Monday, December 2, 2019

Monday of the First Week of Advent

(Isaiah 4:2-6; Matthew 8:5-11)

Advent periscopes the coming of the Lord.  We stand in expectation throughout the year.  But in Advent we keep our eyes wide open so that we might glimpse him moving toward us.  These days become joyful because we know that the long wait is almost over. Today’s gospel relates how one man did not need the Lord to come to his house.  He trusted Jesus’ word that things will turn out all right.

The man who trusted is not a Jew with reason to believe in the prophet Jesus.  He is a Roman army officer with a good heart.  He cares enough about his servant, who is probably Jewish, that he comes looking for Jesus. He recognizes Jesus’ authority which must radiate as prominently as the beauty of a professional model. No doubt, as well, he has been informed of Jesus’ reputation as a healer.   In any case the officer does not tie up the Lord.  He only states that just as his subordinates submit to his authority so will spiritual forces submit to Jesus’.

It is time for us to renew our hope in Jesus’ authority.  He is the Lord of heaven and earth.  We only have to seek his assistance.  We can trust that he will take note of our good will and help us.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Daniel 7: 2-14; Luke21:29-33)

Apocalyptic literature shows God coming to the rescue when things seem most dire.  For many today such writing seems more cartoonish than the stuff of good drama. Yet it engages people’s consciousness when they are threatened by a calamity.  Apocalyptic writers offer hope to those who have experienced a long, hard struggle. 

The only example of a completely apocalyptic work in the New Testament is the Book of Revelation.  There faithful Christians are assured victory over their Roman persecutors.  In the Old Testament the Book of the Prophet Daniel is the prime example of the apocalyptic.  It was written in the second century before Christ the wicked Antiochus IV Epiphanes was oppressing Israel. The book foresees an eventual reversal of lots.  Today’s grotesque passage is apparently an alternative account of the reading from Daniel heard at mass on Tuesday.  The four beasts represent the succession of empires leading to the everlasting reign of God.  The passage foresees God eventually triumphing over the successive reigns of terror. 

Some understand apocalyptic literature as a literal description of the future.  It is better for us to spiritualize its meaning. We will not face fiercely shaped beasts in the future.  But we will struggle against evil everyday of our lives.  Evil takes the form of illegitimate desire for pleasure, possessions, or power.  As God comes to the rescue in apocalyptic literature, we beg His help in our struggles. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Day

(Sirach 50:22-24; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19)

A mother was saying how her daughter was celebrating Thanksgiving in Japan.  Away from home for the first time, the daughter had received recipes and other ideas for a Thanksgiving feast.  Most Americans abroad try to come together for the holiday.  It seems that they are drawn by something more than the custom of eating turkey with cranberries and sweet potatoes.  They appear to instinctively feel the need to give thanks.

Humans are built to depend on one another.  We will be able to get along without a particular person, but we always need others to grow, even to survive.  Someone has to provide food for a child.  Everyone needs teachers and doctors.   There cannot be industry without workers.  Although people are paid for their services, we still are grateful to them for work done well.  We also give thanks for the source of all the benefits we enjoy.  We recognize that the same Creator of the earth also moves human hearts to assist others.

Today’s first reading expresses the spirit of Thanksgiving Day.  It calls on everyone to give thanks to God, the source of all goodness.  It further recognizes that our dependence upon God never ceases.  We must pray to God not only for the basic needs of life but also for the peace that makes life worth living.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Daniel 5:1-6.13-14.16-17.23-28; Luke 21:12-19)

 “Can’t you read the ‘writing on the wall’?”  People ask this question when the meaning of a situation appears clear to them but not so to the other.  The term originated in the passage from the Book of the Prophet Daniel read today.

The words “Mene,” “Tekel,” and “Peres” may sound esoteric, but they are not incomprehensible.  Scholars say that mene means to count.  Tekel is the root word for the ancient weight and then coin, “shekel.”  It means to weigh.  And peres is related to the root for “Pharisee” – the people separated out from commoners for their strict observance.  The “writing on the wall” then is a message to the people who are committing sacrilege by using the vessels from Jerusalem’s temple.  Their deeds are being counted and weighed. They will be separated out for punishment.

The same is true for all of us.  Our deeds, observed and judged, will merit us salvation or damnation.  As today’s gospel relates, we want to give testimony to Christ.  It’s easy to say what we are to do but at times difficult to carry out the tasks.  We are to love one another as Jesus loves us – earnestly, patiently, self-sacrificingly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Daniel 2:31-45; Luke 21:5-11)

In “Ozymandias” Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley tells a tale like Jesus’ in today’s gospel.  “Ozymandias” is the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II.  The discovery of a statue of the king in the desert occasions the poem.  Shelley writes that the inscription on the statue’s base commands the resignation of viewers.  “’Look on my works…’” it reads, ‘”and despair!'”  The sad truth is, however, that the statue itself lies shattered in the sand.

Jesus gives the people marveling at the grandeur of the temple a similar lesson. He foresees the temple’s destruction which indeed took place forty years hence.  He is saying that even this grand tribute to God lacks ultimate importance.  In fact, he would say, everything material will be come to ruin.  Only discipleship of himself remains with lasting value.  But even at that, he continues, people have to take care that they do not follow false messiahs.

Lay person or consecrated religious, we must not become distracted by material objects.  Cars, houses, and large expense accounts must not turn us away from following Jesus.  Neither should ideologies lead us from the truth that Jesus teaches.    If we want eternal life, we must follow his way of self-giving love.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Daniel 1:1-6.8-20, Luke 21:1-4)

Your doctor would not be surprised at all with the outcome of Daniel’s vegetarian diet.  She will tell you to consume less red meat, more vegetables, no alcohol and lots of water.  But the author’s intention in the Book of Daniel can hardly be dietary advice.  Quite certainly he means to give moral counsel.  He is telling his fellow Jews not to disregard the Law.  Rather they are to follow its every precept.  As in the case here, their adhesion to the Law will bring about the good.

The Book of Daniel was written in the second century before Christ.  As the first reading for the last week has testified, Jews were then being terribly persecuted.  Foreign kings wanted to impose their beliefs and customs on the people.  The Jews resisted and ultimately prevailed to establish home rule. Unfortunately that too proved to be seriously defective.

Religious persecution is threatening citizens in western societies today.  People are not being forced to eat forbidden foods but to violate their consciences in other ways.  Should a Catholic doctor refer a patient to a surgeon who will perform a desired abortion?  Should a priest “marry” a homosexual couple?  Should a Catholic school treat as a girl a “transgendered” male child?  These kinds of questions may soon cause faith-filled people to be prosecuted.  They will hopefully take courage from these mass readings.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, martyr

(I Maccabees 4:36-37.52-59; Luke 19:45-48)

Today’s first reading relates the story of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.   The passage tells how Jews 165 year before Christ celebrated the re-consecration of the Temple altar.  They burnt offerings and sang hymns of praise for eight days.  According to one tradition, there was a glitch in the preparations for the celebration.  After the plans were announced, only enough consecrated oil for one day of burning was found.  Undeterred, the people went ahead with their plans.  To their amazement the oil lasted the full eight days.  For this reason Hanukkah is sometimes called the “Feast of Lights.”  As testimony to the miracle, Jews traditionally eat fried foods throughout the celebration.

Jesus celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple as Hanukkah is sometimes called.  He also revered the Temple as God’ meeting place with humans.  For this reason he chases the money changers from its confines as today’s gospel relates.  Jesus himself has become the prime place of encounter with God.  In this sense he has replaced the Temple. 

This year Hanukkah corresponds with Christmas.  The eight days begins on December 22 and concludes on December 30.  It should be a time of peace and joy for everyone in these two great religions.  We should be praying for our Jewish friends and might ask them to pray for us as well.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(I Maccabees 2:15-29; Luke 19:41-44)

Every city has its landmark.  In New York it is the Statue of Liberty.  In Rome St. Peter’s Basilica stands out.  In Jerusalem of antiquity the Temple loomed in importance.  The Temple monumentalized the Jewish faith.  There the people worshiped and offered sacrifice.  Because money was exchanged in making sacrifices, the Temple had economic significance.  Today’s gospel and feast have the Temple as a common reference.

