10th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday

In today’s First Reading Paul describes the old covenant, the one of Israel, in terms of death and condemnation and something that would fade away, but also as something glorious. It was a prelude to an even more glorious and enduring covenant, one qualified by God, spiritual, and life-giving through the power of the Spirit, a ministry of righteousness.

In this process the old covenant was not pointless; God doesn’t do anything pointless, everything is part of his loving plan for us. Our Lord in today’s Gospel reminds us of that. He hasn’t come to simply discard the old covenant, the “law and the prophets,” as never having had any purpose at all. Rather, he puts the old covenant’s purpose into context. Israel made an effort, sometimes mixed, to stay faithful to the covenant the Lord had established with them on Mt. Sinai. In other writings Paul describes the law stemming from this covenant as something educational for the immature: a preparation for something greater. The new covenant established by Christ and lived in Christianity is indebted to that process, which is why we often speak of a Judeo-Christian heritage and the Bible consists of the Old and the New Testaments. In the first centuries of Christianity certain groups tried to expunge any trace of Judaism from Christianity, and they were ignoring Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel. In his own words he did not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them.

Let’s ask Our Lord to help us today to understand the purpose of the traditions we live as Christians in order to live our faith more fully and not be quick to discard them as pointless. Christianity is not meant to fade away.

Readings: 2 Corinthians 3:4–11; Psalm 99:5–9; Matthew 5:17–19.

10th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us that Christian life is like salt and light. Flavorless Christianity is like putting sand on your french fries: something is different about the taste, but it’s not something good. Some people have already written off Christianity as sand on the fries, as something that robs life of its flavor, but those people have either never experienced it or have only met the flavorless variety of Christian that Jesus is warning against today. Christianity, like salt, is not meant to be just any flavor; salt is a staple in many recipes, in many cultures, and it is not easily replaced. Neither pepper nor chili powder, for example, would have the same effect. Christianity is meant to make a unique contribution to society and culture, even for those who do not believe in Christ. For believers, like that salt shaker on the dinner table, it is indispensable and we can accept no substitutes.

Salt subtly contributes to many recipes and is only appreciated at times when its absence is noted. It’s meant to blend in and contribute, but we have to make sure it receives the credit it is due, which is why Our Lord also reminds us in today’s Gospel that Christianity is meant to be a light on a high place or a lamp stand: it is meant to shed light on many things, even things not directly considered Christian, because ultimately the Gospel is a message of truth and goodness that contributes to every level and sector of society, directly or indirectly. There are ethical and philosophical truths that any reasonable person can consider, even if they don’t believe any or some of the tenets of Christian faith, and those ethical and philosophical truths can open the door to their conversion.

Let’s pray today for the flavorless Christians to put some “spice” back into their Christian life, and also for all those Christians trying to be the light of world while being treated like sand in the fries.

Readings: 2 Corinthians 1:18–22; Psalm 119:129–133, 135; Matthew 5:13–16.

10th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday

Today’s readings are a source of encouragement and a reminder that we in turn are called to encourage others, because that is the eternal mission of the saints. The Beatitudes Jesus teaches us in today’s Gospel are a checklist for seeing whether someone is holy, whether someone is a saint–they’re the attitudes and dispositions we’re called to have. That’s why the Church calls her process of recognizing the heroic sanctity on one of her children a process of beatification, and usually before someone is declared a Saint, they are declared a Blessed. We are all called to be saints, whether the Church officially recognizes it or not: saints encourages others by their example and their intercession in recognition of the encouragement they themselves have received from God, as St. Paul points out so eloquently in the First Reading.

The Beatitudes are also an encouragement for us: if we strive to be poor of spirit we’ll inherit the Kingdom of God. If we mourn we shall be comforted. If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, that hunger and thirst will be satisfied. It’s wonderful to consider how the saints have taken these promises and lived holy lives in completely different ways: no one can deny that there’s a difference of style between saints such as St. Francis, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Philip Neri, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus. If we live these Beatitudes as promises, as Saint John Paul II encouraged us to do in Veritatis Splendor (see n.16), we’ll enjoy a life filled with good works from here to eternity.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for the encouragement he has given us along the path of holiness, both through his own example and the example of the saints, and let’s ask him to help us to be an encouragement to others.

Readings: 2 Corinthians 1:1–7; Psalm 34:2–9; Matthew 5:1–12.