We are to live by faith in Christ who loved us and gave himself on the Cross for us (see Galatians 2:20).
The rich and powerful are visited with woe and exile in today’s Liturgy – not for their wealth but for their refusal to share it; not for their power but for their indifference to the suffering at their door.
The complacent leaders in today’s First Reading feast on fine foods and wines, reveling while the house of Joseph, the kingdom of Israel (see Amos 5:6), collapses around them.
The steward in today’s Gospel confronts the reality that he can’t go on living the way he has been. He is under judgment, must give account for what he has done.
The exploiters of the poor in today’s First Reading are also about to be pulled down, thrust from their stations (see Isaiah 22:19). Servants of mammon or money, they’re so in love with wealth that they reduce the poor to objects, despise the new moons and sabbaths – the observances and holy days of God (see Leviticus 23:24; Exodus 20:8).
The episode in today’s First Reading has been called “Israel’s original sin.” Freed from bondage, born as a people of God in the covenant at Sinai, Israel turned aside from His ways, fell to worshipping a golden calf.
Moses implores God’s mercy, as Jesus will later intercede for the whole human race, as He still pleads for sinners at God’s right hand and through the ministry of the Church.
Like a king making ready for battle or a contractor about to build a tower, we have to count the cost as we set out to follow Jesus.
Our Lord today is telling us upfront the sacrifice it will take. His words aren’t addressed to His chosen few, the Twelve, but rather to the “great crowds” – to “anyone,” to “whoever” wishes to be His disciple.
We come to the wedding banquet of heaven by way of humility and charity. This is the fatherly instruction we hear in today’s First Reading, and the message of today’s Gospel.
Jesus is not talking simply about good table manners. He is revealing the way of the kingdom, in which the one who would be greatest would be the servant of all (see Luke 22:24-27).
We are born of the faith of our fathers, descending from a great cloud of witnesses whose faith is attested to on every page of Scripture (see Hebrews 12:1). We have been made His people, chosen for His own inheritance, as we sing in this Sunday’s Psalm.
In this Sunday’s readings we hear the voice of the Prophet Zechariah as he delivers difficult oracles from God. The people have returned from exile. Now back in Jerusalem, they face the arduous work of rebuilding the Temple. Zechariah acknowledges their hardships and foresees more obstacles.
But their grief has a purpose. It is a remedy, a penance to heal them—“a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”
In this Sunday’s readings we are like the fallen king, David, and the woman who weeps at Jesus’ feet.
Like David, the Lord has rescued us from sin and death, anointed us with His Spirit in baptism and in confirmation. He has made us heirs of His promise to the children of Israel.
At the dawn of salvation history, God revealed our future in figures. That’s what’s going on in today’s First Reading: A king and high priest comes from Jerusalem (see Psalm 76:3), offering bread and wine to celebrate the victory of God’s beloved servant, Abram, over his foes.
In today’s first reading, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and he has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.
Sharing faith with the Eucharist
Within the first few weeks of his papacy, Pope Francis won widespread praise for his emphasis on “a poor church” that is “for the poor.” His warm and casual disposition, personal simplicity and tender outreach to “the poorest, the weakest, the least important,” as he expressed it in the homily at his inauguration Mass, may prove to be a defining feature of his papacy.
It is undoubtedly true that Pope Francis’ personal style is distinct from that of his immediate predecessors. How could it not be so? Inevitably each pope has his own personality, context and point of emphasis. But what is equally true is that the content and purpose of Francis’ outreach are in clear continuity with the legacy of the Second Vatican Council and especially Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; the new pope’s outreach is an embodiment of the new evangelization.
The prophet Daniel in a vision saw “One like the Son of Man” receive everlasting kingship (see Daniel 7:9-14). John is taken to heaven in today’s Second Reading where He sees Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, who appears as “One like a Son of Man.”
“What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Luke 22:37).
Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.
The Liturgy this Lent has shown us the God of the Exodus. He is a mighty and gracious God, Who out of faithfulness to His covenant has done “great things” for His people, as today’s Psalm puts it.
