St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church - Naperville, IL

Reflecting on the Readings

June 28, 2020

We cannot always be takers. To lose our life means that we must be givers as well as receivers. In giving to each other we learn to receive from God. We hear in the first reading that genuine hospitality is highly praised, and in the Gospel that we can’t count the cost — we must sacrifice.

June 21, 2020

Disciples can expect to be confronted at any time by those who seek to harm them. We may not necessarily suffer the fate of modern-day martyrs in Asia and the Middle East, but we know well what we may face even here at home if we talk publicly about our faith. So what comfort to hear Jesus tell us to not be afraid to proclaim our faith from the housetops, for even the hairs on our head are counted by God, who loves us and sustains us.

June 14, 2020

Bread and wine were an ancient component in Israel’s ritual history. Jesus infused their sharing with new meaning that has sustained the church to this day. When we regularly participate in the Eucharist, we can become immune to its unifying power for the whole world. This annual feast reminds us that it is our central liturgical act as Christians. Unity is deeply needed more than ever, and the source of that unity is literally in our hands.

June 7, 2020

Relationships — even genetic ones — are a mystifying reality, and the best efforts to explain them are often poetic. They are often described in terms of their results, as in today’s readings on this celebration of God as a community. God’s love, peace, truth and hope deepen our relationship to one another, the Earth and all creatures. We don’t need to understand this, only to believe and live it.

May 31, 2020

The early Christian community knew that Jesus and the life-giving Spirit were with them. That conviction sustained and empowered them to deal with unimaginable challenges. We are given the same presence, peace and forgiveness when we come together, and we are called today to pass that on to others. What signs of this presence do we experience? How do we express it to others?

May 24, 2020

On this feast of the Ascension, we remember that Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain (CCC #665). This feast reminds us that like the first disciples, we are not to dally “looking up at the sky,” but are to get busy proclaiming the glory of God’s kingdom by the witness of our lives.

May 17, 2020

As we continue our Easter season reflections on the meaning of Christ’s resurrection in our lives, we begin to hear more and more frequent mentions of the Spirit, in preparation for our coming Pentecost celebration. As we gather for worship today, let us pray for the coming of the Spirit every day into our lives, and for our openness to receiving that same Spirit.

May 10, 2020

Our Gospels for the next few weeks are taken from Jesus’ farewell discourse at the Last Supper in John’s Gospel. Today Jesus reassures that all we have to do is focus on knowing and believing in him, and we will find the way. It will not be easy to do, but that is why we have our community with us, to help us.

May 3, 2020

Our long Easter celebration continues today with what is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” because the Gospel on this Sunday is always one of Jesus’ Good Shepherd sayings. Today is a good day to reflect on and be thankful for all the people who have been good shepherds in our lives.

April 26, 2020

Jesus says “Love One Another as I have loved you.” We all have days when that commandment feels difficult — yet if we see with clarity God’s love for us, we have a chance of extending that love to those we sometimes don’t like.

April 19, 2020

Two thousand years ago “on the evening of the first day of the week,” when the disciples hid behind locked doors, Jesus did three things. He stood in their midst. He gave gifts of peace and Holy Spirit. He sent them out. Jesus is still in our midst, still doing the same. Every Sunday Mass makes it so. In our midst in Word and Eucharist. Gifting us with peace and Spirit. Telling us to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

  • Who am I and who are we locking in or locking out?
  • Because peace is a gift given and shared, what will I do this week?
  • To whom will I go; what will I do?

April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord: Alleluia! Christ Is Risen!

There are 25 readings chosen for the vigil and day of Easter. There are so many we can feel overwhelmed. The gospel acclamation gives this summary:

Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord. As paschal lamb, Jesus, who died for us, is the Risen Christ. For us all! We feast with joy!

  • What needs to be dead in me so I can live in Easter joy?
  • What fills me with joy?
  • How will I joyfully behave?

April 5, 2020

When our lives imitate the pattern of Christ’s life — when we offer ourselves in humility and in sacrifice for the sake of others — we are truly proclaiming that Christ is Lord.

March 29, 2020

Take the Stone Away … the response we use in the Scrutiny reminds us of the stones in the path, or the way to our Christian living. What aspects of your life need the recreating work of God at present?

March 22, 2020

The scriptures help us see the darkness of our old selves being transformed as we are exposed to the light of Christ. We have to choose to see the light of Christ in our lives, and the ways in which it can change our faith.

March 15, 2020

The story of the Samaritan woman unfolds the growing insights of the Woman as she changes what title she uses to name Jesus. May we all search through our lives and find the living water offered to all who seek Christ in our lives.

March 8, 2020

Every year on the Second Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of Jesus’ transfiguration from one of the Gospels. With our Lenten journey so briefly under way, we may need the encouragement of what lies ahead that the Transfiguration story gives us. As Jesus was transfigured and ultimately triumphant over death, so may our prayer today be that we too will be transformed.

March 1, 2020

In these scriptures, Jesus was tempted 3 times in the desert, and ends up reminding us all that “only God is God.” Why are we tempted to be so much more than we are … beloved children of God? How can we respond to temptation in our lives?

February 23, 2020

During some homily or in some class or discussion group, we have all probably been asked the rhetorical question, “If you were on trial for being Christian, would they find enough evidence to convict you?” It’s a good question worth asking ourselves every now and then.

February 16, 2020

Most of us can recall a time when we did only what was absolutely necessary to get by. When it comes to our Christian life, however, Jesus calls us to a higher standard. As we gather for worship today, perhaps our prayer can be for the grace and the courage to go beyond the letter of the law in order to live according to a higher law — the law of love!