In the gospel Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem. His saying that “they will not leave one stone upon another applies particularly to the Temple.  In 70 A.D. the Romans dismantled its magnificent structure.  Jesus’ weeps for good reason.  Many of his countrymen will be killed.  Terrible as well, this symbol and facilitator of Israel’s faith will be lost.

Ancient and often exaggerated stories of Jesus are told in the so-called apocryphal gospels.  Although they cannot be considered the inspired word of God, they often support Christian faith.  At least two of these “gospels” give background information by telling of the infancy of Mary.  They testify that Mary’s parents brought her to the Temple when she was three.  They left her there as their offering to the Lord.  Mary, according to the story, was neither unaware nor afraid of what was going on.  Rather she ran up the Temple stairs without looking back.  Here Mary serves as a model for all of us.  May we be as eager to serve the Lord as this child!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(II Maccabees 7:1.20-31; Luke 19:11-28)

During persecutions in the early Church some Christians balked at martyrdom.  They rationalized their refusal to die by saying Christ sacrificed himself so that they might live.  In today’s first reading seven youths reject such sophistry.  They give themselves to martyrdom not for Christ but to uphold Israel’s law. 

Coaxed by their mother, the young Jews refuse to let fear of death deter them from doing what is right. The passage focuses on the youngest of the sons and the last to die.  It is expected that the mother would plea for mercy from the king.  Rather her plea for mercy is directed to her son.  She asks him to have pity on her by not doing anything vile.  The child responds heroically.  He defies his executioners and is summarily executed.

Bishops in many nations today foresee persecution of the Church.  They realize that ultra-secular governments will not allow people to practice their faith fully.  Catholic doctors will be charged to perform abortions.  Priests will face criminal penalties if they refuse to witness “homosexual marriages.”  Employers today are forced to pay insurance for immoral treatments. These may not be capital crimes. Still the individuals involved will suffer in support of their beliefs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(II Maccabees 6:18-31; Luke 19:1-10)

We look to the aged for prudence.  Experience has taught them not to delay something which must be done and to work diligently.  We also expect faithfulness in our elders.  They have learned the value of keeping commitments over the long haul.  Generosity is another virtue associated with the silver years.  Seniors have come to realize that giving has never made anyone poor.  Today’s first reading celebrates old age with the story of Eleazar, a virtuous Jew.

Eleazar refuses to eat pork to save his life.  He does not care that he will be tortured, much less that his das are ended.  What matters to him is keeping faith in God who created him.  Even when he is offered a ploy to avoid execution, he refuses.  Eleazar understands that being part of a people makes one responsible for others.  In this case he does not want to create scandal by giving bad example.  He is particularly conscious of the young who might be led astray.  They need to learn the nobility of the nation’s traditions.

We live in an age of individualism.  People care mostly about themselves and the circle immediately around them.  Too often the elderly lack a sense of intergenerational responsibility.  We need them to act like heroes as Eleazar does.  We need them to show us how not to live only for ourselves but for others.  We need them to assure us that God’s ways will lead to glory.

Monday, October 18, 2019

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(I Maccabees 1:10-15.41-43.54-57.62-63; Luke 18:35-43)

The alienation of Jewish culture begins harmlessly enough.  The First Book of Maccabees relates how the Greek king begins his program of cultural hegemony.  He builds a gymnasium so that Jewish and Greek men could know one another as they exercise together.  At the gym they also expose their flesh to one another.  As the Jews for some reason feel embarrassed, they begin to hide the mark of their distinction.  Increasing socialization among the peoples leads Jews to break Covenantal laws.  Propaganda then is pitched to malleable children who begin to rebel against traditional ways.  Many Jews, perhaps unwittingly, begin to make sacrifices to pagan gods.  Then the king does the unthinkable.  He erects an idol in the middle of the Temple.  If the Jewish people accept this abomination, they are lost.

