30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 28, 2018

30B18. Jeremiah 31:7-9. “The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.” “They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them.” “For I am a father to Israel.” As the psalm response for Psalm 126 says, “The Lord had done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” For their disobedience Israel had been led off to captivity by the Babylonians. They had served their time in reparation. The God of Israel loves his People and with paternal care leads them back to their homeland.

Mark 10:46-52. Bartimaeus hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by but, probably because he has heard that Jesus has done miraculous things that only the Messiah could do, he calls out to him addressing him with the messianic title, son of David, instead of Jesus of Nazareth, which was his secular name. Bartimaeus, in crying out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me,” is saying what we say at the beginning of Mass: ‘Jesus, have mercy; Christ, have mercy’. It was his way, and now our way, of requesting: ‘Make me physically whole; make me spiritually holy’ or ‘do great things for me’. As Jesus’ Father led Israel out of the dark times of slavery, Jesus leads a son of Israel out of the darkness of his blindness. When the disciples said to Bartimaeus, “‘Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you,’ he threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.” Traditionally Bartimaeus’ response to the invitation of Jesus is looked upon as his way of saying by his actions that he has abandoned seeking his strength from his own personal resources but is now totally dependent on, i.e. put his faith, in Jesus. Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your ‘faith has saved you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” As with the remnant of Israel in Jeremiah, the Lord has done great things for Bartimaeus and he follows the Lord with great joy. In the darkness of his blindness his faith opened him to be filled with the power of God. Our weaknesses invite us to no longer be dependent on our own resources but rather to put our faith in the strength of the Lord. Life is journey of having the sight to see Jesus leading us on the way to heaven and not be lost in the blindness of an earthly life.

Hebrews 5:1-6. Every high priest in the Old Testament was just a human being but chosen by God. Being human even the high priest “is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God.” Jesus too was called by God his Father to be the high priest. It was the Father who glorified the Jesus, saying to him: “You are my son: this day I have begotten you!” The God sets up the scenario for Jesus to be the high priest who opens up the gates of heaven by offering himself on the cross so that we may be delivered from captivity to sin to live in the promised land of heaven. Now we can say: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 21, 2018

29B18. Isiah 53:10-11. Suffering for the sins of others because God wishes it of him, God’s servant will be rewarded abundantly.

Mark 10:35-45. The brothers, James and John, ask of Jesus that, when he comes into glory and power, they want to be closest to the center of power which would mean that the other ten would be in lower and lesser positions than they. Of course, the other ten became indignant on hearing the boldness of their request. Jesus denied their request saying that that was not his to give. However, much more important to Jesus was that seeking power over others was not his goal but rather serving others. “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to first among you will be the slave of all.” God is love and he is the model of what we should be. Though all-powerful he did not impose himself on us because he wished us to be loving as he is loving. He created us with free will so that we could make the choice on our own be loving or to reject love. To be loving means that we must be lowly when to be lowly is what love requires as when Jesus chose to be a helpless infant; to suffer as when he suffered for us; to die as when he died for us. He made God’s almighty divine power subject to his desire to be loving rather than overwhelming us with might. For God love lords it over power and might, making power and might the servant of love. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Paul writes in Philippians 2: 5-8: “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, ‘Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found to be human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross’”

Hebrews 4:14-16. Jesus, always remaining God, nonetheless became human so to become the great high priest who offered up himself on the cross to redeem us from our sins. In his humanness Jesus came to “sympathize with our weaknesses,” being “tested in every way yet without sin.” As the song says, “We have a friend in Jesus.” We can live with confidence and without fear knowing that his infinite love for us drew him from the heavens so to be close to our side by embracing humanity into his very being. His humanity and his human life on this earth assures us that he can sympathize with us so to help us when we need it and be merciful to us.

Psalm 33. The last verses of this Sunday’s psalm say: “Our soul waits for the Lord who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.”

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 14, 2018

28B18. Wisdom 7:7-11. “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.” As I see it, the wisdom that is sought is to see things as God sees them to the degree that we as finite beings are capable of grasping a part of the whole of things. This world seems to be willing to have an almost infinite number of its visions of what it wishes to call the truth: whatever one feels to be true whenever one wishes to feel a particular way. Truth is not a personal choice or selection process. There is only one truth or reality and only God is capable of seeing the whole of it. However, God can, according to his will, give to whomever He wishes the wisdom to understand or grasp whatever that person needs to know for his salvation. Without wisdom we will waste away our lives without achieving anything that has true lasting value.

