Season after Pentecost: Proper 7, Year A

5_simon_cyreneThe cost of discipleship

  • Genesis 21:8-21
  • Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
  • Romans 6:1b-11
  • Matthew 10:24-39

The disciples were sent out by Jesus to do nothing but make present God’s liberating power among the people. They heal the sick, preach release to the captives, and offer liberation to the oppressed. And what should they expect in return? No gratitude, no comfort, no welcome. They will be rejected flogged, vilified, called workers of the devil – just as Jesus was. No good deed goes unpunished for long. Just as the missionary disciples share Jesus’ mission and ministry, so will they share his persecution and martyrdom. There is a high cost of commitment to being a following of Jesus. Disciples must be prepared for conflict (10:34), family strife, and be ready, if necessary, to choose Jesus over the closest personal ties. Continue reading

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Trinity Sunday: Year A

The God who creates, redeems, and sanctifies is revealed to us in three persons.

  • Genesis 1:1-24a
  • Psalm 8 or Canticle 2 or Canticle 13
  • 2 Corinthians 12:11-13
  • Matthew 28:16-20

The relationship of love among the three persons of the Trinity serves as a model for communities baptized Christians living together in unity.

Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost. It has been part of the Church since 1334, when it was designated in commemoration of the doctrine of the Trinity, the belief that God is revealed to us in three persons existing in a mutual relationship of love. It is the total revelation of God: God the Father as Creator; God the Son as Redeemer; God the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier and Comforter. Our understanding of the Trinity arises from the biblical, creedal, and doctrinal statements that emerged from the creative struggles of theologians in the church to understand and talk about the nature of God. Continue reading

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The Day of Pentecost: Year A

Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus

Filled with the Holy Spirit

  • Acts of the Apostles 2:1-21
  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • Psalm 104:25-35, 37
  • Romans 8:22-27
  • John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

With the wind and tongues of fire, the Day of Pentecost is upon us, as we experience the glorious climax of the Easter season. The lessons for today manifest the creative power and presence of the Holy Spirit both in the Church and in our individual lives.

“It is to your advantage that I go away.” (John 16:7) These words must have greatly disturbed the disciples. They could not see any advantages in being separated from this one whom they loved. The “Advocate,” the Holy Spirit, who would not come unless Jesus went away, was only a vague notion to them. How could they imagine replacing the flesh-and-blood Jesus with something as nebulous as a spirit? So Jesus gave more concrete information about the work of the Holy Spirit in order to help the disciples grasp the reality of this Advocate who was to come. Continue reading

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The Sixth Sunday of Easter: Year A

The Spirit of Truth

  • Acts of the Apostles 17:22-31
  • Psalm 66:7-18
  • 1 Peter 3:13-22
  • John 14:15-21

Jesus does not leave his followers orphaned. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus comes to abide with his disciples of every generation. As Pentecost draws near, we are reminded that the risen Christ dwells in each of us as the Spirit of truth. We receive this Spirit in baptism and prayer that in our gathering at the Eucharistic table the Spirit will transform us to be the body of the risen Christ in the world. Continue reading

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The Fifth Sunday of Easter: Year A

The way, the truth, the life

  • Acts 7:55-60
  • Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
  • 1 Peter 2:2-10
  • John 14:1-14

In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises his eternal presence will be with them. However, “to believe” (v. 1) involves committing the whole self to the care of God. If Jesus goes to prepare a dwelling place for them “in my Father’s house” (v. 2), there will be room for all of them.

Just where are we headed? It is the prayer of a faithful Christian trying to make sense of things. Do we let Christ guide us through life and point us to the ultimate victory that is ours in eternity? God has a place for us. These words have often been of great comfort when read during the Burial Service, it being one of the choices for the gospel reading. One day we will be securely at home with God for all time. But here is even more joyful news: not only will we be in that home then, we are invited to live in that home now. Continue reading

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter: Year A

Living in Community

  • Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
  • Psalm 23
  • 1 Peter 2:19-25
  • John 10:1-10

Today is sometimes called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Jesus, teaching through a parable, describes himself as a shepherd who cares for his sheep, whose sheep follow him because they know his voice. He describes himself as the door of the sheepfold; those who enter through him shall be safe. He has come that people may have life in all its fullness.

The community of Acts shows the fruit of a communal devotion to Jesus. The community devotes attention to the means through which its identity is formed and held: teaching, fellowship (koinonia), eating together and prayer. The portrait in Acts of the community of faith is, in many respects, idyllic. But it is not an improbably reality. We cannot fathom the promise of life abundant. We must simply hear it over and over and live together inside it as best we can. Continue reading

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The Third Sunday of Easter: Year A

Sacramental life

  • Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41
  • Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
  • 1 Peter 1:17-23
  • Luke 24:13-25

The risen Christ is known in the sharing of the word and in the breaking of bread. This is the form of the Eucharist we celebrate each week: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table.  As with the disciples, each Sunday our hearts burn within us as the scriptures are proclaimed and Christ appears to us as bread broken and wine is poured. The story of Emmaus becomes the pattern of our worship each Sunday!

What are the movements and postures we hold when we are listening to the Word, or receiving the bread and wine? Usually, we sit during the readings. And for many, prayer is done in a kneeling position. If this is your practice and piety, try standing while receiving communion during the Easter season. It was the practice of the early Church to stand during all the prayers as well as receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a small way to proclaim that Christ’s resurrection has restored and lifted humanity to new life. Continue reading

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