Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, February 9, 2020

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 58:1-12)

The Lord asserts that true religion is more than just the observance of religious ceremonies and fasts but must include obedience to him, especially in caring for those in need. Doing so will result in his people showing forth his glory.

Psalm (112:1-10)

The Psalmist affirms that those who fear the Lord are firmly established in the midst of the changes and chances of this life. They delight in his laws and obey them, especially in supporting the poor. They are a light in the darkness for all those around them.

Second Reading (I Corinthians 2:1-16)

St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that their faith was not inspired by great words of worldly wisdom but upon the demonstration and power of the Spirit. He gives them his gifts and the mind of Christ in order to live for God in a world subject to a contrary spirit.

Gospel (Matthew 5:13-20)

Jesus tells his followers they are both the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As they more fully keep the laws of God before a watching humanity, more glory is given to the Father and the kingdom of heaven comes closer to realization.


  • God’s people are called and equipped to be light in the world
  • Our witness in the world is dependent upon our faithfulness to God’s commandments
  • The world naturally operates in a way that is contrary to God’s ways
  • Our worship is not acceptable if we persist in disobedience
  • The “foolishness” of God is greater than the “wisdom” of humankind
  • The castoffs of society are the special objects of the Lord’s concern and this must be reflected in our discipleship

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, January 19, 2020

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 49:1-7)

Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s chosen servant who is to turn Israel back to God and be used for his glory, manifesting the light of salvation to the nations. Presently despised, Israel will be so noticeably blessed that even foreign kings shall worship the Lord.

Psalm (40:1-11)

The Psalmist speaks as someone whom the Lord has rescued from the pit, set on a rock, and enabled to sing a new song that leads many to faith. It is not temple sacrifices that have saved him, but simply God’s love and mercy, and he now delights in his law.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

St. Paul celebrates the grace of God that has been manifested to the Corinthians as part of the fellowship of Christ being instituted throughout the entire world. Through grace they have been enriched by having every spiritual gift poured out upon them.

Gospel (John 1:29-42)

John the Baptist appears as a mere servant pointing to a greater one to come. Seeing the Holy Spirit descend upon his cousin Jesus, John identifies him as both the Son and Lamb of God. Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and then recruit Peter, or “the Rock”.


  • Grace is characteristic of the manifestation of the Lord
  • God uses those he has lifted up for his greater glory
  • The ones God has saved are set upon the surest of foundations
  • We cannot be silent about what God has done for us
  • When God’s people wholeheartedly proclaim God’s blessings, the whole world will be drawn to him

Baptism of the Lord, Year A, January 12, 2020

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 42:1-9)

The Lord will send his chosen servant to bring about universal justice. Unnoticed, a new era will dawn as he opens blind eyes and sets captives free. A covenant will be made in him, the light of the nations. All glory to the Lord who has declared it so.

Psalm (29)

The Psalmist calls all heavenly beings to worship the Lord for his glory and strength, as seen in his voice shaking the very earth itself. All in his temple cry “Glory!” to the eternal king who sits above the flood. May he bless his people with strength and peace.

Second Reading (Acts 10:34-43)

Peter, his own eyes now opened, tells Gentiles associated with Cornelius that Jesus is Lord of all. While he began his mission among the Jews after John’s baptism, his resurrection shows he is Judge of all humanity and forgives anyone who believes in him.

Gospel (Matthew 3:13-17)

John the Baptist defers to Jesus as his superior, but Jesus insists on undergoing baptism to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus’ baptism culminates with his being anointed with the divine Spirit and the voice of God proclaiming him as his beloved Son.


  • Jesus assumes God’s role as Judge and Redeemer
  • All that came before Jesus witnesses to him
  • Jesus’ appearance marks the beginning of the time of God’s final Salvation
  • Jesus’ baptism moves the divine plan from the old covenant to the new
  • The person of John the Baptist is important but not as great as Jesus, to whom he bore witness
  • Jesus’ messianic ministry begins after his baptism by John
  • The combination of the humble and the majestic in the life of Jesus

Epiphany of the Lord, January 6, 2020, Year A

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 60:1-6)

Isaiah informs Israel that, while things are indeed dark at present, a dramatic change is coming. The glory of the Lord will so shine upon them that the nations will be attracted and bring gifts, including gold and frankincense, to a joyfully reunited and thriving Israel.

Psalm (72:1-7, 10-14)

The Psalm is a prayer for the king, that he may rule in justice and righteousness, defending the poor and crushing the oppressor. May the kings of the nations bring him tribute and gifts, bowing down and serving him. May he live forever!

Second Reading (Ephesians 3:1-12)

St. Paul speaks of the mystery, now revealed especially in his own apostleship, of how the Gentiles are to be included in the people of God. This was always God’s purpose in sending Jesus, to whom anyone at all can come by faith.

Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12)

Scholars from the East tell King Herod of another king whose birth was marked by a star. Following it to Bethlehem, they find and worship the child, giving him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Warned in a dream, they avoid a jealous Herod and start home.


  • The nations come to the King bearing gifts (no nation left behind)
  • The inclusion of the Gentiles in the plan of God
  • The time of fulfillment is breaking upon us with the birth of Jesus
  • The sheer enormity of the Christ-event
  • Gifts for a King?






Transfiguration Sunday, March 3, 2019, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 34:29-35)

Moses receives the Ten Commandments for the second time on Mt. Sinai and descends with them to a chastened Israel. They are afraid because his face shines from the Presence of God. He wears a veil over his face and only takes it off whenever he goes in before the Lord.

Psalm (99)

The Psalmist depicts the Lord as a holy and exalted king over Israel and the nations. The earth quakes at his Presence and is called to praise his awesome name. He has spoken to Israel, establishing justice and righteousness and she is humbly to worship on his holy mountain.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2)

Paul writes that under the Old Covenant, minds remain veiled, like the face of Moses coming down from the mountain, until they turn to Jesus and are transformed into his glory by the Spirit. This makes Paul acutely aware of God’s mercy, providing him courage and motivation.

Gospel (Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a])

Jesus is transfigured, appearing in dazzling white between Moses and Elijah. A voice from heaven affirms him as his beloved Son, to whom all should listen. Jesus then delivers a boy from a demon after his disciples could not. All are amazed at the goodness of God.


  • Jesus reveals the glory of God in his own being
  • In the presence of God there is revelation of truth
  • Jesus shares the characteristics of divinity
  • Jesus, as the Son of God, completes and supersedes all who came before



Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, February 24, 2019, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Genesis 45:3-11, 15)

Joseph, now Pharaoh’s top official, reveals himself to his petitioning brothers who immediately fear he will seek revenge for having sold him into slavery. He assures them that God was behind it all, working to ensure the survival of Jacob’s family by providing a place for them in Egypt.

Psalm (37:1-11, 39-40)

The Psalmist urges a steady confidence in the Lord in the face of the apparent success of the wicked. They will soon fade from the scene while those who humbly take refuge in the Lord will eventually inherit the land and enter into salvation by his hand.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50)

Paul compares the resurrection body to the present body by contrasting a verdant plant and its bare seed. Just as our physical body, like Adam’s, was made of earth and for this world, so our spiritual body, like the last Adam’s, Christ, is glorious and perfect for everlasting life in heaven.

Gospel (Luke 6:27-38)

Not only does Jesus teach his followers to “go the second mile” with those who hate them, he commands them to love them as well. Everybody will help others for a reward. But Jesus says that God’s blessing will come to those who treat others as themselves not expecting a reward.


  • The final blessing of God far exceeds our expectations
  • Loving those who abuse us opens the door to God’s blessing for us and for them
  • The way of Jesus is not something that comes naturally, especially in the face of the success of those who do not follow him
  • God will provide what we need when we need it



Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 17, 2019, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Jeremiah 17:5-10)

Jeremiah declares that to trust in humankind is to end up like a plant dying in the desert. But to trust in the Lord is to be blessed, like a thriving tree planted by water, unafraid of any drought. The human heart is unreliable and known only to the Lord, who rewards those who do good.

Psalm (1)

The Psalmist declares happy those who ignore the advice of the wicked and instead delight in the Law of the Lord. They are like perpetually fruitful trees beside a river instead of chaff blown away by the wind. The wicked will suffer judgment while the Lord guides the righteous forever.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

If it is true that the dead are not raised, says Paul, then the apostles are liars, Jesus is still dead, sin has not been dealt with, and the Christian dead have died without hope. We are the most pitiful people of all. But, in fact, Christ has been raised, the first of many others sure to follow.

