Second Sunday of Lent – God’s Power and Love

Sacrifice of Isaac, Caravaggio, c. 1603, Piasecka-Johnson Collection (Princeton)
(About this Image)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the First Reading
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 22:1–2, 9a, 10–13, 15–18
February 28, 2021

Our reading today from the book of Genesis is usually called the “sacrifice of Isaac.” It is important to the three great monotheistic religions. The Jews call it the Aqedah (the binding) and it is important for liturgy, especially Rosh Hashanah and mysticism. Christians see it as forerunner of the sacrifice of Jesus. For Muslims Isaac is the perfect Muslim as, for them, he willingly submits to being sacrificed. These developments are important, but not as important or as immediately meaningful, as the original intent. We need first however look at two aspects of the story.

This is the dramatic center of the four stages of the relationship between Abraham and God.

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Community Mass – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Please join us to celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Lent on Sunday, February 28th:

  • 9 AM EST – Morning Mass – In Person at the Church, not live streamed.
  • 11:15 AM EST Community Mass In Person at the Church and also streamed online and available for playback.

    Instructions to view the Mass are available here. You can also watch the video via YouTube Live in the window above.

Today’s readings and hymns are available to download here:

1st Sunday of Lent – Homily (Fr. Smith)

Mark is a minimalist. He can tell a powerful story in very few words. In today’s three verses he will show us what Jesus will do and how we should respond. He will also hint as to why we should do it.

The wilderness is a place of revelation. God not only reveals himself to his people but they – we – reveal ourselves in return to Him. It is thus is a place of testing. The faith of the Israelites was tested for 40 days when Moses was on Mt Sinai and indeed for 40 years after their failure. The generation that left the captivity of Egypt were given the opportunity for freedom, but they rejected it and entered a long period of training in the school of the desert.

Jesus is now also tested. Mark is very clear that it is by Satan. Originally, Satan was seen as an official in the heavenly court. He tested creatures to see if they were loyal to the LORD. For Mark, however, he is the prince of daemons, invisible spirits who oppose God’s plan. Mark, of all the gospel writers, most clearly presents Jesus as confronting Satan and destroying his hold on humanity. We have already seen Jesus’ exorcisms and in several key moments in the Gospel and he will tell us very clearly how Satan was defeated. We see today the first defeat. Mark is not interested in Satan’s strategies or deceptions, only that Jesus was stronger and prevailed over him. We know that he succeeded because he escaped alive. Mark emphasizes that Jesus was with the wild beasts. They are often associated with Satan, yet Jesus is unharmed. We remember that Satan appeared to Adam and Eve in the garden as a serpent. They did not pass the test and the animals with whom they lived in peace in the garden became wild and turned against them. But always there was the promise that the LORD would bring all things back to harmony again. That Jesus lived in peace with the wild animals is the first sign of this harmony would come with what Jesus calls the Kingdom. Jesus’ ministry would be a re-creation of the world. Jesus is in the desert because the Spirit literally drove him there. This is the same spirit who appeared as a great wind at the beginning of creation. It is in the power of the spirit that re-creation begins. When Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden angels are stationed outside to keep the gates locked. Now angels are dispatched to help Jesus open them again.

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Black Americans on Their Way to Sainthood: Sr. Thea Bowman

Sr. Thea Bowman, (1937-1990), teacher, preacher, public speaker
By Tevin V. Williams

Sister Thea Bowman was born in Canton Mississippi in 1937 to a loving family. Although she was not born into slavery in the United States, her grandfather was a slave. Despite this and the time period, Sister Bowman’s father was a physician and her mother was a teacher. Surprisingly, she was born into a Methodist family and at the age of 9 years-old she asked to become a Catholic.

With her faith being guided by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, she started to honor her Catholic faith through her work and personal life. Sister Bowman earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Viterbo University, and then went on to complete her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in English at Catholic University of America. As a teacher she honored her Catholic faith by spreading God’s love through her work, and being a light to all. She taught in elementary school in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and then at a high school in Canton Mississippi. Going on to teach at the university level, she was a professor at Viterbo University, Catholic University of America, and Xavier University. After being an educator for 16 years, she was invited by the bishop of Jackson, Mississippi to become a consultant for intellectual awareness. Her role included bringing people together through various forms of singing, gospel preaching, prayer, and storytelling all aimed at breaking down the racial and cultural barriers. As a consultant, her “ministry of love” stretched internationally from Nigeria to Canada, all the way to New York. Sister Bowman was also highly influential in the publishing of the Catholic hymnal: Lead Me, Guide Me: The African American Catholic Hymnal. (The first of its kind made by the black community.)

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1st Sunday of Lent – God’s Radical Invitation

Noah’s Thanksoffering, Joseph Anton Koch, c. 1803

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the First Reading
First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8–15
February 21, 2021

The story of Noah and the Ark has been the source of so many movies, children’s toys and stories, and memorable New Yorker cartoons that we can forget that it addresses many serious issues. As we look at this in Lent, we should remember that it is the first time that “covenant” is mentioned in the Bible. A covenant then as now is the way that the LORD wishes to express the kind of relationship he wants with us.

Christian and Jewish scholars agree that covenant is the legal means by which kinship is established between another individual or group. This is not a contract, a mere sharing of goods and services, but a sharing of life.  It usually consists of the stipulation of what this sharing will mean, a sacrifice of an animal, and the swearing of oaths of one or both parties. There is often a visible sign of the covenant and a common meal.

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Community Mass – 1st Sunday of Lent

Please join us to celebrate the 1st Sunday of Lent on Sunday, February 21th:

  • 9 AM EST – Morning Mass – In Person at the Church, not live streamed.
  • 11:15 AM EST Community Mass In Person at the Church and also streamed online and available for playback.

    Instructions to view the Mass are available here. You can also watch the video via YouTube Live in the window above.

Today’s readings and hymns are available to download here: