Monday of Holy Week

Today’s readings 

There are two things going on in today’s Scripture readings. First, we have the Jews, and now Judas among them, who are very jealous of Jesus and are seeking to arrest and kill him. And not just him, but anyone who encourages people to believe in him, like Lazarus in today’s Gospel. In these holy days, it’s not safe to be around Jesus.

Second, we have Mary, who pours out the most expensive thing she has for love of the Lord. She gives no thought to the expense, to what seems like waste, but instead gives it all out of love for her Lord.
For Jesus’ enemies, it was all about them, and not at all about the God they supposedly believed in and served. But for Mary, it’s about Jesus, and she understands in some way where this is all headed.
So we have the jealousy of the Jews and the cowardice of Judas against the love and generosity and even courage of Mary. In these Holy days, we are called to be Mary, to courageously pour ourselves out in love and generosity, even when the jealousy of the world around us would try to make us feel like it’s best we didn’t make waves.

Monday of the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

We’re still in the opening chapters of human history in our first reading, and in these opening chapters we see some of the less beautiful parts of human nature. The first reading reads like an exposition of deadly sins, and these sins have continued to plague humanity ever since.

We start with envy, as Cain laments that his offering was not accepted with the same favor as was his brother, Abel’s. We move from envy to murder, with Cain committing the very first fratricide, killing his very own brother. From there, we go to apathy, as Cain rejects the opportunity to be his brother’s keeper. And then we meet false witness, as he lies about the murder that he committed. And if all of that isn’t enough, Cain then complains about his punishment as if it was something he didn’t deserve. If he’d only tried repentance, or expressed sorrow for his sins, or even accepted responsibility for what he’d done, maybe things would have turned out differently.

But, in this opening act of human history, we see God’s mercy. God does not remit the entirety of Cain’s punishment, but promises that even his death would be unacceptable. Maybe we should think about that in regard to the death penalty: if even God doesn’t condone the murder of a murderer, then who are we to do that? So God marks Cain, as we all are marked with God’s presence at our baptism. So even in this very early story of our history, we can see that baptism was always intended for our salvation.

The Psalmist this morning says that we absolutely cannot profess God’s commandments and sing his praises, without also accepting God’s discipline and following God’s word. A sacrifice of praise is a life lived with integrity, and that is the sacrifice that God wants of us in every moment.

Monday of the Twenty-sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Satan uses all sorts of things to trip us up, and he can be seen front and center in today’s readings. In the first reading, he has this curious dialogue with God about Job, who will suffer much in the readings to come this week. Satan points out that it is no big deal that Job has remained faithful, as much as God has blessed him so far in life. He wagers when that’s all taken away, things would change in a hurry. But Job’s faithfulness is deeply-rooted, and Satan was wrong, it wasn’t just because of his blessings. Job remains faithful and does nothing disrespectful of God.

In the Gospel reading today, Satan uses envy to stir up trouble. First it’s envy of one another when the disciples waste their time trying to figure out which of them was the greatest, kind of like some kids trying to figure out which one was dad’s favorite. Even when Jesus puts that to rest, they then get envious of some people not of their group casting out demons in Jesus’ name.

What’s important is that we need to discern when Satan is working on us. We don’t want to be used as his plaything. We need to be serious about our faithfulness and say with Job, “blessed be the name of the Lord!”

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