The Immaculate Conception

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.
Here are today’s readings.

In this post are some reminders, a brief note on the readings, and of course, a Sister Act video.

REMINDERS

Just a few reminders about today’s Holy Day.

  1. We are celebrating St. Anne becoming pregnant with Mary; not Mary becoming pregnant with Jesus.
  2. From the moment of her conception, Mary was granted sacramental grace – the same sacramental grace we receive at our baptism. But Mary has it from conception, and is kept free of original sin.
  3. Interestingly, although God takes away Mary’s disposition toward sin, He does not remove Free will from her. That is what makes her “Yes” or “Fiat” so beautiful. She agreed to carry out God’s plan by using her own free will.
  4. Mary is the new Eve. Mary said yes to God. Eve said yes to the serpent and sin. Mary ushers in salvation wheras Eve (and Adam) brought humanity into sin. This is why we have the first reading from Genesis about Eve, Adam, and the apple.

READINGS

Reading 1: Genesis
In the first reading, we hear about Adam and Eve eating of the tree in the garden. This is because Mary is the answer to Eve. Mary is born without the sin that Adam and Eve brought about humanity when they ate of the tree God forbade.

We have the line today, “he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” This verse allows most of the story of salvation history to unfold:

According to this verse, there will be enmity between the individual woman (Eve) and the serpent who deceived her. The word enmity indicates a blood feud.

There will also be enmity between his seed and her seed. God promised that eventually the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman.

However, the seed of the woman (Jesus) would also bruise (or crush) the head of the serpent (death itself). This will be a fatal blow.

Psalm: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Reading 2: Ephesians

“In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.”

Mary too was destined from the beginning of time; chosen for a singular purpose. To bring our savior into the world.

Gospel: Luke

Today we are in Nazareth with Mary when she is visited by the angel Gabriel. He calls her “blessed among women” and tells her God’s plan. Mary says yes to the Lord without hesitation. This is called her “fiat.” She accepts His will for her life.

How can we model Mary’s “yes” in some small way this Advent season and say Yes to the Lord, trust him fully?

VIDEOS

Two links follow to music that marks today, one serious, one not.

  1. Here is a video of a beautiful song to listen to today – Ave Maria, by the University of Notre Dame Choir. Listen in your car if you like! Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us!

2) Here is the “not serious” one. I cannot go to mass and listen to “Hail Holy Queen” without thinking of this clip. In fact last night, Elizabeth was sitting across the church with a friend, and when we began to sing this as the closing hymn, she turned to me and we began to laugh.

It reminds me of my Nana and also my great aunt Harriet who was a nun. And I sang in choirs for many years, so it just brings a smile. I hope it does for you, too.

May God bless your Holy Day!

 

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.

Readings can be found in full by clicking here.
This is one of the richest collection of readings we’ve had in a long time. There’s just so much to explore.
Fun Fact:
It helps to remember that Isaiah is divided into 2 books:
1) Chapters 1-40 (Book of Judgement)
2) Chapters 41-66 (Book of Consolation)

 

READING 1 IS 11:1-10
(On Sundays in Advent, the 1st Reading is Old Testament.
It always links to the Gospel.)

As promised, we’re back in Isaiah this week – Chapter 11 – so the “Book of Judgement” portion. Let’s do a brief historical point about the well-known “stump of Jesse” line. Many of you have a “Jesse” tree in your churches…why “Jesse?
1) There was a king named Ahaz in the southern kingdom.
2) Isaiah went to him and said, “Hey Ahaz, guess what! God will come to us in a manger, under the name Immanuel. He will be our strength, and that includes whenever our kingdom comes under attack.”
3) But Ahaz didn’t believe Isaiah. He ignored him, and created a military alliance with another nation (Assyria).
4) Eventually that nation would destroy Ahaz and his army, leaving it as a “stump.
The “stump” is Israel. It’s the Davidic line – the “family tree” from which Jesus will come. David’s father’s name was Jesse.
Isaiah tells us today that from this “stump of Jesse” – from the Davidic line, a shoot will sprout (Jesus).
In the rest of the reading, just sit back and listen to the Utopian paradise Isaiah shows us. Engage all your senses:
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM PS 72
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

The response today highlights one of the lines in the first reading:
“Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.”
This psalm was probably sung at the ceremony when Solomon passed the kingdom to his son, Rehoboam. It’s all about the beautiful kingdom that was to come under Rehoboam’s rule.
Thing is, that kingdom did NOT come. It divided. “The United Kingdom” (not England) became “The Divided Kingdom” under his rule.

