English Español Mary Immaculate
Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

News for July

CEF Receives $50 Million Donation to Provide Scholarships to Deserving New Students

Catholic school students are now back in the classroom — on the road toward graduation and becoming the future leaders of tomorrow! The Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles has received a $50 million gift to provide financial support to new elementary and high school students enrolling in an Archdiocesan school in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Families interested in Archdiocese of Los Angeles Catholic schools are encouraged to visit lacatholicschools.org or call (213) 637-7070 for more information and access to financial assistance. Schools are enrolling now for fall. Catholic education is affordable and tuition assistance is available!

Religious Education Program

Accepting Applications Beginning June for baptized children ages 7-12.
2 year program Classes in Spanish or English.
For more information, contact the Religious Education Office at (818) 899-2111.

Did you know?

July 10-11 || Another reason not to leave children in the car

Parents know the dangers of hot cars and leaving children unattended. Experts say there’s another reason to never leave children alone, in a running vehicle, even for just a few moments — carjackers. A car thief may see a running car as an easy target, but if he/she doesn’t know there is a child inside, the car thief becomes an unintentional abductor. In these cases, car thieves may panic, leaving the child in an increasingly dangerous situation. Take extra precautions to make sure your children are not left alone in a car. It is well worth the extra steps of getting them in and out of car seats and safety belts and taking them with you. For more information, visit https://www.missingkids.org.

Called to Be Extraordinary

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” Mark 6:8

Mother Teresa challenged us to do ordinary things with extraordinary love. Basketball coach Jim Valvano said, “Every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people do extraordinary things.” Sometimes we see extraordinary vocations, such as the child prodigy musician, But usually those whom God chooses to call are reluctant participants who either run from the call or ignore it. Amos tells Amaziah “I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.” He looked after sheep and punched holes in fruit for a living! Now he was being called to prophesy. In Mark’s Gospel the apostles are sent out two by two to begin their ministry. Paul takes it further, telling the Ephesians, “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things.” This call goes out to all of us! How are you being called to be extraordinary this day?

Two by Two

Did you ever wonder why Jesus sent them out two by two? Not threes, not groups of four? Perhaps it is just the most practical configuration. Recall that in last week’s Gospel Jesus was not accepted in his own town and was astonished by the lack of faith that he found there. The disciples would be too new in their faith to know how to deal with that kind of rejection, With three you always end up two against one. With a pair, the two could support each other emotionally and spiritually, and lift each other up in prayer. When traveling, having a companion was much safer than being on one’s own, and if there were treacherous spots in the journey, they could help each other through. If you were begging for lodging, two might be able to get in, while a larger group might not be so fortunate. The Gospel gives no indication of who the partners were, but presumably they were sent in combinations that made each pair the strongest proclaimers of Christ. They were able to drive off many demons and cure illnesses,

Shake the Dust Off Your Feet

Jesus told the pairs of disciples, “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” Jesus is preparing the disciples for the experience he had in his home town. This is how you behave when you are not accepted. He didn’t tell them to curse them or threaten them, just simply shake off the dust and move on. Rejection is a hard thing for any of us, and Jesus is teaching us how to handle it, as if to say “Pick your battles.” This is a good reminder to us all in a time and culture when the climate is so politically charged. Know when it is best to shake the dust and walk away from social media, from an angry word, or from something that won’t turn out well. Respond and stay true to your calling.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Ex 1:8-14, 22; Ps 124:1b-8; Mt 10:34 — 11:1
Tuesday: Ex 2:1-15a; Ps 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34; Mt 11:20-24
Wednesday: Ex 3:1-6, 9-12; Ps 103:1b-4, 6-7; Mt 11:25-27
Thursday: Ex 3:13-20; Ps 105:1, 5, 8-9, 24-27; Mt 11:28-30
Friday: Ex 11:10 — 12:14; Ps 116:12-13, 15, 16bc, 17-18; Mt 12:1-8
Saturday: Ex 12:37-42; Ps 136:1, 23-24, 10-15; Mt 12:14-21
Sunday: Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mk 6:30-34

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Tuesday: St. Henry
Wednesday: St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Thursday: St. Bonaventure
Friday: Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary

Faith Precedes Healing

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.'” Mark 5:34

Raising of Jairus' Daughter by Paolo Veronese, 1546

As always on Sundays in Ordinary Time, the Old Testament reading illumines today’s Gospel. In the longer form, Jesus performs two healings; and the Book of Wisdom proclaims our God the God of life, who “fashioned all things that they might have being” and formed human beings in “the image of his own nature,” to be “imperishable” (Wisdom 1:14; 2:23). People of faith, therefore, choose to live God’s “undying justice (righteousness)” (1:15) in this mortal life, thus beginning, even now, the undying life for which we were created. To choose otherwise is to choose the other side: the devil and death (2:25). Mark presents the two healings as a story within a story, a “story sandwich,” a literary device that reinforces his message for those who originally would have heard, not read, the story. Mark wants to emphasize an essential truth of his Gospel: that Jesus does not perform miracles to compel faith, but rather that faith precedes healing.

Just Have Faith

Jairus’ daughter is the child of an important, privileged man, who publicly seeks out Jesus and loudly proclaims—and demonstrates—his faith, “falling at Jesus’ feet and pleading earnestly with him” (5:22-23). The anonymous woman virtually “sneaks up behind” Jesus and, though clearly filled with faith, keeps that faith to herself until Jesus draws “the whole truth” out of her after her cure (5:27-28, 33). All the more impressive, then, that Jesus delays his healing of the seemingly “more important” and younger woman for the unknown, truly marginalized older woman. Returning to the “domestic church,” so to speak, of Jairus’ house from the public setting of the older woman’s cure, Mark tells us that Jairus’ daughter has died. In the face of a hopelessness even more definitive than that of the hemorrhaging woman, people tell Jairus “why trouble the teacher any longer?” (5:35). But Jesus does not consider his response to Jairus’ faith hopeless or a bother: “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (5:36). Despite death’s apparent triumph at Jairus’ home, Jesus grasps the child’s hand—even though the law prohibited touching the dead—and bids her, “Talitha koum—Little girl, | say to you, arise!” (5:41).

Why Bother?

So Mark seems to be asking us: Like Jairus on his way home or like the woman after twelve years, will we wonder, why bother? Or keep walking in faith with Jesus? Is a silent touch of Jesus’ garment—a quiet prayer of faith —enough for us? In the face of apparent hopelessness, will we choose faith over despair despite the ridicule of the crowd, remembering that Jesus has grasped us by the hand in baptism and commanded us to rise? Note the Gospel’s ending: after bidding Jairus’ daughter rise, Jesus commands that she be given something to eat (5:43). So, too, Jesus invites us now to feast at his eucharistic sacrifice and banquet!

