There are so many things to worry about. The news is filled with tragedy, crime, war, violence and other bad things. These things are all around us. Save us! Please, Lord. This is the most important thing we can say. And both readings today remind us of this truth. Today we pray for the grace to ask God to save us.
O My God,
I place my trust and confidence in You,
who will reward the good and punish the wicked.
I believe in You and accept everything
You have taught and revealed.
Cross. I don’t like the cross. In my heart of hearts, I’m a coward. I’m afraid. I find it hard sometimes to separate gaining the whole world, from gaining eternal life. I find it much too easy to be shortsighted. Seeing the immediate, the now, the things that seem so close and right in front of me, the things that bring immediate reward. I’m expecting a package from Amazon today. I’m really excited. But it’s not really something amazing, or tremendous. I doubt it will change my life. But I’m really excited.
But about the cross? I’m not so excited. I’m afraid. I don’t trust. I don’t trust Jesus, and I don’t trust God. Far too often, my focus is on myself, over what I can control, and over what I can do. And yet, during those breakthrough moments when I have been able to trust God the benefit has been far greater than anything I could’ve imagined. In those moments where I think back in my life and ask myself when has God never been there for me, I can say never. I can say that God has always been there for me. Despite my selfishness, God has always been generous.
So why do I have such a hard time embracing the cross? The cross of Jesus, change the entire world. When Jesus embraced the cross, and suffered death for you and me, salvation was open for all of us. Despite our sinfulness, holiness was possible. New life was given to us. Dear God, with whatever cross you give me today, help me to embrace it like your son. Give me the grace to say yes, to take up my cross, and follow you.
As a teacher, I have had those moments when trying to make a point I say, “If you learn nothing else …” Usually what that means is that I am trying to make clear the point is important. You need to pay attention. This will be on the test. Write this down. Learn this.
In the Letter to the Hebrews today, this point is made. Pay attention, because Jesus is a high priest unlike any other. The sacrifice will never again be offered over and over. Christ the High Priest has offered the sacrifice once for all on the cross. There is no need to do this over and over again, because no human action can compare to the divine action of the Christ.
This was a particular point of controversy during the Middle Ages, specifically at the Council of Trent. Some made the claim that by celebrating Mass every day, Catholics were sacrificing Christ over and over again. But, such is not the case. At Mass we enter into the one sacrifice of Christ, made once for all. The word used is anamnesis, a time when we enter into the timeless mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
And so, if you learn nothing else, remember that today you and I are once again invited into the beautiful and divine life of God. And that is indeed quite important and very beautiful.
Today the readings suggest we are both drawn to God and at the same time sent by God to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. This idea of publicly proclaiming our faith is not always very comfortable for Catholics, but we are invited to share our faith by the Lord Jesus himself.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Such a statement, one which Saint Paul calls trustworthy and deserving full acceptance, hardly seems controversial or something upon which we need to give much thought. But a closer reading, and some deeper reflection suggests to me, anyway, that sometimes I do not always present a faith where I seem to show forth a viable witness to this truth.
That is because, there are too many times where I do not show forth the hope of the gospel and the reliability of God’s forgiveness. Too often, I want to reduce the spiritual life to something that seems too clear to me, has only my needs in mind, and is centered on me. “It’s all about me” is not that far removed from what I think about the spiritual life sometimes.
Yet on the other hand, there are too many times where I do not see myself as having much need of forgiveness. When I take this line of thought too far, it is during these moments when I become too much like the self-righteous Pharisee who in the front of the synagogue thanked God for not making him too much like those other people.
I am no gardener. I kill plants, I hate weeding, I forget to water. In so many ways I simply do not have the dedication necessary to grow great plants. I simply do not pay attention to the needs a plant has in order to thrive. In a way, the real challenge for me is that growing plants is simply not an activity that is important enough for me to care about it. While I can appreciate the final product when plants are grown, I would much rather have the final results, such as the fruit, vegetable or beautiful flower instead of putting in the hard work.
Readings for Today When it comes to the moral law, for something to be sinful, there are conditions that must be met. Those instructed by the Baltimore Catechism might remember this as the conditions of a mortal sin: “a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.” Among other things, this helps to […]
When we think of Mary, the Mother of God, we can think that her greatness is that she gave birth to Jesus. But such is not really the case. Today’s gospel tells us that it is not the biological relationship that is primary in a follower of Jesus, even if that follower is a biological parent. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel what makes for greatness in the faith. While it may appear at first that Jesus is somewhat rude to his mother (I certainly would not dare try speaking to my mother in that way) he is really making a point about what really matters.
Readings for Today How do you see the world? Sometimes there can be the temptation to believe that only certain types of academic study really deals with the truth. Others might make judgements about certain aspects of life because of preconceived ideas. We certainly see this in our politics. We can make decisions about what […]