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

Bible Catechism – Lesson 6

Lesson 6:
Canon Of Sacred Scripture

1. How many books does the entire Bible contain?

Seventy-two or seventy-four, depending on the way they are calculated

2. How do we know with certainty that the Bible contains only these books?

We know with certainty that the Bible contains only these books because the number is fixed by the “Canon of the Scriptures.”

3. What is meant by the word “Canon”?

“Canon” is a Greek word that means a standard or rule.

4. What is meant by the “Canon of Scriptures”?

Originally, the Canon of Scriptures meant the qualifications required of a book before admittance into the number of recognized inspired writings; now it means the very collection of these books recognized as inspired.

5. Who decides which books belong to the Bible and which do not?

The Catholic Church decides.

6. By what authority does the Catholic Church make this decision?

By that of Christ, Who has made her the infallible teacher of faith and morals by both the oral and the written word.

7. What special mark was required of a book before its admittance into the collection known as the Bible?

The special mark required was clear proof of its inspiration.

8. By whom was the first list of the books of the Bible drawn up?

Pope Damasus, at the Roman Council of 382 A.D.

9. By what name are those books, whose authenticity was never questioned, known?

They are known as the Proto-Canonical Books.

10. Why are they so called?

They are so called because from the beginning they were recognized as Scriptural; the Greek prefix “proto” has the signification “from the first” or “originally,” hence the use of the term “proto-canonical” to describe those books.

11. By what name are the disputed books known?

They are known as the Deutero-Canonical Books.

12. Why are they so called?

They are so called because their recognition as Scriptural came “afterwards”; the Greek word “Deutero” used as a prefix has the signification of “second” or “later.”

13. Name the Deutero-Canonical Books.

Tobias, Wisdom, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, Machabees (I & II), Judith, Esther (Ch X. v. 4 to end), Daniel (Ch. III, vs. 52-93). The Protestants call them “Apocryphal” Books.

14. Why did the Hebrews not admit these books as part of the Bible?

As a whole, the Hebrews stopped admitting these books after the second Century A.D., because they were written in languages other than Hebrew, or were of uncertain authorship.

15. Did the Hebrews ever formally rejected these books?

On the contrary, even if they did not accept these books as part of the Bible, they were always held in the greatest reverence by the Hebrews.

16. Under what guidance does the Church declare which books are canonical and which are not?

Under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

17. How do we know that she has this guidance?

We know that she has this guidance because Christ promised assistance to His Church until the end of times [Matthew 28:20].

18. Has the Church made use of human means in drawing up the Canon of Scriptures?

Yes; she investigated carefully whether the doctrine taught in the book was in harmony with Tradition and whether the book was of apostolic origin.

Bible Catechism – Lesson 5

Lesson 5:
The New Testament

1. How many books are there in the New Testament?

There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

2. When were these books written?

These books were written during a period extending from 35 A.D. to 93 A.D.

3. By whom were they written?

They were written mainly by the Apostles.

4. Why do we say “mainly”?

We say “mainly” because some books of the New Testament were written by men who were not the Apostles, i.e., St. Mark and St. Luke.

5. How may the books of the New Testament be classified?

Like those of the Old Testament, the books of the New may be grouped into three classes.

6. Name these three classes.

They are the same classes as with the Old Testament: Historical, Didactic, and Prophetical.

7. Name the Historical Books.

The Historical Books are the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

8. Name the Didactic Books.

The Didactic Books are all the Epistles.

9. Name the Prophetical Books.

There is only one Prophetical Book in the New Testament, namely, the Apocalypse of St. John.

10. What do we learn from the New Testament?

From the New Testament we learn the principal events in the Life of Christ, many Christian beliefs and practices, as well as much history of the early Catholic Church.

11. Was the New Testament written primarily to convert people?

No, conversion was done by preaching. The New Testament was written to strengthen the Faith of the people already converted.

12. Can we prove it?

Yes: “It seems good to me also, … to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed” (Lc. I, 3-4). 

Bible Catechism – Lesson 4

Lesson 4:
The Old Testament

1. How many books does the Old Testament contain?

It contains from forty-five to forty-seven books, depending on how the books are divided.

2. Into how many classes may these books be divided?


3. Name these classes.

Didactic or Doctrinal, Historical, and Prophetic books.

4. Is there any reason for this classification?

Yes, the very matter contained in them suggests this classification.

5. What are the Didactic or Doctrinal books?

There are the books that contain the teachings of God to man.

6. How many Didactic books are there in the Old Testament?

Seven: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus.

7. Why are others called “Prophetical Books”?

Because they treat of the Messiah and His life, passion, and death in a prophetical manner.

8. Are all the Prophetical books of equal importance?

No; four of these books are called the Greater Prophets because they are greater in length and deal with more important matters, generally, than the other twelve which are called the Lesser Prophets.

9. Why are the remaining books classified as “Historical books”?

The remaining books are so classified because they narrate the history of the People of God and the history of our salvation. 

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