Welcome !

Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like....

Sunday, July 27: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel for this Sunday is a continuation of the teaching Jesus shared with his disciples with regard to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Again Jesus speaks in parables.  This week Jesus shares three analogies which help the disciples, and us, gain a better understanding of the Kingdom.  Jesus describes the kingdom as a treasure, as a merchant and a net. Both the parable of the hidden treasure and that of the pearl of great price tell us that we cannot fully understand the value of the Kingdom of Heaven and that in order to obtain the
Kingdom we must be willing to give up our attachment to earthly things.  That is not always an easy thing to do; too often earthly things can become our idols. St. Gregory Nazianzen (died in 390 AD) described his Pearl of Great Price as being the Word.  He said that he "would never willingly neglect this possession, but on the contrary honor it and embrace it and take more pleasure in it than in all other things combined that delight the multitude --he made it the partner of his whole life and his guide. Would that I too, can continue to treasure the Word and avoid falling into the pattern of embracing the idols of our world.

As I thought more and more about the net, a dragnet, I thought about the Final Judgment.  The righteous  will be separated from the evil ones.  We women and men will be gathered up and we will be judged by our faith and our works.  As I think of all of us as various species of fish, I pray that I will be judged as a fish worth keeping and not a fish to be thrown back into the abyss "where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

In these past weeks, we have been reading about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus has told us parable after parable in order to help us better understand the Kingdom.  Beginning to know more about the Kingdom is truly a gift from God.  Those mysteries are beyond us, but Jesus in His love for us gives us a glimpse of the Kingdom.  Just as in our first reading of today, Solomon asked God to give him an understanding heart, we too are being given a gift of understanding.

Jesus described the Kingdom to us in such ordinary things like seeds, light, salt, yeast, farming, fishing, and baking.  New life comes with the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus helped His followers understand this. As I mediated upon the Gospels of these past three weeks, I wondered what ordinary things I might use to help increase my understanding of the Kingdom and how Jesus might use those things.   For example, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like my computer.  It can connect me to people all over the world and help me share my thoughts and love for our Savior no matter where I am or where others are."
How could you complete this sentence?

 The Kingdom of Heaven is like ----------

Peace and Blessings,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Persecuted, but not abandoned…

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. 2 Cor 4:7-14

We pray, fast and give alms in solidarity with the Christians who are in great peril. We pray for their safety, we pray for the world to take notice and render aid.   May their witness strengthen us all “so that grace is bestowed in abundance on more and more people.”  

The Anchoress Elizabeth Scalia has more to say, links to read, things you can do:
Expelled Iraqi Christians Give Witness to Isis Fascism:
The Isis effect: "Flattened ; Everything is gone."
5 Things You Can Do Right Now

Thursday, July 17, 2014


(a reflection on Acts 3:1-10, by Deacon Paul Rooney)

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. At our Vigil Mass, the First Reading [Acts 3:1-10] brings us the delightfully wonderful scene of the healing of the crippled man by the Temple gate. We see several Christian themes strongly in evidence. These include almsgiving, prayer, praise, and the ministry of healing. But the most joyfully stunning picture of all is the image we are given of a no-longer-crippled man "walking and leaping and praising God" after ministry by Peter and John.

It is clear that our evangelist St. Luke, saw almsgiving is an important act of justice – he knew that as Christians, it is something we are all obliged to do all the time. It is not just an option to consider when we "feel" like it. In fact, our Church calls almsgiving and similar works of mercy or charity the extension of the
Church's preferential love for those who are "poor" in any of its multiple forms [CCC #2447-2448].

 On this occasion it is the crippled man who initiates contact with Peter and John by begging for alms, and that simple gesture began the process that changed his life forever. Just as the mission of Jesus himself had been confirmed by miracles and signs, so the mission of the apostles is confirmed by this first miracle in the Book of Acts, and there will be others that follow. St. Luke is emphasizing the disciples’ imitation of Jesus, showing that God’s plan for the salvation of all people extends beyond the earthly life and ministry of Jesus himself, through the church.

It is very important to note that it is only through the power of the name of Jesus that the crippled man is healed. The Church is not merely the successor of Jesus; it exists under the power of his name. Jesus lives; He is Risen - - that is our "forever" Easter message! And because HE lives, the Church lives, subject to Him. The prophet Joel (2:19) had predicted there would be signs upon the earth in the last days; the healing of the cripple is understood to be one of those signs. “The name of Jesus” signifies the presence of Jesus, and also his saving power during the time of his absence.

That gives us all great Hope! Healing and Deliverance from the influence of evil forces is not restricted to the time when Jesus walked the earth. It continues today! There are a LOT of "spiritually lame" people "sitting at the gate" waiting for the Peter's and John's and Harriet's of today to help them – through both alms AND healing prayer! In many respects, you and I are spiritually lame in certain areas, and need deliverance. Never underestimate the power of prayer spoken under the authority of and "in the name of Jesus"!

