Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Thirty-Four (Ordinary Time)

"Their message goes out through all the earth." (Responsorial: Psalm 19) Romans 10:9-18: The key to all Paul says here is human expression. Christianity is the religion of God-made- flesh in Jesus; and our response to him must be more than just “spiritual.” It has to “take flesh” in human words and actions. It is not enough to “confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord.” Jesus himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (see Matthew 7:19-27; Luke 6:43-49). But Paul continues “If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.” Both are necessary. “Faith

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Thirty-Four (Ordinary Time)

The theme of the readings is that Christ’s victory is final, complete, and will last forever. In the Rite of Communion we celebrate this by anticipation as an accomplished fact. This calls us to abandon all we are and have to Christ, to manage everything only in his interests as stewards of his kingship. And for ourselves we ask only: “Give us this day our daily Bread, and forgive us as we forgive...” Daniel 7:2-14 is a prophetic dream about “hard testing”—trials and tribulations symbolized by “four immense beasts.” But finally “the Ancient One took his throne.... The court was convened, the books opened.” The time of reckoning was at hand. The beast was slain.... The other beasts, lost thei

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Thirty-Four (Ordinary Time)

The theme of the readings is bearing prophetic witness to truth in action. We “present our bodies” for this mission at the Presentation of Gifts. Our cry of dedication is, “Thy Kingdom come!” The story in Daniel 5:1-28 is preceded by two similar examples. First, in chapter three, Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego resist the king’s desire to force “nations and peoples of every language” into cultural (and therefore religious) conformity. Because they disobeyed they were “brought before the king” like bread and wine brought to the altar, and “presented their bodies as a living sacrifice” rather than “serve or worship any god except their own God.” They told the king: “May our God save us!... But

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Thirty-Four (Ordinary Time)

The theme of the readings is the difference between what we can know as human beings by intellect and what we can know as disciples by enlightenment from God. We proclaim and celebrate this difference in the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. We want to know him and make him known to the world. “Hallowed be thy Name!” Daniel 2:31-45 is introduced by the last line of yesterday’s reading: “In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to [Daniel and his companions] he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.” As chapter two begins, the “magicians and enchanters” are asked to reveal and interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. They answer, “There is no one

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Thirty-Four (Ordinary Time)

The readings show a difference between the identity people perceive in us and the identity we proclaim in the Introductory Rites of the Mass and when we say, “Our Father, who art in heaven...” We are children of God. In Daniel 1:1-20 the king wants to take some young Israelites into the king’s palace to be “taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” A wise move: to train them to a new identity and identification with the Chaldean culture so they can serve their new ruler as liaisons with their own people. Daniel and his companions refused to eat the non-kosher Chaldean food. They knew, as applied to culture, what Jesus told St. Augustine later about Eucharist: “You will not change

Father David's Reflection for Sunday of Week Thirty-Four (Ordinary Time)

FEAST OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING Our Citizenship is in Heaven Inventory What precisely do we celebrate on the feast of “Christ the King”? Input The Entrance Antiphon declares the basic paradox and mystery of Christ as King: “The Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive strength and divinity, wisdom and power and honor.” Christ’s defeat was his victory. That is the key to his kingship. The Opening Prayer(s) proclaim that in Jesus God does not just “break the power of evil,” but “makes all things new.” How new can only be understood in the mystery of Christ “raised from death to life.” In him all who accept his kingship die and rise again as a “new creation.” To receive the “new wine” of

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 9) calls us to remember God’s “wondrous deeds”: “I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.” 1 Maccabees 6:1-13: The whole point of the reading is whether we will, in fact, “rejoice in your salvation, O Lord” when we die. King Antiochus didn’t. His bad treatment of the Jews came back to haunt him. “I am dying in bitter grief,” he said, in “a foreign land.” We Christians all die in “a foreign land.” But we rejoice in it. We know that “here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Our “citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” At death we go home, to our Father’s house, where J

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Psalm (1 Chronicles 29:13) leads us in praise: “We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.” In 1 Maccabees 4:36-59 the Jews celebrated their victory by rebuilding and “purifying” the temple. They even replaced the stones of the altar that had been desecrated by the Gentiles. They “made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand... burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps... and hung up curtains” (verses 44-51). Then they “offered sacrifice on the new altar... All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success.” The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (no. 288) directs that the buildings and everything needed for wor

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

In 1 Maccabees 2:15-29 we see the difference between authorities and leaders. Both are necessary. Either can be good or bad. But they have two different functions. The first function of authorities is to hold the community together. They may or may not exercise leadership. The function of leaders is to move the community forward, or move it to respond to current challenges. They may or may not have any authority. In today’s reading the authorities were bad. The “officers of the king” were trying to unite the country by imposing on everyone the religion of the conquering culture, and stamping out all others. That is a common feature of colonialism. The English persecuted Catholics and other “

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 17) expresses the attitude of those who “await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ”: “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.” In 2 Maccabees 7:1-31, a mother asks her seven sons to have “mercy” or “pity” on her by being faithful to God, by accepting torture and death. “Pity” comes from pietas, the Roman virtue of loyalty to family, country, and religion. To have “mercy,” (from the Semitic root for “womb”) is to “aid another out of a sense of relationship.” They are both the same family virtue. Going deeper, the mother tells her son: I do not know how you came into existence in my womb. It was not I who endowed you with breath and l

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 3) gives support to fidelity: “The Lord upholds me.” In 2Maccabees 6:18-31 ninety-year old Eleazar chose a brutal death rather than give a bad example to youth. He was being forced to open his mouth and eat pork, contrary to the Covenant. When he spit it out, his friends arranged a deal for him: if he would just pretend to eat the pork, they would substitute kosher food instead. But he refused: “Many young people would suppose that Eleazar at the age of ninety had conformed to the foreigners’ way of life and might be led astray by me.” This was “faithful stewardship.” Eleazar held himself accountable for the use he made of the faith that had been given him and f

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 119) asks: “Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.” 1Maccabees 1:10-64 presents us with the classic Christian choice, which is common to everyone who values fidelity to God, to principles, or even personal freedom over the rewards and punishments those in power can mete out. It is the choice between fidelity and conformity. The refusal to conform, even to the expectations of one’s culture or peer group, carries a price. Nonconformity costs. Sometimes it just costs promotions, prosperity, or friendships we thought were authentic. At other times, as in the story of the Maccabees, the cost is life itself. This brings us to the Rite of Communion. We could iden

Father David's Reflection for Sunday of Week Thirty-Three (Ordinary Time)

Fidelity Through Focus Inventory What does “time” mean to us? What value does it have? What limitations? Input The Entrance Antiphon begins “My plans for you are peace and not disaster…..” We acknowledge this in the Opening Prayer: “Father… from the beginning of time you promised the human race salvation through the future coming of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.” This calls us to persevere in faith and fidelity, like “faithful stewards,” until his return. The first thing we ask the Father is to “keep us faithful.” But being “faithful” is not the same as being stagnant, as water becomes when it does not move. In every prayer we ask for life-giving movement. We ask God to “expand our hearts

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Thirty-Two (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 105) invites us: “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.” Wisdom 18:14 to 19:9 “remembers the marvels” God did just by his “all powerful Word” sent into “the heart of a doomed land.” The “whole creation... was... newly fashioned in its nature.” This is the marvel we experience in Communion when it is the all-powerful Word himself, the Word made flesh in Jesus, who comes into our own hearts. Hearts that have already been made “a new creation” by Baptism. Hearts already sharing in the divine life of God. If, after receiving Christ in Communion, we close our eyes and just let ourselves be aware of what is at that moment, we will know that we are filled with “the fullnes

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Thirty-Two (Ordinary Time)

Wisdom 13:1-9 is an incredibly precise text philosophically, and an inspiringly beautiful one poetically. It speaks of how people, even without God’s special revelation, can and should experience God as the indwelling “greatness and beauty of created things.” From “studying the works” of God, humans can “discern the artisan.” Some did come close. They were not so insistently narrow and short-sighted, like the agnostics of “relativism” today, that they confined their intellects within the arbitrary boundaries of “scientific knowledge.” But seeing “fire, or wind, or the... circuit of the stars... out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods.” As the Responsorial (Psalm 19) says, “The heav

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of Week Thirty-Two (Ordinary Time)

Jesus is sometimes called “Wisdom incarnate.” Wisdom 7:22 to 8:1 paints a picture of how beautiful Wisdom is, appearing in him. If we open our eyes, we will also see it in the Church, in each other, because Jesus is in us. His Wisdom, “passing into holy souls from age to age, produces friends of God and prophets.” We just need to give it time. “Compared to light, wisdom takes precedence,” because “night supplants” sunlight, but “wickedness prevails not over Wisdom. Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.” Wait for the “end time.” They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Thirty-Two (Ordinary Time)

Wisdom 6:1-11 warns us that it is extremely dangerous for anyone to have power and prestige. Those in power are subject to “a rigorous scrutiny,” even though—or because—their “authority was given by the Lord.” “For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy, but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.” The Eucharist is meant to exclude any pretense of superiority. First, during the Penitential Rite all introduce themselves as sinners. No “seats of honor” are allowed. No one takes precedence in the Communion line. All present: assembly, liturgical ministers, and presider, are equal as persons and participants. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Thirty-Two (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 34) is a cry of confidence and hope: “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Wisdom is the gift of “seeing everything in the light of the last end.” The Rite of Communion is the experience, in the foretaste of celebration, of what that “last end” actually is. It climaxes when the presider lifts up the host with the Church’s defiant shout, triumphant even in the face of death: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” That is our “last end.” Wisdom 2:23 to 3:9 establishes some basic facts: 1. “God formed humans to be imperishable.” We are in his image. 2. Through sin, “death entered the world.” Our bodies die. 3. “But the souls of the just a

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Thirty-Two (Ordinary Time)

Read Wisdom 1:1-7 as if these words are being spoken to you after you have received Our Lord in Communion and are conscious of his presence in you. Does this make them all ring true? Think of it. Jesus, God himself, has given himself to you to abide in you forever, and you in him. He is the infinite God, the source of your being and summit of all fulfillment. You have in you, right now, everything you need to be perfectly, unimaginably happy forever. Jesus, God himself, is sharing with you his own Life. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.... the living bread that came down from heaven... For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Whoever e

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