• David Knight


The Responsorial Verse proclaims God as God: “It is I who deal death and give life” (Deuteronomy 32; 35-41).

Today (only) we read Nahum, who prophesies in [1:15] 2:1 to 3:7 the defeat of Nineveh, who had ravaged Israel: “Look! On the mountains the feet of one who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace!”

Often God seems to “stand by” and let it happen when we make war, oppress and violate others. This is because God also stands by his decision to give people free will. Free is free: to do good or evil, to heal or hurt. But God has not given up control. In his time and in his way he moves against evil and he triumphs. No one can really harm those who are faithful to him. God saves them even in death and destruction. The life God gives, no one can take from us (Matthew 2:20; 6:25; 18:8; 19:17; Luke 21: 16-19; John 3:16; 5: 18-29; 6: 27-58; 10: 10, 28; 11:25). God makes that clear: “It is I who deal death and give life.

In Matthew 16: 24-28 (and in yesterday’s Gospel) Jesus reveals the true mystery of life and death, weakness and power. He reveals the mystery of his own unique, divine and totally unexpected way of saving the world: he is going to win through defeat, gain life for us by dying, and conquer evil by loving those who do evil. And anyone who wishes to join him in the mission and ministry of saving the world must do it on the same terms: “take up their cross and follow” his example.

We “take up our cross” by accepting whatever suffering falls on our shoulders and loving back. We try to avoid suffering and to free others from it, but when it comes — as in a free and sinful world it will — we endure it with love. We respond with love, not with violence, even to those who would kill us. “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

This is the key to Christ’s way of saving the world. Peter, in the name of us all, immediately rejected it (see yesterday’s Gospel). Jesus’ own People (also in the name of us all) rejected him as Messiah because he calls us to endure suffering with love instead of protecting us from suffering. Jesus’ remedy for sin in the world is to endure the consequences of others’ sin and love back. This is not the kind of Savior we want. But it is the only one there is. To minister with him we must be “victims in the Victim” as well as “priests in the Priest.” We “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” to God for the world (Romans 12:1). It is God who deals death and give life.” We give life by accepting death — in every way.

Initiative: Be priest and victim: Trust in no power but truth and love.

View Today's Readings Here

Feast of the Transfiguration (Year A)

The Responsorial (Psalm 97) proclaims: “The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.

In the Anamnesis or “remembering” after the Institution Narrative (“Consecration”) we remember the three key events of redemption: the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, with the ascension’s implicit promise that Jesus will “come again.”

2Peter 1:16-19 tells us that Jesus’ “transfiguration” (transformation of appearance) was a preview of the “honor and glory” into which Jesus entered by these three events and a promise of his “coming”:

When we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Peter tells us this so we will know that ‘his divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

In other words, for encouragement:

You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

In Eucharist we “remember and make present” both the past and the future. We are present to the “end time” prophesied in Daniel 7:9-14: “I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man..,, On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship… which shall never pass away.” Jesus quoted these words when the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” For Jesus to make this claim when it was obvious God had abandoned him to the power of his enemies amounted to saying he needed no divine affirmation of his messiahship; that he could not not be the Messiah; that he was God. The high priest saw it immediately:

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 1

It is significant that in Matthew 17:1-9 the three Transfiguration witnesses, “Peter, James and his brother John,” were the same who would see Jesus weak and crushed in his agony in the garden. When our faith is tried by Jesus’ apparent powerlessness against the forces of evil, we need to remember the preview and promise of his glory. 2

To those with faith, every Eucharist is a Transfiguration experience. We see the presence of Christ shining through the appearances of bread and wine. We see him in the host crucified, risen and returning. We see divine life shining through the human appearance of all who receive Communion. We are already present at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” “Through him, with him, in him… all glory and honor…forever!.

Initiative: See the divine in the human, wherever it is.

1 See Matthew 24:30, 26:64-66. Cf. Revelation 5:12, 7:12. 2 Mark 14:33. And see 5:37. View Today's Readings Here


The Responsorial Psalm promises: “The Lord will guard us, like a shepherd guarding his flock

Jeremiah 31: 1-7 gives us an insight into God’s heart that should be the guide and underpinning of all our ministry to others: God simply delights in our well-being — always, no matter how we have acted toward him. He doesn’t hold grudges, has no desire to punish, no compulsion to make us “pay” for our sins. If God ever wants to “teach us a lesson,” that is all he wants to do: teach us, with no overtones of punishment. God will do good for any and everybody at any time in any way they can accept, regardless of what they deserve from him. Memories never moderate his giving.

Israel had brought suffering and disaster on herself by deserting the way of the Lord. Jeremiah described it vividly — and in the Old Testament style, adapted to the preconceptions of his hearers, he spoke as if God had sent their sufferings in punishment for their infidelity. But as soon as Israel is ready to repent and turn back to God, all God focuses on is how good and beautiful and happy his people can be: “You shall be rebuilt…. Adorned once more… you shall go out dancing gaily…. plant vineyards!” He is just happy for them.

All ministry subjects us to the risk of rejection. Failure hurts, and when we fail to convert people or make them better, we can get angry. That is because we are measuring justice instead of lavishing love. We need to simply join God in saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – and rejoice in all well-being.

Matthew 15: 21-28 shows us Jesus breaking his own rules. His mission, and that of his disciples before his resurrection, was just to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Matthew 10: 5-6). But when a Canaanite woman keeps crying out to him, “Son of David, take pity on me!” he subordinates his policy to her need. He looks, not at her nationality or religious orthodoxy, but at her faith in him: “Woman, you have great faith! Let your wish be granted.”

Ministry in the Church has to be guided by policies. But we should never let policy prevail over personal response to the faith, hope or desire visible in another. We ask, not whether a person is “in good standing,” but only whether someone is asking for help to know and experience God’s love. Jesus did not say, “If policy permits, feed my sheep.” He said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” That includes his “other sheep” who don’t quite fit in the fold (John 10:16, 21:17). We feed them all.

Initiative: Be a priest. Give to everyone who asks, guided by God’s love.


View Today's Readings Here

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