Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov. 15
Mark 13: 24-32
“But my words will not pass away.”
We have spoken a number of times in these homilies about how we humans start off life in a very selfish mode. Just watch a small child in a grocery store sometime to prove this to yourself. By golly, it is all about them. Somewhere along the line we have to learn that it is all about us and that God is part of this picture too. When we push God aside or fail to focus on his presence and our need for him in our life, that is part of this selfishness. All of the sudden, it is all about me once again. I see this happening with regard to the Word of God mentioned in today’s Gospel selection.
The word Bible means Book and is often referred to as “The Book.” We teach that the Bible contains the very word of God Himself, that God speaks to his people through these pages. God, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, passes often through our world speaking to us in many ways, through the members of our family, friends and even through strangers. And God also speaks to us through this book we call the Bible. It should be obvious to all of us by the time we reach our maturity that God cares for his people, that he just didn’t drop us all off here on this planet and abandon us. God is with us. God does care about us.
This Bible, this collection of books, is, in my estimation, a book of common sense. It tells us all how to live a life of peace and happiness in communion with others. What a shame that many of us, all of us I dare say, choose to go our own way. If we just think for a moment of how we ignore the very word of God and favor our own way, our ways become unconscionable. Even in our freedom, how can we do this?
Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in the center of the Garden of Eden because the Tempter told them if they did this they would be “like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” Most all of us go through periods in our lives when we think we are gods. Everyone else is wrong and we are right. This is pride, that selfishness we spoke of above, in its worst extreme. Many finally come to realize that this is not the case, accept the God of the universe, and realize that he is the way, the truth and the life. We read his word and see how it leads to peace, joy and happiness., how it makes sense, and we begin to try and follow it. We try to be loving, compassionate, forgiving, serving, kind, gentle, respectful people. We try and lead our children to be the same. We get to know from our experience that these words of God will lead us to holiness, completeness, fulfillment and to a good life in communion with others. And yet we still never lose that tendency to go our own way.
Many have written that human beings are mystery. The way we sometimes live goes to prove this.
Monday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 16
Luke 18: 35-43
We read the story of the blind man asking Jesus for sight not too long ago on a Sunday from the Gospel of St. Mark. This miracle is found in all the synoptic Gospels, but only Mark gives the blind beggar a name, Bartimaeus. “Lord, please let me see,” he said to Jesus.
In view of our homily yesterday about our not heeding the very word of God, it is clear that we too are blind in many different ways. As we read this story again on this Monday morning, let us make the blind beggar’s prayer our own: “Lord, please let me see.”
Tuesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 17
Luke 19: 1-10
In our Gospel story for today, Jesus befriends an extortionist by the name of Zacchaeus. He was the head of all the tax collectors and undoubtedly a very rich man. He was also curious and it was this curiosity that brought him face to face with Jesus and his subsequent conversion. In this case, curiosity did not kill the cat; it produced abundant life.
Zacchaeus wanted to see what Jesus was all about. He was even willing to humiliate himself by climbing a tree to find out. Am I willing, curious, willing to humiliate myself, put my doings on the back burner, to find out more about Jesus? Once again, this thought ties in with the Sunday Homily about the word of Jesus not passing away.
Am I willing to go out of my way to better understand his word, to try and really incorporate his values into my own life? If I am, I have found the secret to a happy life.
Wednesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 18
Macabees 7: 1, 20-31, Luke 19: 11-18
Both readings for today’s Liturgy have the same theme: Take courage! In the first reading from the Book of Macabees, we see seven brothers and their mother arrested by Antiochus. They were tortured to try and force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law. The mother had the courage to urge her sons not to eat the pork and to follow God’s law and to watch them all die on the same day.
In the Gospel we have the story of the gold coins. A nobleman went on a trip and before he left he called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins to trade with while he was gone. Some invested the money and doubled it and gave it to the King when he returned. But one servant, fearing he would lose the money the King gave him, saved the gold coin and returned it to the master when he returned. He was severely reprimanded for not having taken the risk of putting the money in the bank to gather interest for the master on his return. He didn’t have the courage to take that risk.
Do we have the courage to do what we know is the right thing to do even if this might cause me to be not accepted and approved of by others? Do we stick to what we know is right no matter what?
Thursday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 19
Luke 19: 41-44
Today’s Gospel tells us of Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem. I have never been to the Holy Land, but I have read where from the Mount of Olives, Jesus would have seen the whole city of Jerusalem spread out before him on the next hill. Tradition remembers this scene at the Church of Dominus Flevit (the Lord wept) on the Mount of Olives. Jesus wept for the whole people. They just didn’t get what he was about, that their salvation was at hand. Jesus probably began to wonder what he had to do to get their attention.
Can you picture the Lord Jesus weeping at what is going on in the world today? That wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine. All the violence and hatred and war of neighbor against neighbor would produce a tear or two from anyone. More importantly, perhaps, is how we would picture Jesus when he gazes at us personally. Would he weep? Would he frown? Would he smile?
Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 20
Luke 19: 45-48
Today’s Gospel choice tells of Jesus’ anger at the merchants conducting their business affairs in the Temple. Actually, there was an area in the Temple built for this purpose and the merchants were not out of place in conducting their affairs in this area. There they sold incense, animals, grain and anything else needed for the various sacrifices performed in the Temple. Jesus seems to have been angry at the fact that any business affairs at all should be associated with the Temple. It was a sacred place for sacred rituals. Period!
Our churches still provide us with an atmosphere for prayer. They are softly lit, quiet, and usually having windows and statues reminiscent of holy scenes and people that are conducive to prayer. When we were younger and going to school, we were often encouraged to stop in the church everyday for a “visit,” a time of prayer. Not a bad idea in our own busy times if we find the opportunity.
Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 21
The Presentation of Mary
The feast of Mary’s Presentation in the Temple was already celebrated in Jerusalem in the 6th century. The eastern Church was more interested in this feast and it came to the west five centuries later. In the 16th century, it became a feast of the universal Church.
We read about Mary’s Presentation in the apocryphal Gospel of St. James that tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This feast has the important purpose of emphasizing the holiness bestowed on Mary from the very beginning of her life and beyond.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.