© Copyright J. S. Paluch, Co. Inc.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Gn 18:16-33; Ps 103:1b-4, 8-11; Mt 8:18-22
Tuesday:
Vigil: Acts 3:1-10; Ps 19:2-5; Gal 1:11-20; Jn 21:15-19
Day: Acts 12:1-11; Ps 34:2-9; 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18; Mt 16:13-19
Wednesday: Gn 21:5, 8-20a; Ps 34:7-8, 10-13; Mt 8:28-34
Thursday: Gn 22:1b-19; Ps 115:1-6, 8-9; Mt 9:1-8
Friday: Gn 23:1-4, 19; 24:1-8, 62-67; Ps 106:1b-5; Mt 9:9-13
Saturday: Eph 2:19-22; Ps 117:1bc-2; Jn 20:24-29
Sunday: Ez 2:2-5; Ps 123:1-4; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6a

News for June

CEF Receives $50 Million Donation to Provide Scholarships to Deserving New Students

Catholic school students are now back in the classroom — on the road toward graduation and becoming the future leaders of tomorrow! The Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles has received a $50 million gift to provide financial support to new elementary and high school students enrolling in an Archdiocesan school in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Families interested in Archdiocese of Los Angeles Catholic schools are encouraged to visit lacatholicschools.org or call (213) 637-7070 for more information and access to financial assistance. Schools are enrolling now for fall. Catholic education is affordable and tuition assistance is available!

Religious Education Program

Accepting Applications Beginning June for baptized children ages 7-12.
2 year program Classes in Spanish or English.
For more information, contact the Religious Education Office at (818) 899-2111.

School Corner – Parish Bulletin

With Jesus Christ as the center of our school, teachers are inspired to teach with the same love and compassion as our Savior. His call to teach is our inspiration. We instill in our students a love for Jesus and our Catholic faith the minute they walk into our classrooms. In partnership with parents, we prepare our students to become full and active members of the Catholic Church. Students understand the importance of serving others and spreading the Good News of our Catholic faith. In addition to forming our students spiritually, we, at Mary Immaculate School, are committed to providing students with a quality education that becomes an advantage for life. Our students are accepted into Catholic high schools with Honors and continue on to college. Our teachers are highly qualified with Teaching Credentials, Master’s Degrees, and over 100 years of teaching experience combined. We invite you to come and see what a Catholic education can do for your child! We are currently accepting new student applications for TK-7th grade. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Please stop by the school office to pick up an application or call for more information at 818-834-8551 or email our school principal at vmacias@maryimmaculateschool.org.

Did you know?

Foster one-on-one relationships safely

One-on-one time with trusted adults is healthy for children and helps them to build self-esteem and long-term relationships. You can protect your child while still ensuring they have time and opportunity to build these relationships. You can drop in unexpectedly when your child is with another adult, even if that person is a trusted family member. Insist on observable outings, in public places. Talk with your child after an outing, noting his mood or her ability to confidently tell you what happened. For more information, visit https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-2/.

Thy Kingdom Come

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants.” Mark 4:31-32

The Gospel of Mark is nothing if not a testament to the power of parables to illustrate the Good News through story. Jesus was a master storyteller who understood the importance of using images and concepts to which his listeners could relate. A seed, a mustard plant, would symbolize one of Mark’s signature focuses: the Kingdom of God.

Centuries earlier, the prophet Ezekiel proclaimed most poetically to the Israelites, recently liberated from Babylonian captivity, that their God was still their hope, their comfort, their rescue, and their shelter. Those refugees would understand the image of the towering cedar as a symbol of their kingdom, cut down, fallen, captured. By restoring their kingdom, their God was giving them a new creation (the replanted shoot) and a new covenant.

Ezekiel said that God would tear off “a tender shoot” (17:22) for this replanting. What does this sound like? Why, Advent, of course, and specifically the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (Isaiah 11:1); and again in Isaiah’s Messianic texts we hear: “He grew up before us like a tender shoot” (53:2). Jesse was the father of the great king David and, as we know, Jesus came to be that tender shoot, that blossom, the new Davidic King whose throne, the cross, was once a tree.

God’s incarnation in Jesus, born fully human, is the fulfillment of the promise to Ezekiel of the renewed and restored cedar, the new Kingdom. That new creation and covenant exists for us in the Church, through the Holy Spirit making the seed planted within us grow, flourish, and spread. Thus we have the faith and courage to be that visible sign of the Kingdom bringing hope and renewal to the world. We must live Kingdom lives before we can convince others to do so.

Readings for the Week

Monday: 2 Cor 6:1-10; Ps 98:1, 2b, 3-4; Mt 5:38-42
Tuesday: 2 Cor 8:1-9; Ps 146:2, 5-9a; Mt 5:43-48
Wednesday: 2 Cor 9:6-11; Ps 112:1bc-4, 9; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Thursday: 2 Cor 11:1-11; Ps 111:1b-4, 7-8; Mt 6:7-15
Friday: 2 Cor 11:18, 21-30; Ps 34:2-7; Mt 6:19-23
Saturday: 2 Cor 12:1-10; Ps 34:8-13; Mt 6:24-34
Sunday: Jb 38:1, 8-11; Ps 107:23-26, 28-31; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41

Astonishing Mystery

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

“This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” Mark 14:24

Hands of priest holding up the Eucharist

Astonishing is the term that Clement of Alexandria used in referring to the Holy Trinity. Today’s scriptures tell the astonishing stories, from Moses in the Old Testament to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, of how we mere humans are intended to be intimately associated with our loving God. We see in Deuteronomy that Moses reminds the new generation of Israelites of the “astonishing” fact that, even though the ancient world teemed with gods, their God was the only God, that “there is no other.” Saint Paul in the letter to the Romans writes about those who follow the Spirit as being “sons” of God, which of course would make us brothers and sisters of Christ, and, as he says, “joint heirs with Christ.” Another astonishing statement! Finally, Christ bestows the Holy Spirit on the world as his continuing presence and force of divine revelation. How can we not be astonished?

