Fr. Bauer's Blog

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110115.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints.  Since this Feast falls on a Sunday this year it supersedes what would have been the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time.   This Feast celebrates all those holy women and men who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.   While we know the names of many of these saints, those who are unnamed far outnumber those who are named.  This takes nothing away from the sanctity of their lives.  Rather it reminds us of the life of holiness to which we are all called and the eternal life that awaits those who respond to that call.   

Our Gospel for this Feast is the Beatitudes from St. Matthew’s Gospel.   Each Beatitude begins with the familiar words:  “Blessed are.”   These words remind us that we are blessed when we strive to live the Beatitudes as Jesus lived them and conform our attitudes and conduct to his will.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Revelation.   This book is written in the style of Apocalyptic literature.  It uses vivid images and symbols, as well as intense language to convey its message.   It is not meant to be taken literally.  Instead, Apocalyptic writing was intended for people who were experiencing some difficulties or trials.  It was meant to comfort, console and encourage those who were undergoing these trials or tribulations. 

Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of Saint John.   John reminds us that even now we are children of God.   “Beloved:  See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.   Yet so we are.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Which of the Beatitudes speaks most directly to you at this time in your life? 
  2. Apocalyptic literature is not meant to be taken literally, and yet many people do take it that way.   Why do you suppose that is? 
  3. What do you think St. John meant when he described us as “children of God?”

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102515.cfm 

Just prior to my birth my maternal grandfather fell down a flight of stairs and suffered detached retinas in both eyes.   While they tried surgery, it wasn’t successful and as a result he was blind for the rest of his life.   Now as a small child, I just assumed that everyone had a grandfather who was blind.  It didn’t dawn on me until I had started school that this was not the case.   Once I realized that not everyone had a blind grandfather, I also began to realize the challenges and problems that being blind presented.   While my grandfather accepted his situation with great grace, I suspect, given the opportunity, he would have chosen to have his sight restored.    Such an opportunity was given to Bartimaeus, the blind man, in our Gospel today.    

At the time of Jesus those who suffered from blindness or other physical ailments were almost always condemned to life as a beggar.   Bartimaeus had obviously heard of Jesus and thought this might be the way out of his beggar’s life.  So as Jesus was leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus seized the opportunity and cried out:  “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”    While the disciples rebuked him,  Bartimaeus called out all the more:   “Son of David have pity on me.”    Jesus responded to his faith and told him:  “Go your way, your faith has saved you.”    Faith --- here and elsewhere in the Gospels --- is a key ingredient for Jesus’ action.    In this regard, even before his sight was restored Bartimaeus could “see” better than most.  

Our first reading for this weekend is from the Prophet Jeremiah.    In this reading the Lord promised to deliver his people from their exile and return them to the land He had given them.   The people had “departed in tears,” but the Lord promised to “console them and guide them.”  And among those who returned were “the blind and the lame.”     

For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews.   In the section we read this weekend the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compares Jesus to the high priests of the Old Testament.  The difference is clear, though, Jesus is the High Priest begotten by God.   He was not chosen or taken from among men.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When I was learning to drive, my instructor had a “mantra” for changing lanes:  “signal, mirror, blind spot”------  turn on your signal; check your mirrors, and then look over your shoulder to check your blind spot.    Have you ever become aware of a spiritual “blind spot” in your life?  How did you deal with it?  
  2. Physical blindness is obvious, but we can also be blind in other ways.  Have you ever become aware of areas of blindness in your life?  
  3. It is comforting for me to know that Jesus is like us in all things but sin.   As high priest, he is always patient and forgiving with us.   Is it possible, though, that we can take advantage of this?   

