Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 28:1-17; Matthew 14:13-21)

An interpretation of today’s gospel has captivated many through the centuries. It sees Jesus’ power in feeding the multitudes not so much providing as persuading. That is, rather than somehow producing food for the thousands who stand before him, he merely convinces those who have brought provisions to share with those who are improvident. The result is everyone being full and walking away as friends. This way of telling the story leaves us edified but complacent. “I know someone who could do that,” we might say.

However, such a reading does not come to terms with the context of the miracle. Why does the story say Jesus takes compassion on the people? What is the significance of their being in a deserted place? Do not the details of seven objects to be distributed and twelve baskets of leftovers have special meaning? These indicators should make us aware that the gospel tradition has something very different in mind than Jesus as a convincing orator. They hint that Jesus, like the Lord in Exodus, cares for his followers and provides for their needs. The meager provisions, like the manna found on the desert floor, are sufficient because he stands behind them. The abundant oversupply indicates that he will feed a nation of followers.

Hearing the story the way that it was told and retold in the first century, we can assure ourselves that Jesus cares for us. Maybe we have just lost a job and feel very uncertain about making house payments in six months. The gospel is assuring us that we need not curse or lose sleep. Jesus takes compassion on us and will provide. We need only recommit ourselves to him.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 26:1-9; Matthew 13:54-58)

The filmmaker Woody Allen has a bleak view of human life. He says that it is “brutal… agonizing, meaningless experience, with some oases, delight some charm and peace, but these are just small oases.” In this vein Allen’s movie characters can commit wanton murder without remorse. Many people might agree with Allen if they thought through the ways in which they live. But they are content with reveling in those infrequent oases that seem to give life a modicum of value.

We can hear the prophet Jeremiah and Jesus in the readings today preaching a message contrary to that of Woody Allen. Through mystical experience they have perceived God’s overwhelming light. So illumined, they proclaim His love for the people and the need that the people recommit themselves to Him. Of course, it seems like too much a promise and too high a price for a people convinced that darkness pervades existence like the clouds of a hurricane. For this reason, they call for Jeremiah’s death and for Jesus’ withdrawal.

Amidst hardship in life – cancer, poverty, and deceit – we continue believing in the prophetic message which Jesus has demonstrated with ultimate clarity. It may be difficult at times, but we refuse to curse both the world’s turmoil and our own trying lot. We see our destiny linked to Jesus’ who had to die on the cross to be raised to eternal life. This hope gives us the courage to profess with our lives that love and virtue are imminently worth the effort.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Memorial of Saint Martha

(Jeremiah 18:1-6; John 11:19-27)

After hearing of John Kennedy’s escapades, one wonders why he is considered a great president. Yet many throughout the earth revere his memory because his vigor and articulateness represented the hope of using strength as a source of renewing the world in virtue. In a similar way we have to ask why we honor Martha as a saint after Jesus reproaches her in the Gospel of Luke for fussing over details while neglecting the central concern of existence.

We need look no farther than the reading today from the Gospel according to John. In it today Martha shows that she has learned Jesus’ lesson. More than any other personage in the gospels with the exception of the once doubting Thomas, Mary recognizes Jesus for whom he is. She not only accepts his self-description of being the resurrection and the life but can confidently add that he is “’the Christ, the son of the living God, the one who is coming into the world.’” What Jesus says to Peter after he made a similar, but not quite as complete, a claim applies to Martha here, “’Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father who is in heaven.’”

Martha’s confession gives us confidence to proclaim our faith. Yes, sometimes we become discouraged by the pain we see around us. At other times we may feel confused by the disbelief of intelligent, even good, people. Yet we know that Jesus has shown himself to be the Lord and comes, more regularly even than we expect, to save us.

Wednesdy, July 28, 2010

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 15:10;16-21; Matthew 13:44-46)

St. Teresa of Avila, the mystic-reformer of the sixteenth century, once complained to God of the mistreatment she was experiencing. God responded, “This is how I treat my friends, Teresa.” The saint replied, “Well, then, no wonder you have so few!” Teresa echoes Jeremiah’s sentiments in the first reading today.

