25th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year II

In today’s First Reading, the beginning of the book of Ecclesiastes, its author, Qoheleth, begins a survey of his experiences and his perceptions in an attempt to answer the question of life’s meaning. Ecclesiastes is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, so it is eminently philosophical, and one of the most central questions of philosophy is the meaning of life. I society today the thought of considering the meaning of life is the butt of many jokes, but it is a question every person should ask.

In today’s First Reading Qoheleth is just beginning his inquiry, and the results so far are not encouraging. When he considers the things of this world, the natural things, the human things, and the course of history, he finds a monotony and ultimate lack of novelty that makes him question their significance. This is only a source of discouragement if we forget that this world does not have the last word in the question of life’s meaning; with the Lord, we know there is something beyond this world that gives it meaning, but Qoheleth is not there yet.

Herod in today’s Gospel is also trying to measure up Our Lord using his narrow-minded experiences and perceptions, but doesn’t have the faith or the wisdom to see that with Jesus something truly new has come into the world. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help our faith and our reason seek and find life’s meaning in Christ.

Readings: Ecclesiastes 1:2–11; Psalm 90:3–6, 12–14, 17bc; Luke 9:7–9. See also 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday25th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, and 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

The proverbs in today’s First Reading remind us that wisdom is worth seeking and no one has a monopoly on it. It goes hand in hand with being an upright person. As the second proverb reminds us today, our conscience is not only formed by ourselves, but in conformity with what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Situations arise where our righteousness is put to the test, and in those moments it’s revealed how strong or how weak it is.

Although the word in not used in today’s First Reading, humility helps wisdom to grow. The proud, the rash, and the deceptive ultimately fail in the eyes of the Lord and in the eyes of the wise.

Some people today don’t have “grow in wisdom” on their list of to-do’s today. Let’s move it to the top of our list and ask Our Lord to help us.

Readings: Proverbs 21:1–6, 10–13; Psalm 119:1, 27, 30, 34–35, 44; Luke 8:19–21. See also 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday and 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s First Reading we’re taught that we shouldn’t put off a good that we can do for another. Isn’t sharing the Gospel, the Good News, the greatest good that we can share? So why hesitate?  Keeping good news to ourselves is like putting a lit lamp in an empty closet and closing the door: it only illuminates a fraction of its potential.

Some people want to lock this light in a closet and throw away the key, but Our Lord reminds us in today’s Gospel that the Good News will be revealed, one way or another. Sometimes the Good News may not seem so good to us, when it implies renunciation and the cross, but this news is a good that never stops being new or being good, if we have faith and strive to let it truly illuminate our lives.

Let’s help the light of faith stay high and bright in our lives and in the world.

Readings: Proverbs 3:27–34; Psalm 15:2–4b, 5; Luke 8:16–18. See also 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord tries to prepare the disciples for the suffering he has to undergo, but they don’t understand what he is referring to. It’s something beyond simple ignorance; the Gospel account says “its meaning was hidden from them.”

If its meaning is hidden there is only one way out of their dilemma: to ask him. They’re too afraid. If they’re afraid they do know that something big is going on, something beyond their control and apparently beyond the Christ’s control, so they opt for denial. In the end it’ll make the truth even more shocking when it is revealed. Our Lord asked them to pay attention; obviously he wanted them to understand, but between God’s revelation and man’s weak response the connection was not established.

If we perceive in our hearts that Our Lord has something big to share with us, let’s not be afraid to ask him for understanding. The truth always sets us free.

Readings: Zechariah 2:5–9, 14–15a; Jeremiah 31:10–12b, 13; Luke 9:43b–45.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

In today’s First Reading the Lord is encouraging the Israelites to not be discouraged because the Temple they are rebuilding will not have the same opulence or size as the first Temple that was destroyed when they were taken into exile. Through Haggai the Lord promises that blessings will fill it in a way that shakes up the world. The opulence of the Temple does not matter; the presence of the Lord and his Spirit is what matters, and he is with them.

When Our Lord today sounds out the disciples about the rumor mill surrounding him, and then what they think, they show an expectation of glory from whom they believe to be the “Christ of God”: the Messiah. Like the second Temple, they may experience discouragement when they realize how the Christ must accomplish his mission: it will shake them when the Messiah suffers and dies, but it will be a source of abundant fruits, just as the Lord promised through Haggai. The Lord himself will become that Temple from which the treasures of Baptism and the Eucharist flow, but only when the order of things is shaken up and in the eyes of the world a simple criminal is punished and executed.

We know in faith and hope that Our Lord will fulfill all our expectations, but also that sometimes it happens in a way we’d have never anticipated. Let’s renew our faith in the power of Our Savior today in order to weather whatever he needs to shake up in order to fill the world with his blessings. It may seem small, even insignificant in the eyes of the world, but it’ll be powerful.

Readings: Haggai 2:1–9; Psalm 43:1–4; Luke 9:18–22. See also 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.