Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

ORDINARY TIME, Sundays 2-11, Year A

Select liturgy here

SUNDAYS 2 - 4

SUNDAYS 5 - 7

SUNDAYS 8 - 11 


 SUNDAYS 2 - 4


SECOND Sunday, A
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40; 1 Cor 1:1-3; St. John 1:29-34

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We pray the Scriptures in each Mass. The beauty of liturgical prayer is founded on the Word of God, such that we pray the Scriptures as Christ our Lord did, even as he died on the cross.

As John hailed the Son of God made man, so we too, in the Mass, after the consecration, worship the "Lamb of God." "Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him who takes away the sin of the world; blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb." As we behold Christ truly present in the Eucharist we proclaim Him Messiah with the same awe and love with which St. John uttered his proclamation as recorded in our Gospel today.

The Catechism helps us in our meditation:

"The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he already is 'the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.' (John 1:29) Already he is anticipating the 'baptism' of his bloody death. (Mark 10:38) Already he is coming to 'fulfill all righteousness,' that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his father's will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. (Matthew 3:15) The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son."(Luke 3:22) (CCC 536)

When we pray the responses of the Mass, let us remember that we are praying the Word of God. "Sursum corda", "lift up your hearts", as you treasure the prayers and responses of the Mass, and meet Christ in the liturgy.
Looking forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

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THIRD Sunday, A
Isaiah 8, 23 - 9,3; Psalm 27; 1Cor 1, 10-13. 17; St. Matthew 4, 12-23

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Reform your lives! The kingdom of heaven is at hand." These words of Jesus warn us against sleeping our lives away, against spiritual laziness. Like headlines about a disaster on the front page of the newspaper, the words and actions of Jesus are urgent and often unsettling. Our Lord makes it clear that we cannot afford confusion about where we are heading. We must realize that our words and actions of each day, of every moment, have eternal significance.

Sin is incompatible with the Gospel, but Christianity is not a science of escaping as much punishment as possible in the hands of an angry God simply by strict observance of the rules. Christianity is about a relationship, important above all others. Our faith should be our very life, more precious than all other things. We should pray that our lives will be a gift that we return to the Lord in ever greater generosity as we follow our call to heroic holiness. If we cannot say this is true, then we are not the Christians our Lord calls us to be. If we realize that the stakes are eternal, than the words of Christ will not be lost upon us. We will take his words and teachings to heart, as spirit and life. "Reform your lives."

The Catechism speaks about the way of conversion for Christians. "The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Moved by grace man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man." (Council of Trent) (CCC 1989)

Our faith is also one of reaching out, proclaiming Christ to others, inviting others to share the life of Christ. "Come after me and I will make you fishers of men." Preaching, teaching and proclaiming the fantastic news about the kingdom is not just for the apostles, the pope, bishops, and priests, but for all the baptized. Our life, first given in baptism, by its nature seeks to share itself with others. Faith will not satisfy, will not grow or bring more life, if we are content to keep it inside. True faith seeks generously to be shared with all of the brothers and sisters we meet. Share your faith, be "fishers of men", and your faith-life will overflow in joy and will surely grow, welling up to eternal life.

Looking forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

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FOURTH Sunday, A
Zephaniah 2, 3; 3, 12-13; Psalm 146; 1 Cor 1, 26-31; Matthew 5, 1-12

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"BE GLAD AND REJOICE, FOR YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN IS GREAT."

The joys of heaven are infinite and eternal, and so are completely beyond our ability to fully understand. But how often do we even try to contemplate that eternal day of resurrection and life, when we will know God as he is, for "we shall see him face to face"? To see God, face to face, is an unlimited joy and glory, fulfilling our every need and desire, and leaving us without any stain of sin or sadness whatever.
The Catechism quotes St. Augustine in this regard: "There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end." (CCC 1720)
Inasmuch as we remain faithful to our baptism, and live the life of Christ, we are promised "your reward in heaven is great." The difficult task for us is to live in faithfulness, every moment, every day, to Christ as Lord, through the power of His passion, death and resurrection. We are called to perfection, to holiness. Christ teaches us about holiness in the "Beatitudes" of Matthew, chapter 5, in today's gospel. We are "poor in spirit" when we learn to practice a proper detachment from reliance on the gifts of this life to rely instead on the power and life of Christ, which will never end. Christ is the resurrection and the life, and so to share in his kingly reign of supernatural and eternal life takes us beyond death. By living out this and the other beatitudes, we are blessed with rock-solid confidence that heaven is not beyond our grasp, that we have been saved from slavery to eternal death, brought about by sin.

It is the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or Mass, which is the way, first and foremost, in which we share in Christ's perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins and the bestowal of life eternal. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." If we grow in our knowledge and belief in the power of Christ, truly present in His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, then we will truly hunger for the Eucharist as the gift of real and eternal life. If we grow in our reverential approach to the Real Presence of Christ, in the communion of the Mass, then our faith will grow both in the divine person of Christ and the life he bestows, and our love for the Mass will grow. It is through faith, a divine gift, that we begin now to share in the perfect happiness of the saints in heaven. Christ's Body and Blood bestows that faith. Let us go with joy to meet Christ in the Eucharist each Sunday: for "Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill."

Looking forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

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SUNDAYS 5 - 7


FIFTH Sunday, A
Isaiah 58, 7-10; Psalm 112; 1Cor 2, 1-5; St. Matthew 5, 13-16

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"You are the salt of the earth." Often quoted, seldom understood. Do we understand what it means for our relationship with Christ?

That little salt shaker sitting today on every kitchen table was unknown in the Middle East of the time of Christ. Only the very wealthy could afford refined salt. Ordinary people had a "salt bag." The salt with all its impurities was placed in the bag, and then used in soup or other liquids for flavoring. Eventually all the salt was gone, leaving only impurities, or the "dregs." This is what is meant in the gospel when our Lord asks, "what if the salt goes flat?"

Salt is a good symbol for the gift of baptismal integrity given to us by Christ, as a white garment to be kept clean and radiant. Salt itself cannot go flat; it is used up and what remains in the salt bag, the "dregs" does not suffice for flavoring food, leaving all it touches "flat." One either has salt, or the taste of salt, or one doesn't. We are either dead in our sins or alive in Christ. Once the salt is gone, a person must return to the source of the salt in order to replace it; nothing else will suffice. If one is to have life, one must go to its Divine source.

The white garments of our baptism and the lighting of a candle are signs of the gift of grace we receive from Christ, as we read in the Catechism.

The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has "put on Christ," (Gal 3:27) has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In him the baptized are 'the light of the world.'" (Mt 5:14) (CCC 1243)

The grace and supernatural life we all received when we met Christ for the first time in baptism is the only source of life for us; there are no substitutes for the real thing. Material things, money, persons, nothing can offer us the freedom and life that comes to us in Christ. "Without me you can do nothing." Suffering, depression, disappointments are a fact of life. The flight from them is an illusion, a lie. Either we learn to guard the life of Christ within us as the only source of love, as a promise of eternal joy, or we attempt a vain escape into abuse of sexuality, drugs, alcohol, or material things.

The source of all true and lasting joy and blessing is Christ. That is easy to believe but difficult to live consistently within a life's commitment. We turn most readily in thanks to God when we get that raise or promotion, when the spouse and family are happy, when that perfect date comes along. But when the inevitable disappointments, tragedies, betrayals, or depressions come, do we guard and keep the life of Christ and promise of unending joy by remaining close to our Lord in the Eucharist, by faithfully attending Sunday Mass, by turning to prayer? Anything else is a flight from Him who alone can help us to bear all burdens. Life here will sometimes lose its flavor, and someday will end. But the glorious and eternal truth is that we are salt and light in Christ, for "in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." In Him alone is eternal glory, ours to share now, as a strength and sustenance at each moment, and forever.

Looking forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", -Father Cusick

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SIXTH Sunday, A
Sirach 15, 15-20; Psalm 119; 1 Cor 2, 6-10; Matthew 5, 17-37

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"There is, to be sure, a certain wisdom which we express...It is not a wisdom of this age, however, nor of the rulers of this age who are men headed for destruction. What we utter is God's wisdom, a mysterious, a hidden wisdom." Our Catholic faith, the fullness of the Christian revelation, is a scandal to this age, as it has been in every time and place. Our faith is a stumbling block for those who are filled with worldly wisdom. If my faith has been placed in self-assertiveness training, or in the cult of the body, or in having power or domination over others, then I am incapable of understanding the Gospel of Christ. This Gospel demands that I take up a cross, which may demand suffering, and may even, in a supreme act of folly, call for me to imitate Christ and lay down my life for my salvation.

In Christ is the fullness of God, perfectly revealed for us. He is the fulfillment of the Commandments. In him, we can share in the glory of God, in his holiness and life. His holiness and life is the only source of happiness for us, because he created us to know and love Him as the fulfillment of our being.Our perfection lies in keeping the commandments: "Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God." Many people reject this highest wisdom, that of keeping the commandments. Many do not know that failing to answer the Lord's invitation to attend Mass on Sunday without a grave reason is a mortal sin: "I am the Lord Thy God, thou shall keep the Sabbath day holy."

The Catechism illuminates the Christian custom of the "Lord's Day": "By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ's Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord's Day or Sunday...The Lord's Supper is its center, for there the whole community of the faithful encounters the risen Lord, who invites them to his banquet."(Jn 21:12; Lk 24:30) (CCC 1166)

"Whoever breaks the least significant of these commands and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of God." (Mt 5:19) God is Ruler and King, as well as loving Father, and we have a duty to worship Him in the perfect prayer of Christ: the Mass. We cannot be pleasing to God except in Christ, hence the necessity of the Mass, a sacrifice we cannot offer except in Christ.

Each Sunday some sleep in, some exercise or shop, and some watch TV. The kingdom of God is at hand, whether or not we feel like it. If we miss the train, it will not be because God does not love us, but because we failed to love Him in return, in the small ways, like getting up on Sunday morning in order to spend an hour exercising our spiritual muscles to prepare for the kingdom, where we shall live as God's glory, and see Him face to face eternally.

Looking forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", -Father Cusick

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SEVENTH Sunday, A

Leviticus 19, 1-2.17-18; Psalm 103; 1 Cor 3, 16-23; Matthew 5, 38-48

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"...love your enemies, pray for your persecutors."
Christianity is a radical way of life. Only the Christian, through the demands of his faith, forgives and prays for his enemies. The Catechism speaks of this hard saying which Christ teaches in today's Gospel:

"Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, (Mt 5:43-44) transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God's compassion can receive this gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men faith one another. (2 Cor 5: 18-21)" (CCC 2844)

In our prayers, we must honestly call to mind our enemies, and pray for them with the faith that, as Christ forgives us, so must we forgive all those who have wronged us. We pray at each Mass, "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", so that we will meet Christ as our merciful Redeemer and just Judge both now and forever.

Looking forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" - Father Cusick

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SUNDAYS 8 - 11


Eighth Sunday

Isaiah 49, 14-15; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 4, 1-5; St. Matthew 6, 24-34

Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?'...Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." (Matthew 6: 31-33; cf. 10: 29-31) (CCC 305)

(See also CCC 1942, 2113, 2424, 2848)


Ninth Sunday

Deuteronomy 11, 18. 26-28; Psalm 31; Romans 3, 21-25. 28; St. Matthew 7, 21-27

"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7, 21)

The prayer of faith consists not only in saying "Lord, Lord," but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father. (Cf. Matthew 7:21) Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan. (Cf. Matthew 9: 38; Luke 10:2; John 4:34) (CCC 2611)

(See also CCC 2826)


TENTH Sunday

Hosea 6, 3-6; Psalm 50; Romans 4, 18-25; St. Matthew 9, 9-13

"Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9, 13)

The temple sacrifice which David and his people offered is no longer desired by God.  Rather, the Father wants the perfect sacrifice of His Son, which wins for us His perfect and infinite mercy.  The blood of bulls and goats does not avail, for what we need as sinners is mercy, and only God can forgive sins.

We, broken and sometimes faithless like King David and the Jewish people he ruled, are a people of sacrifice. Our sacrifice, Jesus Christ, is the perfect fulfillment and completion of David's temple sacrifice, for Jesus Christ is Himself the new temple, "not made by hands" destroyed and rebuilt "in three days".  Jesus Christ is the sacrifice in which we must participate, in whom we must be offered to the Father.  If we would offer perfect praise to the Father we must do so in the Holy Spirit, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus.  We can learn from King David, though. King David once said that he would never offer a sacrifice to God in which he himself did not participate.

We participate in the offering of sacrifice by providing as gifts the materials necessary such as bread and wine, or the time or treasure necessary to obtain these gifts.  The perfect manner of participating, however, is to offer ourselves as the perfect gift desired by God.  The humanity of Jesus Christ, given completely on the cross, is the key for us to understand what God demands of us in prayer and praise.  "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."  Just as the custom of offering a financial gift for the offering of Mass for a loved one is praiseworthy, much more desirable by God is a form of offering most closely configured to the gift of his Son: body, blood and soul.  Thus, our own active participation in the sacrifice which we desire to offer for another, living or deceased, is a much more praiseworthy and fruitful offering.  To attend and personally offer as a spiritual sacrifice the gift one's own heart and mind through meditation, thanksgiving, prayer and praise in word and song is a more loving and more loved gift by the Father of love.  Above all, communion of intellect and will by love is accomplished in each Mass by attentive hearing of the word of Scripture and receiving of the Lord bodily present in the Eucharistic host.

"Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice; 'the sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit...' (Psalm 51:17) The prophets of The Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor. (Cf. Amos 5:21-25; Isaiah 1: 10-20.) Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' (Matthew 9:13; 12:7; cf. Hosea 6:6) The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's love and for our salvation. (Cf. Hebrews 9: 13-14) By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God." (CCC 2100)

Our heavenly Father has a "gift list" - He has revealed what he most wants from each of us His beloved children: the perfect sacrifice which is Mercy Incarnate.  His sacrifice of Himself on the Cross is perfect mercy and, thus, perfect sacrifice.  The cross is now our sacrifice of mercy as well, for having been baptized into the Son we have been baptized into His death which has won mercy for us, the forgiveness of our sins.  "Sacrifice" means to "make holy".  We ourselves are made holy in all of the gifts poured out by Christ's perfect and holy offering on the cross as priest, altar and victim.  In baptism we become holy sons and daughters in the son and given the grace to praise and be found acceptable to the Father.  We are only then able to truly offer the redemptive sacrifice of the Son together with Him in the Eucharistic banquet which is the fruit of His death on the cross and Resurrection.

How lavish and abundant is the infinite love of the Father!  How richly does he pour out in mercy so many gifts upon each of us!  How can we not respond most generously to His giving?  We do so by our own loving and attentive participation in the holy Mass, the source and summit of our lives as God's sons and daughters.  "A broken and humbled heart" God will not scorn; rather it is precisely our hearts no matter how broken or wounded by sin that must be the locus of our spiritual sacrifice.  Thus mercy will be sacrifice.  This God desires.


ELEVENTH Sunday
Exodus 19, 2-6; Psalm 100; Romans 5, 6-11;
Matthew 9:36- 10:8

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We have returned to what us called the "Ordinary Time" of the liturgical year. This name is something of a misnomer, for there is nothing at all ordinary about this time, in which we explore the manifold riches of the mystery of Christ our Redeemer. Throughout the year as marked by the Church, we follow the extraordinary events of God's work of redemption, which finds its fullest manifestation in Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Gospel today details the commission of the Apostles, who were given the authority of Christ Himself to teach, sanctify and govern the Church which He founded on the person of His Vicar, Peter, the first "Pope", meaning “papa” or f ather of the Church.  This sending of the Twelve is the response of the pity which moves the heart of God for us.  "At the sight of the crowds, the heart of Jesus was moved with pity", Matthew tells us in verse 36 of Chapter 9.
Divine compassion, or pity, is one of authentic love, extending even to the our utmost need for mercy.  We sing in the Psalm: “His mercy endures forever”.  We implore God for pity, a love of tender mercy, as we experience our sinfulness. The heart of our heavenly Father is filled with love and tender compassion for us,“the crowds” of humanity, as he sees us weary with sin, sometimes even to despair.  In all of the sacraments of the Church, celebrated by the Apostles and their successors in the bishops and priests, he extends his most lavish graces upon his, particularly to forgive us of the sin which threatens to destroy us.
His pity is met in gratitude by our piety, which we is defined for us by the Catechism:
“Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. ‘With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?’ “  (CCC 2215)
The gift of divine life in Christ moves us to practice a superabundance of piety toward our Father, the source of this supernatural sharing through redemption.  Our natural piety toward earthly parents is a mere shadow in comparison to the love of gratitude we owe to God for the unmerited gift of eternal life.  And we express our piety, a gift of the Holy Spirit, by doing the will of the Father as we celebrate the sacramental life through which his gracious mercies are superabundantly bestowed.  In baptism we are “birthed” by God, in Communion fed, in Confirmation sealed with the Spirit, and in Confession restored to life again after the death of sin. It is out of infinite love and pity for weak and sinful humanity that Christ empowers and sends forth the Apostles to both preach the Word of truth and make present the "reign of God" through the graces of the seven sacraments. His authority is given also for the expulsion of "unclean spirits and to cure sickness and disease of every kind ". The divine love of Christ is evident in the fact that he holds nothing back from the Church, His Body. He gives his very self, particularly His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, so that we may have nothing less than His very own life, His holiness.
In every Eucharistic Sacrifice we perfectly express and fulfill the virtue of piety. The Mass is our thanks to our heavenly Father perfect offered in Jesus our Savior through the indwelling Spirit of God’s love.  In every Mass we perfectly fulfill our duty to render gratitude through the virtue of piety.  God’s pity is thus met love for love by our piety.  Knowing this truth cannot fail to fill our hearts once again with loving thanks. We pity, with God, those among us particularly weighed down by life’s cares and illness.  We celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick with them to exercise this love, extending to them communion with the healing of God in Word and Sacrament.
" ' Heal the sick!' The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health." (CCC 1509)
When sick in mind, body or soul, therefore, our first concern should be a regular reception of the Eucharist, with active participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass. We approach the Lord in communion through the Sacrament of Confession when conscious of serious sin and also ask for the Sacrament of the Sick when facing serious surgery or diagnosed with serious illness.
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