Friday, July 31, 2020 at 12:19 PM
Parishes on the Navajo Nation will remain closed until at least the month of September.
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[Isaiah 55: 1-3; Romans; Matthew 14: 13-21]

"One does not live on bread alone,
 but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. "

During these days of the COVID-19 virus, we have not been able to receive the Body of Christ.  We have not been able to live on the “bread” so to speak.  We do have a spiritual communion which we can pray daily.  The last part of that prayer “…never permit me to be separated from you” are very powerful words we ask of Christ.  Do we truly comprehend how strong those words are?  Scripture says we are to live on “every word” that comes from God.  Do we pay attention to the words we pray to God?  

In the Gospel today, we hear that Jesus withdraws in a boat by himself to a deserted place…probably to grieve the loss of his friend and cousin John the Baptist.  We too grieve in these days of losing loved ones, especially to this virus.  Often, we want that space to be alone, so we know how Jesus might have been feeling at the time.  However, His followers find Him and crowd all around on the mountainside.  Our reaction might have been to get back on that boat and get out of there!  Jesus stays…heals…and ultimately provides them with food.

Jesus knows our hungers…our longingness to return to Mass as parish family…our stresses and anxieties…our brokenness…  Jesus holds us…blesses us…and then asks us to be bread for others.  He gives us the strength to continue our journey with one another.  "The hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs."


[I Kings 3: 5, 7-12; Romans 8: 28-30; Matthew 13: 44-52]

“…God who unites those who dwell in his house;
he himself gives might and strength to his people.”

The quote above is from the Entrance Antiphon for today.  In these days of division/disharmony between people based upon gender, political affiliation, ethnicity, etc., it is comforting to know that God brings unification and strength to those who dwell in the house of God.

In the first reading, when God offers to give King Solomon whatever gift he suggests, Solomon asks for: “an understanding heart to judge his people and distinguish right from wrong.”  God is pleased. Solomon could have asked for riches, victory over enemies etc.  Solomon wanted the wisdom and kindness of God.  We heard about these qualities of God in the readings last week.

May the prayer of Solomon be our own.  May we also seek for the qualities of goodness, kindness, and mercy during such unrestful/unsettling times.  These are the very virtues of God Himself.  To have a kind and loving heart will be, for us, the ‘pearl of great price’ we hear about in the Gospel today.

When we have the goal of living a life of kindness, forgiveness, and mercy, we can make the following prayer from St. Paul, in the Second Reading our own: “We know that all things work for good for those who Love God, who are called according to His purpose.”  We are all called.  When we make mistakes, face conflicts and serious disagreements with others, we are still called to be of service to those very people in our lives that sometimes make life extremely challenging.  God gives us the strength to live as “People of Hope” when it sometimes feels like there is none.  “The revelation of your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple.”


[Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19; Romans 8: 26-27; Matthew 13: 24-30]

The Spirit of God comes to the aid of our weakness…”

Our Gospel today continues using the image, the example, of the ‘seed’ planted in the ground.  Today’s Gospel includes the idea of the ‘growth’ that happens as the seed takes root.  We pray that we will allow the seed, the Word of God, to truly take root in our lives. As the Gospel also points out, we are well aware that there are obstacles, temptations, and challenges, which can distract us from the true Life of God. 

We certainly have been challenged during these days of the virus affecting our lives in so many ways.  The Spirit will help us through these times and give us the hope to continue forward, to know that things will not always be this way.  By working together, we will get through these difficult times of so much loss!

The Book of Wisdom reminds us of the greater plan of God, a God Who is, and always will be, in charge of His World.  There are indeed ‘weeds’ in our lives, the things that can hinder the growth of the word of God.  We have experienced some of these “evils” personally, watched them play out on TV, and seen the injustices all around us. Yet, given all of these circumstances, we know the power and the ‘care’ of God in our lives is always stronger. 

We are in good hands.  We have to live in this world with all the circumstances that surround us.  We are surrounded by the Wisdom and Power of the Spirit of God.  We have a God who ‘cares’ for us, and for all that He has created.  We, therefore, are challenged to also care for God’s earth, and for each other.  We need to trust that the Spirit of God truly will come to our aid.


[Isaiah 55: 10-11; Romans 8: 18-23; Matthew 13: 1-23]

“The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to Him will have life forever.”

The quote above reminds us of the theme from last week.  Jesus promised, at the end of His time on earth, to send us His Spirit, to be with us always.  That Spirit of God is the Seed we hear about this week.

