By Stephen B. Whatley
In celebrating Mary’s immaculate heart, we celebrate her single-heartedness. Sin divides our heart between self and God, making us no longer single-hearted, no longer immaculate of heart. But, as with any other time when we honor Mary, we run the risk of making her distant and inimitable, precisely as we mean to exalt her: congratulations, Mary, but we are not in the same league.
Before the beginning of time, before creation, God existed all alone. The love of God was the only love there was then. The love of God is the only love there is now. And the love of God is the only love there will ever be. We are not creators we are only receivers and transmitters of the love of God. And we can transmit only as much as we receive. To tell us of His love, God sent his only Son. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the greatest expression of the love of God for us and the greatest expression of the human response to that love.
We often seek clear and straightforward guidelines that help us to know what is important and to decide what to do. At the same time we are also aware that such guidelines do not exist, because of the complexity of the human experience and of diverse Christian beliefs and values that address the human experience. We know that simple guidelines are usually simplistic and can do more harm than good. Throughout human history and the history of Christian communities, individuals and groups, who took certain beliefs and values very seriously, caused immense human suffering because they did not consider the wider context of these beliefs and values as well as of their actions.
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12 ; Mark 12:18-27
Text by Kello Tadeo Obik
Coming to this week, with the memories of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost still vivid, I am as Paul begins in his letter today, grateful to God.
Pentecost is truly one of my favorite celebrations of the year. The images of the Holy Spirit are impossible to be confined- wind, fire, a dove, and breath. These images are a gift to me throughout the year as I try to enliven my faith and my actions each day.
2 Peter 3:12-15a, 17-18; Mark 12:13-17
Today’s scripture readings seem to be about opportunities and priorities. In 2 Peter, Peter says, “To him be glory now and to the day of eternity.” He encourages his listeners to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ. The psalmist proclaims, “Let your work be seen by your servants and your glory by their children.” And in Mark, Jesus encounters Pharisees and Herodians who attempt to ensnare him with a question about money. Jesus responds, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
2 Peter 1:2-7; Mark 12:1-12
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with the Gospel reading about the vineyard tenants. It seems to me that if the vineyard tenants had the benefit of Peter’s words, or internalized the words of Psalm 91, they would have treated the owner’s servants and son not only decently, but kindly. Peter’s words about the interdependence of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, mutual affection, and love are a summary of how to do faith-based community living well. If we all also place our trust in God, surely things will be well.