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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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After the Collect, the people are seated and invited to listen attentively to Sacred Scripture. The Word prepares us for the Sacrament to follow. There are many critics of missals for the people because most liturgists are of the opinion that this is the time when we “listen” and not “read.”  Of course, this assumes that everyone can hear and that is not always the case.  Many parishes will use interpreters for the deaf to sign the message to hard-of-hearing congregants. However, not everyone knows sign language and interpreters can be hard to come by and may strain the Church budget.  Missals can be useful in such situations.  Speaking for myself, I believe the value of a personal missal is that it allows the faithful to read and to begin their reflection on the assigned Scriptures prior to Mass.  If at all possible, we should not engage God’s Word cold in the pews.  Rather, hearing the verses and then listening to the preaching should deepen what we have already received. The lectionary insures that a good segment of the Bible is covered. Despite certain Protestant naysayers, Catholics are the original Bible-Christians. The Bible possesses saving truth and it is crucial that we make it our own.  We may not always know chapter and verse, but we should each develop a familiarity with Scripture and read the Bible every day.  Indeed, many who cannot make weekday Masses will follow the daily Mass readings at home or at work.  That is why most parishes list the daily readings in the weekly bulletins distributed after Sunday Masses.  God’s Word has the power to transform or mold us. It is a mighty bulwark against the efforts of the world to replace Christian formation with a non-theistic secular humanism.     

We have three readings for weekdays: the First Reading, the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel.  There are four readings on Sundays and Holy Days, an additional reading after the Responsorial.  The typical pattern on Sunday is as follows:  Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament (usually an epistle) and the Gospel. An effort is made to thematically connect the first reading with the day’s Gospel. 

The liturgical calendar for Sundays is divided into three cycles: A (Matthew), B (Mark) and C (Luke).  The Gospel of John is used heavily during the season of Easter. The Weekday cycle is divided as I and II.  We sit for the readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms and the Epistles.  We stand for the proclamation of the Gospel out of respect for the life of Christ.  The first reading is ordinarily from the Old Testament but we hear the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season. The second reading is always taken from the Epistles or the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.  Whenever we read or hear the Word of God, we should begin by personally invoking the Holy Spirit.  There is much about the Bible we cannot begin to understand without both the direction of the Church and the help that comes from the Spirit of truth.  While the homilist will likely make some connections for us, this does not excuse us from seeking how the Scriptures may speak to us as a community and individually in the here-and-now.  The Scriptures present to us the story of salvation. The homily invites us to interject our stories into this great story that we might know the intervention of Christ.  The Old Testament gives a promise that is fulfilled in the New. God reveals himself and his truths in the passage of human history      

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