Our Brother's and Sister's Keeper

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

November 22, 2020 – Christ, King of the Universe - Matthew 25:31-46

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

No one would be surprised at this gospel being chosen to conclude the liturgical year. Although the concept, “The Last Judgment” is not specifically used, most of us raised in the Christian faith will easily connect this gospel with it. The account comes directly from Jesus. So high authority is at play.

Using the image of a shepherd dividing sheep from goats, we are most drawn to the criteria used in judging one group from another. Taking this personally, we want to know how each of us will be judged by God. What evidence or criteria will be used as we stand before the Almighty? This would be very good to know, especially if we are still on our way to that momentous moment when our life here on earth will be assessed and used to determine our final destination.

Read more

Use Your Talents

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

November 15, 2020 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 25:14-30

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

If you want investment advice, go to God, Inc. or God’s Spirit.com. No one has had more insight, experience and success (although possibly a few failures) than God’s divine investment firm. And its investment portfolio includes all of us, including you and me.

As today’s gospel states it, each of us have been given a variety of talents. In ancient times “talents” also referred to currency, but here let’s think of them as God’s gifts of knowledge, skills, opportunities and the like. Basically, we are being encouraged in this gospel parable to use our God-given talents as fully as we can.

When it comes to the matters of talents, the idea that “one size fits all” should be set aside. We each possess uniqueness. We each have a singular package of talents, especially created for us. Added to this, we each have a unique history. Our life stories are incomparable to others. We may face similar opportunities and challenges, but we react in distinctly unique ways. That’s why we are called persons and not things. Things can be alike. Persons are all different.

And that’s clearly the way God wanted it to be. God encourages us to act in accord with our calling. We each have what might be called “a personal vocation” that is supported by the talents God has given to each of us.

God desires that we should take what we have been given and develop it in our own way. Put your stamp on your life. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t be fearful of being different. In fact, to do otherwise would be an affront to God’s genius in creating each of us as unique “images of God.”

We may play similar roles but we each do so in our own manner. Think of the family. Not only are there mothers and fathers, but often kids – each of whom are unique. There may be an appearance of similarities in each family, but if you ask its family members, they will tell you of how different each one is.

A good reflection on this gospel would be for each one of us to list our personal talents. And then recall the ways we have used, and even developed them throughout our lives. I believe that God is quite interested in what we would include in our personal list of talents because such a list is partly created by God’s own infinite imagination.

©David M. Thomas, PhD


Pay Attention

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

November 8, 2020 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 25:1-13

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

We might place today’s gospel about the wise and foolish virgins in a file called “practical advice.” Today, Jesus might have said to make sure we have enough gas in our car if we were about to take a long drive. Or enough cash in the bank to pay our bills. In other words, practical stuff. Plan for the future, especially if it contains uncertainties.

But there’s another message that might be missed. One that reminds us to be constantly ready for when an opportunity comes to be more Christian, more spiritual, more alive in response to God’s invitation. More aware of God’s gift of life to us.

And that could happen at any time. Awareness of God’s close and loving presence is not a scheduled event. Nor does it happen only in certain places. No, it is always and everywhere possible. And that is the deeper message of today’s gospel. The bridegroom (God) might come at any time. So always be ready. Always be expectant. Always be alert.

A trusted spiritual practice involves placing oneself in a setting of silence. When we quiet the noise around us, we open our ears and hearts to hear the more subtle and quieter sounds coming our way. These may not be not be audible sounds but rather like the quiet wind passing by that is felt only when you attend to its presence. When outside distractions are eliminated, increased awareness of what’s right around us and inside us is gained. We notice more of all that’s there, including ourselves. And God’s Spirit!

I spent part of my younger days living a monastic life. Most of the day was spent in silence. It was in that setting that I learned that I had an interior life. My senses became more attuned to the environment in which I sat, or to the outside world that I walked in. I learned to listen for the quiet voice of God.

Given the omnipresence of television broadcasting, cell phone calling and inviting social media, there might well be too much “noise” in our daily lives. God’s immediate
“words” to us might be muted by too much external noise. As we enter a time when there is more darkness than light, we might take the opportunity to add more contemplative quiet to our lives. Be ready. God might be wanting our attention at any time with some good words to bring us greater peace and happiness. If we are listening.


©David M. Thomas, PhD


Calling All Saints

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

November 1, 2020 – All Saints - Matthew 5:1-12

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

I don’t know whose idea it was to have a feast day for all the saints, in other words, for all those now with God in heaven, but it was a brilliant idea. My research indicates that this feast goes back to when it was first celebrated in Rome when the Church converted the Roman Pantheon (one of the world’s great architectural and engineering accomplishments) from being dedicated to all the gods to all the saints!

That would include not only those known but those unknown. In the early years of the Church most of the official saints would be martyrs. But there were countless others who lived holy lives and enjoy eternal life with God. Today we salute all of them. With them, we give thanks to God for creating us, loving us, redeeming us, forgiving us and bringing us to the place for which we were created, eternal life with God and life with each other.

