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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Nineteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial — “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem” — should be our spontaneous response to the other

verses in Psalm 147 and to the first reading.

Deuteronomy 10: 12-22 urges us to be faithful to the Covenant because the One we have made it with is “the LORD your God” and “even the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, as well as the earth and everything on it.” When we begin the Eucharistic Prayer with, “Father, you are holy indeed...” we hear the words of Deuteronomy: “the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome....”

The beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer reminds us of the holiness of God affirmed in the First Commandment. “What does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The Covenant we are celebrating at Mass is a commitment to God who is “Holy, holy, holy.... holy indeed... the fountain of all holiness.” We enter into the Eucharistic Prayer with awe and wonder. We are standing in the presence of the Most Sacred God. God is not just the “best” or “highest” good in existence. He is All Good, All Truth, All Being, All Life: all we can desire, all we exist for. That is the First Commandment and the first statement in the Eucharistic Prayer.[1] Everything else will build on this and impel us even more to cry out from the heart, “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.”

In Matthew 17:22-27 Jesus very gently tells Peter that he does not really understand who Jesus is. Peter, thinking he was defending Jesus, told the officials that of course Jesus paid the temple tax. He was a good Jew.

Jesus didn’t even tell Peter he was wrong. He just made him aware of a principle Peter already knew that would have given him the right answer if he had been thinking: “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take [taxes]: from their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus drew the conclusion: “Then their sons are exempt.”

Peter was making the same mistake he made when he saw Jesus transfigured. He thought he was exalting Jesus by putting him on the level of Moses and Elijah, who represented the Law and the prophets. The Father’s reaction to that was to make it clear that these awesome figures were not even in the same league with Jesus; “This is my Son!” You need to listen to him and to his words in a way that makes the Law and the Prophets sound like stammering! When the disciples heard this, they “fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.”[2]

This is the way we should feel as we enter into the Eucharistic Prayer. But just as Jesus told the disciples at the Transfiguration, “Get up and do not be afraid,” he tells us to enter into the mystery of the Eucharist with extreme reverence, but not with fear.

Not everyone saw Jesus as he was. He told his disciples, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him.” Is it too farfetched to say that when we, by our talking, inattention, and body language at Mass, show no awareness of the divinity of Christ, we are also “betraying him?” Are we helping to “kill” the devotion of those in whom the faith is weak?

Initiative: Give life. Speak truth at Mass through your body language.

[1] Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37.

[2] Matthew 17:1-6.

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