Tag Archives: scripture readings

Tuesday of the First Week in Advent – Reflections

Today we also celebrate the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, priest and missionary

Read today’s readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Here we are, on the second weekday of Advent, and therefore on the second weekday of the new Liturgical year, 2013-2014. This third day of Advent builds wonderfully on the visions of the readings for the First Sunday and Monday of Advent, visions of universal peace and restoration, beginning with the restoration of the tribes of Israel, then reaching out to all the nations of the world.

Like most of the readings during this special season of Advent, today’s texts flow together to tell a single story. They speak to the deepest of human desires for rescue, healing, restoration, and the peace that embodies all that is meant by the Hebrew word shalom—the full flourishing of the people of God in covenant union with their Creator and Redeemer.
Isaiah speaks of a future son of David, who will rule with justice, with a special concern for the poor. The images that the prophet uses to illustrate the ultimate shalom of this king’s rule are expressed with an exuberance that can stretch our credulity. The lamb will offer hospitality to the wolf (which sounds like the beginning of an Aesop fable that will end up poorly for the lamb). The carnivorous lion will go vegetarian to dine with the ox. The infant will play without harm near the cobra’s den. These images evoke a peace that is beyond what we can reasonably expect either from nature or from the greatest of human efforts. And that is exactly the point: such peace requires “outside help”—the Spirit of the Lord. That is why Isaiah climaxes his vision, twice, with references to the “fear” and “knowledge of the Lord.” Only with human cooperation with the source of all creation and redemption will full shalom come about. Only when we behave as creatures of a loving God do we experience the beginnings of the fulfillment of the prophet’s visions.

Psalm 72 elaborates Isaiah’s picture of the son of David who will rule over such a peace. Again, the onset of peace is linked with special attention to justice for the poor.

Finally, four verses from the Gospel of Luke proclaim how the fulfillment of the promises of the prophet and the psalmist took a quantum leap in the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Messiah. Those of us who have come to know the love and power of God in the humanity of Jesus have begun to see what the world had been looking for.

Christ deniers will continue to taunt Christians with the question: “If Jesus is the Messiah, where is the peace and justice that is supposed to accompany the messianic age?” In faith and hope, we answer that the promises have only BEGUN to be fulfilled; we have experienced that beginning, and we continue to pray, as Jesus taught us, “Thy kingdom come.” The point of Advent, and the season’s reading, is to help us face up to the remaining gap between promise and fulfillment and to nurture the hope that the peace we still hunger for lies in the further manifestation of our risen Lord. The spectacular missionary work of St. Francis Xavier, whose feast we celebrate today, was energized by this kind of faith and hope. The promised “outside help” depends on our cooperation with our Creator and our acknowledgment that we can’t do this on our own small strength. Lord Jesus, come!

By Father D. Hamm, SJ

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
dhamm@creighton.edu

From Creighton University

Thursday, August 29 – Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist

Gospel Mk 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Scriptures – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 120

Reading 1 Jer 38:4-6, 8-10

In those days, the princes said to the king:
“Jeremiah ought to be put to death;
he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city,
and all the people, by speaking such things to them;
he is not interested in the welfare of our people,
but in their ruin.”
King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”;
for the king could do nothing with them.
And so they took Jeremiah
and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah,
which was in the quarters of the guard,
letting him down with ropes.
There was no water in the cistern, only mud,
and Jeremiah sank into the mud.

Ebed-melech, a court official,
went there from the palace and said to him:
“My lord king,
these men have been at fault
in all they have done to the prophet Jeremiah,
casting him into the cistern.
He will die of famine on the spot,
for there is no more food in the city.”
Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite
to take three men along with him,
and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before
he should die.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:2, 3, 4, 18

R. (14b) Lord, come to my aid!
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me.
R. Lord, come to my aid!
The LORD heard my cry.
He drew me out of the pit of destruction,
out of the mud of the swamp;
he set my feet upon a crag;
he made firm my steps.
R. Lord, come to my aid!
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
Many shall look on in awe
and trust in the LORD.
R. Lord, come to my aid!
Though I am afflicted and poor,
yet the LORD thinks of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, hold not back!
R. Lord, come to my aid!

Reading 2 Heb 12:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
he endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

Gospel Lk 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”