The Mystery is the Masterpiece

The Most Holy Trinity is the central truth and, indeed, mystery of our lives as believers in God. Even so, few seem to be able talk about it. (Or is it “them”?) Must we be satisfied to take this truth as an inscrutable object of faith that we can easily ignore? Not at alll! We are immersed in Trinitarian reality in many ways. Please consider these clues to God as more than just Person of the Father. Remember the words of God in scripture when the world and all its wonders were coming to be. The formulas for each stage in creation begin with “Let us .. .” (Genesis 1:26). This is not merely the “Royal We.” This is God as a plurality of Being. In Isaiah, the seraphim cry out “Holy, holy, holy . . .” (Isaiah 6:3). Ancient Middle Eastern superlatives come in threes, but why not consider it a sign of God’s three-ness? And these Old Testament foreshadowings are nothing compared to our well-known baptismal formula, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Notice that “name” is singular, and yet refers to three persons. Finally, as Christ tells the Apostles in today’s Gospel, they are to go out and teach in that same singular triple name.

Shall We Dance?

The famous icon by the equally famous fourteenth-century iconographer Andrej Rublev is a depiction of the Trinity densely packed with symbolic content. The three “angels” sitting at a table are actually meant to be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They relate to each other in loving gesture, each one to the other, often described as “dancelike.” And yet this triangular circle seems incomplete. Indeed it is, because we must become one with this circle of life-giving love. As in a dance, we; are drawn into the divine life in the Trinitarian embrace of abundant glory and harmony. Then we complete the movement by taking that love incarnated out to the world, revealing the mystery to our sisters and brothers through our own lives.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Zep 3:14-18a or Rom 12:9-16; Is 12:2-3, 4bcd-6; Lk 1:39-56
Tuesday: Tb 2:9-14; Ps 112:1-2, 7-9; Mk 12:13-17
Wednesday: Tb 3:1-11a, 16-17a; Ps 25:2-5ab, 6-7bc, 8-9; Mk 12:18-27
Thursday: Tb 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-17; 8:4-9a; Ps 128:1-5; Mk 12:28-34
Friday: Tb 11:5-17; Ps 146:1b-2, 6c-10; Mk 12:35-37
Saturday: Tb 12:1, 5-15, 20; Tb 13:2, 6efgh-8; Mk 12:38-44
Sunday: Ex 24:3-8; Ps 116:12-13, 15-18; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: The Most Holy Trinity
Monday: Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Memorial Day; Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Tuesday: St. Justin
Wednesday: Ss. Marcellinus and Peter
Thursday: St. Charles Lwanga and Companions
Friday: First Friday
Saturday: St. Boniface; First Saturday

Astonishing Mystery

The Holy Trinity

Astonishing is the term that Clement of Alexandria used in referring to the Holy Trinity. Today’s scriptures tell the astonishing stories, from Moses in the Old Testament to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, of how we mere humans are intended to be intimately associated with our loving God. We see in Deuteronomy that Moses reminds the new generation of Israelites of the “astonishing” fact that, even though the ancient world teemed with gods, their God was the only God, that “there is no other.” Saint Paul in the letter to the Romans writes about those who follow the Spirit as being “sons” of God, which of course would make us brothers and sisters of Christ, and, as he says, “joint heirs with Christ.” Another astonishing statement! Finally, Christ bestows the Holy Spirit on the world as his continuing presence and force of divine revelation. How can we not be astonished?

The Mystery is the Masterpiece

The Most Holy Trinity is the central truth and, indeed, mystery of our lives as believers in God. Even so, few seem to be able talk about it. (Or is it “them”?) Must we be satisfied to take this truth as an inscrutable object of faith that we can easily ignore? Not at all! We are immersed in Trinitarian reality in many ways. Please consider these clues to God as more than just Person of the Father. Remember the words of God in scripture when the world and all its wonders were coming to be. The formulas for each stage in creation begin with “Let us .. .” (Genesis 1:26). This is not merely the “Royal We.” This is God as a plurality of Being. In Isaiah, the seraphim cry out “Holy, holy, holy . . .” (Isaiah 6:3). Ancient Middle Eastern superlatives come in threes, but why not consider it a sign of God’s three-ness? And these Old Testament foreshadowings are nothing compared to our well-known baptismal formula, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Notice that “name” is singular, and yet refers to three persons. Finally, as Christ tells the Apostles in today’s Gospel, they are to go out and teach in that same singular triple name.

Shall We Dance

The famous icon by the equally famous fourteenth-century iconographer Andrej Rublev is a depiction of the Trinity densely packed with symbolic content. The three “angels” sitting at a table are actually meant to be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They relate to each other in loving gesture, each one to the other, often described as “dance-like.” And yet this triangular circle seems incomplete. Indeed it is, because we must become one with this circle of life-giving love. As in a dance, we are drawn into the divine life in the Trinitarian embrace of abundant glory and harmony. Then we complete the movement by taking that love incarnated out to the world, revealing the mystery to our sisters and brothers through our own lives.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Zep 3:14-18a or Rom 12:9-16; Is 12:2-3, 4bcd-6; Lk 1:39-56
Tuesday: Tb 2:9-14; Ps 112:1-2, 7-9; Mk 12:13-17
Wednesday: Tb 3:1-11a, 16-17a; Ps 25:2-5ab, 6-7bc, 8-9; Mk 12:18-27
Thursday: Tb 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-17; 8:4-9a; Ps 128:1-5; Mk 12:28-34
Friday: Tb 11:5-17; Ps 146:1b-2, 6c-10; Mk 12:35-37
Saturday: Tb 12:1, 5-15, 20; Tb 13:2, 6efgh-8; Mk 12:38-44
Sunday: Ex 24:3-8; Ps 116:12-13, 15-18; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: The Most Holy Trinity
Monday: Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Memorial Day; Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Tuesday: St. Justin
Wednesday: Ss. Marcellinus and Peter
Thursday: St. Charles Lwanga and Companions
Friday: First Friday
Saturday: St. Boniface; First Saturday

News for May

Religious Education Program

Accepting Applications Beginning June for baptized children ages 7-12.
2 year program Classes in Spanish or English.

For more information, contact the Religious Education Office at (818)899-2111.

Did you Know?

