7th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Lord through Sirach makes a strong case for the benefits of having wisdom in your life. Society today has a tendency to seek immediate results in an immediate way–success, gratification, etc.–but often lacks the most important thing: wisdom. Wisdom is ultimately an insight into the big picture of things and the ability to apply that wisdom to life’s decisions, big and small.

As Sirach describes today, embracing Wisdom paves the way for being blessed by the Lord. He describes bringing wisdom into your life as a process. It can be unsettling, even painful, at first, because wisdom sheds new light on you attitudes and your actions, and part of that process is a realization of the foolishness in your life too. In yesterday’s First Reading Sirach taught us that the Lord is the source of all wisdom. He’s written wisdom into all of his Creation and when we discover that, we discover blessings and happiness.

St. Paul describes Our Lord as the Wisdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 24,30). In Christ we find the Wisdom of God incarnate. Let’s welcome him and his wisdom into our life.

Readings: Sirach 4:11–19; Psalm 119:165, 168, 171–175; Mark 9:38–40. See also 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.


3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds the Christians who formerly participated in Jewish worship at the Temple, before embracing Christianity, that the old sacrifices of animals offered by those priests did not have the power to take away sins, and now Our Lord, the High Priest of a new covenant, offers the perfect sacrifice, once and for all, of himself. His sacrifice takes away the sins of the whole world. Our Lord sacrificed himself on the Cross and, upon ascending into Heaven after the Resurrection, took this sacrifice, himself, to the Father and now at the Father’s right hand continues to intercede for us before the Father as priest and sacrifice.

Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist we offer the same sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, but in an unbloody manner. Our Lord was crucified on Calvary, and now, sacramentally, we offer his Body and Blood to the Father for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. However, we do not just offer it for sins; we offer it in thanksgiving, we offer it for our needs, we offer it for the needs of the whole world as a priestly people. Like our High Priest, Jesus, we too can offer our day-to-day sacrifices, united with his perfect sacrifice, for the good of the whole world.

Sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake does not appeal to anyone. Our Lord teaches us that our sacrifices can benefit not only ourselves, but those we love. Let’s not shy away from sacrifice for the sake of others.

Readings: Hebrews 10:11–18; Psalm 110:1–4; Mark 4:1–20. See also 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II and 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.


5th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s Gospel, using the example of dietary laws, Our Lord is teaching us that the “Devil made me do it” as an argument has no merit. The problem of evil has plagued man and philosophy almost since Creation, and a trend has always tried to blame God or other things as the cause of sin when all man needed to do was look in the mirror. The Lord created everything good and for the good, but his creatures freely chose to do evil instead: the fallen angels, staring with the Devil, and humanity, starting with Adam and Eve. If the world is a mess it is because we, sinners, made it so.

The dietary laws in Jesus’ time believed certain foods brought ritual contamination and, therefore, defiled a man, Mark makes a point of saying in his account that Jesus is teaching that there are no ritually impure foods. It’s a teaching that even the first disciples would struggle with as they realized that Christianity was meant to go beyond the Jewish world and culture. The Original Sin of Adam and Eve robbed us of something we, their descendants, couldn’t do without, and it is only thanks to the Redemption that their sin didn’t condemn us all to spiritual death. However, Adam and Eve aren’t to blame for all of it: we too have sinned and continue to sin.

This sobering reality is not meant to discourage us; rather, it makes us realize that not only do we need Savior, but have one: Our Lord. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also called Confession. Let’s come clean and confess what we’ve done so that Our Lord can heal and liberate us from the sin plaguing the world since the Fall.

Readings: 1 Kings 10:1–10; Psalm 37:5–6, 30–31, 39–40; Mark 7:14–23.

17th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading the Israelites are so disturbed by the change in Moses’ countenance after conversing with the Lord that he needs to start wearing a veil when dealing with them in day to day affairs. His face now reflects something unearthly, something divine. The face is one of the most expressive parts of the human body: your countenance is like a window into your mood, even your soul. Imagine what transformation had taken place in Moses after encountering the Lord.

Moses spoke with the Lord face to face. He was transformed by having such intimacy with the Lord. The rest of us here on earth would have to wait until the Incarnation to be able to see the Lord face to face in Jesus, but that encounter transforms us too. When we live our faith, something changes in our life, and people notice, especially those who haven’t experienced God in their life. In the Old Testament looking upon the face of the Lord risked death; in the new we give witness to the fact that we have seen the face of God in Jesus Christ.

Lumen Gentium, the constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church, says the Church reflects the light of Christ. Let’s all try to reflect the light of Christ in our lives.

Readings: Exodus 34:29–35; Psalm 99:5–7, 9; Matthew 13:44–46.

16th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading it doesn’t take long for the Israelites to prefer the thought of full stomachs and slavery to hunger pangs and freedom. The Exodus is not just a historical event; it is also the drama of man turning away from sin physically while still feeling its attraction spiritually and psychologically. Egypt in this story represents sin, which is spiritual slavery, no matter how much it seems to satisfy us. The satisfaction of sin is a hollow one. It promises contentment, but only delivers misery.

The Lord has led the Israelites out of the slavery of Egypt (sin) to form them as his people in the desert (conversion and purification). Conversion and purification can be as dry and unsatisfying, humanly speaking, as wandering the desert on an empty stomach, but it reminds us that true spiritual freedom is worth any price, any suffering.

Don’t become discouraged when your thoughts drift back to whatever slavery you’ve left behind. Savor the freedom instead. It’s an acquired taste, but a much more satisfying one.

Readings: Exodus 16:1–5, 9–15; Psalm 78:18–19, 23–28; Matthew 13:1–9. See also 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A and 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II.