Jeremiah has faithfully and selflessly served the Lord. He has performed bizarre activities like extracting from the earth a rotten loincloth to impress God’s message on a hard-headed Judah. Yet the only recognition he receives is condemnation. Jeremiah’s protest sounds as if God were compensating his efforts with something akin to water-boarding. He says, “You have become for me a treacherous brook whose waters do not abide!”

At times people will misconstrue our best efforts like Judah misjudges Jeremiah’s. When we do something out of love for others, we will hear people questioning our motives. “What’s in it for her?” they might ask. In these trials we must resist bitterness or plan revenge. We are wise to appropriate for ourselves God’s promise to Jeremiah and dramatically witnessed in Jesus’ resurrection, “...I am with you, to deliver and rescue you.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 14:17-22; Matthew 13:36-43)

John Hershey’s novel Hiroshima describes what it was like to be bombed with a nuclear weapon. It is a human story with people much like the ones we knew growing up. It is also a deadly story with an outcome not to be wished on one’s most feared enemies.

In one respect Hiroshima reads like Jeremiah’s description of fallen Jerusalem in the first reading today. The word “devastation” only hints at the misery. One is left only to cry and cry with the hopelessness of it all. War at any time is terrible. Nuclear warfare is a million times more horrible.

Jesus calls his followers to be “peacemakers.” This means becoming humble and wise. It entails teaching righteousness and promoting reconciliation. It requires prayer that people and nations learn compassion. In sum, we are to study Jesus’ ways and to live with his care for others.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Jeremiah 13:1-11; Matthew 13:31-35)

Although Saints Joachim and Anne are named in the missal as the parents of Mary, more and more Catholics regard them as the grandparents of Jesus. In fact, we increasingly think of today as the feast day of all grandparents.

One pleasant memory that many have of their grandparents is entering their home and smelling the aroma of fermenting yeast. Grandmothers used the yeast for making their own bread or tortillas. Store-bought varieties, which children were accustomed to consuming, could never compare to the fresh, chewy bread that children ate at their grandparents’.

Jesus uses the image of yeast in the gospel today to describe the working of God’s Kingdom. Just as a bit of yeast is enough leaven to make all the bread that a household requires, so his inaugurating the Kingdom two thousand years ago redeems all history. We need only to commit ourselves to the Kingdom’s justice and love to thrive in the redemption it conveys.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 3:14-17; Matthew 13:18-23)

The gospel today speaks of different types of soil to nourish the seed of the word of God. It features the many qualities of ground as metaphors that facilitate the coming of the Kingdom: proximity to well-traveled roads, rockiness, presence of thorns, and richness of composition. Let’s take a look at rocky soil that provides little substance in which the word of God may take root. We will begin with an example.

Last week the legislature in Argentina passed a law which validates so-called gay marriages. Some well-intentioned people show little concern about this development. They claim, “If gays or lesbians in another part of the world think they are married, let them; it doesn’t affect me.” However, the new law in Argentina is part of a global movement that is distorting a proper understanding of marriage. Marriage unites a man and a woman in intimate love so that they may procreate and provide for children. It is an absolutely vital institution that must be safeguarded if civilization is not to devolve. Seeing it exclusively as an arrangement for sexual gratification or even the partnering of individuals lessens its purpose of engendering and nourishing new generations of responsible people. Much more may be said about marriage; for example, why heterosexual couples who cannot give birth may wed. But now it is only necessary to note that an improper concept of marriage easily leads to shallow existence thwarting the fruition of the word of God.

Upholding the nature of marriage as a union of love and the proper context of procreation does not ordain contempt for homosexuals. God knows that they are too often ridiculed and harassed. Like everyone else, they must be accepted and cherished as human beings. But recognizing the inherent contradiction of “gay marriage” as possible disserves society and makes the ground on humanity treads especially rocky.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene

(Jeremiah 2:1-3.7-8.12-13; John 20:1-2.11-18)

The Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, for centuries have honored St. Mary Magdalene as one of their patrons. Their motive is obvious. As they see themselves sent to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, they take after Mary Magdalene whom the resurrected Jesus dispatches to his apostles with the news of his resurrection.

