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August 31, 2019

Mt 25: 14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Don’t let your gifts go stagnant 

I have always related this text to the gifts that God has bestowed upon each of us. I reflect upon my many gifts and always hope that I am using them in a way to glorify God and to bless others. Our goal should always be to use these gifts and not let them go stagnant. 

I was gifted with a beautiful soprano voice that I stopped using for the glorification and worship of my heavenly Father. I lost this gift. Now, upon reflection, I realize this was not what God had intended for me to do – bury my gift.

Are you burying a gift/talent and refusing God the joy of his precious gift to you? Consider changing.

Dr. Phyllis Graham-Dickerson is a professor and assistant dean at Regis University, Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, Loretto Heights School of Nursing for seven years, with a tenure of 17 years on the nursing faculty.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, please guide me in the appropriate use of the gifts and talents, whatever they may be, that you have blessed me with. Amen.

—Dr. Phyllis Graham-Dickerson

 


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August 30, 2019

Mt 25: 1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 

Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 

But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Paying attention to God

In the movie “Lady Bird,” the young title character has a conversation with a Catholic sister who works at Lady Bird’s Catholic High School in Sacramento, CA. Sister Sarah Joan praises Lady Bird’s writing about her home city, which she says “comes across as love.” This surprises the student, because she can’t wait to get out of Sacramento for college. “I guess I pay attention,” Lady Bird says. Sister Sarah Joan replies, “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?”

Love and attention might not be perfect synonyms, but today’s Gospel passage is all about showing love for God by being ready, paying attention, and noticing his work in our midst. Jesus calls on his followers to stay awake, because we don’t know when he will return in glory. This has to do with the Second Coming, certainly, but the passage also invites us to pay attention to the small, less-dramatic ways God is at work in our lives. In other words, as the Jesuits like to say, we should be seeking to find God in all things. 

—Mike Jordan Laskey is the Senior Communications Director of the Jesuit Conference in Washington DC and an alum of Contemplative Leaders in Action in Philadelphia.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, true light of the world, You guide all mankind to salvation. Give us the courage, strength and grace to build a world of justice and peace, ready for the coming of that kingdom where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

—Excerpt from the Liturgy of the Hours


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August 29, 2019

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

1 Thes 3: 7-13

For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Filled with joy because of those around us

“How can we thank God enough for the joy you give us?” What a beautiful letter this must have been to receive! Paul and his companions are full of joy to think about the strength of their faith and their love for each other. What is it about the people in your life that makes you happy and grateful? 

Could this reading be a reminder for us, too? Let’s spend time today considering our own priorities for our day and for our relationships with those close to us. Did we do something to strengthen our faith? Did we show love? Did we live in a way to give others an example of faith and love, too? Let’s pray for the intercession of St. John the Baptist, who had his eyes fixed on Jesus from the very beginning of his life, as we live our faith today.

Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

Prayer

God, bless all those I love today, and help us grow in faith and love. Amen.

—Beth Franzosa


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August 28, 2019

St. Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

Mt 23: 27-32

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous,and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Forgive us our hypocrisy 

How often do our attractive outsides hide the broken parts inside? Like the scribes and Pharisees, we too are hypocrites, pointing out the shortcomings of others yet ignoring our own inadequacies. We want to appear beautiful on the outside even though inside we are flawed and sinful.  Fear not! We have no need to remain in that tomb of evildoing. We can receive the forgiveness of Christ for our sinful thoughts and actions. We can be made whole again. Our gracious God gives us the opportunity to begin anew through the sacrament of Reconciliation. The strain of living two lives – one interior, the other exterior – is draining. The remedy is available to us, if we simply ask the Lord for his forgiveness.

—Kathy England is a Pastoral Associate at St. Francis Xavier Church in Cincinnati, OH.

Prayer

Father forgive us for being hypocrites.
Give us humility to see how far from perfect we are
and how badly we need you if we are to live lives that glorify you.
Amen.

