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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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov. 12 (Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13)

Wisdom and knowledge are not identical. A person can have a tremendous amount of knowledge and yet be evil or amoral in their use of it. We see examples of this all around us as scientific knowledge is used to kill and destroy. Humanity is awash in information and facts but they are of little help in facing the challenges of life and the needs of the world.

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time  (Year A) Nov. 5 (Malachi 1:14-2:2. 8-10; Psalm 131; 1Thessalonians 2: 7-9, 13; Matthew 23:1-12) 

Why would God be concerned with people giving glory to His name? Does God need any additional glory?

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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 29 (Exodus 22:21-27; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40)

Those who have “made it” in the world often forget their humble origins — in fact, many labour to cover them up. Similarly, immigrant nations sometimes forget their struggles and show little sympathy to new immigrants arriving on their shores. Often those who have suffered injustices visit these same misdeeds on others, forgetting their own experience of pain. Fortunately, some remember their hard upward climb and compassionately extend a helping hand to those struggling along behind them.

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 22 (Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5ab; Matthew 22:15-21)

As we make our way through the world, it is often difficult to distinguish who the villains and the heroes really are. Appearances often deceive, and Satan can come cloaked in light. Sometimes, however, those whom we initially thought to be covered in darkness reveal a bit of light.

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 15 (Isaiah 25:6-10a; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14)

Life with God is often likened to an elaborate feast. Only the finest foods and the most exquisite wines will do — God is definitely not stingy. In fact, in the New Testament Jesus often uses the occasion of a feast — including the Last Supper — to express the reality of God’s kingdom.

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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 8 (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43)

Poetry and song can be beautiful and moving, elevating the heart and soul. In the ancient world theological reflection was expressed in poems, parables, epics and myths. Those who could sing them were held in the highest esteem in societies.

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 1 (Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32)

The lives of many saints were often noted for periods of sinfulness or a lack of regard for spiritual values. All of this changed when God burst into their consciousness. The lives of Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola and Dorothy Day can be divided into “before and after” periods — the before and after referring to their spiritual crisis and subsequent awakening. The two ways — that of life and death — are laid out in stark terms by Ezekiel. Those who turn to sin will die, while those who turn to righteousness will live.

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Once, in a public place, I overheard a couple of men talking as they walked along behind me.

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 24 (Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16)

Isaiah calls upon us to seek the Lord while He may be found, and to call upon Him while He is near. Is God going anywhere? Will there be a time when God is not present?

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