English Español Mary Immaculate
Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Called to Listen and Serve

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

“Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

In the waters of Baptism, we were drawn into Christ, who is priest, prophet, and king and called to be “alter Christus,” “other Christs.” Christ who is priest sanctifies the everyday stuff of life, building a bridge between God and humanity. Christ who is prophet proclaims God’s love and mercy in a world that desperately needs it. Christ who – is king rules the universe in loving, sacrificial service. We who are baptized into Christ are called to bring God’s love into our hearts, homes, places of work, and the wider world. We are called to show and share God’s love to others, especially those who most need the care, compassion, and forgiveness that is at the heart of Christ’s eternal message. We are called to give of ourselves beyond what might seem reasonable, in imitation of our Lord and king who gave himself on the cross and who reigns forever.

Jesus said to Pilate, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus spoke to the disciples and his voice reaches through the ages in the words of sacred scripture and the tradition of the Church. In prayer, participation in the liturgy, and learning from the saints and the teachings of the Church, we grow in belonging to the truth of Christ’s love. We hear and follow Jesus’ command to wash others’ feet, to love as he loves, to serve as he serves. And while it is certainly our duty to do so, there is more to our service than merely fulfilling the instructions of another. We fulfill Christ’s command as a grateful response to the incredible love of God for us. How will you listen to and serve the Lord? How will you make Jesus the king of your heart and life?

Readings for the Week

Monday: Dn 1:1-6, 8-20; Dn 3:52-56; Lk 21:1-4
Tuesday: Dn 2:31-45; Dn 3:57-61; Lk 21:5-11
Wednesday: Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28; Dn 3:62-67; Lk 21:12-19
Thursday: Dn 6:12-28; Dn 3:68-74; Lk 21:20-28
Thanksgiving Day, Suggested: Sir 50:22-24; Ps 145:2-11; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19
Friday: Dn 7:2-14; Dn 3:75-81; Lk 21:29-33
Saturday: Dn 7:15-27; Dn 3:82-87; Lk 21:34-36
Sunday: Jer 33:14-16; Ps 25:4-5, 8-10, 14; 1 Thes 3:12 — 4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Monday: Thirty-fourth or Last Week in Ordinary Time; St. Cecilia
Tuesday: St. Clement I; St. Columban; Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro
Wednesday: St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc and Companions
Thursday: Thanksgiving Day; St. Catherine of Alexandria
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary

Good News in the End

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his disciples, “And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

If the end is near or at least coming for certain, Someone else is even nearer, indeed with us already! For one thing, today’s Hebrews reading offers us this blessed assurance: “by one offering Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” (Hebrews 10:14). So, by the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ, forgiveness is ours, Our “consecration” having begun in Baptism. Christ’s sacrifice, offered once and) for all on the cross, is now made ever present in the Church’s Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Mass. But even before we hear Hebrews proclaim such Good News, we need to listen with joyful hope to Daniel. For, at that very time Daniel declares “unsurpassed in distress,” Daniel promises “at that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). Recalling Hebrews again, the writing of Daniel’s “book,” namely the Book of Life, begins when our names are inscribed on the day of our Baptism.

Seen then as positive, Daniel’s predictions blossom even more beautifully in Jesus’ Good News. Indeed, Jesus invokes that very image: “Learn a lesson from the fig tree” (Mark 13:28). Consider well: Jesus does not predict produce that comes forth withered, or even worse, poisoned, ending in (for many of us) winter’s forthcoming thick clouds, deep snow, and brutal cold. Placing before our eyes instead a gloriously lovely and positive image, Jesus declares: “When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near” (12:28). So where is the “Gospel good” in today’s passage? Precisely in what happens after “that tribulation” and “the powers being shaken” in the Gospel’s opening lines (12:24-25). For Jesus promises that we will “see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory’ ” (12:26). Jesus “will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky” (12:27): Jesus’ whole family gathered together, the little and lowly lifted up, the lost sheep found. Tender indeed is Jesus’ mercy; blessed fruit that endures and nourishes us into eternity! So, we hope indeed that the end is near!

