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Weekly Gospel Readings

Gospel October 18, 2020

The First Reading is from the Prophet Isaiah. The Prophet has been given a message from God to Cyrus, King of Persia, who has just defeated the King of Babylonia in the 6th century BC. The great Persian Emperor Cyrus will be made part of   God’s saving plan for His chosen people. Cyrus is told that it was by the hand of God that he was successful in his battles and that God will use him to great advantage if he follows God's instructions. What makes this decree extraordinary is that it is addressed to a pagan king, Cyrus who was not a Jew, but he recognized true authority when faced with it and, in humility, he bowed in favor of the God of the Israelites.

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Gospel October 11, 2020

In the First Reading from Isaiah we have a graphic description of the great banquet that the Lord will prepare not only for the people of Israel, but for all people who hear and answer God’s call. The “veil” or all that separates us from God will be lifted and the spider’s “web” that imprisons us in ignorance and isolation will be brushed aside. At this banquet, there will be rich food and fine wines, there will be neither mourning nor death.

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Gospel October 4, 2020

In today’s First Reading, Isaiah describes the misuse and abuse of the people of Israel by their leaders as being like vines ripe for cultivation and left unattended. The Lord had prepared Israel like a fine vineyard, and Israel’s leaders like vintners with everything at their disposal to be fruitful and successful. What the Lord received instead were wild grapes. The vineyard fails to respond to God’s gracious care. The leaders of Israel were expected to cultivate justice and peace in their subjects, and they didn’t.

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Gospel September 27, 2020

The First Reading is from the Prophet Ezekiel. In this passage, Ezekiel is addressing his fellow Israelites who are suffering the consequences for centuries of infidelity to the Lord -for instance, the loss of their homeland and deportation to Babylon. Therefore, Ezekiel answers the objection raised by the Jewish slaves in Babylon, “Our ancestors sinned, but we are punished, and so “The Lord’s way is not fair!” In the same chapter of Ezekiel, God returns this “not fair” accusation, asking the House of Israel if their ways are “fair” when they turn from God’s love to serve false gods and their own false sense of what life is. Yet, God was willing to forgive them if they turned away from their evil ways.

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Gospel September 13, 2020

The First Reading is from the Book of Sirach. He observes that people are inclined to “hug tight” or “cherish” wrath and anger. They seem to enjoy holding grudges and keeping the memory of offences against them alive. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? The reason a person does not receive healing from the Lord is that the sinner holds onto grudges and is unrepentant. As recipients of God’s love and mercy, we are also expected to show love and mercy to others.

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Gospel September 6, 2020

The First Reading is from the Prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s original mission is to warn God’s people that unless they turn back from their evil ways, the Babylonians will destroy their country, and are now in exile in Babylon. This passage is, however, mainly about Ezekiel’s responsibility to carry out his mission to persuade disinterested people that if they do not change, they are in danger of being cut off from the Lord.

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Gospel August 30, 2020

The First Reading is from the Prophet Jeremiah. This reading is part of Jeremiah’s well-known complaint. Jeremiah didn't want to be a prophet, a spokesperson for God; but God chose him. That fidelity to his vocation to prophesy for the Lord makes him miserable. The king and priests reject his pleas for conversion and declare unpatriotic his announcements of the fall of Judah to the Babylonians. Jeremiah does not enjoy being the “object of laughter” and having “everyone mock him.” 

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Gospel August 23, 2020

The first reading, taken from Isaiah, gives a detailed description of the investiture of a royal court official. The robe, the sash, and the keys are insignia of this office. The Lord God, through Isaiah, tells Shebna who supports Israel’s military alliance with one pagan nation (Egypt) against another (Assyria) that the keys of authority will be taken away from him, the unfaithful, proud “master of the royal palace.”

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Gospel, August 16, 2020

The First Reading is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. As Isaiah writes these words in chapters 56-66 during the post-exilic period of Israel’s history (their exile in Babylon, 587-540 B.C.E.), there are lots of foreigners living in Israel. Many Jews, including the leaders, consider such people as outsiders and resist their joining in the worship services even though they are willing to accept the God of Israel and follow his ways. Isaiah challenges such a parochial and narrow mentality. Therefore, the prophet is telling everyone that God accepts all those who are willing to follow God's laws with sincerity and purity of heart. Non-Jews must “love the name of the Lord, become his servants, observe Sabbath, hold to God’s covenant,” then they must be welcomed into God’s house of prayer for ‘God’s house is for all peoples.’”

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Gospel August 9, 2020

The First Reading is from the first Book of Kings. Elijah triumphed over the prophets of Baal, a prominent pagan god, by challenging them to call fire down from heaven upon their altar. But their gods did not answer. After that, Elijah erected an altar and the one, true God answered and consumed it with fire. Elijah then had all the prophets of Baal killed. The king of Israel Ahab along with his wife Jezebel were angry with what Elijah did to the prophets of Baal. As a result, Jezebel sought to have Elijah killed. When Elijah went to the desert he was fleeing for his life.

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Gospel August 2, 2020

The First Reading is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. After 70 years of exile, some of the Israelite captives begin to grow accustomed to the Babylonian way of life. Some captives spent their money for “what is not bread,” and wages for “what fails to satisfy.” Some are seeking life from sources other than the one God. Such searching will end in emptiness and futility.
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Gospel July 26, 2020

The first reading is from the first Book of kings. Salomon, who recently ascended the throne of David, describes himself as a “mere youth.” The Hebrew word of youth or child, na’ar, denotes in this context a young adult who lacks experience in a job. Solomon is new to leadership. God asks Solomon what gift he desires most of all? He answers: “Wisdom and understanding heart.” In Israelite tradition, wisdom has to do with having the ability to attain success in any field of endeavor. Solomon illustrates this very well as he flourishes in governance, in construction, in foreign trade and diplomacy, and in writing proverbs. God gives Solomon wisdom and a discerning heart.

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Gospel July 19, 2020

Today’s first reading is from the Book of Wisdom which was probably written between 30 BC and AD 14, making it the latest work in the Old Testament. The goal of the author, a Greek-speaking Jew, is to defend Judaism against the pervasive influence of Hellenism (Greek pagan philosophies). This reading therefore affirms Israel’s hard-learned belief that their God is the almighty and only God. Though God is all-powerful, he uses his power to show mercy and clemency. God who is just and righteous is able to offer leniency toward all people. The people of Israel discover this from the way God treats them. That God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger” becomes part of its creed.  

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