13th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year II

In today’s readings we see two reminders that power and authority come from God, not from men. If we do any good work on the Lord’s behalf it is because the Lord empowers us to do so. In today’s First Reading the priest Amaziah trash talks the prophet Amos and implies that he has come to Bethel as a prophet as a career change, not a mission from the Lord. Even if the Northern Kingdom did not have faith in Amos, events would show that he had been sent by the Lord: everything he prophesied in today’s First Reading came to pass.

In today’s Gospel the main wonder is not that Our Lord could heal a paralytic. The healing of a paralytic is a sign ratifying the true teaching of the day: that the ministry and power of forgiveness could be entrusted to a man. When Our Lord uses the expressions “Son of man” and “authority on earth” he is not referring to his divine power to forgive, but his human authority entrusted to him by his Father as part of his mission on earth. The crowds understand perfectly: they glorify God for giving “such authority to men.” This ministry of reconciliation continues in the Church even today, but through the power and authority given by the Lord.

Our Lord has blessed us with many means to know his will and to be reconciled with him and with others. Let’s glorify him today for all the good he has done for us through his ministers.

Readings: Amos 7:10–17; Psalm 19:8–11; Matthew 9:1–8. See also 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Friday2nd Week of Advent, Monday, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, and 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (2)

Today’s readings remind us through the lives of Sts. Peter and Paul that when our vocation to follow and serve Christ comes under fire and faces difficulty it is the Lord himself who does the heavy lifting. Peter’s profession of faith in today’s Gospel was bolstered by grace, not just his own sleuthing, and Our Lord promised him that the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against the Church that the Lord would found upon him as the Rock.

In today’s First Reading we see that promise fulfilled when James is executed by King Herod and Peter imprisoned and waiting to be next on the chopping block. The Church prays for Peter, and the Lord responds by sending an angel to lead Peter unharmed out of the midst of the forces of the netherworld that sought to silence him just as he was beginning his ministry. In today’s Second Reading Paul recalls that throughout the hardships of his mission among the Gentiles it was the Lord who strengthened him and enabled him to fulfill his mission in the darkest of moments; even as he warns Timothy that he sees his life and mission drawing to an end he gives glory to the Lord and trusts in him as he prepares for his final days.

Both Peter and Paul suffered difficulty and hardship in their mission, but they didn’t have to face it alone. Let’s not shy away from striving to do whatever Our Lord asks, despite our frailties and limitations, knowing that he’ll be with us every step of the way.

Readings: Acts 12:1–11; Psalm 34:2–9; 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 17–18; Matthew 16:13–19. See also Feast of the Chair of St. Peter and Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

13th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

Today’s Gospel reminds us that we all experience a moment of panic when storms arise in life and it seems Our Lord is sleeping. In today’s Gospel this storm could even be seen as Our Lord’s fault: he got into the boat first. However, it’s also important to realize that the disciples followed him into the boat; they chose to get into that boat. When we follow Christ storms may arise and it may seem like he is napping, but he is probably testing our faith.

The disciples in today’s Gospel wanted Our Lord to do something. Even panicking would have meant something, but he remained asleep until they woke him. They didn’t think about the fact that Our Lord had got into the boat first; if he was unconcerned, why weren’t they? They would have had a stormy ride, but they would have gotten through it. With the little faith they had they went to Our Lord for a solution and with a few words the storm was gone.

The disciples learned that they had to have more faith. Let’s ask Our Lord as well to help us have more faith in him when things get stormy.

Readings: Amos 3:1–8, 4:11–12; Psalm 5:4b–8; Matthew 8:23–27. See also 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B13th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, and Wednesday after Epiphany.

13th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us not to worry about where we’re going to stay or our family when we follow him and help him extend his Kingdom. Everything we seek, God willing, will be awaiting us at the end of our journey: true rest and everyone we love in Heaven.

Readings: Amos 2:6–10, 13–16; Psalm 50:16b–23; Matthew 8:18–22. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II and 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

13th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C

A superficial reading of today’s First Reading and Gospel may give us the impression that Elijah is easier on his disciple than Our Lord is with his, but the Second Reading can shed a little light on the apparent difference. Paul reminds us in the Second Reading that life is a battle between the flesh and the Spirit; the Christian life presents a new way of living, living in a way that you are not enslaved to things and situations, but alive in the Spirit and focused on the spiritual goal. Even good things, if sought for the wrong reasons, can oppose a life of the Spirit.

A common denominator in today’s First Reading and Gospel is that the disciple asks to do something before following his master. The subtle difference is that, unlike Elijah, Our Lord can always read hearts and see whether that heart is speaking from the flesh or from the Spirit. Elisha is “liquidating his assets” and doing one last gesture of love for his family before departing; the hearts of disciples in today’s Gospel are only known to Our Lord, and it is in his response to them that we see a potential conflict between Spirit and flesh that he is trying to help them address.

The first disciple in today’s Gospel perhaps doesn’t understand that following Our Lord is a something lifelong: he’s not just headed to the Rabbi’s house instead of his own, he is committed to permanently follow Jesus, just as every Christian is called to do. The second wants to attend to important family business, but sometimes following Our Lord requires sacrifice and self-denial: in telling the dead to bury their dead Our Lord perhaps is telling him too that the family business he is concerned about can already be attended to by another member of his family. The last potential disciple wants to go home and say goodbye first: Our Lord sees something in that request that would put flesh over Spirit. Perhaps the disciple would go home and stay there. Following Christ is the best thing we can do for ourselves and our family, and we must never lose sight of that.

Whatever path Our Lord calls us to walk, not just priesthood or consecrated life, it is a path where we follow him. Let’s ask him today to show us the path we should take and how we should take it.

Readings: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19–21; Psalm 16:1–2, 5, 7–11; Galatians 5:1, 13–18; Luke 9:51–62. See also 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II and 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.