February 9, 2020

Our focus on discipleship continues in today’s readings. We who were called to live the Beatitudes last week are now encouraged to let our light shine. Let us ask God to strengthen our faith so that we can truly believe that the presence of Christ in each of us has the power to light the darkness of racism, fear, hunger, oppression and all the other evils in our world.

February 2, 2020

As we gather at God’s invitation, we continue our Ordinary Time reflections on discipleship with Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes. How blessed are we to know that God loves even the least of us and wants all of us to live by the law of love. May our prayer today be for the grace to live the Beatitudes as Christ desires that we do.

January 26, 2020

Our first reading from Isaiah sounds as if we were still in the Christmas season: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” But paired with today’s Gospel, which repeats that phrase, it makes a powerful prelude to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and the calling of the first apostles. Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s arrest is to begin his announcement of the kingdom of heaven. How can the word of God help us to respond to adversity?

January 19, 2020

The gospel reveals two things about baptism. Baptism with water washes away our sin. Baptism with the Holy Spirit empowers us to come to know who Jesus is. Like John, we do not know Jesus- until our baptism initiates us into a lifelong encounter with ‘the lamb of God.’

January 12, 2020

This Christmas season ends with a beginning — we celebrate Jesus’ baptism and initiation into his ministry. The ancient promise of justice to Israel is fulfilled in him whose mission, empowered by the Spirit, will focus on peace and justice. Our baptism mirrors his as the beginning of what we are called to be and do. We are all empowered to be instruments of peace and justice and to invite others to join us.

January 5, 2020

Today’s feast is filled with ironies for us. It celebrates those from afar who early acknowledged the Christ child and reminds us of those nearby who were threatened by him. Living in a current political climate that debunks globalism and challenges the meaning of Christianity, we must ask: “How do we make Christ’s presence known?” Who do we accept into our communities and our lives regardless of their origins? Christ’s coming has always turned things upside down.

December 29, 2019

Today’s readings speak to us about living as a family and a community. They confirm that both require work, generosity, patience and openness to the unexpected. We look to the Holy Family as a model for ourselves, and we learn — with some relief — that Jesus’ parents were as challenged and confounded as we often are. We can be like them because they were like us in so many ways.

December 22, 2019

After two Sundays of hearing from John the Baptist, today we encounter the other major figure of Advent, the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this last Sunday before Christmas, how fitting it is that we should ponder once again Mary’s response to God’s invitation through the angel Gabriel. Let us pray for the grace to respond to God’s invitations to us as we begin our final preparations for the coming of the Lord.

December 15, 2019

The Third Sunday of Advent is a day of joy in the midst of a penitential season. We continue our Advent journey, but we come to a vantage point from which we can see what lies ahead — Christmas joy.

December 8, 2019

John the Baptist makes his first Advent appearance in today’s Gospel. His familiar cry, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” reminds us of the task at hand this season. In the second reading we hear, “What sort of persons ought you to be” when the day of the Lord comes? As we gather for this Second Sunday of Advent, let us pray for the renewed energy to prepare the way of the Lord in the coming week.

December 1, 2019

Four times in this gospel Christ commands us, “Be watchful!” or “Watch!” While we are to watch for Christ’s Second Coming, we also need to watch for Christ’s coming now into our midst. Being watchful and alert for the Second Coming is not enough; we must consciously seek to identify Christ already present now. If we are proactively watching for everyday encounters with Christ, he will surely not find us “sleeping.”

November 24, 2019

Colossians presents Jesus as not only reigning like God, but being the very image of God. Luke’s story of the Good News depicts the king who dies for those he rules. Maybe the question for the week is who are we asked to forgive, as we have been forgiven?

November 17, 2019

As we come to the close of the liturgical year, the focus of our scriptures turns toward the end-times. With the bare trees and the onset of winter temperatures, it seems a natural inclination to ponder the end of all things. As we move through our celebration today, let us pray for the strength to face whatever comes in our future, so that we may be ready for the coming of the Lord.

November 10, 2019

This month in which we honor and remember our beloved dead, we encounter scriptures that inspire our faith in the resurrection of the dead. Today’s reading encourage persistence in the face of the unknown. Keeping our eye on life beyond death is critical, but how we live our faith each day is equally important.

November 3, 2019

Jesus was going to pass right through Jericho until he saw Zacchaeus in that tree. Instead he stopped, invited himself to dinner and turned Zacchaeus’ world upside down, saying that “the Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost.” As we contemplate God’s mercy in these readings today, let us try to think of times when we feel lost, and how Jesus might catch sight of us and save us as well.

October 27, 2019

Today’s readings remind us that prayer always begins with an attitude. It does not matter what we’ve done, how much we have or who we are. What does matter is what is in our hearts. The constant message has been that God hears the cries of the poor: Whatever our circumstances, humility and a concern for justice matter most. This is either consoling or challenging, depending on the state of our hearts.

October 20, 2019

Although our first reading depicts a violent battle, the point is clearly made that continual prayer brings results. Not only that, but we can help each other to pray. Listening to this reading and the others, what else can we learn about persistence and prayer today?

October 13, 2019

Naaman’s life was completely changed in our Old Testament reading today, as were the lives of the ten lepers in the Gospel. Gratitude seems to be a small price to pay for such great goodness. Yet as we hear these readings today, perhaps we can listen for the message that says how different our world would be if we all could live in gratitude for everything that God so freely gives us.

October 6, 2019

We live in times when we see the first reading’s lament about misery, violence, and destruction in the newspaper every day. How can we get through it all? Faith has to be the answer for us. Sometimes our faith is inadequate — yet Jesus’ answer is that even faith the size of a mustard seed can do great things. Do what you can. It will be enough.