Monitoring your children on YouTube

YouTube is one of the most popular sites for children, and anyone can upload and share videos about anything. YouTube can showcase creativity and foster learning and connection for children, but it is also home to a variety of dangerous and inappropriate content. It is the user’s responsibility to filter the content he or she sees, and often, children don’t have the ability or knowledge to filter their viewing before it’s too late. Talk to your children about what they want to watch, and what they are and are not allowed to do while on YouTube. For more information, visit https://www.catholicnh.org/assets/Documents/Child-Safety/Articles-Parents/YouTube.pdf

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Pentecost

“Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.” Acts 2:3

Mary and the Apostles gathered at Pentecost

Come, Holy Spirit! Today we celebrate Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first disciples and on all who are baptized. We also commemorate the birth of the Church. Before Pentecost, the disciples remained hidden and uncertain; at Pentecost, those who were gathered were filled with the Spirit and proclaimed the wonders of the Good News of Christ to all. The Spirit guides us to the truth of Christ’s love and mercy and strengthens us to live as disciples. Without the Holy Spirit, we would perish; with the Spirit, we have life to the full. Relying on the Spirit, we are given the grace to turn away from the many temptations that we face each day and prefer instead what is good and holy. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

The Fruit of the Spirit

As followers of Jesus, we are called to direct our minds and hearts to Christ’s love, turning away from all that is not of God in order to be more Christ-like in our daily lives. The more we invite the Holy Spirit to draw us close to God’s heart, the more readily we will avoid sin and choose life, faith, and love. In the letter to the Galatians, we hear a list of things that those who live in the Spirit are to avoid. Things like immorality, hatred, jealousy, and selfishness. At first glance, we might think to ourselves, “of course | want to avoid those things,” and yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we likely recognize some of those patterns in our lives. Upon further reflection, however, we also see that these negative behaviors pose temporary pleasure while the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—lead to a life of deep and lasting fulfillment.

Nothing Will Stand in the Way

The Jewish people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost came from every corner of the world. They spoke many languages and yet were drawn to hear the message of Christ from the disciples who had just experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They were astonished by what they heard—not only the message, but the way in which it was conveyed, in their own language, and by the messengers, people whom they would have considered ordinary and unremarkable, rather than the acknowledged religious leaders of their time. We, too, are called to share the love and mercy of Christ through word and action, even when we feel small and insignificant. We need only to look at the witness and experience of those first disciples and all the saints who have preceded us to know that we are capable of much when we place our lives in God’s hands. Nothing can stand in the way of the incredible love of God when we are filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit!

Readings for the Week

Monday: Gn 3:9-15, 20 or Acts 1:12-14;Ps 87:1-3, 5-7; Jn 19:25-34
Tuesday: Sir 35:1-12; Ps 50:5-8, 14, 23; Mk 10:28-31
Wednesday: Sir 36:1, 4-5a, 10-17; Ps 79:8, 9, 11, 13; Mk 10:32-45
Thursday: Sir 42:15-25; Ps 33:2-9; Mk 10:46-52
Friday: Sir 44:1, 9-13; Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b; Mk 11:11-26
Saturday: Sir 51:12cd-20; Ps 19:8-11; Mk 11:27-33
Sunday: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Pentecost Sunday
Monday: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church; Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Tuesday: St. Bede the Venerable; St. Gregory VII; St. Mary Magdelene de’Pazzi
Wednesday: St. Philip Neri
Thursday: St. Augustine of Canterbury
Saturday: St. Paul VI; Blessed Virgin Mary

Love is Real

Sixth Sunday of Easter

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” John 15:12

In today’s Gospel, Jesus likens our relationship with him to a plant with many Love. Songs and books, plays and artistic masterpieces have been created to convey the truth that love is real. As Christians, we know that love is of God. In laying down his life, Jesus pours out God’s selfless, sacrificial, undying love. Jesus opens the door to a new relationship between God and humanity, that of friendship, of intimate closeness. Jesus calls us to show this same love for others, knowing that in doing so, we fulfill God’s will. As the account of Peter, Cornelius, and all in his household attests, this great love of God cannot be contained by our preconceived notions of the way things are in the world.

The Call and Cause of Love

Love calls and causes us to do great things, more than we might believe we are capable of. While some are called to give their lives as martyrs, most of us find ourselves called to lay down our lives in smaller ways in the midst of everyday life. Parents lose sleep in the early moments of their baby’s life, and again as their teens mature and gain independence. Adult children change their plans to care for aging parents. We hear the call of love as we become attentive and respond to the needs of the poor, lonely, sick, and vulnerable. Love causes us to turn our lives around, to strive to become more Christ-like in our words and actions. Peter followed this call of love when he entered the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. He was likely as astounded at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as were the believers who accompanied him, yet love caused Peter to see beyond the accepted boundaries of religion and race, seeing instead evidence of the Lord’s great love at work.

The Joy Filled Way of Love

Following the Lord calls us to sacrifice for the sake of others, giving our attention, time, and resources in order to share Christ’s care and compassion. Jesus shows us that giving of self, pouring ourselves out in love for another,
is a joy-filled way of life. Joy is more than a feeling and is deeper than happiness. Joy comes with the assurance that Christ is with us when our lives mirror the life and way of our Master. Joy is a sense of fulfillment in knowing and
sharing Christ’s love. When we reach out in love, Christ’s joy fills our hearts. Strengthened by the power of the Holy
Spirit, we find the grace to follow Jesus’ command to love one another.

© J. S. Paluch, Co. Inc.

Readings of the Week

Monday: Acts 16:11-15; Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b; Jn 15:26 — 16:4a
Tuesday: Acts 16:22-34; Ps 138:1-3, 7c-8; Jn 16:5-11
Wednesday: Acts 17:15, 22 — 18:1; Ps 148:1-2, 11-14; Jn 16:12-15
Thursday: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17-23 or Eph 4:1-13 [1-7, 11-13]; Mk 16:15-20 (for Ascension); otherwise Acts 18:1-8; Ps 98:1-4; Jn 16:16-20
Friday: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Ps 113:1-8; Jn 15:9-17
Saturday: Acts 18:23-28; Ps 47:2-3, 8-10; Jn 16:23b-28
Sunday: Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20; 1 Jn 4:11-16; Jn 17:11b-19; or, for Ascension, Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17- 23 or Eph 4:1-13 [1-7, 11-13]; Mk 16:15-20

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Sixth Sunday of Easter; Mother’s Day
Monday: St. Damien de Veuster; St. John De Avila
Wednesday: Ss. Nereus and Achilleus; St. Pancras; Eid al Fitr (Islamic observance) begins at sunset
Thursday: The Ascension of the Lord (unless transferred to Sunday); otherwise Our Lady of Fatima
Friday: St. Matthias
Saturday: St. Isidore; Armed Forces Day

Our Lady of Fatima Feast Day – May 13

Mary appeared to three peasant children near Fatima, Portugal, six times between May 13 and October 13, 1917, and asked for prayers for world peace and an end to World War I, for sinners, and for the conversion of Russia. She entrusted the children with three secrets, regarding devotion to her Immaculate Heart, a vision of hell, and a “bishop in white” shot by soldiers firing bullets and arrows. Many connect the third secret to the attempted assassination of Blessed Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981, and the pope thanked Mary for guiding the bullet and saving him. At the Vatican last October 13, Pope Francis stood before the statue of Our Lady from the Fatima shrine and formally entrusted the world to Mary.

