27th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul recalls that after fourteen years, due to a “revelation,” he returned to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles in order to present the Gospel to them as he had preached it. This was seventeen years at least since his conversion. His faith was rewarded because the apostles confirmed that just as Peter was ministering to the Jews, Paul was ministering to the non-Jews. Even today one of the characteristics of bishops in the Church is their collegiality: they are participating in a common mission, a mission that also brings them together as brothers who share the burdens of spreading the Gospel and coordinate efforts. The synods are just one sign of that common effort.

Being a brother also sometimes requires fraternal correction. It’s hard for us to imagine that Paul would have the audacity to correct Peter, but even today Peter’s successor, the Pope, relies on brother bishops to help him make difficult decisions. Paul already had a wealth of experience spreading the Gospel among the Gentiles, and how damaging to the mission Judaizers had been. Peter had made a bad political decision and Paul called him on it. We know Peter received correction from Our Lord many times, and in his humility it appears he accepted Paul’s correction as well. Even Paul referred to him as Cephas, the Rock, and appreciated his unique role in the Church. That’s how brothers behave when one of them seems to be going astray, even when a little brother corrects a big one.

Let’s pray today for bishops to support one another in spreading the Gospel and to not get sidetracked by politics.

Readings: Galatians 2:1–2, 7–14; Psalm 117:1bc, 2; Luke 11:1–4. See also 17th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 1st Week of Lent, Tuesday, and 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul recalls the years immediately following his conversion on the road to Damascus, a conversion where all his fundamental convictions regarding God’s will for him were put to the test. The first thing Paul did was leave Judea and head into the wide expanse of deserts known as Arabia, and in that desert he realized that he was called to be more than just a disciple of Our Lord; he had a special encounter that made him Our Lord’s apostle in a way not quite like the Twelve.

He only met the apostles years later, as he also recounts to the Galatians. In other letters he’d already face criticism about being a second-class apostle, but he knew what Our Lord was asking of him and set out to do it, conferring with the other apostles years later. It didn’t matter, because the same Gospel the Twelve had received from Our Lord was given to Paul to spread among the gentiles, including the Galatians, who were now being encouraged incorrectly to adopt Judaic practices that Paul had not taught them.

How do you handle life-shattering events? Do you turn up the volume or top off the whiskey, or do you seek the solitude and silence to hear Our Lord’s voice more clearly and process what he is asking you to do with your life? It’s never to late to close the door, shut down the laptop, and simply have a conversation with Our Lord.

Readings: Galatians 1:13–24; Psalm 139:1b–3, 13–15; Luke 10:38–42. See also 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle CSt. Martha27th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul reminds the Galatians, and he reminds us, that there is only one Gospel, one message, and changing it would make it something other than a road map for our salvation. Our Lord wanted to share a message of salvation with us, and he entrusted it to his apostles, who in turn transmitted it to their successors, century after century. The Church gives witness to this message and, aided by the Holy Spirit, ensures its accurate transmission and authentic application.

The Gospel message is not just important because it has survived two thousand years of human history, or because it contains great wisdom. The Gospel message is important because it was given to us by God. God the Son gave us this message, and anyone would agree that if you receive a message from God you should not only pay attention but also put it into practice. Our Lord today summarizes the core of the Gospel today: love for God and love for neighbor. Nothing else in the world, religious or otherwise, will save us if it is separated from that core message.

The case of the Galatians reminds us that even today people try to distort the Gospel message or simply misunderstand it. Just as the Galatians could count on Paul to keep them on track, let’s trust to Church to help us live the Gospel in a 100% authentic way.

Readings: Galatians 1:6–12; Psalm 111:1b–2, 7–9, 10c; Gospel Luke 10:25–37. See also 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 3rd Week of Lent,Friday,  9th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday and 20th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, and 27th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

A common thread of today’s readings is that the Lord’s disciples, old and new, are looking for more of what they need in order to fulfill their mission, perhaps discouraged by a lack of immediate results. Habakkuk in the First Reading is lamenting the injustice he sees and unanswered prayers for the Lord to do something about it. Timothy receives a letter of encouragement from his mentor Paul, who is in prison, to be brave and re-stoke the flame of zeal that he received at ordination; Timothy has big shoes to fill, and Paul whom he esteems greatly, is now in prison. The disciples ask for more faith and Our Lord responses that even a little faith would go a long way; the apostles are asking for more faith because the little faith they have doesn’t seem to be enough to do their job.

It’s the parable that follows where Our Lord puts things into perspective. The servant doesn’t expect some special reward for just doing his job; he just does it. Faith is our action and our struggle and it is only with prayer and effort that it grows. Our Lord invites us today to focus on our mission, not the imagined resources we may be lacking. Habakkuk is told to write down his prophecies and thanks to that we now have them. Timothy is told to be a good shepherd of souls and the Church, thanks to him, continued to grow. The apostles are told to do their duty expecting nothing but the satisfaction of a job well done, and we all have the apostles to thank for receiving the faith. The prophecies were fulfilled in Christ and the Gospel has triumphed in so many lives and will continue to do so.

Whatever your state of life–laity, consecrated, ordained–focus on how you can best serve Our Lord right here, right now, with the resources, spiritual and material, that you have at your disposal and Our Lord will ensure that you succeed.

Readings: Habakkuk 1:2–3, 2:2–4; Psalm 95:1–2, 6–9; 2 Timothy 1:6–8, 13–14; Luke 17:5–10. See also 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II

Throughout the first readings of this week we’ve considered excerpts from the Book of Job  as he struggles with the reason for his suffering and questions God about why it happened. As we saw yesterday, God finally answers Job’s prayers, and Job’s response is a renewed awareness of the wonder of God, a foreshadowing of the wonder the Holy Spirit instills on Our Lord in today’s Gospel at the thought of how wonderful the Lord’s revelation is. Jesus’ disciples were amazed at their power over evil, invested in them by Our Lord, but he knew the true source of wonder was a place reserved in Heaven and to have lived to see and experience the Messiah.

In Job’s case his renewed wonder and love for the Lord became a source of blessings for him. He thought he’d lost everything, but with the Lord he had everything and proved the very virtue the Lord had seen in him at the beginning of his tale. The Lord blesses him for his fidelity in the face of adversity, just as he will bless us. Job’s blessings at the conclusion of his story are a foreshadowing of the blessings we’ll receive in Heaven if we persevere in faith, hope, and love. Even if the Lord has already done wonders for you in this life, you haven’t seen anything yet.

If you are experiencing trials in this moment, ask Our Lord to reveal himself to you. You’ll be amazed by the response.

Readings: Job 42:1–3, 5–6, 12–17; Psalm 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130; Luke 10:17–24. See also 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, and 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.