Thursday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

If you’ve ever been to one of our school Masses here at Notre Dame, you know that I’m almost always telling the children that God loves them.  I feel like that might be the most important thing we ever learn about God; and that if we learn it – really learn it – then it can get us to heaven.  And we see that today in our readings: love is very definitely the theme of today’s Liturgy of the Word.  This week we have been hearing readings from the book of Tobit, in which we have the only Scriptural appearance of Saint Raphael the archangel.  And today we hear about him entering the story, in the guise of the person of Azariah.  Tobit and Tobiah and all the rest don’t know he’s an angel yet, but that will become clear enough when the blessing of love wipes the cataracts away from Tobit’s eyes, and everything becomes clear to him.

And we know that it is love that can do all these things.  There’s a lot of sadness leading up to today’s first reading.  Tobit has contracted cataracts, and the doctors have only made it worse.  Sarah has had six potential husbands, all of whom have died on the wedding night.  But we will see that love will clear up old Tobit’s vision, and love will let Tobiah survive his wedding night.  Love can heal Tobit’s and Sarah’s broken hearts.  And love can reveal that the power of God works in all of our lives, in all of our hearts.

Sometimes we need an angel – literally a messenger of God – to come to know that.  During our lives, we can go through periods that are just awful and seem to be devoid of any joy.  But love won’t let that be the final answer for any of us.  Just as the angel Raphael took the form of Azaraiah and was a blessing to Tobiah and Sarah, so too there may be angels in our own lives, in the form of family or friends or caregivers that end the cycle of sadness in the same way that God’s blessing ended the cycle of death for Sarah’s husbands.

Tobiah and Sarah sang a song of praise to God and said “Amen, amen” before going to bed for the night.  They woke up the next morning to rejoice in God’s love in the same way that we can, if we will but realize that there is no commandment greater than the commandment to love God and one another.  Death cannot and will not ever win the battle over love.

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter 

Today’s readings

Today’s readings are full of messengers. In the first reading, Paul is a messenger bringing news of the real meaning of the ancient Scriptures in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And he speaks of another messenger, John the Baptist, who paved the way for the coming of Jesus by preaching a baptism of repentance. In the Gospel, Jesus points out that a messenger is never greater than the one who sent him, and that those messengers sent by Christ should be accepted as Christ, since Jesus himself was sent by the Father. Accepting the messenger is accepting Jesus is accepting God the Father.

The word messenger goes back to old French and Latin words for “send” and is closely tied to the word “mission.” The messenger is truly on a mission from the one who sent him. When you think of it, all of us disciples are messengers on a mission. We all have been charged with the mission of proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing to Christ. We do that in our own ways; sometimes, as St. Francis would say, we use words. But often we do not. Most often our witness depends on how well we live our mission, the message that we send comes in the things we do and the way we live. As my father used to say, “actions speak louder than words.”

And so we come to this place to be nourished for our mission. We hear the words of Scripture that gives us the message to preach and receive the Eucharist that gives us strength for the journey. People will come to know Christ as they come to know us. We pray that our message might be a good one, a message that compels everyone we meet to turn to our God. Because the mission, the message that we have is better than anything on earth. As the Psalmist says, “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Today’s readings

“Don’t shoot the messenger!” That’s our colloquial way of saying that the words we speak to someone come from someone else; they are not our ideas. Most of us have probably said that to someone at some time when giving them bad news.

But that doesn’t work for we who are followers of Christ. Yes, we are messengers. The Greek word for messenger is “angeloi” from which we get our English word, “angel.” Angels are messengers sent by God to communicate something specific to humankind. For example, we’ve seen the archangel Gabriel herald the coming of Christ to a young woman named Mary. A whole host of angels heralded the birth of the Savior to shepherds working in the fields. The letter to the Hebrews tells us not to neglect hospitality, for we may be entertaining angels. And Jesus tells us today, “whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

We are all sent, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be messengers. We have received the Gospel and have been schooled in it through our participation in the Mass and our education in faith. We are not angels, nor do we become angels after we die, because angels are a different species of creation than humankind. But we are in a sense angeloi; we are messengers who are sent by God to bring the Good News, the Gospel, to all those who need to hear it. We have to preach it every day, maybe not by standing on a soapbox, but definitely by our living of the message ourselves.

Just as St. Paul courageously preached the truth in the synagogue in today’s first reading, we have to be ready to courageously share our faith in whatever way God calls us, wherever God puts us, to whoever God gives us. The Psalmist has it right today, as always, when he says, “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord!” We must always sing the praises of God who gives us everything we have and everything we could ever hope for. Singing those praises with our lives makes our message every bit as beautiful as the choirs of angels!

May our guardian angels show us the way to be angeloi for the glory of God!

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Today’s readings

“Don’t shoot the messenger!” That’s our colloquial way of saying that the words we speak to someone come from someone else; they are not our ideas. Most of us have probably said that to someone at some time.

But that doesn’t work for we who are followers of Christ. Yes, we are messengers. The Greek word for messenger is “angeloi” from which we get our English word, “angel.” Angels are messengers sent by God to communicate something specific to humankind. We’ve seen the archangel Gabriel herald the coming of Christ to a young woman named Mary. A whole host of angels heralded the birth of the Savior to shepherds working in the fields. The letter to the Hebrews tells us not to neglect hospitality, for we may be entertaining angels. And Jesus tells us today, “whoever receives the one I send
receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

We are all sent, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be messengers. We have received the Gospel and have been schooled in it through our participation in the Mass and our education in faith. We are not angels, because angels are a different species of creation than humankind, but we are in a sense angeloi, we are messengers who are sent by God to bring the Good News, the Gospel, to all those who need to hear it. And that would be every person God puts in our lives or in our path. We have to preach it every day, maybe not by standing on a soapbox, but definitely by our living of the message ourselves.

Just as St. Paul courageously preached the truth in the synagogue in today’s first reading, we have to be ready to courageously share our faith in whatever way God calls us, wherever God puts us, to whoever God gives us. The Psalmist has it right today, as always, when he says, “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord!” Whether we have trained voices or not, we must always sing the praises of God who gives us everything we have and everything we could ever hope for. Singing those praises with our lives makes our message every bit as beautiful as the choirs of angels sang on that great first Christmas.

May our guardian angels show us the way to be angeloi for the glory of God!

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Today’s readings

Jesus tells us today a parable about himself – he is the son whose inheritance the tenants wanted to steal. And that’s how the leaders of Judaism saw it in those days. If Jesus were out of the way, they’d still be able to “corner the market” on religious leadership, unchallenged by his Gospel. They’d have all the blessings of religious leadership all to themselves. Because no one likes a challenging messenger, the religious leaders no more than the parable tenants no more than Joseph’s brothers. But for those of us who stop to hear what they have to say, the blessing is more than we can imagine. Yes, they challenge us, but we never grow if we are not challenged. So the question is, who is the challenging messenger in our own lives, what is their message, and are we ready to hear it?

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Today's readings [display_podcast]

Today’s readings are full of messengers.  In the first reading, Paul is a messenger bringing news of the real meaning of the ancient Scriptures in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  And he speaks of another messenger, John the Baptist, who paved the way for the coming of Jesus by preaching a baptism of repentance.  In the Gospel, Jesus points out that a messenger is never greater than the one who sent him, and that those messengers sent by Christ should be accepted as Christ, since Jesus himself was sent by the Father.  Accepting the messenger is accepting Jesus is accepting God the Father.

The word messenger goes back to old French and Latin words for “send” and is closely tied to the word “mission.”  The messenger is truly on a mission from the one who sent him.  When you think of it, all of us disciples are messengers on a mission.  We all have been charged with the mission of proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing to Christ.  We do that in our own ways; sometimes, as St. Francis would say, we use words.  But often we do not.  Most often our witness depends on how well we live our mission, the message that we send comes in the things we do and the way we live.  As my father used to say, “actions speak louder than words.”

And so we come to this place to be nourished for our mission.  We hear the words of Scripture that gives us the message to preach and receive the Eucharist that gives us strength for the journey.  People will come to know Christ as they come to know us.  We pray that our message might be a good one, a message that compels everyone we meet to turn to our God.  Because the mission, the message that we have is better than anything on earth.  As the Psalmist says, “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”