Opening the Word
Welcome to Opening the Word, videos and guides offering prayer and insights for the Sunday Readings. Each reflection is lead by one of our experienced presenters including Dr. Tim Gray, Dr. Mary Healy, Dr. Scott Powell, Dr. Edward Sri, Fr. John Riley, Dr. Ben Akers, and Martha Fernandez. Opening the Word is designed to facilitate thought and discussion for personal faith formation or in the context of a group meeting, especially in RCIA.
To find the current week, visit https://bible.usccb.org/
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Other journals can be found in downloadable PDF form at the end of the respective season's videos.
1st Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Happy New Year! If this strikes you as a bit premature, it isn't really because this Sunday marks the start of the new Church year. In the Catholic Church, the first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the cycle of readings, holy days, and holidays for roughly the next 365 days. It's also the ti...
2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A)
It may seem odd that, just as the secular world begins to celebrate peace and joy during the holiday season, we are asked in this week's Gospel to consider our sinfulness. The words of John the Baptist echo across the centuries: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Isn't John's talk ab...
3rd Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Who hasn't felt discouraged at some point in life? We all know how it feels when things don't go the way we want or expect. John the Baptist was feeling that way in today's Gospel. He is languishing in prison, wondering if all that he said and did had any meaning. Jesus didn't look like the commo...
4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)
This week's Gospel tells us how the "birth of Jesus Christ came about." More specifically, it tells us how an angel appeared to Joseph, explaining to him that Mary's son would save the people from their sins. While Joseph might not have understood it at the time, we know that Jesus is the fulfill...
Nativity of the Lord (Year A)
When we think of the story of Christmas, we usually think of the "infancy narrative" of Luke's Gospel: Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, no room in the inn, Jesus laid in the manger, angels, and shepherds. This is the familiar account of Christ's birth, and we are surrounded by reminders of...
The Holy Family (Year A)
The first two readings today focus on the relationships with our family. We are told that honoring and respecting our father is of the highest importance and, if we are faithful to this call, we will be blessed by God. When we read the Gospel, the theme changes from focusing on our earthly family...
Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (Year A)
Today is a beautiful and important feast in the life of the Church. Our focus today isn't on starting the new year—although that is certainly reason for celebration, and what better way is there to start out the new year than by going to Mass? Our focus today is on Mary and her motherhood. There ...
The Epiphany of the Lord (Year A)
The story of the magi, the three wise men, who traveled from the East to pay homage to Jesus as the King of the Jews, is part of our Christmas tradition. The magi, after a detour to see King Herod, brought their most valuable possessions to lay at the feet of the newborn King.
Baptism of the Lord (Year A)
On this first Sunday of Ordinary Time, we recall the Baptism of the Lord. But, in addition to remembering this historical event, we also are asked to call to mind our own baptism. Why? Because our baptism isn't just an event from the past, but a present reality that impacts every aspect of our li...
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
When we say the words of the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God, during Mass, we are directly quoting John the Baptist.
The scene is set on the banks of the Jordan River. John has been gathering disciples by powerfully calling for repentance in light of the coming kingdom of God. One day, as he sees Jesu...
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
In today's Gospel, we see Jesus's reaction to the news that his cousin John has been arrested: he goes into seclusion back at home in Galilee, maybe for one last visit home with Mary, and then begins gathering the band of followers who will become his apostles.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
As we enter the fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we encounter the beautiful but challenging teachings of the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes present us with a paradox. Jesus says that the people who are suffering by the world's standards are actually blessed. In fact, the word blessed in Greek means so...
Presentation of the Lord (Year A)
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
In order to understand what Jesus is telling us in today's Gospel, we need to consider what salt and light meant in his time. Because we can buy all the salt we could ever need at our local grocery and we have light anytime we want at the flick of a switch, we may not realize how special both wer...
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
This week's Gospel is all about the Law. It starts with the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, which contains Jesus's teaching about loving your enemies, as well as the Beatitudes.
We may never have given any thought as to why Jesus gave these teachings on the side of a mountain, but the time...
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays out many of his basic life teachings. Several of them are extraordinarily difficult for us to understand, much less put into practice. Two of these are the famous "turn the other cheek" and "love your enemy" admonitions. To understand what Jesus is saying an...
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
It's fitting that this Gospel begins with the admonition reminding us that we cannot serve two masters (God and money) and then delves into Jesus's teaching on worry, because money is often at the top of our worry list. We worry about how to get money if we don't have enough, and we worry about h...
1st Sunday of Lent (Year A)
We begin our Lenten readings in a most appropriate place: the desert. In the desert, life is stripped to basics and everything, including our weakness, is exposed. We are forced to stand alone and vulnerable before God. Our faith is put to the test. Little wonder, then, that Jesus went to the des...
2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A)
We tend to believe good times will last forever. While it's nice to be optimistic in that respect, we tend to worry that the bad times will last forever as well. The truth is that life is a series of contrasts—mountaintop experiences followed by deep valleys.
3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A)
In ancient times, access to a reliable well was essential. Without a steady supply of clean water, life would be difficult, if not impossible. In this week's Gospel, we see Jesus sitting by a well in the country of Samaria. It's noon, and we can assume that he is hot and tired. We know he is thir...
4th Sunday of Lent (Year A)
This Gospel reminds us that the way we see best, is through the eyes of faith, for then we see the world the way God sees it. But first we have to recognize that without Jesus, we are truly blind.
5th Sunday of Lent (Year A)
This week's Gospel shows us Jesus wants us to let Him into all those places that have been rendered dead by sin. He wants to weep with us in his humanity, but also to reveal his divinity and bring about a total healing.
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Year A)
We all are called to love God and do the Father's will, even when it is difficult. But love involves sacrifice—dying to self and making sacrifices for the one we love. We can use the example of Christ in the Garden to accept our crosses well.
Easter Sunday (Year A)
Though the mysteries of the Faith are not readily understood, we should ask for the grace to believe—to grow in the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. With these gifts, we have the power to recognize the importance of the Resurrection, and how it can transform our lives.
Alleluia, he is risen....