The verses we hear today are all about the justice and salvation the Christ child will bring. We even get a sense of a “sprout” coming forth, or “flowering:”

READING 2 ROM 15:4-9
(This reading is usually one of Paul’s letters. It speaks to how the early church spread the Word of Christ after his passion, death and resurrection).

This letter written only 30 years after Christ died and rose again.  Remember that in the Old Testament, “God’s people = Isrealites.” Paul adds to this by reminding them that now ALL people are God’s covenant people.  So “God’s People = All People.”

For the Jews to realize that they have to include the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation – this was devastating news to accept.

Why?

For all generations, gentiles (non-Jews) were considered impure and to be avoided. Now Paul says they are part of God’s plan. A big pill to swallow. You can almost see Paul reminding them of Isaiah’s story – and that the lion (Jews) will indeed lie down with the lamb (Gentiles).

Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction [the Old Testament], that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice [it’s ALL people now, not just the Jews] glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another [unite now!], then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised [the Old Testament Israelites] to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises to the [Old Testament] patriarchs [like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob], but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written [from Psalm 18, verse 50]: Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles and sing praises to your name.

GOSPEL MT 3:1-12
The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand. 
We are about to hear from – and be instructed by – Christ Himself

About Matthew:
– Matthew wrote 50 years after the Resurrection.
– He was a Jewish convert to the faith.
– He tried to help the Jews understand the new faith in Christ, and how it related to the gentiles, who were now included in Christ’s plan of salvation (by virtue of his passion, death and resurrection)
– Overall Theme: The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.
– “Kingdom of Heaven” is mentioned 32 times in Matthew’s gospel.

We meet John the Baptist today. He is a critical link between the OT and the NT. He is the forerunner to the Messiah. He is, in a sense, the last real prophet – born just 3 months before Christ (they are cousins).

He literally paves the way [the road] for Christ; Isaiah prophesied about that same road.

  • Both try to straighten out the currently winding and confusing road to God (thanks to sin).
  • Both suggest it can be straightened by following Jesus. John the Baptist is similar to Elijah the prophet, who also wore a leather belt and clothes made of camel’s hair, ate wild honey and locusts for food.
  • Both call the people to repentance.

Let’s break it down:

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:A voice of one crying out in the desert,Prepare the way of the Lord,make straight his paths.John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist.His food was locusts and wild honey.

From Isaiah’s reading above,we heard about the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit given at Confirmation. These 7 gifts are also given at baptism, just not in the same way. Matthew talks about baptism in the gospel, despite the unbelieving crowd.

At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River [the Jordan is associated with God’s deliverance] as they acknowledged their sins.

John then calls the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers.” Why? Their actions do not match their supposed beliefs. He tells them to produce good fruit as evidence. Israel is often referred to as a tree, and the fruit of that tree are the good deeds. Jesus suggests that the crowd poses as a good tree but has rotting fruit.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.Even now the ax [God’s judgement] lies at the root of the trees.Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

John the Baptist concludes by telling them he will baptize with water for repentance – but that Jesus is coming to do far, far more. Recall that fire in scripture relates to both destruction [Sodom and Gomorrah] and purification [fires of purgatory]. Here we are taking about both: 1) Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire [the baptismal candle] and 2) a destructive fire that will come upon those who do not believe.

I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.I am not worthy to carry his sandals.He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand.He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Thank you for reading – See you next week!

1st Sunday of Advent – Year A

 

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.

Readings can be found in full by clicking here.

