Reflection on the Readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Moses Breaking the Ten Commandments,” Rembrandt
At first glance, Jesus comes out swinging in this Sunday’s Gospel reading: I have not come to abolish the law but to TIGHTEN THE SCREWS!
No. That’s not what he says. He says that he comes to fulfill it. In other words, he plans to bring God’s plan to its fruition. To understand just what that means, we need to know what the point of the law is in the first place.
The purpose of the law is to teach. What does the law teach us?
The funny thing about us humans is we think laws are there to keep us in line. This cynical attitude is due mostly to the penalty we might incur from breaking the law. After all, when it comes to incentives for following the law we are more often presented with sticks than with carrots. But the first two readings and the Psalm for today present the true reward for abiding by the law: living in accord with God’s wisdom brings fulfillment to God’s people. “Blessed are they who follow the Law of the Lord!”(Psalm 119:1)
To understand that the purpose of the law is to teach us how to live as God’s people, we need to look at the first law God gave to humanity: More…
A reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Since the Feast of the Epiphany, our liturgical motif has been light and darkness. This Sunday, the word Light appears ten times in the readings – fourteen if you count the times we repeat “The just man is a light in darkness to the upright,” in the Responsorial Psalm.
What caught my attention in that verse, besides the recurrent light and darkness theme, were the words “the just man” and “the upright.” What’s the difference? Isn’t a just man an upright man and vice versa? This verse from Psalm 112 presents these synonymous terms as different individuals where the former (just man) acts as a beacon of hope and a model or guide to the latter (the upright). Such is the relationship between Jesus Christ and his disciple. We hear this same idea confirmed in the Gospel Acclamation: More…
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
This Sunday’s Gospel reading contains a hymn many people pray before going to bed at night, the Canticle of Simeon.
“Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace,
according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
As a bedtime prayer, Simeon’s Canticle brings a deep and abiding sense of peace, rest, and completion at the end of the day. At the end of each Day of Creation, God says “It is good,” and on the Seventh Day, He rests. We too are called to recognize the good things God provides each day and put our thoughts and cares to rest, laying them and the fruit of our hard day’s work in His hands, praising Him for His many blessings, and entrusting our lives to Him. That is how God intended it to be, from the beginning.
Why was it appropriate for Simeon to pronounce this hymn upon seeing the Lord enter his Temple? More…
Reflection for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Dark to Light” Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Jan 25, 2020 — Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Photo taken by Alison Stone
And God said, “Let there be light,”
and there was light.
God saw that the light was good,
and he separated the light from the darkness.
When I teach Sacred Scripture to high school students, I like to have them draw the ‘Six Days of Creation’ as I read aloud from Genesis 1. I tell them to divide their paper into six boxes, like a comic strip, and then draw what they hear while I read. As they continue to draw, I read the account for each day two or three times before proceeding to the next day, so as to give them time to illustrate each section. When I get to ‘Day Four’ I read the following: More…
“Now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb” (Image: Life in Full Bloom, By Alison Stone)
For the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Every Sunday the liturgical readings present us with a mystery, and the mystery this Sunday might be how these particular readings are connected. Let’s start by considering the First Reading taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah: More…
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
I get goosebumps every time I attend a baptism. Whether it’s an infant or an adult being baptized, I feel like I’m transported back to my own baptism, every time.
I don’t actually remember my own baptism as a baby, of course, but celebrating the sacrament of baptism always awakens my interconnectedness with all the baptized in Christ.
Like ligaments connecting muscles to bones, baptism unites us all as one body in Christ. On account of our faith, we know that baptism really and truly unites us to Him. More…
“Gifts of the Magi” from the Nativity Scene in St. Augustine’s Cathedral, St. Augustine, Florida (Photo by Alison Stone)
According to St. John,
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
The liturgy for this Sunday presents our Lord’s Epiphany, a feast of light, in the midst of dark times. The text from St. Luke’s Gospel begins and ends with Herod and deals more with this nefarious figure than with the Magi, Mary, Joseph, or our Lord. Surely, our Sunday reflection should focus on Christ, yet Scripture also sets King Herod before us to contemplate as well. What do we stand to gain by considering this dark character, on the feast of light and hope?
Was Herod even capable of having an epiphany? More…
“Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto” at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in St. Augustine, Florida (photo taken by Alison Stone 1/3/2020)
The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27)
Among the mysteries in Sacred Scripture the one that puzzles the most, perhaps, is Israel’s failure to live up to its end of the bargain. That would not be a total mystery, except for the fact that God continually upholds his part, despite their failure. More…
Reflection for the First Sunday of Christmas, Feast of the Holy Family, Year A
The time for waiting is over! Now it’s time for Joy! Kid’s are here to remind us what Christmas is all about.
If we could sum up the logic of the liturgical calendar in one word, the word would be Christ. It makes sense then that Christmas is the season of Joy, because we celebrate Jesus’ new born presence in the here-and-now of our lives.
It can be a great downer when Christmas comes and we’re not finding that joy, here and now. We may just find the opposite. We might even find chaos, instead of joy. What does the liturgy for the first Sunday of Christmas offer to console us?
A reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
Joseph, an ordinary man, can’t be all that different from you and me, even if God made him the Dad of Jesus.
If you’re like me, or most people for that matter, you’ve got a lot to do three days before Christmas.
You want to enjoy Christmas – the way it’s meant to be enjoyed – with deep and abiding peace, love, and joy. So it makes good sense that you’d be down on yourself if some little thing caused you to FREAK OUT NOW and lose your last days of Advent cool.
That’s why we can’t but admire character of Joseph. More…