22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul is warning the Christians at Corinth that their behavior is not spiritually mature, therefore they should not expect to be treated as spiritually mature. The proof of this is the fact that the Corithians are jealous and divided into factions based on who they feel more of an affinity, Paul or Apollos, both of whom have worked to help them grow in their faith.

Paul reminds them that both he and Apollos work for the Lord, and it is the Lord who should be the source of unity. If they have a problem with either minister of God, they have a problem with God himself, and that will end badly. Spiritual maturity is reflected in charity, and charity unites.

The Corinthians owed both Paul and Apollos their gratitude. If there’s any “factions” in our parish scene, let’s pray to Our Lord that he grant everyone the charity to be united in him and grateful to his ministers for helping them grow in spiritual maturity.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 3:1–9; Psalm 33:12–15, 20–21; Luke 4:38–44. See also 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

When Paul in today’s First Reading describes our spirit, he describes something of which only we have intimate knowledge, since only we truly know our spirit regarding things and choose to reveal that spirit to others or keep it private, even though we can’t completely keep it hidden. The only exception to that rule is the Lord; he can scrutinize our deepest thoughts and aspirations. He can read our hearts, and he can invite us to assume a new spirit through our actions and attitudes.

He doesn’t do that to spy on us. He can transform our spirit into a spirit like his own: a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. This Spirit does not annhilate our own; it enriches it in unimaginable ways. The Spirit is an invisible and interior ally that we can’t truly thrive without.

The Holy Spirit is with you if you let it. Invite the Spirit into your heart and ask it to reveal you to yourself so that your spirit may be pleasing to the Lord and transformed.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 2:10b–16; Psalm 145:8–14; Luke 4:31–37. See also 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday and 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

The most obvious question that crosses anyone’s mind when hearing this Gospel, a parable about Heaven, is, “what spot am I going to get?” That question shows flawed logic. Our Lord teaches us today that the invitees don’t decide their own spot in his banquet. We don’t decide any spots in our life on our own. The quest for honorable positions, according to worldly logic—power, wealth, etc., is almost a guarantee of failure, because so often we seek the spot that we don’t deserve. We see this in so many areas of our life: school, sports, work, and family. Despite this, we keep seeking them and then suffer the shame of returning to a spot that may even be less to the one we would have had if we’d been humble as the First Reading today encourages us to do.

Our Lord puts us on guard against this tendency today. If we seek the most humble spot we will see that he will take us to a place beyond our expectations. We live this in every celebration of the Eucharist, which reminds us of the only place that matters: our place in Heaven at the end of our life. Today’s Second Reading, addressed to Christians who were tired and discouraged, reminds us that the distance between God and us has been eliminated. The Lord no longer hides in fire and smoke; every Sunday we are at table with him, and he shows us our place in his heart through the gift of his life.

A place in the Lord’s heart in the most honorable place we have, which is why Our Lord invites us to have a place in our heart not just for those we know and love, but for everyone. We’ve all been invited to the Heavenly banquet without earning it or deserving it. We’re poor (lacking the only currency of worth—love for our neighbor), crippled and lame (by not living our Christian life often as we should), and blind (not seeing our own flaws and limitations). Despite all this misery, the Lord invites us and gives us a place of honor.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for having saved us a place in his Heavenly banquet through his blood on the Cross. Let’s assure him that he’ll always be in first place in our hearts, and strive to give this love to others.

Readings: Sirach 3:17–18, 20, 28–29; Psalm 68:4–7, 10–11; Hebrews 12:18–19, 22–24a; Luke 14:1, 7–14. See also 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

21st Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II

Today’s Gospel is a parable about our life. Paul reminds us in the First Reading that everything we have received is from the Lord; we have nothing to boast about. The master in today’s parable gives his servants all the capital they need, but he also expects them to use that capital in a way that benefits him. We have been given talents, some more, some less, and we’re expeced to do something with them. We cannot boast about coming up with any of them on our own.

It doesn’t matter how talented we are; what matters is how we use our talents in the service of God and for the good of others. The succesful servants doubled what they’d received; if through our efforts even one more believer stands before Our Lord on Judgment Day, prepared to enter into his master’s joy, we’ll have accomplished our mission. The master departed for a long time; we have a lifetime to make those talents bear fruit. The only thing we need to fear is not using our talents in the Lord’s service at all. If the master is so upset in today’s parable it is because it is so easy to use your talents to bear even a little fruit that not doing so is negligence.

Take stock of the talents you’ve received from Our Lord and ask him to show you how to best invest them.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:26–31; Psalm 33:12–13, 18–21; Matthew 25:14–30. See also 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

21st Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul notes the contrast between wordly wisdom and the wisdom of God, a contrast revealed by Christ cruficied. In the world’s logic it seems that Christ on the cross is foolish. The Greeks, not familiar with Jewish religion but steeped in philosophy, would declare it irrational that a god would die at all, much less choose to die for humanity. For the Jews it was scandalous to think that the Messiah would be humiliated and executed as a common criminal instead of being a strong political and military leader for Israel.

Yet, according to the wisdom of God, we see how powerful the Lord truly is, a power that not only refutes the wisdom of the world, but turns it on its head. The power that a god would love his creatures so much that he’d willingly come among them and suffer and die at their hands so that they should be redeemed from the certain death that awaits them. That logic is seen as foolish only by those who have not been taught or accepted the wisdom of God.

The Gospel wants to teach us a new type of wisdom beyond the world’s. Let’s ask Our Lord to help us embrace his wisdom.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:17–25; Psalm 33:1–2, 4–5, 10–11; Matthew 25:1–13. See also 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.