Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 6:19-23; Luke 12:49-53)
An unforgettable scene in the movie “Malcom X” shows a man dying in a rundown rental room. He once made a small fortune in the numbers racket; that is, in collecting small bets on the final numbers of the daily stock market trading. As bank robber Willie Sutton reputedly said: “That’s where the money is.” He had spent most of it on liquor, drugs, and other vices. Now he was paying the price. As today’s reading from St. Paul’s Romans says, “…the wages of sin is death.”
Paul recognizes that sinful humans will always die. Reflecting on Genesis, he concludes that the curse of Adam is a tendency to sin that ensnarls all humans on a steady downward trajectory. That is everyone except Jesus (and by special dispensation his Immaculate Mother). Jesus not only transcended enslavement to sin but boosted his followers out of their entrapment. Trusting in Jesus as Lord, women and men can now overcome the tendency to love creatures more than the Creator – the essence of sin.
We need to hold ourselves close to Jesus – desperately. Heeding his warnings and following his example, we actually become freer, happier people. We become, in other words, beneficiaries of the gift of eternal life.
Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 7:18-25a; Luke 12:54-59)
At the end of Luke’s gospel Jesus is pictured accompanying two of his disciples leaving Jerusalem on the day of his resurrection. He explains to them the gospel and shares with them a meal. In today’s passage from the same gospel Jesus tells the crowds that they are on the way to see their judge with someone they have offended. That offended one accompanying them is the same Jesus.
He has come from God to make humans aware of their sins and to deliver them from them. As St. Paul says in the reading from Romans, “Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Humans must make peace with Jesus by confessing their sins and petitioning his mercy. Otherwise, at death they will face the Supreme Judge with his blood on their hands.
Although Jesus in the gospel here is portrayed as our “opponent,” he is more kindly than adversarial. He is ready to forgive the most grievous, the most embarrassing, and the most conventional of our sins. We do not have to be afraid of telling them to him. Actually he is always our friend more than our opponent.