Last week we heard about the promise Jesus made: to be always with us. Jesus keeps that promise through the workings of His Spirit available to us.  Jesus makes His Spirit and His Life available to us.  Jesus is doing His part.    Today our readings go a step further.  The theme today calls on us to think about our part in this picture…to make ourselves available to Him.  Are we choosing to allow the Holy Trinity into our lives regularly?

The First Reading talks about the earth, waiting patiently for the rains to come.  We can identify with that picture.  We are waiting for rain to water the earth now so it will be fruitful and produce the crops and vegetation we need.  This is very much an ‘at home’ picture for us.  We also are waiting to be refreshed by the “rain”, the Spirit of God renewing our “dry fruit” from within.

Jesus transfers this image of the earth to the ‘good ground’ of our spiritual soul.  The Gospel uses the images of different kinds of soil: foot path, rocky ground, thorns, and finally good ground.  We can identify at different times with all these spiritual soil conditions: foot path…too hard; rocky ground…too many distractions; thorns…too many options.  Hopefully, there are the ‘good times’ when we are ready to receive the seed of God’s Spirit.  May we search for more and more ‘good times’ in our lives where God can truly be present.  “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”  Lord, help us to be that good ground, ready to receive and absorb all that YOU have to offer.


[Zechariah 9: 9-10; Romans 8: 9, 11-13; Matthew 11: 25-30]

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Upon first reading this scripture above, it feels like a message for today as we struggle with the power of COVID-19 in our lives.  If we do what we want…when we want…with no care of the welfare of those around us…we might physically die from this virus.  These last months have required discipline and sacrifice from all of us.  As soon as we give in to our earthly desires…no masks…no physical distancing…no self-isolating…no hand washing…the strength of the virus overpowers us once again.

St. Paul, in the Second Reading reminds us that we are people of the Spirit.  Paul reminds us that we are alive, not only in the flesh. More importantly, we are alive in the Spirit.

It is very interesting that, in the Gospel, Jesus uses the image of the “Yoke”.  We know, maybe first hand, but also from movies, sports, books, etc. what a yoke is:  it is a wooden harness that fits over the necks of animals, mainly oxen, to allow them to pull a load evenly.

Fr. Gilbert would remind us that Joseph and Jesus were carpenters and probably made many of these yokes for their livelihood…and made them to fit well.  The real meaning of this image is in the spiritual sense.  Obviously, we all have burdens, worries, cares that we have to bear, and carry.  We are all concerned, stressed, and worried at times about ourselves and our loved ones, especially in these days of this virus.  When we ‘wear’ the spiritual yoke of grace, it allows Jesus to bear the weight of our burdens, the weight of life with us.

When we are ‘yoked’ with Jesus, we are assured that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are also our guides.   We are assured, that, in spite of a few stumbles and wrong turns, we are truly on the “Straight and Narrow.”    Jesus includes in this Gospel an invitation to ‘know Him’, the Father, and the Holy Spirit more intimately: “No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.”  We will surely get to ‘know’ Jesus much more intimately if we are ‘yoked’ with Him.  Jesus will carry our burdens with each of us, and we will walk the path of life together.


[II Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16; Romans 6: 3-4, 8-11; Matthew 10: 37-42]

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
announce the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

The quote above from the Alleluia Verse seems to be very appropriate as we celebrate this week of July Fourth.  We have been chosen, through our baptism, to announce the Good News as disciples. This week, especially, we give thanks to God for the many privileges we enjoy, and the freedom that we have to live the life we believe we deserve to live.  Perhaps that is what makes it so difficult during this time of being “TOLD” what to do in order to protect ourselves and others.  We struggle with this feeling of freedom…or lack thereof.

It is possible to become very self-centered about the good things that we have.   Sometimes we think of our freedoms in a selfish way and take them for granted.  It is good to reflect on the second part of the verse above: “Announce the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”  In this way, we give credit to God, who always cares for us.  In these dark times, we have the Light of Christ showing us the way.

In the Gospel, Jesus talks about the dangers of loving only mother, father, our own families and relatives and forgetting about God who is the one who began the whole love process.  God calls us to use and learn from the love we feel for those closest to us.  With that love as our model, we are to expand our love and concern to all.  Jesus gives us in the example of the ‘cup of cold water’.  Even the smallest efforts can bring good to other people. Maybe wearing masks and social distancing are some of those small efforts?

Finally, St Paul in the Second Reading encourages us: “… so that just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too might live in newness of life.”   We thank God that we have the freedom and grace to always begin anew in living and using the New Life of God.  Let us pause for a moment in this week to thank God, our Creator, for the many freedoms and “lights” in our lives.