For this Sunday’s Readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101815.cfm  

Some times it takes us a while to “get it.”   That was certainly the case with the disciples in our Gospel this Sunday.   In the verses immediately preceding this Gospel Jesus has told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem where the chief priests and the scribes will “hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him and spit at him, flog him, and finally kill him.”  These are difficult words, made more so by the fact that this is the third time Jesus had predicted his passion and death.   And yet his disciples, in particular James and John, still don’t “get it.”    Even after hearing these words we are told in this Sunday’s Gospel that “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’    Jesus replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?’  They answered him, ‘Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left’”    
Jesus rebuked them and then reminded them that his disciples will find their greatness in suffering and service.    

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah.   As was the case several weeks ago, the section read this weekend is part of the Song of the Suffering Servant.   This “song” provided an important basis for our Christian understanding of the mystery of Christ’s suffering and death.  The section we read this Sunday reminds us that life can come out of suffering.   “Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days, though his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.”  

For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews.   It reminds us that, although Jesus is our high priest, he is able to “sympathize with our weakness” because he “has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. How would you respond if someone asked you why innocent people suffer?
  2. Have you seen life, or some other good come out of suffering?
  3. Do you believe that Jesus can sympathize with our weakness? 

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101115.cfm

Our Gospel this Sunday is very familiar.  A man came to Jesus and asked:What must I do to inherit eternal life?”   Now --- if we are honest --- I suspect we would all like an answer to that question.   And again --- if we are honest --- I suspect what we really would like to know is the one thing we have to do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus is clear, though, that inheriting eternal life involves more than doing just one thing.  Certainly inheriting eternal life involves following the commandments.   In addition to following the commandments, though, there are things that are specific to each of us that we are called to do if we want to inherit eternal life.  For the young man in the Gospel today not only was he called to follow the commandments, but also:  “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, the come follow me.”   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Wisdom.   In the section we read today, the author prayed: “and prudence was given me, I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”  The connection between this reading and the Gospel is clear.   What is important in following God is not power or wealth, but the desire to know God and the wisdom to do what God calls us to do.  

In our second reading this Sunday, we continue to read from the letter to the Hebrews.  We will read from this letter for the next few weeks.  In the section we read today we are reminded that the “word of God is living and effective………...” and that “No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.”   

Questions for Reflection and Discussion: 

  1. Following the Commandments is important and essential to inherit eternal life. However, if you were to ask Jesus what else you needed to do to inherit eternal life, what do you think he might he ask of you?  
  2. What are the qualities of a wise person?   What wise people have you known in your life?  
  3. We believe that the word of God is living and effective.   Where has the word of God had an impact in your life?   

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100415.cfm 

Our Gospel this Sunday is one that always makes at least some people cringe when it is read.  It is also the stuff of most preachers’ nightmares.   It deals with the difficult issue of divorce.   It begins with the Pharisees’ approaching Jesus with the question:  “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”   Jesus responded by asking them what Moses had commanded.  They replied:  “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.”   Jesus then told them that Moses had done this because of the “hardness of their hearts.”   He then quoted from the book of Genesis (our first reading today) and concluded with the statement.  “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”    

Since most of our lives have been touched by divorce in one way or another, Jesus words in this Gospel can be hard to hear.  It is important to note, though, both what Jesus said, as well as what he didn’t say.   In this regard, Jesus was reaffirming our belief that God blesses the union of two people who commit themselves to one another in marriage.  God offers them the grace they need to make and live out the commitment of marriage.   Sometimes, though, for whatever reason people are not able to live out the marital commitment and divorce ensures.  In this regard, it is important to note that Jesus does not say that is our place to criticize them or worse to sit in judgement of them.   Prayer for and with married couples and those who have gone through or are going through a divorce is the appropriate response.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Genesis. It is the story of the creation of a “suitable partner” for Adam.   Jesus referenced this story in our Gospel today.  

