Did Jesus tell his disciples not to worry "about your life, what
you will eat or drink, or about your body…", because he wasn’t
living in the 21st century? In our modern times hundreds
of thousands are fleeing civil strife and terrorism in their
homelands. Tens of thousands of refugees are being turned away from
the borders of countries they hoped would offer them safety? In our
own country families facing under-employment might not want to look
up at "the birds in the air who do not sow or reap." They are too
busy looking down at their feet, putting one foot in front of the
other. Many in our country and billions elsewhere, are just hoping
to make it through to tomorrow.
Perhaps we need to wait till things get better in the world, or
our private lives, then we will have time to open to chapter 6 in
Matthew, read today’s passage and tranquilly "consider the lilies."
Maybe Jesus was only addressing a select group of prosperous
merchants at a seaside Mediterranean retreat somewhere: people with
plenty of time, leisure and security. If he were, we could easily
dismiss what he says today as being out of touch with "the real
world," – our world.
It turns out Jesus wasn’t speaking at a seaside spa for the rich
and famous. He was talking to his disciples, a motley group in the
eyes of the established. Nor was he unaware of their daily struggles
to survive; he came from their class and location. Galilee was
considered the "boonies" in the eyes of the big city Jerusalem folk.
Still, to the poor and disenfranchised he advises that when they
dream their dreams for themselves and their children, God must be
their focus. God and God’s righteousness were to take first place
when they considered their plans for the future and their choices
for each day.
If God is also our first consideration, then God is the one we
must trust to help us fulfill our goals and endeavors. Not all we
hope to accomplish, even with the best intentions to do good, will
succeed. Still, even in failure, we trust God’s love and care for
us. God does not desert us when our projects fail or come up short.
If however, we choose mammon as the "master," or guiding
principle, that defines who we are and what we want out of life,
then we have, as Jesus will tell us in next week’s gospel, "built a
house on sand." The first storm we experience will show how fragile
our life’s building project has been, disappointment and even
collapse will be the outcome.
Jesus’ disciples had made their choice to leave their families
and possessions behind to follow him. Christ would be there master.
At first, during the days when Jesus was enthusiastically received
by the crowds, those disciples must have thought they had made a
choice for success. Then their hopes collapsed with his death. But
with his resurrection a new life they never could have imagined,
opened for them. In Jesus, they chose to serve God not mammon and
that made all the difference.
Many of us are struggling and worrying over real concerns these
days. Perhaps Jesus’ words will broaden our vision and help us
focus: less on ourselves and more on those in need; less about
getting and more about giving; less worrying about our own welfare
and turning our attention to others – their struggles as immigrants,
their lack of healthcare, their children’s need for proper nutrition
and education, etc.
Choices Jesus asks us to make don’t happen just once in our
lifetime. They come every day, in large and small ways. How will my
being Jesus’ disciple affect the decisions I must make right now?
What will be the consequences of my choices for me? How will my
decisions affect others? Jesus leaves very little wiggle room for
us, "no one can serve two masters. You will either hate one and love
the other, will be attentive to one and despise the other."
Originally Jesus spoke these words to very poor disciples. He was
inviting them to follow him and trust that God would provide for
them. Over 50 years later Matthew wrote his gospel for his community
in Antioch. They were a more secure and established community than
Jesus’ original followers. They were more like us. To them Jesus’
words would be as challenging as they are to us today.
Soon after hearing this gospel we will be receiving the
Eucharist. Before that we will pray the Lord’s Prayer together and
say, "hallowed be thy name." We want our lives to reflect the
holiness of God so that people will be able to discern in our
actions that we have chosen to serve the caring and providential God
Jesus revealed to us. We will also pray, "give us this day our daily
bread," because we know that each day we are going to need strength
and wisdom so that we can keep choosing God over both the obvious
and also subtle disguises mammon takes.
Next week Lent begins. It’s a season when many of us decide to
make some personal sacrifices. We do it for many reasons: to deepen
our awareness of our spiritual life and our inner hunger for God; to
give up something we like and give the money we save to the poor; to
express sorrow for our sins, etc. These and many others are noble
and worthy intentions indeed. (Less noble perhaps is the desire to
use the season for weight loss – a kind of Lenten Weight Watchers!)
