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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Full lections can be read here.

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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Full lections can be read here.

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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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





Second Sunday after the Epiphany, January 20, 2019, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 62:1-5)

Isaiah proclaims that when Israel is vindicated and the nations see her glory, the Lord shall give her a new name. She will be no longer known as forsaken but as the delight of the Lord. Indeed, he will be joined to her in marriage, rejoicing as a groom would celebrate over his new bride.

Psalm (36:5-10)

The Psalmist declares the Lord unmatched in his lovingkindness and faithfulness, profound in righteousness and judgment. In his house is an abundant feast and all peoples may take shelter in him. Continue in your favour toward your people, O Lord, source of our life and light!

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

Paul informs the Corinthians that the diversity of spiritual gifts in their midst is actually a sign of unity since they are given by the same Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Trinity is behind all truly Christian activity. It is the work of the Spirit to allot a gift to each believer for the common good.

Gospel (John 2:1-11)

Early in his ministry Jesus goes to a wedding in Cana where the wine runs out early. He changes a considerable amount of water into wine. The steward is impressed that its excellent quality was saved to serve last. By this first sign Jesus reveals his glory and his disciples believe in him.


  • God as married joyfully to his people
  • When people encounter the glory of Almighty God they are drawn to believe in him
  • The wedding feast as a metaphor for the Kingdom of God
  • It is the desire of God for his people ultimately to dwell in an abundance of both material and spiritual gifts



Baptism of the Lord, January 13, 2019, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 43:1-7)

After informing Israel that her exile was the result of disobedience, Isaiah now reassures her she will pass through these menacing waters because the Lord has created and redeemed her. Giving the nations in exchange, he will gather home her offspring, all those called by his name.

Psalm (29)

The Psalmist calls all heavenly beings to worship Yahweh for his glory and strength, demonstrated by his voice shaking the very earth. 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 8:14-17)

The Apostles in Jerusalem hear that the Word of God had been accepted outside of the Holy Land in Samaria. They send Peter and John to this group who had only been baptized in water and when the Apostles lay hands upon them, they receive the Holy Spirit for the first time.

Gospel (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

John the Baptist raises expectations in the people that he might be the Messiah, but he claims that a much greater one is coming who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Upon Jesus himself being baptized, a heavenly voice proclaims him as the beloved Son of God.


  • The waters of baptism are both disturbing and assuring
  • Jesus identifies with the historical experience of Israel
  • What Jesus brings overflows the expectations of Israel
  • The God of all creation has acted definitively in the arrival of the Christ
  • Christian baptism has both inner and outer dimensions


The Epiphany, January 6, 2019, Year C

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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?





First Sunday after Christmas, December 30, 2018, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (1 Samuel 2:18-20, 36)

Hannah made young Samuel a new sacred robe each year and brought it to him in Jerusalem when she and her husband went to the yearly sacrifice. Eli the priest would bless her and pray that she might have more children. Meanwhile, Samuel grew physically, socially and spiritually.

Psalm (148)

The Psalmist enthusiastically calls on all the elements of both heaven and earth to praise the Lord who has created them all, animate and inanimate together. Now he has raised up a horn for his faithful people, a mighty deliverer to save them at last.

Second Reading (Colossians 3:12-17)

Paul instructs the Christians at Colossae in how to live together harmoniously as God’s beloved and chosen people. Led by deep concern for others and shunning self-interest, they are to instruct and discipline one another in the word of Christ, always giving thanks to the Father.

Gospel (Luke 2:41-52)

Every year Jesus and his parents go to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. At age twelve he goes missing and they find him in the temple maturely engaging Israel’s teachers and claiming that it is his Father’s house. He returns with them where he grows physically, socially and spiritually.


  • Youth is not a barrier to being used by God
  • We should be open to instruction from one another in the Word of God
  • The Lord is in his house
  • The importance of a loving family life, natural and supernatural

Nativity of the Lord – Proper III, December 25, 2018, Year C

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Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 52:7-10)

Jerusalem’s watchmen, seeing the Lord return with salvation for the ruined city, are exhorted to call her to joyful celebration.  All nations will observe her people comforted and redeemed as the Lord acts in sovereign power.

Psalm (98)

All nature is called loudly to celebrate the coming victory of the Lord on behalf of Israel. Every nation will observe the powerful vindication of his people, aware that he will act fairly and rightly as universal judge.

Second Reading (Hebrews 1:1-4, [5-12])

The author celebrates the fact that God has spoken through his Son, who, reflecting him perfectly, is both creator and heir of all things. Much superior to the worshipping angels at his birth, he has made purification for our sins and his kingdom is never ending.

Gospel (John 1:1-14)

St. John tells us that with the Word of creation taking on flesh, God himself has come among us as light and life. John the Baptist serves as its witness but not all to whom the Word is sent receive him. Believers, conversely, are born of God and made his children.


  • Creation, all over again/All things made new
  • Announcing/giving witness to the Word
  • The difference made by God’s arrival: it’s like night and day
  • Celebrating new birth
  • The universal significance of the coming of God’s salvation
  • The nations will be aware of the coming of God’s salvation





Nativity of the Lord – Proper II, December 25, 2018, Year C

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Isaiah 62:6-12)

Jerusalem will enjoy a reversal of its low estate when the Lord’s salvation comes. Its inhabitants will reap the rewards of their labour and be known throughout the whole earth as a holy people, redeemed by the Lord and living in a city no longer forsaken.

Psalm (97)

The Psalmist celebrates the fact that the Lord is king over the whole earth and calls all people to joyful thanksgiving. The nations behold his superior power and majesty over all other pretenders. His light dawns over the righteous, rescuing them from the wicked.

Second Reading (Titus 3:4-7)

The goodness and love of God has appeared and has saved us through the waters of rebirth and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was through his mercy and not our own efforts that this occurred, making us heirs of eternal life through grace alone.

Gospel (Luke 2: [1-7], 8-20)

St. Luke tells how Jesus is born in the line and city of David to the praise of angels. They appear to a band of humble shepherds in glorious light, directing them to a simple manger. There they encounter the tiny Messiah whose coming had so stirred the angels.


  • The arrival of God’s salvation
  • Hoping in God’s salvation
  • The universal and enduring significance of the birth of Jesus
  • The Light shines in the darkness
  • God lifts up the fallen who cannot save themselves