About Me

Bilingual Roman Catholic priest of the Southern Dominican Province. The "homilettes" on this website are completely the work of Fr. Mele. He may be contacted at cmeleop@yahoo.com. Telephone: (415) 279-9234.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Solemnity of All Saints

(Revelation 7:2-4.9-14; 8 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a)

Yesterday's costume parties hint at today's feast. Just as people wore clothes of different nations and periods of history, so saints come from a variety of backgrounds. And just as regular people don the dress of the standouts of the ages, so they might become saints.

Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized more saints than all previous popes. He did not do it for exercise. Rather he wanted to give Catholics models to help them live holy lives. Individuals with distant relatives who were canonized have found special inspiration to struggle against evil inclinations. In examining the lives of the saints postmodern Christians will find examples of women and men who dealt successfully with questions and doubts similar to their own.

Still it is not easy to become a saint. We need not only models but divine grace to love as we ought. Fortunately the Holy Spirit has also come so that we might successfully take up the quest.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 6:1-9; Luke 13:22-30)

The title of a new, well-advertised book asks a question which approximates the one in the gospel today. Will Many Be Saved? evidently gives an answer similar to Jesus'.

Jesus does not actually say that many will be condemned but certainly the logic of his statement points in that direction. He adjures his listeners to make every effort to live holy lives because, he implies, only those who commence the quest early and persist in long day’s struggle will achieve their end. However, his exhortatory language resists the conclusion that he means only a privileged few will find eternal happiness.

Nevertheless, we are wise to take Jesus’ words literally. If it is the case that most people will fall short of eternal life, then our efforts may prove eminently worthwhile. If God is as indulgent as some people think, then we will at least be giving good example that might save others from natural folly that warps human lives.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 5:21-33; Luke 13:18-21)

There is a story about a man who came home late one night. He found the front door locked and had to knock. “Who’s there?” came the voice of his wife inside. “I am,” he said back, but nothing happened. He knocked again. “Who’s there?” the woman inside repeated. “I am,” the man replied, but again there was no movement. The man then had an inspiration. He knocked a third time, and when he heard the query, “Who’s there?” he responded, “You are,” and the door was opened. Perhaps it was today’s first reading that inspired the man to answer so effectively.

The reading reiterates the teaching of Jesus in the gospel who himself takes the reference from the Book of Genesis. Ephesians’ intent, however, is not just to relate the unity of matrimony but to use the bridal couple as a symbol of Christ and the Church. As united as man is to his wife in sexual intimacy, it teaches, so the Church is one with Christ.

As insightful as the passage is, it is often resented by contemporaries because it suggests to them subservience of a woman to a man. The difficulty is more with our imagination than with an implied inequality. It is the man who is to show deference to his wife by loving her more than his own life. This kind of self-sacrifice is the way Christ loved the Church. Would any prudent person object to submitting to another who is ready to die for her true happiness?

Monday, October 29,2012

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 4:32-5:8; Luke 13:10-17)

It is a sin against the first commandment to put one’s trust in another god, but does this mean that you cannot keep a tiger tooth for good luck? It is a sin against the second commandment to take the Lord’s name in vain, but does this mean that you sin by saying, “Oh God,” when you see something awesome? It is a sin not to honor one’s father and mother, but what are you to do when they tell you that they do not want to hear from you again? In today’s gospel Jesus addresses a knotty question such as the ones posed here.

Apparently nothing in the Mosaic Law expressly forbids healing on the Sabbath. However, certain Pharisees at the time of Jesus apparently consider such action work. Following such an interpretation, the leader of the synagogue chastises the crowd for seeking cures from Jesus. Knowing that the leader is making a dubious distinction, Jesus corrects him. He knows that his Father’s activity is essentially liberating. God freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and constantly liberates their descendants from moral and spiritual blindness with the Law. Now Jesus imitates his Father by freeing the woman from a particularly gruesome malady.

