15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 10

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

One of the great dramatic scenes of the Bible is depicted in today’s first reading. The people of Israel, after their escape from slavery and their long forty-year trek through the desert, are about to cross the Jordan River and enter into the Promised Land—what today is called the “West Bank.” Living in the new land will require many adjustments, adopting new customs and social practices to fit the new circumstances of settling down in their own land. So Moses, their leader, assembles all the people before him and details for them how they are to manage this climactic change and establish a new way of life.
It’s an imaginative portrayal and probably never happened in exactly that way. It may have taken a century or more to complete the adjustment period. But the Book of Deuteronomy gets the point across that the Law instructs the people how they are to live, what values they should hold dear and what behaviors they should put into practice. Today’s passage is the very end of Moses’ long speech, so Moses reminds the people that the Law will always remain right before them as a guide and a challenge.
In today’s gospel, Jesus will offer a dramatic illustration of what the Law means in practice. It is indeed a law we have every opportunity to follow and put into practice. All we have to do is notice all the people around us who need our help, no matter who they are or where they come from. And then respond.For our second reading, recall that there are a number of places in the New Testament that describe who Jesus is for us. Frequently, the words used were originally put into a song and the author is simply writing down the lyrics from the song. This is the case in today’s second reading.  The first line sets the tone: Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God. It’s a beautiful way to contemplate the mystery of Christ.
—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

The New York Times article that Fr. Modrys references, Apocalypse, Now What? by Matthew Thompson, can be found here at nytimes.com.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 3

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The last few chapters of the Book of Isaiah speak of the time after the Jewish people returned from exile and faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem. Given the sad effects of the exile, those were hard times. So the prophet spoke words of encouragement, reminding the people of the grand destiny that the Lord was restoring before them. The words of today’s reading are so filled with confidence and celebration, it must have been hard for the people to believe them.
It must have been the same experience for the seventy-two disciples that Jesus sent into the impoverished countryside of Samaria. People heard the proclamation that the Kingdom of God was about to break open before them. And the promise came to them from the lips of disciples who brought nothing with them other than the word of promise. Today’s gospel describes the effect this had on the people of Samaria.
Today’s second reading continues our reflection on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. When Paul says he boasts only in the cross of Christ, he means that everything valuable in his life is the result of what Christ had done for him and comes from Christ, and not from anything else. Paul was entirely focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.

—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

The New York Times article that Fr. Modrys references, Apocalypse, Now What? by Matthew Thompson, can be found here at nytimes.com.

Trinity Sunday, June 12

The Somenity of the Most Holy Trinity

A reflection by Fr. Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

The New York Times article that Fr. Modrys references, Apocalypse, Now What? by Matthew Thompson, can be found here at nytimes.com.

5th Sunday of Easter, May 15

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Last Sunday our reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounted the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey. Today’s reading tells us how that journey ended.
Paul and his companion, Barnabas, have traveled through the southern part of present-day Turkey. Their usual strategy on entering a town is to begin by speaking in the synagogue, the worship space where Jews and even some Gentiles gather. A general pattern soon develops. Many Gentiles tend to be more receptive to their message.
In the face of resistance and persecution, Paul and Barnabas move from town to town. In today’s reading, they are backtracking on their way home, retracing their steps, revisiting the towns they had earlier passed through. This time Paul begins to put in place an organizational structure in each town that would later develop into a hierarchical leadership in Christian communities. 
When they finally arrive back home in Antioch in Syria, they are warmly received and all are amazed at their reports, especially how the Gentiles are open to Christian belief.
Our second reading offers the beautiful image of the heavenly Jerusalem. All through the bible, Jerusalem is a symbol of the true home for God’s faithful people. Finally, at the culmination point of all human history, Jerusalem will be freed from all its unfaithfulness and the tragedies it has had to endure. This restored, heavenly Jerusalem will be the place where God dwells among his people, with “no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” It is a spectacular image of the future that God’s grace will usher in.
Finally, the gospel verses record Jesus speaking at the Last Supper.  Keep in mind as you listen to today’s reflections, that these verses are preceded in the gospel by Judas’ departure to initiate his plot against Jesus and followed by Jesus’ foretelling the threefold denial by Peter. Still Jesus can speak about his Father’s glory and the mandate to love.
—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

The New York Times article that Fr. Modrys references, Apocalypse, Now What? by Matthew Thompson, can be found here at nytimes.com.