—Kathy England

 


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August 27, 2019

St. Monica

1 Thes 2: 1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 

As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Sharing our own selves

A former student of mine once passed on a quote that I’ve seen several times since: “Be careful how you live; your life may be the only Bible some people ever read.” She was echoing a point that Paul makes today when he writes that he shares not only the Gospel of God, “but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” My student and Paul both understood that it’s not easy to separate the message from the messenger. 

The “own self” I have to share with those who become dear to me is a self that has been deeply loved by God. And sharing that self is a chance to share a Gospel that isn’t just an idea, but something alive in me. What is the self that I hope to share with others? What is the sacred story of my life that I would tell to share the Good News?

Fr. Matt Spotts, SJ, is a recently ordained priest of the Midwest Jesuits serving as an associate pastor at Ss. Joseph-St. Francis Xavier parish in Wilmette, IL as well as doing pastoral ministry at Loyola Academy in Wilmette.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you came among us as one of us. You gave yourself to us and give yourself to each one of us. Help us to share what we have been given, to tell our sacred story with hope and joy.

—Fr. Matt Spotts, SJ


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August 26, 2019

Mt 23: 12-22

All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 

You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Let me not be a blind guide

In today’s Gospel Jesus scolds the scribes and Pharisees for their guidance of their people and their use (or mis-use) of authority.  I can’t pretend to fully understand this passage and all its historical complexities, but it does make me think of my own opportunities of leadership and authority.  Am I humble, kind and just with those I lead and with the students I teach?  

Any talent, knowledge or opportunity I have has been given to me by God.  When might I have been arrogant or too self-assured about what I say or know?  How may I have been a “blind guide” to others? There is sometimes a tension between confidence in what you believe and pride.  I pray that I may be mindful of this in all areas of my life and faith.  

Megan Agliano teaches in religious studies at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ.  

Prayer

Loving God, I praise you for all I have been given.  Guide me in using my talents and gifts humbly for your greater glory and not for my own.  Amen.

—Megan Agliano


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August 25, 2019

Lk 13: 22-30

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them,“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 

Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Encountering Christ in a personal way

How tempting it is to treat religion as a realm of abstract, theoretical questions, such as the one posed in today’s Gospel: “Lord, will only a few be saved?” It is a question that, not only in Jesus’ day but even down to our own, has consistently preoccupied people and sparked some of the most rancorous of debates. But notice how Jesus responds, by refusing to accept the impersonal framing of the question. What is at stake is the questioner’s own salvation. “Strive to enter through the narrow door,” Jesus replies. Because salvation consists of being drawn into personal communion with the Father, Son and Spirit, the Son comes into the world so that we might encounter him in a direct, personal way. 

Those who insist on standing outside this encounter with Jesus may well have lots to say about Christianity, but it always has an empty ring to it. They are always one step removed from Christianity, because they are one step removed from Christ: “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But the Son wants us to drink him in and feed on him! Not only can we dare to hope that all will at last do so, we can offer our whole lives to the Lord in service of this end.

—Fr. Matthew Baugh, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province and serves as the associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

Prayer

Dear Lord, grant me the grace not to be deaf to your call, but prompt and diligent in fulfilling your most holy will. (Adapted from St Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises, #91)

—Fr. Matthew Baugh, SJ


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August 24, 2019

St. Bartholomew

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Don’t let assumptions get in the way

“Can anything good come from Nazareth”? What a comment about our Savior! Jesus had not done anything yet, but an assumption was made about him, his character, and his possible lack of contribution to the society of his day. Jesus did not let this comment deter his mission to be the sacrificial lamb for each of us. What a great gift.

These types of assumptions are often still made about others who may not be from well-off communities. Jesus had not done anything yet, but he ultimately did. Providing opportunities for others who come from little economic means should be our focus in order to help fulfill what God has in store for them to do.

Will you give someone the chance today to do what she/he has not done yet? Or will you assume the worst?

