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
Our first reading is from the Book of Acts. In fact, it is the beginning of that Book. Acts was written by St. Luke. It is a continuation of his Gospel in many ways. We do not learn that much about Luke from the New Testament. Most historians agree that he was a doctor; he was a Gentile; and he was a companion of St. Paul.
Acts is basically the continuation of Jesus’ work as described in the Gospels. In effect it describes how the Good News traveled from Jerusalem to Rome. Our readings today are filled with reminders that Jesus’ work is not completed. He commissioned His followers to continue it after His Ascension into Heaven. Among those commissioned so to speak is each of us.
The Lord’s work continues from that day to today. However, for it to continue and for the love He shared and displayed to be the factor it needs to be in our parish and in the Church and in the world it is reliant upon us.
It was St. Teresa of Avila who wrote, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His Body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Holy Scripture, the Word of God, is filled with so much meaning for us each and every week, if we only listen carefully and absorb what we are being told. In the last verse of today’s First Reading we hear, “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” It is speaking of Sts. Peter and John who traveled to Samaria to more or less confirm those who had been baptized there.
In fact, most historians believe that the laying on of hands in the New Testament is the origin of the Sacrament of Confirmation. In the Apostolic Constitution on the Sacrament of Confirmation Pope Paul VI affirmed that laying on of hands in the sacrament of confirmation continues the grace of Pentecost (on Sunday, June 4 this year).READ MORE
The word “church” finds its roots in the Greek word “ecclesia”. However, a correct translation of that word is actually “an assembly of people, called out of their homes into a public meeting place.” Thus, the Church is really the people who make it up; the use of the term in relation to a building has developed through time, but we must never forget that it is we who are indeed the Church.
That is a basic part of something St. Peter writes in our Second Reading. Peter says, “… like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,” in reference to the members. He is saying in effect that we are called to build a church with living stones, namely ourselves. We all also understand that for a structure to be most effective, every element is needed to keep it strong.READ MORE
Shepherds and sheep were so much a part of life for Jesus and those from Galilee. Galilee was, after all, largely a rural area and raising sheep and shepherding was an intricate part of their lives. That is why the image of a shepherd with his sheep was so often used during biblical times. It was a connection with which people could identify.
It is equally important for us today to understand this important cultural connection for them. Shepherding was all about feeding the lambs and the sheep (recall that Jesus tells Peter “Feed my sheep.”), bringing them to good pasture lands and water (“The Lord is my shepherd…He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters; he restores my soul.”); going after lost lambs (“Does he not leave the ninety -nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”); and protects the sheep in the field and the fold (“The watchman opens the gate, and the sheep listen to his voice.”).
Our Gospel reading today comes from St. John 10: 1- 10. In St. John 10: 11, the next verse, Christ declares “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” As Catholics and Christians, we, too, are called to be Good Shepherds to all those with whom we come in contact. It may be from another culture than ours, but we should understand full well the implications of that.
"Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." The disciples on the road to Emmaus had already heard reports about Jesus' resurrection. It was at the forefront of their minds, but in spite of this, they did not recognize Jesus when he stood right before them.
Why not? Perhaps because they weren't looking for him. Maybe they didn't really believe that he was alive. Or it could be that his appearance was not the same as it had been before. Whatever the case, it's very interesting to learn that it was actually while celebrating the Eucharist that these men finally realized who was right there with them! "He was made known to them in the breaking of bread."READ MORE
Can you believe Lent is here already? It seems like not that long ago I was decorating a Christmas tree! Time waits for no one and that is why it is important to make a mindful commitment now to not let this Lenten season pass you by. It is a great time to focus on growing as an everyday steward. The temptations are always there to procrastinate or to give in to spiritual laziness, but the Church's observation of Lent offers us so many tools to help us get on track. Increased devotions such as Stations of the Cross, various parish missions, or Lenten-focused literature are all gifts that your parish may be offering to assist you in this season.READ MORE