Fr. Bauer's Blog

A few weeks ago, after the meeting of U.S. Bishop’s in Baltimore, I received an email from a friend. He was distressed and angry that the Vatican had intervened and asked the U.S. Bishops not to develop specific recommendations for how to handle malfeasance among their ranks. The Vatican asked them to wait until a meeting of the heads of the various bishop’s conferences from across the world that will take place in Rome this coming February. While my friend understood that it was perhaps better to deal with the issue of malfeasance on the part of bishops on a worldwide basis, he didn’t understand why the U.S. Bishops didn’t at least discuss the issue, without coming up with specific recommendations. Frankly, I think my friend has a right to be angry. At a minimum our bishops should have discussed this issue in a public forum. Once again, our bishops have failed to provide leadership at a critical time in our church—most specifically the church in the United States. And as a result more people are heading to the door on their way out of the church.

While I understand and respect people’s decision to leave—or at least take a break from our church—I would like to suggest that, from my perspective, they are leaving the church for the wrong reasons. Certainly our bishops have been a disappointment, but they are only a small part of our church. More important for us as Catholics is that we know and believe in Jesus Christ and his message of love, peace, care, and compassion. More important are the sacraments and especially the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. More important is our belief in the Bible as the inspired word of God that speaks to our lives today. And more important is our belief that whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters we do to Christ. These are the things that define and maintain our church. 

Our church is much bigger and much better than the members of the hierarchy who have ill-served it. Yes, these men have had a very big and a very bad impact on our church. BUT, they are just a small part of our church. While their actions and their inaction have been and are very public and very problematic, they are just a small part of the church. From this perspective, I would like to suggest that it is the organization of our church, most specifically the hierarchy, and not our church, that people should be upset about. Catholics went through one crisis of faith when they discovered they couldn’t necessarily trust priests who ministered to them. We are now going through another as it becomes clear that many bishops have not fulfilled their duty to hold abusers and their enablers accountable. People have a right to be angry, disappointed, and upset about this. 

The words transparency, openness, and honesty are much in vogue lately. Their high fashion status, though, doesn’t diminish their importance or necessity. In regard to our church, they call our bishops to a high standard of accountability. Certainly for some time now our leaders have failed to meet this standard. For this they need to confess their failings, repent, and establish clear standards of accountability. And they need to work with others, most especially the laity, to do this, and thus to provide the leadership we deserve. If they can’t do this, or are unwilling to do this, then they shouldn’t be surprised if people simply stop paying attention to them. 

This year, as we celebrate the great Feast of Christmas, I extend a welcome to all those who, despite their discouragement, disappointment, and anger, will join us for worship at The Basilica as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The many and diverse people who fill our church are a visible reminder that we have a big God, and so we need a big church. A church that is much bigger and much better than our bishops. This Christmas especially, this is something for which I am particularly grateful.

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/123018.cfm  

This Sunday we observe the Feast of the Holy Family.  This Feast celebrates Jesus’ birth into our world as a member of the human family of Mary and Joseph.   It also reminds us that the Holy Family is a model for our own families.   

When I was growing up it used to be very easy to say what a family was.   It was a mom and dad and any number of kids.   Through the years, however, I have had to continually expand my understanding of family.  I say this because I have come to realize that families come in all shapes and sizes   What is most important in regard to families (of whatever configuration) is that they are characterized by loving relationships.  At their best they are marked by lives lived out in care and service of one another and the broader community.   Clearly this was the case with the Holy Family.   

Our Gospel this Sunday is the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple.   This story illustrates well the relationship of love that existed in the Holy Family.  Note that there is no display of anger, no recriminations, and no resentment.  Rather there is mutual respect, an effort at understanding, and above all love.  Would that all families manifested these qualities.   

There are two options for our first reading this Sunday.  The one we will use at the Basilica is from the book of Sirach.   This book is part of the Wisdom literature included in our Catholic Bible.  If it is included in Protestant Bibles it is usually under the heading of “apocrypha books”.  Following the theme of the Gospel, the section we read today reminds us of the ideals of family life:  honoring and reverencing parents, caring for them, and exhibiting love and kindness toward them.  

