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Take Courage, Get Up, He is Calling You

Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus by William Blake  (1757–1827)  Yale Center for British Art.   

A reflection for the 30th Sunday, Ordinary Time, year B. The readings are Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6 and Mark 10:46-52

Today, the universal Church observes World Mission Sunday (in fact the whole month of October is Missionary Month). It’s always on the second last Sunday of October, established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 in order to collect funds for missionaries and missions worldwide. This special collection for the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fidei) still exists today and is held in many parishes around the world. But, more importantly, this is a day when we are reminded to pray for missions and missionaries all over. And for us in North America, we have to remember that today, many missionaries are coming from the developing world and the global south here to North America to do mission. Today is also a very good day to remind ourselves of our universal call to mission. I’ve written about this many times before: We are all called to be missionaries. It doesn’t mean you have to go off to another country; but it does mean that we need to spread the Good News everywhere we go and all the time.

It’s not hard to do.

A missionary is someone who tells others about something they love. The best analogy that I can think of for being a missionary is what I do when I hear about someone who’s going to visit Panama. I get so excited that they are going to my home country. I tell them where they should go: they have to go here and there (and not go here) and they have to go to this restaurant and when they go there they have to order this particular dish. That’s being a missionary. Telling someone about something you know and love. The pope’s message for this year’s World Mission Sunday is based on the theme, taken from Acts 4:20: We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard”

That’s what being a missionary is. We can all do that.

If you’re wondering how else you can be a good missionary, today’s readings give us five good suggestions as to how to be a good missionary.

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Who’s Inside Your Tent?

A reflection for the 26th Sunday, Ordinary Time, B. The readings are Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19; James 5:1-6 and Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48.

Today is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. It is a day that has been observed by the Catholic Church for 107 years, so it’s clear that for a long time refugees have been of great concern for the Church. But people who work with refugees, especially people in the church who work with refugees, say that the refugee crisis today is worse than it has ever been. Today there are 100 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. These are people who are actually living in camps. And what’s different about today, as opposed to other times when we’ve had refugee crises, like, for example, after the second world war, is the length of time that people are in a refugee camp. It is very common today for someone to be born in a refugee camp, to grow up in that same refugee camp and to become an adult in that refugee camp. The average stay at a refugee camp today is 20 years. It is a crisis and some would argue that it is the crisis of our day. There are so many other crises; we’re in a climate crisis, there’s a pandemic, but none are as bad as this refugee crisis, which is made worse by all the other crises: the climate crisis and the pandemic and every other political crisis that is happening around the world. And it is a crisis that affects us, even if only indirectly. But I think it’s a crisis that we can affect, maybe just by simply changing our attitudes.

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Blessed Are You Among Women

A reflection for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The readings are Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10a; Psalm 45; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 and Luke 1:39-56.

Assumption of the Virgin by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo  (1617–1682)   

“Blessed are you among women…”

How many times have we said those words? Thousands of times. And maybe not even thinking about what we’re saying.

I grew up in Latin America, as you know, where there is a huge cultural devotion to Mary, as is the case in a lot of the countries where many of you come from and I think that for that reason I actually did not grow up with a great devotion to Mary because it seemed a little superstitious to me and it also didn’t make any sense because I thought, why should I go to Mary, why should I pray to Mary, when I can just go straight to Jesus? So it didn’t make sense to me. I thought that we called Mary blessed – blessed are you among women – because she’s a saint. All the saints are blessed. I mean she is the saint of all saints; she was chosen to be the mother the Son of God, but I still thought she’s blessed because she’s a saint. Why does Elizabeth greet her and say that she is blessed? Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb? And then later on Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you who believed that the promise that was spoken to you would be fulfilled.” And then Mary herself, later on in the in the Magnificat, the prayer that she prays as a response to Elizabeth’s greeting, she says, “from this day all generations will call me blessed.” And it’s true: Up to this generation we still call her blessed. But why?

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Offer Your Barley Loaves

A reflection for the 17th Sunday, Ordinary Time, year B. The readings are 2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6 and John 6:1-15.

Jesus Gives Thanks. From FreeBibleimages: Feeding of the Multitudes, Good News Productions and College Press Publishing Co. Artist: Paula Nash Giltner. http://www.theglobalgospel.org http://www.freebibleimages.org

“Jesus then took the loaves and gave thanks…”

That’s what I’d like us to focus on today: Jesus gives thanks, the way Jewish people always gave thanks before eating: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam hamotzi lehem min ha’aretz. “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” That small action is what I think makes the whole difference in this beautiful story we hear today – that we’ve heard so often because it is one of the few stories that is found in all four Gospels.  In fact in Mark and Matthew it happens twice: Jesus feeds the multitudes twice in Mark and Matthew. That’s how significant this story is.

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