Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

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Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Isaiah 50:4c-9a
Resp.: Psalm 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 (9) 2nd Reading: James 2:14-18
Gospel: Mark 8:27-35

In today's readings, Jesus is helping us to understand that we live in this world to determine where we will live for eternity. We must follow Jesus as we know, all the way to the Cross. This means that life on earth will be fraught with trials and adversity and unfortunately tragedy for some.

We also can have a tendency to want to make our lives on earth a type of utopia. It's not that we should try to make things bad for ourselves but we do have the examples of the saints who not only accepted their trials but even sought out times to suffer for God and for the sake of His Kingdom.

This really goes against the grain. The world tells us to vacation, have a good time, etc., to excess. We are entitled to vacations, sure, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying life as long as this does not involve sin. But Jesus reminds his disciples that he came into this world to die. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ but doesn't like that Jesus will suffer greatly and die. Peter had to be corrected. No one of us can change the fact that to follow Jesus means that we will suffer for being good as He did. But we too will rise at the end if we lose our lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD


Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Isaiah 35:4­7a Resp.: Psalm 146:7, 8­9, 9­10(1b) 2nd Reading: James 2:1­5 Gospel: Mark 7:31­37

During baptismal ceremonies the minister says to the one being baptized ephphatha or be opened. God wills that the ears of the person be opened to hear the word of God, the Scriptures. Being open to the Scriptures is a result of being cleansed from sin. Hearing is important because we are responsible for responding to what we have heard. Do we choose to follow God or not?

We receive grace when we receive the Sacraments. Water is a symbol of grace. In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we read that streams will burst forth when our God comes to us with vindication and divine recompense for all that we have suffered in His Name.

And what is the blessing we will receive? We will see and hear among other things who God is. We will be made whole. Even though we may seem foolish, outmoded and cast aside by the world, we will be triumphant in the Lord.

This is what really counts.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD


Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1­2, 6­8 Resp.: Psalm 15:2­3, 3­4, 4­5 (1a)
2nd Reading: James 1:17­18, 21b­22, 27 Gospel: Mark 7:1­8, 14­15, 21­23

Too many times we can be concerned with what we and other people see. In today's readings God is letting us know that what is on the inside is most important. As a people, we face a crisis in being. For instance when you take a plane trip and have a conversation with the person sitting next to you, are you asked who you are or what do you do? Many people tend to think that what we do, what we say, what we wear, and what we look like defines who we are when it is really the other way around. The old saying never judge a book by its cover is certainly apropos.

The Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples didn't wash their hands. Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites. They are only concerned with appearances —doing things for show, not out of love for God.

What defiles us is not what happens to us but what we freely choose, that is, what comes out of the heart. Similarly when we choose the right thing according to God's Will, we are blessed. In order to sin I have to be able to make a choice. Sin is in the choosing.

As the reading from St James says, be doers of the word not just hearers. Unfortunately, the easiest person to fool us is ourselves. This is why we need each other and of course God in our lives.

May God help us to know what we are doing. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit to know and to do the right thing despite how it looks.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Resp.: Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7 (9a)
2nd Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel: John 6:51-58

If we want have wisdom, to know what is right, why it is right and the fortitude we need to act accordingly, we need Jesus, His flesh and blood in us.

During the summer we hear from the Gospel of John about the Eucharist. At Mass we receive Jesus, His body and blood, soul and divinity. Unfortunately there are many who do not truly believe this, otherwise we would have more people going to Communion and Confession.

God's words are completely true. He is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. This is not usually our experience with each other so it's easy to think that God is the same way. So again, we need wisdom to go beyond our limited human thinking and experiences. As St. Paul said in today's reading, we need to watch carefully how we live making most of the opportunity because the days are evil.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Nativity of John the Baptist

1st Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Resp.:  Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
2nd Reading: Acts 13:22-26
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66, 80

John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament prophets. He heralds the advent of Jesus coming to preach and teach and ultimately die for all our sins. Just as the dawn precedes the day and clouds precede a rainstorm, Jesus was made known to those who listened to John even before he was born on the earth. In order to make room for God in our hearts, we must be prepared. If we are so full of ourselves, we cannot make room for Jesus. This is why the life of John the Baptist is necessary.

John's baptism was one of repentance – and by repenting we make room for God in our hearts. Then when we hear the word of God, it can take root and yield 30, 60 and 100-fold. As St. John of the Cross tells us, the Holy Spirit speaks to us whenever we read the Scriptures. This means that the Holy Spirit moves us to be and to do, when we are attentive to God's words.  

Doing God's Will makes us vibrant members of the Church. Just like when Zechariah verified that his son's name is John and was able to praise God, our belief in Jesus despite not seeing, despite not feeling perhaps, we are moved to praise Him as we should. May the birth of John the Baptist help us to repent and believe in an even greater way.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD
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