Please note: two reflections are given below, each based on the First Reading 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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Tuesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time [Year I]
Wisdom 2:23—3:9 + Luke 17:7-10
God formed man to be imperishable; the image of His own nature He made him.
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Wisdom explicitly proclaims a belief central to Judaeo-Christian thought. The first sentence of this passage instructs us that “God formed man to be imperishable; the image of His own nature He made him.”
Today’s First Reading is eleven verses long. The last nine make up a passage often proclaimed at funerals, meditating as it does on human suffering. But the first two verses offer a frame in which to situate those last nine.
The theme of suffering is a continual theme throughout the seven books of the Old Testament’s “Wisdom Literature”. Suffering is, for many, what makes or breaks them spiritually. Many turn away from God because of their experiences of suffering. Others profoundly deepen their living in God through their experiences of human suffering. None of the Bible’s “Wisdom Literature” gives an “answer” to human suffering. Wisdom is not found in answers. Wisdom is found in resting in the Image of God.
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Tuesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time [Year II]
Titus 2:1-8,11-14 + Luke 17:7-10
The just shall possess the land / and dwell in it forever.
During the last weeks of the Church year—which more or less correspond with the month of November—the Church asks us to turn our attention to what she calls the “Last Things”. Each Christian needs to focus his or her attention upon Heaven and Hell, death and judgment.
A lot of people like to think, and lead their lives, believing that only one of these four things even exists. Of course there is a Heaven. Heaven is the place where everyone goes when they die: this is what some people believe. This is what some people teach. But this is not what Jesus taught.
Jesus taught that people, if they do not follow Him, will go—not to Heaven, but to that other place, called Hell. King David, in composing today’s psalm, puts it this way: “The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.” Salvation—being saved, which is another way of saying, “getting to Heaven”—does not come from ourselves, but only from the Lord. If we try to get to Heaven by ourselves, or if we try to make our own Heaven, we will fail, and end up forever without God. We are responsible for doing many things, and at the end of our lives, we should be able to give an account of what we have done. Still, none of those things are what get us into Heaven.