We also have two options for our second reading this weekend.  The one we will use at the Basilica is from the First Letter of St. John.  In this reading we are reminded that “We are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. I once heard a speaker say that families should be defined by bonds of love versus bonds of relationship.    Do you agree or disagree? 
  2. How would you define a family?
  3. Have you ever thought of yourself as a child of God?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122318.cfm   

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we read the familiar story of the Visitation ---  Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.  Each of their lives has been touched by God’s powerful grace, and now both women are with child.  The story is brief, but important.  Mary has learned through the angel Gabriel that in her old age her cousin, Elizabeth is pregnant.  In response to this news: “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.”   Elizabeth responded to Mary’s greeting by crying out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”   At the close of their encounter Elizabeth’s words to Mary are a message to all believers:   “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”   

Clearly both Mary and Elizabeth were keenly aware of God’s work in their lives, and they rejoiced together in this shared knowledge.  In this they are a model for all believers.  They call us to believe in God’s ongoing and abiding presence in our lives and our world, and they remind us that we too will be blessed if we only believe that God’s promise to us will be fulfilled. 

Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Micah.  It contains the promise of a messiah made to the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity.  “Thus says the Lord: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”   

For our second reading this weekend we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews.  It speaks of the new “covenant” that is offered to us in Jesus Christ.  “He takes away the first to establish the second.  By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you felt God’s grace touch your life?   
  2. How did you respond to God’s grace when it touched your life?  
  3. Paul says we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.  What does it mean to you to be consecrated?   
     

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/121618.cfm 

What do you think I should do?   I would guess all of us have asked this question at some point in our lives.  This was the question the crowds, the tax collectors and the soldiers asked John the Baptist in the first part of this weekend’s Gospel.   In his response John didn’t propose that any of these individuals do anything difficult or unusual.  Rather, he told them to do those things they already knew they should be doing.   And so it is with us.  As followers of Jesus we are not asked us to do anything extraordinary.  Rather we are called to live in common care and concern with each other, and to be the face and hands of Christ to those we meet.   

In the second part of this weekend’s Gospel we are told that the “people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”  John had a clear sense of his mission and role, however, so he was able to tell the people:  “one mightier than I is coming.   I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.”   

Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah.  In it, Zephaniah reassures the people of Judah that if they remain faithful to God, they will have no reason to fear.  “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.”  

In the second reading this weekend from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul reminds the people of Philippe that: “The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. In our Gospel for this weekend, various groups asked John the Baptist what they should do.   If you were to ask John this question, what do you think he would tell you to do? 
  2. John the Baptist was clear about his role and mission in life.   What do you think your mission in life is?
  3. In the first reading this weekend, Zephaniah told the people the Lord was in their midst.  Paul told the Philippians that the Lord was near.  Where do you find God close to you in your life?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120918.cfm 

This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday of the season of Advent.   Each year as we begin the season of Advent we also begin a new liturgical year; and each liturgical year we read a different Gospel.  This year is year C, (We are on a three year cycle of readings.), so we read from the Gospel of Luke.  (In year A we read from the Gospel of Matthew.  In year B we read from the Gospel of Mark.   We read from the Gospel of John primarily during the Easter Season, although sections of it are also used in year B to supplement Mark, which is the shortest Gospel.)   

The season of Advent has a threefold character.  It is a time for us to remember Christ’s first coming as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.   Also, though, it is a time for us to prepare our minds and hearts as we await Christ’s second coming at the end of the world.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it calls us to be ready to meet Christ as he comes (in a variety of forms) into each of our daily lives.  

Two important figures during Advent are John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary.  John heralded Jesus’ coming, and Mary models what it means for us to recognize and respond to Christ.  

The words most often associated with the season of Advent are:  waiting, anticipation, preparation, longing, expectation, joyful, and hopeful.   The joyful expectation of Advent distinguishes it from the penitential character of Lent.

In our Gospel for this weekend, Luke introduces John the Baptist.  He situates John’s proclamation within a precise historical context: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar………….”    At first this might seem odd, but when you stop and think about it don’t we do the same thing, when we try to locate an event in our lives, e.g. I know we lived on Elm Street and Bush was president when …………..”    Clearly Luke sees John’s proclamation “Prepare the way of the Lord…….” as having world wide importance.   

Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Baruch.    We don’t often read from Baruch, who was reported to be the secretary to the Prophet Jeremiah.  This book was written after the fall of Jerusalem and was meant to give encouragement to the people in exile.   “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery, put on the splendor of glory from God forever.”  

Our second reading this weekend is from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians.   In it Paul writes from prison to the Philippians to encourage them that “your love my increase more and more….”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. While I try to set aside some extra time for prayer during Advent, I don’t have a lot of other ideas about how to prepare the way of the Lord.   Any suggestions?  
  2. Baruch’s message was one on optimism and hope that ultimately the Lord would restore Jerusalem.   What words would you use to convey this kind of message to someone who was experiencing a time of trial or uncertainty? 
  3. Do you have any special activities planned for Advent, or any special memories of Advents, past?    
     

