26th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, Year II

In today’s First Reading the Lord responds to Job’s multiple chapters of lament and disputation with his friends over why such suffering befell him. Wisdom encompasses a great deal of knowledge, and one of the characteristics of ancient wisdom literature in general are great lists surveying the immensity of the natural world. The Lord is now questioning Job about how much he really knows, as opposed to how much he thinks he knows. Job, again showing his humility and respect for the Lord, knows he won’t win any debates with God.

In the face of suffering our distress is compounded by how little we ever truly know about the why. When our suffering is due to evil we’re reminded that iniquity is a mystery; sometimes we ask why and there is no answer. When faced with any mystery we’re dismayed by how little we truly know, and suffering is one of the greatest mysteries of all, but it is nothing compared to the mystery of God.

Our Lord knows the answer to all of life’s mysteries and has experienced suffering in a way most of us cannot even imagine. In difficult moments let’s turn to him for consolation and strength. He may not give us all the answers we want, but he will accompany us in every leg of our journey.

Readings: Job 38:1, 12–21, 40:3–5; Psalm 139:1–3, 7–10, 13–14b; Luke 10:13–16. See also 15th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

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26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II

In today’s First Reading Job shows the humility of acknowledging that the Lord is the judge of everything in matters of justice. This is wisdom, the fear of the Lord, understood to be respect, something Job has been showing him despite the tragedy he has suffered, recalled last Monday, along with health problems in the chapters that followed.

In the chapters leading up to today’s excerpt from Job his friends have been trying to convince him that his children (or he himself) must be guilty if Job has been punished in this way by the Lord. He’s still struggling with why his misfortune has happened when, in his eyes, he has done nothing wrong. He knows he cannot declare that the Lord is unjust, because it is impossible for the Lord to be unjust.

The Lord is often accused of injustice by those who are suffering, but that goes against who and what the he is. He always has the best of intentions and always has a perfect and accurate knowledge of the “facts” in the case. Job knows this, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves of it too. Let’s ask Our Lord for the grace to help us in our trials, not put him on trial when things don’t go our way.

Readings: Job 9:1–12, 14–16; Psalm 88:10bc–15; Luke 9:57–62. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, Year II13th Week in Ordinary Time, Sunday, Cycle C, 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Saturday, Year II, and 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday.


26th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, Year II

In today’s Gospel Our Lord has to remind James and John, after a Samaritan village disrespected Our Lord and his disciples, that he wants salvation, not fulmination. The Old Testament has some rousing accounts of fulmination; Elijah called down fire on soldiers who’d come to him with attitude (see 2 Kings 1:10-12). James and John obviously wanted to relive the “glory days” of prophetism where the wicked were blown away, but that’s just a remnant of a mentality of the Messiah as someone who is coming to “clean house.”

It’s the Old Testament for a reason. You don’t bring Good News by calling down divine wrath. You bring Good News by announcing that liberation from sin is at hand for those who want it. The Samaritans today didn’t need further punishment; turning their back on the Gospel was worse than fulmination. They didn’t turn their back on Our Lord because he was the Messiah, but because they were at enmity with Jews in general. The results are the same: the grace of God passed them by.

Our charity, even when it is slighted, can open the door to grace for a soul. Let’s take Our Lord’s lesson to heart today and focus more on sharing the Good News and less on fulmination. Little by little that charity can win over even the most hardened soul.

Readings: Job 3:1–3, 11–17, 20–23; Psalm 88:2–8; Luke 9:51–56.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Today’s readings are an invitation that go far beyond the fashionable pastime of bashing on the rich in the face of the world’s needs and problems. The rich man in today’s Gospel converted too late, but his late conversion should be a lesson for us to consider that one day we may too hear those dreaded words, “too little, too late.” It doesn’t take a fortune to be complacent.

There may be people in the world who live in plush mansions with everything they could want, but the rich are not the only people in society today endangered by abundance. There are lots of couch potatoes out there who are parked on their sofas when there is something they can do to help make the world a better place. The poor are not just at the gates of mansions; they’re in our towns and neighborhoods. It is our society that runs the risk of falling apart. Each of us can take inventory of the plenty with which the Lord has blessed us and ask him how we can use that plenty in a way pleasing to him. A surplus of time, talent, or treasure should never stay a surplus for long, otherwise we run the risk of drowning in our abundance due to our complacency and apathy.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to give us the nudge to get off our sofas and help shape society for the better.

Readings: Amos 6:1a, 4–7; Psalm 146:7–10; 1 Timothy 6:11–16; Luke 16:19–31. See also 2nd Week of Lent, Thursday.

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

In the first part of today’s Gospel the Seventy-Two who were sent out by Our Lord return exuberant about the power over demons that comes from invoking Jesus’ name and authority. Our Lord tells them various incredible things are within their power, but all in the context of power over the Evil One and the fallen angels, who have often been associated with serpents for their venomous modus operandi. This spiritual power wielded by the Devil and the fallen angels is a power that is often more pervasive and threatening than the material manifestations of power it may produce in those who are dominated by it. Evil simply cannot harm those who remain united to Christ: his power frees us from the Evil One.

At the same time, Our Lord reminds them that the most important reason to be exuberant is not for reasons of power and protection against dark forces, but because those dark forces cannot conquer them as long as they follow Christ and act in his name. The path to Heaven is open to them if they continue to follow Jesus, who will reopen it with his sacrifice on the cross, a sacrifice more powerful than all the evil that was thrown on him during his Passion and Death. On the cross we see how truly powerless evil is, in the end, over God.

Let’s pray today with a spirit of gratitude that line Our Lord taught us to pray: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Readings: Baruch 4:5–12, 27–29; Psalm 69:33–37; Luke 10:17–24.