“Offer no resistance to injury . . . turn the other cheek.” These phrases are among the most famous and most difficult of any which the Gospels record as coming from the lips of Jesus. If we listen to them long enough to really hear them, before being frightened off by them, we usually hear in them an admonition to passivity in the face of conflict.
Ezek 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
Can our God really help us? Can we really have hope in the midst of great struggles?
These are the questions being asked and addressed in today's readings - by Ezechiel's community, by the community in Corinth, and by the community under persecution, who first heard Mark's gospel, and by us today.
At the time of the Babylonian captivity, it seemed that the people had no more hope - and that they certainly wondered how God's promises could be fulfilled. Is is possible for God to be faithful? In the midst of this? The power of their captors seems overwhelming. Ezekiel explains that God really is powerful. God can, and will, take a shoot and plant it as their future. What appears to be powerful will be brought down and what is lowly will be raised up. Mary speaks like that in her Magnificat. The child conceived in her womb would be that surprising sign of God's fidelity.
1 Kings 19:19-21; Matthew 5:33-37
Today's scripture readings are about trust. Elisha kills the cow, burns the plow, kisses mom and dad good-bye and then follows Elijah. I'm not sure what mom and dad thought about all of this, but Elisha obviously trusted Elijah. The psalmist sings that his heart is glad, his soul rejoices and his body abides in confidence. His joy comes from trusting God. And Jesus tells his disciples "Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no," no oaths or vows. He calls them to a change from the status quo. To trust him.
Photo by Łysakowski Wiesław
1 Kings 19:9a, 11-16; Matthew 5:27-32
In the Gospel we encounter Jesus preaching to his disciples about moral teachings in Jewish Law. This section of the Gospel according to Matthew is known as the “antitheses”, where Jesus names a biblical teaching and not only does he express agreement with it but he also goes a step further and invites his disciples to go deeper into the spirit of that moral teaching: “You have heard that it was said…, But I say to you…” These “antitheses”, are not really so, since Jesus does not express an opposition to the Jewish Law, like the word antithesis suggests, but an invitation to go further into the spirit of that Law, which had been given by God as a covenant with God’s people, Israel.
▪ This month, the event of Bicentenary of the Ordination of our holy Founder St. Vincent Pallotti was marked as a significant moment for the entire Pallottine Family. Here in Rome, the solemn celebration began on 15th with the vigil Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran where he was ordained 200 years ago. The Holy Eucharist was presided by Mgr. Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome. In his homily he appreciated the person of St.Vincent Pallotti and invited his sons and daughters to follow his example. On the 16th, a thanksgiving Mass was celebrated by Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, SAC, Rector General together with 14 newly ordained Pallottine priests who concelebrated in the Church of the SS, Salvatore in Onda at the altar of our Founder. As an introduction the president of the Union Ms. Donatella Acerbi, cited words of Pallotti´s letters and encouraged the Union members to live a holy life. Among the participants were the Superiors General of the three Core Communities, Father Jacob Nampudakam SAC, Sister Ivete Garlet CSAC, Sister Izabela Świerad, SAC and Sister Adalgisa Cammarata, the Superior General of the Eucharistic Sisters of St. Vincent Pallotti.
“If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift.”
Years ago, weekly confession preceded by an examination of conscience, was mandatory at my Catholic grade school. Fighting with my brothers and sisters made the list automatically. Happily all five of those sibling-combatants are now among my dearest friends.
But this passage speaks to reconciling the major conflicts of adult life that can’t be settled by a time out – conflicts that make it difficult to forgive, even harder to forget. Perhaps we have been responsible for rupturing relationships that we now wish to mend.
1 Kings 18:20-39; Matthew 5:17-19
“Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope”
“Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope”, is the psalm response in today’s scripture. It’s a familiar sung refrain that we use in our parish…a calming melody that is comforting as I reflected on today’s scripture.
In the Gospel of the day, Jesus reminds his followers that he has not come to abolish the teachings of the prophets and God’s commandments, but to fulfill them. This passage is preceded by the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus later continues with speaking about the fullness of following the commandments…not the letter, but the whole spirit of the command.
1 Kings 17:7-16; Matthew 5:13-16
Today’s readings truly show us God’s goodness. The story of Elijah and the widow is sort of the Old Testament’s version of the loaves and the fishes with God ensuring that the just do not go hungry. The Gospel reading contains one of my favorite passages about putting lights on top of bushel baskets rather than underneath them so that the light will shine.
Although Barnabas was not one of “the twelve apostles” the New Testament, the Church honor him as an apostle. We are grateful for him, if for no other reason than he recognized the talent of the brilliant young Saul of Tarsus and led him into the inner circle of the Church. Barnabas may be a John the Baptist to Saint Paul’s Jesus. The Baptist’s concluding remark was, “He must increase and I must decrease.” In the same way, Barnabas took Paul in hand, instructed him in the new way, mentored him on their missionary journey, and then stepped out of the way as Paul took charge of the venture.In the Acts of the Apostles we can see this development in Saint Luke’s careful language. The group was led first by Barnabas, and then by Barnabas and Paul, next by Paul and Barnabas, and finally by Paul.
Genesis 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13--5:1; Mark 3:20-35
Pope Francis has often noted that the first words of God to the human family are from this passage where God's asks Adam, "Where are you?" Francis suggests that it is a good question for us today. Where do we find ourselves today? What is the situation around us? What is our purpose? What is our relationship with others? What is it we are being called to be and to do?
Paul reminds the Corintians that we are not discouraged because the resurrection of Jesus has already given us new life and "our inner self is being renewed day by day." The good news is what gives us hope and courage. Our faith is what allows us to be bold and to live our lives for others without holding back.