Celebrate Sunday Mass with Bishop Strickland - 6.28.20
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Bishop Strickland in Sunday's live Mass.
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS WITH BISHOP JOSEPH STRICKLAND ON THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
One of my brother Deacons will assist our Bishop at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Texas. I know you look forward to hearing Bishop Strickland preach. The response to offering these beautiful liturgies has been overwhelming.
I know that, like me, you are drawn closer to the Lord when he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them, and reflect upon them, before going to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In our first reading for this 13th Sunday in Ordinary time we hear of one of the many miracles the Lord worked through Elisha the Prophet. We recall that he succeeded Elijah the Prophet in the prophetic ministry. Elijah had been taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. Before that great event, he asked Elisha what he wanted from him. Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. That request was granted.
This excerpt is from Chapter four of the second Book of Kings. It follows another miracle where Elisha helps a poor widow by miraculously filling multiple jars with oil which she could sell to pay her creditors so they would not take her sons. Now, in this reading, he encounters a wealthy woman who recognized that he was a prophet and offered him hospitality. She was married to an older man and was without children. Elisha shares a prophecy with her and tells her she will bear a son in the Spring.
In His loving plan of salvation, the Lord sent Prophets to His people Israel. He worked through them and revealed His power and love so that people would believe. The Lord continues to send prophetic voices to the Church, the New Israel. Do we recognize them? Are we listening?
In our second reading, we hear a portion of the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Rome. He is explaining to them that as Christians, as followers of Jesus the Christ, they died with Him and were raised with Him, through Baptism. By the saving Death and Resurrection of Jesus, we were also set free from the law of sin and death. At the end of this sixth chapter Paul exclaims "For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)
Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. He bridged the separation they brought between us and the Father when He spread His arms on the Cross and embraced the world in His redemptive embrace. We are also empowered by grace to live differently now.
As this powerful teaching continues, the Apostle explains what that all means and how we are called to cooperate with grace. In fact, his instruction carries over throughout the following chapters. Have you ever read the entire Letter to the Romans? You should. We should all read it regularly and repeatedly. These instructions will help us as well to stay free from sin and grow in holiness. After all, we are all called to be saints. Every one of us.
The Gospel appointed for Sundays Holy Mass is taken from the tenth chapter of Matthews Gospel. The disciples are about to be sent out by the Lord on a missionary journey. It is a powerful chapter which I encourage all who are watching and listening to read. The portion which is proclaimed at Mass touches upon the very heart of the call to discipleship, putting the Lord first, even before naturally good relationships, like family.
When we do that, we have finally chosen to be disciples of Jesus. He moves from being, as Bishop Strickland is fond of saying, a personality that we know "about" to being a PERSON whom we know personally. Everything changes when that happens.
The passage is certainly not anti-family. Rather, in other places in the Gospel Jesus explains what we give up for Him, we receive back in even greater measure, including family.But it is a matter of what is the priority in our relationships. When Jesus Christ is first in our life. When a relationship with Him is the center of our life, everything else changes. And, we change. We also learn to love as He loves.
He begins to live His life in and through us. He continues His Mission, in and through us. Such a clear call presents us with an opportunity today to ask ourselves - who is first in our own lives? Let us choose to put the Lord Jesus first in our lives today. Yesterdays choice is not enough.
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day,
Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation
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