He Emptied Himself

Posted on March 21, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: “He Emptied Himself”For Sunday, March 25, 2018, Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-10
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1—15:47

Over the past few decades, what has become known as the “Prosperity Gospel” has gained popularity among televangelists. It claims that following Christ should result in increased financial success for the believer as well as improved health and well-being. For those who follow such a doctrine, religion is a way to win friends and influence people. The word of God becomes a means to reach our goals and fulfill our potential.

While there is no doubt that Jesus wants us to be happy and to live an abundant life, there are many problems with interpreting Christianity as a program for material prosperity or psychological well-being. First and foremost, it is not the example that Jesus left for us. He did not come to earth to fill himself with wealth but to empty himself for us. He did not come to claim places of honor for himself but to take the lowest place. If Jesus’ primary concern was his well-being, he would never have accepted the humiliation of the cross, and we would never have been forgiven of our sins. (more…)

Mercy Flows From the Flood

Posted on February 14, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Mercy Flows from the FloodFor Sunday, February 18, 2018
First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15

The story of Noah and the flood is one of the most fascinating narratives in the Bible. Not only is it a gripping saga of survival, it also relates the destructive power of sin and God’s desire to
save us.

The book of Genesis tells us that when God saw the wickedness on the earth, “[He] was sorry that he had made mankind …” (Gen 6:6). The people whom He created “very good” had turned out to be wicked. God is saddened by the sinfulness of His people.

This story gives us some insight into how sin offends God. Our Heavenly Father is all good, and He created us to be good also. However, when we sin, we reject God’s goodness and choose something less. (more…)

Jesus’ Power Over Evil

Posted on January 24, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Jesus’ Power Over EvilFor Sunday, January 28, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Mark 1:21-28

Imagine what the scene would have been like 2,000 years ago when Jesus preached at the synagogue in Capernaum. Right before their eyes, demons were being cast out, convulsing and shrieking as they left. We can imagine how shaken up and amazed they would have been. What if such a thing were to happen in the middle of Sunday Mass? It would either make us want to come back next week to see what else would happen or make us so afraid that we would never want to come back again.

By such a display of power at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus is demonstrating that, with the Kingdom of God now among us, the reign of Satan has come to an end. As Son of God, He will undo all the evil that the devil has wrought in the world. By forgiving sinners who come to Him, He will show His power over sin. By healing the lame, the blind, and the deaf, (more…)

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Posted on December 13, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Jesu, Joy of Man’s DesiringFor Sunday, December 17, 2017
Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 60:1-2A, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

No other season of the year has inspired as much music as the Christmas season has. From Thanksgiving Day on, travelers and shoppers are serenaded with carols both new and old in shopping centers, airports and restaurants. Many radio stations dedicate 24 hours of programming to Christmas music.

This loop of Christmas music includes not only classic holiday favorites such as Bing Crosby’s I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas or Burl Ives’ Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, but to more contemporary songs such as Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and Wham’s Last Christmas. And younger musicians continue to release new holiday albums in hopes of scoring the next Christmas classic.
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Will I Be Prepared If Disaster Strikes?

Posted on November 8, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: “Will I Be Prepared If Disaster Strikes?”For Sunday, November 12, 2017
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wisdom 6:12-16
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

The first time I considered this question seriously was after the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. Up to that point, it had seemed as though every other terrorist attack happened far away. However, we live only 45 minutes south of Boston and 20 minutes west of where one of the perpetrators attended college.

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Laboring in God’s Vineyard

Posted on September 20, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Laboring in God’s VineyardFor Sunday, September 24, 2017
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-9
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20:1-16a

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard stuns the conscience.

We readily relate with the workers toiling all day in the hot sun. We feel their disappointment and anger when they are paid no more than those who labored only an hour. It brings to mind the times we have been shortchanged and denied our fair share. In a societal context, it reminds us of efforts to raise the minimum wage. That Jesus would compare God and his kingdom to such an arbitrary landowner challenges our sense of fairness.

