meeting Christ in the liturgy library

Ordinary Time, Sundays 13-22, Year A

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SUNDAYS 13 - 15
SUNDAYS 16 - 18
SUNDAYS 19 - 22


 SUNDAYS 13 - 15

2 Kings 4, 8-11.14-16; Psalm 89; Romans 6, 3-4.8-11;
Matthew 10: 37-42

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, recently spoke about the blessing of large families, and the fact that if a husband and wife have more than one child they are more likely to welcome a vocation to the priesthood or religious life if our Lord should so call one of their children. It is a wonderful thing to see one's family continue to the next generation, and one of the greatest joys of earthly life. The supernatural life, however, is what every child must have to reach the fullness of life forever in God, and the priesthood, and all religious vocations, exist to serve this need for all of mankind. Spiritual fatherhood and motherhood, the vocation of priests, sisters and brothers, is not an optional part of Christ's plan, but a constitutive part of the Church. "For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (1 Cor. 4:15) St. Paul thus proudly asserts his ministerial priesthood of bringing the faithful to birth in Christ. In the rampant practical materialism of our time, the priority of the spiritual is easily overlooked. Mothers and fathers who learn to love their children with the love of God will give the spiritual life of their children the emphasis it deserves. on or daughter more than me is "He who seeks only himself brings himself to ruin, whereas he who brings himself to naught for me discovers who he is." The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2232, teaches: "Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: 'He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.'" Parents who "bear their share of the hardship which the Gospel entails," and put their own desires and needs second to the will of God, such that they encourage their sons and daughters to be open to the higher calling of the priesthood and religious life, come first in the reign of God. What else is necessary? -Fr. Cusick
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Zechariah 9, 9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8, 9.11-13;
Matthew 11: 25-30

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise." Christ calls upon His Father in today's gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 11, verses 11 to 13. God our heavenly Father is the source of all fatherhood, both natural fatherhood within the families into which each of us are born, and the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood. These times in which we live have made genuine motherhood and fatherhood an endangered species.
Many children will never draw their first breath, or be able to come to know the love of our Father God through their earthly mothers and fathers. We continue to legislate, fund and promote ever more vicious attacks against human life at all stages, from the newly conceived to the elderly. Everyone in society is culpable, whether by active promotion of these evils, or by failing to do more to stop abortion, contraception, euthanasia or infanticide through partial-birth abortions.
From the abortifacient contraceptives which are pushed on our young people in pervasive sex education, to the doctors who pervert their profession in support of life into one of taking the lives of the elderly, the useless and the unwanted, our society embraces more and more the godlessness of sin and death. The most recent assault against the innocent unborn is the presidential veto of the partial birth abortion ban.
Our bishops and Catholic people are called by Christ to take the strong stand necessary to stop the violence and bloodshed of the holocaust around us. Our bishops have called upon us to write, call and lobby our leaders to stop this latest attack upon the sacred gift of human life and have established a national day of prayer and fasting for life on July 11.
Let us preserve and protect God's plan for the family: fatherhood and motherhood within the lifelong commitment of marriage. Let us encourage chastity and self-control for the unmarried, rather than condemning them to the error and unhappiness of promiscuity and births out of marriage that come with fornication. When our Catholic faith is no longer simply a label, or only an identity for us, but instead a way of life in Christ, then we will be able to sincerely call upon God in prayer as does our Lord.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church directs us: "Before we make our own this exclamation of the Lord's Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn 'from this world.' Humility makes us recognize that 'no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,' that is 'to children.'" (CCC 2779)
God has existed in His divine eternal splendor from the beginning. We have been called to share His own wonderful light in and through our Savior Jesus Christ. We must encounter, accept and love Him as He is, not as we would have him be. Christ founded the Holy Roman Catholic Church to enable us to know and live the truth, already now, in this world that will one day end, and forever in the glory of heaven. Let us become like children so that we are always able to humbly receive the truth from our ever-living, love-giving heavenly Father. --Fr. Cusick (Publish with permission.)

