King for Our Good
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for Wednesday, 20th Week of Ordinary Time: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings LECTIONARY no. 421 (Jgs 9: 6-15;Ps 21: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7; Mt 20: 1-16a)
August 23 is the feast of Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617), baptized Isabel but nicknamed Rosalinda, "pretty rose," by her parents. Rose is the first person from the New World to be canonized, and she is the patron Saint of South America. Her family was middle-class. After they lost their money in a mining venture, Rose earned money by gardening during the day and sewing at night.
Above all she is an example of independence and freedom in following what she saw in the Gospel and felt moved by God to do. When her parents tried to make her marry, she refused; when they would not let her become a nun, she gave herself to a life of prayer and penance at home. She went to imprudent extremes in the penances she did --rubbing pepper on her face to ruin her complexion and make herself less attractive to men, for example -- but this is understandable in someone fighting all alone to live the kind of life she felt called to. She suffered from violent temptations and interior desolation for fifteen years and was examined by a team of priests and doctors who decided that basically her extraordinary experiences, good and bad, came more from living the life of grace than from just natural causes. The advice she got for her temptations was to eat and sleep more! -- and it probably would have helped, but it also would have gone against her whole personality and way of relating to God. If you live passionately and love passionately, you suffer passionately, and you make a lot of passionate mistakes.
Rose used a room in her house to care for homeless children, old people and the sick. Fr. Leonard Foley calls this "the beginning of social services in Peru." She died at 31, and the whole city turned out for her funeral.
Here is the reflection for today's readings at Mass:
The Responsorial (Psalm 23) reminds us Jesus is our god-given king “O Lord, your strength gives joy to the king.” Judges 9:6-15 takes a negative view of kings. In the parable, all the good trees refuse rule while the buckthorn (not even good for shade, and a fire hazard to boot) accepts. “The argument is that the best do not have time to be kings; therefore it usually falls to the worthless to accept the role of monarch....” So why would Jesus accept to be King over us? Why would the Father send and anoint him for it?[i] The answer is in the Offering that follows the Anamnesis. “Calling to mind... we offer you his Body and Blood, the acceptable sacrifice.... Look with favor on your Church’s offering, and... grant.” We look at the bread and wine on the altar, transformed into Christ’s Body and Blood, we remember what is made present in them — Jesus himself dying, rising, reigning and returning — and we offer them to the Father, asking him to look and remember his own great deeds that established the Covenant, and to act according to his promise. To do [anamnesis] zikkaron-remembrance of Jesus is to raise to God [in offering] the covenant sign, Jesus himself, that God will see, remember and act once again.[ii] The “remembrance” tells us that Jesus was anointed by God to be our King and Messiah in fulfillment of the Covenant. His “great deeds” are proof that in him God will reign over us and continue until his Kingdom has come to perfection. So we offer him in thanksgiving and ask God for the unity that he died to give us: “Grant that we... may be filled with his Holy Spirit and become one body, one Spirit in Christ.” Matthew 20:1-16 makes clear what kind of King Jesus was anointed to be. In the parable he is not worthless, but the “owner of an estate.” It soon becomes evident that when he goes out to “hire workmen for his vineyard,” his need for their labor is not his primary concern. He keeps hiring all day long, even “late in the afternoon,” and he reveals his motive: “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” He agreed to pay the first ones hired “whatever is fair.” But when he paid the last as much as the first, he showed he was not paying for what he got, but paying what his workmen needed. He hired more to save them from unemployment than for what he gained from their labor. Jesus isn’t a “buckthorn” tree. He is our King for our good, not his, and what he gives is not proportionate to human labor, any more than human labor can achieve it. It is the pure gift (grace) of divine life.
Initiative: Offer Jesus to the Father as a gift he gave us to offer to him and for us.
[i] Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968. [ii] See Peter Fink, S.J., “Eucharist, Theology of” in The New Dictionary of Sacramental Theology: “When the Church gathers to enact the eucharist it does so in remembrance (Hebrew zikkaron, Greek anamnesis, Latin memoria) of Jesus Christ. The word itself has many meanings. When translated into Latin it became an act of imitation (what Jesus did at the Last Supper) and obedience (to his command, “Do this in remembrance of me”). In Greek it had more the meaning of “participation,” the koinonia which Paul describes in 1Corinbthians 10:16. The Hebrew, from which both the Greek and Latin are derived, is much richer in meaning.... Genesis 9:8-17 gives its full scope: God makes a covenant; God establishes a sign of the covenant; the sign is presented to God so that God will remember and act once again according to the covenant....”
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry