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November 19 – Sharing Our Gifts

Autumn is the season for harvesting and sharing the fruits of our labors. This week’s scriptures use images of the harvest, family life, pregnancy, and investment to describe the abundant harvest in the reign of God. We discover that sharing the gifts we have been given brings eternal rewards for everyone. In the Gospel parable a master entrusts his possessions to three servants before going on a journey. Each is given some talents. What they do with those talents determines what the master will do with them when he returns. How about us? What are we doing with our talents? How will our Master treat us when he returns?

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November 12 – Wisdom

We consider wisdom today. The first reading from the book of Wisdom presents this precious gift as a feminine spirit, a very desirable virtue sought by many and graciously present to all who seek her. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable to illustrate wisdom in a practical, measurable way. The wise will conserve their resources, use them prudently, and mark the passing of time. The foolish, on the other hand, not planning ahead, will be in the dark. Both of these readings tell us how accessible wisdom is to all who simply and honestly seek it. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are not about wisdom, but describe one result of true wisdom: To the wise person of faith even death holds no terror. Our faith in Jesus’ resurrection tells us we will all one day rise to new life in Christ.
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November 5 – The Greatest Among Us

Whom do you admire? Is it the President of the United States or a movie star or a billionaire? These are people whom the world exalts as great. Like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, they have places of honor wherever they go. Would you like to follow in their footsteps? The scriptures for today offer different examples for us to follow. Jesus tells us that the greatest among us are the servants. These are the people we are to honor and imitate. We are called to be like Paul, who worked hard to serve the needs of his communities, and Jesus, who gave his life in service to the world.

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October 29 – Balance

Today’s scriptures emphasize the fundamental link between love of God and love of our neighbors, especially those who are most in need. Love of God should compel us to love the people whom God cherishes. Conversely, work for justice and charity for those in need should be rooted in our love of God. That connection and balance, however, isn’t always easy to maintain in our lives. Even in religious orders we find that some Christians are more oriented toward contemplation and prayer, while others are more active in reaching out to those who are oppressed. Today Jesus reminds us of the necessity for both in the life of faith.
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October 22 – Power Struggle

Power struggles occur on every level of society, from the world stage to relationships at work, to our own homes. We struggle for position in the hierarchy of power: Who has power over whom? How do they wield it? What is the source of that power? What is the healthy response?
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading the Pharisees engage Jesus in a power struggle over whether Jews should show tribute to Caesar by paying taxes. Jesus’ response puts this and every struggle for power into perspective. In harmony with the words of Isaiah and Paul, Jesus teaches us that God is the ultimate source of all power—the power of earthly rulers, the Pharisees, Jesus, the Church, and the power within ourselves.

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October 15 – The Heavenly Banquet

The mountain of the Lord described in today’s first reading is a place where there is no more hunger, no more weeping, and no more division of any kind. We need to pause and ponder these images every now and then, especially given the fact that we live in such a fractured world. The responsorial psalm continues to paint a picture of a place where only goodness and kindness flourish. These readings describe the heavenly banquet, to which God calls each of us through baptism and continues to call us throughout our lives. Let us “RSVP” to God’s invitation and live our lives consistent with gospel values so that one day we will be welcomed to the table of the kingdom.
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Today’s readings focus our attention on vineyards. Isaiah’s song concerning his friend’s vineyard begins with inspiring and poetic images of an idyllic vineyard where the choicest harvest is expected. Instead, the vineyard yields wild grapes, which causes the owner to abandon it. The psalmist cries out to God, asking that God once again take care of the vineyard, which is the house of Israel. The parable told in today’s Gospel offers a stern warning that those who commit treachery in the hopes of attaining personal wealth will be “put . . . to a wretched death” (Matthew 21:41). Jesus warns his listeners not to act like the murderous tenants in the vineyard. Instead he exhorts them to produce the kind of fruit that will lead them to the kingdom of God.
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October 1 – God’s Ways

In the stream of readings during this portion of Ordinary Time one week’s texts can often appear to pick up exactly where the previous week’s concluded. The sentiments expressed in today’s first reading seem to be a direct reaction to the Gospel passage we heard last week. In that Gospel, the landowner pays the same wages to his workers whether they worked for a full day or for only a few minutes. Today Ezekiel gives us the lament, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”(Ezekiel 18:25). These Sundays in Ordinary Time offer us a glimpse into the ways of the Lord. We see how God’s way has the tendency to turn the accepted conventions of the day upside down. Those who always expected that their way to heaven was guaranteed are disappointed. Those who thought they never had a chance are given that chance. Today offers us another opportunity to discover the abundance of God’s mercy and love.
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September 24 – Call Upon the Lord

The very first line of today’s first reading summons us to seek the Lord and to call upon God. This sentiment is echoed in the refrain for today’s responsorial psalm: “The Lord is near to all who call upon him” (Psalm 145:18a). Saint Paul is the embodiment of someone who constantly sought the Lord. In the excerpt we read today from his letter to the Philippians, we find Saint Paul toward the end of his life, a life he describes as completely consonant with Christ. He writes, “For to me life is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). To find out what it means to live life completely in accord with Christ we need look no further than today’s Gospel. There we find that God’s love and mercy are immeasurable for all those who seek and call upon the Lord.
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September 17 – Forgiveness

Nearly ten years before, a son and father had parted ways when the business they shared went bankrupt. The son blamed the father. They did not speak to each other again. Then the father became seriously ill. The mother called the son and told him he had better come soon. The son walked sheepishly into the hospital room. The father motioned his son to him and whispered: “Did you ever think you could do anything that would keep me from loving you?” Resentment and anger are foul things, the first reading from Sirach tells us. Remember the last things. Stop hating. Live by the commandments. As Saint Paul writes to the Romans, we are to live for the Lord and die for the Lord. Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel reminds us of God’s compassion. The immense sin of humanity has been forgiven and stricken from the record. We are to forgive others in the same way.

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