Happy New Year! That’s right, it’s the 1st Sunday of Advent which means it’s the start of the New Year in our Liturgical Year. Vestments this week? Purple. Just like Lent.

Image result for 1st sunday of advent wreath

Fun Fact:
This year we are in Matthew’s Gospel most Sundays. Here’s how the whole Year A/Year B/Year C thing works:
Liturgical Year A = Matthew
Liturgical Year B = Mark
Liturgical Year C = Luke

Matthew, Mark and Luke are the “Synoptic Gospels.” The prefix “syn-” means “same.” “Optic” means “to see.” So these 3 gospels tell the story of Jesus’s birth, life, passion, death and resurrection from 3 different view points. So it’s the “same” story, from different ways of “seeing.”

1st Reading: Isaiah 2: 1-5
(On Sundays in Ordinary Time, the 1st Reading is Old Testament.
It always links to the Gospel.)

We’re at the beginning of Isaiah’s gospel today, chapter 2. Isaiah is often termed “the 5th gospel” because of how much of Christ’s life his prophecy spans – a lot. He touches on every part of who Jesus will be and what He will do when He comes.

Isaiah’s “call” from God happens in Isaiah 6. So in today’s reading, he hasn’t been called yet. The message is about what Isaiah would see concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It’s about the mountain of the Lord.

This isn’t necessarily a physical mountain. It’s a metaphor for the Lord’s authority. And yet, it might also be the mountain on which Christ will die for us and our sins, the mountain of the Lord – Calvary. As the reading says, all nations shall stream toward it.

As we travel toward Christmas Day in this penitential season of Advent, let us build a mountain that leads us to the Lord, that we might learn to walk in his paths.

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Psalm 122: “Let us go Rejoicing to the House of the Lord.”
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

2nd Reading: Romans 13: 11-14
(In Ordinary Time, this reading is usually one of Paul’s letters. It speaks to how the early church spread the Word of Christ after his passion, death and resurrection).

Today’s reading is all about staying awake for the Lord. This was so true for the people who were waiting for the Messiah. They definitely did not know the hour nor the day; they did not know the year either – and it was hundreds of years between Malachi (the last prophet) and Jesus’s birth.

For us, we know not the hour nor the day He will come for us at the end of our lives. We must prepare. We must be ready. How can we prepare this Advent?

Can we spend more time in prayer? Can we make time for confession? Can we in some small way, resist the urge to “Christmas up” the Advent season in our homes, perhaps saving something small or significant for Christmas morning?

Brothers and sisters:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Gospel: Matthew 24: 37-44
The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand. 

We are about to hear from – and be instructed by – Christ Himself

Today we hear a story about waiting in the gospel. It’s about Noah and the fact that he – get this! – built that arc for over 100 years at God’s command! (Now we aren’t sure how they measured years in scripture, but suffice it to say it was a LONG time).

Talk about preparing for something that was coming. For Noah, what was coming was destruction.

  • He built something out of wood to save him and his family – a boat.
  • In this way, Noah pre-figures Christ. Why?
  • Because Christ was nailed to something made out of wood that would save His family, His children – a cross.

Let us take a deep breath and take in the beauty of the Advent season.

Week 1 is underway!

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Thanksgiving Day – 2019

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.

Readings can be found in full by clicking here.

Happy Thanksgiving to All! 

Fun Fact:
Did you know that “Eucharist” translates literally as “Thanksgiving?” It makes today even more special when you know that. Listen to all the thanks giving in today’s readings!

Reading 1
SIRACH 50:22-24

  • Sirach was written ~200 years B.C. The historical context is important. During that time, the Israelites were ruled by the Romans, in another sort of “Exile.” Without a king of their own – and the presence of God no longer in the temple – the people felt lost.
  • So, the people were looking for signs of God’s presence. They wanted direction on how to recognize him in their lives.
We are at the end of the book of Sirach, chapter 50. You can hear that he is summarizing:
And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel
to deliver us in our days.

Responsorial Psalm
I will praise your name for ever, Lord
PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R.  I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.