 My wife Patricia and I experienced this grace of "the name," as ministers on prayer teams at the "Unbound Conference" that was held at St. Bernard Church in Omaha on June 13-14. We witnessed this power and authority of "the name of Jesus." Many people (more than there was time for at the Conference) asked for private deliverance prayer, and they were all set free from many different issues that had been oppressing them and holding them in bondage. The mission of Jesus, proclaiming liberty to captives and letting the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18), is being continued by his disciples to this very day!

I would encourage each one of you to acquire the book "Unbound," authored by Neal Lozano, and read the
first nine chapters about the "five keys" to freedom. You can also google Lozano's website for more information. As Rev. Michael Scanlan [past president of Franciscan University of Steubenville] says, "This is the most helpful book I know for dealing with evil spirits and related impairments in people's lives." Silver and gold we have none...but we believe in the power and delegated authority of Jesus to all of His disciples, and we act upon that belief!
Blessings, Deacon Paul Rooney

Credits: Beggar Healed: http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/lame-beggar-healed/
Lame Man Healed: http://kelund.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-beggar-that-jesus-passed-by/
Unbound the Book: http://www.heartofthefather.com/product-category/books/

I Will Open My Mouth in Parable

A Reflection on the readings from July 20:Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Judy Morss

Book of Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm 86
Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 8:26-27
Gospel according to Matthew 13:24-43

The Gospels read last Sunday, this Sunday and next Sunday are focused on the parables that Jesus told to the crowds.  The stories are drawn from everyday life, but the deeper truths are not really evident until Jesus speaks to His disciples and shares secrets of the Kingdom of God. What a beautiful example of the private instruction we sometimes receive from Jesus, from God the Father and from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus' disciples were the first to receive special grace and understanding from our Savior.

Last week we heard about the Sower and all the lackadaisical responses to the sowing of seed.  We are often distracted by things of the world and our responses are not fruitful.  However, when we are responsive to the kingdom, we bear good fruit, good works and faithfulness through God's grace.

This week we hear three parables that Jesus told the crowds.  First, a farmer sows good seed in his field, but the enemy sows weed in the field. Instead of trying to pull up the weeds and risking the uprooting of the good wheat as well, the farmer says that the crops should be allowed to grow together.  At harvest time, the weeds can be distinguished from the wheat and will be burned.  This parable helps me better understand the relationship between good and evil.  How many situations have you seen where good and evil seem to coexist?  It gives me comfort to know that although good and evil may be side by side, eventually the evil will be gathered up and destroyed and the good will be redeemed.   As I reflected more on the reading from the book of Wisdom, it struck me that justice should be restorative. "And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good grounds for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins."

The second parable for this Sunday is the Mustard Seed.  I love this one; it reminds me that Jesus sowed the Kingdom into His small group of disciples and knew it would grow into a worldwide Church.  When I get discouraged about my small efforts and whether or not they can possibly have any impact, I think of the mustard seed and know that everything is possible through God.  I may never see the results of my efforts, but there will be results.

The third parable describes the kingdom of heaven as being like yeast, or leaven.  As I am a baker and love to bake breads, rolls, etc., I know the power of yeast, but I also understand the delicate nature of yeast.  If it is too hot, too cold, or too old, my breads will not rise as I had hoped.  I need to nurture that leaven in order for it to perform as it should.  A small amount of leaven can bring about dramatic results. As I read this parable, I was reminded that we are called to be leaven for the world.  We need to help bring about the Kingdom of God.

Next Sunday, we continue with the Gospel accounting to Matthew and will encounter additional parables.    I did a little research on parables; they are defined as a spoken or literary "comparison" between two things for illustration.  The word 'parable' is found 48 times in the Gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke.  Jesus uses parables for a couple of reasons; He reveals and/or conceals divine mysteries. Parables also appear to be spoken as a means of judgments against the faithless.  For example, in Matthew, after Jesus is rejected by the Pharisees he shifts from His straightforward teaching to parables. "I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world."

Peace and Blessings,


Image By Andrey Mironov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 13, 2014

Reading I:  Isaiah 55:10-11
Reading II:  Romans 8:18-23
Psalm Response:  65:10,11, 12-13,14
Gospel:  Matthew 13:1-23

If there was ever an agricultural theme for a set of readings, this week's readings certainly fits the bill.  A fitting time to look to the fields, look to the harvest, notice the crops as the summer ripens and autumn draws nearer.

Isaiah writes of the Lord's word, just as precipitation falling from heaven waters the earth and produces food, his word goes forth from his mouth to achieve a harvest of his will, his intended purpose.  

The psalm praises the Lord for the bounty of the harvest, his providence in drenching the fields, using very poetic language.  The fields are garmented with flocks and the valleys blanketed with grain.  What a beautiful word picture.

In Romans the battles and struggles of the Christian life have hope of coming to fruition, as we ourselves are called firstfruits of the Spirit.  Our struggles to grow will not count for naught.  We have been planted by the Lord, our growth is in the Lord, we will be gathered again to the Lord.

The Gospel reading is a parable about a sower who goes out to sow, to plant, and has mixed results based on where the seed falls.  The disciples are perplexed by Jesus' use of parables, and Jesus gives them an inside interpretation of the story.  I am so glad that the writer of Matthew included this (psst, come here, I'll put you in the know, the writer whispers), as it enables us to understand the parable ourselves as it was understood by the disciples, and gives us a clue into how other parables we read are meant to be understood.  I kind of wonder if the disciples really understood the parable before Jesus so kindly provided them the interpretation.

It may be perplexing to hear that some are not blessed with understanding, even many prophets and righteous people from the past who longed to know what the disciples learned by being with Jesus.  The early Christians really struggled with that question, and also with not understanding why many of their contemporaries did not accept Jesus' teaching, and that is reflected in this story they chose to record through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.   No eye has seen, no ear has heard, what God has ready for those who love him, or for those who will love him.  I know that there are days that I am not blessed with understanding, and on those days it is best to wait upon the Lord.

A parable, or any portion of Scripture for that matter, at first glance can be seen as a raw and unprocessed product, like a grain of wheat.  A grain of wheat can be processed in so many ways.  It can become bread, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, tortillas, pasta.  It can be roasted or baked or boiled, depending on the creativity and the needs of the cook.  It is prepared to nourish our bodies.  With the word of God, it too can be processed in many ways.  It can become the ingredient for a homily, a teaching device, an essay, an inspirational thought, a convicting jolt, a new story, a poem, a reminder of our past or a hope for the future.  It is prepared to nourish our soul and spirit, and when our souls are nourished, our bodies too benefit.  God's word as food, as harvest.

As we read, it is the Lord himself, the Master of the Harvest, who feeds us.  As we hear the word proclaimed at Mass and through the mouths of those near to us, it is the Lord himself, the Master Gardener, who feeds us, nourishes us, and causes us to grow into more mature Christians.  As we receive Christ in Holy Communion.   Come, all you who are hungry...let us see what the Lord has prepared today.

Blessings In Christ,

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Where Does This Teaching Come From?

Where Does This Teaching Come From? 

A Reflection on Matthew 11:25-30 N.A.B.

By: Larry T 

Scene at a recent Scripture study class:
The instructor said, “The Catholic Church recognizes that Holy Scripture can have four senses of meaning: the literal sense, the allegorical or mystical sense, the anagogical or future sense especially concerning end-times, and the tropological or moral sense.” 

A hand shot up in the front row, “Can you give us an example?” 

“Sure. Boniface Ramsey did an excellent job of explaining it in his book, Beginning to Read the Fathers. He said the city of Jerusalem is a good example of something that may be understood according to four senses. Historically, in the literal sense, it is the city of the Jews; allegorically it is the Church of Christ; anagogically, in the future, end times sense, it is that heavenly city of God which is the mother of us all; tropologically, in the moral sense, it is the human soul, which frequently under this title is either blamed or praised by the Lord.” 

A gray-haired woman in the back row jumped up and snorted, “Where does this teaching come from?”

“It comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article Three, Sacred Scripture, one-hundred fifteen through one-hundred eighteen." 

The woman stormed out of the classroom at the end of the session, and sadly enough, never returned to the class. Even worse, she convinced a friend of hers to drop out too. 

This Sunday we read about the learned and wise Scribes and Pharisees who had closed their minds to Jesus and his teachings. Jesus was talking about them when he said, “. . . you have hidden these things from the wise and learned . . .” 
25 At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
26 Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
– Matthew 11:25-30 N.A.B.

What did the gray-haired woman in the Scripture study class have in common with the wise and learned in today's gospel reading? What do a parachute and the human mind have in common? They both work properly only when they are open! The wise and learned in this gospel reading had closed their minds to Jesus and his preaching. Only the humble of heart (the childlike) can embrace new teaching and part with old traditions; they are the ones that Jesus always connected with. The tension, and sometimes incompatibility, between the old and the new is part of every religious tradition and accompanies every change within that tradition. Present day Christians have no less a challenge in dealing with change than did Jesus’ audiences. 

Every word that Jesus preached was a divine act in human form - a revelation of the Father granted to those open to receive it and refused to the arrogant. In his work, Jesus in Nazareth, Erich Grässer wrote, “Just as his power is our salvation, so our unbelief is his powerlessness.” God constantly offers us the nourishment necessary for our lifelong spiritual journeys; we must be humble of heart and teachable to receive it.