Thursday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

The Responsorial Psalm reminds us of our identity: “The Lamb has made us a kingdom of priests to serve our God” (Psalm 149).

The first reading is in contrast to the Gospel. In Luke 19: 41-44 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because they didn’t listen to him:

If only you had known the path to peace this day. But you have completely lost it from view.

And he predicts disaster:

Days will come upon you when your enemies… will wipe you out… and not leave a stone upon a stone within you.

The physical destruction of Jerusalem is just an image of the ravages sin works within any society deaf to God’s word. This is what we have in mind when we pray after the Our Father at Mass: “And protect us from every perturbatione.” This prayer, added by the church in Rome under threat of barbarian invasions, asks not just for freedom from “anxiety,” but for “objective and subjective security” amid all the “disturbances” caused by sin in our society. 1

In Revelation 5: 1-10, however, John has a vision of the “end time.” There is a scroll with seven seals. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary suggests that the scroll is “a book of destiny in which events of the end-time are recorded (Daniel 10:21…). Opening the seals is equivalent to causing these events to occur.”

Jesus has the authority to open the scroll:

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

People can do what they choose. History can take any course it takes. But Jesus is Lord of all. We must not forget that.

You are worthy to receive the scroll and break open its seals, for you were slain. With your blood you ransomed for God people of every race and tongue, of every people and nation. You made of them a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they shall reign on earth.

Jesus has won. He has conquered sin and all the consequences of sin (the chief of which is death: Romans 5:12-21). The result of this is a new identity for us. Having died in Christ and risen in Christ, we have ‘become Christ.” We are a “new creation,”[2] his risen body on earth. In Him we are what he is: sons and daughters of the Father in Christ the “only Son of the Father.” We are “priests in the Priest” and “kings in the King” (i.e. stewards), consecrated prophets, priests and kings at Baptism. We are a “royal priesthood.”[3]The Lamb has made us a kingdom of priests to serve our God.

Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Count on the power of Christ.

1 Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, La Messe, Bayard, 1988, p. 172. 2 2Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15. 3 1Peter 2:9.

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Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

The Responsorial Psalm takes us into the “end time”: “Holy, holy, holy Lord, mighty God” (Revelation 4:8, Psalm 150).

In Revelation 4: 1-11: John gives us a preview of the fruits of our stewardship. The hardest thing about working for the kingdom of God is discouragement: we feel so often helpless and hopeless. Is it really possible to bring about change on earth? John moves us ahead in vision to see what will be: “I will show you what must take place in time to come.”

The key image is all those in heaven throwing down their crowns “before the throne,” and singing:

O Lord our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power! For you have created all things; by your will they came to be and were made.

At the end, no matter how far from it we seem to be right now, all will acknowledge God as God. All will worship and praise him. We need to remember that when it seems like the majority of people on earth have little or no sense of the majesty of God.

Appearances can be deceptive; and even if they are not, the end of the story is ours. What we will hear in heaven is the whole human race singing: Holy, holy, holy Lord, mighty God” This will be the fruit of our stewardship. Jesus guarantees it:

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last (John 15:16).

It may seem that people do not listen to the word of God or follow it. And this is frequently true. Jesus gives the reasons for this in the “parable of the sower.” But we need to listen the end of that parable also:

But as for… the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. 1

Not all the seed falls on bad ground. Jesus says, “Look around you and see! The fields are shining for harvest!” 2

Luke 19: 11-28 repeats the Sunday Gospel, taken from Matthew 3, but with two differences. 1. In Luke the people are hostile and want to depose their lord: “The citizens of his country hated him.” 2. In Luke the servants all receive the same amount to work with: “He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds,” one pound each.

The point is that our situation makes no difference. We may say, “The people where I work (or live or date) don’t want to hear about God.” Irrelevant.

Or we may think, “If I had the graces the Saints had….” Irrelevant. All that counts is to be a faithful steward of whatever is entrusted to you in your circumstances. In the end, all that matters is that all who are faithful will be singing together, Holy, holy, holy Lord, mighty God.

Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Manage prudently the gift of love.

1 Luke 8:4-15. 2 John 4:35. 3 Matthew 25:14-30.

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Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

The Responsorial Psalm celebrates intimacy with God: “The one who is victorious I will sit beside me on my throne” (Revelation 3:21, Psalm 15).

Revelation 3:1-22 continues God’s messages to the churches. They all deal with being faithful stewards: managing with wisdom and prudence the gift of grace (divine life), experienced and expressed in acts of faith, hope and love. Where the churches are failing to preserve, manage, and use fruitfully the gifts they have received, Jesus is emphatic in his reproaches. The second petition in the prayer he gave us is, “Thy kingdom come!” and he seriously counts on us as “stewards of his kingship” to make that happen.

The church in Sardis looks like a live congregation, but it is dead. The letter does not go into details; just warns, “Remember what you received and heard. Obey it, and repent.” The focus was probably on innovations within the church as the community compromised with the beliefs and values of the culture around them. This is always a danger. But we should not forget a matching danger. Some, in defensive reaction to innovations, especially since the sixties, try to be “conservative” by clinging to (“conserving”) the beliefs and practices they grew up with, instead of going back to and conserving what was “received and heard” from the beginning. They resist new insights and corrections of “standard” practices. The authentic teaching of the Church, both in faith and morals, is often so contrary to popular assumptions and teaching that it sounds “liberal” to them.

This short-sighted conservativism leads to the complacency of the church in Laodicea. The self-righteously “orthodox” are “neither cold nor hot.” They are so intent on straining out legalistic gnats and practicing deep devotions superficially that they are blind to beckoning mystery and deaf to seductive love.

Jesus says, “If you open the door and let me in I will sit you beside me on my throne!

Luke 19: 1-10 tells us of a man who was cold, not hot. But because he knew it, he “was trying to see what Jesus was like.” He even made himself look ridiculous by climbing a tree to get a good look at him.

Jesus laughed and invited himself to dinner. The effect that personal contact with Jesus had on Zacchaeus was an extravagant (passionate) act of conversion: “Half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

Full stewardship is total abandonment of all to God.

Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Look at the whole picture. Always.

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