What Are the Scrutinies? Reply

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sunday of Lent

Who can’t relate to the poem “Footprints in the Sand”?

For those who are not familiar with it, it’s a narrative poem about a person – this could be a woman or a man, but since the author is a woman – envisioning her life as a walk along the shoreline. As she looks back, she sees footprints trailing behind her in the sand. Upon realizing that at times there are two sets of footprints following her, at other times only one, she says to our Lord, “During the hardest times there is only one set of footprints! Where were you when I needed you most?” Jesus responds: More…

Who Is the God Who Is? Reply

Second Sunday of Lent


During Lent the Church invites us to reorient our lives. As a compass needs a true North in order to point us in the right direction, we too need an immutable point of reference to ensure that our lives are moving down the right path. The purpose of the Lenten season is to redirect our hearts and minds to God.

But isn’t it true that, as humans, we still have a hard time shifting the focus off ourselves, even during Lent? Is it not sometimes more about our holiness than it is about the God who makes us holy? This Sunday’s readings remind us where our focus needs to be by putting the spotlight where it should be, on God. More…

Why Can’t We Beat the Devil? 2

First Sunday of Lent


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


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 1

A Reflection for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


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


“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


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)


People in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light Reply

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…

The Lord Said to Me: You Are My Servant Reply

life in full bloom cropped 11 x 15 copy 2

“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…