Continuous Forgiveness

Scripture Reading

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
(Matthew 18:21-35)

Scripture Study

18:22 Seventy-seven times: the Greek corresponds exactly to the LXX of Gn 4:24. There is probably an allusion, by contrast, to the limitless vengeance of Lamech in the Genesis text. In any case, what is demanded of the disciples is limitless forgiveness.

18:24 A huge amount: literally, “ten thousand talents.” The talent was a unit of coinage of high but varying value depending on its metal (gold, silver, copper) and its place of origin. It is mentioned in the New Testament only here and in Mt 25:14–30.

18:26 Pay you back in full: an empty promise, given the size of the debt.

18:28 A much smaller amount: literally, “a hundred denarii.” Adenarius was the normal daily wage of a laborer. The difference between the two debts is enormous and brings out the absurdity of the conduct of the Christian who has received the great forgiveness of God and yet refuses to forgive the relatively minor offenses done to him.

18:34 Since the debt is so great as to be unpayable, the punishment will be endless.

18:35 The Father’s forgiveness, already given, will be withdrawn at the final judgment for those who have not imitated his forgiveness by their own.[1]

Scripture Reflection

In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as “always” (cf. Gen 4:24). Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and forever. The parable also clearly shows that we are totally in God’s debt. A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii, and a denarius a working man’s daily wage. Ten thousand talents, an enormous sum, gives us an idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God.

We must force ourselves, if necessary, to always forgive those who offend us, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned each of us from.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

An Earthly Obedience

Scripture Reading

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
(Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24)

Scripture Study

1:16 the husband of: The final link in the genealogy breaks with the preceding pattern. Joseph is not called the father of Jesus but only the spouse of Mary. This prepares for the virginal conception of Jesus in 1:18–25. Joseph is, however, the legal foster-father of Jesus and exercises his paternal duty by naming the Child (1:25) and protecting the Holy Family (2:13–22). Following Jewish custom, Jesus received full hereditary rights through Joseph, even though he was adopted (CCC 437, 496).

1:18 betrothed to Joseph: Betrothal in ancient Judaism was unlike modern-day engagements. It was a temporary period (up to one year) between the covenant of marriage itself and the time when spouses lived together. Because couples were legally married during this intervening phase, a betrothal could be terminated only by death or divorce (Deut 24:1–4). of the Holy Spirit: Often read as an editorial comment addressed to the reader. Others take it to mean that Joseph himself had come to learn that Mary’s pregnancy was the result of a miracle.

1:19 just: Or, “righteous”. Joseph is a man of sterling moral character, committed to living by the Mosaic Law (Deut 6:25; Lk 1:6). put her to shame: The Greek verb does not necessarily have a negative connotation. It simply means “to expose” or “to exhibit”. send her away: Joseph is said to be righteous because of his deep humility and reverence for the miraculous works of God.

1:20 Joseph: The angel’s message is urgent: Joseph must maintain his marriage in order to be the foster-father of Jesus. As a descendant of King David, he imparts to Jesus Davidic (royal) rights of inheritance.

1:21 Jesus: The Greek name lēsous is equivalent to the Hebrew name Joshua (yehoshuaʹ), meaning “Yahweh saves”. It was a popular name among first-century Jews. ● Even greater than Joshua, who led Israel into the Promised Land (Sir 46:1), Jesus leads God’s people into the eternal land of heaven (25:34; cf. Heb 4:1–11). Greater also than David (2 Sam 3:18), Jesus will save his people from their sins, not from their national enemies (i.e., the Romans) (CCC 430–32, 2666).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, on this feast of St. Joseph, our Gospel focuses on some powerful spiritual themes, all of which surround the birth of Jesus.

First we look at the sadness and the quandary of Joseph. He had become betrothed to Mary and then he finds that his betrothed is pregnant. So, the engagement has to be called off because of an irregular pregnancy. This must have pained him at the deepest emotional level: the feeling of betrayal by one he had loved. It is a wonderful tribute to the goodness of Joseph that he didn’t vent his frustration. Instead, he looked to the feelings of Mary, resolving to divorce her quietly.

