Sunday: The Four Things You Hear Every Sunday

Here’s a shortcut to understanding the readings at each Mass, as applied to this Sunday’s readings, the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A).

Old Testament: Crack the code.

For the Old Testament reading, remember that the Church brings these to our attention to show God’s long preparation for Christ. Try to find what in the Old Testament refers to our Redeemer.

In this week’s reading from Zechariah, it’s fairly obvious: an explicit prophecy of Christ. “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.”

See the prophecy come true in Mary’s trip to Bethlehem and in Our Lord’s entrance to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover.

Psalm: Pray with Christ.

The Psalms are a way for us to be in direct solidarity with Christ and the Blessed Mother, who prayed the Psalms as good Jews. It’s easy to forget that the Psalms are a prayer; but then they just sound like strange poems.

The key to making the Psalms work is praying them instead of saying them. Look at the crucifix or the tabernacle, if that helps, and speak their message from your heart, with hope and faith.

Second reading: Find the sound bite.

The reading from St. Paul is often difficult to understand. If nothing else, at least listen to the reading looking for a sound bite — a specific brief thought you can remember throughout the week

This Sunday’s is all about living according to the love relationship we have with God instead of our passions alone. Particularly in light of the Second Vatican Council’s prayer for a new Pentecost (the Archdiocese of Detroit is devoting a year to prayer for the New Pentecost) remember this: God will “give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Gospel: Note the verbs.

The Gospels are a way for us to learn to be like our friend Jesus, because in them we see how he acts and reacts. Look for the action words and apply them to your own life.

This Sunday: “I give praise to you, Father,” he says. So should we.

“You have revealed [truth] to little ones,” he says. We should seek revelation in simplicity.

“Come to me,” he says. “I will give you rest .” If you are stressed, seek him out – in prayer, Mass and the Gospel.

“Take my yoke upon you,” he says — in other words, do the things your faith asks of you. Cooperate with Christ. Your fear that it will be difficult is untrue.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.