St. Justin & St. Michael Parishes
 
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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS & PRAYERS

 

November 10, 2019

'Lord when your glory appears, my joy will be full' This full throated expression of hope in a future glory from today's Psalm, is indeed the message of the first reading. The seven Hebrew brothers faced persecution and imminent death. They watched each other die in the most gruesome way and yet their faith in the God of their ancestors and in the resurrection was unfazed. For heaven's sake they were ready to lay down their lives in hope that resurrection to eternal awaits them. The topic of the resurrection was also at the heart of the conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees in today's gospel. A little bit of background information would be helpful in understanding this dialogue. The Sadducees were chosen mostly from the wealthy class of the Jews. Most of them lived in comfort and were quite satisfied with the existing social arrangement. They were quite upset with Jesus whose message, they thought, was a disruption of the lopsided social order that favored the wealthy. Life for them was so comfortable that they really thought that belief in anything beyond the present life including: angels, spirits and the afterlife was simply ridiculous. Jesus' message of everlasting life felt like such a disappointment; so their goal was to expose the flaws in His teachings. The good news is that eternal truth belongs to God not man. Whether we choose to believe in that truth or not is entirely up to us. If we do believe in it we have life and if we do not, it is at our own peril. The legendary faith of these seven brothers’ help to demonstrate even to the blind where true joy lies. It is found in a life with God. Dear God, grant us the wisdom to forsake all for the sake of the all surpassing inheritance with you in heaven, Amen.

 

November 3, 2019

The Lord loathes nothing that he has made, all things are made in His image and His imperishable spirit is in us all. This is a reassuring statement from the book of Wisdom, our first reading.  Although we are sometimes are rebuked by the Lord, it is only so we can return to Him. Paul speaks of the fulfillment of every good purpose in our lives and the greatest of all purposes is our calling to share in an eternal inheritance with God. Zaccheus, in today's gospel was determined to own that inheritance and nothing would ever deter him from doing so. This purpose, for him, could have been derailed by the seduction of inadequacy arising from his small stature or from his contemptible social status as a tax collector. His ill-gotten wealth too could have been a hindrance as could have been the un-corporative crowd. Instead those became springs in his steps propelling him to a height that could not but attract the attention of Jesus. His desire for Jesus was impressively earnest and his determination unyielding. Unlike the parable of the rich young man, Zaccheus was ready to trade his ill-gotten wealth that withers with an inheritance that is eternal. Today's commemoration Mass for our beloved dead reminds us of that eternal inheritance. While we miss their presence here among us and as we deal with the pain of their departure, we are consoled to know that they believed in, fought for and, now enjoy that eternal inheritance with God in heaven where He lives and reigns forever and ever, Amen.

 

October 27, 2019

In the presence of God who is almighty and all powerful, the only attitude which is acceptable is a humble attitude. 'For the petition of the lowly pierces the clouds'. This humble attitude, comes with the recognition that our best efforts are nothing without His grace. Jesus' parable in today's gospel, which contrasts the prayer of the Pharisee with that of a sinner, makes obvious what pleases God and what does not: 'Whoever exults himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exulted'. In his second letter to Timothy, the second reading of this Sunday, Saint Paul makes an honest evaluation of his ministry. His evaluation acknowledges the obstacles, the challenges and yes, the successes of his efforts. Paul took pride in his accomplishments which were not few. He had no doubts and therefore not afraid to state that his missionary labors had earned him the crown of unfading glory; as will be the case with all who follow in his footsteps. Yet, most importantly, like Mary in the magnificat, Paul makes sure that God is given the praise that is due to Him as he concludes in the following words: 'To Him be glory forever and ever'. Re-echoing today's responsorial Psalm, we pray that day by day, our mouths shall never cease to praise Him and our souls shall forever glory in the Lord, Amen.

October 20, 2019

Our help shall come from the Lord who made heaven and earth’. This statement taken from today’s Psalm represents a fitting theme for today’s readings. As Jushua engaged in a battle with the Amalekites, he did not simply rely on his military skills. Instead, he relied on the prayers of his spiritual leader and mentor, Moses, who maintained an open channel of communication with God. Mose’s lifted hands symbolized hearts, eyes and minds lifted up to God in supplication. As long as Mose’s hands remained lifted up, victory was theirs. For He provides all our needs. In the parable of the widow and the dishonest judge, Jesus teaches us perseverance in prayer. While it is true that we cannot bully God into submission it is also true that God listens to the confidence behind our prayers. And that confidence is called faith. We pray to a God who is already favorably disposed toward us and who is eager to bless our prayers. ‘Ask for anything in my name and I will do’. That is a blank check that we have all been issue by a supremely gracious and infinitely bounteous God. We must ensure that we cash that check. As we engage the coming days and weeks, we pray: Loving God, when life’s challenges seem to assail us and when our strengths begin to fail us, help us to realize that our help and strength comes from you, our Almighty God, who made heaven and earth, Amen.

October 13, 2019

Today's readings contrast the gratitude of Naaman with the ingratitude of nine out of ten lepers. Naaman was an army commander who was afflicted with leprosy. At the command of the prophet Elisha, he washed himself seven times in the River Jordan and was cured of his leprosy. In the gospel, ten lepers approached Jesus and prayed Him to have pity on them. On their way to present themselves to the priest, as Jesus had ordered them, they realized that they had been made well. One of them, like Naaman, came back to give thanks. The rest of the nine walked away. Perhaps they did not see the need to be grateful. These passages reveal at least two things: 1.] We are all in need of divine healing; 2.] Although we may not be afflicted physically, our souls are constantly under attack from all kinds of spiritual illnesses such as unforgiveness, mean spiritedness and ingratitude. The encounter between Jesus and the lepers reveal that it may be twice as hard to cure the sickness of ingratitude then it is to cure leprosy. Yet, we know that nothing is impossible with God. And so we pray: Merciful God, heal us of all our infirmities, physical and spiritual. Grant us the grace to adore, to honor and worship you our true and eternal God, Amen.

 

October 6, 2019

In the first reading today, the prophet Habakkuk calls our attention to faith as one of the three great pillars of the Christian life. ‘The just one, because of his or her faith, shall live’. The apostles knew as much. Having heard Jesus speak repeatedly about faith and having seen His miraculous works which were pure acts of faith, they prayed Him to increase their faith. This prayer is absolutely necessary given that it is impossible to please God without faith. As Christians, we must always work to grow our faith. The faith that is worthy of the name is one that thrives against all odds and in spite of all challenges. This is the kind of faith that the prophet spoke so strongly about in our first reading: Faith that believes in the realization of God’s words, His promises and His vision, come what may. That God is always faithful no matter what and that He will always come through for those who believe. Jesus assures us that the only way that we can move mountains is to walk by faith. Loving God, when the journey of life becomes arduous, when the burdens of our past seem to overwhelm us and when uncertainty about the future confounds us, grant us the grace of a strong faith in you our true and everlasting hope, Amen.

 
 

St. Justin-St. Michael Parish   230 Blue Hills Avenue Hartford, CT 06112

860 246-6897