Still, this must have been spiritual crisis for him. What does God want him to do? Then the angel appears to him in a dream and tells him to take Mary as his wife. Joseph realizes that these puzzling events are part of God’s much greater plan. He was willing to cooperate with the divine plan, though he in no way knew its contours or deepest purposes. Like Mary at the annunciation, he trusted and let himself be led.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

The Virtuous Path

Scripture Reading

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:1-2, 5-8)

Scripture Study

5:1–5 The justified are endowed with theological virtues. By faith, they live in peace with God and have access to his grace; in hope, they long for the glory of God that awaits them; and through love, they show that the charity of the Spirit dwells in their hearts (CCC 1813). Equipped in this way, believers can become more like Christ through endurance and suffering (CCC 618). See note on 1 Cor 13:13.

5:8 God shows his love: The dying of Christ shows us the depths of God’s unconditional love for the world (1 Jn 3:16). This is all the more remarkable since the world, being “ungodly” (5:6) and “enemies” (5:10), did not deserve it (CCC 603–4).

Scripture Reflection

In this moving passage God helps us see the divine interlacing of the three theological virtues which form the backing upon which the true life of every Christian man or woman has to be woven. Faith, hope and charity act in us in turn, causing us to grow in the life of grace. Thus, faith leads us to know and be sure of the things we hope for (cf. Heb 11:1); hope ensures that we shall attain them, and enlivens our love of God; charity, for its part, gives us energy to practice the other two theological virtues. The definitive outcome of this growth in love, faith and hope is the everlasting peace that is of the essence of eternal life.

A person who lives by faith, hope and charity realizes that suffering is not something meaningless but rather is designed by God for our perfecting. St Teresa of Avila said that “Perfection consists in the bringing of our wills so closely into conformity with the will of God that, as soon as we realize he wills anything, we desire it ourselves with all our might. If our love is perfect, it has this quality of leading us to forget our own pleasure in order to please him whom we love. And that is indeed what happens” (Book of Foundations,).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

The Lord is Kind and Merciful

Scripture Reading

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12)

Scripture Study

103:1–2. The psalmist wants to praise God with his entire being—to bless him for all the good things he has received, without forgetting a single one.

103:3–5. The “steadfast love” and “mercy” of God (v. 4) that shine forth from the psalmist’s life like a crown are his underlying reason for composing this psalm.

103:6. This is the central statement. God’s steadfast love and mercy are revealed as salvation (“justice”) for the oppressed.

103:7–12. The survey of all that God has done for his people over the course of history (summarized in vv. 8–10) concludes by attesting to the immensity of his love (vv. 11–12).

Scripture Reflection

Psalm 103 is a profoundly evangelical hymn. It gives voice to the thankfulness of sinners that the LORD is a God of mercy and grace. It recites in a concentrated way what Israel learned about the ways of God; the LORD had not dealt with them according to their sins. The psalm names steadfast love (hesed) as the attribute of the LORD expressed in all the LORD’s dealings and ways Steadfast love (hesed) is, of course, the attribute and activity of the LORD celebrated in the psalms as the LORD’s essential goodness beyond all others.

Steadfast love is both character and act. One can attempt to define it as helpfulness toward those with whom one stands in relationship. To do hesed is to do the best in and make the best of a relationship. That is why, in a theology that thinks of God’s way with human beings in terms of creation, election, promise, and covenant, hesed is immensely important.

The LORD’s steadfast love, says the psalm, is so abounding that it fills all time and space. It is as great as the heavens are high above the earth; it is lasting as everlasting lasts. It is a love given freely to his children – unmerited and unconditional. The LORD is surely kind and merciful.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Insane Resistance

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
(Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46)

Scripture Study

21:33 Planted a vineyard … a tower: cf. Is 5:1–2. The vineyard is defined in Is 5:7 as “the house of Israel.”

21:34–35 His servants: Matthew has two sendings of servants as against Mark’s three sendings of a single servant (Mk 11:2–5a) followed by a statement about the sending of “many others” (Mk 11:2, 5b). That these servants stand for the prophets sent by God to Israel is clearly implied but not made explicit here, but see Mt 23:37. His produce: cf. Mk 12:2 “some of the produce.” The produce is the good works demanded by God, and his claim to them is total.