Readings for the Week

Monday: 1 Mc 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63; Ps 119:53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158; Lk 18:35-43
Tuesday: 2 Mc 6:18-31; Ps 3:2-7; Lk 19:1-10
Wednesday: 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31; Ps 17:1bcd, 5-6, 8b, 15; Lk 19:11-28
Thursday: 1 Mc 2:15-29; Ps 50:1b-2, 5-6, 14-15; Lk 19:41-44 or (for the memorial of the Dedication) Acts 28:11-16, 30-31; Ps 98:1-6; Mt 14:22-33
Friday: 1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59; 1 Chr 29:10bcd, 11-12; Lk 19:45-48
Saturday: 1 Mc 6:1-13; Ps 9:2-4, 6, 16, 19; Lk 20:27-40
Sunday: Dn 7:13-14; Ps 93:1-2, 5; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Monday: St. Albert the Great
Tuesday: St. Margaret of Scotland; St. Gertrude
Wednesday: St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Thursday: Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss. Peter and Paul; St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary

Self-Sacrificing Gift

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” Mark 12:43

We quickly come to admire the Old Testament widow whom Elijah asks for help. The Zarephath widow is carrying only “a couple of sticks,” to cook her limited resources, “a handful of flour and a little oil,” fulfilling her personal responsibility, “for myself and my son” (1 Kings 17:12). Elijah’s request demands great faith and self-sacrifice of this poor widow, because providing such life-sustaining care to a “foreign” prophet puts the widow’s survival and her son’s at great risk: her religion is worshipping paganism’s false idol, Baal; her king is father of Jezebel, now wife of Elijah’s king Ahab. Elijah is fleeing the death-threatening wrath of both Jezebel and Ahab, whom Elijah infuriated by declaring that God had decreed a drought to punish them for corrupting Israel with Jezebel’s Baal-worship. Elijah makes the widow’s risk explicit by promising that her flour and oil will not fail by power of “the Lord, the God of Israel (not her god, Baal!)” (17:14). Therefore, faith is demanded both of the one who gives, the widow, and of the one who asks, Elijah.

Today’s Gospel episode takes place just after Jesus enters Jerusalem immediately before his Passion. Trustfully and with self-sacrifice, like Zarephath’s widow and the widow whom Jesus sees at the temple, Jesus will give his all for our redemption. Thus Jesus emphasizes of the widow he sees that her gift is unreserved: “from her poverty, all she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12:44). And, doubtlessly, Jesus saw himself and his self-giving in her and her self-giving. In Mark’s next chapter Jesus predicts the downfall of this very temple. So the widow’s unreserved giving from what she could not afford must have struck Jesus both as a victimization by others and, in the end, as a useless gift: the building controlled by the scribes’ manipulation was destined for destruction. Her giving became a vivid prefiguring of his own victimization by others in the unreserved giving of his very life, which would seem to many a useless gift, for Jesus would die and be buried. Only Jesus’ true disciples—are we?—believe that, by his resurrection, Jesus has become the Cornerstone of the new building, the Church, that replaces that torn-down temple. Therefore, we are to make our own gift of self to God in our unceasing gift of self-sacrificing love to others until Jesus comes again.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Wis 1:1-7; Ps 139:1b-10; Lk 17:1-6
Tuesday: Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9; 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17; Jn 2:13-22
Wednesday: Wis 6:1-11; Ps 82:3-4, 6-7; Lk 17:11-19
Thursday: Wis 7:22b — 8:1; Ps 119:89-91, 130, 135, 175; Lk 17:20-25
Friday: Wis 13:1-9; Ps 19:2-5ab; Lk 17:26-37
Saturday: Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9; Ps 105:2-3, 36-37, 42-43; Lk 18:1-8
Sunday: Dn 12:1-3; Ps 16:5, 8-11; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mk 13:24-32

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time; Daylight Saving Time ends; National Vocation Awareness Week
Tuesday: The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Wednesday: St. Leo the Great
Thursday: St. Martin of Tours; Veterans Day
Friday: St. Josaphat
Saturday: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

News for November

In Observance of Thanksgiving

Our Parish Office will be closed on Thursday, November 25 and Friday, November 26, 2021 We invite you to join us for 10:00 am bilingual mass.

Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry is now enrolling for our Youth Programs of EDGE and LIFETEEN. There is no cost to attend these programs. EDGE is our Middle School Ministry that meets on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00pm. LIFETEEN is our High School Ministry that meets on certain Fridays from 6:30-8:00pm. These programs will be starting in November. Please call the Youth Ministry office for more information on how to sign up for these programs (818) 899-0278 Ext. 7.

Did you know?

Honoring children’s boundaries teaches important lessons about consent

As we enter into the holiday season, where many of us will spend time with extended family and friends, parents should remember to pay attention to their children’s comfort levels, especially when it comes to physical affection. We want our children to be kind and considerate, so it is tempting to ask them to give hugs and kisses to family members and friends. But when children are nervous or shy, or just do not want to, it is important to honor their personal boundaries — and it teaches them a great lesson about consent over who interacts with them and their bodies. You can suggest alternatives, like high-fives or fist bumps.

Knowing and Doing

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

Today’s Gospel shows Jesus as fully part of Israel’s Covenant tradition: he responds to the scribe’s question by proclaiming Deuteronomy’s Shema which both of them would have reverenced and recited since childhood: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore you shall love the Lord, your God, Or with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4—-5).

But note the “editorial changes” both Jesus and the scribe make to the Shema. To Deuteronomy’s heart, the Biblical seat of the will and affections, and soul, the deepest part of the human person, and strength, encompassing both physical ability and material treasure, Jesus adds “with all your mind,” a phrase the scribe changes to “with all your understanding” (Mark 12:30, 33). Perhaps Mark, the author of today’s Gospel, wanted to consecrate to the kingdom’s service the philosophical reflection and intellectual exploration so valued by the Greco-Roman world—and our world—in which the Gospel would be preached.

Jesus makes a further change to Israel’s Shema: to the Deuteronomy text Jesus adds Leviticus 19:18: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” For Jesus, these commandments cannot be separated. The scribe, delighted at Jesus’ answer, goes on to indicate that he has grasped one of the central tenets of Jesus’ kingdom: ritual worship and practical charity toward one’s neighbor are twin expressions of love for God. This insight places the scribe “not far from the kingdom of God,” says Jesus (Mark 12:34). But is “not far” close enough? For the scribe, as for the rich would-be disciple from a few Sundays ago, as for each of us, it is one thing to know what we ought to do and quite another actually to do it. So, then: what about us? How do we live out, in daily practice, the covenant whose words we know so well, but whose deeds we so often find a challenge?

Readings for the Week

Monday: Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; Ps 24:1-6; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a
Tuesday: Wis 3:1-9; Ps 23:1-6; Rom 5:5-11 or 6:3-9; Jn 6:37-40, or any readings from no. 668 or from the Masses for
the Dead, nos. 1011-1016
Wednesday: Rom 13:8-10; Ps 112:1b-2, 4-5, 9; Lk 14:25-33
Thursday: Rom 14:7-12; Ps 27:1bcde, 4, 13-14; Lk 15:1-10
Friday: Rom 15:14-21; Ps 98:1-4; Lk 16:1-8
Saturday: Rom 16:3-9, 16, 22-27; Ps 145:2-5, 10-11; Lk 16:9-15
Sunday: 1 Kgs 17:10-16; Ps 146:7-10; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44 [41-44]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time; Halloween
Monday: All Saints
Tuesday: Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day); Election Day
Wednesday: St. Martin de Porres
Thursday: St. Charles Borromeo
Friday: First Friday
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary; First Saturday

Self Examination

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Throughout this part of Ordinary Time, Mark’s Gospel tracks the disciples’ progressive misunderstanding about Jesus’ mission and the nature of discipleship. We heard Jesus make two predictions about his Passion on Sundays in September, and just before today’s Gospel episode, Jesus informed the Twelve: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise” (Mark 10:33—34). Despite Jesus’ three predictions and his definition of “glory” and “power” as serving others in humility, James and John still imagine Jesus as bound for a glorious earthly messiahship. How moving that Jesus, rather than scolding James and John as he had previously rebuked Peter, instead begins teaching them patiently, “You do not know what you are asking” (10:38).