We could use the Sermon on the Mount we have been hearing these
Sundays as a guide for our Lenten practice. Why not use a portion of
the Sermon each evening as our nightly examen? Before retiring for
the night we might ask: How did we do this day?
So, for example, reviewing today’s gospel we ask: Did we try to
serve two masters today and compromise our love for Christ? Though
we might be in tight financial situations, did our worrying leave
God’s loving providence out of the picture?
Were we so preoccupied with our health that we were less
sensitive to the needs around us of family, friends and stranger?
Are we spending too much on clothes and personal grooming, becoming
insensitive to the very poor who lack decent clothing and health
care for their families? Are we overdoing the purchase and
consumption of pricey and specialty foods, while not seeing the
hungry in our community?
In other words, are God’s concerns our concerns? What have we
done this day to manifest to others the "righteous" God who has
forgiven our sins and brought us into loving relationship through
Christ? For those of us who worry about the future, possible loss of
health and our inevitable deaths, did those worries distract us from
seeing God acting graciously towards us this day?
here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
The end of a thing,
is never the end,
something is always being
like a year or a baby.
------Lucille Clifton, "December"
your hearts to God our refuge!
Earlier this month I participated at an immigration rally on
Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. There were so many people of good
will present--such a blessing! I was there with two other USCCB
Justice for Immigrants members and carried a sign with the words
spoken by Pope Francis when he visited Independence Mall in
Philadelphia, (9/26/15). He prophetically states, "We remember
the great struggles which led to the abolition of slavery, the
extension of voting rights, the growth of the labor movement, and
the gradual effort to eliminate every kind of racism and prejudice
directed at successive waves of new Americans. This shows that when
a country is determined to remain true to its founding principles,
based on respect for human dignity, it is strengthened and renewed."
These words guide my steps and I was happy to be able to be part of
another nonviolent action that affirms so many primary Catholic
social teachings--the dignity of the human person, the call to
community participation, the option for the poor and vulnerable, and
This Lent, I invite you to take a special journey with Gospel
nonviolence presented by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.
It is an invitation to a journey, like Jesus’ journey into the
wilderness for forty days. This present moment is a wilderness time.
We are living in a world of uncertainty. Lent invites us to
reflection and self-examination, while the life and teachings of
Jesus help us understand what the fullness of life looks like: love,
inclusion, forgiveness, mercy, sacrifice--and nonviolence. As Ken
Butigan, director of 'Pace e Bene,' and Father John Dear,
nonviolence activist, write, in a paper for the Nonviolence and Just
Peace Conference held in Rome in April 2016, "The word nonviolence
illuminates the heart of the Gospel--the proclamation of the Reign
of God, a new nonviolent order rooted in God’s unconditional love."
This Lenten Reflection series will be hosted at Our Lady of
Lourdes parish in their Fallon Center and is open to area
parishioners. The dates are March 5, 12, 19 26, and April 2 from 2-4
PM. The series includes: speakers, videos, and resources.
by Feb. 28
Pour out your hearts this Lent and learn how to help others by
living a Gospel life of nonviolence.
Molinari Quinby, MPS
Coordinator of Social
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:
said, "No one can serve two masters.
will either hate one and love the other,
devoted to one and despise the other.
cannot serve God and mammon.
We could use the Sermon on the Mount we have been hearing these
Sundays, as a guide for our Lenten practice. Why not use a portion
of the Sermon each evening as our nightly examen? So, for example,
based on today’s gospel, we might ask ourselves: Today did I try to
serve two masters and thus compromise my love for Christ? Though I
might be in a tight financial situation, did my worrying leave God’s
loving providence out of the picture?
So we ask ourselves:
- How seriously do I take Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on
- Which of his teachings do I find the hardest to fulfill?
DEATH ROW INMATES
"The use of the death penalty cannot really be
mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick
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:
- Jeffrey Barrett #0021418 (On death row since 6/1/93)
- Norfolk Best #0030124 (6/7/93)
- James Campbell #0063592 (7/8/93)
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC
For more information on the Catholic position on the death
penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
"First 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 email@example.com.
If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax
deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas
Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage
to make an online donation:
1. 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 our webpage:
and clicking on the "First Impressions"
link on the left.
(These CDs have been updated twice in the last five years.)
2. "Homilías 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
3. Our webpage:
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.
4. "First 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
Thank you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert Priory
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
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