The Dominicans, together with other Christians, can also hope to imitate Mary Magdalene’s love for the Lord. Luke will name her first among the women who accompany Jesus and his disciples in his mission of preaching the Kingdom of God. Even more significantly, Mary stands at the foot of the cross in John’s gospel and goes alone to his grave to mourn his death. She not only esteems his goodness but also possesses the valor to be identified with him, come what may.

Mary serves as a model for all Christians as well because like her, as again Luke tells, the demons of rebelliousness and egotism are being exorcised from us so that we my give ourselves completely to Jesus’ mission.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 1:1.4-10; Matthew 13:1-9)

No one in the Old Testament reveals more of himself than the prophet Jeremiah. In the reading today we hear how he reluctantly answers the call to speak in God’s name. In another autobiographical passage of his book, he will lament this vocation because it costs his peace of mind. This is the case when God tells him that he cannot marry as a sign of the barrenness that the sins of the people have wrought. But what can Jeremiah do but accede to God’s command? As he admits, God’s name burns within his heart.

Although prediction of the future authenticates their standing, prophets first and foremost are God’s spokespersons. Their main function is to point out to the people when and how they swerve from righteousness. They demonstrate outrage when the people’s wandering always leads them to idols, be they craven images or illusory values. In our time Pope John Paul II showed himself to be a prophet when he spoke out regarding radical individualism leading people from solidarity with the poor to excessive consumption.

Although prophets are more famous for indicating the impending wrath of God, they also convey God’s tender love. Jeremiah will tell us that God has a new covenant or relationship for His people in mind which will be written not in stone but on their hearts so that they will easily keep it. When this happens, he will say, the Lord will be the people’s only God and they will be forever His. This prophesy is fulfilled, of course, in Jesus Christ. As Paul tells the Romans, Christ’s death has led to “the love of God (being) been poured into our hearts through the holy Spirit.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Micah 7:14-15.18-20; Matthew 12:46-50)

A new movie, “Winter’s Bone,” hints at the redemption the prophet Micah promises in the first reading today. A seventeen year-old girl, growing up dirt poor in the Ozarks, sacrifices the joy of adolescence to hold her family together. Her father, who moonshines drugs, is arrested and puts his house up as bond. Then he turns up missing. The young girl has to find out what has happened to him if her mother and brothers will have a place to live. She doggedly rises to the task although its bleakness and the harsh life around her drain her of youthful free-spiritedness.

The girl’s determined self-sacrifice reminds us of Jesus’ giving up his life to redeem humanity of its sins. His accomplishment fulfills the prophecy that Micah makes. The prophet relates how God cares about His people. Although they are recalcitrant sinners, He will not abandon them. Indeed, He promises to remove their guilt. Again, their forgiveness is achieved only through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and his resurrection in glory.

In face of such goodness, we need to pause and wonder how God could love us so much. It’s like standing before Michelangelo’s “Pieta” and marveling how anyone can carve a statute with so much pathos. After that, we give thanks and recommit ourselves not to offend God anymore.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Micah 6:1-4.6-8; Matthew 12:38-42)

Most Christians are well aware of the judgment scene toward the end of Matthew’s gospel. In it Jesus tells how he will come at the end of time to judge the peoples of the earth. In the reading from the prophet Micah today we find a counterpart in the Hebrew Scriptures to that memorable scene.

God appears in the trial as both plaintiff and judge. He has a case against the people of Israel. Although He has freed them from slavery and given them His Law as their guide, they have been anything but loyal. They have ignored righteousness and like testosterone-laden young men lusting after whores they have joined themselves to other gods. Now facing powerful enemies, they turn to God for assistance. They propose paying their indemnity with sacrifices – animals, oil stocks, or (how could they ever imagine this?) their own children. But God exacts neither blood nor material. He only pleads that Israel be just, good, and humble.