The Fruit of Faith

Fifth Sunday of Easter

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

In today’s Gospel, Jesus likens our relationship with him to a plant with many branches. We, the branches, are called to remain so close to Jesus that we bear fruit, loving one another as Christ loves us. Saul bore the fruit of his faith
through powerful witness that drew others to Christ. And the branches that grew into the early Church were extraordinarily fruitful. What is the fruit of your faith in Jesus Christ?

Vines, Branches, and Fruit

Few activities are as disappointing as cultivating garden plants, watering them, and ensuring that they receive sunlight and nutrients, only to receive one or two vegetables or flowers to show for all the effort. Jesus uses the metaphor of the vine and branches to describe how closely we are called to remain with him—so close that we bear the fruit of his life and love in the way we live. When we do this, Jesus says, we give glory to God the Father, which Jesus did perfectly through his life, passion, death, and resurrection. Like plants that rely on the sun and nutrients from the soil, we rely on the Lord Jesus through whom we can do all for which we are called. Without the Lord, we can do nothing.

Learn from the First Ones

The story of the early Church that we hear from the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season is instructive and inspiring. We learn how the community grew in their understanding of what it means to remain close to Jesus in the most challenging of situations. They lived in word and deed as Christ had taught and bore the fruit of their faith in their daily decisions, in small ways and in dramatic moments. Faced with Saul who had persecuted Christians and who presented himself as a disciple, Barnabas risked believing Saul’s testimony. Through Barnabas, the community accepted Saul, with increasing numbers of people being led to belief in Christ as a result. We too are called to live in word and deed, taking to heart Christ’s command to love one another, even when it is challenging to do so. We may find inspiration in the way the early believers drew consolation from the Holy Spirit, finding wisdom and strength to keep the commandments and do what pleases God.

Readings for the Week

Monday: 1 Cor 15:1-8; Ps 19:2-5; Jn 14:6-14
Tuesday: Acts 14:19-28; Ps 145:10-13ab, 21; Jn 14:27-31a
Wednesday: Acts 15:1-6; Ps 122:1-5; Jn 15:1-8
Thursday: Acts 15:7-21; Ps 96:1-3, 10; Jn 15:9-11
Friday: Acts 15:22-31; Ps 57:8-10, 12; Jn 15:12-17
Saturday: Acts 16:1-10; Ps 100:1b-3, 5; Jn 15:18-21
Sunday: Acts 10:25-36, 34-35, 44-48; Ps 98:1-4; 1 Jn 4:7-10 or 1 Jn 4:11-16; Jn 15:9-17 or Jn 17:11b-19

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Fifthh Sunday of Easter
Monday: Ss. Philip and James
Wednesday: Cinco de Mayo
Thursday: National Day of Prayer
Friday: First Friday

News for April

Did You Know?

2021 Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Brochure

The Office of Safeguard the Children of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles annually publishes the 2021 Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse brochure, which provides an up-to-date listing of safe environment policies, programs, resources, contact numbers and other important information about how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is working to prevent child sexual abuse. Copies of the brochures are available in the parish vestibule or online at: https://lacatholics.org/child-abuse-preventionmonth/.

Faith

Second Sunday of Easter

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.'” John 20:29

What a difference faith makes! The faith of the early community of believers led them to rise beyond the selfishness that so many of us struggle with as they grew in communion with Christ and one another. Their selflessness was a living sign of the impact of their faith in Jesus Christ. They did not find the commandments burdensome, but rather centered their lives on the love of God and neighbor that Jesus taught through his life, death, and resurrection. It is good for us to remember that faith is a gift. The journey of faith is not always straightforward and is often marked by doubt and moments of weakness. The apostles’ faith grew as they experienced the risen Jesus. Jesus surely knew they needed the peace he offered and the presence of the Holy Spirit, as do we who have not seen the Lord and yet have come to believe in him.

From Doubt to Belief

The apostle Thomas will forever be remembered as the one who doubted. It is good that his experience is recorded in the Gospel of John. We all doubt sometimes, and “Doubting Thomas” shows us how to move from doubt to belief, knowing that the risen Jesus will be with us through it all. Thomas did not keep his doubts to himself, but instead voiced them aloud to his trusted companions. We can only imagine the conversations that took place between Thomas and the other disciples as they described the peace that they felt following Jesus’ time with them. Thomas’ doubts were put to rest once and for all when Jesus offered him physical proof of the Resurrection. We do not have the sort of physical evidence that was shown to Thomas, but we can perceive Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, in the words of sacred scripture, and in the presence and actions of others.

Living Faith

The journey of faith often ebbs and flows, with times when our relationship with the Lord is the guiding force in our lives, and times when we are tempted to turn away from all we know to be true, good, and beautiful. In those moments when we find ourselves struggling with doubt or temptation, we can follow Thomas’ lead and turn to trusted companions, faithful and faith-filled family and friends, who will support us and show us the way from doubt to living faith. Like the disciples who were in the room when Jesus came among them, we too have received the Holy Spirit. Today, let us consider where we are on the journey of faith, turn to trusted companions and the Holy Spirit to strengthen us on the way, and know that the Lord is with us as we live and grow in relationship with Christ.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Acts 4:23-31; Ps 2:1-3, 4-9; Jn 3:1-8
Tuesday: Acts 4:32-37; Ps 93:1-2, 5; Jn 3:7b-15
Wednesday: Acts 5:17-26; Ps 34:2-9; Jn 3:16-21
Thursday: Acts 5:27-33; Ps 34:2, 9, 17-20; Jn 3:31-36
Friday: Acts 5:34-42; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; Jn 6:1-15
Saturday: Acts 6:1-7; Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; Jn 6:16-21
Sunday: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Ps 4:2, 4, 7-9; 1 Jn 2:1-5a; Lk 24:35-48

News for March

Did You Know?

Abusive behavior is nonconsensual
The term “consensual” implies that a person freely agrees to do something and understands what they are consenting to do. When it comes to child abuse, no child can give consent, or freely agree, to engage in inappropriate behavior with an older person – however children can be manipulated such that it appears they have consented in some way out of deference to the abuser’s authority. This is why abuse often involves misuse or abuse of power over a victim and can be accomplished through a range of inappropriate behaviors that give the abuser the upper hand. To read more from the VIRTUS ® article “Early Identification is Crucial,” visit https://lacatholics.org/did-you-know/.

Suffering and Intimacy

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

“When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'” Mark 15:39

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and previews its themes and events. Today’s liturgy begins with the commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The Roman Missal gives three options for how this can be done, the most elaborate of which begins with the priest, ministers, and the entire assembly outside. The Gospel account of the entry is read, after which palms are blessed and distributed. Then everyone enters the church in procession, singing songs or psalms. However, the joy is temporary; the Passion narrative recounts how, after an intimate meal with his disciples a few days later, Jesus is arrested, tortured, crucified, and buried. The reading from Isaiah is one of four Suffering Servant songs, while the psalm likewise gives voice to the suffering of the innocent, The reading from Philippians affirms the Incarnation as God’s embrace of the entire human situation, including suffering and death.

It may be Palm Sunday, but the Passion is far more prominent in today’s liturgy, which invites us to follow Jesus from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to his crucifixion and burial. It simply overflows with the sorrow and intimacy that will be dominant themes in Holy Week.

The first reading from the book of Isaiah gives voice to the suffering of an innocent person—perhaps a prophet—or the people as a whole. The refrain for the Psalm is Jesus’ cry from the cross (Mark 13:14), a cry of absolute, existential loneliness. The great kenotic (emptying) hymn in Philippians provides a stunning portrait of Jesus’ ultimate emptying, simultaneously intimate and cosmological.

All four Gospels have a Passion narrative. While there is agreement on the main events—an intimate meal shared by Jesus and the disciples, betrayal by Judas, prayer in Gethsemane followed by Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion—each Gospel has unique variations that give it a particular meaning or tone. In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus is
anointed by an unnamed woman in the house of Simon the leper. All the Gospels have Jesus being anointed by a woman, but only Mark puts this scene just before the Last Supper. Jesus says the anointing is preparation for his burial: it is as if the woman could see a prophet’s suffering in Jesus’ life and feel it in his presence. Moved by compassion, she empties her jar of expensive nard on his head, pouring out her love in a profoundly intimate act. Perhaps she will also join the women who witness the crucifixion from afar (Mark 15:40-41), after the Twelve seem to be long gone. Palm Sunday invites us to follow Jesus through the rest of Holy Week. By moving us to feel the injustice and the suffering endured by Jesus, this week’s liturgiesand devotions present us with those same choices. Perhaps, like the unnamed woman, we can open ourselves to others’ suffering and respond with love and compassion. Or perhaps, like the Twelve, we will be conspicuous by our absence.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Is 42:1-7; Ps 27:1-3, 13-14; Jn 12:1-11
Tuesday: Is 49:1-6; Ps 71:1-6, 15, 17; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
Wednesday: Is 50:4-9a; Ps 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34; Mt 26:14-25
Thursday:
Chrism Mass: Is 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9; Ps 89:21-22, 25, 27; Rv 1:5-8; Lk 4:16-21
Lord’s Supper: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; Ps 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15
Friday: Is 52:13 — 53:12; Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1 — 19:42
Saturday:
a) Gn 1:1 — 2:2 [1:1, 26-31a]; Ps 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35; or Ps 33:4-7, 12-13, 20-22;
b) Gn 22:1-18 [1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18]; Ps 16: 5, 8-11;
c) Ex 14:15 — 15:1; Ex 15:1-6, 17-18;
d) Is 54:5-14; Ps 30:2, 4-6, 11-13;
e) Is 55:1-11; Is 12:2-6;
f) Bar 3:9-15, 32 — 4:4; Ps 19:8-11;
g) Ez 36:16-17a, 18-28; Ps 42:3, 5; 43:3-4 or Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 or Ps 51:12-15, 18-19;
h) Rom 6:3-11; i) Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Mk 16:1-7
Sunday: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8; Jn 20:1-9 or Mk 16:1-7 or (at an afternoon or evening Mass) Lk 24:13-35

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord; Passover begins at sunset
Monday: Monday of Holy Week
Tuesday: Tuesday of Holy Week
Wednesday: Wednesday of Holy Week
Thursday: Holy Thursday; Paschal Triduum begins
Friday: Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion; Fast and Abstinence
Saturday: Holy Saturday; Vigil of Easter

Through Suffering

Fifth Sunday of Lent

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24

Vigésimo Domingo en Tiempo Ordinario

The prophet Jeremiah, in today’s first reading, is looking beyond the often-messy history of Israel and Judah to a time when the people will no longer be disobedient to God, because God’s law will be “written on their hearts”—that is, their natural inclinations and desires will be oriented toward God’s will. The psalmist gives voice to the sorrow that Israe! and Judah experienced in their separation from God “Have mercy on me, 0 God . . . A clean heart create for me.” According to Saint Paul, the earthly Jesus, “son though he was,” like his ethnic ancestors, he “learned obedience from what he suffered.” The Gospel reading is part of Jesus’ discourses not long before the Last Supper. Instead of a social encounter with Philip’s friends who had come to see him, Jesus is grappling with his approaching death and its ultimate meaning for the world.

Jeremiah: Looking Beyond Exile and Suffering

The readings today remind us how close we are to Easter—only two weeks from now. They also remind us that the path to resurrection and Easter always includes suffering and death. The prophet Jeremiah spent his whole life proclaiming the word of God to kings who would not listen. As an old man, he saw Jerusalem defeated and the inhabitants taken into exile. Jeremiah himself suffered in being left behind, but in today’s reading, he is looking beyond those sufferings to a time when the previously disobedient people would be transformed and live in harmony with God’s law.

Looking for Jesus, Finding the Cross

In the Gospel reading, friends of Philip come to him and ask about meeting Jesus. When Philip and Andrew take the request to Jesus, he begins a cryptic discourse on discipleship, transformation, and divine judgment. We never hear whether Philip’s friends got to personally meet Jesus. Perhaps they simply blended in with the crowd. Jesus says, “[When | am lifted up from the earth, | will draw everyone to myself.” The narrator says that Jesus’ words indicate how he will die; the readers already know Jesus will be crucified. Jesus also speaks of divine judgment driving out the world’s rulers and of the need to be transformed, like a seed growing into a productive plant. He warns about loving our life and losing it. Unlike Jeremiah’s detailed vision, Jesus only hints at what kind of transformed life his death will bring.

What if we, like Philip’s friends, want to get close to Jesus? Does that mean that the discourse on death and judgment is addressed to us? If Jesus will draw everyone to himself as he is “lifted up,” does being closer to him mean joining him on his cross? (Do we want to be that close to Jesus?) Do we want to be transformed? If we say “yes,” the liturgy these next two weeks can show us the only way the Church knows to get closer to Jesus: to be willing to be “lifted up” with him in his suffering—and in our own.

