by Fr. Michael Barry
It is quite a blessing that the entire month of March includes Lent. Lent we understand as a time for fasting and penance. It is truly a time of prayer. So let’s us focus on Lent as time to come closer to God through prayer!
Readings: Gn 2:7-9;3:1-7/Rom 5:12-19/ PS 51:3-4,5-6,12-13,17/Mt 4:1-11
The scripture opens today with disaster that is the fall of man in Adam and Eve. Observe how clever and manipulative the serpent. We too fall victim to his cunning and deception unless we keep Jesus Christ before us. In the second reading we have the immediate answer, Jesus Christ. The devil will never overcome us as long as our faith, active is in Jesus. The gospel gives us the ideal answer of how to resist, Jesus!
Readings: Lv 19:1-2,11-18/PS 19:8,9,10,15/Mt 25:31-46
Today we are given two principles for our guidance. “Be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy” then the commandments are given to us. This last principle is one that we take for granted. In the first letter of St. John it says “if you love Me keep My commandments and We (entire Trinity) will come to you and abide with you.” What greater encouragement do we need? Today’s gospel of the Beatitudes reinforces that.
2020/03/04 - St Casimir
Readings: Jon 3:1-10/PS 51:3-4,12-13,18-19/Lk 11:29-32
The first reading from the Book of Jonah is a classic. It applies to us very much. It tells the story of what God wants Jonah to do and what Jonah wants to do. Clearly, Jonah feels that God is wrong. How often have you thought the same thing? Yet God is forced to take drastic measures to convince Jonah. Remember God does not give up. Our disposition should be as Jesus Himself when He said, “Not My will but Thy will be done.”
2020/03/03 St Katharine Drexel, Virgin
Readings: Is 55:10-11/Ps 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19/Mt 6:7-15
Scripture is the Word of God and it is meant to guide and inspire us and also to reveal God’s love and concern for us personally. God’s Word does not return to Him void or empty. The major concern is – are we disposed to receive it? Dispose yourself by hearing with a listening heart. Do not dismiss it. It is meant for your life at that precise moment.
Reflection for 2020/03/05
Readings: EST C:12, 14-16, 23-25/PS 138:1-2AB, 2CDE-3, 7C-8/Mt 7:7-12
Today is a solution to Jonah’s problem of yesterday. Instead of conflicting with God, Queen Esther has recourse to prayer. Even when it means totally surrendering to God’s will as Esther does that only comes with prayer. That prayer may take time and the answer may not come immediately. Persevere in prayer and know that you are on the right track. So often we pray but with what we want and have in mind. When there is conflict and struggle it is a good sense that God will prevail. As today’s gospel informs us that the good Lord and Father of us all knows how to take care of His children’s needs.
Reflection for 2020/03/06
Readings: Ez 18:21-28/PS 130:1-2,3-4,5-7A,7BC-8/Mt 5:20-26
The word “IF” is very significant in the readings today. In Ezekiel we are warned that if the good man turns away from good and practices wickedness then he is lost. Likewise, unless the wicked man turns away from his wickedness, he is lost. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells us that ‘our righteousness’ has to surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees. Then Jesus goes on to say that as His disciples more is demanded of us. We are to love our enemy and not hate him. This contradicts the old Jewish maxim of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Jesus’ gospel was radical in His day, and in our day it is much more radical. At least His day had the Law, but our day has nothing but hatred and bitterness and ‘my way.’ As Amos the prophet said “Come, let us return to the Lord.”
2020/03/07 Sts Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
Readings: Dt 26:16-19/PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8/Mt 5:43-48
I am sure that you may have noticed that during this first week of Lent, the readings focus on the struggle between good and evil and between God’s way and my way. Moses tells the people that God wants to form a covenant with them and these are the conditions and there is no changing it. Take it or leave it. The gospel also hammers home the toughness and radicality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have in essence watered down the gospel and have tailored it to our own interpretation. Remember you cannot compromise the cause of Jesus Christ.
Readings: Gn 12:1-4a/PS 33:4-5,18-19,20,22/2 Tm 1:8b-10/Mt 17:1-9
Now already we are in the Second Sunday of Lent. Do you sense a change in your prayer life? Is the love of Jesus more present to you? The readings today address both concerns. Abraham Is called forth by God with a covenant and Timothy is told of the sufferings that he should bear and the gospel reveals the true image of Jesus as He is transfigured before the chosen Apostles. Try to see yourself each day getting a better image of Jesus’ presence in your life.
2020/03/09 St Frances of Rome, Religious
In the gospel today Jesus again feeds the crowd. What is interesting is the human Jesus moving the divine Jesus.Jesus says” My heart is moved with pity for the crowd” If anyone ever doubted Jesus all you have to do is read the gospel with your heart and not just read it. Here is Jesus very much human and also God, divine trying to show His concern for us and that we would be convinced that God has a better life for us.
Readings: IS 1:10,16-20/PS 50:8-9,16BC-17,21&23/Mt 23:1-12
The opening reading from Daniel gives us a rare perspective and one which we never seem to accept. Daniel prays to an almighty God an omnipotent God and then confesses his sins. We are inclined to the opposite. We have Jesus who is near us and even within us and loves us. He is still God, omnipotent, almighty. He is like us but also God. PerhaPs combining those two ideas may give us a better perspective and a greater awareness of Jesus in our lives. Be careful – the greatest barrier between you and Jesus Christ may be yourself.
Readings: Jer 17:5-10/PS 1:1-2,3,4&6/Lk 16:19-31
Your life with the Lord can be a challenge and a threat to others even in your own family. Jesus told us to expect that and it is also a great witness to you that you are on the right track. That situation is perfectly exemplified in the gospel. Jesus tells His apostles that He is going to Jerusalem where He will be crucified and immediately the mother of John and James wants her two sons to sit at Jesus’ right and left in His kingdom. It comes down to our modern religion of “What’s in it for me.” John the Baptist had it right “He must increase and I must decrease.” Ironically, as He increases I too will increase because I have humbled myself in the sight of the Lord.
Readings: Jer 18:18-20/PS 31:5-6, 14, 15-16/Mt 20:17-28
There are two basic actions or drives for the good catholic. One is to put ungodly things, sins and anti-God stuff out of our lives and two is to replace them with God’s ways, His gospel and His commandments. They cannot coexist in our lives and we cannot make them coexist to our own satisfaction and delight. Do I have an ‘I says’ syndrome? In other words ‘I says to the Lord’ God and it says it in the gospel does not want you to put on a show or outward display but wants your heart. Live in the heart of Jesus Christ and He will dwell in you.
Readings: Gn 37:3-4,12-13a,17b-28a/PS 105:16-17,18-19,20-2/Mt 21:33-43,45-46
What keePs you from the Lord? There is a perfect example in the gospel today. It is the story of Lazarus and the rich man (not even named.) What is usual is that the rich man not only ignores Lazarus but thinks that there is nothing wrong or wanting in his way of life. God is shut out or does not even matter. True, he may have been addicted to wealth but there is no evidence whatsoever that God mattered to him. Does God to you? Is God first and foremost in your life? So, you have a vital relationship with God? You can’t go anywhere without that relationship.
Readings: Mi 7:14-15, 18-20/PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12/Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Unforgiveness, envy and hatred are tremendous obstacles to your progress in the life with Jesus Christ. There may be someone in your life that you should forgive but you don’t want to forgive because the hurt is too great and it did so much hurt to you and besides they are not worthy to be forgiven. The never asked you for forgiveness. They don’t deserve to be forgiven. Remember that they may never change but any chance for you to change is being blocked by your own forgiveness. That unforgiveness does not so much affect the other as it does you. Move with Jesus and forgive even if you don’t mean it. You deserve to be free.
Saturday February 22nd
This gospel today is the famous gospel where Peter recognizes Jesus as Son of god and then Jesus rewards Peter and makes hi the first Pope. Recognizing Jesus in everything and directing everything we do to the praise honor and glory of God is our destiny. God will reward us with eternal life and even a good life here on earth.Jesus always has to be in the mix of our lives. Jesus intervenes in our lives between the good and the bad. All good things come from Jesus.
Readings: Ex 17:3-7/ PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9/Rom 5:1-2, 5-8/Jn 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42
As the first reading says “Who is like You, a God who removes guilt.” Jesus instituted the confessional, now reconciliation, to remove our guilt. It is our faith that brings us to the confessional to reconcile us with God, to reestablish that close and intimate relationship. The sadness and tragedy is that we don’t do it often enough. As a rule, it is good to do it once a month. It restores and renews us. Use the sacrament and you will make progress with God. That point is brought out in the gospel of the Prodigal Son. This son who had truly offended his father and lived a sinful life realized that and said “I will go back to my father and confess ‘I have sinned against heaven and against you, I no longer deserve to be your son.’” True confession is when you totally say I can’t live this life any longer, I need your life in me, Lord Jesus Christ.
Readings: 2 Kgs 5:1-15b/Ps 42:2,3; 43:3,4/Lk 4:24-30
Today’s readings are all about trust in God. In the first reading Moses is told to strike the rock for water. He strikes the rock but no water and then impetuously he strikes it a second time and this is the reason why he does not enter the Promised Land. Impetuosity destroys trust. Then in the gospel of John we read of the woman at the well who does not want anything to do with Jesus Christ because not only of religious differences but also because He is a man and she has had it with men. Jesus persists and promises her the water of life. She finally gives in and is converted and brings more people to Jesus than anyone else in the Bible. Jesus never gives up on us even if we give up on Him. You see He died for us and values and loves us so much that He pursues us down the highways and byways of our life.
2020/03/17 St Patrick, Bishop
Readings: Dn 3:25,34-43/Ps 25:4-5AB,6&7BC,8-9/Mt 18:21-35
Today is the feast of St. Patrick, the Patron saint of Ireland. He lived in the fourth century and was captured and sold into slavery and brought to Ireland to the north of the country. He escaped and went back to Wales where he studied for the priesthood and then returned with the faith to Ireland. On his return he was confronted by the King of Ireland who challenged him to prove the Trinity, three gods yet one god. Patrick was stuck. He couldn’t explain it. He looked down and at his feet was a shamrock (clover.) He picked it up and explained to the King that although this little plant had three leaves it only had one stem thus it was one plant. So this God of his faith had three distinct persons but was united in one God. The King accepted and believed and so too did all the people of Ireland. What an evangelization job.
2020/03/19 St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemnity
Readings: 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16/Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29/Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22/Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Lk 2:41-51a
Today is the feast of St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the guardian of Mary. We often kick St. Joseph to the side as just another saint. Think of what St. Joseph did. He obeyed God even though it was against his best thoughts. He protected Mary in her birth when there was ‘no room at the Inn.’ He again protected Jesus and Mary and saved the life of Jesus by fleeing into Egypt. St Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church and thus should have an important role in our faith growth. Do you care and protect Jesus when others deny Him? Do you defend the sinless Mary when she is attacked?
2020/03/18 St Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Readings: Dt 4:1,5-9/Ps 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20/Mt 5:17-19
In the gospel today Jesus tells His disciples “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill.” You see the law and the prophets were used to prepare and proclaim the coming of the Messiah the savior. We often forget that we live in the fullness of time when God sent His Son. We have more obligations and duties today than the Jews had and besides all of that we have the cross. We cannot live a Christ life without the cross. The only prosperity in life is the cross of Jesus Christ. It prepares and purifies us for the Lord.
Readings: Hos 14:2-10/Ps 81:6C-8A,8BC-9,10-11AB,14&17/Mk 12:28-34
Return Israel to the Lord. You have collapsed through your guilt. Could the same thing happen to us? Yes in two ways. One is that we act as if our sins are not forgiven or that we don’t feel forgiven. We won’t feel forgiven but our faith and the sacrament tells us that undoubtedly we are forgiven. Secondly, some people are scrupulous and feel that they didn’t confess properly or left out some details. In such cases the person needs to trust the confessor and not themselves. Trust in the Lord but do not allow your own self to prevent God’s grace in you. He is God and you are you. Trust in the greater power and His grace
Readings: Hos 6:1-6/Ps 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21AB/Lk 18:9-14
Hosea tells us ‘to strive to know the Lord.’ The word strive is well put because we need to allow the Lord to reveal Himself to us and not use the Lord to solve our problems so much as to give Him the freedom to reveal Himself to us. The gospel of the Pharisee and the Publican gives us a perfect insight into it. You see the Pharisee tells God of all that he, the Pharisee, has done and that God has no option other than to recognize him and reward him. The Publican completely surrenders himself to God – “Oh God be merciful to me a sinner.” He in turn, as Jesus tells us, is justified.
Readings: 1 Sm 16:1b,6-7,10-13a/ PS 23:1-3A,3B-4,5,6/Eph 5:8-14/Jn 9:1-41
Today there is a slight shift in the theme of Lent of the observance. It is slight because the idea of fast is not emphasized as much and replaced with ‘rejoicing.’ It is called for that reason “Laetare Sunday.” The vestments are rose colored one of only two times such vestments are used. Rejoice, because we are approaching the feast of our salvation and the Church does not want us to forget the meaning of the whole season of Lent as it leads to the feast of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and our Salvation.
2020/03/23 St Turibius of Mogrovejo, Bishop
Readings: Is 65:17-21/Ps 30:2&4,5-6,11-12A&13B/Jn 4:43-54
The readings today give us an insight into God’s design. In the gospel the official wants Jesus to heal his son because he has seen and witnessed all the wonders that Jesus had performed. Jesus berates people for looking for signs instead of believing and having faith. The official believed and was told that this son had been healed. There is a similar idea in the first reading from Isaiah where the prophet says that God is creating a new heavens and a new earth. We live in that newness but we only live productively when we believe.
2020/03/25 The Annunciation of the Lord Solemnity
Readings: Is 7:10-14;8:10/Ps 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11/Heb 10:4-10/Lk 1:26-38
The Annunciation of the Lord – Today is a feast that defies the imagination and that seems impossible. Mary is told that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit and that despite our rational deductions that ‘nothing is impossible for God’ we learn a lot from Mary. Just immediately is her faith which says “be it done unto me according to you Word.” Her obedience to God is a gift and blessing that we should emulate. Her Magnificat is also a prayer for us which tells us a lot about Mary. If we accept Jesus then His Mother is not far behind. We cannot have Jesus without Mary and cannot have Mary without Jesus. John 19:25.
Readings: Ez 47:1-9,12/Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9/Jn 5:1-16
Today’s gospel tells the story of the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda which had curative waters. He was there for 38 years and was never in time to be the first to go into the water. Jesus came and healed him. It should sort of jar our minds. Not that we are crippled or unable to get into the water but on the other hand we act as if we are crippled or content with our lives. Jesus wants to touch us as He touched the man in the gospel. Maybe we are stuck and don’t think we need any healing or change. Don’t get stuck in yourself.
Readings: Ex 32:7-14/Ps 106:19-20, 21-22, 23/Jn 5:31-47
From the first reading today we learn that God tells Moses that the people, although instructed by the Lord and proven by God for them, have turned back to their own depraved ways. Moses soon is able to turn them back. What happens when you turn from the Lord or become passive or lukewarm? Who turns you around? Believe it or not God wants you back and He will constantly be in your life to move you back. It may be a priest or a friend or a parent or circumstances that may awaken you to His love. Although you may have forsaken God, He does not abandon you.
Readings: Wis 2:1a,12-22/Ps 34:17-18,19-20,21&23/Jn 7:1-2,10,25-30
As a catholic and follower of Jesus Christ you will always have opposition. It is false to believe that everyone is happy that you believe in Jesus. Opposition is mounted against you on all sides. The gospel is right when it advises us to seek first the kingdom of God. So often we believe but, get this, we are afraid to offend others with our belief. Profess Jesus and he will bless you and be your defense and conversion against those who oppose you.
Readings: Jer 11:18-20/Ps 7:2-3,9BC-10,11-12/Jn 7:40-53
The gospel today gives us a familiar scene. The Pharisees give us a judgment on Jesus that demands He be arrested. The crowd and even the guards differ on Jesus because they have seen what Jesus has done and as the guards say “no one has spoken like this man.” How easy it is to judge Jesus on our terms and reject Him because He has not granted my request.Can we not stop and consider what Jesus has done for us and His love of us or are we steeped in our own stubbornness of heart? Could we not recall Luke 24 where the two Emmaus disciples say “Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke to us along the way?”
Readings: Ez 37:12-14/ PS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8/Rom 8:8-11/Jn 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
What a wonderful gift or ‘deal’ Ezekiel promises us in the first reading. God’s spirit is promised and a return to our native land. Hope springs eternal. God always has the best for us and we should not get in the way with our own selfish reasoning. In the gospel the two sisters Martha and Mary are overjoyed when Jesus gives them back their brother Lazarus risen from the dead. Eye hath not seen nor ear heard what God has in store for those who love Him.
Readings: Dn 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62 or 13:41c-62/Ps 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6/Jn 8:1-11
t is an accepted fact, today over 48% of people think that there is nothing wrong with pornography. Well today’s first reading from Daniel proves the opposite. The beautiful Susanna, an upright woman and God fearing, is alone in her garden when two men want sex with her. When she refuses they bring charges of adultery against her, a crime for which the penalty was death. Sexual stuff that is unlawful and against the sixth commandment will destroy those who use it for their own delight and pleasure, despite its sacredness of committed sex in marriage. Our society presently is dominated by such addiction. There is no other word for it but addiction and sinful addiction at that. Repent, rebuke and renounce any and all types of sinful sexual conduct behavior in your life. Free yourself up for Christ.
Readings: Nm 21:4-9/Ps 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21/Jn 8:21-30
The first reading from the Book of Numbers has the Israelites complaining against God. Despite all that God has done for them they are unhappy. Their complaints are legitimate in a sense but they want their own solution and have given up on God. Now that we have reached almost the end of Lent and also the end of March have you given up on God or have you become closer. What brings you closer?