St. Matthew

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13  +  Matthew 9:9-13
September 21, 2017

“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Among the four evangelists, only Matthew and John were members of the Twelve apostles.  Mark and Luke did not, as far as we know, ever meet Jesus during His earthly life.  Nonetheless, Mark and Luke were disciples of Peter and Paul, respectively, and from those two Mark and Luke received the apostolic witness to the Good News.

On this feast of St. Matthew, we also ought to keep in mind that while all four accounts of the Gospel are apostolic in origin, each presents a unique portrait of the Messiah.  If a man has four very close friends during his life, then after his death each of those four would likely write a different biography of their common friend.  The account of his life would reflect the biographer’s interactions with him.

Today’s Gospel passage presents Matthew’s own account of how Jesus called him to serve.  Matthew is strikingly honest about his sinfulness.  In light of his own need for mercy, Matthew presents Jesus through the words that the Lord speaks at the end of today’s Gospel passage:  “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The First Reading might seem most fitting today because of St. Paul describing various roles within the Body of Christ, such as Apostle and evangelist, both of which Matthew was.  However, consider the beginning of this passage, where Paul describes the Christian’s need for humility and patience, so as to bear “with one another through love”.  These words echo Matthew’s description of how Jesus called himself.

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Sts. Andrew, Paul et soc.

Sts. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, & Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, et soc., Martyrs
1 Timothy 3:14-16  +  Luke 7:31-35
September 20, 2017

“But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Our society today is knowledge-rich but wisdom-poor.  Contrast knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge today, as it’s commonly considered, is thought to be facts and figures.  A recently enshrined paragon of knowledge is an IBM computer called “Watson”, which can spit forth names and dates faster than human game show champions.  While we might dispute whether facts and figures are the essence of knowledge or merely some of its components, we often educate our children according to knowledge-based systems.

What would it mean instead to educate children, and to re-form adults, according to a pattern of wisdom instead?  Jesus in today’s Gospel hints that “wisdom is vindicated by all her children”.  These curious words suggest that wisdom “educates” not according to a knowledge-based system, but according to a person-based system.  Jesus teaches us that wisdom bears children; it doesn’t generate results.  Wisdom can only be understood according to a personalistic view of human life, the Gospel, and the eternal life to which Jesus wants to lead us.  It’s wise for us to follow Him.

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September 19, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Timothy 3:1-13  +  Luke 7:11-17

…a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach….

Today’s First Reading, from St. Paul’s first epistle to St. Timothy, speaks to the lived reality of Holy Orders in the apostolic church.  There are three “orders” (sometimes called “grades” or “degrees”) of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  St. Paul speaks today of the first and the last. Continue reading

September 18, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Timothy 2:1-8  +  Luke 7:1-10

“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

With few exceptions, the translation of the Mass introduced in 2011 has been hailed by bishops, scholars and folk in the pews for its advances over the hurried translation made soon after Vatican II.  One of the key improvements in the translation is its greater fidelity to Sacred Scripture.  Today’s Gospel passage offers an example. Continue reading

The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Sir 27:30—28:7  +  Rom 14:7-9  +  Mt 18:21-35
September 17, 2017

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.

The great British convert and apologist G. K. Chesterton once said, “Forgiving means to pardon the unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.”  By contrast, you and I often are willing only to forgive if we deem someone’s sins not too serious or offensive.  Today Jesus challenges us to go further in being instruments of His mercy.

One way to realize to what extent we ought to extend mercy to others is to turn the table.  We ought each day to consider how much God Himself has blessed us in showing us His mercy.  We ought to reflect on how each day we act sinfully, in a way that calls for God’s mercy.

All of us long to find a place where we are at home, where we are trusted.  But even more importantly, we long to find a place where we can be forgiven, for we know that there are times when we fail to live up to the trust that people place in us.  We might ask ourselves, “Which is more important to me:  trust or forgiveness?” Continue reading

Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows
1 Timothy 1:1-2,12-14  +  John 19:25-27
September 15, 2017

“Woman, behold, your son.”

All our joys, all our sorrows, all our glory is only found in Christ:  that is to say, because we are members of Christ’s Body.  It is not true that you have your cross, and I have mine.  We all bear together—as individual members of Christ’s Body—the Cross of Jesus.  We all share in carrying His Cross. Continue reading

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Num 21:4-9  +  Phil 2:6-11  +  Jn 3:13-17
September 14, 2017

…He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

We know that silence can be deafening.  Sometimes silence is very embarrassing, as when a teacher asks a question about something you’ve been studying for weeks, and no one knows the answer.

On the other hand, silence can be a very good thing.  It is in silence that the highest kind of prayer happens.  St. John of the Cross is supposed to have said that silence is God’s native language.  Regardless, there are many different ways to pray:  one of the first ways that we learn to pray is made up of prayers that others teach us, like the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary” or the “Glory Be”.  Prayers like these let us pray together as a group, so that we’re praying the same thing at the same time.

Other times, though, we pray on our own, and so we make up our own words in prayer.  In this kind of prayer—which is like a conversation with God—we can say anything we want.  We don’t have to remember the right words to pray:  we just pray from our heart, and offer to God whatever is most on our mind. Continue reading

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Colossians 3:1-11  +  Luke 6:20-26
September 13, 2017

“Woe to you when all speak well of you.”

“Woe to you when all speak well of you.”  These words of Jesus seem at first hard to reconcile with the honors we confer on the canonized saints of the Church.  If we took the words of Jesus literally, then the praise given the saints would be wrong.  And what of our speaking well of Christ Himself? Continue reading

The Most Holy Name of Mary

The Most Holy Name of Mary
Colossians 2:6-15  +  Luke 6:12-19
September 12, 2017

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and He spent the night in prayer to God.

St. Luke the Evangelist seems to speak more about prayer than the other evangelists.  He does so both by giving us Jesus’ words about prayer, and by illustrating occasions on which Jesus prayed.  In today’s Gospel Reading we have an example of the latter. Continue reading