Readings of the Week

Monday: Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 [41c-62]; Ps 23:1-6; Jn 8:1-11
Tuesday: Nm 21:4-9; Ps 102:2-3, 16-21; Jn 8:21-30
Wednesday: Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Dn 3:52-56; Jn 8:31-42
Thursday: Is 7:10-14; 8:10; Ps 40:7-11; Heb 10:4-10; Lk 1:26-38
Friday: Jer 20:10-13; Ps 18:2-7; Jn 10:31-42
Saturday: Ez 37:21-28; Jer 31:10, 11-13; Jn 11:45-56
Sunday: Mk 11:1-10 or Jn 12:12-16 (procession); Is 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil 2:6-11; Mk 14:1 — 15:47 [15:1-39]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Fifth Sunday of Lent; Third Scrutiny
Tuesday: St. Turibius of Mogrovejo
Thursday: The Annunciation of the Lord
Friday: Abstinence

Jesus, the Law, the Jews—and Us

Third Sunday of Lent

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.'” John 2:19

For pious Jews in first-century Palestine, the Mosaic Law prescribed the way every action in life is dedicated to God. Today’s reading from Exodus tells how the Ten Commandments, the reintroduction to this larger legal code, is given to Israel as a gift from God.

In the Gospels Jesus is portrayed as a rabbi, or someone learned in the Law. A rabbi’s learning ideally included both the precepts of the Law and its reverent contemplation as a divine gift, — within which one could hear God’s own voice.

This was the way rabbis through the centuries used the Law to adapt to changing circumstances. This seems to be what Jesus was doing with the moneychangers in the temple.

When Jesus accused the moneychangers of sacrilege and cleared them out of the temple, the onlookers asked for a sign of his authority to do such a thing. After all, wasn’t it a sacrilege to purchase animals for sacrifice with pagan coins? Wasn’t this how the Jews adapted to Roman rule? Jesus says nothing about that; he only knows that this commercial activity inside the temple was a sacrilege. Elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus is criticized for not being strict enough with the Law, as when he ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, but here he is prescribing something stricter, something “more.”

Jesus is doing something extraordinary, contrary to ordinary practice, prompting the onlookers to request a sign, evidence that God is acting here through Jesus. His insistence that the moneychangers depart, his clear vision regarding “my Father’s house,” and his cryptic reference to himself as a temple, are signs of his contemplative intimacy with his Father that is the source of his authority about the Law.

Catholics, like first-century Jews, have our regular means for living in God’s presence. We have the liturgy, sacraments, devolions, and personal prayer. During Lent, we are asked to be a little stricter with ourselves, listening for God’s own voice. If we do, we might discover that we, too, are being called to something “more.”

Readings of the Week

Monday: 2 Kgs 5:1-15b; Ps 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4; Lk 4:24-30
Tuesday: Dn 3:25, 34-43; Ps 25:4-5ab, 6-7bc, 8-9; Mt. 18:21-35
Wednesday: Dt 4:1, 5-9; Ps 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20; Mt 5:17-19
Thursday: Jer 7:23-28; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Lk 11:14-23
Friday: Hos 14:2-10; Ps 81:6c-11ab, 14, 17; Mk 12:28-34
Saturday: Hos 6:1-6; Ps 51:3-4, 18-21ab; Lk 18:9-14
Sunday: 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Ps 137:1-6; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Third Sunday of Lent; First Scrutiny
Monday: St. John of God
Tuesday: St. Frances of Rome
Friday: Abstinence

The Beloved Son

Second Sunday of Lent

“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white.” Mark 9:2-3

Today’s first reading, known as “the Binding of Isaac,” refers to the way Isaac is bound and laid upon the wood of the altar of sacrifice. God directs Abraham to offer his son in sacrifice, killing the beloved son that had been a special gift to him and Sarah in their old age. How could God ask Abraham to do such a thing? Abraham offers no resistance, but in preparing for the sacrifice, Abraham may have agreed with the psalmist that he was “greatly afflicted.” Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans refers to Jesus as God’s beloved Son, which is also how God identifies Jesus to Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration. Afterward, Jesus tells those disciples not to mention the event to anyone until after his resurrection from the dead. The event, together with Jesus’ comments, leaves the disciples thoroughly confused.

How Could God Ask Abraham to Do That?

Through the centuries, Christians and Jews alike have found the Binding of Isaac one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. Even though God intervenes to save Isaac, the whole episode strikes some readers as cruel. However, Abraham, the ultimate man of faith, raises no objection, offers no resistance as he simply goes about preparing for the trip and the sacrifice.

Today’s other readings might help us see that text differently. In Mark’s description of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ clothes become white and shining, and Moses and Elijah appear with him. Moses was the great liberator and lawgiver who led the Jews out of bondage in Egypt and into the wildemess, forming them into the people of Israel by giving them the Law he received from God. Elijah was among Israel’s greatest prophets, so close to God that, at the end of his life, he was taken up into heaven by a fiery chariot. Together, Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets,
the ultimate authority for the Jews in the conduct of their daily lives.

Love and Generosity

The Law, the Prophets—and Jesus. For Paul, Jesus is someone quite different from the other two. The reading from his letter to the Romans is short, but rich in meaning. When Paul declares that God “did not spare his own Son,” and when God praises Abraham “who did not withhold from me your own beloved son,” it is the same Greek word for “spare” and “withhold.” God’s voice at the Transfiguration identifies Jesus as his “beloved Son”—the same way God refers to Isaac as Abraham’s beloved son. Ultimately, God spares Isaac but not his own Son, whom he “handed over for us.” Even if we are disturbed that God tested Abraham like this, Paul says we should be overwhelmingly grateful that God did for us what, in the end, he did not require of Abraham. Jesus, God’s Son “handed over to us” in love and generosity, is already a sacrificial gift, signifying that God wants to give us “everything else along with him.”