But they don’t.  The Maccabee family together with other faithful Jews rebel against the Greeks.  The tale is bloody, but the Greeks are eventually defeated.  Regrettably, the Maccabees and their successors prove to be inept rulers themselves.  By the time Jesus is born, the more capable Romans control the land.  Jesus will begin a peaceful revolution.  He will show the people how to worship the God of Israel in the most worthy of ways. 

Resisting the alienation of religion requires intensive effort.  Many parents today homeschool their children rather than send them to secularistic schools.  Wearing religious symbols like a cross helps secure religious identity.  Praying together in the home and worshipping weekly in church are foundational.  Experiencing the benefits of religion may require even greater sacrifices in the future.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Optional Memorial of Saint Albert the Great, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Wisdom 13:1-9; Luke 17:26-37)

The first reading suits today’s patron Saint Albert the Great.  The passage from Wisdom recounts how creation reflects God, its maker.  Because of this, scientists should come to know God. However, it says, some are so distracted by the beauty of creation that they misrepresent God.  Albert was able to come to the right conclusions.  Excelling as a natural scientist and philosopher, he ordered all knowledge.  Besides being called “the Great,” he is also known as the “universal doctor.”

Perhaps Albert’s greatest claim to fame is his pupil Thomas Aquinas.  He recognized Thomas’ enormous intellectual capacity when fellow students named him the “dumb ox.”  Albert also defended Thomas after his death.  Thomas’ works pilloried as heretical, Albert illuminated their profound exposition of divine truth.

Albert the Great has left scientists a challenging legacy.  Following him, they do not have to suspend religious belief to pursue scientific truth.  As he showed, they can come to deeper appreciation for nature by clinging to nature’s God.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Wisdom 7:22b-8:1; Luke 17:20-25)

The first reading today remarkably resembles St. Paul’s “Hymn to Love.”  The passage begins with a personification of wisdom as a spirit with many virtues: “In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique…”  So too Paul will write of love as a person with excellent qualities: “Love is patient; love is kind;…”

The author of Wisdom goes on to describe wisdom in action.  He writes: “…she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity…(she) renews everything while herself perduring; and passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets.”  Paul also describes acts of love: “(Love) rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

People have observed how the name “Christ” may be substituted for “love” with perfect sense in Paul’s letter: “(Christ) does not seek (his) own interests; (Christ) is not quick-tempered; (Christ) does not brood over injuries.”  “Christ” may also replace the word “wisdom” in today’s passage: For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with (Christ).  For (Christ) is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars.”

We should not be surprised that Christ epitomizes every virtue.  He is, after all, the perfect image of God, the Father.

Tuesday, November 20, 2019

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(II Maccabees 6:18-31; Luke 19:1-10)

We look to the aged for prudence.  Experience has taught them not to delay something which must be done and to work diligently.  We also expect faithfulness in our elders.  They have learned the value of keeping commitments over the long haul.  Generosity is another virtue associated with the silver years.  Seniors have come to realize that giving has never made anyone poor.  Today’s first reading celebrates old age with the story of Eleazar, a virtuous Jew.

Eleazar refuses to eat pork to save his life.  He does not care that he will be tortured, much less that his das are ended.  What matters to him is keeping faith in God who created him.  Even when he is offered a ploy to avoid execution, he refuses.  Eleazar understands that being part of a people makes one responsible for others.  In this case he does not want to create scandal by giving bad example.  He is particularly conscious of the young who might be led astray.  They need to learn the nobility of the nation’s traditions.

We live in an age of individualism.  People care mostly about themselves and the circle immediately around them.  Too often the elderly lack a sense of intergenerational responsibility.  We need them to act like heroes as Eleazar does.  We need them to show us how not to live only for ourselves but for others.  We need them to assure us that God’s ways will lead to glory.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Memorial of Saint Frances Cabrini, virgin

(Wisdom 6:1-11; Luke 17:11-19)

We should not be dismayed by the mindlessness of the nine in today’s gospel who do not return to give thanks.  Many of us act in the same way.  We are often blessed but quickly forget the Lord, the source of all goodness.  We may even attribute our blessing to luck or to some personal quality.  We should emulate the man who seeks to pay homage Jesus in gratitude.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini returned to the Lord after receiving his blessing.  She was at one point so frail that the sisters who educated her refused her petition to join them.  Yet she persisted in serving the Lord.  Gathering a group of women around her, she fulfilled her childhood hope of becoming a missionary.  Mother Cabrini, as she was called, established sixty-seven orphanages, schools, and hospitals.  She worked largely as an Italian immigrant with other immigrants in the United States.  Yet her dynamism did not stop at U.S. shores.  She extended her reach to South America and back to Europe. 

