Why Can’t We Beat the Devil? 2

First Sunday of Lent

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Jesus, who conquers Satan, reaches out to Adam and proclaims his redemption.

If the connection between the first reading and the Gospel this Sunday is not immediately clear, the second reading from St. Paul spells it out for us. The first reading from Genesis 3 tells us how Adam fell to the devil’s temptation, whereas in Matthew 4 we read how Christ overcame that temptation. In Romans 5, Paul ties the two together, by explaining that Adam “is a type of the one who was to come,” and concludes: More…

Why Do We Make an Outward Display of Penance When Jesus Says Not to Do That in Today’s Gospel? 1

Ash Wednesday

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In today’s Gospel reading (Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18), Jesus says that we should not perform righteous deeds in order to be seen and then follows up on that with three examples to clarify what he means. At one point, he specifically says “anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting.” Shortly after hearing this Gospel passage, we have dark ashes rubbed on our forehead and wear them for the rest of the day for everyone to see. Why the contradiction? More…

How to Be Perfect and Humble at the Same Time Reply

A Reflection for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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The Universal Call to Holiness

This Sunday the Lord assigns us with a tough task: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Why such a tall order?

No one knows more than Saint Paul the Apostle how difficult it is to be a follower of Christ: shipwrecked, scourged, nearly stoned to death… the list goes on. What for? In today’s Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us of the answer: “You belong to Christ!” Made in the image and likeness of God, you are a Temple of the Holy Spirit. You, like everyone else, are called to be holy (1 Corinthians 16-23). More…

What Is the Purpose of the Law? Reply

Reflection on the Readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“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? More…

Who is the Light of the World? YOU ARE! 3

 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…

What Does the Temple Mean for Us Christians? Reply

 

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

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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)

More…

People in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light Reply

Reflection for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“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…

The Lord Said to Me: You Are My Servant Reply

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“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…

How Important Was Jesus’ Baptism? Reply

OXYGEN VOLUME 13

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…

Epiphany’s Light and the Dark Side Reply

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“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…