Fr. Bauer's Blog

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122919.cfm  

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.   Our Gospel this Sunday occurs just after the visit of the Magi to the new born Christ child.   We are told that “When the Magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him’”    Joseph did as he was told and “took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.”    They remained in Egypt until Herod died.    

This Gospel and the one we read on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, tell us almost all of what we know about St. Joseph.   While the information is scant, it is clear that Joseph was a man of great faith who was open to God’s will in his life even though he may not always have understood that will.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach.   It was chosen because it and our second reading this Sunday from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, talk about the virtues of family life.   In Sirach we read:  “God sets a father in honor over his child, a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.”   And in St. Paul’s letter we read:  “Put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love,”

Clearly all three readings this Sunday extol the values of family and the virtues we are called to display as followers of Jesus Christ. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Families today come in all shapes and sizes.   What do you think defines a family?  
  2. I have a friend who has several children, now all adults.   When her children were growing she used to quip that “Of course, it was easy for Mary and Joseph to be the Holy Family.  They only had one child, and he was perfect.”    What makes a family holy?  
  3. What is the biggest obstacle to families being holy? 

This Great Gift

Many years ago an older man from a neighboring parish came to see me. He was distraught and troubled. He said, “Father, one of the priests at my parish told me I that my hands weren’t clean enough to receive communion, and that I should come back after I had washed them. Father, I’m a mechanic, and I work with my hands. I did wash them, but apparently they weren’t clean enough.” He then showed me his hands. He concluded by saying: “I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. Did I do something wrong?” His hands were indeed gnarled, and displayed the signs of years of manual labor. They also bore the telltale traces of grease and grime. 

As I looked at the man’s hands, I thought of St. Joseph. As a carpenter his hands must also have been gnarled, and most likely callused and stained from working with wood. And yet they were the same hands that carried and caressed the infant Jesus. They were the same hands that held and hugged Jesus as a child. They were the same hands that guided Jesus’ hands as he learned to use the plane and chisel. And I suspect Jesus held Joseph’s hands as Joseph was dying. With this image in my mind, I talked with the man about St. Joseph’s hands. I told him that Jesus knew that calloused and stained hands were not the measure of a person’s piety or what was in their heart.

I am continually surprised that there are there are many good and well intentioned people who think it is their responsibility and role to publicly determine who can receive communion and/or how they should receive it. Many years ago when I was in the seminary I attended a lecture on Ecumenism. The priest who spoke was not someone who would have been identified as being “liberal.” He was very kind person, though and quite articulate about our Church’s dogmas, doctrines, and teachings. As importantly, he was able to represent our Catholic beliefs well in an Ecumenical dialogue. During the question and answer period following his talk an individual asked when it was appropriate to deny someone communion. The priest’s answer surprised me. He said: “You don’t know what has happened in that person’s life in the last ten minutes. If you have a concern, you mention it privately.” He was clear that publicly refusing to give someone communion is seldom, if ever, appropriate.

We are told that in his life and ministry Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners. He was also known to spent time with foreigners and other outcasts from society. Jesus also touched lepers and others who had been marginalized or ostracized because of an illness or other physical malady. Jesus was indiscriminate in regard to whom he touched and with whom he spent time. He accepted people as they were, whoever they were.

In addition to hanging around with some questionable people during his life on earth, Jesus continued this practice when he gave us the gift of himself in the Eucharist. It is in and through the Eucharist that Jesus continues to abide with us as individuals and with our Church. None of us is worthy of this great gift. No one earns the right to receive the Eucharist. And no one has the right to determine the worthiness of someone else to receive the Eucharist. 

On the Feast of Christmas, I can’t help but think of St. Joseph holding the infant Jesus immediately after Jesus’ birth. In his callused and stained hands he held the savior of the world. I suspect that Joseph intuitively knew that Jesus wouldn’t object to anyone who held and received him with love and devotion. Like Joseph, may we who hold and receive Jesus today never forget this fundamental and abiding truth.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
 
When I was a very small child, we lived in a house that had window sills which were just above my sight line.  I remember having to stand on my tiptoes to see out.   This was especially challenging when we were expecting company, because I could only stay on my tiptoes a few minutes at a time.   This memory came back to me when I read our Gospel this Sunday.   I say this because this weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and in our Gospel this weekend we read “how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.”   Clearly this Gospel calls us to be on “tiptoes of expectation” as we enter the last week before we celebrate the birth of Christ. 
 
Specifically this Gospel tells the story of how Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, and that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said:  “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary you wife into your home.   For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”    In addition to telling us that Jesus conception was of divine origin, this Gospel also reminds us that God is not limited in the way God communicates with us.   God can speak to us in our thoughts, through the movements of our hearts and spirits, through the people and events of our lives, and even through our dreams.   If we are open to it, God has much to say to us.  
 
In our first reading this Sunday we read from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  In this reading God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, invites the feckless King Ahaz to ask for a sign that he might remember and trust in God’s faithfulness.   Ahaz declines, but God offers a sign anyway.  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:  the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”   
 
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the beginning of the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.   In it Paul reminds the people that he has been “called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.”  
 
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 
 
 
  1. When have you felt God “communicating” with you?  Was it in your prayer, through other people, through the events of your life, through a dream or?
  2. Ahaz didn’t want to tempt God by asking for a sign, yet God gave him a sign anyway.  Has God ever offered you a sign? 
  3. What do you need to do this last week of Advent to prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ? 

     

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/121519.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of the season of Advent.   Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.  In the first section, once again we encounter John the Baptist.   This time, though, John is in prison and will soon face death.   Given this, he is concerned whether Jesus was indeed the “one who is to come.”   At first glance, this question from John may seem strange, but I suspect that as John approached death he wanted to be sure that his mission had not been for naught.   In response, Jesus does not give a yes or no answer.  Instead he said:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”   As we will see in our first reading for this weekend, these are all signs of God’s grace and favor --- and a promise of hope for the future. 

In the second section of this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus “began to speak to the crowds about John.”   He concludes by saying:  “Amen I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   At the time of this prophecy the Jewish people had been conquered in the north by the Assyrians and in the south by the Babylonians.   Isaiah speaks words of comfort and hope to this conquered people, reminding them there will come a time of vindication when all with see the “glory of the Lord” when God will come “with vindication.”   The signs of the Lord’s return will be the very signs Jesus mentioned in our Gospel today:  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of James.   In it James urges:  “You too must be patient.  Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”    While this sentence reflects the early church’s belief that the return of Christ was imminent, it reminds us today that we are called to wait patiently for the Lord’s coming --- whenever that may occur. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. I suspect there are times for each of us when, like John, we wonder whether our lives are on the right course.   Who do you look to for guidance at these times?
  2. What signs of God’s Kingdom do you see in the world around you?   
  3. How do we wait patiently for the Lord’s coming?     

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120819.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the Second Sunday of the season of Advent.    Each year on the Second Sunday of Advent our Gospel reading presents us with the familiar figure of John the Baptist.   This year we read Matthew’s account of John’s preaching.   We are told that John’s message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”    Those who came out to hear John were the people around the region of the Jordan who “were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.”    However, when “he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers!’”    Clearly John, like Jesus who would follow him, saw the Pharisees and Sadducees as opposing rather than supporting his message.  

It is also important to note that John clearly understood his roll vis-à-vis Jesus.  He said: “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals.”  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It is Isaiah’s prophecy of a future King from the “stump of Jesse.” (Jesse was the father of King David.) The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon this future King:  “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight will be the fear of the Lord.”  (If these words sound familiar they are what Catholics refer to as the “gifts of the Holy Spirit.”)   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.  In it Paul asks that “the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. I have always been impressed with John the Baptist’s clarity in regard to his mission.   How do you think he came to such clarity?
  2. John describes himself as not being worthy to carry Jesus’ sandals.  How would you describe yourself in relation to Jesus? 
  3. As a child I had to memorize the gifts (as well as the fruits) of the Holy Spirit.  I was always troubled by the gift of fear of the Lord.   Someone then suggested that I substitute the words “wonder” or “awe” for fear.   That made much more sense to me.   How do we exhibit wonder or awe of God?   

With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.

1. 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 8 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 10 at 5:30pm. 

On Sunday, December 15 our Cathedral Choristers, Children’s Choir, Cherubs, and Juventus as well as the children of the Learning Program will present The King of Love by Betty Lou and Ronald Nelson. The musical uses familiar carols 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. 

On Friday night, December 20, Handel’s Messiah will return to The Basilica. Tickets for that performance can be purchased at mary.org/messiah

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 at mary.org.

2. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank all those who have made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our Basilica Fund 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 our income is tracking to budget but is down from being able to balance our budget. It is our hope to move towards a balanced budget over the next couple of years. We currently use funds from school rental income to balance our budget, but we know this is not a sustainable solution long-term. This year our goal is to raise an additional $150,000 over our budgeted income. 

I am hopeful that with our collections at Christmas and with year-end giving we will continue to stay 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. 