Knowing that Jesus’ throne of glory is also a “throne of grace” from which Jesus bestows “mercy and grace for timely help” (Hebrews 4:16), today’s Gospel suggests sincere self-examination: How do we approach Jesus and make our requests? What do we ask for: what Jesus wants us to do or, like James and John today, do we demand “whatever we want” from Jesus? Does the world in which we live and work focus our hearts on glory to the right and power on the left? Or do “the cup we drink” and “the baptism” we’ve received inspire us to gladly become servants of all, like the Jesus who has made us his disciples? Do we also avoid imitating the “indignant ten” other Apostles who rebuked James and John? Or are we also quick to see the errors of others and rash in passing judgment on them? How do we live in response to Jesus who gave his life “as a ransom for many”?

Readings for the Week

Monday: 2 Tm 4:10-17b; Ps 145:10-13, 17-18; Lk 10:1-9
Tuesday: Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21; Ps 40:7-10, 17; Lk 12:35-38
Wednesday: Rom 6:12-18; Ps 124:1b-8; Lk 12:39-48
Thursday: Rom 6:19-23; Ps 1:1-4, 6; Lk 12:49-53
Friday: Rom 7:18-25a; Ps 119:66, 68, 76-77, 93-94; Lk 12:54-59
Saturday: Rom 8:1-11; Ps 24:1b-4ab, 5-6; Lk 13:1-9
Sunday: Jer 31:7-9; Ps 126:1-6; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Monday: St. Luke
Tuesday: Ss. John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, and Companions
Wednesday: St. Paul of the Cross
Friday: St. John Paul II
Saturday: St. John of Capistrano; Blessed Virgin Mary

Heart Surgery

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle Than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:23

Today’s Gospel describes a tense and tragic encounter between Jesus and a wealthy man. It appears that the man sincerely desired to know the way to inherit eternal life. He had followed much of the Law of Moses. Apparently, he had also followed society’s rules in gaining and sustaining his wealth, avoiding stealing and defrauding.

Jesus indicates that the man missed a crucial part of the Biblical tradition, which calls upon those who have much to share generously with those who have little. The Old Testament regularly refers to this obligation (for example, see Deuteronomy 15). Historians note that in the society in Jesus’ day, the wealthy enjoyed privileges in an economic system that also prevented the poor and vulnerable from meeting their basic needs. The wealthy man’s entrapment in his possessions damaged both himself and the whole community. In our own time and place, those of us who enjoy privileges of various kinds are invited into social and economic practices that embrace this biblical generosity.

Much of our inner life is hidden from others. This protects us from being harmed by others who would seek advantage over us. But our hidden inner life can also keep wounds from healing, and may help sustain deeply damaging illusions about ourselves and about the outer world.

In today’s passage from Hebrews, the author offers vivid imagery of the word of God and its effect upon us. Here, God’s word is described as the active power of God that penetrates our hearts. God is described as a surgeon who can expose our hidden places and maneuver around our hardness of heart. Exposure of our inner self can be terrifying. During surgery, we are deeply vulnerable and utterly dependent on the surgeon’s care and skill so that we can be healed. When events in life allow God to reveal hidden truths about ourselves, it is crucial that we know we are in the hands of a trustworthy and skilled surgeon.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Rom 1:1-7; Ps 98:1-4; Lk 11:29-32
Tuesday: Rom 1:16-25; Ps 19:2-5; Lk 11:37-41
Wednesday: Rom 2:1-11; Ps 62:2-3, 6-7, 9; Lk 11:42-46
Thursday: Rom 3:21-30; Ps 130:1b-6ab; Lk 11:47-54
Friday: Rom 4:1-8; Ps 32:1b-2, 5, 11; Lk 12:1-7
Saturday: Rom 4:13, 16-18; Ps 105:6-9, 42-43; Lk 12:8-12
Sunday: Is 53:10-11; Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45 [42-45]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Monday: St. John XXIII; Columbus Day
Thursday: St. Callistus I
Friday: St. Teresa of Jesus; National Boss’s Day
Saturday: St. Hedwig; St. Margaret Mary Alacoque; Blessed Virgin Mary; Sweetest Day

Proud to Be Human

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Mark 10:6-8

Today’s passage from Mark’s Gospel is in the context of Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom, or reign, of God. A common understanding was that entering the kingdom was based on family origin, or achievement, or status in the community. Jesus pushes back on this, and presents a child as a model of receptivity and openness.

