Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Presentation of the Lord

(Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-32)

The world as just witnessed a great transition of power.  Donald Trump has moved into the White House as the forty-fifth president of the United States.  There has been no shortage of fanfare.  For better or worse, President Trump is now recognized by people around the globe.  Today’s first reading hints that Jesus’ coming into the temple would attract similar attention.  The reality, however, was something subdued, much like how he rules the world now.

The prophet Malachi speaks of the day of the Lord as one of reckoning.  God’s messenger will occupy the Jewish temple like a field general moves his headquarters into a well-situated building.  From it he will direct the campaign vindicating those who have lived righteously.  But when Jesus, God’s definitive emissary, comes into the temple, hardly anyone notices.  He is only an infant; however two elders recognize in his countenance the long-awaited Messiah.  Jesus will live and die for others without great masses of people taking notice.  But after his resurrection from the dead his disciples will tell the world of his legacy.  He will become, as one of the elders predicts, “’a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for … Israel.’”

We wonder why God does not reveal Himself with power.  We think that if Christ would come now to defeat evil, then all would turn to him in faith.  But, of course, that is not faith only instinct for survival by siding with the strong.  God desires to purify our wills by teaching us trust and love.  When we use our energy to care for others trusting that God will reward us, we become like Christ.  We need not worry about losing our lives because to become like Christ is what life is all about.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 12:4-7.11-15; Mark 6:1-6)

Disciplinary action is not necessarily punitive.  Parents should inculcate discipline by insisting that children do their chores and arrive at appointments on time.  The author of the Letter to the Hebrews sees God acting in this way when He allows His people to undergo trial. 

Throughout the letter the author has urged his readers not to give up on Christ.  He has assured them that Christ is in the perfect position to help them.  In today’s passage he asserts that if they experience trials, they should consider their suffering a discipline.  He would say that Christ does not mean to punish them and much less is he unable to help them.  In the author’s estimation Christ only intends to make his people stronger for having experienced hardship.

Trials often give us pause to think.  “Why must I suffer?” we may ask.  We are wise to look at the cross when faced with such a challenge.  Jesus suffered much more than we.  He did it patiently, humbly, and willingly, not because he deserved it but for our sake.  He suffered that we might be freed of the self-absorption that grips us.  Now we should be ready to suffer with him for the sake of others.