Reading of the Week

Monday: Dn 9:4b-10; Ps 79:8, 9, 11, 13; Lk 6:36-38
Tuesday: Is 1:10, 16-20; Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23; Mt 23:1-12
Wednesday: Jer 18:18-20; Ps 31:5-6, 14-16; Mt 20:17-28
Thursday: Jer 17:5-10; Ps 1:1-4, 6; Lk 16:19-31
Friday: Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Ps 105:16-21; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
Saturday: Mi 7:14-15, 18-20; Ps 103:1-4, 9-12; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Sunday: Ex 20:1-17 [1-3, 7-8, 12-17]; Ps 19:8-11; 1 Cor 1:22-25; Jn 2:13-25
Alternate readings (Year A): Ex 17:3-7; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4:5-42 [5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Second Sunday of Lent; Penitential Rite for Candidates for Full Communion
Wednesday: St. Katharine Drexel
Thursday: St. Casimir
Friday: First Friday; World Day of Prayer; Abstinence
Saturday: First Saturday

Baptism

First Sunday of Lent

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” Mark 1:12-13

Today’s readings suggest two different meanings and experiences of baptism. The second reading (from 1 Peter) makes an analogy between Noah’s ark and Christian baptism: just as Noah and his family were saved from death by going through the waters of the flood in the ark, Christians are saved from sin and death by going through the waters of baptism. The first reading, from Genesis, portrays the world after the flood: washed clean of its prior wickedness, embraced by God’s promises that the world will never again be destroyed by water. The psalmist expresses a desire to follow the ways of God, as if re-establishing the harmony between God and humanity destroyed by sin. This peaceful scene is very different from the drama and urgency in Mark’s description of Jesus after his baptism. Jesus battles demons, receives sustenance from angels, and begins preaching: “Repent. The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Good Morning! Welcome to Lent!

You probably did not get that greeting from your priest today, and you probably did not expect it. Isn’t Lent a time of reflection and repentance? Somber purple, no “Alleluias”? Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; attending to one’s relationship with God? True enough; however, there are Lenten practices that have a festive air woven into these penitential elements. One example is in the Church’s retrieval of ancient Lenten practices that made up the final preparation of persons elected to receive the Easter sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist. Jesus’ urgent preaching in today’s passage from Mark comes soon after his own baptism and reminds us that these sacraments still signal a dramatic change in a person’s life: they have responded to Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom and are now publicly professing themselves to be disciples of the Lord and fully initiated members of his visible church. The prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent were part of that preparation. Repentance was then, and remains today, important also for those already fully initiated; the work of repentance, of prayerfully examining our lives and making changes in anticipation of God’s reign, is an ongoing aspect of our life in Christ.

A Second Chance to Make a First Impression

Other changes with baptism are more subtle and personal. When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, they saw that the floodwaters had receded after cleansing the world of human sinfulness. Everything was clean and fresh—a new creation, with a rainbow to guarantee God’s promise to never again destroy the world with water. So, too, will the newly baptized emerge from the font and be anointed with chrism. Like the earth after the great flood, they area
new creation. Washed clean of sin and anointed with chrism, they are renewed in the embrace of the God of covenant love. This is why Lent is always a festive anticipation of Easter and always about baptism, just as it is always about the repentance that draws us more deeply into God’s kinqdom.

Readings for the Week

Monday: 1 Pt 5:1-4; Ps 23:1-3a, 4-6; Mt 16:13-19
Tuesday: Is 55:10-11; Ps 34:4-7, 16-19; Mt 6:7-15
Wednesday: Jon 3:1-10; Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19; Lk 11:29-32
Thursday: Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Ps 138:1-3, 7c-8; Mt 7:7-12
Friday: Ez 18:21-28; Ps 130:1-8; Mt 5:20-26
Saturday: Dt 26:16-19; Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8; Mt 5:43-48
Sunday: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 116:10, 15-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: First Sunday of Lent; Rite of Election; Rite of Calling the Candidates to Continuing Conversion; Rite of Sending
Monday: Washington’s Birthday; Julian Calendar Lent begins
Tuesday: St. Polycarp
Thursday: Purim (Jewish observance) begins at sunset
Friday: Abstinence
Saturday: St. Gregory of Narek

Reflect. Repent. Restore.

Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God’s gifts—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2446).

In Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.

Healing and Hope

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

“I do will it. Be made clean.” Mark 1:41

The readings from Leviticus and from the Gospel of Mark today speak of healing and hope. Leviticus outlines procedures to prevent the spread of leprosy, a skin disease understood to be a great danger to the community. Those with the disease were isolated and ritually impure. Absent some cure from God, they were considered beyond hope. Their lives were like a living death, and likely they saw no future hope in their lives. Jesus’ healing of a leper was thus a profound sign of the promised reign of God, which Jesus had earlier announced. The healing was like raising the leper up from death, and thus a hint of Jesus’ resurrection. Where are there “lepers” today, those isolated or outcast from our communities? Who are those our society considers beyond hope, or deems not worth the trouble to offer hope? How can we imitate Jesus in offering a healing touch to them?

Surrending Control

The Gospel today concludes the first chapter of Mark, which traces the rapid expansion of Jesus’ ministry. Excitement about Jesus grows so much that he can’t enter a town without being besieged. His healing of a leper results in a reversal: the leper, who had been isolated from the community, is now free to speak with everyone. Jesus, who before could speak freely, now must isolate himself from the crowds. By serving others, Jesus lost some control over his ministry. This is the first hint of what happens later in Mark. Jesus’ displays of power—over illness, over evil spirits, over nature— eventually lead him to the “powerlessness” of the cross. The experience of Jesus guides us in our own efforts to be of service. Surrendering control is often very difficult. To be a servant is to engage with others, where frequently we lose some control over our freedoms, time, and energies. Often there is a cross or two to bear. As Jesus let go of control in his life, he also placed his trust in his Father. He invites us to do the same.

For the Glory of God

In today’s passage from First Corinthians, Paul concludes his extensive reflections on a variety of issues in Christian life, summarizing with “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” Beyond the specific problems he addresses, Paul invites his listeners deeper, to consider the primary orientation of life in Christ. We live “for the glory of God” when we organize our lives around God’s values and purposes. We find our identity within Goa’s story as described in the scriptures. We are called to join God’s work in care for others. Just like Paul, we wrestle with many difficult problems emerging from the messiness of daily living. As Lent approaches, we might claim some time to reflect upon how life’s messiness connects with our identity and calling.

Readings of the Week

Monday: Gn 4:1-15, 25; Ps 50:1, 8, 16bc-17, 20-21; Mk 8:11-13
Tuesday: Gn 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; Ps 29:1a, 2, 3ac-4, 3b, 9c-10; Mk 8:14-21
Wednesday: Jl 2:12-18; Ps 51:3-6ab, 12-14, 17; 2 Cor 5:20 — 6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Thursday: Dt 30:15-20; Ps 1:1-4, 6; Lk 9:22-25
Friday: Is 58:1-9a; Ps 51:3-6ab, 18-19; Mt 9:14-15
Saturday: Is 58:9b-14; Ps 86:1-6; Lk 5:27-32
Sunday: Gn 9:8-15; Ps 25:4-9; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time; World Marriage Day; Valentine’s Day
Monday: Presidents’ Day
Tuesday: Mardi Gras; Shrove Tuesday
Wednesday: Ash Wednesday; Fast and Abstinence; Almsgiving
Friday: Abstinence

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