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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.

“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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God Never Stops Working

A reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B. The readings are Ezekiel 17:22-24, Psalm 92, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 and Mark 4:26-34.

I don’t know the first thing about gardening. If the plant needs more than watering once a day, forget it. Last year we had two tomato plants and that was amazing. Once we found the perfect sunny spot for them, all we had to do was water them once a day and before you know it, we had like 200 hundred tomatoes! It was a fruitful harvest! Plants are amazing, really. Even grass. Have you ever planted grass? Last year (and this year) we are fixing these dead patches in our lawn and it’s amazing: you throw some dirt; scatter some seed and then water it once a day. Seven days later there are these baby grasses growing – so cute! And keep watering for another week and the grass is already all grown up and that’s it. It will continue to grow and spread. There’s nothing you need to do. It’s a miracle.

This year I have become fascinated with dandelions. Those things are amazing! You know you have to dig them out from the root – so this year (because we’re fixing our lawn), we started digging dandelions. We spent all afternoon one Saturday and pulled maybe 100 or so. The next day I look at the lawn and there are like 100 little stems that have all of a sudden shot up. I’m like, “I can’t spend another two hours digging all these out before they flower” (because there aren’t 100 dandelions in our lawn, but like 100,000!). So I decided that if I just cut the stems off, at least they won’t go to seed (cause each flower has like 1000 seeds!). So I went and ripped off a whole ton of stems. The next day I look out and there are like 100 more stems and flowers! So I ripped them all again (even though the flowers look so pretty). The next day; 100 more stems and now they’re turning white! Those things are amazing. You can’t kill them. They’re really hard to uproot. You don’t have to plant them. You don’t have to water them. They grow anywhere; they’ll grow through the sidewalk; through the cracks in your driveway! So I did some research. Turns out that dandelions are also like a super food. You can eat the roots; you can eat the stems, the leaves, the petals… the whole thing! They have all these nutrients and they’re supposed to be good for your blood pressure, your cholesterol, they help fight inflammation, they lower your blood sugar; they’re good for your liver function…. They’re miracle plants. I swear they’re also probably the cure for COVID! They’re amazing. All plants are amazing. All animals are amazing.

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Look Up to the Sky

Grandpa Bunny (Disney Classic) (Little Golden Book) by RH Disney (Author, Illustrator).

A reflection for the Solemnity of the Ascension, year B. The readings are Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23 and     Mark 16:15-20.

 When I was 4 years old my grandfather died. The whole experience was kept fairly hidden from me – except I was told that he was going to Heaven. I remember that even though I was not taken to the funeral Mass, (for some reason) I was outside the Church, in the parking lot, just after the funeral was over and I kept looking up at the sky. I wanted to see if I could see the coffin flying off to heaven – with wings! I must’ve been listening to the song, “Spirit in the Sky“: “♪♪ going on up to the Spirit in the sky…” Hey, it was the 70’s!

I guess someone asked what I was doing and then explained that this is not how people get to Heaven. It’s funny the way kids think about things. I was looking up to the sky because I wanted to see someone awesome; something amazing.

And I think that’s a bit of what’s happening to the disciples in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

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