12th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

In today’s Gospel the Lord puts us on guard against prophets who seem innocuous, even helpful, but actually have ulterior motives, none of them good. Travelers have lamented getting sick on seemingly delicious wild berries and mushrooms, only to find out that they’re poisonous. It takes knowledge to test a prophet and to avoid disaster. We all know that actions speak louder than words, and it is through actions that we can evaluate whether someone is being good or evil.

This is complicated today by a society that can be very “gray” when it comes to determining moral values. Sometimes saying someone is “bad” is really watering down the fact that their actions are evil. The ancient Greek philosophers formulated a simple moral principle: do good and avoid evil. That bears the test of time: a prophet who does evil is a false prophet, because a true prophet comes from the Lord, who’d never order evil.

All Christians are prophetic to the degree that they give witness to truth and good in their lives. Let’s all take stock today of the fruits of our actions so that we are true prophets and known to be so by our good actions.

Readings: Genesis 15:1–12, 17–18; Psalm 105:1–4, 6–9; Matthew 7:15–20. See also 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

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12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Today’s readings remind us that no matter how in the dark, surrounded, or outnumbered we feel in the face of evil, death, and sin, the Father will stand with us if we stand with him and his Son.

In today’s First Reading Jeremiah describes his former friends conspiring against him, but also his confidence that with the Lord at his side all their scheming would fail. Jeremiah had most of the ruling class of Israel against him as the Lord’s prophet because they didn’t like what the Lord was trying to tell them. Imagine when your friends and countrymen seek your downfall more than your companionship, even when you have their best interest in mind. They have their eyes on Jeremiah, waiting for him to slip up, and that is their mistake. If they’d kept their eyes on the Lord, as Jeremiah did, they would have been spared their fate. Instead they suffered death or exile at the hands of the Babylonians, and Jeremiah was vindicated.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that even though sin had a head start and plenty of time to spread it was nothing compared to the grace that would flow from one man standing up to it: Our Lord. Because of Adam, the “one man” mentioned at the start of today’s Second Reading, sin and death entered the world and spread to everyone, everywhere, throughout human history. The dire effects of that Original Sin still rage unchecked in many ways, and no one has a problem seeing the evil that plagues the world even today. It became so bad that it was not even recognized as sin at one point, until the Lord, through Moses, shared the Law (built upon the Ten Commandments) to show mankind how they could turn from sin and back to God and tell good from evil again. Even with the Law as a blueprint for life death still ravaged the world due to sin. Adam could have never made amends for the evil and death he’d caused. Yet the Father did not leave him, or us, to our fate. He sent his Son, who wiped away the sins of the world in Baptism and brought the grace of God to us again.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds the Apostles that they only need to stand with him and not be afraid. If we stand with Christ bodily death should not frighten us, because, like him, eternal life awaits us. The only fear we should have is spiritual death: a life separated from him and separated from the Father, which makes life a living death from here to eternity. Trust in Our Lord should embolden us, more than evil and disbelief in the world should intimidate us. We all have moments where we question whether the Lord really knows what is going on or truly cares about what will happen to us. His son is the response to those doubts. He came to show us how precious we are in his eyes and in the eyes of Our Heavenly Father. He’s also our lifeline to the Father. St. Paul reminds us today that the grace we need comes through him, and that grace not only sustains us in communion with him, but with the Father as well.

We stand with the Father by standing with Christ, just as we fall if we don’t.

Readings: Jeremiah 20:10–13; Psalm 69:8–10, 14, 17, 33–35; Romans 5:12–15; Matthew 10:26–33.

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Cycle A

As today’s First Reading reminds us, the Lord didn’t choose us to be his People because we were numerous or talented; he chose us because he loved us. Salvation history is a history of God loving his Beloved and wooing her back when she strayed, not with flower and candies, but with loyalty, dedication, and sacrifice. We have all strayed, but that has not diminished the love Our Lord has for us one bit.

All he expects in return, as John reminds us in today’s Second Reading, is that we love one another. Love, like a flame, is meant to ignite hearts and spread, and that is what Our Lord ardently desires: not only that our hearts are aflame out of love for him, but that we spread his love as well after making it our own. The Holy Spirit ignites our hearts with the love of God, beyond any selfish or limited love.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord invites us once again to take up the burdens of love and remind ourselves that the secret to shouldering those burdens is to be, like him, meek and humble of heart. Meekness and humility of heart are what show the dividing line between a selfless love and a selfish one. When we contemplate the Lord’s Passion, and the meekness and humility of heart with which he faced it, we should have no fear about shouldering our own crosses out of love.

Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, inflame our hearts with love for you.

