3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

In today’s First Reading David spares no expense or effort to welcome the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem with a liturgy that was not only generous, materially speaking, but from the heart. He danced before the Ark to show his love for the Lord. The Ark represented the Lord’s presence and favor among his people; it was at the center of Jewish worship. David to some seemed to be making a fool of himself, dancing before the Lord, but David had his priorities straight: everything he’d gained in life had come from the Lord, and he owed everything to the Lord as a result.

In the Eucharist we do not just have a representation of the Lord’s presence; we have the Lord himself. We don’t sacrifice animals to him, because he had made himself the perfect sacrifice to offer the Father, but do offer the sacrifices of living a holy life that is pleasing to him and that is also thanks to his sacrifice, which won us the grace to be holy. We don’t dance, but we do “celebrate” the Eucharist with a joy of blessings received and acknowledged and an eager anticipation for receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion to deepen in our love for him.

Make the liturgy today a moment of celebration and eager anticipation.

Readings: 2 Samuel 6:12b–15, 17–19; Psalm 24:7–10; Mark 3:31–35. See also 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday and 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

Conversion of St. Paul

As St. Paul recalls in today’s First Reading, he thought his purpose and mission were as clear as day: to hunt down and imprison those who followed the “Way” as transgressors of the traditions of Israel. He had official support  and was expanding his operation, but on a bright day, at midday, just outside Damascus he realized the “light” he was guiding himself by was nothing in comparison to the light of the revelation he had just received: that Jesus was the Lord and that he was persecuting the very Lord he should be serving. He was not just knocked off his feet and blinded physically, but spiritually as well. After being so certain of the course his life should take he ended up being led by the hand into the very city he was supposed to police in order to await further instructions.

St. Paul is an apostle because he had a direct experience of the Risen Lord. We commemorate that life-changing moment for him today because it defined the rest of his life. God’s will had been revealed to him after years of thinking he knew it all. An experience of Christ changed all that, an experience he had to give witness to, just as the Twelve did. The very passage we read today is the second account of Paul’s conversion in the Acts of the Apostles, from his own lips, giving witness to why he was an apostle to the very crowd that had just tried to tear him apart.

There are many poignant conversion stories in salvation history. Even a baptized and professing Christian can have a moment of spiritual conversion where their understanding of the faith and their role in sharing it pales in the light of what God chooses to reveal. Christ wants to be your light, just as he was St. Paul’s. Let him.

Readings: Acts 22:3–16; Psalm 117:1bc, 2; Mark 16:15–18.  See also Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Today’s readings remind us of the importance of the Word of God in our lives. In today’s Gospel Luke explains to Theophilus that he sought to check and compile all concerning Jesus that had been written or handed down by other “ministers of the word.” Ezra in today’s First Reading, as part of a liturgical assembly in honor of the dedication of the newly rebuilt Temple in Israel, reads the law for hours to the people in order to help them to renew the covenant: it was probably the first five books of the Old Testament. The Israelites found their identity in the words of the Law, just as we find it in the Bible today, especially in the Gospel, but without discarding what’s been handed down to us in the Old Testament.

Our Lord too in today’s Gospel reads from the prophets, but presents something new, something that represents his Incarnation and mission and sheds light on all the Word of God: he has come to fulfill everything promised through the prophets, and to give meaning to the history of salvation lived until that moment and passed along through oral and written traditions until being compiled into what we call the Bible today. Without God’s Word we’d soon lose our identity and our way in a world plagued by ignorance, confusion, and evil.

Just like Ezra, Paul, and Jesus himself the Lord blesses us with people who conserve and interpret what God has said to us throughout salvation history. Let’s pray for all ministers of God’s Word today, and for the grace to be faithful witnesses to that Word as well.

Readings: Nehemiah 8:2–4a, 5–6, 8–10; Psalm 19:8–10, 15; 1 Corinthians 12:12–30; Luke 1:1–4, 4:14–21. See also 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

Today’s Gospel invites us to imagine what was going through the mind of Our Lord’s family when news began to reach them of everything happening in his ministry: healings, people mobbing him from all over Palestine, non-stop work that didn’t even leave him time to eat, and an escape by boat as the only way to keep the crowds from flocking around him and following him constantly. Today’s Gospel says simply that he came into “the house”; it’s not clear whether he’d come home or not, but the mention of the family’s reaction might infer it, although the Gospel only says they heard of what he was doing.

The reaction of Our Lord’s family serves to underscore the apparent insanity of the situation, so much that they’re wondering whether Jesus himself is insane. Our Lord, however, simply travels, preaches, heals, and casts out unclean spirits. The reaction on the part of the people may seem disproportionate, but it also shows how lost and in need of truth and healing humanity was since the Fall: even the assembly and covenant with Israel in the Old Testament was just a preparation for the work of salvation that would begin in earnest with the Incarnation and ministry of Our Lord.

We continue Our Lord’s mission. The needs of humanity for truth, healing, and protection from evil haven’t diminished a bit. The difference now is that often they don’t know who to turn to. How do we respond to this? Not by avoiding a “mob” situation, but, rather, by not shying away from making Our Lord known. It may mean more work, but it’s the most important work we can do.

Readings: 2 Samuel 1:1–4, 11–12, 19, 23–27; Psalm 80:2–3, 5–7; Mark 3:20–21.

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

Today’s Gospel reminds us that Our Lord calls by way of invitation. He summons the Twelve, but they must respond to the summons. Today’s Gospel focuses on the call and the response of the Twelve, but the Lord extends an invitation to everyone to follow him, not because he has to, but because he wants to. Today’s Gospel says he calls those whom “he wanted.” Not every calling involves the same authority and appointment as the Twelve, but it does involve being sent into the world on Our Lord’s behalf to spread the Good News. That’s not just the mission of bishops, priests, deacons, and consecrated persons; everyone is sent on mission in accordance with their state of life, be it clergy, laity, or consecrated.

Today’s Gospel also shows that Our Lord’s invitation is based on a first hand knowledge of the one being sent. Today it seems some of the apostles receive “nicknames,” but biblically the reception of a new name also involves a transformation and a mission. Peter at that moment was a “rock” in the rough who’d one day be the rock on which Our Lord would build his Church. James and John both had a thundering personality in the Lord’s service that made them worthy of the name. These “nicknames” are probably also mentioned by Mark because the generations of Christians that followed may not have known them by any other.

What’s Our Lord inviting you to do? What name do you’d think he’d give you that summarizes the kind of apostle you’re called to be? You may not see it, but for him you are a diamond in the rough. Respond to his call, whatever it may be, and soon you’ll shine in his service, even in the circumstances of everyday life.

Readings: 1 Samuel 24:3–21; Psalm 57:2–4, 6, 11; Mark 3:13–19. See also 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday and Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles.