25th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday

Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Gospel is meant to be good news. Do we treat it as such? Sometimes we may think of it as old news, or maybe even bad news for our lifestyle. Just as the Twelve were told to shake the dust off their feet in towns that did not welcome them, we need to shake off those things that keep us from living the Gospel as good news that we want to share. Pessimism is contagious. Optimism is seen by many as sentimental and insubstantial, but the Gospel is something much more: it is a message of hope. Hope goes way beyond optimism; it means that, in the end, something good, something wonderful will come of our trials and struggles. With God that something good and wonderful will last forever and put those trials and struggles into perspective.

The Twelve were sent to heal as well. This did not just mean physical maladies, but spiritual ones too. When we don’t seek this healing it’s because we don’t really believe healing is possible. There are lots of people who’d like physical and mental healing and put their faith in every sort of therapy, treatment, and medicine, but the spiritual affliction must be addressed too, if there is one. If they’re healed spiritually they’ll be able to face any physical or mental trial and see its spiritual fruitfulness.

Let’s make the Gospel good news for us again today and share the news. Let’s reach out to the afflicted and help them come to Our Lord for healing. And let’s shake the dust off our feet of anything that gets in the way of those two goals.

Readings: Ezra 9:5–9; Tobit 13:2–4b, 4e; Luke 9:1–6.

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that hearing the word of God is not enough; it has to be acted upon. God has put a plan into motion through his son, and he invites us to take part in it. In today’s First Reading the Israelites are rebuilding their Temple after years of exile and foreign oppression. Hellenic invaders had just made concerted effort, aided by some Israelites, to wipe out their cultural identity, and failed. Now under Persian rule they find a ruler who supports them in their faith. Through the Persian rulers, in response to hearing God’s will through the prophets, the Israelites reconstruct their Temple again as a place for God. In the past they’d separated themselves from God’s will, thinking that as long as the Temple was there, God was with them, but the Lord showed them a building and his will are two different things when they were exiled and their Temple destroyed. If we don’t build with God, nothing lasts.

Our Lord invites us to hear his word and act upon it by growing in holiness and spreading his word through evangelization. When his mother comes looking for him in today’s Gospel he is in the middle of doing exactly that: teaching and sanctifying a people who’ll come together and be built into his Church, in order to spread his word throughout the world. So is Mary; she’s bringing their relatives to Our Lord in order to hear God’s word and, hopefully, to act upon it.

Let’s ask Our Lord today how he wants us to put his word into action in our lives today, and how we can help him in the work of evangelization.

Readings: Ezra 6:7–8, 12b, 14–20; Psalm 122:1–5; Luke 8:19–21. See also 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

In today’s Gospel Our Lord invites the apostles, and us, to revisit what we consider to be the path to greatness. As St. James reminds us in today’s Second Reading, jealously and selfish ambition only lead to discord. If we really want to be at peace with ourselves and with others, the path to greatness is the path of wisdom. It may provoke resentment on the part of those who don’t follow it, as is reflected in the wicked men conspiring in today’s First Reading, but it is the path to lasting peace, where people aren’t at war to get ahead at the expense of another or bitter that someone has achieved something that they haven’t.

Our Lord describes the path to greatness today as one of service, and not just any service. Even an ambitious person can seek to perform some service to achieve his ends. When Our Lord gives the example of serving a child, it’s like a cold bucket of water dumped on the disciples’ selfish ambitions. Babysitting is not high in anyone’s book in terms of a career, nor nanny, and, sadly, even in some circles of society the vocation to be a parent is avoided. But God reveals himself in terms of family relationships, and Our Lord tells us today to serve that child in his name in order to serve not only him, but Our Heavenly Father who sent him. No matter how great we become in the eyes of society we can never neglect even the least members of it, because our only ambition should be to serve. Nor can we forget that if we achieved anything in our life it was thanks to our parents.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us “get ahead” on the path of humility and service.

Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17–20; Psalm 54:3–8; James 3:16–4:3; Mark 9:30–37.