Readings: Deuteronomy 7:6–11; Psalm 103:1–4, 8, 10; 1 John 4:7–16; Matthew 11:25–30. See also Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Cycle C and Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Cycle A

Today we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Our Lord. We partake of him every time we received Holy Communion, and in the Eucharist Our Lord sacramentally remains with us always for our consolation and adoration.

In today’s First Reading Moses reminds the people of Israel, just before their entry after forty years into the Promised Land, that the Lord fed them in their need, just as he feeds us through the Eucharist. The manna that the Lord sent to the Israelites during their wandering in the desert is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. Manna was unknown to the ancestors of the Israelites in today’s First Reading. The Eucharist is a food unheard of in human history before the coming of Christ and nothing will ever match it, because it is God himself. In Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel Our Lord’s Gospel describes the bread that he will give as something even greater than the manna the Israelites received in the desert, because manna did not give them eternal life as the Eucharist does. Despite Israel’s infidelity and mistrust the Lord fed them something they’d never seen before. When the first flakes of manna appeared, they had to ask what they were. If manna caused confusion in the desert we can only imagine how mind-blowing it was to Our Lord’s listeners when he taught them that he himself was food sent from Heaven, food they’d have to eat to live forever.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that Holy Communion enables us to participate in Our Lord’s sacrifice of his Body and Blood and in so doing draws us into communion with God and with each other. In ancient religions sacrifices were made and then partaken of to express a communion with the deity to which the sacrifice was being made. In Christian worship God sacrifices himself to achieve communion, and we participate in that sacrifice in order to participate in that communion. Our Lord reconciled us with the Father through the sacrifice of his Body and Blood, and taught us to eat and drink that Body and Blood in order to have communion with him. Breaking bread with someone is a gesture of peace and fraternity. Our Lord let himself be that Bread, let himself be broken so that we could restore communion not only with the Father, but with each other. In every celebration of the Eucharist that bread is broken again for us. Throughout the world, wherever it is celebrated, believers are spiritually one body because through partaking of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist they become united with God and with each other.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us that he is true food and true drink that nourish us so much that those who partake of him will live forever. The manna mentioned in today’s First Reading was something the people of Israel had never seen before. Moses explained that its purpose was not only to feed man, but to show him that man must rely on the word of God in order to live. Our Lord is the Word of God, and without him there is no life. He is not only truly the Word of God that is necessary for eternal life; he is the bread of life too. Attempts have been made to interpret Our Lord’s words today metaphorically, but he is very clear: “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” This is the Scriptural basis, among other passages, for our belief that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. Through eating his flesh and drinking his blood we remain in communion with Christ and, through him, we remain in communion with the Father. Through eating his flesh and drinking his blood we not only remain on good terms with the Lord; we receive ongoing spiritual nourishment that will one day lead us to eternal life, if we remain in Christ. Christ taught this before he ever raised bread and said, “this is my body”: it required faith in Christ to accept this teaching, and it does even today. It was only at the Last Supper that his disciples really understood that bread and wine would become Christ’s Body and Blood. That Last Supper became the first of many celebrations of the Eucharist, including the one we celebrate today, but they are all thanks to Our Lord and his sacrifice, making himself true food and drink for us.

In today’s Gospel we were taught that the Lord wants to remain with us. Do we want to remain with him? How do we show that desire to remain with him? Reception of the Eucharist is a start, but Eucharistic adoration is the best way to go the distance. We all do a little Eucharistic adoration in the silent moments after receiving Holy Communion (I hope; if not, start there), but do we spend any more time with Our Lord than that? Do we ever come visit him for no other reason than spending some quality time with him? The blessing of having the Eucharist is that Our Lord is sacramentally present; the Eucharist reminds us physically and gives us a place to go and be with him sacramentally, whether we’re participating in Mass or not. If there is an adoration chapel near you, or times of adoration scheduled at your parish, pay Our Lord a visit. You’ll be amazed at how much silent adoration of Our Lord will help your spiritual life.

Readings: Deuteronomy 8:2–3, 14b–16a; Psalm 147:12–15, 19–20; 1 Corinthians 10:16–17; John 6:51–58. See also  Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Cycle C and Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

10th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

Paul reminds us in today’s First Reading that with the Incarnation of Christ our humanity, as fragile and weak as it is, has been entrusted with a true treasure: the grace of God. When we consider the strength and glory of Our Lord, we see how fragile his humanity is, yet Paul reminds us, as Our Lord has shown us, that we may be down at times, but never defeated.

Paul, in imitation of Christ, “dies” each day so that we may live. Our mortality is our fragility, but we know, in the end, that death will not have the last word.

We shouldn’t be discouraged when living the demands of Christianity. Christians have accomplished the most not at the high points of their lives, but at the low ones, just as Our Lord did on the Cross.

Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:7–15; Psalm 116:10–11, 15–18; Matthew 5:27–32. See also 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II.

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