21st Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul notes the contrast between wordly wisdom and the wisdom of God, a contrast revealed by Christ cruficied. In the world’s logic it seems that Christ on the cross is foolish. The Greeks, not familiar with Jewish religion but steeped in philosophy, would declare it irrational that a god would die at all, much less choose to die for humanity. For the Jews it was scandalous to think that the Messiah would be humiliated and executed as a common criminal instead of being a strong political and military leader for Israel.

Yet, according to the wisdom of God, we see how powerful the Lord truly is, a power that not only refutes the wisdom of the world, but turns it on its head. The power that a god would love his creatures so much that he’d willingly come among them and suffer and die at their hands so that they should be redeemed from the certain death that awaits them. That logic is seen as foolish only by those who have not been taught or accepted the wisdom of God.

The Gospel wants to teach us a new type of wisdom beyond the world’s. Let’s ask Our Lord to help us embrace his wisdom.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:17–25; Psalm 33:1–2, 4–5, 10–11; Matthew 25:1–13. See also 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.

21st Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul greets the Church at Corinth by reminding them that he was called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and also that they also have a calling. Every believer, every human being has a calling. The fundamental calling for every human being is to holiness, because holiness means communion with God, a communion of life and love. There are many ways to respond to this call to holiness–priesthood, consecrated life, married life, etc.–and if we listen in prayer the Lord helps us to discern the path of holiness he is inviting us to follow.

Each path is a specific imitation of Christ, which is why through communion with him we achieve holiness and communion with God. He does not only give us an example to follow; he empowers us to reconcile with God and remain in communion with him through prayer and the sacraments. This is a life-long project; we can always turn away from our callling, because we are free, but almost invariably that is a recipe for misery in life. Thankfully, through his mercy, as long as we live we can also turn back to him again.

In prayer today ask Our Lord to help you discern what he is calling you to do with your life.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:1–9; Psalm 145:2–7; Matthew 24:42–51. See also 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, and 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.


21st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul calms the first Christians who have been hearing rumors that the Day of the Lord is near, the day when Our Lord will return as Judge and the world as we know it will end. Every Christian believes that some day not only death will come, but also that one day the world as we know it will end. That can provoke a healthy fear or an unhealthy fear, a healthy hope or an unhealthy hope.

A healthy fear makes us realize that while we’ve done what we can, we could have always done more, and we must continue trying until the end. Perseverance in doing the good and the holy is essential, and we can never completely rest on our accomplishments. An unhealthy fear is that the return of Our Lord will be doom for everyone and everything. A healthy fear is that not everyone welcomes the Gospel message before the end, which is why we must continue to share the Gospel. Every moment before the Day of the Lord is a moment we can make it a joyous moment for one more soul on that Day.

A healthy hope is that if we believe and are faithful to Our Lord’s teachings we have nothing to fear upon his return. His mercy will make up for our shortcomings. An unhealthy hope is abusing of his mercy thinking we can do the minimum and still be found worthy when it matters. Let’s live our Christian lives with a healthy hope and a healthy fear, knowing that whenever Our Lord returns that will be sufficient.

Readings: 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3a, 14–17; Psalm 96:10–13; Matthew 23:23–26. See also 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday and 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.


21st Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II

In today’s Gospel the Lord condemns a series of hypocritical practices by the Pharisees that can also help us take stock of our relationship with him and the fulfillment of our Christian obligations. The Pharisees were entrusted with doctrinal authority, hence the reference to keys. They we supposed to share that teaching and defend it in order to help people enter Heaven. Yet they didn’t and not only blocked themselves from it, but those they were supposed to teach as well. The world needs the Gospel and it needs us to share the Gospel. If we don’t we are hindering people instead of helping them get to Heaven. If we’re not living our faith well, those who look up to us will only have our bad example to follow; the Gospel can just be taught, it must also be lived.

Secondly, Our Lord condemns their way of making oaths. The Pharisees are placing value on the items themselves (gold, the worth of a gift), not on the fact that they are something sacred through being offered to God in the Temple. What gives them worth should not be that they have monetary value, but that they have been given to God. In other Gospel accounts Our Lord condemns making oaths of this type at all, but the lesson for us today is how easily we can swear by God on vain things and in a way that shows no recognition on our part that we are invoking someone. How many “Oh my God’s” do we hear in conversations by people who have little to now relationship with God? We have to always be aware of who we are invoking and why.

Let’s show Our Lord what he means to us by sharing his Gospel, imitating his example, and always have his name on our lips with love.

Readings: 2 Thessalonians 1:1–5, 11–12; Psalm 96:1–5; Matthew 23:13–22. See also 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

In today’s Gospel Our Lord warns that salvation is like a narrow door where not everyone is admitted. This is because salvation requires going to distance, determination in the face of difficulty, virtue, and grace. In today’s First Reading the Lord describes knowledge of him spreading to the ends of the earth, even where no one has heard of it before. If that implies going far and wide it also implies a long distance between the Lord and those who want to journey toward him. People have to come from far and wide too, and a long journey is not an easy journey. It implies taking a direction in life and to keep moving in that direction.

It will not just be a long road, but a difficult and tiring one that requires discipline and determination. In today’s Second Reading the Lord is described as a Father coaching his children to train themselves well and to keep pushing and striving. A life of virtue is a life of discipline and effort; it can be tiring, but the long term effects make it all worthwhile. Our life may be a battle on this earth, but when we are saved, it will all have been worthwhile.

Lastly, and most importantly, salvation requires grace. The First Reading described news of the Lord spreading everywhere in order to enable people to come to him. The evildoer’s in the description of today’s Gospel come from a place unknown to the Master: if there is somewhere where the Gospel is not found, it is where evil and sin are found. Being in grace means being in communion with God; it means being part of his family and recognized as such, and God takes the initiative to offer it to us and make it grow in our lives.

Don’t be discouraged by the distance and difficulty that still lies ahead. Our Lord has sent you the Gospel to get your bearings, your fellow Christians to coach and encourage you, and his grace to be welcomed in the Father’s house. You’ll make it.

Readings: Isaiah 66:18–21; Psalm 117:1, 2; Hebrews 12:5–7, 11–13; Luke 13:22–30.