Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope

(Ezekiel 28:1-10; Matthew 19: 23-30)

In The Great Gatsby the consummate self-made man tries to woo back a former lover by showing off his expansive wardrobe.  The woman, however, who is also wealthy, is not impressed.  Neither the man nor the woman realizes the true purpose of wealth.  It does not buy happiness but supports growth of self and others.  Parents might invest in the education of their children or perhaps use their nice home for a social with church workers. 

The gospel today as well as the reading from Ezekiel conveys the folly of hankering after wealth.  Jesus’ disciples are astounded when he suggests that the wealthy have no place in the Kingdom.  They see the wealthy as blessed by God on earth and destined to inherit choice places in heaven.  No, Jesus advises them, the rich perhaps more than the poor need God’s mercy to be saved.

To follow Jesus we must come to terms with wealth.  As he says, no person can serve both God and money. We should show not waver in our allegiance to the Lord.  One man did this living by the maxim: for a successful life a person is to spend twenty years learning, twenty years earning, and twenty years serving.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 12:1-12, Matthew 18:21-19:1)

Exile is a terrible experience.  We only have to review the situations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan to appreciate exile’s horrors.  The foreign cultures they inhabit lack familiar institutions that might provide some solace.  They have trouble finding jobs which leads to their exploitation as slave labor. They are also exceptionally vulnerable to new diseases and to swindlers’ deceptions. 

In the reading from Ezekiel today God wants the prophet to show the Jerusalemites that they are headed on a course of exile.  Ezekiel is to act as a person uprooted from his native place to awaken the people that their sins are bringing them to ruin.  The hope is that the people will reform their lives so that God might spare them the trauma of exile.  Sadly, however, they will refuse to repent.

We see Jesus as bringing us out of the exile that sin has caused.  Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden was the prototype of exile from which Jesus has rescued us.  He brought us to the “Kingdom of heaven,” not yet heaven but on the way there.  This state is not so much a physical place as it is a renewed relationship with God in which we experience the peace of Christ.  Acquiring the relationship, we will forgive others their offenses against us, as the gospel today recommends, because we have come to realize how gracious God is to us.