It would be unfair to say that Jesus is rationalizing his action. Again, the Law does not forbid Sabbath healing. More to the point, he is appealing to the people’s sense of justice and prudence in interpreting the Law. Always, he indicates, we have to use our intelligence aided by the virtues to determine what the Lawgiver expects with any given statute.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59)

In his poem “The White-Tailed Hornet,” Robert Frost observes that humans do well to compare themselves with higher beings. If they do not, he predicts that they will suffer one catastrophe after another. Frost’s lines are worth remembering: “As long on earth/ As our comparisons were stoutly upward/ With gods and angels, we were men at least,/ But little lower than the gods and angels./ But once comparisons were yielded downward,/ Once we began to see our images/ Reflected in the mud and even dust./ ‘Twas disillusion upon disillusion.” The passage from the Letter to the Ephesians today bears a similar wisdom and elegance.

Ephesians urges its readers “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.” It claims that they have been chosen by God to be members of God’s family. As God’s children then, they are to live not only peacefully as if the absence of quarrelling was all that matters, but in such unity that all strive to have a like mind and heart based on truth. It is a tall order, but it can be accomplished with God’s grace which is “over all and through all and in all.”

Anger is a definite roadblock to peace and unity. We must get over our outrage with what others appear to say and do. In place of it, we should pray for the supposed opposition and then try to dialogue with it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 12:49-53)

The juxtaposition of the first reading and the gospel today disturbs the spirit. The gentle words from Ephesians about the Christian as rooted in love sound diametrically opposite the jarring gospel where Jesus promises to judge the world with fire. An outsider might wonder if Jesus were a lion or a lamb.

If we have difficulty with the two clusters of images, perhaps we should examine what love is about. It desires not so much the comfort of others as their wholeness. President Obama describes his mother’s love for him with the story of her getting him out of bed at four in the morning to review his lessons. When he complained, she told him, “This is not a picnic for me either, Buster.”

Jesus’ love moves him to die so that we might experience eternal life. Reaching it demands our acceptance which may in turn involve the sacrifice of pleasure and even of relationships. But we should never underestimate the value of belonging to the Lord. As the Letter to the Ephesians says, it is “the breadth and length and depth” of happiness.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 3: 2-12; Luke 12:39-48)

“How odd of God,” wrote Ogden Nash, “to choose the Jews.” The Letter to the Ephesians today would turn this verse on end. “How odd of God,” it seems to say, “to include Gentiles.” It is odd because Gentiles have not spent forty years in the wilderness learning God’s ways. They have not been steeped in the Law which teaches that family and community must be placed above individual desires. A Jewish bioethicist provides an example of what is meant here. He has considered the possibility of assisted suicide if in old age he becomes a burden to his family. Then he reconsiders realizing that hastening his death would deprive his children of the opportunity to express their care and fulfill their responsibilities to their parents.

Too often Christians spurn Jewish faith as if it worshipped a hostile God. Yes, Jesus enhanced our appreciation of God by calling him “Father” and by revealing himself as Son. But we must remember that this, at least in part, came from his mastering Jewish traditions. When we can embrace Jews as our elder sisters and brothers in faith with much to teach us and turn to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and people of other religious beliefs or no beliefs at all as if they were younger siblings in need of Christian example, then we approach realization of the mystery of Christ envisioned in the Letter to the Ephesians.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 2:12-22; Luke 12:35-38)

We often hear Christ referred to as the "prince of peace," but the Letter to the Ephesians sounds quaint calling him "our peace." To help us understand what the letter means we can think of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." At the end of the drama, with both hero and heroine lying dead because of their families' mutual antagonism, the two opposing patriarchs vow to reconcile their differences. Christ similarly serves as the impetus to peace among all nations.

As a human, Christ models all that is virtuous so that every considerate person will naturally feel contrite to hear how human folly caused his death. As God, Christ’s death frees us from the bondage that sin has imposed. Sin offends God, but it really hurts us. It estranges us from God’s love and even from one another’s support. Christ’s sacrifice of himself for our sake makes up for these shortcomings by renewing our relationship with God and with one another. We may think of having a brother doing a heroic feat after we messed up in an ordinary challenge. Associated with our brother, we no longer feel the shame of our own failure and spontaneously desire to act like him.

But we must not think that Christ’s victory means that all accomplishment comes without effort. No, we must especially avoid giving into temptation which can undermine the best of our intentions.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 2:1-10; Luke 12:13-21)

The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging connects Catholics with means in the United States to people with significant depravation in developing twenty-two countries. Working through itinerant priests preaching in parishes around the U.S., CFCA has established 300,000 helping relationships. In each relationship a sponsor family or individual gives thirty dollars a month to support a poor child or family. Can we not call CFCA a significant way of conforming to the Lord’s will in today’s gospel?

Jesus especially in the Gospel according to Luke excludes no sociological group from the graces of the kingdom. Rather, he invites both rich and poor to experience eternal life. But he also indicates that the wealthy have to demonstrate their trust in God by using their resources to assist the needy. He does not say that they must give up everything, but he does condemn the hoarding of resources for their personal benefit.

We should not think that it is wrong to build up an IRA; but as we do that, we should also be thinking of how we might help the poor. The Church has numerous organizations which could use our financial support. In contributing significantly to them we will have what might be termed a spiritual nest egg redeemable for eternal love and peace.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 1:11-14; Luke 12:1-7)

It is said that a Christian during the early centuries of persecution would walk up to a stranger and make a line on the ground with his foot. If the person would draw a line through the first to make a cross, the two would know that they could talk freely. If the other did not respond, then the conversation would not mention faith in Christ. The gospel today seems to reference such a custom.

Jesus says that what has been whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on housetops. He apparently means his Lordship, which his disciples knew of but did not understand well. After his resurrection with the coming of the Holy Spirit, they will see clearly and profess openly that in Jesus sins are forgiven and people experience eternal life.

Today religion has once again been privatized. Social pressures intimidate people from talking openly how God has affected their lives. Ironically, it is a message that others not only need but want to hear. When we give testimony to our faith, we strengthen others’ resolve to live righteous lives that benefit society and lead to their salvation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

(II Timothy 4:10-17b; Luke 10:1-9)

If the Church were to use only one gospel, many people would want it to be the Gospel According to Luke. Although not the most profound theologically, Luke’s Gospel shines in ways that touch us deeply. It gives the most detailed account of Jesus’ birth as well as of Mary, the mother of God. It also relates the most memorable of Jesus’ parables and shows Jesus constantly in prayer. This list could go on almost indefinitely.

We call the author of the third gospel “Luke” but cannot be sure who he was or even if “Luke” was really his name. Several sources from the second century identify him with the Luke who is occasionally mentioned in the Pauline letters as we heard today. Because at one point in these letters he is described as a “beloved physician,” he is honored by medical professionals as their patron. Perhaps because of his beautiful descriptions of characters such as the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, it is also said that he was an artist and so enjoys the patronage of that profession as well. But it seems more accurate to name his profession as how he describes himself: an historical researcher who puts in good order the events of the life of Christ (see Luke 1:1-3).

But Luke is more than a historian because his narrative, as we see in today’s gospel, announces the “kingdom of God.” Luke found that kingdom personified in Jesus himself who comes to show mercy on all people, especially those whom the world tends to ignore – the poor, women, and almost hopeless sinners.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

(Galatians 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46)

In the early 1990s an American Dominican priest working among the poor in El Salvador began to receive death threats. Determining them to be credible, the priest’s superior called him back to the United States. No doubt, the priest returned with a divided heart. He would have preferred to stay with his people, but such persistence might have cost his life. St. Ignatius of Antioch evidently had a different perspective on a similar situation.

From the letters he wrote as he traveled from Antioch to his execution in Rome, we know that Ignatius looked forward to being martyred. When it seemed that Christians might find a way to have the penalty commuted, Ignatius pleaded with them not to do so. He evidently wanted to be eaten alive by lions. It is not sacrilegious to ask whether such a stance is more pathological than pious.

Life is a good that we should generally preserve. As St. Paul hints in his letter to the Philippians, it is better that one work for Christ if possible than unite with him in death. Still life is not the greatest good. That distinction belongs to God alone. Obviously, Ignatius found enough glory being given to God in his martyrdom to make the sacrifice of his life for it a worth exchange.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 5:1-6; Luke 11:37-41)

Take a look under the hood of a car in a used car lot, and you are likely to be surprised. The engine and other mechanisms often are pressure sprayed so that they look like new. Of course, how well these pieces work should be tested. In today's gospel Jesus comments on an analogous case of clean outsides and rotten insides.