Read more

Made in God's Image

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

October 25, 2020 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:34-40

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Now available: The Gospels’ Greatest Hits. While this is only an imaginative guess, what do you think would be chosen to be included in this collection? My guess is that the gospel for today would be. It presents the central teaching of Jesus, which he offers when asked what he thought was the greatest commandment of God. From his Jewish background, he recited part of the Shema prayer, which is recited daily by prayerful Jews. It can also be the prayer by everyone!

Here’s how it appears in today’s gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Note the repetition of the word all. The prayer is a reminder that every aspect of ourselves is to be part of our love for God. Nothing is to be held back.

Then Jesus states that there’s another commandment, one that is essentially connected to the Shema prayer. They are like two sides of a coin. We all know it well. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

What is worth our reflection is why Jesus connects these two commandments. It’s because of the way that God organized the world. We each are “images of God.” Then God breathed the Spirit of life into each of us. When we love our neighbor, we are, at the same time, loving God. When we claim that we love God, we must include loving our neighbor. This can be very challenging at times, but that’s God’s way of transforming the world.

Just recently, Pope Francis issued an encyclical letter that points to God’s presence and interest in our world. It focuses on the many ways we relate to each other as sisters and brothers. Called Fratelli Tutti. (Its title is taken from a letter written by St. Francis of Assist to the sisters and brothers of the religious communities he founded). The pope offers us a comprehensive teaching on social relationships, both those we experience each day and those we participate in around the world.

In this letter, he mentions the word love 125 times. Family is mentioned more than 40 times. World over 160 times. In other words, love of God and love of neighbor are connected over and over again. He concludes his letter with a prayer, ”Come Holy Spirit, show us your beauty reflected in all the peoples of the earth, that we may discover anew that all are important and all are necessary, different faces of one humanity that God so loves. Amen.

©David M. Thomas, PhD


Returning the Favor

The Nazareth Page- A gospel meditation for your home

October 18, 2020 – Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:15-21

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Today’s gospel contains one of the most quoted lines in all the gospels: It reads, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Some might recall an older translation which was, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

When this was discussed in Catholic circles, I recall hearing that we should pay our taxes to the government, but also give generously to the church. Made sense. But I don’t think that was on the mind of Jesus when he first spoke those very important words.

As is true in many times in the life of Jesus, he gave a brilliant response to the tricky tax question, one that confused his enemies and gave his followers something to think about. What’s really due Caesar? And what’s due to God?

Read more

You Are Cordially Invited

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

October 11, 2020 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:1-14

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

In my extended family we recently celebrated a wedding. My nephew was the groom. A few of those closest to the couple were present at the ceremony, all masked and socially distanced. I was “present” via Zoom, at home, as were many others. The wedding was originally planned for a large group. But given the situation with COVID-19, the numbers had to be limited.

Read more

Co-workers in the Vineyard

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home

October 8th, 2017 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 21:33-43

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

Today’s gospel is R-rated for violence. Lots of killing in this parable of Jesus. It’s hard to give an exact number of how many die in it. Clearly, quite a few. In fact, at the end, even the owner of the vineyard gets the last word by killing his tenants, who had killed his son. So, what’s the point? Here’s what I think.

Jesus initiated the beginning of God’s Kingdom on earth. And he was quite serious about making this central to his message. And God will do all that God can do to make it successful. God will never cease working on this “project”, no matter what. Even if opposition arises, in the end, God will remain faithful. God doesn’t quit.

Read more

Show and Tell

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

September 27, 2020 – Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 21:28-32

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

I will date myself by the example I use to explain today’s gospel. I refer to a song that was part of a musical that was created many years back. (Of course, many of the oldies are now available through various sources these days.) The musical was called “My Fair Lady” and one of its songs has the following line, “You say that you love me. Show me!”

In other words, affirmations without deeds which prove the authenticity of the words, are incomplete. Or stated in another way, words without deeds might be hollow. Meaningless. Or to use a line that Pope Francis has used: Actions speak louder than words.

 

Read more

God's Crazy Love

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

September 20, 2020 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 20:1-16a

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

What is the most common complaint of young children to their parents? Having been a parent for not a few children, my guess is the following> THAT’S NOT FAIR! I must have heard that sentence a thousand times. And my answer? LIFE’S NOT FAIR. GET OVER IT! Or something like that.

Most of those who are reading this Nazareth Page are quite familiar with today’s gospel. It’s a story Jesus told about a fellow who hired some workers for his vineyard in the morning, then a few more in the afternoon and finally a group right before work stopped at the end of the day. Then, all the workers that day were paid the same exact amount. “Not fair” hollered those who were hired early in the day. They felt that deserved more although when they agreed to work that day, they had agreed to what was to be given to them at the end of the day.

What’s Jesus talking about then? Doesn’t he know about the social teachings of the Church about just wages?

Read more


Contact Us Give online Join