Dr. Phyllis Graham-Dickerson is a professor and assistant dean at Regis University, Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, Loretto Heights School of Nursing for seven years, with a tenure of 17 years on the nursing faculty.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to see the potential in all people. Amen.

—Phyllis Graham-Dickerson


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August 23, 2019

Mt 22: 34-40

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. 

And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

What does it mean to love?

If you had to pick out a single, easy-to-memorize mission statement for Christians, drawing from today’s Gospel would be a good bet: Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. The only problem is that the word “love” is used so much and in so many different contexts it has lost almost all of its meaning. (For instance, I love God, I love my family, I love the New York Yankees, I love pizza…)

What might Jesus mean when he says love? He doesn’t spell it out explicitly in this passage from Matthew, but when “the Great Commandment” appears in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus follows it up with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. From that famous story, we can reverse-engineer a definition of what love means to Jesus: concrete actions of compassion, reaching out to those who are suffering. 

—Mike Jordan Laskey is the Senior Communications Director of the Jesuit Conference in Washington DC and an alum of Contemplative Leaders in Action in Philadelphia.

Prayer

Loving God, help us to remember what we are called to do, in the words of Thomas Merton: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.” 

—Mike Jordan Laskey, Thomas Merton quote


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August 22, 2019

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 22: 1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 

Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 

The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.

Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Accepting God’s invitation

What does it mean to accept an invitation? At many weddings I’ve attended, the celebrant has pointed out that by celebrating with the couple, friends and family offer their love and support, both on the wedding day and through the years ahead. Accepting the invitation isn’t just about the party, but about what we offer from the heart.

Today, on the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we remember Mary’s “yes” to God. Without knowing the difficulties that lay ahead, she had the faith to accept God’s invitation. Unlike most of the wedding guests in the parable, she accepts the invitation with joy and offers her whole life in response. 

Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

Prayer

O God, who made the Mother of your Son to be our Mother and our Queen, graciously grant that, sustained by her intercession, we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom the glory promised to your children. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer from today’s Mass


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August 31, 2019

Mt 25: 14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Don’t let your gifts go stagnant 

I have always related this text to the gifts that God has bestowed upon each of us. I reflect upon my many gifts and always hope that I am using them in a way to glorify God and to bless others. Our goal should always be to use these gifts and not let them go stagnant. 

I was gifted with a beautiful soprano voice that I stopped using for the glorification and worship of my heavenly Father. I lost this gift. Now, upon reflection, I realize this was not what God had intended for me to do – bury my gift.

Are you burying a gift/talent and refusing God the joy of his precious gift to you? Consider changing.

Dr. Phyllis Graham-Dickerson is a professor and assistant dean at Regis University, Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, Loretto Heights School of Nursing for seven years, with a tenure of 17 years on the nursing faculty.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, please guide me in the appropriate use of the gifts and talents, whatever they may be, that you have blessed me with. Amen.

—Dr. Phyllis Graham-Dickerson

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 30, 2019

Mt 25: 1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 

Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 

But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Paying attention to God

In the movie “Lady Bird,” the young title character has a conversation with a Catholic sister who works at Lady Bird’s Catholic High School in Sacramento, CA. Sister Sarah Joan praises Lady Bird’s writing about her home city, which she says “comes across as love.” This surprises the student, because she can’t wait to get out of Sacramento for college. “I guess I pay attention,” Lady Bird says. Sister Sarah Joan replies, “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?”

Love and attention might not be perfect synonyms, but today’s Gospel passage is all about showing love for God by being ready, paying attention, and noticing his work in our midst. Jesus calls on his followers to stay awake, because we don’t know when he will return in glory. This has to do with the Second Coming, certainly, but the passage also invites us to pay attention to the small, less-dramatic ways God is at work in our lives. In other words, as the Jesuits like to say, we should be seeking to find God in all things. 