Isaiah 55, 10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8, 18-23;
Matthew 13, 1-23

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In today's gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter thirteen, verses one to twenty-three, our Lord recommends that we study and understand our faith, that we persevere in the times we've lost enthusiasm and that we practice detachment from the things of this world in preference to the gospel.
Whenever we read the scriptures, and in particular the gospels, we should be attentive to the practical direction they have for us. The gospels are unlike any other literature in the history of the world. They are unique because in them the Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself, speaks to us and instructs us. Because He knows each of us intimately, His love for us is the perfect answer to our needs. But we will not grow in the good and joyful life of Christ if the gospel can find no place in us. When the scriptures are proclaimed in the liturgy we can be "good soil" for the sowing of God's word if we put aside distractions and recognize that it is the most important moment of the week; the one in which the living God speaks to each of us in a perfect way. But if we are rocky ground, with little depth, or a patch of thorns, with little or no time or attention, the Word will not take root. The Catechism teaches: "Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough; deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to 'know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.' For those who stay 'outside,' everything remains enigmatic." (CCC 546) Just like the tantalizing waters of a pool in hot weather, you will never know the joy and refreshment of Christ unless you jump into the life of His Church with both feet and commit yourself to the Truth. - Fr. Cusick (Publish with permission.)

SUNDAYS 16 - 18

Wisdom 12, 13. 16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8, 26-27;
Matthew 13:24-43

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In conversation recently with a young man, I learned that he was indifferent about fulfilling the commandments, by, for example, worshipping at Mass on Sundays, or shunning fornication because, as he said, "I believe that God takes you anyway." He believes that everyone goes to heaven, and so also believes that he can do as he pleases. The Catechism teaches: "To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." (CCC 1033) In today's Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 13, verses 24 to 43, Christ teaches about the eternal effect of our choices. The farmer lets the weeds and the wheat grow together until harvest, "then at harvest time I will order the harvesters, First collect the weeds and bundle them up to burn, then gather the wheat into my barn." The disciples ask the Lord to explain the parable and he says, "The weeds are the followers of the evil one and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world...The Son of Man will dispatch his angels to collect from his kingdom all who draw others to apostasy, and all evildoers. The angels will hurl them into the fiery furnace where they will wail and grind their teeth. Then the saints will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom." The young man I spoke to is sadly mistaken. The life he is leading ends in death. In authentic charity we must speak to others and teach them about the great responsibility they have to choose either Life or Death. We must keep the commandments of the Lord if we are to enter into life eternal. "If you love me you will keep my commandments." In CCC 1034 we read, "Jesus often speaks of 'Gehenna,' of 'the unquenchable fire' reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost." God 's perfect love for us shows itself in the gift of our free will. We have the power to freely choose Him or to reject Him. Choose the Lord and His law that you may live. - Fr. Cusick (Publish with permission.)

I Kings 3, 5.7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8, 28-30;
Matthew 13:44-52
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In today's Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 13, verses 44 to 52, we continue our meditation upon the four "last things": death, judgment, heaven and hell. Through the parables of the treasure in the field, the merchant in search of fine pearls and the dragnet cast into the sea, the Lord Jesus calls upon us to take responsibility for the great gift of our freedom to do what we ought, what is truly good, and to refuse to ever "do evil that good may come of it". Our actions and our will determine whether we will be "sorted out" with the good or whether we will be "thrown away" with the bad. "So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." The Christian rejects the various forms of escapism that are so popular in our day: drugs, alcohol, fornication, adultery and materialism. The Christian rejects all sin as false gods which seem to promise freedom or happiness but end only in slavery and despair. The Christian is a realist; brutally honest about the consequences of sin and not willing to lose the life and love of God for the false promise of momentary pleasure. The Catechism helps our meditation: "We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves." (CCC 1033). We also read: "The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Mt 7:13-14 (CCC 1036). And in CCC 1037 we read: "God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance". The Sacrament of Confession is one of the pillars upon which our relationship with Christ is built. Let us thus go to meet Him often, and hear him say those blessed words through His instrument the priest: "I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Sincerely, Fr. Cusick (Publish with permission only)

Isaiah 55, 1-3; Psalm 145; Romans 8, 35. 37-39;
Matthew 14:13-21
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Sacrifice of the Mass we meet Christ Jesus in the fullest way possible in this life, really, truly and substantially in His Body and Blood, which we also call the Eucharist, from the Greek root for "thanksgiving". In today's Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter fourteen, verses thirteen to twenty-one, our Lord gives a great sign of the gift of the Eucharist in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. As some teach erroneously today, this is not a "miracle of human generosity", it is a miracle plain and simple. Our Divine Lord, according to His Divine power, takes five loaves and two fish and multiplies them to feed more than ten thousand people. Our Lord is moved with pity for us, as he was for the crowd. He cures our sickness as he did for them. But the first priority in the kingdom of God is the curing of those illnesses that can exclude us from the happiness of eternal life. It is our sins, and our sins alone, that will keep us from forever enjoying God's love. That is the reason for the gift of Christ's Body and Blood. We do suffer greatly from our ailments of body and mind, but if we let faith be our guide, we will never succumb to the mistake, as so many do, of being concerned first with our physical well-being. Our spiritual good comes first, because our eternal well-being is our greatest treasure, as we learned from the parables of the kingdom last Sunday. This miracle shows that God's grace is poured forth for all. "The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist." (CCC 1335). As we read, "All those present ate their fill. The fragments which remained ...filled twelve baskets." We must eat our "fill" of the Eucharist, each Sunday and in weekday Mass when we are able, that the superabundance of God's life and love will be ours. - Fr. Cusick
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SUNDAYS 19 - 22

1 Kings 19, 9. 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9, 1-5;
Matthew 14: 22-32
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Lord, save me." Peter, frightened by the wind and the waves, cries out desperately for help in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter fourteen, verses twenty-two to thirty-three. Christ had granted Peter the power to walk on the water, but giving in to his fear, the apostle had begun to sink. "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" There is a mystery here, that our faith is a gift from God, but at the same time, our faith is a cooperation with God; we freely choose to believe. Peter confesses faith in Christ's divinity, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water". Moments later, that faith gives way to fear, and Peter is threatened with destruction by the forces of nature. Do we need power to "walk on water" in order to be happy? What are the things that we fear, that drive the power of faith, and the power of God, out of our lives? Is sin among them? Do we disregard the corrosive power of falsehood, the destructive force of unchastity? What we cannot do without is a reverent spirit of worship, the power to confidently acclaim Jesus as Lord, and then to call upon Him for what we need to live as the praise of His glory. When the disciples witnessed the power of Christ over the wind and waves, they fell down and worshipped Him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." They acclaimed Him in faith. They saw with true vision. "Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as 'Lord'. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, 'Lord' expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: 'My Lord and my God!' It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: 'It is the Lord!' " (CCC 448) Let us grow in a true spirit of worship; for example, genuflecting as we approach our Lord to receive Him in communion. "My Lord, and my God!" -Fr. Cusick

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Isaiah 56, 1. 6-7; Psalm 67; Romans 11, 13-15.29-32;
Matthew 15: 21-28

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Have you had the experience of asking for something and hearing the words, "The answer is no, and don't ask me again"? Impatience with the needs and wants of others is all too common among human beings. Not so with God. The Lord Jesus teaches us through his encounter with the Canaanite woman, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter fifteen, verses twenty-one to twenty-eight, that we should ask, and ask, and ask again for what we need. The woman's daughter is possessed by a demon, hardly a minor problem. The first time she asks for healing, the Lord "did not answer her a word." Was he refusing her petition? She would have been justified in thinking so. Then the disciples counsel Christ to send the woman away, and he says, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; the chosen people must be first to respond to the Messiah. Bold, but also reverent, "she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' Christ reminds her that, because she is not a Jew, she can not be faithful to God's law as revealed through Moses. Unflatteringly, but truthfully, she is told that the fullness of grace in Christ, given to those outside of the covenant, would be as food from the table given to mere dogs. Rather than being discouraged, the woman is all the bolder, and gladly compares herself to the dogs that are blessed to be enriched by "the crumbs that fall from their master's table." And finally, after three supplications, she hears the blessed words, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." The Catechism speaks about the boldness in prayer proper to sons and daughters of God. "Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: 'Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.' (Mk 11:24) Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt; 'all things are possible to him who believes.' (Mk 9:23) Jesus is as saddened by the 'lack of faith' of his own neighbors and the 'little faith' of his own disciples (Mk 6:6) as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman." (CCC 2610) We are children of God by baptism and the gift of faith. Let us pray with the perseverance and confidence proper to us as heirs to eternal life with Jesus Christ our Sovereign Lord -Fr. Cusick (Publish with permission only)

Isaiah 22: 19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36;
Matthew 16: 13-20

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Who do you say that Jesus is? He asks you, and your answer will determine whether you truly have the divine gift of faith. Throughout history, people have attempted to answer this question. Today it is popular for people to simply make something up, to make of Jesus whatever occurs to them, is convenient or "believable." I think C.S. Lewis put it best: "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He'd be either a lunatic- on a level with a man who says he's a poached egg - or else he'd be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse....But don't let us come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn't left that open to us. He didn't intend to." When our Lord asks Peter and the other Apostles "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" he is not leaving it open to debate, and he certainly isn't indicating some sort of confusion about his personal identity. Christ here reveals that it will be a man upon whom, and upon whose faith, the church will rest. Peter rises brilliantly, by the grace of God, to the occasion: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!" It is the gift of God that Peter, and any of the faithful, are able to recognize Christ for who he is. No authentic Christian has the luxury of recreating Christ according to their own personal tastes and preferences, and yet today that is exactly what is done by many people who claim to be Christian. The role of Peter is to guide and guard the faith so that no one be led astray. In the Catechism we read: "Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve (Mk 3:16); Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Our Lord then declared to him: 'You are Peter (Rock) and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.'(Mt 16:18) Christ, the 'living stone,' thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it." (Lk 22:32) (CCC 552) In Peter is also vested the power, in Christ, to forgive sins: "I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Peter and his successors, the Vicars of Christ on earth, have alone been given the authority that so many claim for themselves today. The man we reverently call the "Holy Father" humbly wears the mantle that Christ himself has placed on his shoulders, as our teacher in matters of faith and morals. Jesus Christ and His Church, and the man who is his representative on earth, are not what we make of them. They are and always will be precisely what Christ has taught in today's Gospel: the irrevocable, unchangeable creation of God and essential for the man or woman who claims the title "Christian." -Fr. Cusick
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Jeremiah 20: 7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16: 21-27

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Get out of my sight, you Satan! You are not judging by God' standards but by man's!"
In the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, chapter 16, verses twenty-one to twenty-seven, our Lord words seem to be spoken in anger, and perhaps they are. They appear to be words of condemnation, for anyone who is the equal of Satan is surely to be considered damned as Satan is, eternally separated from God. Christ faced many temptations along the road to Calvary and the fulfillment of the Father's perfect will. Among these, the encounter with Satan in the desert. And not only there, also in those who align themselves with Satan by denying Christ's role as Savior from sin. Avoiding the pain and suffering of the passion and death would be just such a denial of His true mission as Redeemer. Hence Christ's words which seem to identify Peter with the Devil.
"Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. (Mt 16:21-23) This is why Christ vanquished the tempter for us: 'For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.' " (Heb 4:15) By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert." (CCC 540)
Authentic faith enables us to desire above all to see ourselves honestly, in the way that God sees us, to repent of our sins and then to live according to our need for God. "Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Total dedication to Christ and to His Gospel is rewarded with the total gift of God's love and embrace in the heavenly kingdom. Heaven begins with Christian commitment here and now, without delay or excuses. -Fr. Cusick