This is not to suggest that adults must somehow reject the wisdom gained through adult experience and return to childhood. Adult maturity also includes the difficult journey, usually later in life, of letting go of illusions that we have built up about our own virtue, skills, and autonomy. Jesus’ teaching pushes back against our culture, which honors energy and vigor, expertise and achievement. These valuable gifts can fail us if we cannot accept our dependence on God who provides and cultivates these gifts. We can accept God’s graciousness sin our life when we open our hearts as a child does.

This is the first of seven consecutive Sundays that we will share passages from the Letter to the Hebrews. The letter is
san extended sermon by an unknown author directed to a Christian community where likely many were converts from Judaism. The author attempts to link Jesus to the story of the people of Israel, building toward an image of Christ as God’s perfect high priest. Christ the High Priest is described as the central link between humanity and God.

When we reflect upon the life and death of Jesus, we can more deeply accept that through Jesus, God knows what
we humans experience. Jesus the High Priest embraces his humanity. In today’s passage, the author claims that Jesus is proud to be human, proud to be our brother in the family of God. The letter to the Hebrews is not only a celebration of Christ, it is an affirmation of the dignity of our own human life.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Jon 1:1 — 2:2, 11; Jon 2:3-5, 8; Lk 10:25-37
Tuesday: Jon 3:1-10; Ps 130:1b-4ab, 7-8; Lk 10:38-42
Wednesday: Jon 4:1-11; Ps 86:3-6, 9-10; Lk 11:1-4
Thursday: Mal 3:13-20b; Ps 1:1-4, 6; Lk 11:5-13
Friday: Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2; Ps 9:2-3, 6, 16, 8-9; Lk 11:15-26
Saturday: Jl 4:12-21; Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12; Lk 11:27-28
Sunday: Wis 7:7-11; Ps 90:12-17; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30 [17-27]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time; Respect Life Sunday
Monday: St. Francis of Assisi
Tuesday: Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos
Wednesday: St. Bruno; Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher
Thursday: Our Lady of the Rosary
Saturday: St. Denis and Companions; St. John Leonardi; Blessed Virgin Mary

News for October

Confirmation Registrations

for ages 14-17 years will end at the end of September. In order to register you must bring copies of Baptism and First Communion certificates. A deposit of at least $100 is required upon registering. The office is registering Monday through Thursday from 4:00-6:00 pm only! For more information please contact the YOUTH MINISTRY OFFICE at (818) 899-0278 ext 7.

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Weekend for Healing after Abortion

Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is for men and women struggling with the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion. The retreat is designed to help participants work through repressed grief and anger ina safe, nonjudgmental setting and come to acceptance, healing, and hope for the future. Developed in the Reman Catholic Tradition, it utilizes Spiritual exercises and rituals to help grieve the loss of unborn children and to accept God’s forgiveness. All inquiries and registrations are confidential.
www.youtube.com/user/rachelsvineyard
October 29-31, 2021
San Fernando, CA
Cost: $300. per person

For registration or more information please call and leave message:
323-577-5693
www.rachelsvineyard.org

Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry is now enrolling for our Youth Programs of EDGE and LIFETEEN. There is no coast to attend these programs. EDGE is our Middle School Ministry that meets on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00pm. LIFETEEN is our High School Ministry that meets on certain Fridays from 6:30-8:00pm. These programs will be starting in November. Please
call the Youth Ministry office for more information on how to sign up for these programs.

Diaconate Virtual Information Day

Hosted by the Diaconate Formation Office
Sunday, October 17, 2021
2:00pm—4:00pm

To register send your name, parish & pastor’s name to Deacon Melecio Zamora at dmz2011@la-archdiocese.org.

Did you know?

Escalating red flags in an adult’s behavior

In most abuse cases, the victim knows the offender. Offenders go to great lengths to ensure that they are not strangers, often spending months or even years hiding in plain sight. Parents should be aware of a few red flags that range from obvious to subtle, and usually indicate a more sinister relationship at work between an offender and potential victims. Some obvious signs include telling children dirty jokes or showing them pornography. More subtle signs could be an adult who wrestles or tickles often, wants to be alone with children, gives gifts frequently, or encourages children to keep secrets. For more red flags, request a copy of the VIRTUS® article “The Rationale of Warning Signs” at lacatholics.org/did-you-know. Read the VIRTUS article “The Rationale of Warning Signs” here.

Unity in Christ

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward." (MT 10:42)

“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41

A wrestling match of sorts takes place in this a section of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus tries mightily to describe what it will mean to be his followers, it, and the disciples try mightily to avoid the subject. They point to an outsider, and the dangers he poses. Jesus turns the tables and asks his disciples to look within themselves: how are they a danger to Jesus and his work? Jesus uses graphic language, invoking self-amputation, to underscore his point.

Sometimes our most difficult obstacles lie deep within. Like our hands and feet, some attitudes and habits are deeply a part of us, and their removal would be traumatic for us. Yet we know that some beliefs (such as idolatries based on race, wealth, or gender) or behaviors (such as addictions) seriously harm ourselves and many others. We need a prayerful, non-neurotic watchfulness about our inner life. When necessary, we need a fierce resistance to anything that places us or others in danger.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel from Mark, says “whoever is not against us is for us.” Mark was speaking to his own Christian community. From its beginnings, there were tensions in the Church about who speaks for Jesus. Jesus himself always called for unity of heart and a diversity of expression as a sign of the truth of the Gospel. It is no secret that in Christian history and continuing today, divisions have seriously damaged the message and cause of Christ.

In our own time and place, cultural and political divisions have reduced our ability to solve problems and to live together in a just and peaceful society. Perhaps this is a time for Christians to step up, to remember that our unity in Christ is far deeper than the differences that we perceive. We are called to reach out and listen to each other, to honor each other as members of the Body of Christ. Christians can lead the way, and show everyone watching how it’s done.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Zec 8:1-8; Ps 102:16-21, 29, 22-23; Lk 9:46-50
Tuesday: Zec 8:20-23; Ps 87:1b-7; Lk 9:51-56
Wednesday: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 or Rv 12:7-12a; Ps 138:1-5; Jn 1:47-51
Thursday: Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12; Ps 19:8-11; Lk 10:1-12
Friday: Bar 1:15-22; Ps 79:1b-5, 8-9; Lk 10:13-16
Saturday: Bar 4:5-12, 27-29; Ps 69:33-37; Mt 18:1-5, 10
Sunday: Gn 2:18-24; Ps 128:1-6; Heb 2:9-11; Mk 10:2-16 [2-12]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Priesthood Sunday
Monday: St. Vincent de Paul
Tuesday: St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions; St. Wenceslaus
Wednesday: Ss. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael
Thursday: St. Jerome
Friday: St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus; First Friday
Saturday: The Holy Guardian Angels; First Saturday

Ask the Hard Questions

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” Mark 9:31

Today’s Gospel passage has two parts: Jesus’ announcement again of his coming suffering and death, and a scene with the disciples arguing about who is the “greatest.” Mark places these scenes next to each other to emphasize the disciples’ failure to understand. Their petty argument was the opposite of what Jesus had : described as the way to follow him. The disciples were following the common understanding of group status: to honor the influential and those
who seem to contribute the most. Jesus points to the opposite: he honors the vulnerable, the “least” in the community; in this case, a child. And he honors those who welcome the child.

Mark was addressing his own community in the early Church, who were seeking to learn how to live their faith. His questions may be important for us too. Who is honored in our faith community, and why? How do we honor those whom we set as examples? Who benefits from this different kind of greatness”?

Twice in today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples are reduced to silence. First when Jesus describes his future suffering and death, and again when caught in their argument about who sis the greatest. Perhaps they were afraid to really understand his teachings because of what it might cost them. Maybe they were afraid of being seen as ignorant by Jesus and especially each other. What if they had dared to admit their confusion and ignorance and asked Jesus hard questions? Would Jesus have welcomed them?