Mark 10:17-30. A man asks Jesus, “’Good teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?” To ask this question he must have felt that he was not getting the job done by just being a faithful Jew. Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.’” Interestingly Jesus does answer him solely out of his humanness perhaps because that was all that the man could see in front of him, Jesus in his humanity; secondly, because he had not come to the point of recognizing Jesus’ divinity. Jesus is saying that God is the root or radical source of all that is truly good. For anyone else to have any goodness, they must draw it from God. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.’ At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Jesus was calling on this man to let go of his earthly possessions so that, in turn, he would be free to take ahold of spiritual ones but he had not come to the point of having the wisdom to see the timeless value of the heavenly treasure and the passing value of the earthly ones. Following Jesus daily we have, even here on earth, the greatest treasure that exists. When Jesus looked at him with love, Jesus had given himself to him. Not having the wisdom to recognize what he had been given, the gift that was Jesus himself, he rejected the greatest of all gifts. The Holy Spirit works with everyone daily to mature gradually, growing more and more in the Lord so that our eyes of our hearts see more clearly and we are no longer blind fools. “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” To give up everything does not necessarily mean that we must dispossess ourselves of our material things, because, while still living in a material world, we need material things. Rather we do need to develop spiritually so that, at the very root of our being because we live so deeply in Christ, we recognize that we belong to Christ, our very self and all that we own, even our bodies. We have no need to have anything because we have the one and only thing that is necessary, Christ. Jesus himself belongs to us because he has given himself to us and daily we grow in accepting that gift. That is the true wisdom that lives in the one and only truth, Jesus who said ‘I am the truth’.

Hebrews 4:12-13. “The word God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword.” The word of God is the expression of God that comes from his heart of love for us to bring us to be love as he is love. God’s inner self does not want us to be just dreamy, affectionate, comfortable and lost in a painless world. The word of God also wants us to bleed because pain and suffering should never stop us from loving as he loved, no matter the cost. The divine love we are called to pierces through all obstacles. His love cost him dearly to leave heaven and live as a helpless baby, cost him effable pain in his humiliating treatment, physical violence and excruciating death on the cross. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” The word of God, his wisdom given to us, does not allow us to live in the illusion that we have done enough to be heaven-bound, but pierces through our desire to feel comfortable by walling out the challenges of divine love. Yet the word of God allows us also to feel confident in God’s hands because nothing is impossible for God.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 7, 2018

27B18. Genesis 2:18-24. The Lord said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” God created various animals and birds; “but none proved to be suitable partner for the man.” Casting “a deep sleep on the man,” “God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’” “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”

Mark 10:2-16. When questioned by Jesus, the Pharisees “replied, ‘Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss’” his wife. However, Jesus recalls the divine authority who established the original inviolability of marriage in the Old Testament so to assert that marriage was never meant to be broken apart. He says: “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Jesus proclaims that, if husband or wife divorce and remarry, the second marriage becomes an act of adultery against the first spouse. On his way to creating a New Covenant, Jesus gradually does away with the old Mosaic Law bit by bit. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Though Jesus reminds every one of the making of woman from man’s rib, he is fundamentally asserting the inviolable sacredness of marriage comes from the love that he has given us which is the measure of the love we must have for one another. In 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, Paul gives a practical discourse on marriage & virginity in which he makes it clear that, if we choose to daily live by our faith in Christ, i.e., to truly belong to Christ, then we must live in love as Christ is love and not only not break our bonds of marriage but to daily live our marriage in Christ’s love. For this natural world having sex is for the continuation of the species in the here and now. For the natural world the concept of eternal love is non-existent because there is no eternity. Nature just wants to keep things going as long as they can be kept going naturally for just as long as that works.

Hebrews 2:9-11. “He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.” He makes us who are of the flesh of this earth a holy people whom he can call his brothers and sisters. In 1 Corinthians 15:44, Paul makes it clear that by our union with Jesus that what “is sown a natural body,” “is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.” Living just naturally is to be just another animal of this earth; living spiritually is to activate our God-given potential to be children of Almighty Loving Father.