The Week of Oct. 8-13, 2018

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 1:6-12  +  Luke 10:25-37
October 8, 2018

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Today we hear one of the more famous parables of Jesus.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan ought profoundly to shape our spiritual and moral lives.  That order of things is important, however:  spiritual and then moral.

Although in a deeper sense there ought not be a distinction between our spiritual and moral lives, on the practical level, differences do mark the two.  We might say that the two are most sharply distinguished by sin.  The “scholar of the law” who “wished to justify himself” wants to be moral, but not spiritual.  Jesus demands that he be both, and that he be moral by being spiritual.

Mercy is the means by which the moral life is wedded to the spiritual life.  Or rather, mercy is the means by which the spiritual life begets authentic moral choices.  Were we not all children of Adam and Eve, fallen creatures, our moral choices would not demand mercy.  But in this world of sin and corruption, mercy is divine charity’s common currency.

In our spiritual lives, we look on each of our fellow human creatures through the eyes of God the Father.  We love each sinner, beaten and wounded by the sins of himself and others, with the mercy through which the Father sent His innocent Son to be slain for us.  Through this love, we can choose to serve the broken, bind the wounded, and know that in this service we serve God as well.

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 1:13-24  +  Luke 10:38-42
October 9, 2018

“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Today’s Gospel passage is one of the more famous stories about Jesus’ life.  It’s such a very simple story, but it’s one of the most important lessons in the whole Bible about being a Christian:  that is, about following Jesus.

If you could go back in time and visit Martha and Mary in their home, asking both about showing hospitality to Jesus, I’m sure that Martha would say that she was being hospitable, while Mary would say that she was being hospitable.  Martha was tending to all the details of hospitality—the cleaning, the cooking, and so on—while Mary was tending to Jesus Himself.  What does Jesus think about these two different ways of showing hospitality?  Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Now this Mary in today’s Gospel—Martha’s sister—is not Jesus’ mother.  There are a lot of women in the Gospel named Mary.  But this Mary in today’s Gospel passage seems a lot like Jesus’ mother, because she has chosen the better part:  her life is focused on Jesus.  Mary stops everything that she is doing, and sits at Jesus’ feet in order to listen to what He has to say to her, as we should do each day.

Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 2:1-2,7-14  +   Luke 11:1-4
October 10, 2018

“Father, hallowed by your Name, your Kingdom come.”

Every Christian knows by heart the ‘Our Father’:  the only recited prayer that Jesus taught to His followers.  But the ‘Our Father’ that we know in our hearts—which we pray at every Mass before receiving Holy Communion, and which we pray several times throughout the course of a rosary—is not exactly the ‘Our Father’ that we have just heard Jesus teach in today’s Gospel passage.

The version of the ‘Our Father’ that Luke records for us is shorter than the version that we know by heart. Maybe this shorter version is the first version that Jesus taught to his followers, much the same way that a teacher introduces just the key points first, and then later fleshes it out some more.

In this shorter version of the ‘Our Father’, there are three petitions that Jesus teaches us to pray.  In the silence following Holy Communion, of after Mass, or in your home, read and pray this shorter version, and see what the three petitions are.  What are the three things that Jesus teaches us to ask of our Heavenly Father?

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 3:1-5  +  Luke 11:5-13
October 11, 2018

O stupid Galatians!

This week and early next, we are hearing from the letter that Saint Paul wrote to the people in the region of Galatia.  It’s not hard to tell that Saint Paul was unhappy when he wrote his Letter to the Galatians.  Saint Paul wrote thirteen of the letters in the New Testament, and only in this letter, to the Galatians, does Saint Paul call people “stupid”.  It must be something very serious that the Galatians have done to be called this by a saintly apostle.

The mistake that Saint Paul is trying to correct is about the Galatians thinking that they are going to get to heaven only because of what they do.  The Galatians think that they are “making” the Holy Spirit present in their lives because of their good choices.

Instead, Saint Paul teaches, echoing the Gospel, that everything begins with God.  Our good works are accomplished only because of the time and talent that God gave us.  The Holy Spirit comes into our lives through the divine virtue of faith.  Even within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit comes from the love of God the Father and God the Son for each other.

Everything begins with God.  Jesus in today’s Gospel passage is teaching us about one specific type of prayer.  There are four basic types of prayer (there are others as well, but these are the four main types).  One way to remember them is to think of the word “pact”, as in an agreement.

The word “pact” has four letters.  Each letter stands for a different type of prayer.  The first of these—“p”—stands for “petition”.  We should ask God for whatever we believe we most need in life.  Sometimes God does not answer our prayers the way we want:  but this helps us grow spiritually, too, because when one of our prayers doesn’t get answered the way we wanted, it’s a chance for us to learn once again that God gives us not what we want, but what we need.

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 3:7-14  +  Luke 11:15-26
October 12, 2018

Realize that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham.

In today’s First Reading, Saint Paul preaches to the Galatians about the Old Testament patriarch Abraham.  In the Roman Canon of Holy Mass, we hear Abraham described as “our father in faith”.  It’s in this sense that St. Paul is describing Abraham in the First Reading.

Many virtues color the life of one who pursues God (or rather, who allows God to pursue him).  The three greatest of these are called “theological virtues” because each has a very direct connection to God.  Faith is the first of the theological virtues.  It’s not the greatest of the three, but its importance lies in its being foundational.  Faith is the bedrock on which the rest of the spiritual life is built.  Without true faith, one might as well build on sand.

Abraham is such a powerful example of the virtue of faith because of the way he teaches us how to sacrifice.  Often we are willing to make a sacrifice because we know we’re making a sort of trade, and that we’ll get something that in some way is better than what we’re sacrificing.  But religious sacrifice is rooted in faith.  A tremendous example of this is Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son.  Abraham’s willingness wasn’t based on getting something in return:  indeed, this sacrifice was nothing but profound loss for him!  His willingness was based on his faith in the One who asked him to make the sacrifice.

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Galatians 3:22-29  +  Luke 11:27-28
October 13, 2018

“Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

In the Catholic Church, Saturday is a “little day” devoted to Our Blessed Mother Mary.  It is little because liturgically, the day only runs until mid-afternoon (some would specify this as 4:00 p.m.).  From that point on, the day is celebrated liturgically as the vigil of Sunday.

This “little day” is traditionally devoted to Our Lady because as Jesus came to us from Mary, so Sunday follows on this brief span of time.  Even in a parish, Saturday mornings and early afternoons are quieter than the rest of the week (unless, of course, a funeral or wedding is celebrated).  Even on a quiet Saturday, though, there’s work to be done behind the scenes in preparation for the Lord’s Day, as our Lady worked quietly to prepare for her Son, and to minister to Him during His public ministry.

Today’s Gospel passage is fittingly short, then:  only two verses long.  A woman from the crowd honors Mary without naming her.  Jesus then seems to cast aside the honor accorded His mother.  In fact, however, He’s describing Mary, and so is pointing out to us our need to be like her:  “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”