Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, (June 1, 2008) Mt. 7: 21-27
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” This Gospel is about “acting upon,” what Jesus tells us to do. We can prophesy in his name, we can drive out demons, we can do mighty deeds in Jesus’ name, but if we don’t practice what we preach, if we do not believe what we are preaching, it will all amount to naught.
I have always understood this Gospel passage to be about the virtue of prudence. Prudence is defined by Thomas Aquinas as the right way of doing things. If we listen to what Jesus tells us and then do it, we are prudent and acting in the right way. If we hear the word of Jesus, but do not do it, and do not act upon it, then we are acting imprudently; we are acting in the wrong way. The storms of life are going to come. If we face them with Jesus’ values of faith and trust and acceptance, our house, our life, will not collapse. But if we try and handle the storms of life in our own way with our own resources, our house or life will collapse and be completely ruined.
Most of us have already learned this from experiencing our own life’s storms. As I have written many times before, I tried to handle the storm of alcoholism in my life in my own way for many years and I failed. Nothing ever came from it. Things just got worse. But when I acted prudently, when I let Jesus into my life, and asked for his help, then I succeeded with the help of Jesus in quieting that storm in my life. Things have been fine ever since and I still remember to ask his help every day in keeping them that way.
Once again: We cannot do it alone. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Let everyone who has ears to hear, hear.
Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, (June 2, 2008) Mark 12: 1-12
In the Gospel chosen to be read today, Jesus sees the Jewish leaders, the chief priests, scribes and elders mentioned at the beginning of the parable, as the evil tenant farmers of the vineyard. It was they who beat and killed the prophets, the forerunners of the Messiah, and who put the “beloved son” of the parable to death. This parable tells the sad story of the rejection of Jesus by Israel.
Once again, before we go and condemn the Jewish leaders for their rejection of the Anointed One, we need to look first at ourselves. The Gospel for today is a challenge to us to cease our many rejections of Jesus. Every time we stray from the right path into acts of pride, the desire for material things and riches, acts of greed and lust, acts of anger at our fellow men and women; every time we are being envious of others and are lazy and complacent in our prayer life and meditation, when we do these things–and many others besides–we too reject Jesus and put him out of our lives. Jesus, deliver us from temptation and keep us true to you and your values.
Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, (June 3, 2008)
Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
On June 3, 1886, St. Charles Lwanga and thirteen other Catholics along with eleven Protestants, were martyred for their love of Jesus by King Mwanga in Uganda. As they died they cried out in the name of Jesus: “You can burn our bodies, but you cannot harm our souls.”
These Martyrs of Uganda, both Catholic and Protestant, are a reminder to all of us that the persecution of Christians continues in modern times even to our present day. Christian martyrdom did not cease with the Roman Emperors and the coliseum.
The White Fathers, missionaries to Africa, had only been in Uganda six years when all of this happened but these six years had been very fruitful and they had built up quite a community of converts. Many of these converts lived and worked in King Mwanga’s court. Mwanga was a very violent man and a pedophile as well. He could not keep his hands off the young boys and men of the Christian community who lived in his court. It was in an effort to stop this terrible activity of Mwanga that they angered him and set off the persecutions that began in May of 1886 and ended on June 3.
Holy Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us.
Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, (June 4, 2008) Mark 12: 18-27
In the Gospel for today we read about the only encounter that Jesus had with the Sadducees in the Gospel of St. Mark. The Sadducees were the group that did not believe in the resurrection or immortality of the soul and thus they presented the ridiculous situation detailed in this Gospel to Jesus to show him their lack of belief. Jesus proceeds to tell them that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God of the living and not of the dead. Undoubtedly he quoted Isaiah 64: 4 and 65: 17 to them, where it says that eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has it entered the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love him. The Sadducees, Jesus told them, did not really know the Scriptures and were mislead.
How well versed are we regarding the Scriptures and what they say about the resurrection of the dead? It might we well for all of us today to reflect on St. Paul’s extensive writing on this matter to the Corinthians (I Cor. 15: 35-58). It is a beautiful treatise on our resurrection after death. Lord, we trust that we will enjoy your presence and joys forever.
Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, (June 5, 2008)
Memorial of St. Boniface
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Boniface, who, although he was born in England c. 673, is commonly referred to as the Apostle of Germany.
Boniface began his work as a scholar, teacher and priest in England but was convinced he was meant to be a missionary. His baptismal name was Winfrith but Pope Gregory II changed it to Boniface when he sent him to Germany to preach Christianity. He ran into problems with people who were attracted to Christianity but were unable to give up their old religion and superstitions perhaps out of fear of being different. Boniface persevered for many years in his work. One day in 754 an enemy band attacked his camp and he and his companions were martyred. St. Boniface suffered much discouragement and failure in his work but he learned from his difficulties. Maybe that can be a message for all of us to try and imitate.
Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, (June 6, 2008) Mark 12: 35-37
Today’s Gospel selection poses the question: “Whose son is the Messiah (the Christ)?” The scribes answered, “The son of David.” Jesus challenged this response by asking: “How could the Messiah be David’s son if David himself calls him Lord?” Mark’s Church, to whom this is being written, knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, and that he was of Davidic ancestry – but they also knew he was Son of God.
In our prayers and Liturgy we refer to Jesus as Lord, Christ, Savior, Son of David, Son of God, the Anointed One, and on and on. Mark in his Gospel today challenges us to renew our faith commitment to Jesus who died for us and gives us the name we are proud to bear, Christians.
Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, (June 7, 2008) Mark 12: 38-44
The second part of today’s Gospel reading tells of Jesus sitting down opposite the treasury of the Temple and watching the crowd put money into the treasury. He saw many rich people putting in large sums of money. Then as he continued to watch, he saw a poor widow come and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Jesus praised the widow to his disciples because she had contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.
We have the expression that is heard a great deal today: He/she gave it their best shot. I kind of think that is what the good Lord expects from each of us: our best shot. Am I working at being the best priest, father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, religious, that I can be? Am I giving it my best shot? Or am I skimping along in selfishness or laziness? What would Jesus say if he were sitting and watching us do our thing?