Gratitude becomes a person.  It bespeaks humility that enables him or her to keep self-deceiving pride at bay.  Recognizing the connectedness of society, gratitude further impels one to assist others.  It is not surprising then to see the Lord blessing the grateful cured leper with salvation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Memorial of Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr

(Wisdom 2:23-3:9; Luke 17:7-10)

Of all the evangelists St. Luke takes the prize for compassion.  His description of Jesus features this great virtue.  Only Luke quotes Jesus assuring Peter of his prayers when he predicts his denial.  Likewise, only Luke makes an excuse for his disciples sleeping while he is in agony in the garden.  He says that the disciples were “sleeping from grief.”  Only Luke will show Jesus healing the shorn ear of the servant.  So why does Jesus in today’s gospel imply that his disciples are not doing anything commendable when work overtime?

To understand Jesus’ intention one must note the context of the statement.  Jesus has just forbidden his disciples from giving scandal and mandating them to forgive.  When the disciples request more faith to carry out these commands, Jesus assures they already have enough faith.  Indeed, he says, even a little faith can move trees.  He implies that instead of needing added help, they must strengthen their resolve.

Today’s patron saint, Josaphat, exemplifies the kind of determination that Jesus has in mind here. He was a monk and later bishop of the Ruthenian (Eastern European) Catholic rite.  Through intensive apostolic effort, Josaphat was able to bring Orthodox Ruthenians into the Catholic fold.  He was martyred, however, by a mob of pro-Orthodox people resentful of his work.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, bishop

(Wisdom 1:1-7; Luke 17:1-6)

St. Martin of Tours captured the hearts of the people much like St. Francis many centuries later.  As a youth, Martin soldiered but resigned his commission rather than serve the heretical emperor.  He said at the time, “I am the soldier of Christ: it is not lawful for me to fight."  Martin became a monk and then a missionary. One day he was called to visit a sick person in the city of Tours. He was taken to a church where people were waiting to make him bishop.  As bishop, Martin upheld Church doctrine but also defended rights of heretics.  His tolerance alienated him from the Roman emperor.  Martin is most remembered as the man who shared his cloak with a beggar.

The first reading today is taken from the Book of Wisdom.  The work in part instructs rulers to be just and prudent in their judgments.  Martin of Tours could serve as a model of its teachings.  “…think of the Lord in goodness,” it reads, “and seek him in integrity of heart.” Martin lived for the Lord.  He was true to God’s way of compassion.  He did not seek punishment as an end but reconciliation.

All of us have at least some authority.  We may be parents or supervisors.  If nothing else, we make decisions about how to spend leisure time.  We should strive to imitate St. Martin – faithful, diligent, and caring. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

(Romans 15:14-21; Luke 16:1-8)

A group of pastors was discussing a gospel passage much like the one we read today.  The ministers were taken aback by the implication that people should act out of self-interest.  Is an action worthy, the ministers seemed to ask themselves, if one gains personal benefit from it?

The ministers were questioning from the perspective of an imminent Lutheran bishop, Anders Nygren.  Intolerant of self-love, Nygren drove a wedge between it and divine love.  He termed acquisitive, human love eros and selfless, divine love agape.  According to Nygren, human love is always unworthy of those redeemed by Christ.  He would see such an act as indicative of fallen human nature.

But Nygren’s thesis does not adequately account for how humans are created.  We are people with real needs.  Beyond physical necessities we need support and assurance.  Having a destiny beyond the troubles of earthly life, we work for this end.  This means that we strive for perfection out of a desire for eternal life.  Jesus’ parable tells of a man who takes risks so that he may not suffer in the future.  In like manner we love the poor, God’s special concern.  We do not want to lose the eternal life which Christ promises us.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

(Romans 14:7-12; Luke 15:1-10)

It is said that a person is known by the company she keeps.  If she goes about with good people, she is probably worthy of trust.  But if she hangs around with liars, her words should be scrutinized.  It is for nothing, therefore, that the Pharisees in today’s gospel are suspicious of Jesus.  He seems to enjoy the company of sinners.

