This week on this website, we have also
posted reflections for All Saints and
All Souls’ Days:
All Saints -
What has gotten God so riled up? The
first reading, from the prophet Malachi, has an ominous tone. One is
tempted to drop or skip over the reading, it sounds so fearsome. It
seems to confirm people’s stereotype of an angry God ready to come
down hard on people. Did you hear what God said through the prophet?
"I will send a curse upon you…." "I, therefore have made you
contemptible and base before all the people." However, a closer look
at the reading might sway us to think that God is quite justified
being so angry.
We are not sure who Malachi was, his
name means "my messenger" in Hebrew. The emphasis isn’t on who
the prophet was, but what he had to say. And what he says is
very condemning, with reason. Malachi addresses the Word of God
specifically to the priests, the religious leaders of the people.
Malachi wrote soon after the
Israelites returned from exile, around the sixth century BCE.
Remember that the Persian king, Cyrus, had not only freed the
Israelites, but ordered the rebuilding of their Temple in Jerusalem.
It was built, rededicated and made ready for worship. Though the
Temple was dedicated to God, people were not. Their worship was
perfunctory. Animals for sacrifice, which were supposed to be pure,
to match the purity of the Temple and the integrity of the people,
were often the least valuable, sick and maimed ones from the flocks
and herds. The priests were supposed to lead the people in a pure
worship of God, but they did not.
That is why Malachi is so upset in
his indictment of Israel’s religious leaders. Because of their
disregard the people, whom they were supposed to lead in God’s ways,
had gone astray. "You have turned aside from the way and have caused
many to falter by your instruction." The priests’ scandalous neglect
of their holy mission resulted in a disintegrated community whose
bonds with God were seriously weakened.
It’s difficult to read Malachi’s
condemnation of the priests and their assistants in the Temple, the
Levites. It stirs up a memory of a painful time in Israel’s history.
But it also speaks to recent clerical scandals in our own church.
Priests, who not only committed sexual sins and abuse of the young,
were protected by some of the very bishops under whom they served.
What would the mouthpiece of God, Malachi, say about all this?
The prophecy ends with a reminder
and a call to acknowledge God as our Creator and loving Parent.
Malachi also calls all of us to reform and put aside what separates
us from God: halfhearted and perfunctory worship; indifference to
the spiritual well-being of others who may be in our charge; any
privilege for special treatment ordained, or lay, may feel is our
due because of our status in the church community.
What is comforting to hear in this
fiery prophet is the obvious passion of our God, who loves us so
intensely, that God is moved to speak harshly to get our attention
and call us to right ways and pure worship. All of us have some
responsibility to lead and instruct others, especially the young,
about our faith. In the light of God’s passionate outburst we must
wake up and examine how well we are fulfilling our responsibilities
and what kind of example we are setting for others.
In today’s gospel Jesus doesn’t
confront the religious leaders, he does that elsewhere. Instead, he
speaks a warning about them to the crowds and his disciples. Still,
we can hear the same passion and intensity of Malachi in Jesus’
words. Like Malachi, he denounces the religious caste of his day,
the scribes and Pharisees. They were the privileged ones who sat on
the "chair of Moses" – positions of religious instruction and
leadership. But their lives did not measure up to their teachings,
so Jesus tells his hearers to listen to their teaching, but not to
follow their example.
In his criticism Jesus even spells
out two of the practices of the scribes and Pharisees. Their
elaborate and detailed interpretation of the religious law put
burdens on the people, which they did not follow themselves. Nor did
they do anything to relieve the burden they put on people’s
shoulders. They claimed the authority of their office, implying they
spoke on God’s behalf, but the God they said they represented was
harsh and demanding – not the God Jesus preached and showed by his
acts of compassion and forgiveness.
Jesus also criticized their
hypocrisy and love of praise. Just picture these self-satisfied men
wearing larger-than-necessary religious ornamentation, which drew
attention to their status and so-called devotion. Imagine them
entering a festive meal, expecting the first places at table and
walking through the market place greeted with deference by the
"common folk." In the places of prayer, the synagogues, they also
expected seats of honor, as if to say they were holier, intimates of
God, because they sat up front close to the sacred scrolls.
Jesus eschews honorific titles among
his followers. They were to consider themselves equal to one
another, all sisters and brothers. He says similar things throughout
the gospel. Remember, "The last shall be first and the first last."
What would that mean in our own settings? How would those of us in
roles of leadership practice our responsibilities to the community,
without falling into a pharisaical mentality while we teach, sit up
front and lead worship? "The greatest among you must be the
We are not better than those Jesus
condemns, we can’t congratulate ourselves for rising above the flaws
of the religious folk who constantly confronted and challenged Jesus
for not observing the customs they themselves ignored.
Jesus’ challenge to the leaders in
the church is not only addressed to the ordained. More and more, in
our parishes and diocesan offices, we see ministerial responsibility
being fulfilled by the laity, which is appropriate since, by our
baptism, we are identified priest, prophet and royalty. Whatever the
form our leadership takes we carry within us the mantra of service
Jesus has given us: "Whoever exalts self will be humbled, but
whoever humbles self will be exalted."
for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
Has not the one God created us? Why then do we
break faith with one another, violating the covenant of our fathers?--Malachi
We really have to take a moment and
let these two questions in today’s readings sink in. . .These
questions give us the opportunity to examine the Church’s teaching
Marvin Mich writes in The
Challenge and Spirituality of Catholic Social Teaching (Orbis,
2011), that "While the concept of solidarity is as ancient as the
Hebrew covenants. . .the actual word ‘solidarity’ appeared in
English only in the middle of the nineteenth century when Catholic
thinkers lifted the term from the labor movements in France and
Germany. They were looking for a word to express the Catholic vision
of human beings as essentially social in contrast to
the individualistic tendencies of capitalism. . .The
word ‘solidarity’ communicated their vison of society as cooperative
and harmonious." Several of our recent popes have promoted this
concept that conveys "the God-given dignity of the human person that
government and economic policy should recognize" (ibid,
200). Solidarity means walking in relationship with those suffering
Pope Francis states, "Today more
than ever, I think it is necessary to educate ourselves in
solidarity, to rediscover the value and meaning of this very
uncomfortable word, which oftentimes has been left aside, and to
make it become a basic attitude in decisions made at the political,
economic and financial levels, in relationships between persons,
peoples and nations. It is only in standing firmly united, by
overcoming selfish ways of thinking and partisan interests, that the
objective of eliminating forms of indigence. . .will also be
achieved. . .Many steps have been taken in different countries, but
we are still far from a world where all can live with dignity"
(10/16/13). Solidarity means expanding our small world view to see
the world from God’s point of view where we are all beloved children
When we are truly walking in
solidarity, we lose our sense of superiority and discover empathy.
Want to experience what it means to walk in solidarity? Join a
Support Circle and accompany a homeless family for a year. Accompany
a pregnant woman through Gabriel Project. Join the efforts of Prison
Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, or Door Ministry--these are just
some of the ministries in our parish that are accompanying others in
solidarity. To get involved, contact
---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
Director of Social Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral
31st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(A) November 5, 2017
Malachi 1: 14b–2:2b, 8-10; Ps 131; 1 Thess. 2: 7b–9, 13; Matthew 23:
by Jude Siciliano, OP
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his
"Whoever exalts self will be humbled,
but whoever humbles self will be
Whatever the form our ministry and
leadership in the Christian community takes, we carry within us and
repeat frequently, the mantra of service Jesus has given us:
"Whoever exalts self will be humbled, but whoever humbles self will
So we ask ourselves:
- How do I serve others as a
disciple of Jesus?
- What teaching of Jesus guides
POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES
"One has to strongly affirm that
condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that
humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
Inmates on death row are the most
forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this
space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a
postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not
forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through
North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If
the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
- Reche Smith 0379083 (On death
row since 3/14/02)
- Terrance Campbell 0064125
- Weslet T. Smith 0064125
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail
Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285
For more information on the Catholic
position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday
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1. We have compiled Four CDS for
- Individual CDs for each
Liturgical Year, A, B or C
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"Liturgical Years A, B and C."
If you are a preacher, lead a
Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical
team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process.
Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they
prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to
and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.
"Homilias Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday
and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If
you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note
to fr. John Boll, O.P. at
Where you will
find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions"
and "Homilias Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews,
daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.
Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to
prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars.
If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a
friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.
Thank you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
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