Our Spiritual Growth

A few months ago, in an email exchange with another priest, he mentioned that he and his siblings had been busy helping their parents pack up their house as they prepared to sell it and move to a senior living facility. For those of you who have gone through this experience, you know that it is bittersweet. On the one hand it can be very sad because it marks the end of something important—not just the sale of a house, but the sale of a home. On the other hand, it is also a time of gratitude as you remember all the good times and the wonderful experiences that took place there. Those memories are precious gifts that help soften the sadness that these endings often bring.

One of my friend’s emails contained an attachment. It was a picture of the pencil marks indicating his height and that of his brothers and sisters at various times as they were growing up. In this case their growth was measured on the inside of their father’s closet. My friend noted particularly the time when he passed his older brother in height (an achievement that time had obviously not diminished). As I looked at the picture, it brought back memories of a wall in the house where I grew up where the growth of my brothers and sisters (and later, nieces and nephews) was recorded. That house was sold many years ago and unfortunately, unlike my friend, I wasn’t smart enough to take a picture of the wall before it was sold. I suspect the new owner’s have long since painted over our wall of growth. 

As I was thinking about this experience, it struck me that in each of our lives there are various ways we measure our growth or aging. Marks on a wall are one way, but it could also be measured by a widening waist line or a receding hairline, or wrinkles. Now, while we have lots of specific ways of measuring and recording our physical growth, there isn’t any instrument or tool (at least to my knowledge) that can measure our spiritual growth. And yet, I would wager that most of us are growing spiritually. 

In reflecting on this, it occurred to me that while there may not be any external way of measuring our spiritual growth, there may be some other markers that could be helpful. Specifically, in regard to our spiritual growth, I think we need to take the long view. We need to ask ourselves on a regular basis: Am I a better person today than I was a year ago or ten years ago? Do I feel closer to God now than I did in the past? Can I identify occasions when I have experienced God’s presence in new and/or different places? Have I been surprised to discover God’s grace in unexpected ways? If we can say yes to any of these things then I think we are growing spiritually. 

While we may not be able to measure our spiritual growth with marks on a wall, I do believe that it nonetheless does occur. We need only take some time to reflect on our life, so that we might discover that perhaps unbeknownst to us we have indeed been growing in our spiritual life, and, as importantly, that God is always inviting us to enter even more deeply into our relationship with God. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120218.cfm     

This weekend we begin the season of Advent and a new liturgical year.   We are on a three year cycle for our Sunday readings, and each cycle features a different Gospel.  This is year C so we read Luke’s Gospel.  (We read Matthew’s Gospel in year A and Mark’s Gospel in year B.  We read John’s Gospel primarily during the Easter season and to supplement Mark’s Gospel, which is the shortest Gospel.)   

In our Gospel this weekend, Luke speaks about the end times.  This type of literature is known as apocalyptic literature.  Usually it was written to people who were suffering persecution.  It uses very vivid, symbolic language to offer people hope during this time of persecution.  It reminded them that despite the sufferings of the present, all eventually would be well.   It also cautioned people not to lose heart but to stay true to God.  This is the message of today’s Gospel.  “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”   

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.   The section we read this weekend offers hope to the people of Israel during a time of when they were being threatened by outside forces.  The words of Jeremiah remind them that God will be true to God’s covenant and the promises God made to their ancestors.  “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah ……………….In those days, Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.”  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In the section we read this weekend, Paul prays that the Lord will make the Thessalonians  “increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Why are so many people fascinated with the end times?   
  2. What gives you hope and/or confidence that God will be true to his promises?
  3. What do you think Paul means when he prays that people’s hearts will be strengthened? 
FROM THE PASTOR
 
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
 
1. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank to all those who have made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge—no matter the size—is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community. 
 
In regard to our parish finances, as I write this column we are behind in our anticipated income at this point in our fiscal year. Our finance committee monitors our income and expenses closely so that, if it becomes necessary, we can make the appropriate decisions about balancing our parish budget. 
 
I am hopeful that with our collections at Christmas and with year-end giving we will be back on track with our projected income. Thank you to all of those who support our Basilica community financially. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support. 
 
2. Advent and Christmas Events/Activities at The Basilica: As we move into the Season of Advent and Christmas, there are several events/activities at The Basilica which you are invited to attend. 
 
