4th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews evokes a beautiful image to describe how we are encouraged and supported by the communion of saints: a cloud of witnesses who cheer us on as we run the race of life. The communion of saints does not just consist of those who’ve finished their race and won; every believer who is pleasing to God is a witness to his wonders. If the saints in Heaven and on earth are cheering us on, we don’t want to disappoint them or the one who made the race winnable: Our Lord.

The cloud of witnesses remind us that there is a race and there is a finish line we have to cross. They help us focus on running the race, not on the drink table or the sore knee. Our Lord is waiting at the finish line to congratulate us and reward us. This race is a marathon, not a sprint; it requires focus and endurance to cross the finish line.

It’s not too late to catch a second wind in the race to eternity. May the cloud of witnesses help you keep running.

Readings: Hebrews 12:1–4; Psalm 22:26b–28, 30–32; Mark 5:21–43.  See also 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday and 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us of so many “heroes” that the Lord raised up in the Old Testament to help his people in times of need: the Judges, prophets, and King David. Salvation history is a history of rescues with the Lord’s help and the Lord’s initiative.

All these rescues were just a taste for the biggest rescue to come: a rescue from sin and death where Our Lord comes as the definitive hero to save the day not just one more time, but forever. That’s a promise we’re all still waiting to be definitively fulfilled for all believers, and in the meanwhile we need to imitate Our Lord and try and practice some Christian “heroism” of our own.

Salvation history continues. Let’s imitate our greatest hero.

Readings: Hebrews 11:32–40; Psalm 31:20–24; Mark 5:1–20. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.


4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Today’s Readings teach us that those who are “persons of disinterest” in the eyes of the world are always of interest to God, and a true source of good and virtue in the world. In today’s First Reading the Lord tells Israel that if they truly want safety and security, they must seek justice, humility, and his law. The unjust are destined for destruction by their own iniquity. Justice is about giving each person their due, and making amends when we haven’t. It’s about always seeking to do the right thing without a lot of angst or hand wringing, even when doing the right thing is hard. Sometimes doing the right thing seems to put us in the minority. The Lord says today that being the minority is not a problem. If being honest and doing the right thing puts us in the minority, it is a minority the Lord himself shelters. The “remnant” mentioned in today’s First Reading are those Israelites, that minority, who strive to do the right thing and who’ll be the seed of the new People of God when the Messiah comes.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds the Christians of their humble beginnings. They were “persons of disinterest” before the Lord came and made them strong and wise in him. Our Lord revealed that the Gospel was for everyone, no matter what their background, social standing, wealth, or talents were. That meant salvation and glory were for all. Paul reminds the Corinthians today that this lofty calling should not go to their head. They have no importance that they did not receive from Our Lord. If there’s any pride to show, it’s to be proud of Our Lord. Christians are often seen by the worldly as foolish, weak, and uninteresting. Yet these “persons of disinterest” show the power of God through living a holy, simple life that often leaves the worldly envious and questioning their own happiness and choices in life.

In the eyes of the world, and, often in the eyes of these “persons of disinterest” it seems they are giving up something and receiving nothing in return, but in today’s Gospel we see that the beatitudes are promises to those “persons of disinterest” that all their legitimate and noble aspirations will be fulfilled. Each description of someone “blessed” in our Lord’s estimation is not a description of striving to be interesting, but striving for something nobler and persevering when faced by trials and difficulties. Living a “blessed” life brings benefits that cannot be obtained in any other way. They are the path to a relationship with God, and Heaven itself. It’s through our humility and “disinterestedness” that the Lord shines in our lives and in the lives of others.

If you run down the list of today’s Beatitudes and remove the words “Heaven” and “God” from Our Lord’s promises you have a pretty good list of what the worldly want too. They want power, satisfaction, security, happiness and comfort, but they’re not seeking it in God, and ultimately they’ll fail. As believers we can fall into the same trap. We can strive for a “kingdom,” but not the kingdom of Heaven, and as believers we know that every other kingdom fades away. We need not even consider all the wrong turns we take in life seeking a kingdom that will fade away, if we ever achieve that “kingdom” at all. The Beatitudes are attitudes that become our road map to everything noble and truly worthwhile. Meditate on them this week and see how you can “beatify” your outlook and get on track for true success: a holy life from here to Heaven. It will help others get on track too.

Readings: Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12–13; Psalm 146:6–10; 1 Corinthians 1:26–31; Matthew 5:1–12a. See also 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year IIAll Saints and 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews recalls the faith of Abraham. When Abraham was already advanced in years and a nomad with nowhere to call home the Lord promised him that if he set out he would be blessed with a land to call his own and progeny. We know how the story ends: he enters the Promised Land and through his son Isaac becomes the patriarch of a great nation. Abraham’s faith was put to the test, and he thrived.

Abraham’s story teaches us too that in this world we too are waiting for the Lord to fulfill his promise and lead us to the Promised Land. It’s not a condominium on a beach, but Heaven, our true home. No matter how long or how hard it seems, in faith we continue traveling in this world in order to get home. Our faith helps us to not get too comfortable and settle for squatter’s rights.

Abraham’s old age made his faith remarkable, and, spiritually, we can sometimes feel worn and tired in living our faith. Let’s follow Abraham’s example today and press one, confident that the Lord delivers on his promises.

Readings: Hebrews 11:1–2, 8–19; Luke 1:69–75; Mark 4:35–41. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II13th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, and 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that as Christians we have not only had moments of mistreatment due to our faith, but have witnessed the mistreatment of our brothers and sisters in the faith as well. Even today we witness countries where Christians are persecuted and deprived of their “property,” and suffer imprisonment due to the faith. We have to have spiritual solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters, even if that involves us being subjected to ridicule.

The unasked question behind these reflections is also, why is all this suffering necessary? Why should we have to suffer for being Christians? The answer is that if we suffer materially, we must not and should not suffer spiritually, because the spiritual benefits of our suffering will be a “better and lasting possession” if we persevere in hope. If, materially speaking, we’re comfortable, maybe, spiritually speaking, we should be concerned. Are we flying below the radar when it comes to giving witness to our faith and supporting our brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution?

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us stand with our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for the faith so that we can all give witness to the priority of a “better and lasting possession” in our lives.

Readings: Hebrews 10:32–39; Psalm 37:3–6, 23–24, 39–40; Mark 4:26–34. See also 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday and 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.