Archives: January 2020

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011920.cfm

This Sunday we begin what is known as “Ordinary Time” in our Church year.   This designation is not meant to diminish the importance of this time of year, but rather to distinguish it from the seasons of Advent and Christmas, which we just concluded, and the seasons of Lent and Easter.   At the conclusion of the Easter season, “Ordinary Time” will begin again, and will continue through the summer and fall months.   

Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John.   In this Gospel John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and says:  “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”   And while John initially says that he did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Gospel concludes with his clear statement:  “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”    I suspect the reason John didn’t recognize Jesus was that he knew him as his cousin.  Eventually, though, he came to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.   Familiarity can sometimes blind us to seeing something beyond the familiar.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It is from that section of Isaiah known as the Servant Songs.  In the section we read today Isaiah speaks about his call to be a prophet.   He is clear that God will work through him “to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel.”  

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.   In it Paul identifies himself, and greets the people of Corinth with the words:  “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”   

Questions for Discussion/Reflection:

1.  Has familiarity with a person or a situation ever blinded you to the presence and/or grace of God?
2.   Have you ever recognized God’s presence and grace only in retrospect?  
3.   Why do you think Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with the words:  “Grace and peace?”   

From our seats in the pews of The Basilica, we can make a difference around the world. Each year, our parish community helps a global mission cause. This weekend, Meghan Meros, Associate Director of the Franciscan Mission Service (FMS), joins us to raise awareness and financial support for their ministries. This Catholic, 501(c)(3) nonprofit relies on the prayers and financial support of parishes like ours to serve communities in South America, the Caribbean, and here in US. 

How will your donations help FMS around the globe? FMS focuses on making a difference through sustainable agriculture, and prison ministries. Here are just a few examples. 

FMS ministers accompany communities to create organic in-home gardens and provide healthy food for families. The parish of Santa Vera Cruz and the rural Santa Rosa de Lima community used sustainable agriculture techniques the FMS team learned at regional workshops to improve the soil quality and production of the parish garden. They went from growing a single crop of potatoes one year to growing a variety of healthy vegetables the next. Produce is sold to parishioners twice a week. Food waste is fed to the worm bed to produce hummus and other organic matter used for mulch. 

About 10 women work alongside the parish team in the parish garden, and in the women’s family gardens. Together as a community, they plant, harvest, and share meals. Their gardens have doubled in productivity. Healthy food is now available in an area lacking water, sanitation systems, quality education, and reliable transportation. People in this area face constant marginalization based on race, class, and culture.

In the prisons, FMS ministers affirm the dignity of all. One minister works at seven prisons around Cochabamba, Bolivia. For context, those incarcerated in Bolivia, lose their freedom and must pay for their cells and food. Often, children are sent to prison with their mothers. Many women end up in prison for stealing just to provide for their families. 

Awaiting trial is a lengthy process, and those incarcerated make crafts and goods to earn funds to pay for food and their cells. FMS ministers assist by selling their goods at market, and helping obtain raw materials to make shoes, cards, and other saleable crafts. FMS works with about 200 artisans, carpenters, and shoemakers. Forming friendships is as important as the crafts sold. These ministers help affirm the prisoners’ dignity as human beings. 

Another minister visits with about 20 women imprisoned in Cochabamba. They have formed friendships, and share in Bible study. The ministers recognize the women’s need for meaningful work and assist with their desire to gain skills to so they can find employment upon their release from prison. Some of the imprisoned women knit for an ethical manufacturing company while others learn how to do hair in the prison salon.

Each of us is called to consider what we can do for our brothers and sisters around the world. One way we can engage is simple - by giving donations and our prayers, we can support the Franciscan Mission Service and their work around the globe. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011220.cfm  

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.   Since Jesus’ Baptism took place when he was an adult, it may seem odd to celebrate his baptism so soon after we have celebrated his birth.  The fact is, though, that other than the various infancy narratives and the story of the finding of Jesus in the temple, there are no stories of Jesus’ years before his Baptism and the beginning of his public ministry.    When you stop and think about it, however, there is a certain “rightness” to this.    While it would be interesting to know about Jesus’ life before he began his public ministry, his mission and his ministry are far more important to us because they brought about our salvation.   

Our Gospel this weekend is Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Baptism.   Matthew is the only evangelist to include the verse that tells us that when Jesus came to John for Baptism, “John tried to prevent him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me.”   Most scripture scholars agree that John didn’t want to baptize Jesus because he did not see Jesus as a sinner in need of Baptism.  And while we believe that Jesus was without sin, we also believe that his baptism marked the beginning of his public ministry.  (As Christians, it is our belief that Baptism takes away original sin.  We also believe, though, that Baptism begins our life in Christ, and as importantly that it empowers us to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus.)  We are told that after Jesus was baptized, a voice came from the heavens saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”   We believe that the Spirit is also given to us at our Baptism, and that we are all beloved children of God.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It is taken from the section of Isaiah known as the “Servant Songs.”   The servant is the chosen one of the Lord, and the song describes the characteristics and mission of the servant.   We see the “servant songs” as prefiguring Jesus.  In the section for this weekend we read:  “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit;” 

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Acts of the Apostles.   In it Peter describes the mission of Jesus and reminds us that “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is given to all the baptized.   What is the Holy Spirit empowering you to do?   
  2. If it is true that God shows no partiality, why bother with Baptism?
  3. Do you see yourself as a Beloved Son or Daughter of God?  
Responding to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is one of The Basilica's strategic areas of focus. 
 
In response to the Drake Shelter fire, please consider the following opportunities to help those in need.
 

Volunteer

  1. Volunteer to support and care for families that are homeless staying at The Basilica through the week of January 19. To volunteer, contact Julia.
  2. Volunteer at the Mulit Agency Resource Center (MARC) the Red Cross is setting up for families displaced by the fire. To volunteer, go to www.1stcov.org/volunteer
  3. Advocate for more shelter and affordable housing in our community. Visit the information table in the Lower Level of The Basilica after Mass January 19 to fill out a postcard to send to the Minneapolis City Council.
 
Drake shelter fire card
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Financial donations can be given directly to the following response organizations: