24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 17 (Sirach 27:30-28:7; Psalm 103; Romans 14:7-9; Matthew 18:21-35)

The psalm proclaims that “the Lord is merciful and gracious.” And fortunately for us, the Lord is indeed merciful and gracious, but there is a catch that we often overlook. We are made in the image of God so we too must be merciful and gracious. After all, we are bound together not only with God but with all human beings.

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The deep-down goodness of the “average” person gives me awe. No wonder the psalmist, even after experiencing the worst human beings are capable of, exclaims: “you are gods, children of the most high, all of you” (Psalm 82:6). For, as Jesus reminded His hearers when quoting this verse (John 10:34), we’re capable of receiving the very word of God. When we lose everything else, we must hold on to this truth.

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 3 (Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27)

Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet and for a good reason. He knew that the message that he was missioned to proclaim to the people would be received badly. He knew that it would anger many people and that his life would be in grave danger.

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 27 (Isaiah 22:15, 19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20)

God would make an uncompromising and decisive HR manager. Shebna held a very influential and powerful post — master of the king’s household. Unfortunately, his performance was lacking and he was corrupt, arrogant and possibly treasonous. God’s word to him was simple and to the point: You’re fired!

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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 20 (Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28)

The command of the Lord was forceful and unambiguous: maintain justice and do what is right. It doesn’t require a theology degree or private revelations to understand, and yet people find this extraordinarily difficult.

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 13 (1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:21-33)

Elijah expected a grand show. The word of the Lord directed him to stand on the mountain because God was going to pass by. At first, it seemed that he would not be disappointed. There was a wind so strong that it split rocks. But God was not in the wind. This was followed by a strong earthquake — but no God. Finally, there was a consuming fire, but God was not even in the fire. 

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Transfiguration of the Lord  (Year A) Aug. 6 (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9) 

Violent and frightening times always give birth to new theologies, and the time of the Maccabean War in the second century B.C. was no exception. The people of Judea were being persecuted by the Seleucid Greeks of Syria, who sought to obliterate the Jewish religion, customs and traditions. Many were dying for their faith while others were more than happy to serve their new overlords.

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time  (Year A) July 30 (1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52) 

What if we were offered the fulfillment of one wish? What would we choose? Our choice would say a lot about us and our values.

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 23 (Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43)

There is a huge difference between raw power and sovereignty that is linked with strength. Power can be and often is used to subjugate and dominate others and to enhance one’s own glory. Power is often used against those deemed to be adversaries or enemies and sometimes even against family members and fellow Christians. Even a superficial skimming of a history book will confirm that power has often been used as an instrument of oppression, both in the distant past and the modern era.

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 16 (Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)

The word of God is far more than squiggles on a page or sound vibrations in the air. It is active and dynamic, expressing and fulfilling the divine will in our world and our lives.

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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 9 (Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30)

The radiant prophecy from Zechariah is familiar to most as the text associated with the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The evangelist clearly saw Jesus as the embodiment of the king in this prophecy. Scholars are not certain as to the time in which it was written — many dates have been proposed, but none is certain. It was written as an oracle of hope during a time of distress and fear, which means it could have been written at almost any time. The best estimates place it after the exile, possibly in the fifth century BC. It was probably an independent oracle utilized by the author of the book.

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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time  (Year A) June 18 (Exodus 19:1-6a; Psalm 100; Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 9:36-10:8)

A scant three months had passed since the Israelites left Egypt. Their liberation was incredibly dramatic. Plagues, parting seas and the humbling of one of the superpowers of the ancient world were the means by which God had led them to freedom.

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Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Year A) June 11 (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-59)

Throughout humanity’s history, people have been challenged to learn the meaning of “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” There is a constant struggle between faith and trust on the one hand and fear and sin on the other. Too often fear wins out and disaster follows close behind.

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Most Holy Trinity  (Year A) June 4 (Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9; Daniel 3; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18 )

Moses had an extremely important appointment that he had to keep. The appointment was with God, who would be revealed to him. He would also receive the Ten Commandments on stone tablets.

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Pentecost Sunday (Year A) May 28 (Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

To the first believers in Christ, the Holy Spirit was far more than an idea or a doctrine — it was a living, powerful presence. To encounter the Spirit was to be in for a bumpy and sometimes scary but exciting ride. Of one thing they were sure: Jesus Christ was present and working in their hearts and communities.

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