But Jesus will no more adopt the ways of sinners than Pope Francis will look for a luxury hotel.  Quite the contrary, Jesus goes out to sinners because they need him.  They are, as the gospel says, “lost.”  This is a fate worse than death.  Unless they receive help soon, they will not find their way home.  They will perish in a fearful place.

We too must try to bring back “lost” believers.  We do not want to see our loved ones, or anyone else, perish.  Our strategy is simple.  It does not include harangues.  Rather, we talk with them in our homes as people who love them.  More importantly, we show by the qualities of our lives God’s blessings for those who love Him.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wednesday of the Thirty–first Week in Ordinary Time

(Romans 13:8-10; Luke 14:25-33)

The territory of Utah before statehood was rife with polygamy and slavery.  There was no law to prohibit these practices.  Gradually submitting to federal control, Utah banned both.  Its experience exemplifies what St. Paul has shown in his Letter to the Romans.  Without law everything is permissible.  Once law is established, it condemns people for evil acts.  But it does not make a people good.  They need more than prohibitory statues.  They need the Holy Spirit.

Today’s first reading speaks of divine love as the fulfillment of the law.  Love is the work of the Holy Spirit moving adherents to practice virtue.  They do no one any harm.  More characteristically, divinely inspired love moves those affected to care for others.  In the gospel Jesus gives the same testimony.  He sees love of God and of neighbor as the basis of all righteousness.

Love takes effort.  For this reason the Holy Spirit is involved.  The Spirit prompts us with its gifts to do what is just and helpful.  We ask the Spirit’s help to fulfill what is known its “law”; that is the law of love.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

(Romans 12:5-16ab; Luke 14:15-24)

In one of her novels Mary Gordon writes of viewing a sunrise from a mountaintop.  A group drives to the trailhead well before dawn.  There it begins a swift hike up the mountain in the dark.  As the light begins to appear, one young woman notices a patch of flowers in the field.  She rushes toward it in glee.  Meanwhile her companions are yelling after her to forget about the flowers for now.  The sun is going to come up in just a few minutes.  That young woman may be compared to the invitees who refuse to attend the banquet in Jesus’ parable.

The invitees should realize that the rich man’s table is so extravagant that it should not be missed.  Yet they absorb themselves in their own limited agendas.  The rich man does not sulk with the regrets.  Rather, he invites the people of the streets to take the place of the self-satisfied. 

Jesus is telling us that God’s love is not puny.  Like the rich man He invites everyone to partake of the wealth of His kingdom.  For our own good we want to put aside personal interests to participate in it.  We will not regret any cost that it might involve.  Indeed, we will only have regrets if we refuse to be part of it.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop

(Romans 11:29-36; Luke 14:12-14)

Since almost the beginning of Christianity, ignorant Christians have harassed Jews.  They have called Jews “Christ-killers” and persecuted some until death.  Such a vindictive spirit contradicts the New Testament as St. Paul explains in today’s first reading. 

The passage states that the call of God to the Jews to be His people is irrevocable.  In other words, despite what happened to Christ, God still claims the Jews as His own.  Paul sees God bringing Jews to righteousness in an unexpected way.  First, He uses the disobedience of Jewish authorities to justify Christians.  Those leaders plotted for Jesus’ crucifixion.  His death and resurrection then unleashed the Holy Spirit sending apostles to the corners of the world.  They converted the pagans to righteousness.  Finally, in Paul’s vision, Jews observing this wonder will seek conversion. 

Many Jews have converted to Christianity, especially in late antiquity.  Still, however, millions of Jews remain.  Are they somehow lost?  Judging by Paul’s criteria, one may think so.  But, as Paul also states, God’s ways are unsearchable.  We find among the Jews many who are both good and loving.  Who is to say that they are not saved?