R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Reading 2
1 COR 1:3-9

We’re at the very start of Paul’s 1st letter to those in Corinth, so we have the greeting to the people here, which always includes a note of thanks. Paul is instructing them on the liturgy, as many liturgical abuses had taken place. Later in this reading, we see the words of our Eucharistic Prayer at mass. They come straight from Jesus, and then are repeated by St. Paul here as he rights the wrongs of the church in Corinth.

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel
LK 17:11-19

And today’s gospel is from Luke; it is about the 10 lepers who were cleansed but only 1 (only one!) returned to say “thank you, Jesus.”

What do we need to thank Jesus for today? So many things! Let us go forth with grateful hearts this day. And throughout the year, remember that “thank you” is one of the most kind and wonderful utterances we can say to one another.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”

11.24.2019 – Feast of Christ the King (Year C)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.

Readings can be found in full by clicking here.

Welcome Back and Happy “New Year’s Eve”! That’s right,  we’re at the end of the Church Year today – the Feast of Christ the King. The end of cycle C readings (goodbye, Luke). Next week we begin cycle A readings (hello, Matthew). Next week is also the 1st week of Advent (goodbye green robes, hello purple and…”rose” robes).

Fun fact #1:
In the Old Testament, Israel had a lot of kings. Most of them were after the kingdom divided. But there were 3 who reigned before the divide. An easy way to remember the order of the first 3 Kings is “S-D-S.” Or Saul-David-Solomon. This mnemonic comes in handy on days like this, when King David is in the readings and you want to know “where in the bible are we?

1st Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-3
(On Sundays in Ordinary Time, the 1st Reading is Old Testament.
It always links to the Gospel.)

Background:
1 Samuel and 2 Samuel set up the great and dramatic Old Testament story of David. It is appropriate that on a feast about kingship – we recall David’s anointing as King. David – despite his numerous sins and shortcomings – prefigures Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. A bit on being anointed:

  • Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was anointed by John the Baptist in the Jordan. God said, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Jesus guides and unites His children.
  • David, also a shepherd, was anointed by Samuel in the Old Testament. David was chosen to be the King of Israel. He was to guide and unite the people.

Image result for king david anointed
In the scene today, the tribes anoint David to be King for 3 reasons:

  1. David is “one of them” – bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh:”In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: “Here we are, your bone and your flesh.”
  2. David protected them. He lead them as a military leader: “In days past, when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.”
  3. Because God said so (always a good reason): “And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.’”

In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:

“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.

And the LORD said to you,
‘You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.'”

When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm 122
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
“Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

Picture David’s journey to Jerusalem and the joy that fills the hearts of the people:

I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the LORD.” And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD.

According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.

Reading 2 COL 1:12-20
(In Ordinary Time, this reading is usually one of Paul’s letters. It speaks to how the early church spread the Word of Christ after his passion, death and resurrection).

Fun fact #2:
The heresy floating around Colossae in the 2nd reading is called GnostocismGnostics believed everything spiritual was good, and that everything about the body, everything material (that you could touch), was bad.

The Reading:
This reading makes so much more sense when you know the fun fact above. Now you can clearly see what Paul is doing. He’s talking to the Colossians who are confused about what to believe – and he’s driving a point home. What is it?

That Jesus Christ is 100% divine and 100% human. He’s “both – and.” Yes He did have a body. Yes He is the “head” of the Church on Earth. He is also God. Therefore we cannot reject the body nor believe in a faith that does.

A divine mystery indeed.

At the beginning, Paul gives thanks. Underlined words communicate “body” or “physical things.”

Brothers and sisters:

Let us give thanks to the Father…He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [implies being born] of all creation.

For in him were created all things [including bodies] in heaven and on earth, the visible [body] and the invisible [soul], whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers [e.g kings]; all things were created through him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (his body) through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Gospel LK 23:35-43
The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand. 
We are about to hear from – and be instructed by – Christ Himself.

It may give us pause to consider that, on the glorious Feast of Christ the King, our gospel is such a seemingly somber one. It’s not “joyful” in the way we think of joyful, celebratory moments. It’s not the resurrection. Jesus doesn’t heal the blind. It’s not his baptism, the transfiguration, or the feeding of the 5,000.

It’s the crucifixion.

Why?

The cross is Christ’s earthly throne. That’s right, it is the seat of our King of the Universe. It is the last place he rests during his earthly life. It is the end of his journey. He came into the world – as a human – to die on this wooden cross. So how can it be a throne?

These wooden beams are His throne because the act he performs saves the world. There, He redeems all mankind.

His death on the cross gives birth to the Church. To the sacraments. With His death, the doors of Heaven open for us.

It is yet another contradicting image, and Jesus is good at contradictions, isn’t he?

Love your enemy. Eat with sinners. Embrace your suffering, for it brings you closer to me, not farther away.

A Christian blogger wrote beautifully about the second coming and the cross as throne:

“The day is surely coming when every man shall have heard, when every man’s heart shall have been touched, when every man’s mind shall have been convinced, when every man’s will shall have caught fire from on high.

Then shall be the new ending. All earth and heaven shall be caught up in the glory of it. Then again from the imperishable throne of His Cross, Christ the King shall cry, over land and sea, “It is finished,–the Kingdom is complete!”

And all the redeemed shall echo back, “It is finished,–the whole world has come to Christ.” And the angelic choirs of all heaven shall cry, “It is finished!”

The Reading:
Today we hear the soldiers sneer at Jesus and nearly “command” him to “save himself.” Isn’t that fascinating? They told Jesus to save himself.

How can someone save himself from death? Who has that kind of power? Only God. It begs the question, did they have an inkling in their hearts that he just might be who he said he was? Or were they truly mocking him and as clueless as they seem?

We don’t know.

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”  Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out,

“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

We also hear the conversation between the criminals on the cross. One will be saved, one will not. The first criminal has no faith and asks Jesus to essentially “do some magic.”

“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.”

But the other criminal had one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – Fear of God:

“The other, however, rebuking him (the other criminal), said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Jesus rewards the criminal whose heart is made of flesh, not stone:

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Summary:
Today’s all about kingship. From David in the Old Testament to Jesus in the New Testament, we see a snippet of Kingship – of God’s anointed ones – throughout salvation history.

Give thanks today and ask Jesus to be the King of your heart today, and ask Him to help you grow more with him as we enter Advent next week.

Thank you for following Banquet of the Word! Please share and invite others to follow along with us throughout the Advent season. God bless you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

11.17.2019 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.

This weekend’s readings are here

Fun Fact!
Next week is the final Sunday of the Church’s calendar year (this was Year C): The Feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Think of it as “New Year’s Eve.” The following Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent which kicks off a new cycle of readings – Cycle A. Cycle letters tell us which gospel we are in that year. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called
“the synoptic gospels” whereas John’s gospel is unique in several ways.

Here’s what they mean:

  • Year A: Gospel readings are from Matthew
  • Year B: Gospel readings are from Mark
  • Year C: Gospel readings are from Luke

* Unless it is feast day, in which case we typically hear from John’s gospel

Reading 1
MAL 3:19-20A

(On Sundays in Ordinary Time, the 1st Reading is Old Testament.
It always links to the Gospel.)

Of the 16 total prophets in scripture, Malachi is the last one before Christ’s birth.  He is the last prophet sent by God to try to turn the people back to Him.

After Malachi, there is a deep and long period of silence for God’s people until Christ is born in the manger. In this reading, he warns us of the judgement day that is to come. He warns of the destruction to befall all who do not live according to the law of God, who do not listen to the 15 prophets before Malachi who have spoken the same message.

It’s important to remember that fire is both destructive and purifying in the bible. Here, it is destructive. We are looking at “Judgement Day” – thus the words – and the play on words – “the ‘sun [son]’ of justice with its healing rays.”

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts.

But for you who fear my name,
there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
PS 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
“The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.”

