Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C September 15, 2019

First Reading
Exodus 32:7-11,13-14
Moses stands up to God, recalling all of God’s great promises.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19
Once we are forgiven, we can hope for a new heart and a fresh start.

Second Reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul proves it’s never too late to repent and serve God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Then he said,
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns,
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Background on the Gospel Reading

In chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells three parables about losing, finding, and rejoicing. The outcasts of society, the taxpayers, and the sinners approach Jesus eager to hear what he has to say. In Luke’s Gospel, hearing is a sign of conversion. The Pharisees and scribes, still suspicious of Jesus, complain about him associating with sinners. So he tells them these three parables.

In the first story, the parable of The Lost Sheep, the shepherd leaves behind the 99 sheep to search for the 1 lost sheep. When he finds it, the shepherd rejoices not alone as in Matthew’s version, but with friends and neighbors. In the same way, God rejoices more over 1 sinner who repents—like the outcasts who have come to hear Jesus—than over the 99 righteous like the Pharisees and scribes.

The second story, about a poor woman who will not stop searching until she finds her lost coin, makes the same point. Why are the Pharisees complaining? They should rejoice when the lost are found.

Finally we come to what is probably the most memorable parable in the Gospels, the story we know as The Prodigal Son. Just as in The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin, this story (found only in Luke) is really about the seeker. The loving father is at the center of this parable. Even though his son runs off with his father’s inheritance and squanders the money, the father waits for him, hoping for his return. Upon his son’s return, the father, “full of compassion,” runs out to embrace and forgive him before the son can utter one word of repentance. At this point the rejoicing begins.

The parable does not end there. Rather, it makes one more point about the older son’s reaction. This son who never left, just like the Pharisees and scribes who feel they are righteous, refuses to enter his father’s house to join in the rejoicing. He has served his father. He has obeyed him. Perhaps it was not out of love. The father’s response teaches us that God’s care and compassion extend to the righteous and sinner alike. When we are lost, God doesn’t wait for our return. He actively seeks us out. And when the lost are found, how could we not celebrate and rejoice?

Family Connection

Read or retell in your own words, the three stories from the Gospel. Ask your children to recall games they play that involve losing or hiding something and then finding it. (Hide and Go Seek, Ghost in the Graveyard, Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?) Talk about how exciting it is to find the person or thing being looked for.

Ask your children if they have any memories of losing something special or being lost themselves. Share the stories as well as the fears or feelings. Then tell them that just as you would go to any length to find and bring them home if they were lost, so too would God. That is what Jesus is telling us in the three stories. No matter what we do, no matter how wrong we are, God, our loving father, is always anxious to forgive us and welcome us back home.

Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C September 8, 2019

First Reading
Wisdom 9:13-18b
Knowledge alone has limits. We also need wisdom to understand the ways of God.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 90:3-4,5-6,12-13,14-17
God’s power has no boundaries; it is not limited by space and time.

Second Reading
Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Paul encourages one of his converts to consider his former slave a brother in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Reading
Luke 14:25-33
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship.


Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,

and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion? 
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

Background on the Gospel Reading

In chapter 14 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking to people gathered at the table about the difficulties of following him. This group of people is suspicious about Jesus, looking to catch him doing something wrong. Jesus speaks to them in parables, emphasizing that although there is a right way to be a disciple and enter into the kingdom of his Father, it is a difficult path to follow. Many, even some of the guests at the table, reject the invitation. So Jesus turns to the crowds and speaks to them of discipleship. Jesus explains that, when it comes to making a choice for the Kingdom of God, nothing can get in the way. When Jesus describes “hating” one’s father and mother, he is not talking about feelings. Rather, he is emphasizing very strongly that choosing to be a disciple means that everything else—family, money, your own life—must come second. In Matthew’s version of this story (Matthew 10:37), Jesus refers not to “hating” father or mother, but to loving them more than Jesus. Jesus makes it very clear that being a disciple is not easy. It means to bear one’s own cross. These difficult sayings of Jesus are followed by two brief parables (a person constructing a tower and a king marching into battle) that make an obvious point—don’t start what you cannot finish. Discipleship is difficult and is something we can commit to only if we are prepared to put the Kingdom of God before everything else.

Family Connection

Provide your children with a list of things that they are responsible for interspersed with things that they like to do—for example, make their beds, take out the garbage, go to the park, do homework, watch television, have a snack, feed the cat. The list should reflect their responsibilities and favorite recreations. Tell them to pretend that company is coming and ask which of the things listed should be done first. Explain that this is called setting priorities.

Paraphrase the Gospel story for the children. Ask them what Jesus says is the most important thing for them to do. Jesus tells us that the number-one priority is to follow him. But just as it is not always easy to do the things we are supposed to do before doing the fun things, it is not always easy to be a follower of Jesus. Yet when we put Jesus first, we will be truly happy.

Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C September 1, 2019

First Reading
Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29
Humble yourself and you will find favor with God

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 68:4-7,10-11
The just rejoice and exult before God.

Second Reading
Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24
You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.

