30th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul uses the relationship between husband and wife to explain the relationship between Christ and the Church, and sheds light on Christian marriage as well. Paul once again describes the Church as the Body of Christ, and evokes the passage of Genesis where it’s explained that when man and woman come together in marriage they become one flesh (see Genesis 2:24). Each spouse should love the other as his or her very self: in that logic there’s no room for abuse. Whoever is at fault, both are affected.

Some may see a disparity in the language between how the husband should act toward the wife and vice versa in Paul’s teaching, but their radical unity doesn’t exempt one or the other from total self-giving and dedication, whether in making decisions or accepting them. In that way they imitate Christ and how he loved the Church as if she were his own Body. We refer to the Church as “she” because she is the Spouse of Christ. Our relationship with Christ and our fellow believers in the Church should be the same: whether we are exercising authority or heeding it, we are doing so out of love.

Let’s ask Our Lord to help us imitate him more closely today in his loving dedication to us, and pray for every married couple to love their spouse as they’d love themselves.

Readings: Ephesians 5:21–33; Psalm 128:1–5; Luke 13:18–21. See also 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul brands the immoral, the impure, and the greedy as “idolaters.” Where’s the false god? When we idolize these things, we make them our gods, sometimes imperceptibly, because we become enslaved to pleasure, money, or power and serve them instead of making them serve us in a moral and healthy way. This is no passing teen crush or talent competition, but a real enthrallment to creatures that were meant to help us draw closer to God.

The path starts when we make light of the very things that could spiritually destroy us, because we stop taking them or the consequences of abusing them seriously. Today’s entertainment often portrays the “bad boy,” the black sheep, the shady character as something cool, funny, or simply normal. Examples of virtue seem boring or are the butt of jokes. There’s no easy solution to this problem, but we can turn that television off and concentrate on being loving toward one another and toward God, just as Paul encourages us to do today.

If we imitate Our Lord we have nothing to fear, because his love for our Father is perfect. Let’s live as children of the light and leave any past darkness behind.

Readings: Ephesians 4:32–5:8; Psalm 1:1–4, 6; Luke 13:10–17. See also 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Today’s readings remind us that the Lord is a judge that we can trust. In the First Reading Sirach reminds us that the Lord is completely impartial and hears every “case” that is presented to him in prayer, even when earthly justice fails. When we pray, we stand before Our Lord and judge. In today’s Second Reading Paul faces earthly injustice alone, but he is not discouraged, because he knows that the just Judge is with him and that even if, at the end of his life, he suffers at the hands of injustice, the Lord will ultimately give him the justice he deserves.

In today’s Gospel the Pharisee decides to become the judge of himself and others and shows his flaws. He judges the Publican praying nearby, and he also judges himself just, even though Our Lord confirms that he is not, probably due to his selfishness, arrogance, and lack of charity. The Publican knows he faces a just Judge in his prayer, which is why he rightly laments his faults, but he also knows that he faces a merciful Judge and throws himself upon the mercy of the “court.” Whenever we pray we stand before the just Judge who has shown us mercy and continues to do so.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for being not only a just Judge, but a merciful one as well, and let’s show our gratitude by evaluating others with justice and mercy.

Readings: Sirach 35:12–14, 16–18; Psalm 34:2–3, 17–19, 23; 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18; Luke 18:9–14. See also 3rd Week of Lent, Saturday.


29th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ. In his time Greco-Roman culture explained how all the members of society fit together using the image of a body, and Paul might have received some inspiration from this philosophy, but he goes beyond it to emphasize that the Church is the Body of Christ because the Church has Christ as her Head, giving her life and direction. What later reflection would describe as the Body of Christ is not a moral body, people just united by some external purpose, or a physical body, where the parts lose their individuality in the whole. Rather, it is a Mystical Body that depends on her Head, Christ, in order to have direction and life, made possible by the Holy Spirit, who unites her spiritually.

We don’t stop being individuals by being members of the Body of Christ, but we do receive life from it and must perform our function for its life and growth as well. Paul describes various figures in the early Church comprising the Body and helping to edify it: Apostles, prophets, teachers, and so on. Each has a role, like a part of a body, but not all have the same role. The important thing is that the parts work together for the good of the Body, and remain united to their Head, otherwise they’ll not get very far.

Paul describes the signs of the Body working well: unity, charity, and maturity. Let’s ask Our Lord to help us edify his Mystical Body in whatever role to which he has called us.

Readings: Ephesians 4:7–16; Psalm 122:1–5; Luke 13:1–9. See also 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.


29th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul encourages the Ephesians to practice the virtues that will ensure their unity in serving the Lord, in the faith, and in baptism: humility, gentleness, patience, and love. Christians have not always lived these virtues and it has not only undermined our unity, but also undermined our mission. We still all share one Lord and one baptism: every Christian through Baptism is incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, but through historical disagreements in East and West we no longer agree on the fullness of faith and how it should be lived and put into practice. We don’t all share the same articles of faith, worship, or governance; those three elements all stem from our faith in how Our Lord has handed on the faith to the Apostles and to us through the centuries.

Paul’s exhortation today is a call to duty to all Christians today. We must be one. To strengthen and full restore Christian unity we must come together in humility, gentleness, patience, and love, just as Paul teaches us, and we will overcome our differences and disagreements because the mission demands it and it is not just Paul’s desire, but Our Lord’s as well. Let’s pray and work that one day we’ll once again profess one faith, celebrated on Eucharist, and be united under the same pastoral guidance.

Ecumenism involves discussion and frank dialogue, but it starts with virtue. Ask Our Lord to help you practice some “virtuous” ecumenism today. Every bit helps rebuild unity.

Readings: Ephesians 4:1–6; Psalm 24:1–4b, 5–6; Luke 12:54–59. See also 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.