17th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

Today’s readings remind us that when it comes to distinguishing between the messenger and the message the important thing is to focus on the message. It doesn’t matter what state the envelope is in when you start opening it; what matters is the message.

In today’s First Reading, when Jeremiah brings the message of the Lord to the people of Israel, they questioned the “envelope.” They questioned the messenger when what they really should have been doing was focusing on the message. In today’s Gospel we see that as well, because Our Lord comes to his hometown to his synagogue and they’re so stuck on it being Jesus, whom they’ve known for years, that they’re not paying attention to the message that he is trying to share with them.

The question that we should really ask is whether the message is true and, in the case of the things of God, even more importantly, whether the message comes from God. The way that we know that something comes from God is the faith, just as Our Lord mentioned in today’s Gospel. The people in his hometown lacked that faith. The faith helps the word of God when we hear it resonate within our hearts. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, talks about all the faithful having sort of a sixth sense when it comes to the things of faith and morals (n.12) and with the sixth sense it helps them to recognize something is coming from the Lord.

Let’s ask our Lord today to help us recognize his voice in the people that we meet and share his Word and message with others.

Readings: Leviticus 23:1, 4–11, 15–16, 27, 34b–37; Psalm 81:3–6, 10–11b; Matthew 13:54–58. See also 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.

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5th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s Gospel we see another example of Our Lord performing a healing and asking for secrecy and not getting it. Why does he keep healing if people don’t respect his wishes? Because he loves us no matter what we do, and will continue to love us, even when we cause him problems. When we contemplate him on the cross we contemplate someone who has taken our problems onto his own shoulders.

The miracle of healing the deaf and mute man is now commemorated by an optional rite in the celebration of Baptism: the minister performing the Baptism touches the ears of the new Christian and says, “Ephphatha!” (“Be opened!”). Our Baptism shows that we and our parents have listened to the Word of God, not just heard him, and that opens our world to hearing good news we’d never have imagined before. With his speech restored we can’t entirely blame the man healed today from going out and sharing the Good News; we too are called to share the Good News.

Have we become deaf to Our Lord’s voice? To his wishes? Let’s ask him to help us listen again in order to better spread the Good News as he wishes.

Readings: 1 Kings 11:29–32, 12:19; Psalm 81:10–11b, 12–15; Mark 7:31–37. See also 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

26th Week of Ordinary Time, Friday, Year I

Imagine someone really important that you wanted to meet. If you ignored his representatives when they introduced themselves and tried to arrange a meeting, or his son, do you think he’d be interested in meeting with you? In both of today’s readings we see the dire consequences of that attitude.

In today’s First Reading the Israelites in exile remember all the Lord had given them, and all they had squandered by turning their backs on him and his prophets. When they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses warned them that they choice between a blessed life and a cursed one depended on them: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). They chose a life without the Lord or those sent by him, and they suffered for it.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord warns those who think they can spurn his disciples or him that in doing so they cut themselves off from the one who sent them all: God the Father. Many people today try to come up with “creative” ways to associate themselves with divinity that don’t imply the mediation of anyone else, human or divine, and it’s no surprise that often they lose sight of the fact that God is not just something, but someone, if they have any thought of God at all.

God the Father has sent his Son, and his Son has sent us, his disciples, to lead us to both Father and Son, not to mention Spirit. Let’s not shy away from bringing others to Our Lord so that they too can receive the blessings that come from truly knowing God.

Readings: Baruch 1:15–22; Psalm 79:1b–5, 8–9; Luke 10:13–16.

13th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year I

In today’s readings we see the first steps of two connected legacies being assured. In the First Reading Sarah’s death and Abraham’s old age show a generation passing and the need to ensure a legacy of blessings for the generations to come. Abraham paves the way for his son Isaac, the inheritor and custodian of the promises of God, to marry and become a patriarch in his own right. His inheritance is not just material wealth; it is to transmit the faith and promises that the Lord made to Abraham, promises underway: a great nation, and a land to call their own. Isaac himself is the first sign of God fulfilling his promises.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord calls Matthew to be one of his apostles. Our Lord himself would be the one to definitively fulfill the promises made to Abraham: beyond the earthly promised land and simply biological progeny, Our Lord would become a blessing for all nations, gathering them in the Promised Land of Heaven for all eternity. The Apostles would be entrusted with this inheritance, including Matthew, and transmit it to future generations of believers: the Gospel.

Both Abraham and Matthew knew that if they turned back to their past they’d lose all the Lord had given them: Abraham was called out of the land of his birth and his kin in faith and insists that Isaac not return there for any reason. It’s as if doing so would be turning his back on the faith and promises that had taken him so far. Similarly, Matthew turned his back on sin and never looked back.

We are the inheritors of the Gospel too. Let’s transmit it to future generations as our legacy and never look back to the life we lived before we received it.

Readings: Genesis 23:1–4, 19, 24:1–8, 62–67; Psalm 106:1b–5; Matthew 9:9–13. See also St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

 

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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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