Gospel Reading
Luke 14:1,7-14
When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor. 
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place. 
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 
Then he said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Background on the Gospel Reading

Meals played an important role in the society in which Jesus lived. More than a time for sharing nourishment, they were a time to share ideas and to model different aspects of social relationships. In Luke’s Gospel, the places that a person ate (at the home of a tax collector, 5:29), the people with whom a person ate (sinners, 5:30), whether a person washed before eating (11:38), and, as is the case here, the place that a person sits while eating are all important. The narrator says Jesus tells a parable, but it is really wise advice to both guests and hosts about finding true happiness at the heavenly banquet.

Jesus warns guests to wait before taking their places at the table lest they be asked to move if someone more important arrives. This is more than just a lesson about dinner etiquette. It is advice on how to find your true place in the Kingdom of God. Jesus advises hosts not to invite people who would be expected to repay them to dinner but to invite those who could not repay: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This is where real blessings can be found.

In these sayings, Luke gives us not only advice on how to approach the end times but also on how to live according to Jesus’ vision of a good society. Luke’s Gospel also advises us how the Church must be part of bringing about this society. It is yet another example in Luke’s Gospel of the reversal the kingdom brings about.

Family Connection

Parents and children often enter into “negotiations” over how much allowance is to be earned at certain ages. Typically, when a child seeks an increase in allowance, parents will attach an increase in chores and responsibilities for them to better earn the increase. Talk about what kind of allowance you received as a child and what kind of responsibilities your parents expected of you to earn your allowance.

Explain that in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks about doing good deeds for others and expecting nothing in return. Read aloud Luke 14:1,7-14. Ask your children how they would feel if you told them to take on more chores without ever expecting another raise in allowance. Emphasize that Jesus teaches us that it is our duty as his followers to take care of the needs of others and to do so without expecting repayment. Discuss what other types of rewards we can find when doing good things for others.

Point out that we sometimes fall into the trap of wanting too many things and that, in the Our Father, we pray for “our daily bread,” meaning that we pray for only that which we really need in life. Conclude this time together by praying aloud the Our Father.

Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C August 25, 2019

First Reading
Isaiah 66:18-21
Nations of every language shall come to see my glory.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 117:1-2
Praise the Lord, all you nations.

Second Reading
Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13
Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines.

Gospel Reading
Luke 13:22-30
People will come from north and south, east and west, and take their place in the Kingdom of God.


Gospel LK 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. 
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” 
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough. 
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from. 
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”


Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel reading is the third of three parables in chapter 13 that deal with the theme of the unexpected reversals brought by the Kingdom of God. The other two parables are about the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large tree and the small amount of yeast that makes a large batch of dough rise. All three are about the few and the many and the Kingdom of God.


As this parable opens, Luke reminds us that Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem. This journey, this exodus as Luke refers to it, makes up the entire middle of the Gospel. He is teaching as he goes. A question from the crowd gives Jesus the chance to make a prophetic statement. Luke uses this question device a number of times in his Gospel. A few weeks ago, the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” led to the parable of the Good Samaritan. The question about will only a few be saved uses typical Christian language about salvation but also expresses the Jewish concern about whether everyone who calls himself a Jew is actually faithful to the covenant. This was a concern of the Pharisees.

Jesus answers that they must strive in the time remaining to enter through the narrow door because many will be trying to get in but won’t be strong enough. He then moves to a parable about another door. (The translation says “gate” then “door,” but the same Greek word is used.) Once all those entering the master’s house are in and he locks the door, there will be no way for others to get in. Those left outside may knock, but the master will say he doesn’t know them. Unlike the Gospel reading from a few weeks ago where Jesus was teaching about prayer, and we were told to knock and the door would be opened, in this parable, the master will not open and say he does not know us. People from the north, south, east, and west will take our place inside. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets will take our place in the Kingdom of God. Those who do not make it through the narrow door will be cast out to where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.

The image of the door is replaced in the final verses of the parable with the image of the heavenly banquet. Two passages from the Book of Isaiah influence the conclusion. Isaiah 43:5-6 speaks of God bringing Israel’s descendents back from the east and from the west, the north and the south. And Isaiah 25:6 speaks of the Lord providing a feast of rich foods and choice wines for all peoples on his holy mountain. The answer to the question if only a few will be saved is no. In the end, many will be saved, but many who thought they would be saved will not be saved. The parable is a prophetic warning to repentance in order to enter the kingdom. 


Family Connection

Families take advantage of certain days throughout the year to celebrate individuals in the family and to make sure that they know that they are not taken for granted. As a family, recall all of the days that someone in the family was celebrated in the past year—birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, graduations, and so on. Next, challenge each individual to recall what gifts were received on the day(s) on which he or she was celebrated.


Emphasize that these days are intended to express appreciation in a special way but are not meant to replace the appreciation that we should always show. Point out how, at times, families can take one another for granted. Explain that in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells a story about some people who took something for granted and paid a price. Read aloud Luke 13:22-30. Explain that, in this story, some people took it for granted that they could enter the house whenever they wanted, but the master locked the gate and would not let them in after hours. Point out that Jesus was warning his listeners not to assume that they will have eternal life in heaven and not to take this invitation for granted.

As a family, commit to showing appreciation for one another in the days ahead, striving to not take for granted any of the many things that family members do in their roles as parents and children.


Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings