Inevitably, Ash Wednesday will be a very crowded day in our church. People will no doubt come to “get ashes.” Despite the fact that the day is not a holy day of obligation in which we are required to attend Mass—psst, please don’t tell anyone!—people will be here throughout the day looking for those ashes. Sometimes, they will even come to the rectory door at all odd hours because they don’t want to be without those blessed ashes.READ MORE
We are back to the time of the Church year that is known as Ordinary Time. Sounds so boring to our fast-paced society, doesn’t it? Many people seek the spectacular (entertainment), the exciting (vacations, travel), that which stands out and draws attention to ourselves (hairstyles, fashion, tattoos, piercings) anything not quite so mundane.READ MORE
Some have asked ‘Why do we pray the Prayer to St. Michal before Sunday Mass?’ Pope Francis has suggested Parishes around the world pray this very powerful prayer together for good reason. We live in a time of abundant confusion and controversy. Politics, the Church, society (in general), all seem to be taking sides and settling into one camp or another. Is this just a matter of changing times or is there something greater behind it all? Something cosmic perhaps? As we see obvious manifestations of heroic good and extreme evil in the world, do we wonder about an ultimate cause or origin of it all?READ MORE
Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.
I came upon those words of Helen Keller the other morning. As a priest, they profoundly moved me because I think about various people I know whose worlds have been shattered because of illness, setbacks, tragedies, and sorrow. I think of the worlds that have been shattered because of the fires in California, the ongoing challenge and divisions that exist in our world.READ MORE
On the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading in each Lectionary cycle is about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. This event in the life of Jesus is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—but it is not found in John’s Gospel. This year we read Mark’s account of this event.
Compared to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the details throughout Mark’s narrative are sparse. This is evident in Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Mark tells us only that Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit and that for 40 days he was tempted by Satan. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke explain that Jesus fasted while in the desert, that Satan presented him with three temptations, and that Jesus refused each one, quoting Scripture. Only the Gospels of Matthew and Mark report that angels ministered to Jesus at the end of his time in the desert.READ MORE
In this week’s Gospel, we continue to hear Mark report the miraculous healings that Jesus performed in Galilee. The Gospel begins with Jesus healing a man with leprosy. Leprosy is a disfiguring, infectious skin disease that has been surrounded by many social and religious taboos throughout history. In 1873, the cause of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, was identified. We now know that leprosy is caused by a bacterial infection. Although it is infectious, modern medical studies have shown that transmission is more difficult than previously thought. Since the 1940s, medical treatments have been available, and the patient no longer needs to be isolated once long-term treatment has begun.READ MORE
This week we begin a continuous reading of Mark’s Gospel that will carry us through this segment of the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Remember that in Cycle B of the Lectionary, most of the Gospel readings are taken from the Gospel according to Mark.
The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a narrative about Jesus’ birth. Instead Mark begins by reporting on the preaching of John the Baptist. John is described as the voice in the wilderness sent to prepare the way of the Lord. Immediately after describing the work of John the Baptist, Mark reports on Jesus’ baptism and his temptation in the desert. Jesus’ public ministry begins after the arrest of John the Baptist. Mark wants his readers to understand the important connection between the end of the ministry of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ own ministry.READ MORE
John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the Lamb of God, and Jesus receives his first followers.
Although the liturgical season of Ordinary Time begins this week, this week’s reading continues with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas season. This week’s reading from the Gospel according to John immediately follows John the Baptist's testimony about Jesus and his identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God. Having been baptized by John, Jesus begins to gather followers. The first followers sought out Jesus because of the testimony and witness of John the Baptist.READ MORE
This Sunday’s Gospel invites us to continue our reflection on the person and mission of John the Baptist. Today we depart from the Gospel of Mark and read a selection from the Gospel of John.
The Gospel for today combines a brief passage from the prologue to John’s Gospel with a report about John the Baptist. As in Mark’s Gospel, the Gospel of John contains no birth narrative. Instead, John’s Gospel begins with a theological reflection that has come to be called the “prologue.” This prologue places the story of Jesus in its cosmological framework. It speaks of Jesus’ existence with God since the beginning of time. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the culmination of the Word, the light that is coming into the world’s darkness.READ MORE