10th Week of Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

Elijah shows the Israelites, and reminds us, in today’s First Reading that there is only one God, no matter how many prophets may say to the contrary. At the encouragement of their king, Ahab, the Israelites have opted to follow Baal, since that deity seems to have numbers and success, yet they are suffering from a drought as a result of abandoning the Lord. They haven’t completely written off the Lord, but they remain on the fence, so Elijah suggests a way to test whom they should truly worship.

The prophets of Baal have numbers (450), elaborate rituals, and dry weather. One spark would be enough to set the whole thing off, but, as Scripture reminds us today, “no one answered, and no one was listening.” Elijah soaked the Lord’s altar with water to show that it wouldn’t be some chance spark that lit it, and with one prayer the Lord sent down fire to consume it all. One prophet and one prayer was enough for the Lord to respond.

People worship many things today–money, power, pleasure, nature, themselves, etc.–but none of those things are God, and none of them will grant what they truly desire. Our Lord knows what we need before we ask. Try that one prayer to the Lord and you may be surprised at the response.

Readings: 1 Kings 18:20–39; Psalm 16:1b–2b, 4–5b, 8, 11; Matthew 5:17–19. See also 3rd Week of Lent, Wednesday and 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

10th Week of Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

The widow in today’s First Reading shows great faith that her act of charity toward Elijah will not cost her life or the life of her son. The effects of the drought that Elijah announced on the Lord’s behalf in yesterday‘s First Reading are now taking effect, and Elijah himself no longer has a source of water as a result. Sometimes we believe that the Lord’s service shouldn’t have a personal cost, but circumstances put it directly on our lap. Elijah and the widow have to make a decision, and they decide to believe in the Lord. As a result, both are provided for, as well as the widow’s son.

The simple belief and trust that God will provide is enough make our lives like the salt and light Our Lord describes in today’s Gospel. When we trust in God to provide we are more generous, and that generosity is a great light in a world that is at times darkened by those concerned about their immediate interests and future. No one knows their future, but if we work with God, we know it will be a bright future.

Let’s pray today for the generosity to be a light in the world of hope.

Readings: 1 Kings 17:7–16; Psalm 4:2–5, 7b–8; Matthew 5:13–16. See also 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B and 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

10th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In the Beatitudes of today’s Gospel Our Lord encourages those suffering persecution for being witnesses to him, comparing their mission in adversity to that of the prophets. Even today Christians have a prophetic mission, described by the constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 35):

“Christ, the great Prophet, who proclaimed the Kingdom of His Father both by the testimony of His life and the power of His words, continually fulfills His prophetic office until the complete manifestation of glory. He does this not only through the hierarchy who teach in His name and with His authority, but also through the laity whom He made His witnesses and to whom He gave understanding of the faith and an attractiveness in speech so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life. They conduct themselves as children of the promise, and thus strong in faith and in hope they make the most of the present, and with patience await the glory that is to come. Let them not, then, hide this hope in the depths of their hearts, but even in the program of their secular life let them express it by a continual conversion and by wrestling ‘against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness.'”

Elijah in today’s First Reading prophesied a lack of rain and went into hiding at the Lord’s command with the promise of the Lord’s support. There are many Christian refugees in the world simply because they let the power of the Gospel “shine forth in their daily social and family life.” Let’s pray and work to aid our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters and also be bold in proclaiming the Gospel in our daily life.

Readings: 1 Kings 17:1–6; Psalm 121:1b–8; Matthew 5:1–12. See also All Saints and 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.


10th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that making a promise or giving testimony is a powerful thing. The promises we make give witness to who we are, and the witness we give is a testimony to how seriously we take our promises. We’ve all experienced how unedifying it is when someone swears something to be true, promises to deliver on something, and then is revealed to have lied or fails to deliver, and not just because of circumstances beyond their control. When something is as simple as “Yes”or “No,” as Our Lord teaches us today, there’s no room for spin, for sophistry, for fine print, or for establishing little grey areas in our conscience instead of admitting we can or can’t deliver on something or whether we know or don’t know something.

Our Lord gives a laundry list of things the people of his day were using as collateral to show how serious they were about the oaths they made. He also puts his finger on the problem: that collateral is not theirs, nor is it under their control. It’s not as common today, but when someone swears “on my life,” or any other number of things or people, we are put on a guard, exactly because they are swearing on something over which they have no control or ownership and usually as a way of convincing others of their sincerity.

The easiest way to be sincere, as Our Lord reminds us today, is simply to be sincere: it’s the simplicity of a yes or no attitude to life, one that leaves no room for deceiving ourselves or others. Let’s ask Our Lord today to achieve that level of simplicity with ourselves and with others.

Readings: 2 Corinthians 5:14–21; Psalm 103:1–4, 9–12; Matthew 5:33–37.

10th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

A common recurring defense today for a watered down life ethic is, “hey, at least I’m not killing anybody.” Our Lord reminds us in today’s Gospel that not killing anybody is good, but we have to go way beyond that if we don’t want to be Pharisaical. When we can say, “hey, at least I don’t hate anybody,” we’re getting closer to the mark. In a violent world maybe sometimes we look the other way at times in the face of a lack of kindness, but Our Lord today reminds us to go the distance and not only not kill anybody, but actually be kind to everybody.

When tempers flair and rash words are said the best thing to do, as Our Lord teaches, is to try to make amends as soon as possible and simply apologize. If we live a life of cruel and cold justice, focusing especially on the justice due to us, we’ll be in for a surprise when the eternal Judge brings us to “court” by the same harsh standards to which we held others. As Our Lord’s prayer reminds us, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us be a little less rash in our thoughts and actions toward others and a lot kinder, especially when we’re mistreated.

Readings: Matthew 5:20–26.