A BIG THANK YOU
Thank you for the contributions you
made to support this ministry of the Word of God. As I mentioned in
our Advent Appeal, this free service is used by many parishioners
and preachers. How many, you ask? Each week we average 9,000 hits on
our webpage. Our weekly emails go to 8,500 people.
We couldn’t do it without you. Thank
If you didn’t get around to it and
would still like to make a contribution, send tax deductible checks
Payable to: Dominican Friars
3150 Vince Hagan Dr.
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
For a secure online donation (Via Credit Card, Check, or PayPal): Go
and click on the appropriate link.
I read a Scripture story that begins with an expression of human
need, I look for the hinge – the turning moment when God enters to
say, or do something, that addresses the need.
Today’s Genesis reading is a good
example. Early in the passage Abram expresses his and Sarah’s
situation – they are childless. That is not what Abram and Sarah
were expecting. God had called them out of Mesopotamia and promised
to make them a great nation with many descendants. But at this
moment, Abram doesn’t see the fulfillment of that promise. He
laments to God, "See you have given me no offspring…."
Doubts come to mind when our current
moment seems hopeless. Can God be relied on as a promise-keeper who
will not abandon us, even though God seems to have withdrawn from
the scene? "Where are you now that I need you, O God?"
Abram’s faith in God seems to be
faltering. So, God makes a promise: "Then the word of the Lord came
to him…." This is the moment when the narrative turns. God has not
left him and is about to address the situation. Sometimes when
things are at their lowest point a ray of light pierces the
darkness. God is going to help Abram, not because he has shown
courageous and persevering faith. Or, because he has been a shining
star of goodness. No, God does for Abram what God characteristically
does – gives free gifts. God will, on God’s own initiative, fulfill
a promise to Abraham and Sarah. After God makes the promise, "Abram
put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of
righteousness." God will finish what God has started, because God is
faithful to God’s word.
Who among us can make a claim on God
based on our own goodness? Most likely we feel we limp along on
so-so faith. Then, when a serious need arises we hesitate, or are
shy about praying, since we think only the exemplary models of faith
– like some of those near us in our pews today – will get a
favorable response to their prayers.
Abram and Sarah still have a long
journey ahead of them and there will be trials along the way. What
will sustain them as they travel and face obstacles ?They will have
to trust the promise God made them: "Look up at the sky, and count
the stars, if you can. Just so… shall your descendants be." That
promise will travel with them as they go and be an oasis for them in
very dry moments. So too for us. We trust in God’s saving presence
with us as we pass through life’s desert periods. Along the way God,
the promise- keeper, provides oases for us.
Jesus and Mary are a another couple
who must rely on God’s word. Initially things weren’t very clear for
either of them. They are within the first 40 days of Jesus’ life.
Imagine the strain and exhaustion they felt, especially Mary. They
had gone to Bethlehem in response to the order from Caesar (2:1) to
be counted in the census. There the child was born in a poor and
At this stage the parents must have
wondered about their newborn and the promises they received about
him. Now, after another journey, they are in Jerusalem to present
their child to God in the Temple. Like Abram and Sarah the couple
heard and awe-inspiring promise, but considering the difficulties at
this stage of their journey, it must have been hard to see God’s
hand in their lives. Yet, like Abram and Sarah, they trusted the
promise they heard from God.
Mary and Joseph were too poor to
offer a lamb when they presented Jesus in the temple, so they
offered two turtledoves. Like many of the poor today, Mary and
Joseph did their best to provide for their child and be faithful to
their religious observances. If it had not been for the God-inspired
elders, they could easily have been missed that day in the Temple.
No one else but Simeon and Ana even noticed them. Which makes us
wonder today if the poor in our parish are recognized, or
appreciated as full- fledged members? They can’t afford the tuition
for our parochial schools; don’t have enough spare time to
participate in parish activities; many are not native born and so
don’t speak our language well enough to attend classes, or parish
meetings, so their voices often go under-recognized.
The devout elders Simeon and Anna
were guided by the Spirit to recognize God’s gift to the world. They
had eyes of faith and saw the blessing God was giving in the poor,
young couple and the child they carried. They would recognize in the
couple and the child that the Messiah was coming into the world in
poverty. And still Simeon and Ana offered a blessing to God. They
recognized in this poor family the gift God was giving to the world.
