Third Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 3 (Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-25; John 2:13-25)

Many people do not know quite what to do with the Decalogue, aka the Ten Commandments. Some want to toss it out the window as irrelevant and outdated. Others will salute it and insist on its importance. Conservative “family values” politicians sometimes use it as a club to beat society, but when cornered, they are often unable to explain — or sometimes even to name — all 10 of the commandments. 

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Second Sunday of Lent (Year B) Feb. 25 (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31b-35, 37; Mark 9:2-10)

The story of the sacrifice of Isaac is one of the weirdest and most disturbing stories in the Bible. Isaac was the long-promised son and heir — the promise that had kept Abraham and Sarah going for so many years. And now God was commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son — just like so many of the other forms of religious worship in that time.

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First Sunday of Lent (Year B) Feb. 18 (Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15)

Rainbows are beautiful to behold and often they are double or even triple in nature. Many hopes and dreams attach themselves to the rainbow — riches, happiness, acceptance and a better world someplace else. But it serves another purpose in Genesis — it is a memo or reminder to God of the covenant with Noah and his descendants. It reminds God not to destroy the Earth by water again — as if God needed reminders!

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 4 (Job 7:1-4. 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39)

There are many who would empathize with Job’s bleak outlook on life. His days were filled with pain and struggle, and he could see no end to his situation. He questioned even the meaning or value of his life.

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 28 (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)

Who is the mystery prophet of whom Moses and God spoke? He was never named and virtually no clues or hints were given. This led to speculation throughout the centuries, with the prophetic label pinned on different candidates. In the New Testament, he is simply referred to as “the prophet coming into the world,” and many thought that Jesus fit the role perfectly.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 24 (Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20)

This very abridged version of the story of Jonah omits some of the most important — and interesting — aspects of his prophetic ministry.

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 14 (1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42)

The call of God comes to people in many different ways. Just as no two people are alike, no two calls are alike — each one is tailor-made to the individual. We might label Samuel’s prophetic call as the “voice in the middle of the night.” In gratitude for the gift of her child, Samuel’s mother Hannah had given him over to Eli to be raised and formed for service to God. This was long before the building of the permanent temple or the presence of Israelites in Jerusalem.

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Epiphany of the Lord (Year B) Jan. 7 (Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

The thick darkness covering the Earth is easy enough to find, but the glorious light requires a bit more searching. In the past year, there has been an abundance of darkness — war, terrorism, mass shootings, corruption and the continual degradation of the environment and climate. Many lives have been lost; many are homeless; and many more are without hope.

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Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (Year B) Dec. 31 (Genesis 15:1-6; 17:3b-5, 15-16; 21:1-7; Psalm 105; Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40)

Abraham and Sarah had staked their entire lives on God’s promise. They left their native land for a destination unknown. God promised Abraham that in return for his trust and obedience, God would make him the father of a great nation. Having offspring was extremely important in ancient Israel. To die childless was to be snuffed out forever, for one’s name lived on only through descendants.

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Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 17 (Isaiah 61:1-3a, 10-11; Luke 1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28)

What does a message from God sound like? Isaiah sets the tone for the divine revelation and visitation that is repeated by Jesus in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. A message from God is good news and the source of joy. Good news for whom? For those most in need of it — the poor, the broken-hearted, the downtrodden and for those who are oppressed or lacking freedom. Missing from the list are the high and mighty, the arrogant, the violent and those who perpetrate the injustice and oppression present in our world.

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Second Sunday of Advent  (Year B) Dec. 10 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8 )

What would “comfort” and “good tidings” sound like in 2023? To whom would they be directed? To be at all meaningful, the message cannot be only for believers and churchgoers. Although originally given to the people of Israel in Babylonian exile, our own times call for a more universal application.

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1st Sunday of Advent  (Year B) Dec. 3 (Isaiah 63:16b-17; 6:4-1, 3-8; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37 

Many people have shared the feelings of frustration, helplessness and deep longing that Isaiah expressed with such poignancy. He lived in a very precarious and insecure world, one that was wracked with violence and rife with corruption. The glory of his nation was a distant memory that was rapidly fading. The people of Israel had just returned from 50 years of exile in Babylon to a devastated Judea and Jerusalem. The temple was in ruins, and the feeble attempts to rebuild it had fallen flat. It was a shadow of its former self. Many of the people lacked the enthusiasm and commitment necessary to restore the nation.

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A young woman, Suzette, became used to inventing explanations for being late for school. She was ashamed to tell the real reason: frequently, she had to take a detour, because she thought she’d glimpsed a certain type of vehicle and was afraid to see or be seen by the occupant. Just the idea of seeing a certain person who had harmed her, and who drove such a vehicle, made her so anxious she had to change her daily course. 

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Christ the King  (Year A) Nov. 26 (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46) 

As the old saying goes, “If you want the job to be done properly, do it yourself!” In the reading from Ezekiel, God seems to have reached that conclusion.

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov.19 (Proverbs 31:10-13, 16-18, 29, 26. 28-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30) 

The selection from Proverbs concerning the qualities of a perfect wife sounds more like a job description than a love letter. The qualities outlined became the benchmark against which wives were measured. She is a hyper-competent and multi-tasking manager of the household and seems to bear the entire burden without the slightest complaint. One wonders what a hypothetical description of the perfect husband would have contained.

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