But the “things of long ago,” Isaiah tells us in today’s First Reading, are nothing compared to the “something new” that He will do in the future.
In today’s First Reading, God forgives “the reproach” of the generations who grumbled against Him after the Exodus. On the threshold of the promised land, Israel can with a clean heart celebrate the Passover, the feast of God’s first-born son (see Joshua 5:6-7; Exodus 4:22; 12:12-13).
On this last Sunday before Christmas, the Church’s Liturgy reveals the true identity of our Redeemer:
He is, as today’s First Reading says, the “ruler…whose origin is from…ancient times.” He will come from Bethlehem, where David was born of Jesse the Ephrathite and anointed king (see Ruth 4:11-17; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 17:1; Matthew 2:6).
The people in today’s Gospel are “filled with expectation.” They believe John the Baptist might be the Messiah they’ve been waiting for. Three times we hear their question: “What then should we do?”
The Messiah’s coming requires every man and woman to choose – to “repent” or not. That’s John’s message and it will be Jesus’ too (see Luke 3:3; 5:32; 24:47).
Every Advent, the Liturgy of the Word gives our sense of time a reorientation. There’s a deliberate tension in the next four weeks’ readings – between promise and fulfillment, expectation and deliverance, between looking forward and looking back.
In this, the second-to-the-last week of the Church year, Jesus has finally made it to Jerusalem.
We must live by the obedience of faith, a faith that shows itself in works of charity and self-giving (see Galatians 5:6). That’s the lesson of the two widows in today’s liturgy.
Today’s Gospel turns on an irony—it is a blind man, Bartimaeus, who becomes the first besides the apostles to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. And His healing is the last miracle Jesus performs before entering the holy city of Jerusalem for His last week on earth.
A biblical theologian and Franciscan University professor discusses the recently-begun Year of Faith.
The new evangelization was never meant to be a short-term project. That much should have been clear to anyone paying attention to Pope John Paul II in 1983.
That year, while addressing the Latin American Bishops’ Conference in Haiti, the Pope called for the Church universal to embark on a new evangelization of the post-Christian West. He didn’t, however, simply call for a new evangelization: He also laid out a timeline.
The sons of Zebedee hardly know what they’re asking in today’s Gospel. They are thinking in terms of how the Gentiles rule, of royal privileges and honors.
The rich young man in today’s Gospel wanted to know what we all want to know—how to live in this life so that we might live forever in the world to come. He sought what today’s Psalm calls “wisdom of heart.”
In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a trick question.
Today’s Gospel begins with a scene that recalls a similar moment in the history of Israel, the episode recalled in today’s First Reading. The seventy elders who receive God’s Spirit through Moses prefigure the ministry of the apostles.
In today’s Gospel, we reach a pivotal moment in our walk with the Lord. After weeks of listening to His words and witnessing His deeds, along with the disciples we’re asked to decide who Jesus truly is.
The incident in today’s Gospel is recorded only by Mark. The key line is what the crowd says at the end: “He has done all things well.” In the Greek, this echoes the creation story, recalling that God saw all the things he had done and declared them good (see Genesis 1:31).
Today’s Gospel casts Jesus in a prophetic light, as one having authority to interpret God’s law.
The Wisdom of God has prepared a feast, we hear in today’s First Reading.
We must become like children (see Matthew 18:3-4) to hear and accept this invitation. For in every Eucharist, it is the folly of the cross that is represented and renewed.
To the world, it is foolishness to believe that the crucified Jesus rose from the dead. And for many, as for the crowds in today’s Gospel, it is foolishness—maybe even madness—to believe that Jesus can give us His flesh to eat.
The journey of discipleship is a life-long exodus from the slavery of sin and death to the holiness of truth in Mount Zion, the promised land of eternal life.
The road can get rough. And when it does, we can be tempted to complain like the Israelites in this week’s First Reading.
Notice the parallels between today’s Gospel and First Reading. Both Elisha and Jesus face a crowd of hungry people with only a few “barley” loaves. We hear similar words about how impossible it will be to feed the crowd with so little. And in both the miraculous multiplication of bread satisfies the hungry and leaves food left over.