus? If we open our minds and concentrate, the Lord’s teachings may unfold to us like nothing we have ever experienced previously.
Does the Holy Spirit dwell within you? If you are a baptized and confirmed Catholic the answer is a resounding “yes.” However, a better question might be “Is the Holy Spirit alive within you?” We are all gifted with the Holy Spirit, but how we respond to that gift varies immensely from one person to another.
St. Paul says as much in the Second Reading from his letter to the Romans. Paul says, “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, (He) will give life to your mortal bodies also.” This produces a number of other questions for us as Catholics.
Given that the Spirit is within us, but does the Spirit guide us to Jesus? Are we prepared to be more like Jesus? Are we willing to be His disciple? And especially, Is the Spirit working in our hearts? It is there for each of us, to strengthen us and fortify us and to be with us always. However, we have to accept and embrace that fact. Living a life of stewardship is one of the ways we can do that. As our Bishops have told us in their pastoral letter on stewardship, “Stewardship is how you respond to Jesus’ call to discipleship and holiness.”
It is a challenge for sure, but it is within the grasp and the capability of each of us. We may have to work at it, but if we trust in God it is most definitely possible.
When I was a teenager, after a homecoming dance one year I took my date for a walk on the Potomac in downtown Alexandria. The moon was out and I was struck by how the light shimmered on the water. I remember focusing to try to see all the details of the dancing rays on the ripples. My date didn't see it and didn't really get it. She thought it was no big deal. It was a great date and a fun night, but for that one moment, we saw the world from two completely different vantage points.
Two of the greatest gifts from God to each of us are life and time. Without taking care, we can easily miss the grandeur and beauty of both. Being mindful as an everyday steward means pausing to see the detail in all that exists around us. God's creation is not something created with a broad brush, but instead with the intricacies of a master painter.
God created all things with purpose and a complexity only the divine could fully comprehend. Every single hair on our head has been counted! But when we take a moment to reflect on the beauty that is created by that complexity, we allow ourselves to revel in God's generosity. There is so much to give thanks for in this life. But you and I can't give thanks to God unless we really stop to take notice. When was the last time you stared in awe at the moon?
Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS...© Liturgical Publications Inc
This has been a month of celebrations for us as Catholics. Today we celebrate the Solemnity (Feast) of Corpus Christi during which we commemorate the great gift of the Eucharist which stands at the heart and life of the mission of the Church. This is not only a time to celebrate this gift to us from Christ, but to consider its meaning and richness both in the life of the Church and in our lives as Catholics.
The celebration of Corpus Christi commemorates the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, one of the Sacraments of the Eucharist. On Holy Thursday Jesus met the Apostles for the Last Supper, when He said, “This is my Body (indicating the bread) and this is my Blood (designating the wine).” We as Catholics acknowledge the gift of the Eucharist, as this is the food of our souls.
Twelve times during the Last Supper Jesus reminds us that He is the Bread of Life. He is quite definite about this reality. It is He Who gives us eternal life. Every Catholic Mass, not just this one, is both a memorial to Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection, and also a participation in the sacrifice which Christ made on the Cross for us. When we approach to receive communion, we are in reality at the foot of the Cross, adoring, asking forgiveness, and offering ourselves to Christ Who loved us to His death.
Today, and every day when we approach the Eucharist, we need to keep this in mind. We need to receive this incredible gift and then as good stewards we need to share it by being disciples, by sharing the Good News in our lives and how we live them.
In the Gospel of Matthew 28:19 we hear Jesus instruct his Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This is, of course, one of many references in Holy Scripture to the Holy Trinity which we celebrate on this Solemnity today.
When we receive the Eucharist at Mass, we are receiving more than the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ; we are also receiving the Father and the Holy Spirit because they are all One. This concept of Three Persons in one God is surely a mystery beyond our comprehension. We take this belief on faith as part of our Catholic beliefs because our human brains can never fully understand it.
We received the Holy Spirit when we were confirmed, but we also received the Father and the Son. When we look at the Tabernacle which is in every Catholic Church throughout the world, we know that Christ is present, but the Father and the Holy Spirit are as well. They all dwell in heaven which means that our Tabernacle might be called a “gateway to heaven.”
Do we think of all this when we come into the church, when we attend Mass? We should. The Holy Trinity is present there every hour of every day and every day of every month and every year. That is one of the reasons we need to attend Mass —to understand and celebrate the Holy Trinity.
Today, Pentecost Sunday, is called by many the birthday of the Church. Not only does the Lord imbue His followers and Apostles with the Holy Spirit, but He sends them out into the world to accomplish and further His mission.
There are strong connections to the concept of stewardship throughout the readings on this day, including the statement by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” That is a prompt to us that we are gifted in different ways, but we are to be willing to use those gifts to assist and support the Church and others.READ MORE