From reading the gospels there almost seems to be a war going on between Jesus and the Pharisees. Obviously Jesus criticizes some of their ways, but he probably enjoyed the company of some, like the man whose house he is visiting, and found a zeal for the law in common with most of them. In today's passage he addresses the supercilious concern with cleanliness that goes beyond what the law requires. As he implies, looks are nothing in comparison with reality. A person’s character should no more be judged by his or her manicure, than a book should be judged by its cover.

And yet we insist that people wash their hands before coming to church and that they wear clean clothes. Are these demands "pharisaical"? Normally they are not. First, it is a matter of hygiene. Cleanliness bespeaks the absence of at least some harmful germs. Second, outer appearance often symbolizes the state of the soul. We dress up to go to church to indicate that we have put on Christ. Jesus was a practical man. As his disciples, we will wash ourselves regularly if possible, but we generally do not go overboard with extra rinsing or refusing to shake hands with another before we eat.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

(Galatians 4:22-24.26-27.31-5:1; Luke 11:29-32)

Women today often speak of a "glass ceiling" prohibiting them from advancing to the highest places in an organization. Through the glass they see their goal, but the presence of the glass impedes them from reaching it. Unfortunately the glass ceiling has always been a social reality; however, once in a while a woman has been able to penetrate it. St. Teresa of Avila certainly did.

Teresa was born in the city of Avila, Spain in the sixteenth century. It was a time of great national prosperity owing to the riches of the Americas which Spain was able to exploit. As often happens with prosperity, however, people become relaxed - a condition that especially compromises religious life. Noting that the Carmelite Order had become largely undisciplined, Teresa began a reform that reached past the convents of nuns to the friars of the Order. In addition to turning the tide of laxity, Teresa wrote religious classics that have edified many spiritual lives for over four centuries.

Living in a time of almost universal superfluity, our society has also given itself to a certain laxness. For example, the habit of doing penance on Fridays, that is mandated by Church, is commonly ignored. We need religious leaders like Teresa of Avila to guide us in living a disciplined life of sacrifice and prayer as well as a true appreciation of God's bounty.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26)

Pelagius was a fifth century monk who thought like many moderns. According to his critics (few of his works remain), he taught that humans do not need God to be good. Rather, he evidently claimed that human nature has the wherewithal to become saintly. These ideas were condemned by the Church, and the passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians that we read today indicates why.

For Paul the experience of trying to fulfill the 613 precepts of the Jewish Law inevitably ends in failure. It is like trying to cross the ocean with an oxcart. The vehicle is simply not up to the task. But God in His mercy has sent His son Jesus Christ to provide a viable alternative. Acknowledging him as Lord and seeing his death on the cross as the means of salvation will provide one the grace to live a holy life.

“Is the act of believing then a human work?” we may want to ask. In other words, do we cooperate with God’s grace? These are highly nuanced and hotly debated questions. Certainly, the act of faith engages the human will. But it hardly takes an effort to believe when God’s graciousness is perceived in contrast to human folly.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 3:1-5; Luke 11:5-13)

Paul’s frontal attack against the Galatians – “O stupid Galatians, who has bewitched you?” – makes us wonder what kind of people would tolerate such criticism. Most likely Paul is addressing a community of Christians he founded in the northern part of the province of Galatia. The fair-haired and light complexioned inhabitants of that area migrated in the third century before Christ from the region of the Pyrenees Mountains separating what is presently France and Spain. “Galatians” comes from the same root as the Latin word Gallia which refers to the expansive tract of Western Europe that includes modern France.

In Paul’s day Galatians were considered something like the giant but amicable Brobdingnagians of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. One biblical commentator describes the Galatian as “large, unpredictable simpletons, instinctively generous, ferocious and highly dangerous when angry, but without stamina and easy to trick.” Paul evidently considers them good-hearted enough to accept his sharp disapproval without rejecting the gospel he preached. He likely developed a deep rapport when ill health caused him to stay with them for an extended time.

