Thursday, July 16, 2020

Thursday, Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

Our Gospel today (Mt 11:28-30) can be a bit perplexing.  On the one hand, it is wonderful to be called by the Lord and hear that he will give us rest.  On the other hand, when I think of Jesus' yoke, his burdens, I would not describe them as easy and light.  I frequently imagine the cross as Jesus' yoke.  His burdens, well those would be our sins.  You see what I mean?

But if we put what Jesus is saying in context of Mosiac law and how the scribes and Pharisees enforced those laws, we open ourselves up to understanding how Jesus' yoke and burdens are easy and light in comparison.  With over 600 ritual and spiritual laws, and an army of enforcers, living a faithful was onerous, to say the least.  

Jesus boils it all down into two commandments; love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Certainly, living out the love for God has its own challenges, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned and so forth.  Yet if we go to Jesus and share the burdens with him through his yoke, the effort will be lighter than if we tried to do it on our own.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Memorial, St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church 2020

As we celebrate the Memorial of St. Bonaventure, we hear in our Gospel today (Mt 11:25-27) Jesus praising his Father for obscuring these things (mighty deeds) from those proclaiming to be wise and learned, while revealing them to the childlike.  If it sounds familiar, it should.  We heard this on the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, just a few weeks ago

As I read this short Gospel I am drawn back to my adolescence.  In my childhood, I looked up to my parents in awe with all they knew, all they were teaching me, and all they could do.  Then in my late teen years, I thought I knew it all, and wondered how my parents had become so ill informed.  As I have grown older I have come to understand my parents had not changed, rather, I had become blinded by my own arrogance.

Jesus warns us about this arrogance in what is in essence a prayer to our Father.  When we are centered on ourselves, on our own knowledge, when we are looking inward rather than outward to God, we lose sight of the author of all things, including our abilities to learn and do.    Let us then be outward centered, looking toward God in childlike awe at His greatness.  In doing so, let us be open to what God wants to reveal to us as the loving Father he is.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin 2020

Our Gospel today on the Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha (Mt 11:20-24) Jesus gives the citizens of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum a piece of his mind!  They have all witnessed his mighty deeds yet the continue their ways as before.  Jesus senses no remorse for their past ways, no indication they will repent for their transgressions.  He warns them that at judgement time they will be judged more harshly than Sodom!  In fact, Jesus goes as far as to say had Sodom been witness to all that Jesus had done in these three towns it would not have been destroyed.

Jesus is not upset over their past sins, but that the people of these towns, despite all they have seen and learned have not changed their ways.  Jesus makes it clear that it is not enough to just believe in him.  Jesus lets us know that we must know him and change our ways to follow him and his teachings.  The doors to Christ’s Church are open to everyone, but his teachings remain constant.  The onus is on us to change, just as the onus was on Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Are our hearts open to changing to follow Jesus?

Monday, July 13, 2020

Monday, Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

The beginning of our Gospel today (Mt 10:34-11:1) seems so uncharacteristic of Jesus.  He states he hasn't come to bring peace upon the earth, rather he brings a sword.  What happened to, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (cf Mt. 5:9).  Or, as we read later in Matthew, "Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword'" (cf Mt. 26:52). 

It isn't that Jesus is bringing about division.  His message of love is for everyone.  He died for everyone.  Reconciliation is for everyone.  Division comes about from us as we listen, understand, and live Jesus' message.  Jesus was and continues to prepare his followers for the hardships we will endure as a result of us putting him first in our lives.  Jesus encourages us to take up our cross and follow him.  And in our times, our crosses are speaking out against the sin of racism, protection of the unborn, and free expression of our faith, just to name a few.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

We hear in our Gospel today (Mt 8:1-4) of the great and humble faith of a leper, as well as Jesus revealing his divinity. The leper approaches Jesus, pays him homage and says, "Lord, if you wish (or will - depending on the translation), you can make me clean." Jesus touches the leper then says, "I will; be clean." In what some might see as a foreshadowing of the Lord's prayer, the leper asks that the Lord Jesus' will be done on earth, that being, if it was Jesus' will to clean the leper, let it be so. And as only the divine could do, Jesus, through a simple touch and an act of his will, does just that. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It was Jesus' will that the leper be made clean and return to being within the community, rather than an outcast. Isn't that Jesus' will in heaven, that we be made clean from our sins to be part of his community, rather than being an outcast?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time 2020

In our Gospel today (Mt 7:21-29) Jesus makes it pretty clear, not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven, even those who say, "Lord, Lord!" Jesus says it isn't about prophesying or driving out demons or doing mighty deeds in his name. Instead, Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is for the one who does his Father's will. Jesus continues by making the distinction between those who hear his words and act on them and those who hear his words but do not act on them. Considering Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, in the flesh, it seems logical that listening to Jesus and acting on what he says, is doing the will of God. Let us stop to listen to Jesus today and everyday and act on what he says. His instructions are good for the soul now and come judgement day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist 2020

On the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, we read in today’s Gospel (Lk 1:57-66, 80) the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah. It is important to recall Luke's Gospel begins by describing Elizabeth and Zechariah as having no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now both were beyond childbearing years (cf. Lk 1:7). Also remember for nine months Zechariah is not able to speak because he doubted the angel Gabriel that he and Elizabeth would have a child. But the moment Zechariah does as Gabriel said to do, name his newborn son John, Zechariah is once again able to speak. The first thing Zechariah does is he blesses God. Compare the patience of Zechariah and Elizabeth to our "I want it now" society. Here was an elderly, childless couple during a time when being childless was seen as a form of punishment. Late into their lives, still faithful to God, they are blessed with a child. Even when Zechariah is stricken for nine months following his moment of disbelief, as his ability to speak returns he immediately blesses God. We have a few months of a loosely enforced quarantine and we start losing it. People shooting others over a simple request to wear face masks in stores, conspiracies theories being tossed about like beads at Mardi Gras, medical advice disregarded because it hinders our getting back to normal immediately. Patience is a virtue. Let us be virtuous through greater patience, like Zechariah and Elizabeth.