What if we saw the parable in a different light? What if we put ourselves in the place of the workers who were in the field only part of the day?

(more…)

A Hope that Gives Life

Posted on August 2, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: The Kingdom of God in Our MidstFor Sunday, August 06, 2017
The Transfiguration of the Lord

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
2 Peter 1:16-19
Matthew 17:1-9

The death of Chester Bennington, lead singer for the popular group, Linkin Park, has stunned the music world. His alarming death by suicide follows that of another popular singer of his generation, Chris Cornell, who fronted the seminal grunge rock groups Soundgarden and Audioslave.

While such deaths have not been uncommon in the world of music, the suicides of the rich and famous shock us because we think they “have it all.” In fact, they only prove that success, money, fame, and power do not ultimately fulfill us and cannot shield us from life’s difficulties. (more…)

The Law within Us

Posted on May 31, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Midweek Reflection: The Law within UsFor Sunday, June 04, 2017
Pentecost Sunday

(Vigil Readings)

Genesis 11:1-9 or Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b or Ezekiel 37:1-14 or Joel 3:1-5
Romans 8:22-27
John 7:37-39

When we are children, we need our parents to watch over us. We haven’t learned yet that we’ll get burned if we touch the stove or that it’s dangerous to run into the street. As we grow older, though, we start learning how to protect ourselves and how to stay out of trouble. The discipline that our parents imposed on us, often against our will, eventually comes to be an almost automatic way of thinking and living for us. We absorb from our parents values and attitudes that will be with us for the rest of our lives. We know how true this is because so often we catch ourselves saying something to our children or grandchildren that our parents used to say to us. We internalize the messages we received from our parents and act on them as we mature.

When Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a river of living water that flows from within a person in the Gospel reading for the vigil Mass, he is describing much the same reality. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, then we have Jesus’ values and attitudes operating within us. We see things as he sees them. We begin to recognize him in the people we meet. We begin to understand that it is Jesus speaking to us when we read the Bible. Just as we absorb our parents’ attitudes and values by the discipline they imposed on us, so Jesus’ word begins to penetrate our hearts and minds through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we begin to change from within. (more…)

Someone to Stand by Us

Posted on May 17, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Midweek Reflection: Someone to Stand by UsFor Sunday, May 21, 2017,
6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
John 14:15-21

In difficult times, we all need someone to stand up for us and to be at our side. We all know how disappointed we feel when we are abandoned by our friends because of something someone may have said about us or something we may have done. We also know how encouraged we feel when someone has the courage to stand by us.

Jesus promises the apostles in today’s Gospel that he will never abandon them. He promises that, even though they will not see him, he will still be active among them. How does he plan to do that? Jesus tells the disciples that he will send them “another Advocate.” An advocate is someone who stands up for you, who pleads your case, who defends you against a prosecutor who has brought up charges against you. Jesus is the first advocate. He is our first defender. By offering his body on the cross, he took away the charge against us, serving the sentence in our place. Jesus is continuing to advocate for us in heaven. He is continuing to pray for us before the Father until the day we are finally with him in glory. (more…)

Breath of Life

Posted on March 28, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, April 02, 2017, 5th Sunday of Lent

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

We are familiar with the story of how God created the first man, Adam. After forming him from clay, he blew into his nostrils the gift of life. This is different from the way God created any of the animals or any of the plants. By giving Adam his very breath, God was sharing his life with him. Breath is life. We are aware that someone is alive if he or she is breathing. To stop breathing—or to be unable to breathe—is to die.

The word “spirit” is closely related to the word for breath. We call breathing “respiration.” To stop breathing or to breathe out is to “expire.” Both of those words are related to the word for “spirit.” In this way we can understand the Holy Spirit to be the breath of God, the life of God. We have that life not only because we have been created by God, but also through the gift of faith. Through baptism and confirmation, in particular, God breathes the Holy Spirit into us. God shares with us his very life. (more…)