For our second reading this Sunday we move from the Letter of St. James, which we have been reading from the past several weeks to the Letter to the Hebrews.   In the section we read this Sunday we are reminded of Jesus’ divinity as well as his humanity.  “He ‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels,’ that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”  

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. How many people do you know who are divorced?   
  2. How can someone who is divorced find good news in today’s Gospel?  
  3. How would you respond if someone who was divorced asked you about today’s Gospel? 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092715.cfm 

In our Gospel last Sunday Jesus’ disciples didn’t come across very well as they argued about who was the greatest.  They continue that pattern in our Gospel this Sunday.    They complain to Jesus because “we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”   Notice they didn’t say “because he does not follow you,” but rather “because he does not follow us.”   Clearly, their idea of discipleship was far more restrictive than that of Jesus.   The fact is that Jesus had a far more expansive and inclusive view of discipleship than his disciples did.  We know this because He tells them: “whoever is not against us is for us.”     

In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ words seem a bit harsh.  He speaks of cutting off a hand or a foot, or plucking out an eye if any of these cause you to sin.   Clearly Jesus is not suggesting amputation or blinding one’s self.  Rather he is reminding his disciples that we need to be aware of those things that lead us to sin, and seek to eliminate them from our lives.

Our first reading this Sunday, from the book of Numbers, shares the theme of the Gospel.  It raises the question of who can speak/act in the name of the Lord.   In this reading God shares some of the Spirit God gave to Moses with “seventy elders.”   Two of the men were not at the gathering where this occurred, yet they too received the Spirit.    Joshua wanted Moses to stop them, but Moses replied:   “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets.” 

In our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the Letter of St. James.   While at first blush this reading appears to condemn those who are rich, a deeper reading reveals that James is reminding the early Christians (and us) of the danger of trusting in wealth as opposed to God.  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Limiting the people through whom God works, or failing to recognize God working through certain people seems to be part and parcel of the human condition.  When have you done this? 
  2. To borrow an old phrase, what are the “occasions of sin” in your life?
  3. It is easy to put our trust in something other than God.  When have you done this? 

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092015.cfm 

In our Gospel last Sunday we heard the first of Jesus’ three predictions in Mark’s Gospel of his suffering and death.  We heard the second of these predications in our Gospel this Sunday.  Jesus’ disciples, though, seem blithely unaware of the significance and seriousness of Jesus’ words.  I say this because after Jesus predicts his suffering and death, his disciples got into a discussion about “who was the greatest.”   In response to this we are told that Jesus “sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone wished to be first, be shall be the last of all and the servant of all.’”   Jesus then placed a child in the midst of his disciples and told them:   “Whoever receives one child such as this in m name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me, but the One who sent me.” 

As background to the above, it is helpful to know that at the time of Jesus, children had little status or worth.   Thus when Jesus said:  “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”  he was clearly identifying himself with the lowly and those of no account.  And he was reminding his disciples that they were not to seek after power, position and status. Rather service to and care for one another was to be the hallmark of his disciples.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of Wisdom.  In the section we read today, we are presented with the figure of the “just one.”   The wicked “beset the just one” and seek to “put the just one to the test.”  Their motive for doing this is simply that the just one “is obnoxious to us;  he sets himself against our doings.”      

Once again we read from the Letter of Saint James for our second reading this Sunday.  In the section we read today James exhorts us to put aside bad thoughts and behaviors and seek the “wisdom from above.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you put someone else’s needs ahead of your own and become their servant? 
  2. What is the difference between being child-like and being child-ish? 
  3. When have you sought the wisdom from above?   

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091315.cfm 


In our Gospel this Sunday a distinct change occurs.   In the first chapters of Mark’s Gospel Jesus worked so many cures that people were mobbing him. And that was the trouble. Jesus was in danger of becoming famous as a wonder-worker.  The people were coming to him at every stop, thinking that their lives would be changed for the better --- if only they got their health back, if only they got relief from poverty and death, or if only --- well, you name it.  No doubt Jesus worried that people would look to him as a messiah who could and would restore Israel to a place of prominence and power in the world.  This was not the kind of messiah Jesus was going to be, however.  And so, in our Gospel today we see Jesus began a new phase of his mission. He has turned his face toward Jerusalem --- and the cross.