But we need to do more than offer a
blessing for poor families. The recent tax plan approved by Congress
is not a blessing for the poor. Almost all the economists who have
commented on the plan say is favors the wealthy and hurts the poor
and middle-class. It diminishes social investments meant to help the
neediest; 13 million Americans will be without health insurance. In
the future, when the deficit grows, more cuts to programs that
support the needy will be caught under the rubric of "welfare
reform." Cuts will probably happen to Medicaid, Medicare and other
programs that help the poor.
Today we celebrate God’s gift to
human kind through a child born to a poor couple. Yet today, our
national policies fail to acknowledge and respond to the neediest
among us. Simeon and Ana said a blessing over the child born to a
poor couple. We need to do more than say blessings.
for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
A friend sends this prayer
for us pilgrims:
God be in my head and in my
God be in
my eyes and in my looking
God be in
my mouth and in my speaking
God be in
my heart and in my thinking.
God be at
my end and at my parting.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was
called to go out--
Anyone familiar with the Bible
realizes that there are many stories of people on the move, people
from whom will come the chosen one of God. The Holy Family of Jesus,
Mary, and Joseph are also on the move. First to Bethlehem for the
census and then, depending on which Gospel story you read, they flee
to Egypt in Matthew, or journey to Jerusalem and then Nazareth in
Luke. How should we treat the travelers who come to us? Pope
Benedict XVI in 2011 states that all of us "belong to one family,
migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have
the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth, whose destination is
universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here
that solidarity and sharing are founded." In his message for the 51st
World Day of Peace for January 1st, Pope Francis
establishes four mileposts for action: welcoming, protecting,
promoting and integrating.
calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing
migrants and displaced people towards countries where they face
persecution and violence. It also demands balancing our concerns
about national security with concern for fundamental human rights.
Scripture reminds us: "Do not forget to show hospitality to
strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to
angels without knowing it."[Hebrews13:2]
has to do with our duty to recognize and defend the inviolable
dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and
security, and to prevent their being exploited. . . God does not
discriminate: "The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the
orphan and the widow."[Psalm 146:9]
entails supporting the integral human development of migrants and
refugees. . . The Bible teaches that God "loves the foreigner
residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to
love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in
4."Integrating", lastly, means
allowing refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of
the society that welcomes them, as part of a process of mutual
enrichment and fruitful cooperation in service of the integral human
development of the local community. Saint Paul expresses it in these
words: "You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow
citizens with God’s people."[Ephesians 2:19]
Treat others as you
would like to be treated.
---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
Director of Social Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh,
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
There was a man in Jerusalem whose
name was Simeon.... This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the
consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. There
was a prophetess, Anna.... She never left the temple but worshiped
night and day with fasting and prayer
Simeon and Anna were vigilant in
prayer and watching – waiting for God to enter their lives. They
were wide awake and receptive to something new and unexpected. God
is there in surprising ways for those with open minds and hearts.
Like Simeon and Anna, those who have put their hope in God will
recognize the messiah when at last he does come.
So we ask ourselves:
- For what revelation from God am
- Where and how am I waiting?
- What will be the sign that will
tell me God has visited me in my waiting?
POSTCARDS TO DEATH
to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an
inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form
it is carried out."
Inmates on death row are the most
forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this
space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a
postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not
forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through
North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If
the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- William E. Robinaon #0694689
(On death row since 12/9/11 )
- Mario Mc Neil #0788387
- Juan Rodriguez #1412408
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail
Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285
For more information on the Catholic
position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday
worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like
"First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr.
John Boll, OP at
If you would like to support this
ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude
St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan
Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Make checks payable to: Dominican
Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:
We have compiled Four CDS for sale:
- Individual CDs for each
Liturgical Year, A, B or C
- One combined CD for
"Liturgical Years A, B and C."
If you are a preacher, lead a
Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical
team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process.
Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they
prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to
and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.
Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily
scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a
friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr.
John Boll, O.P. at
Where you will
find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions"
and "Homilías Dominicales," as
well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material
pertinent to preaching.
Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to
prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars.
If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a
friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.
you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert the
Great Priory of Texas
Vince Hagan Drive
First Impressions Archive
Click on a link button below to view the reflection indicated.
(The newest items are always listed first.)