Volume II

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Contents: Volume 2 



Year A - 2023









1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller

3. --

4. -- (Your reflection can be here!)






Sun. 26 A 2023

The message in the Scriptures today is clear. People need to change any evil ways they have. God's incredible mercy will then greet and embrace them.

The list anyone could generate about why people turn to evil ways is a really long one. Our own faults would be listed among them, perhaps leading us down the wrong road, just short of evil. Those definitions (faults, wrong, evil) sound to me at least, like the initial tone in the first reading of simply blaming God (or another or something else) rather than taking responsibility for what we do and do not do.

Honesty with oneself is just as hard as being totally honest with someone else, perhaps more so. I think that this human condition, so to speak, really pales against the promises of our second reading. Who would not prefer encouragement, solace, participation in the Spirit, compassion, mercy and joy instead of a life based on lies and deceit?

Obtaining God's promises requires that we follow the example of Jesus, however. We all know that doing that is also not easy. Fortunately, we are not asked to journey alone, but have been given ample resources of many kinds including people, songs, ministries, and writings to be our companions.

Today, let us pinpoint just one area in our lives that we admit we need help to change. Let us pray for guidance in seeking how to make that change a little at a time. Then let us confidently know that we have been graced by the Gifts, promises, and resources by God to do exactly that.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Twenty Sixth Sunday of Ordered Time
October 1, 2023

Ezekiel 18:25-28; Responsorial Psalm 25: Philippians 2:1-11;
Gospel Acclamation John 10:27; Matthew 21:28-32

(This reflection is from the reflection for the 26th Sunday of Ordered time September 27 2020)

This 21st chapter of Matthew’s gospel is about Jesus coming into the City of Peace, that is, Jerusalem in the final phase of his ministry and saving event. He had come in triumph as a King of Peace with the crowds shouting his praises and insisting on his kingship. There follow instructions, the cleansing of the temple of merchants, money changers, con-men, and thieves. The cleansing of the temple set him as the enemy of the Chief Priests and the Sadducees – the powerful, i.e. the priests, and the wealthy, the Sadducees. In today’s gospel Jesus addresses directly the chief priests. He does so in a parable that has the potential of being misunderstood by some but a heavy criticism of those in leadership of the Chosen People. He compares the son who promises the Father he will go work in the fields to prostitutes and tax collectors. These two classes of people were despised and rejected as the lowest of the low. Yet Jesus does a twist when he says that these most despised and disregarded people will enter the Kingdom of God before them, these high priests who think themselves righteous and deserving of the wealth of the land and the adulation of the people. He recalls for them John, the Baptizer, and reminds these paragons of self-righteous virtue that prostitutes and tax collectors heard John’s preaching and came to repent of their sinfulness, seeking instead to live in the Kingdom of God.

It's very easy to let this story reside in history, as something that happened then and has no relevance to now. Jesus really put it to these proud and arrogant fools. We may be tempted to let it go at that and think of it as just a story. This parable deserves a more intense scrutiny and an application to our circumstances, attitudes, and behaviors and judgments.

First, God is the father of the two sons. The first son says, "no way, dad. I’m not going to go out into the hot sun and work with prickly vines, breaking my back pulling weeds, trimming vines, heaping manure around the stalks. Not for me. I’m your son and don’t need to stoop to the work of slaves." These are the people, these are us who have heard God’s call for working in his Kingdom and just are too busy, too shy, too self-centered to spend time and energy being compassionate to the people encountered, the family into which we are born, the enemies who compete with us for wealth, power, and fame. No, I’ve not got time to care about others: no, I’ve not got energy for more than to accumulate, acquire, and build my reputation. There is only so much time in my days, and I need every minute for me.

We’ll note that this son goes along – for a time. Then something happens that changes his mind. Most spiritual writers will say that this person came into suffering which opened his eyes and his heart. There is repentance, there is change in attitude toward others and toward what is of lasting value in his life. He goes, without fanfare, without shouting, "hey, Dad, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll go work in your vineyard and do what is for others and for the Kingdom."

There is also the other son who quickly responds to the father’s request. "Certainly, Father. I’ll get right to it and make the vineyard the envy of all." Then he goes his own way, seeking out whatever pleases him or gains for himself things, control over others, and the bowing and scraping that make others one’s servants.

This story is directed to the Chief Priests and the elders. The son who at first agrees to do the work are they. They commit to doing God’s work and then use their position and their power to serve themselves. They accept the fruits of leadership and authority but do not work to share the father’s compassionate care. Certainly, this can be applied to our leadership in church and in society. The failures of hierarchy, clergy, religious, and laity to protect the young and the vulnerable in our communities casts them in the company of the Chief Priests and elders. The leadership among our economic endeavors gladly accept tax breaks that bend more clearly to the benefit of the most wealthy, the most monopolistic organizations. While the public acclaim of those tax breaks is said to encourage greater investment that would benefit the poor, the underemployed, the unemployed, the new immigrant, the benefit is turned to the wealth of owners and wealthy in the form of stock buy-backs, exorbitant bonuses. There is little thought of the common good of citizens and those clamoring for participation in the hope of a nation founded on principles of equality, equity, and for the fostering of unity among diversity.

Then there’s political leadership. Many enter such leadership with high ideals and purpose. Many succumb to the siren call of power and power’s rewards and lose their way, becoming the sons who said yes and then ignored their commitments.

The Kingdom of Heaven, of God, is now and yet growing before the extinction of the universe. The Kingdom of Heaven is what Jesus established on the Cross and in his rising from the tomb. It is now. But that Kingdom is present to the universe through the work of the sons and daughters who practice the work of the Lord in the here and now. Those who are truly followers of the Way demonstrated, taught, and established by Jesus bring hope and compassion to all they meet. This is not only in Sunday church. We are accustomed to gathering for song, for instruction by the Word, and for sharing in the work of all consecrated into the Body of the Christ. If we leave our faith there, our hearts are listening to God’s call only an hour a week. Our faith-ears should hear God’s call in every person in danger, in each person who lacks what is necessary to flourish.

We Catholics put great stock into the idea of obedience. So often that word is used to control, to act without thinking – or without loving. Yet the word itself means "to listen" to some force, some being, some value. Persons of faith listen with their hearts. It is from the heart that comes the response to the Father’s call to work in the vineyard.

Perhaps we’ve overlooked the understanding of the Hebrew understanding of vineyard. Much of Hebrew Writings speak of the chosen people as the vineyard. That vineyard is tended by God, tilled, watered, manured, pruned, spoken to with kindness. When that vineyard only produced wild, tasteless grapes, it is worthy only to be cut down and burned to make way for more fruitful vines.

We have work to do if it is truly in our hearts to listen to God’s word. His presence among us is to bring compassion to the broken-hearted, to heal the wounded of those mortally wounded, to provide hope for the hopeless, and to lift us up to being all that we can be --- for one another. In so doing we gives thanks to God for life itself. In so doing we grow the Kingdom of Heaven so that what God is to us we are to his creation.

Dennis Keller









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