In our Gospel this Sunday after Peter acknowledged that Jesus is “the Christ,”  Jesus responded by telling his disciples that “The Son of Man must suffer greatly, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.”   Worse than this, though, Jesus also told his disciples:  “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”   Certainly these words must have had a sobering effect on those who heard them.  

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In the section we read this Sunday Isaiah reminds us that those who trust in the Lord, despite any trials or difficulties they face, will not be put to shame.  “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.  I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

Our second reading this Sunday is once again taken from the Letter of Saint James.   In the section we read today James reminds us that faith must find expression in works.  “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you had to carry a cross in your life? 
  2. When/how have you felt God’s grace help you to carry your cross?
  3. How has your faith found expression in works?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090615.cfm 

In our Gospel this Sunday we are told that Jesus went “into the district of the Decapolis” and people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment.  They “begged him to lay his hand on him.”   In response to their request, Jesus did something unusual, “He took him off by himself away from the crowd.”   Once away from the crowd, Jesus “put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue, then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ --- that is ‘Be opened!’ ………………  his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly” He ordered them not to tell anyone.  But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.”  

There are at least three things worth noting in this Gospel.   1. The area of the Decapolis would have been Gentile territory.  This reminds us that Jesus did not see his mission as restricted to the Jews.  2.  We are not told why Jesus took the man off by himself.  I suspect, though, that Jesus knew that being deaf the man probably lived an isolated existence.  In addition to being healed, the man probably also needed simple human contact.  Jesus provided this.  3.  Often, particularly in Mark’s Gospel, we find Jesus telling people not to talk about the miracles he had performed.   The reason for this is that the people of that time were looking for a Messiah who would restore Israel to a place of prominence and power in the world.  Because of his miracles people could look to Jesus to be this kind of Messiah.  Jesus was clear, though, that he was not that kind of Messiah 

Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  In the section we read today the people are reminded of God’s ultimate victory even in the face of war and persecution.   “Say to those whose hearts are frightened;   Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”   The signs of God’s ultimate triumph are clear:  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared.”   This is precisely what Jesus was doing in our Gospel today. 

Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint James.  James’ words are clear:  “My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”   

Questions for reflection/discussion:

  1. Where do you need Christ’s healing presence in your life? 
  2. When and/or where have you found hope in the face of trials and adversity?
  3. Have you shown partiality in your dealing with others?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.   
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/083015.cfm 

After reading from the Gospel of John for the past few weeks, this Sunday we return to the Gospel of Mark.   In our Gospel this Sunday we find a scene that is often repeated in the Gospels.   Jesus is at odds with some of the Pharisees and the scribes, who were strict adherents to the law.  Now, in and of itself, adherence to the law is not a bad thing.  In the case of the scribes and Pharisees, however, it was problematic because in many cases their relationship with God had taken a back seat to their adherence to the law. 

The issue is our Gospel today had to do with the fact that Jesus’ disciples “ate their meals with unclean, that is unwashed hands.”    Prior to eating, Jews were supposed to purify themselves.   These and other “rites of purification” were prescribed for Jews, and yet Jesus’ disciples were ignoring them.   Jesus challenged their position and reminded them that what “defiles” people does not come from outside, but from within a person.   If our hearts are set on God the appropriate actions will follow accordingly. 

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy.  In it Moses reminded the people of the “statues and decrees” they had been given by God.   “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God is to us whenever we call upon him?”    For Moses, the law was to lead people to God, not take the place of their relationship with God.    

Our second reading this Sunday is from the letter of James.   We will read from it for the next four weeks.   In the section we read today, James reminds us that we are to “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Have you ever allowed “following the rules” to take the place of your relationship with God?
  2. When have you called upon God and felt close to God?
  3. How do “doers of the word” act?  

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