8th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Peter reminds us that through Baptism we have been incorporated into the Church, and are now living stones in an edifice constructed with a spiritual and priestly purpose. Our Lord described himself to the Pharisees and scribes as the stone rejected by the builders that would become the corner stone (see Matthew 21:42). They had rejected him, but the Father build the Church on him and the Apostles, and the Lord continues to build the Church through us, on the solid foundations of those living stones who have preceded us and our own efforts at holiness.

A living stone is not just edified, but edifying. We are inserted into this spiritual and social structure and helped to support it and remain solid, but Peter also reminds us of the importance of being edifying to others, even those who do not share our faith. If our works are edifying it will attract even those who don’t know Our Lord to see where that special something we have comes from and to seek it out as well.

A dead stone doesn’t edify; eventually it crumbles and the whole structure suffers. Let’s ask the Lord to edify us today so that we can be edifying to others.

Readings: 1 Peter 2:2–5, 9–12; Psalm 100:2–5; Mark 10:46–52. See also 1st Week of Advent, Friday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, and 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year I.

8th Week of Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Peter reminds us all that we have been ransomed from a pointless life by the blood of Christ. It became pointless because after the Original Sin of Adam and Eve our lives became “futile”: there was no way we could escape death or sin on our own, and this evil held us captive with no one to pay for our release. The price was too high for any reasonable person: it was a ransom of not just blood, but death, and not just any death, but the death of someone worthy to make proper expiation.

That someone was Our Lord. He became man and paid our ransom. What we received through an outpouring of water and an invocation of the Trinity at Baptism gave us not only a new lease on life, but a new life. We’ve not only been rescued, but reborn. In today’s Gospel Our Lord warns the disciples about what is about to happen (his Passion), but some of them are still thinking of potential glory and not of the cross that it takes to get there. We’ve died in Christ, and now we need to live by not making the same mistake.

There’s no glory that compares to a new life. Let’s live a life worthy of the price Our Lord paid for it to be holy and happy.

Readings: 1 Peter 1:18–25; Psalm 147:12–15, 19–20; Mark 10:32–45. See also 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I,  St. James the Apostle, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, and 2nd Week of Lent, Wednesday.

8th Week of Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Peter speaks of salvation as a grace in store for us, one worth working toward and waiting for. The disciples in today’s Gospel, the aftermath of Our Lord’s encounter with the rich young man yesterday, hear what is in store for them in terms they can understand: everything they imagine as good in this life, but in abundance. Our Lord doesn’t say it will be easy, but it will be worth it.

The disciples, at this point of the story, did everything the rich young man didn’t, but that didn’t guarantee them eternal life or its rewards. Judas was still among them and he took a wrong path that made his salvation uncertain. Salvation requires effort, and we are rewarded for our effort, but it is also a gift. Grace is not so much a wage as it is a gift, since we never merit the first grace we receive that sets us on the path to salvation, the grace that comes to us through Baptism and heals and restores us from the effects of original sin. Peter’s First Letter is considered by many to be a catechetical letter addressed to those who have just received Baptism.

Let’s continue on the path Our Lord traces out for us today. It will imply hardship and effort, but, as today’s readings promise us, it will all be worth it.

Readings: 1 Peter 1:10–16; Psalm 98:1–4; Mark 10:28–31. See also 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year I and 20th Week in Ordinary Time,Tuesday.

8th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

The rich young man in today’s Gospel reminds us that Heaven doesn’t accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, or Bitcoin. It’s not a question of dollars and cents, but of how much we want to be with God forever. He doesn’t want our money; he wants our love. That love implies detaching ourselves from other, fleeting, loves, and putting love for him first. In the Old Testament the Lord was described as a jealous God, but he is far from petty. He simply helps us see what we truly love and what we truly don’t.

Today’s Gospel tells us that Our Lord looked at the rich young man and “loved” him. He helped him see what he truly loved: his lifestyle and wealth. The young man left, and he didn’t leave happy. He was torn between two loves, and he opted for the love that seemed more substantial and satisfying, but lost sight of that fact that the object of his love would be gone sooner or later.

What do you have to do to gain eternal life? Ask Our Lord and be prepared to do whatever it takes. It will engender a new hope in you because you’ll know, by the grace of God, that one day you’ll have an inheritance that’s “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, [and] kept in heaven for you” just as St. Peter reminds us in today’s First Reading.

Readings: 1 Peter 1:3–9; Psalm 111:1–2, 5–6, 9–10c; Mark 10:17–27.  See also 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I, 20th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, and 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Cycle C

When I consider the Holy Trinity I remember a conversation over coffee I had with a friend at work before I entered the seminary. She was a recent convert and asked me, “Who’s your favorite – Father, Son or Holy Spirit?”

