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

God is unfair! When things do not go as we expect or want, or when we meet adversity, this accusation is often hurled heavenward.

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

We often search high and low for something precious that we cannot find. Convinced that it has been lost or stolen, we might even replace it. Then, lo and behold, we find it in the most obvious place, sometimes staring us right in the face.

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

Anger, wrath and resentment can poison the mind, body and soul. They can make people miserable and unhappy, or even ruin physical health. Left unchecked, these emotions can destroy families, work environments, societies and even peace between nations.

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 10 (Year A) Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

Sin ultimately affects an entire community. There is no such thing as a private sin. Sooner or later, misdeeds make an impact on the physical, psychological and spiritual environment.

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Second Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 21 (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28b-36)

Sometimes the future looks bleak and it is difficult to believe in a happy or satisfying outcome. That is the point where many lose hope, and with the departure of hope, faith and love are endangered.

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Feb. 7 (Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8; Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11)

How would we react if we suddenly found ourselves out of our element and where we had no right to be? Fear, embarrassment and a sense of vulnerability all come to mind — and Isaiah experienced them all. No one could be in God’s presence and live to tell the tale — and there Isaiah was, in the midst of the heavenly court. This was a vision, not an actual physical journey, but no less powerful and frightening.

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Jan. 17 (Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-12)

Not everyone is forgiving or patient in the face of human failure. There is often a tendency to write someone off or dismiss their plight as their own fault. There can even be a smug sense of satisfaction when the “victim” is a prominent figure, especially if there are aspects of that person we do not like.

Published in Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Year C) Dec. 27 (1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52)

Hannah’s fervent prayer had been answered. During a previous visit to the shrine at Shiloh, she had stood before the shrine and prayed to God for a child. Her murmured prayers earned her an unjust rebuke from Eli the prophet, who accused her of drunkenness. Hannah promised that if God blessed her with a son, she would dedicate him in service to the Lord. Now she fulfilled her promise as she brought her son Samuel — who would grow up to be a great prophet — to Eli for training and instruction.

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Christ the King (Year B) Nov. 22 (Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37)

Who hasn’t wished for some supernatural power to come from above and set the world right? In the chaos, fear and violence of our world it often seems that there is no way out. We are faced with numerous crises of every type — political, economic, environmental and religious.

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 8 (1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44)

Fear is often the enemy of generosity and can choke off the better parts of our nature. Many people are unwilling to share from fear of not having enough rather than conscious selfishness.

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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) June 28 (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43)

Death is the enemy that humans fear most. People tend to blot it from their minds and often refuse to even talk about it. It is easy to bury it under a layer of euphemisms, even as aches, pains and illness become more frequent and unwelcome visitors. But in the end, death comes for us — all of us without exception. 

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Second Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 7 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8) 

Anyone who has accompanied someone who is deep in grief or suffering knows how difficult it is to find the right words. In fact, most of the time it is better to say very little — presence and comfort go a long way. Above all, explanations or “answers” are seldom helpful. 

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

There are many models of power and authority in the world but far too many of them are based on brute force, authoritarianism and domination. When coupled with a powerful ideology, they have enslaved millions and been the cause of countless deaths. There are less dramatic forms that constrict thought and expression or seek to control the lives of others. 

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Pentecost Sunday (Year A) June 8 (Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

People have many different understandings of the Holy Spirit. For some, it is a life-changing encounter with the divine, while for others it remains a distant and abstract theological formula. Even within the pages of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is cloaked in differing forms and works in various ways.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A) May 18 (Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12)

Tension between various groups has been a fact of life in the Christian Church right from the beginning. Human nature is fairly constant.

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