As simple as it seems, what God asks is impossible for humans alone to accomplish. We need to be fortified with the grace of Christ if we are to walk in God’s ways. It alone will move us to selflessly feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and so enter God’s kingdom.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Isaiah 38:1-6.21-22.7-8; Matthew 12:1-8)

In 1998 Pope John Paul II published an apostolic letter entitled, “The Lord’s Day.” In it he tried to awaken Catholics to the glory of reserving one day a week for prayer, family, and renewal. He also challenged the secularizing idea of “weekend” which stretches a day for giving thanks in beloved company into two days or more of fulfilling individualistic ambitions. The letter is vintage JP II: fully human, deeply reflective, and imminently devout.

In the Gospel reading today Jesus provides his own reflection on the Sabbath. Of course, for him it is the very end of the week, not its beginning. As in Orthodox Jewish communities today, the Sabbath in Jesus’ time is rigorously prescribed: no cooking, no walking beyond what amounts to a kilometer, no jumping or handclapping. Jesus does not doubt the validity of these disciplines, but he does allow for exceptions. What is truly remarkable here, however, is his reserving to himself authority to dispense with Sabbath restrictions by declaring that he is “’Lord of the Sabbath.’” As the Sabbath rest and its promise of eternal life are among God’s greatest gifts to humankind, Jesus here implies that he is God!

Do we feel a twinge of remorse when we head to the mall or go to the office on Sunday? It would not be unhealthy if we did. It is not that such actions are sinful in themselves. Jesus argues for the necessity of similar deeds in critical situations. But still we should not let exceptions prevent us from giving him definite consideration every Sunday. After all, he is “Lord of the Sabbath.”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Memorial of St. Bonaventure, bishop and Doctor of the Church

(Isaiah 26:7-9.12.16-19; Matthew 11:28-30)

Is the resurrection from the dead a Christian idea or does it have origins in pre-Christian times? This question gives many people pause as they are afraid that eternal life is too great a prize to be hoped for. There may be little evidence in the Torah, the primordial Hebrew Scriptures, on eternal life, but in the reading from Isaiah today we do find testimony to its standing in Israel.

In an encomium to righteousness, Isaiah tells us that those who have lived close to the Lord will not lie in the dust forever. Rather, he says, their corpses will rise from the dead like the dew flushes the earth with life. Then they will live forever in the light of God. The writings of St. Bonaventure express how this happens. “We cannot rise above ourselves,” he states, “unless a higher power lifts us up.” Who but God, the Lord of creation, is this “higher power”?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, virgin

(Isaiah 10:5-7.13b-16; Matthew 11:25-27)

In trying to come to terms with the great evils that have racked humankind, some theologians have concluded that God has no power over forces like armies or hurricanes. Rather, they say, God only inspires people to carry out His will like a father might encourage his sons not to defile the family name. However, it is hard to square such a weak conception of God with Scripture as we see in the first reading today.

Assyria is a mighty power in the first third of the millennium before Christ. Scripture sees it becoming God’s instrument to punish the Northern Kingdom of Israel for the latter’s wickedness. However, according to Isaiah, Assyria has gone too far in its demolition of Israel. Now, the prophet predicts, God will call Assyria to account for its excesses. In fact, Babylonia will conquer Assyria a hundred years later.

When we suffer, we should call to mind that God is in control of the universe and all that is within it. Although we cannot understand why He allows good people to undergo terrible misfortune, we still can turn to God in prayer for mercy. We should not doubt an instant that God loves us and will come to our assistance. Blessed Kateri Tekawitha demonstrated this trust as a believer in the primitive society which we know as the missionary frontier of America. Despite facial deformation, sickness and persecution, Kateri showed great care for her people. No doubt her devotion to the Eucharist generated her charity toward others.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Isaiah 7:1-9; Matthew 11:20-24)

Isaiah’s exhortation to Ahaz in the first reading, “…unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm,” enables us to understand the critical importance of faith to survival as a nation. God wants to assure Judah that its hope ultimately lies in Him. Trusting in armies or in alliances will not suffice. It must do as the Lord commands; it must trust in God above all.

Such a stance seems naïve if not bizarre to many today. After all, no nation makes a covenant with God like Israel did. And all nations know the necessity of military strength to deter rogue counterparts from taking advantage of them. However, nations still rise and fall by their fundamental beliefs which are spiritual in substance. The United States, for example, could not have become the power that it is without beliefs in the sanctity of the individual and the need of discipline for development both as a society and as individuals. These values are not exclusively Judeo-Christian, but the dominant American religious heritage has fostered them from the beginning. To continue as one nation in the future then, Americans must inspire their young to maintain firm belief in both. They certainly do so when they pass on religious faith as the basis of standing in society.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Isaiah 1:10-17; Matthew 10:34-11:1)

In the Middle East where Christians still live among Muslims, it is not unusual for Muslims to challenge Christians about our belief that God is both one and three. “This is contradictory,” the Muslims would say. We Christians, of course, are not without answers. Our responses generally restate the great theological declarations of the fourth century that the Father, the Son, and Spirit share the same divinity with distinct, although not individual, personhoods. In the gospel proclamation today we find Scriptural basis for our stand that Jesus is one with the Father.

First and foremost, Jesus speaks with divine authority. Who but God would dare to say that anyone who “loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”? Even a fool would allow some slack for family before claiming personal allegiance. Jesus, however, knowing himself to be divine can demand utmost loyalty. Second, Jesus states that anyone who accepts one of his apostles, accepts him just as anyone who accepts him, accepts the Father who sent him. It is not strange to say that to accept an ambassador with credentials from an earthly leader, accepts the leader. But it is brazen to make the same equation between oneself and God without divine testimony. It may be that Jesus is simply deluded, but the gospels show him to be very much in touch with reality. We conclude then that Jesus is as he indicates, God.

Acknowledging Jesus as God implies compliance with his teaching. We take up our cross and follow him without grumbling, much less rebellion. Likewise, we assist the “little ones,” the poor, whom Mother Teresa recognized as “Jesus in disguise.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 10:16-23)

Often the Church is criticized for distinctions she makes in moral theology. For example, many eschew the difference the Church sees between taking contraceptives, which she condemns, to avoid conception when a couple cannot afford to have a child and, as she recommends, using natural family planning. A similar objection is made to the Church’s condoning the possibility of removing a cancerous uterus even when it contains a fetus to save a woman’s life and her forbidding the direct killing of the fetus for the same purpose. We, however, should understand these distinctions as the Church’s putting into practice Jesus’ admonition in the gospel today to be “shrewd as serpents and as simple as doves.”

As doves, the Church holds that her members must not directly do evil. Rather, we must endeavor to act righteously at all costs. Yet this does not mean that we cannot make shrewd determinations to navigate through an often murky moral world. Natural family planning requires sacrifice to forego sexual intercourse during the considerable time when the wife may conceive; but, more importantly morally, it does not frustrate nature by constructing barriers to conception. Similarly, removing a defective uterus to save the life of a pregnant woman may result in her baby’s death, but it does not directly destroy the nascent life as abortion ruthlessly does.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Hosea 11:1-4; 8e-9; Matthew 10:7-15)

“A man had two sons” is a familiar biblical theme. We find it in the story of Adam, Cain, and Abel; of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac; of Isaac, Esau and Jacob; and of the “Prodigal Son”. Typically one son pleases the father while the other broods and pouts. Typically again, the father’s love encompasses both sons.

We should also see the theme of a man with two sons running through the course of the whole Bible. God is portrayed as a man with two sons – Israel and Jesus. Jesus, of course, proves himself worthy of the Father’s praise while Israel has demonstrated fickleness in behavior. In the reading from the prophet Hosea today God expresses both tenderness and outrage for His son Israel. Although Israel has continuously betrayed God, He promises to treat this son with mercy, not annihilation. God’s love for Israel is played out in sending His faithful son Jesus to his rescue.

God loves each of us as He loves Israel. Never mind that we have sinned, even if we have done so egregiously. Never mind that we too often brood and pout rather than turn to God in repentance. God not only waits to forgive us but actively seeks us out through Jesus. His words recorded in the gospels call us to righteousness. His grace delivered through the sacraments empowers us to act according to his teachings. We but need to turn to Him for salvation.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Hosea 10:1-3.7-8.12; Matthew 10:1-7)

Although the issue sounds odd to many, some theologians have speculated that Jesus did not really intend to found a church. Rather, they say, the Church grew out of the discernment of Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection. Yet evidence such as today’s gospel indicates that Jesus had an institution in mind as he named a definite number of disciples to preach in his stead.

Twelve, of course, represents the tribes of Israel. By naming twelve apostles and sending them strictly to the Jewish territories, Jesus demonstrates his intention of establishing a new Israel. At the end of the gospel, he will direct the same men, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, to the whole world to augment the numbers of his renewed community of faith.

From the beginning Jesus also intends that his Church be more than an assembly of like-minded people. As the list of disciples signals, he deliberately chooses men of different ideologies and ways of life. There are fishermen and at least one businessman. One, the tax collector, is considered a Roman lackey while another, Simon the Cananean, is a zealous opponent of Roman dominion. The diversity is yet another sign of Jesus’ founding genius. The wide range of adherents not only brings different gifts to attract the masses but also gives testimony to his grace as all follow his teachings of forbearance and love.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Hosea 8:4-7.11-13; Matthew 9:32-38)

A popular spiritual director used to say, “All people are good, and all people are hurting.” The biblical stories of creation and of the fall reveal the same truth. After breathing life into the man, he and his partner walk with God in Paradise. Then their mistrust of the Creator’s goodness ruptures the friendship. God’s subsequent interrogation reveals that the sin has also fractured their own relationship. Finally, the due punishment breaches human rapport with nature.

In time some of the closeness with God that the first humans enjoyed is restored. Most notably, God leads the Hebrews through the desert for forty years forging a new covenant between God and humanity. But the people always return to evil ways. Hosea and the other prophets point out their fickleness. They dally with metal idols and scandalously satiate their passions.

In today’s gospel passage Jesus enables a deaf mute to speak as he has previously restored the sight of the blind and raised the dead. These reparations indicate God’s approaching the people in a personal and, thus, definitive way. In short order Jesus will establish the unbreakable bond between God and humanity with his death and resurrection. For now he points out the need to pray that the coming redemption will be announced throughout the world.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Hosea 2:16.17c-18.21-22; Matthew 9:18-26)

Reminiscing about the Great Depression, a wealthy woman mentioned how it was better when there was little. It was not that her family had nothing, but whatever goods it possessed almost out of necessity had to be shared with the unemployed. The sharing evidently resulted in greater unity and virtue which the reading from the prophet Hosea today promises for Israel.

Hosea sees Israel as God’s unfaithful wife and compares the nation to his own spouse who is a prostitute. Although paganism does not exhaust the nation’s sins, it nearly occupies all of the prophet’s attention. He comments that the prosperity which the nation enjoys is turned into silver and gold idols. The only remedy for such mischief, as he says in today’s passage, is for God to strip the nation of its riches -- indeed of its very land -- in order to reform the people in exile.

Sometimes it is said that economic recessions have the silver lining of enabling people to see the value of spiritual resources over physical ones. This discovery certainly can and does happen. But it has been observed that for every person deprivation benefits, it blights many more. Economic strife and physical exile are not conditions to be prayed for. Rather, we are wise to ask God to open our eyes in gentler ways to His goodness and our hearts to share with those in need.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Amos 8:4-6.9-12; Matthew 9:9-13)

The famous psychiatrist-writer Scott Peck once began a presentation by speaking about one of the most important events of the twentieth century occurring in Akron, Ohio, during the 1930s. The audience wondered if they heard the man correctly. They thought, “What famous event ever took place in Akron, Ohio?” Soon Dr. Peck explained. He was referring to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization that has enabled millions of people to overcome a killing disease.

People attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings have a distinct advantage over most of the population. They know that they are sick; therefore, they seek the help they need to overcome their debility. Unfortunately, most people are in denial about their sickness. Of course, not everyone is an alcoholic, but each of us has some sickness, some inclination toward sin. Jesus tells us just as much the Pharisees in the gospel today that unless we acknowledge ourselves as sinners, we cannot share in the Kingdom of God that he is bringing about.