—Mike Jordan Laskey is the Senior Communications Director of the Jesuit Conference in Washington DC and an alum of Contemplative Leaders in Action in Philadelphia.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, true light of the world, You guide all mankind to salvation. Give us the courage, strength and grace to build a world of justice and peace, ready for the coming of that kingdom where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

—Excerpt from the Liturgy of the Hours


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 29, 2019

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

1 Thes 3: 7-13

For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Filled with joy because of those around us

“How can we thank God enough for the joy you give us?” What a beautiful letter this must have been to receive! Paul and his companions are full of joy to think about the strength of their faith and their love for each other. What is it about the people in your life that makes you happy and grateful? 

Could this reading be a reminder for us, too? Let’s spend time today considering our own priorities for our day and for our relationships with those close to us. Did we do something to strengthen our faith? Did we show love? Did we live in a way to give others an example of faith and love, too? Let’s pray for the intercession of St. John the Baptist, who had his eyes fixed on Jesus from the very beginning of his life, as we live our faith today.

Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

Prayer

God, bless all those I love today, and help us grow in faith and love. Amen.

—Beth Franzosa


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August 28, 2019

St. Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

Mt 23: 27-32

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous,and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Forgive us our hypocrisy 

How often do our attractive outsides hide the broken parts inside? Like the scribes and Pharisees, we too are hypocrites, pointing out the shortcomings of others yet ignoring our own inadequacies. We want to appear beautiful on the outside even though inside we are flawed and sinful.  Fear not! We have no need to remain in that tomb of evildoing. We can receive the forgiveness of Christ for our sinful thoughts and actions. We can be made whole again. Our gracious God gives us the opportunity to begin anew through the sacrament of Reconciliation. The strain of living two lives – one interior, the other exterior – is draining. The remedy is available to us, if we simply ask the Lord for his forgiveness.

—Kathy England is a Pastoral Associate at St. Francis Xavier Church in Cincinnati, OH.

Prayer

Father forgive us for being hypocrites.
Give us humility to see how far from perfect we are
and how badly we need you if we are to live lives that glorify you.
Amen.

—Kathy England

 


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August 27, 2019

St. Monica

1 Thes 2: 1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 

As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Sharing our own selves

A former student of mine once passed on a quote that I’ve seen several times since: “Be careful how you live; your life may be the only Bible some people ever read.” She was echoing a point that Paul makes today when he writes that he shares not only the Gospel of God, “but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” My student and Paul both understood that it’s not easy to separate the message from the messenger. 

The “own self” I have to share with those who become dear to me is a self that has been deeply loved by God. And sharing that self is a chance to share a Gospel that isn’t just an idea, but something alive in me. What is the self that I hope to share with others? What is the sacred story of my life that I would tell to share the Good News?

Fr. Matt Spotts, SJ, is a recently ordained priest of the Midwest Jesuits serving as an associate pastor at Ss. Joseph-St. Francis Xavier parish in Wilmette, IL as well as doing pastoral ministry at Loyola Academy in Wilmette.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you came among us as one of us. You gave yourself to us and give yourself to each one of us. Help us to share what we have been given, to tell our sacred story with hope and joy.

—Fr. Matt Spotts, SJ


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August 26, 2019

Mt 23: 12-22

All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 

You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Let me not be a blind guide

In today’s Gospel Jesus scolds the scribes and Pharisees for their guidance of their people and their use (or mis-use) of authority.  I can’t pretend to fully understand this passage and all its historical complexities, but it does make me think of my own opportunities of leadership and authority.  Am I humble, kind and just with those I lead and with the students I teach?  

Any talent, knowledge or opportunity I have has been given to me by God.  When might I have been arrogant or too self-assured about what I say or know?  How may I have been a “blind guide” to others? There is sometimes a tension between confidence in what you believe and pride.  I pray that I may be mindful of this in all areas of my life and faith.  

Megan Agliano teaches in religious studies at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ.  

Prayer

Loving God, I praise you for all I have been given.  Guide me in using my talents and gifts humbly for your greater glory and not for my own.  Amen.

