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Contents: Volume 2 - 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – B – January 28, 2018






1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

6..  (Your reflection can be here!)





Sun 4 B 2018

I am always amazed at Jesus's demeanor and attitude in the Gospel stories. His ways (always reflecting the ways of God) are just so very different than my first impulse might be! His responses show me another way to look at things and often a different way to act.

In our Gospel story today, an unclean spirit acknowledges Jesus and says "I know who you are—the Holy One of God!" To me, this acknowledgement seems to be something that might actually help Jesus get his message across to others, even if it does come from an unclean spirit! But no, Jesus tells him to be quiet... no PR blast needed! Instead, Jesus receives the subtler glory from his recent authoritative teaching in the temple and the fact that even unclean spirits obey him. This was a smarter, wiser, and more effective approach for sure.

I think Jesus's thinking and actions go deeper, however. Jesus's communion with the Father gives him a vision that completely escapes my awareness at times, eludes me at other times, and completely confuses me rather regularly. Jesus being fully human and fully divine is indeed a mystery but Jesus's prayer life is not. I think that is the key to a closer connection with the kind of Wisdom and calmness that Jesus always has within him and about him. It is what I strive for ... when I am deep in prayer or far from even thinking about prayer.

To be an authentic follower of Jesus means, to me at least, that whatever I do and say (or not do and don't say) springs from the deepest part of my soul. Truthfully, it is not yet the first thing that comes to mind. Impulsivity of the human "knee-jerk" kind usually reflects the "me" who isn't thinking too deeply rather than the will of the Father. It is vastly different from an automatic internal response based on Wisdom.

The will of the Father somehow becomes instinctively ingrained within us through quietly being with God and listening. I'm working on that... by letting my time of reflection increase the stillness that must be in order for anything to seep into my soul at all. I am learning that what comes forth needs to be from a Wellspring within rather than a spurt of something.

Scripture tells us: Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B - January 28, 2018

Jesus has gone home to the town of Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. On the Sabbath he enters the synagogue. Bible History Online states:

"Recently there have been excavations that have uncovered the 2-story synagogue. It was of a beautiful ornamented style cut in limestone, rather than the typical black basalt seen around the area, and was 65 feet long. The carved stone ornamentation depicted stylized plants, fruits, 5-pointed stars, geometric motifs, and even mythological figures. There were also dedicatory inscriptions written in Aramaic and Greek."

Picture Jesus there among the congregation. Is he greeting old friends or relatives, introducing the fishermen who followed him? Or maybe Andrew, Simon, James and John were already known to people and supplied them with fish. Perhaps Jesus is invited, or volunteers, to read the Scripture. He opens the scroll, reads, and begins to teach.

Mark doesn't tell us what the teaching is. Rather, he describes it as "astonishing" because Jesus taught as one having authority. What does it mean to have authority? It's certainly not like the authority of military or police personnel. It isn't influenced by a 2 story synagogue with ornamental stone. It doesn't come from outside, or by force or grandeur. Jesus seems to have had an inner "something" that moved people at a deep level of their being. That authority extended to freeing a man suffering from an "unclean spirit".

Many years ago I remember a preacher saying that Jesus' healing is related to his teaching and proclamation of the Kingdom of God here and now present with us. Could it be that the restoration of sight to blind people, or the opening of a deaf persons ears, or the cleansing of our spirits from hate so we can love, is the healing we need to open ourselves and recognize the Divine Mystery that permeates our lives?

Jesus still has that "inner something" and shares it with you and me. It is the Spirit and Beauty of Divine Love that heals, and recreates, and grows the fruit of community and compassion. All we have to do is open ourselves to embrace it.

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada





Fourth Sunday of Ordered Time January 28 2018

Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Responsorial Psalm 95; 1st Corinthians 7:32-35; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 4:16; Mark 1:21-28

Returning home from the last Saturday’s vigil Mass at the Cathedral, our five year old granddaughter Anna complained, "I didn’t hear God talking to me." Carol and I fumbled for words to explain in five-year-old how God speaks to us. We failed miserably. We live in a very hot media, where each moment we hear/see information/news. Our words to Anna were inadequate, incomplete, and mostly irrelevant. I recalled the day of my first communion. That morning I came to St. Henry church with the words of Miss Leona Panning -- my first and second grade teacher -- in mind. "Listen in your heart to Jesus speaking to you." I listened, and listened, and listened. I spent much of that celebratory day with family and god-parents worrying that I had done something wrong. Jesus didn’t say anything to me, not even in my heart – or at least not in a language I understood. Maybe Jesus was speaking in Latin or perhaps Hebrew? I wonder how many of us have this same experience about God speaking to us.

It’s a daunting question, this communication from God to us. Oh, sure, the liturgy of the Word is God speaking to us. The Eucharistic liturgy is God coming to us. God is present to us in the every-day interactions with nature and with people. Well then, does God really speak to me? How do I know it’s God and not last night’s pizza?

The first reading from Deuteronomy speaks in the voice of Moses. "A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin." With our perspective enriched by our understanding of the Incarnation we celebrated at Christmas, we believe this is a prophecy of the coming of Jesus. Did Moses foresee the Incarnation?

A common error about prophecy is that it foretells the future. We’d like a prophet here and now to tell us how our political, our economic, our technological efforts, and our wars are going to turn out. Will there be a nuclear war; will the stock market crash; will we ever solve climate change? We make the fatal mistake of Saul who went to a fortune teller who channeled the deceased Samuel for a look into the future. What he learned frightened Saul and clouded his actions. In the end he fell on his own sword lest he be made the fool by the Philistines. The future is more about our choices, our acceptance of God in how we live now than it does with some undiscoverable plan of God.

There is a predictive part of prophetic utterances. That prediction is based on the present. If we continue down our current path we’re certain to reap the chaos and pain that follows bad choices. Prophets insist that the doom and gloom in their warning arises from how leaders, individuals, and groups treat each other. We create our own misery. Every decent, thinking parent wishes well for their children; by our actions we create the disasters that will certainly visit our children’s lives.

Do we need proof of that? Review the first half of the twentieth century. The Great War of our grandparents ended with the Treaty of Versailles. That treaty was a treaty of vengeance. It so robbed the German nation of resources and dignity that it became the justification for Germany getting even with Europe. Thus was the seed planted that grew into World War II. After World War II a different approach was chosen by the United States, then the world leader. The United States committed to the Marshall Plan whose purpose was to rebuild all of Europe – including Germany. Proof of that approach’s success is the absence of wars among the nations of Europe since then. Who could have prophesized this unpopular plan of compassion would have brought sixty years of peace to Europe? Yet a prophet of God would have shouted the need for the Marshall Plan, a plan of compassion and mercy.

The renowned Rabbi, Abraham Heschel, writes that prophecy sees the present for what it is. The prophet observes movements and things not as isolated events but as part of a continuing flow. Rabbi Heschel writes, "The principle to be kept in mind is to know what we see rather than to see what we know. Rather than blame things for being obscure, we should blame ourselves for being biased and prisoners of self-induced repetitiveness." To put it another way, we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste the events of our time based on prejudices formed from experience. The filter through which we evaluate and understand the events of our time is self-interest. We even judge God in this way of self-interest usually asking "what is God for me?" Who understands God? Who has ears clean enough, open enough to hear what God speaks to us through his creation, through his prophets, and through his own Son? "He who has ears, let him hear!"

This self-interest filter idea leads anyone who has studied economic principles to think of Adam Smith’s book, The Wealth of Nations. First published in 1776, Smith wrote that self-interest is the motivation for competition, development of new products, and more efficient methods of production. Self-interest is rewarded by profit and fame. Students of Wealth of Nations typically overlook the book Smith published in 1759. The Theory of Moral Sentiment was so important to Smith that he dedicated the last days of his life to updating and rewriting it. In that book Smith insists society is held together against competitive self-interests by a natural sympathy instilled by God in every human. He claims that sympathy is a characteristic of God. He declares that a society lacking empathy will eventually self-destruct. Production, competition, and self-interested human endeavor cannot exist for long unless there is peace and justice. When we read Smith’s Wealth of Nations we are led to think our human life is valued by what we accumulate, how much power we wheel, or how much influence we command. Yet such a focus is ultimately doomed to chaos and revolution.

What, then, does this have to do with prophecy specifically and the readings this Sunday? In a sense Adam Smith was a prophet. The prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures are often angry predictors of gloom and devastation. Always they focus on what self-interest, accumulation of wealth, wielding of power, and seeking influence does to little people. The prophets blame the wealthy, the powerful, and the influential for the plight of those on the margins, the widows, the orphans, the laborers. Rabbi Heschel insists God cares about and loves each person fully; that belief underlies all Christian teaching. The prophet is one who is in fellowship with the feelings of God. God is passionate about his love for each person, especially the abused, the taken advantage of, those denied what they need to thrive and survive. The prophet is in sympathy with the divine pathos. The prophet is taken into the heart of God and experiences God’s anguish at the pain and deprivation of the least of his creation.

In the gospel reading this Sunday we find Jesus speaking with authority – his own authority. The prophets always began their prophecies with the words, "Thus says the Lord…" The prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures claim no personal authority – they universally complain about the pain being a prophet brings to them and wish the curse of being a prophet were not their lot in life. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus speaks with his own authority. He casts out the evil spirit not by calling on God, but by his own words. Here is no prophet in the line of prophets promised by Moses in the first reading. Here is the heart of God among men, in the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks with authority; he brings healing with his words. What should we think of this?

Think for a moment about what Jesus did, about his miracles. There is not a single miracle that lacks a community aspect. Healing, feeding, exorcisms all enable an excluded individual a return to full participating membership in the community. We belong together – it is God’s will. It is God’s will that we are whole and participate in society. It is not to wealth or power or influence that Jesus returns the hungry, the wounded, the ill, or the possessed. It is to fellowship in community – lacking in violence, lacking in abuse, lacking in competitive annihilation.

The prophets of today include the bishop of Rome who wrote of the pain in the world and what we should do about it. He insists his fellow bishops and priests and religious are to have the "smell of the sheep on them." In his encyclical, Laudato Si, he speaks of the poor and the marginalized. He insists God, the creator of everything, weeps over the devastation and rape of the earth by the self-interest of the powerful and the wealthy. The use of earth’s resources must include taking care of the earth. Every good farmer understands the soil must be cared for. But more to the point; God’s love for everyone is declared to us in the scriptures. God speaks with us there. Are our ears open? The message is clear: If we are God’s we are to care about and for each other – all others including the aliens, the abused, the poor, the ill, and the mentally challenged. Everyone!

The new bishop of Raleigh diocese writes in his letter to the people in this month’s newsletter. The theme is Mary as an example to us. His letter is a letter of prophecy. Bishop Luis Zarama writes:

"We live in a media world. We are bombarded with news, which, in its great majority, shows us the disastrous effects of the absence of love, which manifests as violence, hate, racism, persecutions, death and war. At the same time a stock market speculates and plays with economic interests without taking into account the face of the human being.

"All this can lead us to become pessimistic, depressed, negative, vengeful, violent and selfish beings. How can we, or what can we do to change in our hearts that pessimistic and negative spiral?

"By receiving her (Mary), we can go out into the world to transform the negative into hope, hate into love and selfishness into mercy, so as to discover in the neighbor the face of Jesus, the face of love, and in this way restore the dignity of the human being created by God in love and in his image and likeness."

The great prophet, Jesus, speaks for God through his divine nature. His entire public life was about compassion and mercy. He despised arrogance, he fought hypocrisy, and he believed the heart was stronger than the law. He brought God’s mercy and compassion to earth and in the process brought us forgiveness for our self-interest, our scapegoating, our manipulation of frayed emotions, and our insecurity in the face of diversity of language, race, national origin, gender, and orientation. May we all be the priests, prophets and kings we became when we were baptized in Christ! We are truly prophets when we stand for the truth, for the marginalized, for the alien, for the victim of war, for the victims of capitalism that serves only the capitalist. We’ve got a need to repent, to change the orientation of our hearts. We’ve got a need to understand and extend compassion and mercy to every human.

"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"

Carol & Dennis Keller






A lovely line in the Book of Psalms says: ‘The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord’ (33:5). It certainly is. The crops keep producing food for our tables. The summer heat gives way to cooling autumn breezes. Most diseases are now curable. Tyrants are sometimes overthrown. Social reforms like pensions for the needy are here to stay. Conflicts end in reconciliation. Shaky marriages get patched up. Love survives misunderstandings, thoughtlessness, insults and indifference. Wars come to an end. Enemies become friends. We forgive others and are forgiven. Sport keeps contributing to what is good, decent, and noble about human beings. A striking example of exceptional goodness is a prayer scrawled on a piece of wrapping paper found at the Nazi Concentration Camp at Ravensbruck:

Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but all those of ill-will. Do not only remember the suffering they have subjected us to. Remember the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage and generosity, the greatness of heart that all of this inspired. And when they come to judgement, let all these fruits we have borne be their reward and their forgiveness. [Anthony de Mello]

In short, there is goodness everywhere. But where there is goodness, there too is God and the Kingdom of God. So God’s loving rule is still happening among us.

But so too is the anti-kingdom of evil. Its power and force keeps staring us in the face. Newspapers and news bulletins report it daily in all its ugly manifestations. Our own consciences remind us of its hurtful and harmful influence. It has been reliably reported, for instance, that 1% of the world’s population now owns half of the world’s wealth. Too many persons work for less than a dollar a day, and others are denied health and safety protection. Random acts of terrorism are inflicted on defenceless people. Refugees exercising their legal rights to seek asylum are visited with systematic acts of cruelty as deterrents to others. Persons are being kidnapped and sold into slavery and sexual degradation. Racism, consumerism, and devastation of the earth’s natural resources are still raging round the world. In many places large segments of the population are involved in unrest and civil war. Violence is growing. Individuals, high on drugs, smash their targets to the ground. Bullying is everyhere. What we are facing, then, are both the evil acts of individuals and evil social structures.

In the days of Jesus on earth, people called different evil forces ‘demons’. Jesus himself recognised one super-force behind them all. He named it ‘the EVIL ONE’ - also known in his day as ‘the Devil’, ‘Lucifer’, ‘the Enemy’, and ‘Beelzebub’. Today’s gospel is a striking example of his confrontation with, and victory over, the ‘the Evil One’. As the story tells it, ‘the Evil One’ has taken possession of a deranged man, who interrupts Jesus as he teaches and challenges his power and authority over evil. Jesus does not answer the man’s taunts, but addresses ‘the Evil One’ sharply and directly: ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ Throwing the sufferer into convulsions, and with a last loud and desperate scream, ‘the Evil One’ wriggles out of him. At long last its victim is free from its torments.

More recently if less dramatically, followers of Jesus in a particular parish, acting with the power of the Spirit of Jesus, chased out evil from a disturbed man at Sunday Mass. From the back of the church he kept repeating the Mass parts after the priest, softly at first but gradually more loudly and belligerently, with profanities and mockery thrown in. Although the man was clearly irrational, some people began to feel offended and angry. Then something wonderful happened. At the Sign of Peace, a woman left her pew and extended her hand to the man. He took it, and then another person appeared behind the woman, then another. Soon dozens gathered to offer peace to the troubled intruder, and then the man began to weep openly. When he sat down, a small child, touched by his tears, climbed into his lap. The Mass continued and the poor man never spoke another word. [Alice Camille]

In the presence of Jesus, then, Evil did not, and does not, have the last word!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year B: 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"He taught them with authority and not like their scribes."

Just about this time fifteen years ago, my old French teacher died – "Monsieur Sam", of Wimbledon College.

When we were boys of 13, religion really didn’t mean very much to us. We had not yet experienced in our own lives any real need for God. But Monsieur Sam, our new French teacher, insisted on starting our French course by teaching us the Rosary in French. We found out that it was the first thing he taught every class he took.

And he explained to us very simply why he did that – it was because he believed that the most important thing he would ever teach us was not how to communicate in French (which was, as he freely admitted, a lost cause), but how to communicate with God – how to pray when you are facing the moments of great crisis that occur sooner or later in all our lives.

For Monsieur Sam, that crisis was during the Second World War, when he was in North Africa. His army was being regularly and heavily defeated – losing ground and men. Most of his regiment - most of his friends – had already been killed or injured. Every day, he faced terrible dangers. It was at that time in his life that praying the Rosary became the most important thing he ever did.

The Rosary celebrates the great moments of crisis in the life of Jesus. By praying over these times and seeing how Jesus continued to trust in the goodness and the power of God, even at the most fearful moments in his life, Monsieur Sam was able to find the Faith to endure his own time of great crisis.

I have long since forgotten nearly all of the French that he taught me. But I have never forgotten his lesson on prayer. Because he taught us with the authority of a man who had been there – a man who had faced the desperate struggles of life with Faith triumphant.

So, in his memory, I would like to say to you today, "Bonjour, et Merci Beaucoup, Monsieur Sam".

Notre Père, qui es aux cieux,

Que ton nom soit sanctifié,

Que ton règne vienne,

Que ta volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel.

Donne-nous aujourd’hui notre pain de ce jour.

Pardonne-nous nos offences

Comme nous pardonnons aussi à ceux qui nous ont offensés.

Et ne nous soumets pas à la tentation,

mais délivre-nous du mal,

car c’est à toi qu’appartiennent le règne,

la puissance et la gloire, aux siècles des siècles.


And also in his memory, let us pray that we too may face our own crises with Faith and with Prayer.

And let us stand and profess our Faith in God in whom we never walk alone.

Dr Paul O’Reilly, SJ






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