22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Paul is warning the Christians at Corinth that their behavior is not spiritually mature, therefore they should not expect to be treated as spiritually mature. The proof of this is the fact that the Corithians are jealous and divided into factions based on who they feel more of an affinity, Paul or Apollos, both of whom have worked to help them grow in their faith.

Paul reminds them that both he and Apollos work for the Lord, and it is the Lord who should be the source of unity. If they have a problem with either minister of God, they have a problem with God himself, and that will end badly. Spiritual maturity is reflected in charity, and charity unites.

The Corinthians owed both Paul and Apollos their gratitude. If there’s any “factions” in our parish scene, let’s pray to Our Lord that he grant everyone the charity to be united in him and grateful to his ministers for helping them grow in spiritual maturity.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 3:1–9; Psalm 33:12–15, 20–21; Luke 4:38–44. See also 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

When Paul in today’s First Reading describes our spirit, he describes something of which only we have intimate knowledge, since only we truly know our spirit regarding things and choose to reveal that spirit to others or keep it private, even though we can’t completely keep it hidden. The only exception to that rule is the Lord; he can scrutinize our deepest thoughts and aspirations. He can read our hearts, and he can invite us to assume a new spirit through our actions and attitudes.

He doesn’t do that to spy on us. He can transform our spirit into a spirit like his own: a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. This Spirit does not annhilate our own; it enriches it in unimaginable ways. The Spirit is an invisible and interior ally that we can’t truly thrive without.

The Holy Spirit is with you if you let it. Invite the Spirit into your heart and ask it to reveal you to yourself so that your spirit may be pleasing to the Lord and transformed.

Readings: 1 Corinthians 2:10b–16; Psalm 145:8–14; Luke 4:31–37. See also 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday and 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

The most obvious question that crosses anyone’s mind when hearing this Gospel, a parable about Heaven, is, “what spot am I going to get?” That question shows flawed logic. Our Lord teaches us today that the invitees don’t decide their own spot in his banquet. We don’t decide any spots in our life on our own. The quest for honorable positions, according to worldly logic—power, wealth, etc., is almost a guarantee of failure, because so often we seek the spot that we don’t deserve. We see this in so many areas of our life: school, sports, work, and family. Despite this, we keep seeking them and then suffer the shame of returning to a spot that may even be less to the one we would have had if we’d been humble as the First Reading today encourages us to do.

Our Lord puts us on guard against this tendency today. If we seek the most humble spot we will see that he will take us to a place beyond our expectations. We live this in every celebration of the Eucharist, which reminds us of the only place that matters: our place in Heaven at the end of our life. Today’s Second Reading, addressed to Christians who were tired and discouraged, reminds us that the distance between God and us has been eliminated. The Lord no longer hides in fire and smoke; every Sunday we are at table with him, and he shows us our place in his heart through the gift of his life.

A place in the Lord’s heart in the most honorable place we have, which is why Our Lord invites us to have a place in our heart not just for those we know and love, but for everyone. We’ve all been invited to the Heavenly banquet without earning it or deserving it. We’re poor (lacking the only currency of worth—love for our neighbor), crippled and lame (by not living our Christian life often as we should), and blind (not seeing our own flaws and limitations). Despite all this misery, the Lord invites us and gives us a place of honor.

Let’s thank Our Lord today for having saved us a place in his Heavenly banquet through his blood on the Cross. Let’s assure him that he’ll always be in first place in our hearts, and strive to give this love to others.

Readings: Sirach 3:17–18, 20, 28–29; Psalm 68:4–7, 10–11; Hebrews 12:18–19, 22–24a; Luke 14:1, 7–14. See also 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

In today’s confrontation between an old order and a new one we see Our Lord connecting his ministry and mission to that of David and, therefore, to the Messiah. When the Pharisees take Our Lord to task for his disciples’ behavior he reminds them that David, when there was a need, did something very similar with the bread of the Temple that was reserved to the priests. “Son of Man” is a title for the Messiah, and here he is showing a continuity with David that in part fulfills the prophecy of the Messiah, who’d be David’s descendant.

The Pharisees in their time had popular support and a predominant interpretation of how the Law was to be applied in everyday life. Jesus is reminding them today that there is a Legislator-in-Chief who is the ultimate authority. He is taking the legal framework back to its foundations, while also starting a tradition his Church would live throughout the centuries. Sometimes even he legislates rest: the Day of the Lord, every Sunday, is a day on which we’re expected to rest in order to have time for our spiritual and family obligations and refresh ourselves. And, like in today’s Gospel, some people need to serve in other ways on that day.

Whether we rest or work, let’s do it as Our Lord would wish it.

Readings: Colossians 1:21–23; Psalm 54:3–4, 6, 8; Luke 6:1–5. See also 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday.

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that traditions are good, but that sometimes we have to begin new traditions as well. The process of fermentation in a wine skin produces pressure, which is why new wine in an old wine skin would burst the skin, just as patching an old wine skin is pointless, because it wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure. At the same time, the older a wine is, the better its flavor and the more it is sought after, without denying the enjoyment of newer wines.

Wine is the common denominator: in the Bible wine symbolizes joy, and both old and new traditions should be a stepping stone toward that joy, since they are means to a happy end. Our Lord today doesn’t deny the importance of prayer and fasting, but also reminds us that joy is part of the path to that ultimate joy that we’ll experience in Heaven. Christianity is characterized by joy while not denying moments of penance in expectation of that joy, which is why two of our liturgical seasons–Advent and Lent–are preparations for joyous celebrations–Christmas and Easter.

Let’s not be quick to throw out old traditions, nor shy about starting new ones, provided they help us bring ourselves and others to eternal joy.

Readings: Colossians 1:15–20; Psalm 100:1b–5; Luke 5:33–39. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.