Paul’s language, however, reveals more about himself than about the Galatians. For Paul the single, most important fact of life is God’s redemption of humanity in Jesus Christ. To his mind Christ commissioned him to preach this truth to non-Jews. He does not mean to subjugate anyone with his harsh speech but only to urge them to accept the salvation won by Christ. If strong language is necessary, he would muster the highest indignation. If refined rhetoric would do the job, he would polish his argument. As he himself would write to the Corinthians, “I have become all things to all, so that I might save at least some” (I Cor 9:22).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 2:1-2.7-14; Luke 11:1-4)

Shosaku Endo was a Japanese Catholic novelist. In his greatest work, The Silence, he wrote of a Jesuit priest laboring in the Japanese missions when Christians were being persecuted. The priest is betrayed to the authorities and told that if he apostatizes, many humble Japanese Christians would be liberated from ruthless torture. The priest agonizes over the decision. In the gospel today Jesus shows his disciples how they must pray to be delivered from such situations.

The Our Father is the apex of Christian prayer even though it does not mention Christ. Rather, it takes its place of priority because it is Jesus’ own prayer. That is, it is not only the one Jesus taught to his disciples, but also evidently the one he echoed in Gethsemane. “Father,” he will say on that occasion, “…not my will but yours be done.” At the same time he will tell his disciples, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” (cf. Luke 22:40b,42b) The test, of course, refers to the situation of suffering grave persecution for the faith.

Gratefully, most Christians today are not “subject…to the final test” as Jesus exhorts his disciples to pray. But we are, all the time, confronted with temptation, as the more familiar rendition of the prayer has it. Internet pornography is one such temptation. Lying to escape a banal censure is another. In the Our Father we ask God to deliver us from these situations as well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 1:13-24; Luke 10:38-42)

Bishop Ken Untener believed that homilies should be short. In workshops around the country he told priests that the Catholic Church is so rich in reminders of the faith that the people do not need long sermons. Rather, he advised, preachers should take from the gospel the truest truth that they can ascertain and tell that to the people. St. Paul seems to do precisely this in the first reading today.

What’s important to Paul is not his life as a Jew or his acquaintance with the apostles. No, he insists that the critical event of his life, which gives meaning to everything that he is and does, is his encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He does not elaborate on the nature of the meeting, but he does indicate that it made him an apostle with the special mission of preaching the gospel to foreign nations or, as it is translated in the reading, “the Gentiles” – that is most of us.

Protestants often talk about coming to know the Lord Jesus, which leaves many Catholics wondering what they mean. Blessed John Paul II, however, encouraged us to develop a relationship with Christ. We encounter Christ in one another, especially in the poor who trust themselves implicitly to the Lord’s care. We meet him also in listening to the Gospel and even more profoundly in the reception of Holy Communion. It is the summation of these events contemplated over years that most of us have a sense of relationship with the Lord. Like for Paul then, he becomes the whole point of our existence.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday of the Twenty-seventh week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 1:6-12; Luke 10:25-37)

In political debates candidates often pander to the desires of the public. The would-be presidents or senators avoid stating their convictions or detailing their plans. Rather, they appeal to corrupted human nature by criticizing their opponents. In the first reading today St. Paul assures us that he is not such a person.

Paul has been informed of a serious aberration in the faith of the Galatians. He preached salvation through faith in Jesus and the imitation of his love. Since he left them, however, other preachers have convinced them of the need to obey the gamut of Jewish laws if they were to follow Christ. After all – the preachers would say – Jesus was a Jew. In his letter Paul assures the Galatians that trying to abide by the Jewish law would entangle them in a mud pile of regulations. He does not court the favors of the Galatians by telling them that they could have it both ways. They must either accept Judaism or accept Jesus.

