Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Thirty (Ordinary Time)
The Responsorial Psalm reminds us of all God did for his People: “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem” (Psalm 147)
.In Romans 9: 1-5 Paul is overcome with distress at the failure of Israel as a nation to accept Jesus. He can’t stand it; not only because of his love for his people — a love that would make him “even wish to be separated from Christ [myself] for the love of my brothers, my kinsmen, the Israelites” — but because of all they had going for them, that they gave up: “Theirs were the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law-giving, the worship, and the promises….” This was their heritage. They were blessed like no other nation on earth. But when Jesus came, the Messiah they had been prepared to accept by the whole history of God’s dealings with them, they failed to be Jews. They were unfaithful to the Covenant. They rejected the Messiah.
This should resonate strongly with Catholics today. Like the Jews, we have been blessed above every other religion on earth. Ours is the adoption as children of God, the glory of grace shining in the Saints, the great Popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the richness of two thousand years of teaching and traditions, the Councils, the liturgy, the Mass, the sacraments… and Catholics are defecting from the Church by the millions. Countries that once empowered life throughout the Church have returned to paganism. What is left of the faith in France, Italy, Germany, England and now even Ireland? Which way is America going? Will we be faithful stewards of our heritage? Will we pass it on?
But Paul concludes, “Blessed forever be God who is over all!” God’s victory, when revealed, will be complete. When we look to God’s power instead of to human failings we still say, “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.”
In Luke 14: 1-6 Jesus shows us what made the leaders of Israel “unfaithful stewards.” Over the years they began to focus more on law-observance than on deep, personal love of God and compassionate nurturing of people. They thought that by teaching and insisting on proper external behavior — moral conduct, observance of the Sabbath, obedience to all the rules — they could preserve Israel’s faith. They got so fixated on law that they would rather have had Jesus keep the rule about not working on the Sabbath than heal the suffering of a man standing right in front of him.
We find the same attitude infecting many in the Church today. As stewards of God’s grace we need to react.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Raise your voice against the tendency to focus on rules and “ready-answer theology. Launch out into the deep.