21:38 Acquire his inheritance: if a Jewish proselyte died without heir, the tenants of his land would have final claim on it.

21:39 Threw him out … and killed him: the change in the Marcan order where the son is killed and his corpse then thrown out (Mk 12:8) was probably made because of the tradition that Jesus died outside the city of Jerusalem; see Jn 19:17; Heb 13:12.

21:41 They answered: in Mk 12:9 the question is answered by Jesus himself; here the leaders answer and so condemn themselves; cf. Mt 21:31. Matthew adds that the new tenants to whom the vineyard will be transferred will give the owner the produce at the proper times.

21:42 Cf. Ps 118:22–23. The psalm was used in the early church as a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection; see Acts 4:11; 1 Pt 2:7. If, as some think, the original parable ended at Mt 21:39 it was thought necessary to complete it by a reference to Jesus’ vindication by God.

21:43 Peculiar to Matthew. Kingdom of God: see note on Mt 19:23–24. Its presence here instead of Matthew’s usual “kingdom of heaven” may indicate that the saying came from Matthew’s own traditional material. A people that will produce its fruit: believing Israelites and Gentiles, the church of Jesus.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today recounts the parable of the landowner who planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. God is the landowner, the vineyard is his creation, and we are the tenants, responsible to care for it. In Jesus’ telling of the story, the servants that the landowner sent to obtain his produce are the prophets and teachers of Israel, those who remind the people of their responsibilities toward God. But the tenants beat one servant, killed another, and stoned a third.

Finally, the landowner sent his son expecting the tenants to respect him. So, Jesus came that we might direct the whole of our lives back to God, that we might remember that we are tenants and that the whole of the world belongs to God.

“But when the tenants saw the son, … they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” Here, of course, is the whole tragedy of Jesus’ cross. When God sent his son to us, we killed him. This is the insane resistance to God’s intentions which is called sin.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Eternal Life

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child,
remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing
who might wish to go from our side to yours
or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him
to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.'”
(Luke 16:19-31)

Scripture Study

16:19–31 The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus depicts the lot of the wealthy and the poor, first in this life and then in the next. For all his worldly comforts, the rich man’s callousness toward the poor plunged him into ruin (16:23). Lazarus, despite his earthly hardships, is escorted to Abraham’s side (16:22). A similar reversal of fortunes underlies the Beatitudes and Woes in 6:20–26 (Mt 25:31–46) (CCC 2463, 2831).

16:19 There was a … man: The same opening line is used in the two preceding parables (15:11; 16:1) and may suggest this story is also a parable. On the other hand, the poor man is personally identified in 16:20 (“Lazarus”), a feature that is uncharacteristic of parables. purple and fine linen: Expensive apparel often associated with royalty (Judg 8:26; Esther 8:15).

16:22 Abraham’s bosom: i.e., in the lap or presence of Abraham, the forefather of Israel (3:8; Is 51:2). It refers to a temporary realm within Hades where the righteous souls of the Old Covenant era waited patiently for Christ to open the gates of heaven (Eph 4:8–10).

16:23 Hades: The netherworld or realm of the dead. It refers to a waiting place where the deceased souls of the wicked are detained until the Last Judgment (Rev 20:13). Here it stands opposite Abraham’s presence and is a place where sinners languish in the grip of torment (Lk 16:24; Mt 11:23). It is separated from the abode of the righteous by a permanent, unbridgeable gulf that permits no traffic to pass between them (Lk 16:26) (CCC 633, 1021).

16:28 he may warn them: The first and only hint of the rich man’s concern for others. His request for the resurrection of Lazarus is nevertheless denied, since the Scriptures already give sufficient warnings to prevent his brothers from neglecting the poor (Lev 23:22; Deut 15:9; Is 10:1–2; Amos 2:6–7). Others suggest the rich man is still being selfish, for he realizes that the damnation of his entire family would only increase his misery.

16:31 Moses and the prophets: The entire OT (24:27). rise from the dead: Not even miracles will benefit those indifferent to the Scriptures.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel focuses on the enduring existence of those who have gone before us into death. To say that we are nothing but “bodies” which flourish briefly and then fade away is to miss this dimension of our existence. Though we are tempted to see death as the end, something in us rebels against this idea.

This is why Jesus speaks so readily of eternal life. As you know, there was a great debate in Jesus’ time within Judaism in regard to question of resurrection. Many, including the Sadducees, denied the idea of life after death; but others, including the Pharisees, affirmed it. Jesus clearly sides with those who affirm it, and his own resurrection from the dead affirmed this belief as emphatically as possible.

The Gospel has an enormously important practical consequence: we are related still to those who have gone before us. They are, in a very real sense, gone. But they have not disappeared. They are connected to God and therefore to everything that God loves. They are not so much somewhere else as somehow else and thus they can relate to us in perhaps very intimate ways.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Humble Servitude

Scripture Reading

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:17-28)

Scripture Study

20:17–19 Jesus’ third Passion prediction is detailed. Unlike in the previous ones (16:21; 17:22–23), he foresees the collaboration of Jewish leaders (20:18) with Roman authorities (20:19) in bringing about his death by means of crucifixion (20:19).

20:20 the sons of Zebedee: James and John (4:21). Along with Peter, they form a privileged inner circle of Jesus’ disciples (17:1; 26:37; Mk 5:37).

20:22 drink the chalice: An OT metaphor that describes God’s wrath poured upon the wicked (Ps 75:8; Is 51:17; Jer 25:15). Here it denotes Jesus’ Passion endured for sinners (20:28; 26:39; 1 Pet 2:24). James and John are assured (20:23) a share in this Passion, a prediction partially fulfilled with the martyrdom of James in Acts 12:2.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel the mother of James and John asks Jesus on their behalf to place them in high places in his kingdom. They are asking for two of the classic four substitutes for God: wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. The two brothers specifically want the last two. Power is not, in itself, a bad thing. And the same is true of honor. Thomas Aquinas said that honor is the flag of virtue. It’s a way of signaling to others something that’s worth noticing.

So then what’s the problem? The problem is that they are asking for these two things in the wrong spirit. The ego will want to use power, not for God’s purposes or in service of truth, beauty, and goodness, but for its own aggrandizement and defense. When honor is sought for its own sake or in order to puff up the ego, it becomes dangerous as well.

What’s the way out? Jesus tells us: “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all; whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.” When you serve others, when you become the least, you are accessing the power of God and seeking the honor of God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

The Truth

Scripture Reading

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Matthew 23:1-12)

Scripture Study

23:2 Moses’ seat: This may be an actual “chair”, like those used in later synagogues, or only a symbol of teaching authority. The Pharisees thus preach the Mosaic Law with authority, but their failure to practice its “weightier matters” (23:23) should not be followed by others.

23:5 their phylacteries: Small leather boxes containing Scripture verses. These are tied to the forearm and forehead while praying (Deut 6:8; 11:18). Making them broad, the Pharisees sought to parade their piety for public recognition.

23:7 rabbi: A Hebrew word meaning “my great one” and a title for revered Jewish teachers (Jn 1:38).

23:9 call no man your father: Jesus uses hyperbole to post a warning that no one should pridefully desire honorific titles. His words are not meant literally. The NT writers elsewhere use father for natural fathers (Heb 12:7–11) and spiritual fathers in the Church (1 Cor 4:15; Philem 10). ● The spiritual fatherhood of New Covenant priests is an extension of its application to Old Covenant priests (Judg 17:10; 18:19).

23:11. greatest among you must be your servant: The Pharisees were greedy for honor and recognition: our Lord insists that every form of authority, particularly in the context of religion, should be exercised as a form of service of others; it must not be used to indulge personal vanity or greed. “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

23:12. whoever humbles himself: A spirit of pride and ambition is incompatible with being a disciple of Christ. Here our Lord stresses the need for true humility, for anyone who is to follow him. The verbs “will be humbled”, “will be exalted” have “God” as their active agent. Along the same lines, St James preaches that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6). And in the Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin explains that the Lord “has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree [the humble]” (Lk 1:52).

