12th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s First Reading the Israelites have split into two kingdoms due to tax disputes: the Northern Kingdom of Israel, with its capital in Samaria, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem. Today’s Gospel warns us against being fixated on the faults of others when we have big problems of our own: the Northern Kingdom had been so fixated on the Southern Kingdom that it underestimated the threat of Assyria, and, as a result, it was conquered and absorbed into the Assyrian empire.

Even while trying to assert its Israelite identity the Northern Kingdom was abandoning the customs of its forefathers, probably to stand out in contrast against Judah, and the very identity it tried to preserve was lost. The Kingdom of Judah was not flawless, but the Northern Kingdom turned a blind eye to its own faults because it was too busy judging Judah’s. It’s a reminder to all of us to avoid judging another altogether, as Our Lord teaches us in today’s Gospel, but to especially focus on any cause for condemnation we may find in ourselves before sizing up and condemning others.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to enlighten us regarding our own faults so that we may better help others to over come theirs.

Readings: 2 Kings 17:5–8, 13–15a, 18; Psalm 60:3–5, 12–13; Matthew 7:1–5. See also 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday and 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

12th Week of Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C

The Church Fathers, contemplating the passage of John when the soldier pierced Our Lord’s side on the cross, see the blood and water flowing form his side as symbolizing the birth of the Church, the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Baptism. The Church is born through the sacraments of initiation. In today’s First Reading the prophet Zechariah speaks of the pierced one, and a fountain being opened to purify from sin and uncleanness. The pierced one is Christ, and the fountain of baptism flows from his Cross.

Paul in today’s Second Reading describes those who have believed in Christ and been baptized as clothed in Christ. Their ethnicity, social status, and sex are now clothed with something that puts an end to any enmity between them: they now share communion with God and with each other through Christ. The pierced one on the cross has become that fountain from which every reconciliation is achievable when hearts are open to it.

Christ’s suffering and death powers the cleansing waters of baptism. He washes all our sins away with his blood, if we let him. If we follow him in times of peace, let’s also take to heart his teaching in today’s Gospel to take up our own crosses every day in order to follow him.

Readings: Zechariah 12:10–11, 13:1; Psalm 63:2–6, 8–9; Galatians 3:26–29; Luke 9:18–24. See also Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Thursday after Ash Wednesday25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, and 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

11th Week of Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II

In yesterday‘s First Reading we saw Joash whisked away from certain death and hidden in the Temple under the priest Jehoiada’s care until he could claim his rightful throne. Today, upon Jehoida’s death, Joash takes council from princes as bad as those who’d denied him his throne, and abandons worship of the very God who’d protected him and saved him. Joash did not learn the lesson of today’s Gospel: God in his Providence takes care of everything, all we need to do is seek his Kingdom and his righteousness and he’ll work out the rest.

Joash was appointed as a steward over the People of God; Judah was God’s Kingdom, and Joash, by abandoning the Lord, tried to usurp that kingdom from the Lord, a foolish proposition by anyone’s estimation. The Lord didn’t give up on him; he sent Jehoiada’s son, the prophet Zechariah, to warn him of his folly. Joash ignored Zechariah and killed him. As a result Joash brought so much misfortune upon Judah that his servants felt obliged to take justice into their own hands and make him pay for murdering Zechariah. In death, he was not acknowledged as a king at all, a complete reverse of fortunes at his own hand.

If we seek the Lord’s Kingdom and righteousness we have nothing to fear. Ask Our Lord to help you see the daily signs of his Providence in order to pursue his interests as your own.

Readings: 2 Chronicles 24:17–25; Psalm 89:4–5, 29–34; Matthew 6:24–34. See also 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

11th Week of Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

It’s no coincidence that Our Lord’s teaching regarding our hearts and our sight in today’s Gospel are linked. The First Reading shows that Ataliah’s ambition to seize the throne upon her son’s death blinded her to the fact that someone could overthrow her just as easily, and that she wasn’t entitled to the “treasure” of the throne. If we treasure things wrongly in our hearts, instead of treasuring the Lord and his interests, sooner or later we will be blinded by our vices and prevented from seeing our evil or others’ good.

Jehosheba, Joash and Jehoida knew who the Lord meant to rule Israel, and to rule it for the good of Israel, not just the selfish ambitions of one person. They put their faith and their treasure in God, and when the Lord helped them recover Joash’s rightful throne, the covenant with the Lord was renewed and the worship of false gods overthrown, all to the benefit of Israel.

Society today often applauds ambition, but Our Lord reminds us today that the only ambition we should pursue is to love him and help as many other people as possible treasure him in their hearts. Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us treasure him and see clearly in everything to which we aspire in life.

Readings: 2 Kings 11:1–4, 9–18, 20; Psalm 132:11–14, 17–18; Matthew 6:19–23. See also 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.

11th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year II

Today’s First Reading is part of a recap by Sirach of all the great figures in the history of Israel. In the case of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, whom we’ve considered in the First Readings over the last week, the focus is largely on the wondrous deeds they performed, but their also on audacity in proclaiming the Word of God, even when it implied sacrifice and hardship.

Each Christian is called to carry on the mission of the prophets; we may not have as many miracles at our disposal, but we are sustained by grace to boldly communicate God’s Word to all sectors of society, and to reflect that Word in our lives. We don’t just share it with believers, just as the prophets were often sent to the incredulous or lapsed to bring them to the faith. Similarly, we should show great magnanimity in sharing the Word. The Spirit of the Lord worked through the prophets, and the Holy Spirit works through us as well.

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit today to inspire us to share the Word of God with everyone we meet.

Readings: Sirach 48:1–14; Psalm 97:1–7; Matthew 6:7–15. See also 1st Week of Lent, Tuesday and 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.