Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time 

Today’s readings 

The injunction for wives to be submissive to their husbands, given in our first reading, certainly offends our modern ears. That’s just not the kind of thing we say in this society –now. Yet this was the norm in the society in which Saint Paul ministered. So that command would hardly have raised an eyebrow. What would have been shocking in Saint Paul’s time was the reciprocal injunction to husbands to love their wives as they loved their own bodies. Indeed, Saint Paul’s point was not to rile either husbands or wives, but more to promote the living of harmonious family relationships.

So how would it look now? Today, I think Saint Paul would insist that husbands and wives would live as equal partners, showing mutual respect, and living the love of Christ in their relationship. Saint Paul would certainly say that men and women should work together to foster families in which God’s love could be shown and made manifest in the world through them. The real point of this reading, we must remember, is that the love of husband and wife echoes the love between Christ and the Church. 

May we all love one another as Christ loves his bride, the Church. 

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

In our overly-litigious society, Jesus’ words that we are to make an effort to settle the matter on the way are a good call to refocus.  This call shifts the emphasis from winning to healing, and it calls us to do some hard things.  In order to settle the matter, we will have to communicate and be open to the fact that we may be in the wrong.  If we are open to settling things the way Jesus would have us do it, we might find ourselves growing in maturity and faith, and becoming better people in the process.

But even that is not the primary focus of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus begins by chiding the crowds for failing to interpret the signs of the times. Time is short, he says, and we don’t have forever to come to repentance, we don’t have forever to fix our broken relationships, we don’t have forever to set wrong things right. Now is the time, because the time for salvation is nearer now than it ever was.

We would do well to hear this same message. We need to be about the business of setting things right, fixing relationships, settling long-standing arguments, because the time for salvation is near. What if the return of our Lord finds us mired deep in age-old hurts, resentments, and feuds. God forbid.

Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord

Today’s readings

How quickly things have changed among Jesus’ followers.  His disciples – even the chosen Twelve – have pretty much deserted him.  They’ve either fled in fear, or else they have betrayed him, or denied that they knew him.  But some women who were among his devoted followers have braved the implications for them and have arrived with him at the foot of the cross.  The Beloved Disciple – probably John – has come too.  And, of course, his mother.

Think for a moment how much grief has to be in the heart of Mary.  Joseph seems to be out of the picture now; we assume he has died.  Jesus is all she has left in the world, her promised one.  She certainly knows that his hour is at hand, we know that she continues to trust in God, but the pain of these moments has to be almost too much to bear.  And so Jesus speaks to her from the cross: “Woman, behold your son.”  And to John, “Behold your mother.”  Jesus knows that for those who were closest to him in life, they will have need of support, of community, after his death.  Grief cannot be borne alone.  But not only that, community is essential to the continuation of Jesus’ mission.  So that relationship, forged at the foot of the cross, became the basis for discipleship for both Mary and John that would be instrumental in leading the fledgling Church into the ages ahead.

Still greater, though, is that we see in Mary an icon of the Church.  We grieve too, but we for our sins.  As we look up at the cross, we see – with horrifying clarity – the effect of our sins.  We know why Jesus had to come to this hour.  As Isaiah says, “he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins.”  No one sentenced Jesus to die on that cross as much as we did, and do, in our daily sins of commission and omission, in our harsh words, in our unkind and impure thoughts, in our lack of loving and in the neglect of our mission.  And yet, as John clearly points out in his Gospel, he went to the cross willingly, taking all that brokenness with him.

Like Mary, we the Church wait at the foot of the cross, not abandoning our Jesus who did not abandon us to our sins.  We, like Mary, receive at the cross our relationships, purified for our salvation, strengthened for the mission: beholding our mothers and sons and daughters and fathers, because we never get to the resurrection alone.  We’re not supposed to go it alone in this life.  Even in his most painful and dying moments, our Jesus gives us gifts that help us to arrive at the fullness of salvation.

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

The injunction for wives to be submissive to their husbands, given in our first reading, certainly offends our modern. That’s just not the kind of thing we say in this society –now.  Yet this was the norm in the society in which St. Paul ministered.  So that command would hardly have raised an eyebrow. What would have been shocking in St. Paul’s time was the reciprocal injunction to husbands to love their wives as they loved their own bodies. Indeed, St. Paul’s point was not to rile either husbands or wives, but more to promote the living of harmonious family relationships.

So how would it look now? Today, I think St. Paul would insist that husbands and wives would live as equal partners, showing mutual respect, and living the love of Christ in their relationship. St. Paul would certainly say that men and women should work together to foster families in which God’s love could be shown and made manifest in the world through them. The real point of this reading, we must remember, is that the love of husband and wife echoes the love between Christ and the Church.

May we all love one another as Christ loves his bride, the Church.

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

In our overly-litigious society, Jesus’ words that we are to make an effort to settle the matter on the way are a good call to refocus.  This call shifts the emphasis from winning to healing, and it calls us to do some hard things.  In order to settle the matter, we will have to communicate and be open to the fact that we may be in the wrong.  If we are open to settling things the way Jesus would have us do it, we might find ourselves growing in maturity and faith, and becoming better people in the process.

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Some people would say that Jesus was a peaceful man.  Saying that is really misunderstanding Jesus and who he was.  Because peace wasn’t necessarily his primary interest, at least not peace in the way that we often see it.

Because sometimes I think we misread what peace is supposed to be.  We might sell peace short and settle for the absence of conflict.  Or even worse, we may settle for peace at any price, swallowing our disagreements and never coming close to true healing in our relationships.  There are families in which never a harsh word would be said, but the underlying hostility is palpable.  There are workplaces in which there are never any arguments, but there is also never any cooperative work done.  Sometimes there are relationships where fear replaces love and respect.

And this is not the kind of peace that Jesus would bring us today.  This is the One who came to set the earth on fire, and his methods for bringing us to peace might well cause division in the here and now.  But there is never any resurrection if we don’t have the cross.  And so there will never be any peace if we don’t confront what’s really happening.  The fire has to be red hot and blazing if there is ever to be any regrowth.

And so today we have to stop settling for a peace that really isn’t so peaceful.  We may just have to have that hard conversation we’ve been trying to avoid.  Of course, we do it with love for our brothers and sisters, but out of love we also don’t avoid it.  Our words and actions must always be guided by the fire of the Holy Spirit, but we must never choose to neglect the Spirit’s guidance and instead just settle for something that is really not peace.  We have to work for true healing in all of our relationships.

The Psalmist tells us today that “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”  That goodness resides in all those people God has given us in our lives.  This day, we are called to relish their goodness and work for lasting peace with all of them.