  • On Sunday, December 9 we will hold our annual Global Fair Trade Market from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Great gifts will be available from local vendors, just in time for Christmas giving. 
  • Taizé prayer, with the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, will be celebrated in the lower level of The Basilica on Tuesday, December 11 at 5:30pm.
  • On Sunday, December 16 our Cathedral Choristers, Children’s Choir, Cherubs, and Juventus as well as the children of the Learning Program will present Room for Christmas by Mark Burrows. The musical combines original songs and familiar carols from around the world to tell the story of the Incarnation. The musical will be presented in the lower level of The Basilica after the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses.
  • The Basilica will also be hosting Messiah on Thursday, December 20 at 7:30pm and Friday, December 21 at 8:00pm. For more information about these performances visit thespco.org. To reserve your ticket for the December 21 performance contact Holly Dockendorf
  • Finally, we hope you will plan on joining us for one of our Masses on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Our Mass schedule is available on our website.
 
3. Sanctuary Supporting Congregation: As I have mentioned previously, one of the values we strive to live every day at The Basilica is compassion. As such, we become aware of our shared brokenness, and we deeply respect all of God’s people and gratefully welcome all as Christ as we share hospitality, love, acceptance and care. We are a community serving the needs of people in our community. Every day we provide basic tangible and physical resources such as sandwiches, clothing, toiletries, shoes, bus cards, help with I.D. cards and assistance with transportation.
 
A few months ago our parish leadership made the decision that The Basilica would become a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. In becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation, we would continue to do what we currently do for those who come to our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry, many of them from Ascension, our sister parish in north Minneapolis. We would also continue our advocacy work and our prayerful support particularly for those who are on the margins and in need. The difference would be that we would be named as part of a network of congregations that are committed to supporting this work.
 
Now admittedly, in today’s world, the word “Sanctuary” may come with a lot of baggage. It may be helpful to note, though, that it shares the same root as the Latin word: “Sanctus,” which means holy. Jesus has told us that “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do for me.” Additionally, on his trip to Colombia this past September Pope Francis called on Catholics to “promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants and those who suffer violence and human trafficking,” Responding without judgement to the needs of those who come to our doors is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus Christ. 
 
Becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation is very different form being a Sanctuary Congregation. Being a Sanctuary Congregation requires additional commitments that could put The Basilica at some legal risk. As your pastor, I cannot do that in this circumstance. This is why our leadership has been carefully evaluating Sanctuary Supporting Congregations, which have significantly fewer commitments and would serve as a way to continue to compassionately serve a community in need and as an outcome of living our faith. 
 
I would encourage anyone who has questions or concerns about this issue to take them to prayer. If after praying about them, you would like to share them with me or with a member of our parish council, you can contact us through our parish website. As we continue to discuss this important issue we will need your thoughts and your prayers to do what is right for our Parish and to follow our faith calling.
 
4. 150th Anniversary of our Parish: This year our parish celebrates its Sesquicentennial. 150 years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Minneapolis. The first Mass was celebrated on October 4, 1868. (When the parish outgrew its original site, seven lots were donated at 16th Street and Hennepin Avenue in 1904. The cornerstone of The Basilica, which was initially known as the Pro Cathedral, was laid in 1908, and the first Mass was celebrated in The Basilica on May 31, 1914.)
 
We kicked-off a year long celebration of our 150th anniversary on Sunday, September 30. Archbishop Hebda presided at the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses that day.
 
Throughout the coming year there will be a variety of events, activities and exhibits to celebrate our Sesquicentennial as a parish. I invite you to attend as many of these as you are able as we celebrate 150 years of faith.
 
 Two events in particular I would like to note are a reunion for all couples who were married at The Basilica. This Marriage Reunion will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2019. There will also be a School Reunion for former students of The Basilica School. This reunion will take place September 7, 2019. 
 
5. Updating our Parish Strategic Plan: As I have mentioned in previous bulletins, several months ago we received approval from our Finance Committee and Parish Council to engage the services of the MacCallum Ross company to help us begin the process of developing a new strategic plan for our parish. (Our previous plan carried us through spring of 2018.) 
 
The reason we engage in strategic planning is simple. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29.18). If we don’t consciously and prayerfully plan for our future, we are at risk of drifting into a future not of our choosing and certainly not of our making. 
 
I am pleased to report that at the October meeting of our Parish Council our new Strategic Plan was approved. Our new Strategic Plan retains our core Vision, Mission, and Values, and builds on, instead of replacing, the previous strategic plan. There are three Strategic Areas of Focus in our new Plan: 
 
Art: move, inspire, and transform individuals and communities through excellence in the arts and creative practices.
 
