Tuesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Tuesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Exodus 2:1-15  +  Matthew 11:20-24
July 16, 2019

   …she said, “I drew him out of the water.”   

Today’s First Reading gives us the “origin story” of Moses.  The Bible does not tell us the names of Moses’ parents, but the first sentence of today’s passage reveals that both of them were of the house of Levi.  The Levites were the priestly tribe of Israel.  Right off the bat, this foreshadows something important about the role that Moses will play in salvation history.

Likewise, Moses is put by his mother into the river.  In a sense, his mother has observed the Pharaoh’s evil command to throw every boy into the river, but his mother uses papyrus, bitumen and pitch to prevent her son from drowning.  The Pharaoh’s daughter adopts the son and makes him her own, naming him Moses, which literally means, “I drew him out of the water.”

Although it might first seem odd, here the Pharaoh’s daughter’s actions reflect God’s saving action, especially as He begets and names Christians through the waters of baptism.  These waters represent both the destructive power of sin and the cleansing power of grace.

The last section of today’s First Reading leaps forward to Moses’ youth.  The actions and interactions here foreshadow Moses’ role in salvation history.  In the conflict between Egypt and Israel, Moses defends his native people.  Yet Moses is forced to flee as a consequence of his defense.  Nonetheless, this flight is part of God’s Providence, as Moses’ flight leads God’s People to the land for which they were born.

OLMC apparition-of-the-virgin-to-st-simon-stock-tiepolo-giovanni-battista
Today is the optional memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Apparition of the Virgin to St. Simon Stock
by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696—1770)

St. Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

St. Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Exodus 1:8-14,22  +  Matthew 10:34—11:1
July 15, 2019

   The Egyptians, then, dreaded the children of Israel and reduced them to cruel slavery….   

Today we begin at weekday Mass to hear from the Book of Exodus.  We’ll continue to hear from this book for about three weeks.  Today’s passage from Exodus is from its first chapter.  Moses does not appear.  What we hear today forms the backdrop for his entrance.

The “whole cruel fate of slaves” is described at length.  While we in our modern day might consider the description of the Israelites’ slavery very sad, it seems at a remove from our culture of affluence and independence.  At least, this might seem so until we take this historical description and apply it to the Christian spiritual life.  By doing this, we can see what Exodus tells us here as an illumination of the slavery to which sin subjects the sinner.

In order to ensure the success of his regime of slavery, the Pharaoh at the end of today’s passage issues a command.  Every boy born to the Hebrews is to be thrown into the river.  This river historically foreshadows the Red Sea, in which the Egyptian power over the Israelites is destroyed.  But the river spiritually foreshadows the waters of Baptism, in which the power of sin over Christians is destroyed.  In the light of this double foreshadowing, we begin to see how Moses himself foreshadows Jesus.

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Deut 30:10-14  +  Col 1:15-20  +  Lk 10:25-37
July 14, 2019

“And who is my neighbor?” 

In the year of Our Lord 529, Saint Benedict laid the foundation for one of the greater monasteries in the history of the Catholic Church.  Monte Cassino, southeast of Rome, is both very accessible and very easy to spot as you journey towards it.  It sits on the crest of a small mountain, surrounded on three sides by valleys.

One of Father Benedict’s most famous rules for his monks is that “in the person of the stranger, Christ is served”.  Every person who knocks on the doors of a monastery is to be treated as if it were Jesus himself knocking on the door.  Every year on July 11th, the Church celebrates one of the feast days of Saint Benedict, the father of monastic life in the West.  St. Benedict exemplified in his life the invitation that Christ is making to the lawyer in today’s Gospel passage.  Christ makes this same invitation to you and me.

Members of the Benedictine religious order, like all members of religious orders, take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  The Benedictines, however, also take a fourth vow which distinguishes them:  the vow of stability.

Benedictines are “tied” both to each other and to the stranger who finds them.  That is what the parable of the Good Samaritan is about:  being tied, being bound, being wedded to others.

We might imagine what was in this lawyer’s mind as he asked Jesus what he must “do to inherit eternal life”.  Likewise, it’s easy to guess what sort of answer he was hoping to hear when he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Most likely he wanted Jesus to say something like:  “Anyone within a one-mile radius is your neighbor.”  In that case, the lawyer would have moved into a deserted area where he could buy four square miles, so that he could plant his house in the middle and have no one any closer than a mile to him.  In other words, the passage implies that the lawyer asked his question in order to isolate himself from others.  But Jesus’ parable only forces him—and us—into even closer contact with others.  Jesus does this by telling His parable about the Good Samaritan.

To us today, the phrase “good Samaritan” is a common part of our Western culture.  A “good Samaritan” is someone who helps another in need.  This phrase, however, didn’t have that sort of meaning within the culture in which Jesus and the lawyer lived.  To them, the phrase “good Samaritan” was an oxymoron, like talking about a “square circle” or a “good devil”.  The idea of a “good Samaritan” was inconceivable to Jewish people of Jesus’ day, because the Samaritans were sworn enemies of anyone like Jesus who worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem.  The idea that a Samaritan would help someone going down to Jerusalem was beyond belief.

So the brief moral of this parable is that the person who’s looking to limit his love doesn’t know what love is really about.  Putting limits upon whom we “have to love” is like saying that God loves some persons, but not others.  But we know that God loves everyone, even if you and I do not always love everyone.  We need to realize, then:  if God loves someone, we should also, since we’re supposed to live in the Image and likeness of God.  If there’s someone whom we do not love, that says that we’re not living our lives in the same way that God does.

click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for this liturgical Sunday (6:13)

click HERE to read a reflection for this Sunday by the Pontifical Household preacher,
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa

click HERE to watch the homily of Archbishop Anthony Fisher, O.P. for this Sunday (13:26)

+     +     +

click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2016 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read Pope Emeritus Benedict’s 2007 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s reflection upon the Good Samaritan in his 1984 apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris

OT 15-0C

Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 49:29-32; 50:15-26  +  Matthew 10:24-33
July 13, 2019

   “…not one [sparrow] falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.”   

Jesus preaches today about Our Father’s providential knowledge and will.  God knows all things.  We know this abstractly, but perhaps we fail to consider all that this truth of our Faith means. Continue reading

Friday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Friday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 46:1-7,28-30  +  Matthew 10:16-23
July 12, 2019

   “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves….”   

Jesus was always realistic during His earthly life.  So it’s no surprise that He says to His Apostles, “I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves”.   His words were true in the first century, and are so also today. Continue reading

St. Benedict of Norcia

St. Benedict of Norcia
Genesis 44:18-21,23b-29;45:1-5  +  Matthew 10:7-15
July 11, 2019

   “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”   

One of the items on my “bucket list” is to spend a considerable amount of time writing about The City of God by St. Augustine of Hippo.  He lived in a cultural setting similar to ours.  The book is a contrast between the City of God and the city of man.  His comparison of the two leads to many reflections on the nature of divine Providence.  Many of these reflections consider how God chooses to bring moral good out of moral evil. Continue reading

Wednesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Wednesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 41:55-57;42:5-7,17-24 +  Matthew 10:1-7
July 10, 2019

   Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority….   

Today’s Gospel passage speaks about reaching out to those who are hurt and sick.  We hear Jesus sending his twelve apostles to go out and heal “every disease and every illness.”  More than just a prophet, Jesus has authority not only to call back the repentant to Himself, but also to heal them. Continue reading

Tuesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Tuesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 32:23-33  +  Matthew 9:32-38
July 9, 2019

   “…the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few….”   

We usually associate the cry that Jesus utters in today’s Gospel passage with the need for vocations in the Church.  But Jesus also speaks through these words about the harvest of one’s own heart, and the fruits of one’s soul.  In each person is a soul created by God, and each soul is capable of being completely filled, as much as it is able:  to be “perfected” by God’s grace. Continue reading

Monday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Monday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Genesis 28:10-22  +  Matthew 9:18-26
July 8, 2019

   “Courage, daughter!  Your faith has saved you.”   

In today’s Gospel passage are two people who see how God wants to be in their lives in time of need.  So many people turn to Christ in need.  When we are honest with ourselves, we know that we would like to ask Christ’s help for so many things in our lives.  It’s true that petitionary prayer—in which we ask for something from God—is not as selfless a form of prayer as adoration.  But God wants us to present our petitions to Him. Continue reading