Reflection for Sunday October 29th, 2023
Sunday Gospel: Mt 22:34-40
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, and your soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Hopefully we are all familiar with this line from the Bible as we hear it a few times throughout the year. Since we are so familiar with it, it can lead us to overlooking it and miss out on applying it to our lives. As I was reflecting on the meaning I was first thought of the definition for love. One definition of love that we use in our catholic faith is “to will the good of another” in other words to desire and work towards what is truly good for someone else, to put their needs ahead of our own desires. This definition is rooted in action. Love exists in the choices we make and actions we take not in how we feel or even want to do on a particular day. Then there is the “heart, mind, and soul” aspect. I think we can take this to mean our entire beings or we can look at them individually as our desires, intellect, and will. Either way it challenges us to really ask ourselves “How well am I loving God?” Are we making time for God in our schedules? Are we letting God into our relationships? Do we let God direct how we use money and technology? From our love of God and how relationship with God we are then able to love our neighbor. God helps us to see ourselves and others the way He sees us. When I am right with God, I am able to love and serve others in radical ways. What can you do this weekend to love God with your entire being?
Reflection for Sunday October 22nd, 2023
Sunday Gospel: Mt 22:15-21
This Sunday’s gospel emphasizes the relationship between Church and civil authority. The Pharisees counsel with one another about how to trap Jesus in his words, and, along with the Herodians, they ask Jesus if it’s lawful to pay taxes. Jesus responds first by calling them hypocrites, and then by asking them a question in return: whose likeness is on the coin. They answer Caesar's. Jesus then says, “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Many thoughts came to mind as I pondered and discussed this passage with friends. However, the most persistent thought is, how should I spend my Sundays? You may be wondering how this relates to Caesar and civil authority. In Genesis, God asks for one day of rest and devotion to him as the other six remain as days of work dedicated to God. You would think one out of seven days to consecrate to Him shouldn’t be too hard, right? Well, every time Sunday rolls around, I’m stuck making mass convenient in my schedule and doing homework into the late hours of the night. This hardens back to the gospel because Sunday is one of those “things” that should be given unto God. As a sophomore high school student, I am required by law to go to school five days a week. Many reading this may have nine to five jobs or perhaps work in the home. Whatever your circumstance, I encourage you this Sunday to plan your schedule around mass or to spend Sunday doing something that truly brings you joy.
This week's reflection is written by one of the 10th graders who attends our Sunday night gatherings
Reflection for Sunday October 1st, 2023 by Katie
Sunday Gospel: Mt 21:28-32
Jesus reveals something about the nature of people who believe in his Truth through the telling of the parable. Tax collectors and prostitutes, people who were disliked, thought less of, and cast out by society, were the ones who believed in Him. We might say to ourselves, “well sure they did; what else did they have to lose,” but we can also take a step back and see ourselves in them. Like tax collectors for the Roman Empire, we choose to do things that are not aligned with what is best for our society or the world around us. Anytime that we sin against others, we are like tax collectors in that we are choosing our needs over that of our community. When we are greedy with our time, we are hoarding it in the way that tax collectors might take extra money from their peers. We are also like prostitutes, in that we sometimes “sell out” or “give in” to what we think might be the easiest or shortest way to get what we want. It can be easier to scroll on our phones than to take the time to reflect on our days or to sit in the discomfort of boredom. It might feel like a shortcut if we can use AI to write a paper, and it often feels much quicker to text/Snap/comment on social media than to make a meaningful connection with someone, or to simply be alone with our thoughts. So, while we are not outcasts like the tax collectors and prostitutes, we don’t have much to lose. Even with our best intentions, we can get caught up in the world around us and distracted from the unconditional love that God offers us. Jesus can offer us a chance to be mindful instead of mindless, and to be present with Him. We can find peace in Jesus’ presence, and his love for us is not contingent on anything that we can do or offer. This is what we can gain by continuously turning to Jesus, even if it takes us a while to believe in what he wants to offer us.
If you made it to the end of this reflection, I challenge you to take even 5 minutes to unplug, breathe, and sit with this passage.
This week's reflection is by Katie, one of our teen ministry leaders.
Reflection for Sunday October 8th, 2023
Sunday Gospel: Mt 21:33-43
This week’s first reading, Psalm, and Gospel are all focused on the image of the vineyard. Jesus gives a parable of a landowner who gives his vineyard to abusive tenants that beat and kill his servants and son. The parable is a summary of salvation history and the way the prophets were treated and a prediction of what will happen to Jesus. When I prayed with this passage I thought about how I fit into this parable. It is easy to think that this parable does not apply to us, that it is only about Israel and the Old Testament. However, we are all tenants of God’s vineyard. Our vineyards may all look different but we are all expected to care for them and to bear fruit.
Ultimately, our faith should affect the way we think, act, and live. It should lead to action. If our faith is not producing fruit in our own life and in the life of others then our faith is dead. While we are held accountable for the way we use our time and gifts, it is not totally up to us to bear fruit. In John 15, Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches, when we remain in him we will bear fruit. The key to having a vineyard that bears fruit is to stay connected to Jesus through prayer, scripture, sacraments, service, and christian community. What state is your vineyard in? What fruit are you producing as a result of your faith? How can you stay better connected to the true vine, Jesus?
Reflection for Sunday October 15th, 2023
Sunday Gospel: Mt 22:1-14
In this parable, Jesus uses the image of a wedding feast to describe the Kingdom of God. This parable talks about how God welcomes everyone but not everyone accepts his invitation. Jesus used the idea of a wedding because we are all familiar with weddings and how it's a time to celebrate with friends and family. This connects to readers today because everyone likes to get invited to a wedding. Guests dress up and look presentable — no one would wear sweats because that would be considered rude or inappropriate! When Jesus invites us to the wedding feast, he is really inviting us to join him in the Kingdom of God. The real question is if we accept the invitation or not. Saying “yes!” Jesus can be said or shown in many different ways including talking to Jesus through prayer, cheering up a friend, or maybe being nice to someone who often annoys us. All of these ways are saying “yes!” To Jesus. What is one way you could say yes to Jesus?
This week's reflection is by Claire, MSJA class of 2027.
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