Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time [Years I & II]

Please note:  two reflections are given below, each based on the First Reading and/or Responsorial Psalm of the day.  The Year I readings apply to years ending in an odd number (for example, 2023), while the Year II readings apply to years ending in an even number, such as 2024.  The Gospel Reading is the same in both years.


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Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Romans 15:14-21  +  Luke 16:1-8

… because of the grace … in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God ….

There are differences among Christians, and then there are disagreements.  Differences can be of various types, including those willed by God Himself for the sake of the Church.  Saint Paul has preached about “diversity for the sake of unity” in the First Readings of recent days.  Differences can come about through human sin, contrary to the will of God.  But disagreements often point to something more difficult to reconcile:  beliefs that are contrary to the mind of God.

There are disagreements among Christians about Christians serving others as priests.  A priest, of course, is a mediator:  in more common parlance, a “middle man”.  He stands between God and another human person in order to serve that person:  in order to bridge the gap between God and the other.  Is there such a thing as an authentic Christian priesthood?  If so, what form or forms does it take?

Saint Paul in today’s First Reading shows us that the answer to the first of these questions is “Yes”.  Speaking to the Romans about himself, St. Paul speaks of his “priestly service of the Gospel… so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable”.

Among Christians who speak regularly against Catholic teaching and practice about the priesthood, you will often hear that there is only one mediator, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, there ought to be no human mediators between “me and Jesus”, as they might put it.  But St. Paul’s words today—inspired as they are by the Holy Spirit—clearly show such an idea to be contrary to the mind of God.  This is only the first principle by which to understand Christian priesthood, but it’s good for us to reflect on it today.

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Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time [Year II]
Philippians 3:17—4:1  +  Luke 16:1-8

“And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.”

“Our citizenship is in Heaven”.  What would our lives look like if we believed these words sincerely?  Saint Paul is exhorting the Philippians neither to place their faith in this world, nor to use the things of this world for their own sake.

If our citizenship is in Heaven, then we are sojourners in this world.  To place our faith in this world is to sink our roots in this world, which can only tie us down when God chooses us to raise us to Himself:  either briefly in prayer, or into Heaven after our death.  How many persons spend a great deal of their time in Purgatory casting off their ties to the world?

If our citizenship is in Heaven, then the things of this world are means, rather than ends.  What do we seek in this life?  What we seek are our ends.  Do we seek things that are of this world?  Or is what we’re seeking of God?  God gives us good things in this world to use as stepping stones, to draw others, and to be drawn up into our true citizenship in Heaven.

OT 31-5