Scripture Reflection

Jesus comes to teach the Truth; in fact, he is the Truth (John 14:6). As a teacher, therefore, he is absolutely unique and unparalleled. The whole of Christ’s life was a continual teaching: his silences, his miracles, his gestures, his prayer, his love for people, his special affection for the little and the poor, his acceptance of the total sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of the world, and his resurrection are the actualization of his word and the fulfillment of revelation. Hence for Christians the crucifix is one of the most sublime and popular images of Christ the Teacher.

These considerations are in line with the great traditions of the Church and they all strengthen our fervor with regard to Christ, the Teacher who reveals God to man and man to himself, the Teacher who saves, sanctifies and guides, who lives, who speaks, rouses, moves, redresses, judges, forgives, and goes with us day by day on the path of history, the Teacher who comes and will come in glory.

– Saint Pope John Paul II, Catechesi tradendae

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Merciful

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
(Luke 6:36-38)

Scripture Study

6:36 Be merciful: Mercy is the towering rule of Christ’s kingdom (10:36–37; Mt 9:13; CCC 1458). ● Jesus reformulates the teaching of Lev 19:2, replacing the command to imitate Yahweh’s holiness with a command to imitate his mercy. The subtle difference between these divine attributes points to the difference between the Old Covenant and the New. The quest for holiness in ancient Israel meant that God’s people had to separate themselves from everything ungodly, unclean, and impure, including Gentiles and sinners (Lev 15:31; 20:26). Jesus gives holiness a new focus, defining it as mercy that reaches out to others and no longer divides people into segregated camps or disqualifies some and not others to enter the family of God (CCC 2842).

6:38 into your lap: By folding one’s cloak over the belt, a pouch could be formed to carry grain from the marketplace. When grain was shaken and running over, the buyer was guaranteed a full and honest amount. The illustration shows how God’s generosity overflows on our behalf.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The model of mercy which Christ sets before us is God himself, of whom St Paul says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor 1:3–4). “The first quality of this virtue is that it makes men like God and like the most glorious thing in him, his mercy. For certainly the greatest perfection a creature can have is to be like his Creator; and the more like him he is, the more perfect he is.”

– Fray Luis de Granada

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Transfigured

Scripture Reading

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
(Matthew 17:1-9)

Scripture Study

17:1–8 Jesus’ Transfiguration confirms his divine Sonship (3:17; 16:16). It also strengthens three early Church leaders (Peter, James, and John) after Jesus’ first Passion prediction (16:21). Being transfigured before them (17:2), Jesus unveils his glory, later manifest in his Resurrection and shared by his angels (28:2–3) and Virgin Mother in heaven (Rev 12:1) (CCC 555–56). ● The OT background for this event is God’s self-revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai. (1) Both take place on the seventh day (17:1; Ex 24:16); (2) both occur on a mountain (17:1; Ex 24:13, 15); (3) both Jesus and Moses take three companions with them (17:1; Ex 24:1); (4) the faces of both Jesus and Moses shine with God’s glory (17:2; Ex 34:29); (5) both involve the glory-cloud of God’s Presence; (6) and both events involve God speaking through a heavenly voice (17:5; Ex 24:16). ● the glory that shone around the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration prefigures the contemplation of God in eternity, when the minds of the saints will be forever lifted up from lower concerns and engulfed in the blazing light of the Trinity.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel recounts the story of the Transfiguration. Here the glorified Jesus represents the fulfillment of the Old Testament revelation, symbolized by Moses, representing the law, and Elijah, representing the prophets.

Let’s look at the two basic divisions. God gave the Torah, the law, to his people, in order that they might become a priestly people, a holy nation, a people set apart, in the hopes that they would then function as a sort of magnet to the rest of the world. But the law didn’t take. From the very beginning, the people turned away from its dictates, and became as bad as the nations around them.

And then the prophets. Repeatedly we hear the call to be faithful to the Torah, to follow the ways of the Lord. The prophets constantly turn on Israel itself, reminding her of her own sinfulness. And then came Jesus, God and man. Jesus did what no hero of Judaism had ever done. He fulfilled the law, remained utterly obedient to the demands of the Father, even to the point of laying down his life. He brought the Torah and the prophets thereby to fulfillment.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.