Scripture Reflections

4th Sunday of Advent: Luke 1:26-38

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  12/20/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

The second and third Sundays of Advent, we have been reflecting on the figure of John the Baptist, but now Holy Mother Church turns our attention toward the figure of Mary.

In the first reading, we hear about David wanting to build God a house. The ark of the covenant was still stored in a tent. But God stops him and says through the prophet Nathan that God himself will build a house for David, and his heir shall rule forever. We Christians believe that this heir who shall rule in the house of David forever is Jesus. And the house for Jesus or true temple is Mary, who we call the ark of the covenant. Mary says yes to the angel, and her yes allows Jesus to come into the world and become our savior.

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3rd Sunday of Advent: John 1:6-8,19-28

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  12/13/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

Happy Gaudete Sunday! Gaudete is a plural imperative that literally means “ya’ll rejoice” (if you are from Texas) or “yinz rejoice” (if you are from Pittsburgh). What reason do we have to rejoice on this third Sunday of Advent?

Gaudete is the first word in the entrance antiphon taken from Philippians 4:4-5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.” St. Paul is writing to a Church in a Roman Colony that has suffered some of the most grievous persecutions and imprisonments in the early Church. This Church is hurting and sorrowful, possibly ready to give up, and yet he surprises them in their liturgy where the letter was first read with a message of joy. This is why he needs to repeat: “again, I say rejoice.” This is like someone coming up to you after a great tragedy in your life and saying, “Be glad, be joyful, be delighted!”

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2nd Sunday of Advent: Mark 1:1-8

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  12/06/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

The first week of Advent focuses on the Lord’s second coming at the end of time. The second and third weeks of Advent focus on John the Baptist's appearance proclaiming the first coming of Jesus. Let us look at what the Baptist has to say to us.

We know from the Gospel of Luke that John was from a priestly family because Zechariah, his father was a priest. Based on some interesting details in scripture and the discoveries of Qumran some scholars speculate that John the Baptist was an Essene and that Zechariah and Elizabeth gave their young son over to the Essene community in Qumran to be brought up in this monastic community. The Essenes rejected the world and created a monastic community in the desert near the Dead Sea, waiting for two messiahs, one kingly messiah and one priestly messiah. They practiced ritual washings or baptisms daily that they believed gave their followers purification from sins and imparted the Spirit of the Lord.

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1st Sunday of Advent: Mark 13:33-7

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  11/28/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

Happy Advent. Jesus in the Gospel this Sunday calls us to be vigilant. What are we watching for and why?

First, we are watching for the coming of Jesus. This primarily refers to his second coming at the end of the world when he will separate the sheep from the goats and bring his bride the Church to heaven. However, Jesus also comes to us in his word, prayer, and especially the Eucharist. Let us open our ears and hearts to a deeper revelation of his presence in the Eucharist.

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Pentecost: Jn 20:19-23

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  05/31/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

This week Jesus breathes on the disciples. This is a sign or even sacramentalaction that signifies the impartation of the Holy Spirit. This is John’s version ofPentecost. The Gospel writers are often interested in displaying the mysteries of thelife of Jesus I.e. his birth, baptism, Epiphany etc.. Unlike the other Gospel writers Johnputs the mysteries of the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost on the same day. Remember that in the morning Jesus told Mary Magdalen not to touch him because hehad not ascended to the Father yet but now Jesus invites the disciples to touch himlater that evening which implies he has ascended already. Why does John do this? John the theologian and the last Gospel traditionally symbolized by the far seeingEagle-like creature in Revelation wants to connect the gift of the Spirit to the Church onPentecost to the Resurrection. This means that our receiving the the Spirit is also areceiving the the resurrected life of Jesus. The mysteries are not separate and allreceived when we have a personal encounter with Jesus by faith.

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Ascension of the Lord: Matthew 28:16-20

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  05/24/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

In this Sunday's Gospel we witness the Jesus going up to heaven forty days after his resurrection (when traditionally celebrated on Ascension Thursday). The opening prayer at Mass or "the collect" calls us to rejoice with thanksgiving and be glad with "holy joys" at the departure of Jesus. What are these mysterious holy joys? How can we rejoice and give thanks for the departure of someone we love and whose immediate presence we so dearly need? Rather, shouldn't we mourn the loss of someone we love? Here are four reasons to rejoice at the ascension of Jesus.

First, we rejoice because Jesus takes our poor human nature all the way up to the throne of God. God indeed exalts our lowly human nature by lifting it up beyond all the angelic powers to a place it has never gone before. Before the Word became flesh Christ indeed had a divine nature and authority but without the assumption of human nature. Now in his human nature Jesus is given all authority in heaven and earth. This mystery is good news for us because wherever the head goes the body follows which means we as the body of Christ follow him to the throne of God.

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6th Sunday of Easter: John 14:15-21

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  05/17/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus promises that the Father will send another advocate who will abide with us forever. Who is this other advocate?

This new advocate is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This is the first of seven times (the number of perfection and creation) that Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples when he leaves. Advocate is the Latin version of the Greek word Paraclete which literally means "to call to one's side." This is a word that comes from the Greek courtrooms where one would have a counselor or paraclete who would give counsel, plead a person's cause, or intercede with the judge in a court case. In a way this means that the Holy Spirit is our lawyer who has never lost a case because his Father is the judge. How could we lose a case with such a wonderful helper and mediator?

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5th Sunday of Easter: John 14:1-12

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  05/10/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

In this Sunday's Gospel the disciples are huddled in the upper room in Jerusalem on the eve of the crucifixion gripped with terror. The Greek word for being "troubled" here means being terrified by the prospect of death. Yet, Jesus tells them to not let their hearts be troubled. Many of us have faced the fear of death especially in these days of the present pandemic for ourselves or our loved ones. Fear of death often feels like a wet blanket that we just cannot entangle ourselves from. Is it possible for us to actually free ourselves from the fear of death?

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4th Sunday of Easter: John 10:1-10

by Fr. Alcuin Hurl, FHS  |  05/03/2020  |  Scripture Reflections

The Good Shepherd Discourse that we hear this Sunday comes right after Jesus heals the man born blind who was betrayed by his parents and then kicked out of the synagogue by the Pharisees. Even though the man born blind experienced this hurtful rejection from the people he trusted he still musters the strength to trust in Jesus.

His trust is quite remarkable because often when we are betrayed by those we trust we make an inner vow to never trust anyone again—even God. The problem with this common reaction is that we simply cannot live a full joyful life without trust. How do we know we can trust Jesus or anyone else when our heart has been so wounded by betrayal? How can we learn to trust again? Jesus answers this question by calling us to trust him just like sheep trust their shepherd.

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