Lectionary Reflection: Second Sunday of Lent, Year B

Lectionary Readings: Gen 22 1-2, 9-13, 15-18 / Ps 116 / Rom 8:31b-35, 37 / Mk 9:2-10

Have you ever been up a mountain either on foot or on vehicle and simply enjoy the views from up top? I recall my grade 10 trip to Algonquin Park and hiking was one of the activities and the small group of us young men with the teachers went up Booth’s Rock. Even though the journey was tiresome up hill, the view up top was worth it, especially on a cool autumn day where you would see trees down below with red, orange, yellow and some green leaves. Nearly two years ago, I recall the time I spent in Europe within the short 12-days journeying through Spain, Southern France and Italy. Specifically, I recall a day in France visiting Les Baux-de-Provence. It was cold a morning and I only wore a hoodie. However, I enjoyed the views from the top just looking down. The last instance I would like to speak was that of Assisi. Assisi, indeed a “city on the hilltop,” looking down to the green valleys down below… simply breathtaking.

A view of Les Beaux-de-Provence (Petit Bleu Photos)
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Lectionary Reflection: First Sunday of Lent, Year B

Lectionary Readings: Gen 9:8-15 / Ps 25 / 1 Pet 3:18-22 / Mk 1:12-15

My favourite celebration of the Liturgical Year is no doubt the Easter Vigil and even if it must be celebrated in less exterior solemnity, it will still be my favourite Liturgical celebration of the year. Am I sense a “Liturgy Geek?” Maybe, but I think it is so much more than just signs and symbols, but rather, because of the journey that leads to this very celebration.

Our journey to Easter formally began with the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday this past Wednesday with the blessing and imposition of ashes on our heads. It is with this act that we begin a forty-day period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But why? The First Sunday of Lent in either cycle A, B, or C will make reference to the temptation of Jesus in the desert. I think the storyline is so familiar to many of us. I remember listening to this story over and over again during the Lenten season back in my years of elementary school. However, in this Year B, the cycle of Mark, there is only a one short paragraph merely mentioning the temptation of Jesus. However, we are reminded at the end of the Gospel, to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:16) Does this sound familiar? It might, because this is one of the two formulae used in the imposition of ashes this past Wednesday and it is with this line that concludes today’s Gospel.

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Lectionary Reflection: Ash Wednesday, Year A, B, C (2021)

Lectionary Readings: Jl 2:12-18 / Ps 51 / 2Cor 5:20-6:2 / Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

We once again reach the liturgy of Ash Wednesday again this February 17, 2021. Despite the modifications to the Ash Wednesday distribution of the ashes this year due to the ongoing pandemic throughout the world, the Lectionary readings of Ash Wednesday is not changing. If you pay close attention to the readings, they remain the same every year. Yet, we must not let these Lectionary readings be repeated as if it were a broken record. Like any other Biblical readings, we must find a sense of renewed mission from these readings.

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1858, 1960, 2021: Tales of Small Episcopal Ordinations

Monday January 25, 2021, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, apostle will be a special day in the Archdiocese of Toronto. No, the Pope is not coming to Toronto. There will be no members of the Knights of Columbus with their iconic swords forming an honour guard. No, there will not be many priests of the Archdiocese gathering at the Cathedral. However, some ‘successors of the apostles’ will be present. And yes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto will be ordained a bishop and become a ‘successor of the apostles’ through the laying on of hands. This day will be a ten-person episcopal ordination at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica for the Most Reverend, Ivan Camilleri. Nevertheless, this will just be one of many signs that Christ, the “Chief Shepherd” was, is, and will continue to be present among His people.

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Vincent Pham’s Top 5 Moments of 2020

This may seem like routine now… but this act of sitting down and reflecting on what happened throughout the year on New Year’s Eve is ever so prominent this year, 2020 because even the midst of difficulties in life, a lot of ups and downs academically, it was still a year of grace on many dimensions. Particularly for me, spiritually, it was a time of spiritual renewal. As I counted the days to a new decade, I would not expect that 2020 would have unfolded this way, and nor would anyone else. However, instead of moaning and groaning, I think it is important to take a look back at what this year has given us and what we put into it, of course, with the help of God’s grace.