We may wonder if the Catholic Church has become somewhat like Judaism with its seemingly myriad laws and regulations. We look at some Protestant communities which give their communion to anyone who wants to partake and ask ourselves if the Catholic Church should not be more inclusive. Such questions may be facile, however. The Church looks for true repentance from people who have erred. It further guides the faithful in Christian discipleship with just enough precepts to keep us centered on the Christ’s love.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

(Job 38:1.12-21.12-21.40:3-5; Luke 10:13-16)

The great theologian Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote, “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” Although today it is presumed that doubt is not disbelief as Cardinal Newman was implying in his statement, it still is a serious matter. In any case human beings quite naturally have difficulty accepting matters that they cannot understand. Job certainly does so, and today’s reading does not condemn him for the problem.

In answering Job’s complaints that he has suffered unjustly, God indicates that His purposes are more complicated than Job can imagine. God knows the intricate relationships among all components of heaven and on earth. Job only knows how to run a farm. But God mercifully addresses himself to the suffering Job lest he despair. Even though the response does not answer Job’s difficulties specifically, it does reveal God’s care.

Perhaps we cannot refrain from asking questions, but it is critical that we also do not stop giving praise to God for all the good we find on earth. Fuller answers about suffering and other mysteries will come in time, especially as we reflect on the mystery of Jesus’ death for our sakes. For now, however, we need to give thanks.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious

(Job 19:21-27; Luke 10:1-12)

No one wonders why the popes have called religious leaders to pray for peace in Assisi. The patron of that charming Italian town is a universal saint. The stories written about him for almost eight hundred years charm the most Christian-suspicious heart. How he called the sun his brother and how he tamed the wolf have won the world to his side. Recently, however, a well-credentialed Catholic biographer has written a biography with a different take on the man.

Augustine Thompson is a Dominican priest and medieval scholar. He has published a book on Francis’ life that leaves out the charming but unhistorical stories. Rather Fr. Thompson highlights a man whose poverty stems from the Eucharistic meditation of the Word of God emptying himself of divinity to be broken and shared by many. The author shows Francis tormented by the challenges of leadership while all the time wanting to be nothing more than the salt of the earth.

So Francis still inspires us. He may no longer move us to try to befriend ferocious animals, but he makes us to think about Christ’s presence in our midst. We should no longer feel unlike Francis if we are not charismatic leaders. Rather we should all ask how we may be ourselves and as humble as a dandelion at the same time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

(Job 9:1-12.14-16; Luke 9:57-62)

The refugees from Syria are only the latest in a long, never-to-end line of innocent people suffering. No doubt, they fled from their homes wondering why they could not live on in peace. They endured two generations of brutal dictatorship, but their so-called liberators seem equally authoritarian as the tottering regime. We hear Job asking similar questions in the first reading today.

Job’s conscience is clear. He knows that he has done no wrong to merit the loss of family, fortune, and health that he has experienced. But he also knows that God can easily brush aside his arguments if he tries to plead a case. He feels frustrated and hopeless. For now he is content to suffer steadfastly. He will neither curse nor challenge God.

The suffering of Job becomes a less dark story in the light of Christ. He is the only truly innocent human being, yet he suffers one of the cruelest punishments imaginable. But death is not the final word with him. Jesus rises from the dead to eternal life and promises his followers a similar destiny. We still may question why some must go through a horrific middle stage, but we know that their future is secure if they remain close to him.

Tuesday, October 2 2012

Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels

(Job 3:1-3.11-17.20-23; Matthew 18:1-5.10)

St. Augustine is famous for saying to his people: "I am fearful of what I am for you, but I draw strength from what I am with you. For you I am a bishop, and with you I am a Christian. The former designates an office received, the latter the foundation of salvation." Obviously, Augustine hardly took his work as a bishop as a privilege; rather, it was an onerous obligation placed upon him. It meant reproving the people when they were thinking erroneously and providing basic resources when they experienced dire need. It would not be unfair to call Augustine’s chores like being a Guardian Angel to his congregation.

Guardian Angels specify God’s love. He takes care of human beings by setting their hearts on the supreme good, which is Himself, and providing the means to sustain themselves physically. In the gospel Jesus speaks of children having angels in heaven charged with these tasks. But that does not exclude the possibility of God extending such personal care to everyone. After all, in a sense all humans are God’s children.

Today we give thanks to God for His constant and unsurpassable love by remembering His instruments, the Guardian Angels. The surety of God’s watching over us should prompt us to take similar care of one another.