Twice a month the staff of St. Gregory the Great Church send out a spiritual reflection to all parishioners for whom we have an e-mail address. What follows are the most recent of these reflections. If you would like to have your name added to our e-mail reflection list, please e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will add your name to our listing.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – SISTER BARBARA QUINN – FEBRUARY 7
In former years, I used to be a “sidewalk person”. However, I never took time to “smell the flowers”. I was just devoted to the people of the Parish and kept busy serving them.
But, now that I am older and limited, I have come to see that listening and paying attention to the present moment is important and can lead to deeper communication with the Lord.
Every so often, I take time to go to our beautiful Parish Garden and look at the Icon of the Blessed Trinity. God seems to give a gentle invitation to enter this Sacred space. I relax and just let myself be loved by our God. I can return often in spirit to that House of Love.
The words I use to explain this wonderful experience are:
“ I will live in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6, Psalm 27:13
“ O God, within your Temple we ponder your steadfast love.” Psalm 48:10
This is my prayer for you: Find your “Temple”, your quiet Sacred Space.
We have had many dark days this year and we have much to face in our troubled world. We need God’s love and comfort to renew us and send us again to continue his Ministry.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
May we continue to grow in love and bring peace and joy to all.
God bless you.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – FR. BRIAN FISCHER – JANUARY 17
The Year of St. Matthew
Having left behind the Christmas Season and returned to Ordinary Time, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on St. Matthew’s gospel; most of our Sunday gospel-selections will come from St. Matthew during this coming year.
St. Matthew’s gospel is thought to have been written some time after 70 A.D., from within a Jewish community and intended for Jewish converts to Christianity. Although the gospel we know was composed in Greek, some scholars see evidence of a now-lost Aramaic original. St. Matthew is named in the gospels in their lists of ‘the Twelve,’ but not all scholars agree that he can be identified as the tax collector whom the gospels call ‘Levi.’
Part of St. Matthew’s aim is to demonstrate that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish Law and the Prophets; he cites the Old Testament more frequently than the other evangelists. His gospel offers the genealogy of Jesus, that traces his lineage back to Abraham. In Matthew, the tension between Christ on the one hand, and the scribes and Pharisees on the other, is central to the plot. Matthew’s application of Old Testament ‘prophecies’ to Jesus --- and Christ’s own fulfillment of them --- is recognized by scholars as ‘rabbinical’ in style.
But for me, the most pertinent question in evaluating any of the four gospels is, what would we lose of Christ if this particular gospel didn’t exist?
St. Matthew’s is the only gospel that reports the angel’s ‘annunciation’ to St. Joseph during Mary’s pregnancy, and the angel’s warning to Joseph to flee with Mary and the Christ-child to Egypt. St. Matthew alone reports the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem.
St. Matthew alone gives us Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ (Chapters 5-7) which serves, as well as any other passage in the scriptures, to summarize Christ’s teachings. And of course the Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, which appears as the gospel reading in every year’s liturgies more often than any other. St. Matthew’s aim is to present Christ as a Teacher who surpasses the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees.
St. Matthew identifies, more closely than the other evangelists, ‘the kingdom of God’ or ‘the kingdom of heaven’ with the Church. He is the only evangelist who uses the Greek word ‘ekklesia,’ which means ‘the gathering,’ to describe the Church.
But for me, there is one final passage from St. Matthew’s gospel that, were it missing, would sadly impoverish our understanding of Christ and his mission . It is found just before St. Matthew’s account of Christ’s arrest, passion and crucifixion. It is sometimes called, simply, ‘the Last Judgment;’ or sometimes, ‘the Separation of the Sheep and the Goats.’ It’s too long to include here, but you know how it goes, and I’m sure you know its message. It is summarized in a single verse, which might also serve as a synthesis of the entire Christian message.
“Whatsoever you did for the least of my sisters or brothers, that you did unto me.”
As we listen to St. Matthew’s gospel across the Sundays of this coming year, let us keep in mind that for Christ, admission to the kingdom of God depends, in the end, upon one’s caring for the least of his sisters and brothers while we’re here.
Forget the rest, but remember that, and you’ll have mastered the gist of it.