3. Change Management Consultant: Several months ago our Parish Council and Finance Committee approved funding to hire a Change Management Consultant, to help us as we seek to implement our new strategic plan. Our parish staff and a small Task Force have been working with the Change Management Consultant to help us identify those ministries, services and programs, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community, and need to continue, as well as those that need to change or end. Our new Strategic Plan has provided the foundation to guide our decision making process and prioritization.

It is both good and important periodically for parishes to take a step back and review the various programs and ministries that are part of their parish operation to make sure they are still filling a need, or whether they need to be modified, or ended so that new or emerging needs can be addressed. The Change Management Consultant is helping us take a careful and considered look at all that we do here at the Basilica. We hope to finish this work sometime this winter or early spring. 

4. Archdiocesan Synod: As I mentioned in an earlier bulletin, on the Vigil of Pentecost (June 8, 2019), Archbishop Hebda formally announced that our Archdiocese will be embarking on a synod, our first since 1939. A synod is a formal representative assembly designed to help a bishop in shepherding of the local Church. It is the Archbishop’s hope that over the next two years, the synod process will involve every parish and draw on the gifts that have been bestowed in such abundance on the people of this archdiocese to discern and establish clear pastoral priorities in a way that will both promote greater unity in our Archdiocese and lead us to a more vigorous proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. In doing so, it will help Archbishop Hebda discern, through a consultative process, the pastoral priorities of our local Church today—and into the near future.

Archbishop Hebda described the local pre-synod and synod process as following Pope Francis’ “listening Church” model. “It’s the confidence that comes from believing that the Holy Spirit works in the faithful, and it’s in sharing those things that are most important to us that we’re able to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” 

The synod process will begin this fall and winter with prayer and listening events. After these events, in the spring/summer of 2020, Archbishop Hebda will announce the topics that will shape the synod. In autumn of 2020 and winter of 2021 there will be a parish and deanery consultation process. On Pentecost weekend May 21-22, 2021 there will be a synod assembly. Delegates to this assembly will be invited from across the Archdiocese and will meet to discern synod topics and vote on recommendations for the Archbishop. The Feast of Christ the King (November 21, 2021) is the anticipated publication of pastoral letter from Archbishop Hebda addressing the synod’s topics with a pastoral plan to shape the following 5-10 years.

I believe the synod process brings with it much promise for the future of our Archdiocese. It will only be successful, though, if people pray, participate, and honestly share their concerns, questions and hopes for our Archdiocese. To this end —since I first informed you of the synod—we have established a parish synod ambassador team who will work to solicit feedback from our parishioners and keep everyone informed as the synod process moves forward. 

There is a link to this group as well as information on the listening session on our parish website at mary.org/synod. You can anticipate hearing more about the synod in the weeks and months ahead. 

5. I would also like to update you on the work of our Campus Space Planning Committee. Beginning in January of 2018 this committee began working to establish a vision for our campus to prepare us for the next 150 years of service to the Church and the city. Earlier this year this group completed its work in providing a vision and set of priorities to ensure our buildings and campus serve both our current needs and the needs of future generations at the Basilica and the community. Their efforts have helped us move into the future with confidence and hope. I am enormously grateful for all the time and effort this committee put into this important work. 

As a next step, we selected a team of individuals and organizations to assist us in creating a more specific Master Plan for the Basilica and its campus. The process, included “Requests for Qualifications” and later “Requests for Proposals” and in-person interviews. In these requests we wanted architectural firms that could work as a team with urban planners, historical preservationists, and landscape architects. We eventually interviewed three teams and ultimately recommended to The Basilica Landmark Board that the team, led by the Architectural firm HGA be hired to develop a Master Plan for our Basilica Campus. The Landmark Board approved the funding of this recommendation and we began negotiations for a contract with HGA. 

After this a small Master Planning Committee was formed to work with HGA and their team in the development of the Master Plan for the Basilica and its campus. This Committee has been meeting for the past few months and will continue to meet this fall. In addition to the whole Basilica campus this committee will also examine some specific issues, e.g. accessibility, music, parking, and our liturgical space. It is our hope that we will be able to share the results of the work of this committee early in 2020. 

6. Feasibility Study: As I have also mentioned previously, The Landmark Board also approved funding to hire the firm of Bentz Whaley Flessner to conduct a feasibility study to help determine fund raising capacity for a potential Capital Campaign needed to implement elements of the newly developed Master Plan.

As the work of the Campus Space Planning, Master Plan Development, Feasibility Study, and potential Capital Campaign have broad implications for our Parish we have been actively engaged with the Basilica Landmark Board, Parish Council and Finance Committee to ensure our leaders are informed and appropriately involved in providing guidance and approval. 

7. Recent Maintenance Projects: In addition to several smaller maintenance projects this summer, there were also two major maintenance projects. We replaced the carpeting in the lower level of the church. If you have not been in the lower level of the Basilica recently I would encourage you to stop down and see the new carpeting. Replacing the old carpeting and updating the hospitality area with an expanded area of terrazzo was one of our major maintenance projects this summer. I know I come from a biased perspective, but I think it turned out quite well. 

The other major maintenance project this summer/fall was rebuilding the south façade of our parish school building. While the brickwork is done, the Terra Cotta needed to finish the job has been delayed. When the order was first placed, we were told that the Terra Cotta had a 105 calendar day lead time and should have arrived by the end of August. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we were informed that Terra Cotta will not ship until November 1. So unless there are further delays, by the time you read this bulletin the Terra Cotta hopefully will have arrived and have been installed. 

8. At the end of September we completed the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of our parish. 150 years ago, the Church of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Minneapolis. When the parish outgrew its original site, seven lots were donated at 16th and Hennepin, and the corner stone of the Basilica of Saint Mary was laid in 1908. 150 years is a significant amount of time. It speaks highly of the faith and dedication of those who have gone before us that not only has our parish survived, it has thrived. As our parish moves into the next 150 years we are blessed by our parish leadership and our staff who serve our parish so well. It is the task and challenge for all of us, though—and it will take our combined efforts—to ensure that for the next 150 years our parish will continue to be a beacon of hope on the Minneapolis skyline and place of welcome for all who come to our doors. I am excited by this challenge, and given all the work that has gone on the past several months—and some cases continues to go on—I am very hopeful for the future. 

 

Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary

 

Bulletin
https://container.parishesonline.com/bulletins/02/0207/20191201N.pdf

 

Recently I attended the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. While I have kept in touch with some of my classmates, this certainly has not been the case with all of them. Given this, it was good to see my classmates again and catch up on what has gone on in their lives these many years. At one point in the evening, in a private conversation with one of my classmates, he revealed that he had been sexually abused by his pastor when he was in grade school. I thanked him for his courage, and for trusting that he could share this information with me. I asked if he would be open to getting together for lunch so we could talk about it. He said yes, and we exchanged email addresses so we could set a date for lunch. 

When we got together for lunch, my classmate shared his experience with me. Not only had his pastor abused him, but he was also a serial abuser, who had victimized others. My heart went out to my classmate as I listened to the pain and hurt he had suffered. I knew there was nothing I could say that would be helpful, so I just listened, apologized and offered my prayers—knowing all the while that this was too little, too late, and probably more for my sake than for his. 

Several years ago I had a similar experience, when one of my grade school classmates told me he had been abused by one of the associate pastors at our home parish. Unlike my high school classmate, however, his abuse had taken place over a period of years. Now, in both these cases, I would by lying if I said that I handled them with grace and composure. In these and other instances when I’ve talked with victims of sexual abuse, I have prayed swiftly and mightily that God would give me the right words to say, or at least help me not say something terribly wrong, inappropriate or hurtful. Listening to someone talk about the pain and hurt they have experienced at the hands of the church is a grim experience. In these instances, though, while I didn’t think I said anything particularly profound or helpful, I did come away with the awareness that I had been “standing on holy ground.” 

(As part of my conversation with both of my classmates, I asked if I could write about the experience in our parish bulletin. I also promised to get their permission before publishing anything. Both agreed to this. I am grateful for their willingness to allow me to share their experience.) 

Now with the above as background, it needs to be said that it is vitally important that those in leadership positions in our church listen to the pain and hurt of people who have been victims of sexual abuse. Their/our work, however, doesn’t and shouldn’t end there. We need to acknowledge our failings and the harm they have caused. Further, we need to ask for forgiveness over and over and over and over again. We also need to seek ways to promote healing and reconciliation, and finally and perhaps most importantly the leaders of our church need to commit to making changes so that these things can never happen again. Unfortunately at this point, most of the changes that have been made to date have not arisen out of care and concern, but rather as a result of lawsuits or changes in the law. And even more unfortunately, I think there is an unspoken attitude among many leaders in our church that once this crisis blows over they can go back to the way things used to be. This cannot happen. We can and must do better. And while our Archdiocese has made some progress in this regard, much more needs to be done. 

The words openness, transparency, and honesty are much in vogue these days. Their high fashion status, though, doesn’t diminish their importance or necessity. Specifically 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, apologize, repent, and establish clear standards of openness, transparency, honesty, and accountability. And they need to work with others—most especially those who have been the victims of sexual abuse—to establish these standards. If the bishops across the United States can’t do this or if they are unwilling to do this, they shouldn’t be surprised if people stop paying attention to them or simply leave our church.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120119.cfm 

This coming Sunday, as we celebrate the First Sunday of the season of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year.  This year we will use the “A” cycle of readings, which means that our Gospel readings will be taken primarily from the Gospel of Matthew.   

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples that “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”   In essence Jesus is saying that people will be doing normal everyday things when the end comes.   He sums up his comments by saying:  “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”   Clearly Jesus was reminding his followers that they are not to live as did the people of Noah’s time, thinking only of their present comfort and happiness, and giving no thought to the future.   Rather, we are to stay awake and be prepared for no one knows when the Son of Man will return, or when one’s own life will end.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  In this reading Isaiah offers comfort and hope to the people of Israel who are under threat from their enemies.  In this reading Isaiah reminds the people that if they are true to their covenant with God, “many peoples shall come and say: ‘Come let us climb the Lord’s mountain to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths.’”  

Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.   It probably was written somewhere between 55 – 60 AD, and reflects the common thinking at that time that the second coming of Jesus was imminent.   Paul says:  “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.  For your salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. It is easy to become lulled into thinking only of our comfort in the present moment and to forget about being prepared for the Lord’s coming.   What is one concrete thing you could do to keep better focused on being prepared for the Lord’s coming?
  2. Priests of our Archdiocese are asked to do advance planning for our funerals.  It is an interesting experience.  If you knew the end of your life was approaching what would you do to plan for it?  
  3. How would you respond to someone who claimed the return of the Lord was near?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/112419.cfm

 

This 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 will begin on December 1st  with the Fist Sunday of Advent.)   

 

Our Gospel this Sunday is the scene of Jesus on the cross.  He is ridiculed by the rulers and jeered at by the soldiers.   We are told that the soldiers taunted him by saying “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”   There were also two criminals crucified with Jesus.  One of them reviled Jesus saying:  “Are you not the Christ?   Save yourself and us.”   The other rebuked him, however, and asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.   In reply Jesus said to him:  “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  

 

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the second book of Samuel.   It recounts the story of David being anointed as King of Israel.  As Christians, we see the Kingship of David as pre-figuring the eternal Kingship of Christ.

 

Our second reading this Sunday contains a wonderful Christological hymn (a hymn to Christ).   It is St. Paul’s pronouncement of Christ’s place in God’s plan of salvation.   The hymn really needs to be read in its entirety to fully appreciate it, but it reminds us that:  “He is the image of the invisible God ……………………. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross.”   

 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

 

  1. A friend of mine likes to say that the criminal who asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom was a thief to the end, in that he stole heaven.   Hearing Jesus’ response to his fellow criminal why do you think the other criminal didn’t also ask to be remembered when Jesus came into his Kingdom?
  2. Jesus’ exchange with the “good thief” gives me a profound sense of hope that the gift of eternal life will be offered to all who are open to that gift.    What do we need to do to be open to that gift?
  3. What does it mean to call Christ our King?   

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/111719.cfm

This Sunday we celebrate the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.   As we come close to the end of this liturgical year, which will end next weekend with the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King, our Gospel reading focuses on the end times.    It begins with Jesus reminding people that: “All that you see here --- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”   

The people naturally ask:  “Teacher, when will this happen?  And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”   In response to this question Jesus tells the people not to follow anyone who comes in his name saying:  “The time has come.”  He then describes catastrophes and calamities that will occur before the end times.   He ends, though, with a note of consolation:  “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair of your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”   Notice that Jesus doesn’t promise that his disciples won’t experience pain or difficulties.  He does promise, though, that ultimately God will triumph.   

Our first reading this Sunday is from the prophet Malachi.   It shares the apocalyptic theme of the Gospel.   Like the Gospel, though, it also offers a promise of consolation and hope:   “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  

For our second reading this Sunday, we continue to read from the second Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.  In this reading, Paul reminds the Thessalonians (and us) that while we await the end times, we are not to grow slack or idle.  Rather, Paul is clear that we are to work diligently as we await the return of the Lord and “if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. There seems to be a constant ebb and flow in regard to interest in the “end times”   Why do you think this is? 
  2. When have you felt God’s comforting grace in the face of difficulties or pain? 
  3. Has there been a time when you have grown slack or been idle in your faith?   What re-energized your faith?  

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