Second Sunday of Lent - Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10

02-25-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Just two weeks ago, when Christians walked around all day with a cross of ashes on our foreheads, we may have received puzzled looks. Who bothers with fasting and almsgiving for 40 whole days? Many of us live with great abundance in this country; the only time we actually need to fast might be for lab work. With this in mind, it’s helpful to remember the why: because Christ sacrificed himself for us, and he calls his followers to participate in his redemptive mission through our own sacrifices. Without sacrifice, we simply cannot be like Christ, nor will we see our own transfiguration in the resurrection to come. So Lent is a blessed season of reorienting our lives to Christian sacrifice: that of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Perhaps this season can also dispel some of the complacency that has a tendency to creep into our lives. The poor and hungry and disenfranchised still exist, and Christ depends on us to be his hands and feet to serve them. But how can we serve them if we do not embrace Christ’s example as a living sacrifice? Ask the Lord for the grace to see and hear what he is asking us to do for him.


First Sunday of Lent - Gn 9:8-15; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15

02-18-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Today is the first day of Lent! It is the beginning of a new liturgical season in the Church, a season of prayer, service and self-sacrifice. It is a time of preparation, culminating in the holiest day of the year: Easter. As we embark on our Lenten journey, we hear a reading from Genesis in which God makes a covenant with Noah where he promises, “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.” The Lord has said that no matter our disobedience, sin and rebellion, he will never destroy us! Saint Peter explains how the story of Noah, “in which a few persons … were saved through water,” prefigures baptism, and baptism, as we know, marks us as the Lord’s own forever. We are sealed with a sign that can never be relinquished. So, just as the great flood signaled a rebirth for the world, our baptism is a rebirth of our soul in Christ. We are washed clean of our original sin, and the door to salvation is opened for us. It is fitting that at the beginning of our Lenten journey we hear the story of the beginning of our eternal covenant with the Lord. Both the covenant, and Lent, will be fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Great Faith

02-11-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: The leper in today’s Gospel was not only severely ill, but he was also barred from practicing his faith. Because he was considered unclean, he could not enter the temple to worship. It is no wonder he did everything in his power to find Jesus and beg him for healing. And heal him Jesus did, both body and soul. According to commentary on this passage from the USCCB, “In curing the leper, Jesus assumes that the priests will reinstate the cured man into the religious community.” It seems to me that this Gospel is about faith, and about love. The leper had great faith that Jesus could heal him, and the great love of Jesus for this man moved Jesus to go against mosaic law by touching and healing him. When we read the Scriptures we are reminded over and over again how much God loves us. Let us allow this knowledge to sink into our hearts and change us. When we begin to reflect God’s love to those around us, we will find that our lives are filled with his peace. Give it a try: Love as Jesus loves.


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jb 7:1-4, 6-7; 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39

02-04-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Why me? It could be a flat tire, a lost job or a serious illness. When inconvenient, unpleasant or even downright horrible things happen, it is understandable to wonder why God allows it. I know that is what goes through my head in extreme adversity. God can do all things, so why wouldn’t he change “this thing” for me? In the Gospel, we see Jesus curing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of her illness, but many of us don’t have our prayers answered like that. Instead, we may relate more to Job in today’s first reading when he says life is a “drudgery” and he “shall not see happiness again.” The reality is that God’s ways are not our ways, so we can’t know why some people endure hardship while others receive miracles. But we can change how we respond to those hardships when they arrive. Just as this passage from Job is understood better within the context of the whole book, discrete events in our lives are part of something larger than ourselves. Praying with Scripture, including reading more of Job, can help us understand how God is molding, refining, and yes – always loving us.


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Dt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28

01-28-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Oh, to not be anxious! What would that be like – to not have to worry about how we’ll pay the bills or whether our kids are safe or if our health will fail? While anxiety is a very human emotion, we can take comfort in knowing that our God is more powerful than anything that may worry us. It is also important to note that in today’s reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, what he means by “anxious” is not a modern psychological concept with only a negative connotation. The connotation is more “to be concerned with,” or “caring about” something, and can refer to things that are very good – including spouses and families! But when we care for many things, including our relationship with God, it is only natural for us to be anxious at times. But Jesus Christ gives us the assurance that the troubles of this world are temporary, and the peace of God eternal. Paul is encouraging the Corinthians, and us, to understand the importance of an undivided devotion to God, to care for him above all things – no matter if we are married or single – so that our whole life is devoted to holiness.


Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jon 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20

01-21-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Sometimes I feel like I need a Jonah in my life: someone who will come along and shake things up; someone who will nudge me and say, hey, you’re doing it wrong! No one wants to be criticized, but I know I need loving guidance to help me when I am not at my best. It’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of life and neglect (even if unintentionally) what’s important. Jonah was given the unpleasant task of pointing out to the people of Nineveh their failings. Unlike many communities who resisted God’s words, by the end of the first day of Jonah’s anticipated three-day trek across the city, “the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” For all the evil they had done, and the rebellion they had demonstrated, the people there weren’t irredeemable. They simply needed Jonah to point out how they had gone astray, and the grace of open ears and hearts to receive the message. Who has the Lord placed in our lives in the role of Jonah? How has he blessed us with the ability to receive, and repent where necessary?


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20 Jn 1:35-42

01-14-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: When Samuel hears the Lord speak in today’s first reading, he mistakes it as Eli calling out to him in the temple. The third time Samuel asks if he called, Eli is wise enough to realize what is going on and guides Samuel: “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Samuel required guidance because he “was not familiar with the Lord, because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet.” In a similar way does the Apostle Andrew come to the Lord. In today’s Gospel, Andrew didn’t know who Jesus was until John the Baptist told him: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Andrew then began to follow Jesus, and to bring others to him. There may be times when we, like both of these men, need someone else to help us hear the call of the Lord clearly, or see his presence among us. Those who serve the Lord in this way are a great gift to us, and enable us to be that gift for others. Pray for the grace to hear what we need to hear, to see what we need to see, and to say to others, “come, we have found the Messiah.”


The Epiphany of the Lord - Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3a,5-6; Mt 2:1-12

01-07-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: It’s interesting how an event can be interpreted by different people. God’s revelation of himself in the birth of the child Jesus is clearly one such event. The Magi, Gentiles from the east, had heard of this “newborn king of the Jews” and undertook a long and arduous journey to see him and offer him homage. They were edified and eager in their search. Herod, himself a king – of the Jews – did not have the same reaction. The very thought of this “newborn king” threatened him, and filled him with rage and suspicion. In this moment in human history, the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (i.e., the Epiphany) unveils the truth of God’s redemptive work for all of creation to be reconciled to himself. This truth has been accepted and rejected throughout time, and our celebration of this feast gives us an opportunity to give thanks in a focused and particular way for our acceptance of it – to give thanks for the gift of our faith. Perhaps it is even a moment for us to have our own, colloquial epiphany: an “aha moment,” where we once again truly understand the depth of God’s love for us.


Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Lk 2:22-40 or Lk 2:22, 39-40

12-31-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “If we love, naturally we will try to do something. First in our own home, our next door neighbor, in the country we live, in the whole world.” In this quote we see a shift from the idyllic to a hard dose of reality: love means sacrifice and service. Perhaps it’s worth asking ourselves: Does our family always get our best self? None of us is perfect, so the honest answer is probably no. If it’s tempting to think, “well, the Holy Family was perfect, so what does this feast have to do with our family?” let’s remember we are celebrating the Feast of the HOLY Family, not the feast of the perfect family. Yes, they were holy. They embodied this in their faith and devotion in those expanding circles of which St. Teresa spoke. They gave to God first – in today’s Gospel we see the family travel to Jerusalem to present Jesus in the temple. They then returned to Nazareth where Jesus grew strong and was “filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”


Fourth Sunday of Advent - 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38

12-24-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” The angel Gabriel announces this in the Gospel today, and it is a phrase with which we are all familiar thanks to our recitation of the Hail Mary prayer. Although some may be comforted by such a message and its angelic messenger, it is troubling to Mary because the angel goes on to tell her she will conceive and bear the Son of God. Thinking practically, Mary is being told the impossible will happen – who wouldn’t be troubled? And yet Mary offers herself: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Despite her fear and trepidation, Mary went on to answer God’s call and do his will. Our Blessed Mother became a great example of fortitude at that moment, as she exemplified what it means to step outside of our own uncertainty and trust God completely. Although doing God’s will can be difficult at times, St. Paul reminds us in his Letter to the Romans that we can ask God for the strength to say “yes” in spite of our fears.


Third Sunday of Advent - Is 61:1-2A, 10-11; 1 Thes 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

12-17-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” Such simple words from today’s second reading. And yet it is not always easy to put them into practice. It is difficult to rejoice if we or people we love are hurting. It can be hard to pray when life is pulling us in a thousand different directions. But on this Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing, we are asked to focus on a truth that can make both rejoicing and praying easier: Jesus entered humanity in flesh and blood to save us from our sins. This truth means that even if we don’t feel like there is much gladness or joy in our lives today, we can rejoice in the knowledge that we all have the chance to spend eternity in a place where pain, disappointment and suffering will be no more. With our eyes focused on that prize, praying can become a natural part of our days.


Second Sunday of Advent - Is 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8

12-10-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

Can you hear it? The voice crying out in the desert? While John the Baptist was the one literally proclaiming, from the desert, the coming of the Lord, we should listen for echoes of his message today. John foretold that Jesus – the Father’s Incarnate Son – was on his way to redeem the world. Through Jesus’ passion and death, the gates of heaven were flung open so all who believe in him would have eternal life. This is the Good News he proclaimed then, and the Church proclaims today: Christ has come! Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. This is what we prepare for in Advent – to celebrate, on Christmas day, Christ’s coming into the world, and that he will one day return in glory. The Lord gives comfort to his people in his words, and in his presence to us in the Eucharist: “According to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” So, trust in the Lord, remain vigilant, and take heed of the voices that remind us to “prepare the way of the Lord.”


First Sunday of Advent - Is 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37

12-03-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

In a nineteenth-century sermon, St. John Henry Newman wrote of today’s Gospel: “[Jesus] mercifully whispers into our ears … not to share in the general unbelief [around us], not to be carried away by the world but to ‘beware, keep alert’ and look out for his coming.” I love the thought that Jesus is “mercifully whispering” to us. Welcome to Advent! We know that Advent is a time of anticipation and preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ, but today’s readings also speak to me of training ourselves to be alert for God’s presence in the small, everyday moments of our lives. In his Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that “[we] are not lacking in any spiritual gift” as we await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are gifted with his grace. Our loving God bestows countless graces on us each day, and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can seek ways to be more aware of these graces. Yes, we can be more “alert” to them, but can also be thankful for these small moments of God’s presence with us.