This is beautiful verbiage concerning the judgement noted in Reading 1. A lovely “response” to what Malachi says to warn the people – but without the fiery language. Interestingly, there’s several references to the opposite of fire:  Water, the sea, the river, which sends more peaceful, hopeful message.

The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song.With trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.

Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and those who dwell in it; let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains shout with them for joy.

2nd READING
2 THES 3:7-12
(In Ordinary Time, this reading is usually one of Paul’s letters. It speaks to how the early church spread the Word of Christ after his passion, death and resurrection).

Today we hear from St. Paul’s letter that we are to be models of faith for others.

There are people among St. Paul who are not listening. Who are not conducting themselves in an orderly way at all, but rather go against the teachings Jesus left.

St. Paul says to stand up straight and do what’s right.  Don’t follow the crowds who want to act however they like. Be someone others can admire.

He notes that this is no easy task – and don’t we know that still today! We, like the Maccabean family from last week, are often called to endure much suffering for the sake of Christ. And we must accept this and in doing so, achieve a real sense of interior joy at doing what is right according to God.

“Brothers and Sisters:
You know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone.

On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.

In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others. Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.”

Gospel
LK 21:5-19
The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand. 
We are about to hear from – and be instructed by – Christ Himself.

Image result for gospel luke 21 temple

Today Jesus tells his disciples that the earthly temple (in Jerusalem), with its beautiful stones and lovely design, will soon be no more. Remember that temple is just that – earthly – and that Christ is the fullness of the temple.

He tries to teach this crowd, but they lack maturity (don’t we all?). He warns them. Just like the people were warned in Malachi’s reading. Do not be deceived. Judgement, war, and natural disasters will come. False teachers will try to tear you away from me.

Then in beautiful words, Jesus tells us to hold onto HIS words, not ours:

Yes, we will be persecuted.

We will be hated for our faith.

But we can pray for HIS words when persecutors come to us and badger us.

Do we ask for His words to become ours? Are our words perfect? Unlikely.

But nevertheless, we can ask for Him to penetrate our hearts so that the Holy Spirit might shine forth from us, to those who live in darkness. To those who are in danger of the fires, as Malachi described. These may be strangers, but these may be people in our own homes, schools and communities.

We are called to go out this week and imitate Christ, ask for HIS words, and know that not a hair on your head will be destroyed when we walk in His ways! Full reading below:

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Come back next week – it’s the last weekend in the church year; the feast of Christ the King!

11.10.2019 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Welcome Back!
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
Because it’s fun to feel smart about scripture.

This weekend’s readings are here
(And this week? They are just awesome.)

Where in the Church Year are We?
We are two weeks away from the Feast of Christ the King – the end of our Church Year. This year we’ve been in Year C (Luke). At the start of the new year, we move into Cycle A (Matthew).

Today’s themes are kingship and resurrection.
We hear readings about 1) the afterlife and 2) what it means to be truly tested.

Where in the bible are we?
This weekend, we see things we don’t normally see. In Reading 1, we’re in the 2nd book of Maccabees. This book is only in Catholic bibles (Martin Luther removed 7 books from the cannon of scripture when he left the Church).

2 Mac is a historical book. It was written during the Maccabean Revolt, 170 years BC. The Jewish people were being oppressed under Roman rule.

The last prophet (Malachi) died generations before, and between Malachi and Christ’s birth – there is a sense of emptiness God’s people. You can hear it in the stories of the books that were written during this time.

Not only is there no prophet to listen to, but the Jews are being persecuted severely for their faith and are being tested to stay true to it. They’re lost, and have no one to follow. Enter stage left, the Maccabeus family.

Reading 1: 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
(On Sundays in Ordinary Time, the 1st Reading is Old Testament.

It always links to the Gospel.)

Today we hear read about the mother and her 7 sons. They will all eventually accept death rather than submit to the Roman laws (eating pork, forbidden for the Jews).

Chanah and her 7 sons

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”

At the point of death he said:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
It is for his laws that we are dying.”

After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
“It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again.”
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
“It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

 Notice how the sons reject the earthly king in favor of the king of the universe who is to come (they seem to know Jesus – King of the Universe – is coming soon).

