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
We often say in the Church that stewardship is about the three Ts, time, talent, and treasure, but really, stewardship is about the big "E," which is everything. We are made up of more than just our time, talent, and treasure, and the gifts that come from God are overwhelming. All that we have, from the obvious to the not so obvious, is a gift from God. We are called to cultivate them all and offer them back to God with increase.READ MORE
All the readings on this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time seem to address from one perspective or another the idea of “free will” as it goes hand in hand with “God’s wisdom.” St. Paul speaks to this ongoing philosophy and discussion of “free will” more than anyone else in Holy Scripture. However, as he points out in our Second Reading from his First Letter to the Corinthians, “We speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory.”READ MORE
Stewardship is putting our faith in action through the use of the gifts given to us by God. It is becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ. The Lord did not want us to be passive in our approach to living. He wants more from us than just being quietly holy.READ MORE
The Gospel Reading for today is what is popularly called the Sermon on the Mount. Many think it is the absolute epitome of Jesus’ teachings. To be sure it tells us how we are to live our lives, the attitudes we are to have. We must remember that those who were waiting and hoping for the Messiah expected a military leader, one who would lead them in battle against their oppressors.READ MORE
The prophet Isaiah again records a remarkable prophesy in our First Reading from the Book of Isaiah. Within the context of that Scriptural reading Isaiah says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Just prior to that Isaiah speaks of two areas of Israel that are also the names of two of the twelve tribes of Israel — Zebulon and Naphtali. These tribes were located at the northern end of Israel adjacent to the Sea of Galilee.READ MORE
Our Gospel Reading today is quite short. However, it contains an important revelation from St. John the Baptist about Jesus, our Lord and Savior. John the Baptist testifies, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.” We are fond in the Church to use the symbol of the dove to represent the Holy Spirit, but what John says is not that the Spirit was a dove, but it descended like a dove.READ MORE
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek epiphainen, a verb that means “to shine upon,” “to manifest,” or “to make known.” What the Church celebrates today is the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the whole world; after being made known to the shepherds of Bethlehem, He is revealed to the Magi who have come from the East to adore Him.READ MORE