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2020 Christmas Letter and Meditation

Dear friends,

The Christmas season has once again come to the face of the earth, reminding us of the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born in the stable of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. This celebration of the Mystery of the Incarnation is preceded for Catholics, with the Season of Advent in which we listened to the voices of the prophets, most notably that of Isaiah and John the Baptist. For the secular world, Christmas is preceded by parades, a busy shopping season, reindeers and Santa… These things have become ever so familiar to the festive “Holiday Season.”

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Lectionary Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B

Lectionary Readings: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16 / Ps 89 / Rom 16:25-27 / Lk 1:26-38

As we proceed into the last days of the Advent Season, especially during Masses from December 17 to December 24 before the Eve of the Nativity of the Lord, in a period commonly known as “Late Advent Weekdays,” the Lectionary readings provide for us a better background of what is to come in the Nativity Story. On December 17, we read from the gospel of Matthew of the genealogy of Jesus… you remember right? That long list of names. Some might see it as the most pointless gospel out of probably all the gospels because all it is is a list of names. However, we can draw from it this main point: Jesus was born in a family who had ancestors with fairly “interesting” histories. While we see king and rulers, we also see murderers and unwise people in the genealogy. On a larger scale, Jesus was born as any human being would, taking on fully human form to the point that he was born and descended from a family with people of all sorts of backgrounds.

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Lectionary Reflection: Third Sunday of Advent, Year B

“…to bring good news…” (Is 61: 1) What good news is there really in the world as we continue to see terror and violence, racism, injustice, victory of euthanasia, victory of pro-choice movements, and ultimately, the effects of this COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe the recent news of the Pfizer vaccine as good news, but right now, it is only available in certain countries to a small population. We also face uncertainties in the midst of the is good news – will the vaccine have a problem? Will anti-vaccinators comply? When will things be back to “normal”?

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Lectionary Reflection: Second Sunday of Advent, Year B

Lectionary Readings: Is 49:1-5,9-11 / Ps 85 / 2Pt 3:8-14 / Mk 1:1-8

“But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”

2Pt 3:13

It has been nearly a year since the COVID-19 virus emerged on the face on the face of the earth which has impacted the lives of millions of people. People dying, loved ones in hospitals, doctors and nurses working extra shifts, businesses on verge of closure, lockdown and red zones in place, people with lost jobs, Christmas festivities limited, and in many dioceses, Churches closed. Nearly a year later, the pandemic is still in place, perhaps even worse than where we were in March of this year. There are even worse “viruses” or rather, revelations that have been circulating throughout the world, including persecutions, racism, or right in the Catholic Church even more revelations on Clergy Abuse bring brought to light, including most recently, the McCarrick Report which stunned many Catholics. Some may have thought that this COVID-19 pandemic would have just lasted for a couple months. For some, racism and abuse scandals were things of the past. Yet, these dark things have continued to linger on, in one way or another, impacting the lives practically every person on earth. We may be asking ourselves, where is Advent and Christmas in all of this?

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Lectionary Reflection: First Sunday of Advent, year B

Lectionary Readings: Is 63:16b-17; 64.1, 3-8 / Ps 80 / 1Cor 1:3-9 / Mk 13:33-37

Have you ever been to a pottery workshop before? I remember just over a year ago going to Studio-on-the-Hill with some members of Vietnamese Martyrs Parish’s Youth and Young Adults Ministries (YaYA Toronto). This was for a one-day retreat in which the name chosen for it was, “Journey to the Heart.” Strange enough, when you hear of the term “retreat,” you often think of having it at a church, a shrine, or retreat centre. Yet, a pottery studio? Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about it. However, the more time I spent on designing the “Retreatant’s Booklet”, coming across many images of the potter’s hand, the fragility of pottery, the more I came to appreciate the unique setting of the retreat.

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