Gospel (Luke 6:17-26)

A large crowd gathers to hear Jesus and to be healed by his evident power. He tells his disciples that the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful and the reviled will have their fortunes reversed, while those who are enjoying life now will lose it all. He warns that God’s heralds are never popular.


  • A message cannot be judged by how well it is received
  • The way of faithfulness is not immediately obvious
  • Jesus has power over every difficult circumstance and even death itself
  • The judgment of God will reverse every injustice and set things right
  • Following the ways of God ultimately leads to a full and fruitful life



Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 10, 2019, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 6:1-8, [9-13])

Isaiah is granted a compelling vision of the Lord, majestic and holy in his temple. Having his sinful lips purified from the altar, the shaken prophet agrees to deliver a message of judgment on a sinful people that will be ignored until it is too late. But from the ashes will come new life.

Psalm (138)

The Psalmist gives thanks to the Lord because his cries for help have been answered. Even kings will be impressed by his testimony of how the Lord lifts up the lowly. Confident of help in the midst of his troubles, he asks for the Lord’s support in order to fulfill his divine purpose.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

Paul reminds the Corinthians that their faith and salvation are based on the truth of the apostolic witness to the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His own encounter with the risen Christ while actively persecuting the Church is the perfect example of God’s grace at work.

Gospel (Luke 5:1-11)

At the seaside, Jesus teaches the crowd from Simon Peter’s boat and then instructs him to go into deeper water in order to fish. Peter, having tried earlier with no results, reluctantly agrees. Shaken after a huge catch, he and his partners leave all behind to catch people with Jesus.


  • Even though we are sinful and undeserving people, the Lord still uses us
  • Our witness to the work of God in our lives is part of his purpose for us
  • Our inability is no obstacle to God
  • With God, new life arises out of dead circumstances




Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 3, 2019, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Jeremiah 1:4-10)

The Lord assures the reluctant Jeremiah that he has known him from before birth, having appointed him prophet to the nations. Assuring the young man that he is now to consider himself with authority over them, he is to speak the Word, knowing that the Lord is with him.

Psalm (71:1-6)

The Psalmist asserts that he takes refuge in the safety of the Lord, his rock and fortress. He pleads for rescue from the wicked, unjust and cruel. He has always trusted in the Lord, the one who has been with him from birth. He vows to praise the Lord without ceasing.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

In addressing those who desire the more dramatic spiritual gifts, Paul says that without love they are worthless. Love sets aside personal interests in order to serve others. Those other gifts belong only to this age, but love, the greatest gift, will, with faith and hope, endure forever.

Gospel (Luke 4:21-30)

The citizens of Nazareth express doubt about Jesus because he grew up among them. Jesus points out two examples of prophets who had better response from Gentiles than from their own people. Enraged, his listeners try to kill him, but he passes safely through their midst.


  • The Word of God is often upsetting to speaker and to hearer
  • The Lord will provide a way of escape
  • God’s providence “provides” for those given difficult Kingdom tasks
  • We must learn and conform to what God’s priorities are
  • The mission of God is to the entire world, not just “our” people



Third Sunday after the Epiphany, January 27, 2019, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10)

Newly returned to Jerusalem from their long exile in Babylon, the Israelites are hungry for the Word of God. Ezra the scribe reads the law of Moses to them, causing them to worship and to weep. They are told to see that day as holy, the joy of the Lord being their strength.

Psalm (19)

Even though the creation itself cannot speak it nevertheless declares God’s word. Like the sun revives the earth each day, the Law of God joyfully revives the soul. Following it has its own rewards. Our thoughts, as well as our words, need to be in tune with God’s ways.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)

St. Paul describes how the followers of Christ are actually all essential members of his body and are each to use spiritual gifts for the common good. It is God alone who distributes these gifts, but some are more important than others and it is these that are to be desired in the community.

Gospel (Luke 4:14-21)

Luke relates how Jesus, at the outset of his ministry, is filled with the Spirit and subject to universal praise. At his home synagogue in Nazareth he publicly identifies with Isaiah’s prophecy of a Spirit-filled figure who will signify the arrival of the Lord’s salvation for Israel.


  • The Word of God brings joy to the believer
  • The Holy Spirit, having infused the ministry of Jesus now enables and directs his body, the Church
  • The new era of salvation introduced by Jesus is the era of the Holy Spirit
  • God provides for his people through his Word and his Spirit