Inclusivity: build a culture where people feel valued, welcome, integrated, and included.
 
Homelessness: respond to the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
 
This plan will serve as a road map to guide and direct our efforts for the next three to five years. Our efforts will help us identify those ministries, programs, services, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community. If you would like to review a copy of our new Strategic Plan, please call the parish office. 
 
6. Special Collections: While no one is fond of special collections, it is heartening for me to report that the people of The Basilica have been very generous to the last few special collections here at The Basilica. 
 
  • On the weekend of June 17 and 18, $9,679 was contributed to help defray the cost of air conditioning The Basilica during the hot summer months. 
  • On the weekend of July 28 and 29, $10,835 was contributed to help fund our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. 
  • On the weekend of September 15 and 16, $9,514 was contributed to help fund our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. 
 
The contributions to these collections testify to the generosity of the people of The Basilica. Please know of my gratitude for your generous response to these collections. 
 
7. Campus Space Planning: As I mentioned previously, a few months ago The Basilica Landmark approved funding for the hiring of a liturgical space planning consultant. Fr. Gil Sunghera S.J. was hired and has been working with our Campus Space Planning Committee to build a vision for our campus spaces that will help us welcome the community and our guests. Fr. Gil is on staff at the University of Detroit Mercy and works with their School of Architecture. 
 
Some of the important issues/concerns that will need to be considered are accessibility, making The Basilica and its campus more open and welcoming, and renovating and updating the interior of The Basilica. 
 
This process of developing a master plan for The Basilica and its campus continues as I write this column. It will also occur concurrently with the development of our new strategic plan. We will share more information about this important work as we move forward. 
 
8. The Basilica App is Now Available: To get the App you go to the App Store and download MyParish. Once you download it, you search for Basilica of Saint Mary. The App was launched to the parish beginning on November 4. The App has message notification and group messaging features that we will be expanding soon. It is our hope that the App will help us keep in touch with people and make it easier for people to find out everything that is happening at The Basilica. 
 
 
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary
 
 
 
 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/112518.cfm 

This coming Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  This Feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925.   Seeing the devastation caused by World War I, Pius established this Feast as a way to remind people that Christ is Lord of both heaven and earth.  Initially this Feast was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but when the Roman Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar in 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year.  (The new liturgical year always begins with the Fist Sunday of Advent.)    

Our readings this Sunday have an apocalyptic tone.  As I have said previously, apocalyptic writing is very stylized.   It uses vivid imagery and dramatic language, as well as visionary and prophetic images to make its point.  Apocalyptic language was used in times of trail or difficulty to assure people that despite the suffering of the present moment, God was with them and ultimately would triumph.   Apocalyptic literature is not meant to be taken literally.

Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John.  It is the scene of Jesus before Pilate.   Pilate asks Jesus:  “Are you the King of the Jews?”   Jesus reminds Pilate and us that “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”   While ostensibly Pilate is in charge of this encounter, from John’s perspective (and ours) Jesus is the one who is in control.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel.   It is part of Daniel’s vision in which he saw “one like a Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” to be present to the “Ancient One.”   We would see this language as prefiguring Christ.   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Revelation.  It is a hymn of praise for Christ.   “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who had made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. We aren’t big on royalty in the United States.  How would you explain Christ the King to an unbeliever?   
  2. What would you say to someone who takes a literal approach to apocalyptic literature?     
  3. What are the hallmarks of one who tries to live as a member of the Kingdom of God?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/111818.cfm    

 

It seems that every few years someone predicts that the world will end on a specific date, or in a particular year.   So far all of these predictions have been wrong, but that hasn’t stopped people from continuing to predict the end of the world. 

 

In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus talks about the end times.  He said: “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the starts will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”   This imagery is vivid and stark.  It reminds us that the end times will come and there will be a summation of the world and a time of judgment. 

 

It is important to remember, though, that at the end of this Gospel Jesus also says:  "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”    These words remind us that while we do believe that the world will one day come to an end, we shouldn’t spend our time wondering and worrying about when it will occur.  Rather, we should live our lives in such a way that we will be prepared whenever it comes. 

 

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel.   It too speaks of the end times.  It also is hopeful, though.  For the closing verse of today’s reading says:  “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” 

 

For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter to the Hebrews.   Today’s selection contrasts the Jewish priests of the Old Testament with Jesus Christ:  “But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God:”

 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Why do you think people continue to predict the end of the world?
  2. If you knew the world was going to end at a certain point in the future, what would you do differently?  
  3. If you would do something differently if you knew the end of the world was coming, why aren’t you doing that now?    

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