There are not many books in the Old Testament that foreshadow the afterlife. 2nd Maccabees does. One of the brothers says at the point of death, “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying.” Pretty cool.

There is shocking verbiage everywhere. Truly nowhere else in the Old Testament is there talk of people being resurrected after death – not with this much detail. Even though there are no “prophets” at the time, these Maccabean brothers seem to know something. As such, they seem a bit prophetic themselves.

By the end of the reading, those in the king’s court marvel at the boys strength. “Even the king and his attendants marveled at [their] courage, because [they] regarded his sufferings as nothing.”

As we look ahead to the feast of Christ the King, may we all bravely accept our crosses for the sake of Christ our King, knowing the hope of the resurrection.

Responsorial Psalm PS 17
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

There are verses in this psalm that connect beautifully to our first reading. They mention the concept of kingship and resurrection. Listen for ways in which these verses respond to the Maccabean story.

 

(Personal Note: Before I began to study scripture, I never thought much about the psalm. But once I began to consider the psalms a response to the first reading, I have found the connections in the verses of the Psalms to be quite powerful.)

Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye [as one of your chosen people of Israel],
hide me in the shadow of your wings [protect me against the wicked king of Rome].
But I in justice shall behold your face [I will die but live to see you];
on waking [when I die] I shall be content in your presence [I will live with you]

Reading 2: 2 THES 2:16-3:5
(In Ordinary Time, this reading is usually one of Paul’s letters. It speaks to how the early church spread the Word of Christ after his passion, death and resurrection).

Brothers and sisters:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
and word.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,
so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,
as it did among you,
and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,
for not all have faith.
But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,
you are doing and will continue to do.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God
and to the endurance of Christ.

In this letter, Paul tells the Thessalonians to 1) stay strong in the face of persecution and false teaching, and 2) pray for the spiritual leaders. We get the sense Paul is facing wickedness like the seven brothers did in R1.

The 2nd reading is often more of a “Wild Card” in terms of how it links to the 1st reading and gospel, but today Paul is right in line. He’s talking about the same ideas – having faith no matter the hardships, being a faithful “bride of Christ” – which, as the people of God, is exactly what the Church is: His bride.

GOSPEL LK 20:27-38
(THE GOSPEL IS THE HIGHEST POINT OF THE LITURGY OF THE WORD. THAT’S WHY WE STAND.
WE ARE ABOUT TO HEAR FROM AND BE INSTRUCTED BY CHRIST HIMSELF.)

Remember that the Sadducees deny the resurrection. As such, if these individuals were alive today, they would reject the book of 2nd Maccabees because of its focus on the Resurrection. In the gospel today, they sort of “re-cycle” the story in the 1st reading (the 7 brothers) and put Jesus in a tight spot – or so they think. “Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, put this question to Jesus:

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Jesus tells us we are not married to our spouses in Heaven. It’s important to know that God uses the image of marriage – of husband and wife – frequently. a) God uses spousal language in the OT to describe His relationship to the Israel (God is the bridegroom, Israel is the bride). b)  Jesus is described as the “bridegroom” of the Church, which is His bride. and c) He gave us the sacrament of marriage – one man and one woman – who are charged to do their best to reflect the love of Christ to His Church.

This is a serious responsibility. A husband is to “lay down his life” for his bride. A wife is to be faithful and true to her husband. This earthly marriage, however, ends when we die. We are then fully committed to God in Heaven – a commitment as strong as the one we sought to live with our spouse on earth.

A covenant, not a contract. God’s covenant with us as His people is realized when we are united with Him in Heaven. Our earthly marriages are “practice” for what is expected of us in eternity. Furthermore, with our children, we are called to mirror the Holy Family on earth, bringing our children closer to God by reflecting the heavenly trinity in our earthly families.

The end of the reading tells us that God is a God of the living AND the dead. God is still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, even though they are no longer with us. “For to him, all are alive” – this tells us God will raise us on the last day, body and soul.

May God bless your week!