The Gospel reminds us today that all the Father has, all the Son has, and in turn all the Holy Spirit will declare to his disciples is common. With the Persons sharing everything in common it is easy to think that God is just giving us options to choose from. We can be attracted to each Person of the Trinity for some reason: the Father because he reminds us of our loving origins and always hearkens us to future rest in not just a place, but a home, a home made more than a dwelling by the family we share it with; the Son because he is a true friend and big brother, who was willing to give it all for us, and because he put a human face to God and reminded us of his solidarity with our daily lives and sufferings; and the Holy Spirit because we always feel a need to rise above and beyond the immediate things in our life, to be taken up by the impulse of inspiration, to feel and be free from the confines of day to day living.

However, we can’t forget that God is One in Three Persons, which is the hallmark of Christian faith, or we risk writing off God in one way or another by considering the Father as aloof, utterly transcendent and beyond our daily lives and interests, authoritarian; considering Jesus Christ just another rabbi or wise man, sharing some human teachings with us and giving good example, nothing more than a social worker; or considering the Holy Spirit as just another one of those flighty inspirations and sentiments that never results in anything, just a free spirit.

Today’s readings and Gospel remind us that everything we are, everything we hope for, and everything expected of us and that we expect from God comes to us from the whole Trinity. In the First Reading we see the Trinity relishing in the creation of the world – the wisdom of God is speaking and reminiscing of the moment of creation. He describes himself as the forerunner of God’s wonders, before the earth was made. And in these words we are reminded that God the Father made the world with his Son in mind, gazing upon him in eternity with love. The Son in turn, begotten by the Father, as we profess every Sunday in the Creed, delights over creation and the human race. This hearkens back to the first chapters of Genesis, when the Spirit of the Lord hovers over the face of the deep, ready to begin creation with “let there be light” and when he creates man, he breathes his own spirit, a Spirit of life, into man to make him a living being, wanting to create men in His own image and likeness. We see that spirit of play and artistic relish that reminds us of God’s total freedom to create us, without any need and restraint, and with us in mind as his true masterpieces, made in his image – by showing him to others, and likeness – by sharing the life he has in abundance.

In creating man the Trinity had an even more special masterpiece in mind, a masterpiece that would in part craft itself. He gave us the freedom to conform our lives to this masterpiece of life that he wanted to see brought about in each one of us. In faith and love we could trust in him to show us the way to be a true masterpiece, a masterpiece of moral beauty, truth, and love. When Adam and Eve sinned they chose their distorted image of God as the model to imitate, and the image of God was disfigured in them. As a result, just as God warned them before eating of the fruit, spiritual death ensued. Nevertheless, God’s relish in us and desire for our glory would not let the story end there.

So, as the Second Reading reminds us, God became man to show us that true masterpiece and image of God that he had in mind from all eternity for us. As Paul reminds us, through our Lord Jesus Christ we have peace and access to the glory of God again. God created the world with his Son’s image in mind, and Jesus, by becoming flesh, by becoming a man, shows us exactly what God had on his mind when he created us. That image of God found in Christ shows us how we can restore the image of God in us again that was disfigured by sin. By Christ becoming man our likeness is restored as well: The flow of spiritual life is reopened by Jesus’ Passion and death, and poured into us by the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, as we profess in the Creed every Sunday. Full of that divine life, we happily put up with the sufferings and struggles of daily life, knowing that the glory of God will come for us.

Finally, as the Gospel reminds us, God is not just the origin of our existence, but the purpose of it as well, the end toward which we’re all headed. It is not the end in terms being finished, it is the beginning of eternal life with the Trinity. Jesus became man and suffered and died to reconcile the world with God, the Father of mercies. He does this by sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the disciples during the Last Supper that the Holy Spirit, which Jesus was full of from the beginning to the end of his earthly mission, would come after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven to constantly keep Christ among us and give us life through the sacraments, as well as guidance and strength to be faithful to the image of God that Jesus Christ had restored in us. As the Lord, the giver of Life, the Holy Spirit continues to keep the Church united around Christ and proclaiming the Gospel to the world through her words and example. Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit will not say anything apart from what the Father and Son share. In this way the Trinity is and always will be united as the source of our existence, our hope, and our life.

This week, whenever you make the Sign of the Cross, make it a moment of thanks toward each Person of the Holy Trinity for the work of salvation and happiness that God’s bringing about in us.

Readings: Proverbs 8:22–31; Psalm 8:4–9; Romans 5:1–5; John 16:12–15. See also Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

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