Holy One of God

Reflection on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 29)

By Mary Traupman

The readings for this Sunday: Dt 18:15-20; Ps95:1-2, 6-9; 1Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28

The full text of the readings can be found here.


A number of years ago, I heard a very touching eulogy at the funeral of a friend. His son-in-law spoke of all the names by which my friend was known, such as father, father-in-law, husband, grandfather, lawyer, friend. Remembering this, I found it easy to reflect on "name" when I reflected on the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In Mark’s Gospel we find many different names for Jesus: Son of Man, Master, Son of the Most High God, carpenter, prophet, Rabbi, king of the Jews.

In Chapter 1 of Mark, John the Baptist names Jesus, "One mightier than I." A voice from the heavens names Jesus, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

In the Gospel text for this Sunday, Jesus was teaching as one having authority, and the people who were present acknowledged that he taught with authority and commanded the unclean spirits who obeyed him.

A Need to Repent

Reflection on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 22)

By Greg Swiderski

The readings for this Sunday:

Jonah 3:1-10
Psalm 25:4-9
I Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

The full text of the readings can be found here.

Do you ever feel threatened by the divine and sacred? Do you ever consider that the Holy of Holies could repent?

Jonah does in 3:10. The New American Bible puts it this way: "he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them."; the Jewish Study Bible: "God renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon them."

Does this seem strange? A violent deity? A repenting Lord?

Are you confused?

Reflection on the Epiphany of the Lord (January 8)

By Greg Swiderski

The readings for this Sunday:

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Ephesians 3:2-6
Matthew 2:1-12

The full text of the readings can be found here.

Each year at this feast I feel this uncomfortable emotion: Why do we sing about 3 kings when Matthew does not give a number and uses a description which has nothing to do with political leadership. During the Middle Ages this legend developed. They even got names which people evoke when they bless the entrances of their homes.

Opening our eyes for a New Year

Reflection on a Liturgy for Peace for New Years Day (January 1)

By Greg Swiderski

The readings for this Sunday:

Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

The full text of the readings can be found here.

This reflection is intended for a liturgy for Peace, and inspired by the Book of Tobit.

Some people "give up" on scripture because so much of it seems remote from their daily lives.

However, one book seems very real: Tobit.

Here's a brief summary: a pious Hebrew, lives among a foreign tribe. Yet he maintains his identity and performs corporal works of mercy including burying the dead. After being released from arrest for this he cannot contain himself (Could he be another patron of civil disobedience?). His neighbors worry. Tobit seems nonplussed; he bathes and falls asleep under a tree. Sparrows perch above him and their droppings blind him.

As so often happens, this physical malady affects his personal life; he and his wife get into an argument and she questions how genuine he will be now that he is being tested. Years pass...

He recalls that a relative owes him a debt. He sends their only son Tobiah to collect the money. What will happen to our only child, his wife worries. A mysterious stranger, Azariah, appears; an angel, Raphael (the name means God heals) in disguise. He accepts payment to accompany the young man.

Word Made Flesh

Reflection on Christmas

By Barbara Finch

The readings for Christmas:

Isaiah 9: 1-6; Psalm 96: 1-3, 11-13; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2: 1-14
Isaiah 62: 11-12; Psalm 97: 1.6. 11-12; Titus 3: 4-7; Luke 2: 15-20
Isaiah 52: 7-10; Psalm 98: 1-6; Hebrews 1:-6; John 1:-18

The full text of the readings can be found here.

Christmas once again is upon us. Christmas, the season in which we celebrate Emmanuel, God With Us, Jesus, a Light shone to all the nations in the midst of much darkness. As we reflect upon the status of our world not much has changed since Jesus became like one of us as a small infant over 2000 years ago. Darkness pervades us. The paradox that exists for us in our time, unlike when Jesus walked the earth, is the potential we have to eliminate hunger and poverty, to eliminate war, to cure disease, to create a clean environment, to form governments that promote justice, peace, opportunity and equality, and to be the People of God that embraces all faiths. How do we find the Light to dispel the darkness? What could it be that God is inviting us to become, to understand, and to contemplate this Christmas?

Advent - Coming Into Our Own

Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 18)

By Bill Picard

The readings for this Sunday:

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

The full text of the readings can be found here.

Hope springs eternal. Sometimes we get a peak at what we hope for. Sometimes we can almost taste it. This happened to me and three thousand other gifted people in Milwaukee at the Call to Action. We had gathered to celebrate the Eucharist at the end of three days of hearing the Word as it was broken for us by some of the Lord's most gifted persons. As we came together to celebrate, we had no doubt that we were church. We knew that we were a force to be dealt with. We felt comfortable being in the presence of one another. We knew in a most tangible way that we were the Body of Christ.

Peter Maurin, who began the Catholic Worker Movement with Dorothy Day, once wrote in his incessant spirit of hope that the church is dynamite. It needs to be exploded. At that gathering in Milwaukee, I got a sense of what he was trying to say. We were all thrilled and didn't want to go home. Many were joyfully saying this was their "fix" and they were so grateful.

This was my beginning of Advent, the "coming" which we were ritualizing. It was the coming presence in the world of us, his body. Of us his church. Jesus knew his body the church, once blossomed, was a force for the Kingdom. Once we exploded we were more than enough light and salt and yeast for the whole world. We who had received a peek at ourselves as church in Milwaukee had an insatiable thirst to be church. We had to go beyond being Catholic by habit and be church way beyond our belonging to an institution.

Rejoice and Respond

Reflection on the Third Sunday of Advent (December 11)

Gaudete Sunday

By Rose Marie Hogan

The readings for this Sunday:

Isaiah 61:1-2a,10-11
Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

The full text of the readings can be found here.

The readings in today's scripture appear rather straightforward in telling us how to conduct our lives. Isaiah exhorts us to bring good news to the humble, to bind up broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives and release those in prison. While reading these words one can quite easily recall the haunting images of the stranded poor on New Orleans rooftops, the faces of broken hearted families attending Iraq causality funerals and the horrendous images of Abu Grab prison.

It is of special interest to remember that this very passage from Isaiah is the one which Jesus read in the synagogue (according to the Gospel of Luke) to begin his public ministry. In this message Isaiah presages the beautiful Sermon On The Mount, one of the most oft quoted scriptures in the New Testament. Reflecting on these instructions from both Isaiah and Jesus a particular constancy in the conditions of human existence is found which extends into the present. That constancy, of course, is poverty, suffering, and injustice. The constant nature of suffering was brought home rather startlingly for me last month during a program honoring the four churchwomen murdered 25 years ago in El Salvador. Fr. Paul Schindler, the Cleveland priest who spent years as a missionary in El Salvador, gave a slide presentation with his talk. A member of the audience asked Fr. Schindler, "Are these recent photos or from 25 years ago?" Fr. Schindler answered, "They are from 25 years ago but it doesn't matter if you go back to El Salvador today you will see the same conditions." Imagine after all that tireless work, immense suffering, and loss of life by so many, the conditions are still the same!

On The Dark Side

Reflection on the First Sunday of Advent (November 27)

by Gregory Swiderski

The readings for this Sunday:

Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

The full text of the readings can be found here.

When I meet the people who established this lectionary, I will have several questions. First up: why would you begin a new liturgical year with a reminder of how lowly, even despicable we seem? "We are sinful...all our good deeds are like polluted rags … our guilt carries us away like the wind ... we have all withered like leaves." Since I have been raking leaves in my mother's yard for several weeks, I have a visceral familiarity with the latter and polluted rags seems so noxious.

Must organized religion be associated with such repugnant and distasteful experiences and emotions? I wish it were not so. Are we hardwired to the point that guilt and shame course through our beings with as much power as the blood and oxygen which feed our life force?

There is no doubt that these difficult feelings too often afflict our souls. We will never eliminate them nor need we be defined by them.

Recently two books about Abraham Lincoln have intrigued me. One tells the story of his melancholy, while the other tells how he had the emotional stability and political savvy to name to his cabinet his major rivals for the presidency. Imagine George Bush naming John Kerry as Secretary of State.