—Megan Agliano


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August 25, 2019

Lk 13: 22-30

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them,“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 

Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Encountering Christ in a personal way

How tempting it is to treat religion as a realm of abstract, theoretical questions, such as the one posed in today’s Gospel: “Lord, will only a few be saved?” It is a question that, not only in Jesus’ day but even down to our own, has consistently preoccupied people and sparked some of the most rancorous of debates. But notice how Jesus responds, by refusing to accept the impersonal framing of the question. What is at stake is the questioner’s own salvation. “Strive to enter through the narrow door,” Jesus replies. Because salvation consists of being drawn into personal communion with the Father, Son and Spirit, the Son comes into the world so that we might encounter him in a direct, personal way. 

Those who insist on standing outside this encounter with Jesus may well have lots to say about Christianity, but it always has an empty ring to it. They are always one step removed from Christianity, because they are one step removed from Christ: “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But the Son wants us to drink him in and feed on him! Not only can we dare to hope that all will at last do so, we can offer our whole lives to the Lord in service of this end.

—Fr. Matthew Baugh, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province and serves as the associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

Prayer

Dear Lord, grant me the grace not to be deaf to your call, but prompt and diligent in fulfilling your most holy will. (Adapted from St Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises, #91)

—Fr. Matthew Baugh, SJ


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August 24, 2019

St. Bartholomew

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Don’t let assumptions get in the way

“Can anything good come from Nazareth”? What a comment about our Savior! Jesus had not done anything yet, but an assumption was made about him, his character, and his possible lack of contribution to the society of his day. Jesus did not let this comment deter his mission to be the sacrificial lamb for each of us. What a great gift.

These types of assumptions are often still made about others who may not be from well-off communities. Jesus had not done anything yet, but he ultimately did. Providing opportunities for others who come from little economic means should be our focus in order to help fulfill what God has in store for them to do.

Will you give someone the chance today to do what she/he has not done yet? Or will you assume the worst?

Dr. Phyllis Graham-Dickerson is a professor and assistant dean at Regis University, Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, Loretto Heights School of Nursing for seven years, with a tenure of 17 years on the nursing faculty.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to see the potential in all people. Amen.

—Phyllis Graham-Dickerson


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August 23, 2019

Mt 22: 34-40

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. 

And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

What does it mean to love?

If you had to pick out a single, easy-to-memorize mission statement for Christians, drawing from today’s Gospel would be a good bet: Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. The only problem is that the word “love” is used so much and in so many different contexts it has lost almost all of its meaning. (For instance, I love God, I love my family, I love the New York Yankees, I love pizza…)

What might Jesus mean when he says love? He doesn’t spell it out explicitly in this passage from Matthew, but when “the Great Commandment” appears in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus follows it up with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. From that famous story, we can reverse-engineer a definition of what love means to Jesus: concrete actions of compassion, reaching out to those who are suffering. 

—Mike Jordan Laskey is the Senior Communications Director of the Jesuit Conference in Washington DC and an alum of Contemplative Leaders in Action in Philadelphia.

Prayer

Loving God, help us to remember what we are called to do, in the words of Thomas Merton: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.” 

—Mike Jordan Laskey, Thomas Merton quote


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August 22, 2019

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 22: 1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 

Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 

The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.

Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Accepting God’s invitation

What does it mean to accept an invitation? At many weddings I’ve attended, the celebrant has pointed out that by celebrating with the couple, friends and family offer their love and support, both on the wedding day and through the years ahead. Accepting the invitation isn’t just about the party, but about what we offer from the heart.

Today, on the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we remember Mary’s “yes” to God. Without knowing the difficulties that lay ahead, she had the faith to accept God’s invitation. Unlike most of the wedding guests in the parable, she accepts the invitation with joy and offers her whole life in response. 

Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

Prayer

O God, who made the Mother of your Son to be our Mother and our Queen, graciously grant that, sustained by her intercession, we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom the glory promised to your children. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer from today’s Mass


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