Jesus presents a child who is to be welcomed and embraced. The child sets an example: it is the child who knows that he or she doesn’t know. The child is free to ask “childlike” questions, and is open to answers. What if, in the intimacy of our prayer, we asked Jesus our Own hard, embarrassing questions: about life, about ourselves and our relationships, about God? How night our relationship with God then change?

Readings for the Week

Monday: Ezr 1:1-6; Ps 126:1b-6; Lk 8:16-18
Tuesday: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Ps 19:2-5; Mt 9:9-13
Wednesday: Ezr 9:5-9; Tb:13:2, 3-4abefghn, 7-8; Lk 9:1-6
Thursday: Hg 1:1-8; Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b; Lk 9:7-9
Friday: Hg 2:1-9; Ps 43:1-4; Lk 9:18-22
Saturday: Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a; Jer 31:10-12ab, 13; Lk 9:43b-45
Sunday: Nm 11:25-29; Ps 19:8, 10, 12-14; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Catechetical Sunday
Monday: Ss. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions; Sukkot (Jewish harvest festival) begins at sunset
Tuesday: St. Matthew
Wednesday: Autumn begins
Thursday: St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary

News for September

Confirmation Registrations

For ages 14-17 years will begin on August 9 through the end of September. In order to register you must bring copies of Baptism and First Communion certificates. A deposit of at least $100 is required upon registering. The office is registering Monday through Thursday from 4:00-6:00 pm only! For more information please contact the YOUTH MINISTRY OFFICE at (818) 899-0278 ext 7.

Did you know?

What to look for in a safe school

Preventing violence in schools takes more than a few rules and requirements. It requires a culture of concern, in which every member works together to prevent violence and abuse. These cultures share certain hallmarks that parents can look for in selecting the safest school for their children. Some of these features include a strong community, clear lines of communication between teachers, staff, and families, and equal respect for students and staff throughout the school. For more information, request a copy of the VIRTUS® article “Characteristics of Safe and Responsive Schools” at lacatholics.org/did-you-know. Read the VIRTUS article “Characteristics of Safe and Responsive Schools” here.

Mosaic Law and Traditions

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction.” James 1:27

Moses gave the Israelites their Law, which provided the structure for daily life. As recorded in the Bible, over half of the Law is about rituals for worship and sacrifice. A related concept is the concept of a person’s ritual purity (or cleanliness), which is required for participation in both social ~ and religious activities, since persons become unclean by physical contact with other unclean if persons, animals, or objects. Other ways a person becomes unclean include the presence of skin lesions, bleeding, or a bodily discharge. Unclean persons are required to purify themselves to be again considered clean. Despite the Law’s complexity, observant Jews considered it a privilege, not a burden, to observe its precepts, and they continue to do so today.

The scribes and Pharisees are focusing on the disciples’ failure to properly wash their hands prior to eating. But nowhere in the biblical texts of the Law are there regulations regarding the washing of hands before or after meals. These regulations, as described by Mark, are merely practices like those that arise in all societies; if they continue long enough, they can seem like sacred duties, sanctified as “the traditions of their elders.”

This distinction is the source of the tension in these three readings. Moses and James both tell their people that they are recipients of a divine gift that requires special care, while Jesus is practically livid when the scribes and Pharisees react harshly to the disciples’ failure to wash their hands according to Jewish practices.

Such a distinction between divine law and human practices is valuable for our own lives. When we hear of another’s misdeeds, we should evaluate the seriousness of the offense before forming our own impression. Is this truly a serious moral matter? Or something less weighty? Carefully discerning the seriousness of such matters might reveal that things are not as Brave as they first appear. Such care is an exercise in Christian charity, one way of acting on the word we have received as members of the Body of Christ.

Readings for the Week

Monday: 1 Thes 4:13-18; Ps 96:1, 3-5, 11-13; Lk 4:16-30
Tuesday: 1 Thes 5:1-6, 9-11; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; Lk 4:31-37
Wednesday: Col 1:1-8; Ps 52:10-11; Lk 4:38-44
Thursday: Col 1:9-14; Ps 98:2-6; Lk 5:1-11
Friday: Col 1:15-20; Ps 100:1b-5; Lk 5:33-39
Saturday: Col 1:21-23; Ps 54:3-4, 6, 8; Lk 6:1-5
Sunday: Is 35:4-7a; Ps 146:7-10; Jas 2:1-5; Mk 7:31-37

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wednesday: World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Friday: St. Gregory the Great ; First Friday
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary; First Saturday

News for August

Volunteers

If you need to renew your VIRTUS, you are invited to participate in the “Keeping the Promise Alive” workshop on Thursday, August 19, 2021 from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. For more information please call our parish office.

Confirmation Registrations

For ages 14-17 years will begin on August 9 through the end of September. In order to register you must bring copies of Baptism and First Communion certificates. A deposit of at least $100 is required upon registering. The office is registering Monday through Thursday from 4:00-6:00 pm only! For more information please contact the YOUTH MINISTRY OFFICE at (818) 899-0278 ext 7.

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!

Did you know?

July 31-August 1 || Find out what your children are watching

With movie theaters reopening across the country, now is a great time to add another website to your collection of parenting resources: Catholic News Services’ staff reviews movies from a uniquely Catholic perspective, noting things like nudity, swearing, and other problematic themes that have become mainstream in ratings like PG and PG-13. Parents can vet movies their children are planning to see or may encounter at friends’ houses. Talk to your children about what they should do if a friend wants to see a questionable movie, and why you want them to avoid particular films. For movie reviews, visit catholicnews.com/movie-reviews/.

Maybe the Sign is the Wonder

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” John 6:35

Today’s Gospel continues into a second day the narrative that had begun the day before when, after crossing the lake to look for Jesus, a large crowd are fed with five barley loaves and two fish. The following day (today’s reading), after more lake crossings, the people who had been miraculously fed are again searching for Jesus. However, they do so (as Jesus puts it) “not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled” John 6:6).

In John’s Gospel, the word “sign” has a distinct meaning. At the wedding at Cana, after telling how Jesus turned water
into wine, the Evangelist notes “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs” that “revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him” John 2:11). For John, signs are not just wonders to behold; they are about the revelation of God and a response of faith in Jesus.

When the crowd first arrives, Jesus notes that they had not appreciated the sign that he had already given; they are still focused on their physical hunger. When they ask for a sign, “that we may see and believe in you” John 6:30), they refer to their ancestors who ate manna in the wilderness. Can Jesus top that? Can he give them more bread that will relieve them of their daily worries about going hungry?

Jesus reminds the crowd that it was not Moses who gave the “bread from heaven,” but his Father. Further, the Father can give them the true bread from heaven that comes down and gives life to the world. There is a parallel in the Greek between working for food that perishes and doing the works of God, which is believing in Jesus as the one God has sent. This is the sign that the people missed the day before, the sign that Jesus is pointing out to them.

Like the Evangelist, the Church uses the word “sign” for its sacraments. Like the crowd, we are called to see similar “signs” of God’s generosity in all the blessings of our lives.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Nm 11:4b-15; Ps 81:12-17; Mt 14:13-21
Tuesday: Nm 12:1-13; Ps 51:3-7, 12-13; Mt 14:22-36 or Mt 15:1-2, 10-14
Wednesday: Nm 13:1-2, 25 — 14:1, 26-29a, 34-35; Ps 106:6-7ab, 13-14, 21-23; Mt 15:21-28
Thursday: Nm 20:1-13; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Mt 16:13-23
Friday: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 9; 2 Pt 1:16-19; Mk 9:2-10
Saturday: Dt 6:4-13; Ps 18:2-4, 47, 51; Mt 17:14-20
Sunday: 1 Kgs 19:4-8; Ps 34:2-9; Eph 4:30 — 5:2; Jn 6:41-51

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Monday: St. Eusebius of Vercelli; St. Peter Julian Eymard
Wednesday: St. John Vianney
Thursday: Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
Friday: The Transfiguration of the Lord; Hiroshima Memorial Day; First Friday
Saturday: St. Sixtus II and Companions; St. Cajetan; First Saturday; St. Sixtus II and Companions; St. Cajetan; First Saturday

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

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