Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Parish
Monaca, Pennsylvania

Scriptural Insight
Greetings from the Pastoral Associate for the...

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time [10/15/17]

Our Gospel reading this week is again addressed to the chief priests and elders. In this parable Jesus is describing the kingdom of God.

Though addressed to the religious leaders, this parable is just as relevant to our lives. Jesus tells of a king who hosts a wedding feast for his son. The king’s servants go out to invite people to the feast. There are three responses among the invited: refusal, distraction and opposition. The king is enraged by these responses and declares that those who were originally invited “are not worthy to come to the feast.” He then instructs his servants to go out and invite whoever they find. The feast includes the bad and good alike, this image should remind us of Jesus’ words to the religious leaders in the Gospel reading two weeks ago, “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

The thrust of the parable is that God’s kingdom has been offered to God’s people, but so many of them refuse enter its saving reality. The feast has been prepared, the doors are open! The invite has been extended from the king himself! But instead of putting on a wedding garment and enjoying the feast in the company of the king and his son, we refuse or we get caught up in the distractions of life. We may be less likely to oppose the kingdom and yet if we are truly honest with ourselves, we can discover ways in which we truly oppose Christ in our daily lives. This parable truly serves as a wake up call for all of us. How do we answer the invitation of the king and his son? What distracts us from entering more deeply into the saving reality of God’s kingdom?

We must ask ourselves; what does the invitation to enter God’s kingdom sound like in my life? Am I ready when the king invites me to the feast?

Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as a present and future reality. How are we part of the kingdom of God right now? What about the future?

This week, identify a distraction in your life. Make a commitment to God to eliminate that distraction and spend that time in prayer. Stop by the church this week as we celebrate our
Forty Hour Devotions to the Blessed Sacrament. What better way to start anew, what better way to pray that the “distraction” does not return. What better way to become more aware of God’s presence in your life?

Christ’s Peace,
Deacon Tony


Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time [10/8/17]

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus again preaches another parable directed towards the chief priests and the elders. This time Jesus tells an even more elaborate and detailed parable. The effect was to involve the chief priests and elders in the story and lead them to draw their own conclusions. As we know from the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders, it is unlikely that they liked the conclusions they drew.

The parable Jesus tells is about a landowner who plants a vineyard. It is a story about Israel's past rejection of prophets sent by God. Prophets who spoke the truth and delivered God's message were dismissed, rejected and sometimes harmed physically by God's people.

When telling them this parable, Jesus was making it clear that they will repeat their mistakes by rejecting him as well. This parable hits hard, and has a somewhat confrontational atmosphere and makes Jesus seem harsh and demanding. We tend to see Jesus who called himself "meek and humble of heart". Jesus was courageous and unflinching in his message. He spoke truth to the powers of his day. He took risks; he passed judgment on hypocrites. He did not look back or shrink away. As a critical moral and religious voice, Jesus made many people, especially those in the religious establishment very angry because he exposed their hypocrisy and their desire for power and adoration. Some of them were so angry with him, that they wanted him dead. As the tenants in the parable said, "Come, let us kill him."

It is not that Jesus only criticized the religious leaders; he asks even more of us. His daily teachings were addressed not only to his disciples, but to crowds who were coming to hear him speak.

So, we need to ask ourselves: Am I truly open to Jesus' words, even when he challenges us rather than comfort us? How do we respond to his challenges? Why do you think he spoke so strongly and tried to get people to change? What is a positive way that we can continue his mission? How can we stand up for injustice?

Christ's Peace,
Deacon Tony


Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [10/1/17]

Today's Gospel provides the first in a series of parables that Jesus directs towards the religious leaders of Jerusalem. He asks the chief priests and elders a simple question, "What is your opinion?" He then uses the parable of a man and his two sons. The father asks his sons to work in the vineyard. One son refuses, changes his mind and decides to work in the vineyard. The other son agrees to his father's request but then does not go. Jesus asks the question, "Which of the two did his father's will?"

They answer correctly by saying the first. But you see, their answer only serves as a self-implication. Jesus immediately reveals that the parable is about them and their lack of belief. Instead, Jesus says, "tax collectors and prostitutes" who believed John (he is referring to John the Baptist) are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. This infuriated the religious leaders; Jesus is comparing them to the 'sinners' of their day. These sinners will not enter God's kingdom because of their sin, of course. Rather, they will enter the kingdom of God because of their humility and desire to repent. Jesus found the religious leaders to be closed minded, rigid and unable to recognize God's kingdom in their midst.

We need to ask ourselves, when have I said no to God and then changed my mind? When have I said yes, but had no real intention of serving? Why do you think the first son changed his mind and went to do as his father asked? Why do you think the second son said he would do the work but then did not?

This week we need to say yes to God by serving in his vineyard; even if the work is hard to do. We need to find a way to share God's love with others. Jesus' teaching was clear and direct. He is speaking directly to our hearts so that we may know if we are truly doing the Father's will.

Christ's Peace,
Deacon Tony