Give Thanks to the Lord

Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.

They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.

Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
(Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23)

Scripture Study

106:19-23 The psalmist recounts the story of the golden calf in Exod 32:1–6

106:19 Horeb Another name for Sinai, where God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.

106:22 Ham One of Noah’s sons; here his name is used to refer to Egypt (see Gen 10:6).

106:23 he would exterminate them Recounts the exchange between Yahweh and Moses in Exod 32:7–14.

Scripture Reflection

Israel had learned that sin is intergenerational and social. If any penitence does not comprehend that, it fails to grasp the profundity and tragedy of the sinful predicament. Paul found in verse 20 the clue to the fundamental error that underlies all sin in the human race, and he seems to have drawn broadly on the language of Psalm 106 in his depiction of universal sin (Rom. 1:18–32.)

Though the focus of the psalm is on case studies of Israel’s failure, it never loses confidence that the determining factor of God’s way with sinful Israel is the relationship that God has initiated. Because of the abundance of his steadfast everlasting love he saved them, in spite of their sin, again and again. But the psalm has an important understanding of how God’s just wrath is restrained from the destruction of his people.

Deliverance from punishment does not come automatically. At the Red Sea the LORD acted because his name and power were at issue. But when Israel itself rejected the name and power by idolatry and apostasy, only the intercession of Moses turned away the wrath. The psalm gives the office of the intercessor a significant place in God’s relation to his sinful people. God answers when he hears the cry that they lift up on behalf of sinners.

– James Mays

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

A Pearl of Great Price

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
(Matthew 13:44-52)

Scripture Study

13:44–46 Two parables, the Hidden Treasure (13:44) and the Pearl of Great Value (13:45–46), that underscore the same point. Both stress that the kingdom’s value is inestimable, and surrendering earthly attachments is required to obtain it (19:21, 29; Phil 3:8). This may entail literal poverty (religious) or spiritual poverty (5:3) for those whose state in life involves ownership of property (laity) (CCC 546). ● Allegorically (St. Irenaeus, AH 4, 26, 1): Christ himself is the great treasure hidden within the field of the OT Scriptures. Only in light of his Cross and Resurrection can the mysteries of the Old be fully understood to announce the advent of God’s Son.

13:47–50 The parable of the Dragnet envisions the Day of Judgment when the righteous are separated from the wicked . Leading up to this event, men and women are gathered into the kingdom from all nations, just as a net pulled through the sea collects various species of fish. The fishermen of the parable are the apostles and missionaries of the Church (see 4:18–19). The angels are elsewhere linked with the coming of Christ in judgment (16:27; 2 Thess 1:7).

13:52 every scribe: Legal experts in first-century Judaism. Here it denotes the apostles instructed for the kingdom. Jesus equips them to evangelize and catechize (28:18–20) the world about the treasures hidden in the old Covenant and manifest in the new. Matthew’s own ministry follows this pattern: he continually cites the OT to explain its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today includes several of Jesus’ better-known parables. I’d like to comment on this one: “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls…”

What does this tell us? That there is often something interruptive about the Kingdom of God. It is a breakthrough, a radical change, a surprise.

Once we find the pearl, everything else must go. We must “sell” all of our other preoccupations and concerns, all those things and people that we once put in the center of our lives. They must go. There is something uncompromising to what Jesus is getting at.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

Life Eternal

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:19-27)

Scripture Study

11:22 even now: Martha’s faith fills her with confidence. Although she neither begs nor even asks Jesus to intervene for Lazarus, she knows that God’s love is more powerful than death and leaves Jesus to handle the situation as he sees fit.

11:24 the resurrection: A doctrine already current in Judaism (Dan 12:2–3; 2 Mac 7:9). Only the Sadducees denied that our bodies would live again on the last day (Mt 22:23; Acts 23:8).

11:25 I am the resurrection: Jesus places all hopes for a future resurrection upon himself. He possesses the absolute sovereignty over life and death that was always believed to be the sole prerogative of Yahweh (1 Sam 2:6; Wis 16:13; CCC 994).

Scripture Reflection

Here we have one of the most concise definitions Christ gives of himself, and which St John faithfully passes on to us: Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Resurrection because by his victory over death he is the cause of the resurrection of all men. The miracle he works in raising Lazarus is a sign of Christ’s power to give life to people. And so, by faith in Jesus Christ, who arose first from among the dead, the Christian is sure that he too will rise one day, like Christ.

Therefore, for the believer death is not the end; it is simply the step to eternal life, a change of dwelling place. By saying that he is Life, Jesus is referring not only to that life which begins beyond the grave, but also to the supernatural life which grace brings to the soul of man when he is still a wayfarer on this earth.

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

Commandments

In those days:
God delivered all these commandments:

“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
him who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”
(Exodus 20:1-17)

Scripture Study

20:2–6 The first commandment mandates monotheism. Yahweh demands exclusive adoration from his people and refuses to tolerate either service to other gods (Deut 6:13–14) or the making of idols (Lev 26:1). Together, monotheism and imageless worship make the religion of Israel radically different from the pagan cults of the biblical world (CCC 2084–2132).

20:4 likeness of anything: Prohibits representations of Yahweh in material form, in the image of any living creature (Deut 4:15–18). In view is the danger of fashioning an idol; the commandment does not prohibit such things as literary descriptions of God that make use of anthropomorphic or other figurative language. • The coming of Jesus as the true “image” of God introduces a new economy of worship that transcends this restriction of the Sinai covenant (Col 1:15). Since the Father has made himself visible in the Son (Jn 14:9), the believing Church can rightly depict his image in visible and artistic ways. the water under the earth: Semitic cosmology envisioned a subterranean ocean lying beneath the solid surface of the earth (called “the deep”; Gen 7:11; Deut 33:13; Jon 2:5). This is why the authors of Scripture sometimes describe the world as a three-tiered structure with heaven above, earth below, and a lower region under the earth (Phil 2:10; Rev 5:3). The commandment thus prohibits depicting God in the physical form of anything in the sky, on the earth, or beneath the earth (“water under the earth”), i.e., in the form of anything in the visible created order.

20:5 you shall not bow: Bowing is here understood as an act of worship before an idol. The commandment does not forbid—or even envision—honoring another person with such a gesture.

20:7 The second commandment forbids irreverent use of the divine name, especially in legal contexts where perjury profanes the name of God invoked by oath. Beyond this, to inject the divine name into foul, hateful, or blasphemous speech is to abuse it and to offend the Lord who bears it (CCC 2142–59).

20:8–11 The third commandment requires a Sabbath rest for households and herds. The day is set apart as a memorial of the world’s creation (Gen 2:1–3) and of Israel’s redemption (Deut 5:15). So important is this ordinance that Exodus repeats it six times throughout the book (16:26–30; 20:8–11; 23:12; 31:12–17; 34:21; 35:2–3) (CCC 2168–72) • Christians fulfill the Sabbath rest by observing Sunday rest. Two factors underlie the shift from Saturday to the Lord’s day in the liturgical rhythm of the week: (1) Sunday commemorates the day Jesus rose from the dead (Lk 24:1–5), and (2) the dying and rising of Jesus bring about a new creation (2 Cor 5:17; Rev 21:5) and a new redemption (Eph 1:7; Rev 5:9–10) that surpass the old order memorialized by the Sabbath. Sunday worship can be traced back to the earliest days of Christianity, according to Scripture (Acts 20:7; Rev 1:10) as well as ancient Christian writings (Didache 14, 1; St. Ignatius of Antioch, Magnesians 9, 1; St. Justin Martyr, First Apology 67) (CCC 2175–76).

20:12 The fourth commandment requires children to treat parents respectfully, to obey them faithfully, and to care for them materially (Sir 3:3–7; 7:27–28; Eph 6:1–3) (CCC 2197–2220).

20:13 The fifth commandment forbids the killing of innocent persons (23:7). Instances in which lives are taken in warfare, self-defense, and capital punishment are generally not covered by the precept insofar as other factors that threaten the common good of individuals and societies come into play. Scripture insists that human life is sacred because human persons bear the image of their Creator (Gen 9:5–6) (CCC 2258–83).

20:14 The sixth commandment forbids marital infidelity, which constitutes an offense against God, a violation of spousal trust, and a breach of the exclusivity of marriage. In traditional catechesis, the prohibition covers a spectrum of sexual sins such as fornication, prostitution, rape, incest, etc. (CCC 2331–91). • Jesus broadened the Mosaic definition of adultery to include, not only the act of sexual union with another’s spouse, but also thoughts of lust that arise in the heart (Mt 5:27–28). So too, Jesus declared that remarriage after divorce is a form of adultery so long as one’s first spouse is still living (Mt 5:32; Mk 10:11–12).

20:15 The seventh commandment forbids seizing another’s belongings against his will. Other forms of robbery, including extortion, fraud, and unfair wages, are also prohibited by this commandment (CCC 2401–49).

20:16 The eighth commandment forbids deceptive and dishonest speech. Sins of the tongue prohibited by this commandment include lying, calumny, and perjury (CCC 2464–2503).

20:17 The ninth and tenth commandments forbid desiring another’s house and/or spouse. The wording of these precepts reflects the fact that, in ancient Israel, a man’s wife was considered one of his possessions. • According to the NT, covetousness is a form of idolatry (Col 3:5) as well as impurity (Eph 5:3) (CCC 1456, 2514–50).

Scripture Reflection

“Whoever loves is born of God and knows God” (cf. 1 John 4:7-12). Unfortunately, many Christians think, “If I read the Bible, I’m born of God; or if I go to church, I know God; or if I obey the commandments, I know God.” Yet John says it’s simply about loving. Note that the inverse is true also. “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. . . . This I command you: love one another. —John 15:9-14, 17 [2]

When most of us hear the word “commandment,” we likely think of the Ten Commandments. But Jesus speaks of a “new” commandment surpassing and summing up the “ten” of the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21): “This is my commandment: Love one another.” He also says: “The entire law and the prophets is summed up in the two great commandments: to love God and to love one another.”

Perhaps we don’t want to hear this commandment because we can never live up to it through our own efforts. We’d like to whittle it down to a little commandment, like “Come to church on Sunday.” But who of us can say we have really loved yet? We’re all beginners. We’re all starting anew every day, and we’re failing anew every day. Loving as imperfect, egoic human beings keeps us in utter reliance upon the mercy, compassion, and grace of God. We can never fully succeed by ourselves.

It seems God gave us a commandment that we could not obey. Perhaps this is so we would have to depend upon the Holy Spirit. This is the greatness, the goodness, the wonder, the impossibility of the Gospel, that it asks of all of us something we—alone, apart, separate—cannot do! Only by living in love, in communion—God in us and we in God (see John 17:20-26)—do we find, every once in a while, a love flowing through us and toward us and from us that is bigger than our own. And we surely know it’s not “we” who are doing it!

– Richard Rohr

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

Parables

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
(Matthew 13:10-17)

Scripture Study

13:11 Since a parable is figurative speech that demands reflection for understanding, only those who are prepared to explore its meaning can come to know it. To understand is a gift of God, granted to the disciples but not to the crowds. In Semitic fashion, both the disciples’ understanding and the crowd’s obtuseness are attributed to God. The question of human responsibility for the obtuseness is not dealt with, although it is asserted in Mt 13:13. The mysteries: as in Lk 8:10; Mk 4:11 has “the mystery.” The word is used in Dn 2:18, 19, 27 and in the Qumran literature (1Qp Heb 7:8; 1QS 3:23; 1QM 3:9) to designate a divine plan or decree affecting the course of history that can be known only when revealed. Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven means recognition that the kingdom has become present in the ministry of Jesus.

13:12 In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom” (see Mt 25:29; Mk 4:25; Lk 8:18; 19:26), the reference transcends the original level. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive,” more will be given, what he has will be taken away).

13:13 Because ‘they look … or understand’: Matthew softens his Marcan source, which states that Jesus speaks in parables so that the crowds may not understand (Mk 4:12), and makes such speaking a punishment given because they have not accepted his previous clear teaching. However, his citation of Is 6:9–10 in Mt 13:14 supports the harsher Marcan view.

13:16–17 Unlike the unbelieving crowds, the disciples have seen that which the prophets and the righteous of the Old Testament longed to see without having their longing fulfilled.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today in our Gospel the disciples ask Jesus why he speaks to the crowds in parables.

Jesus is explaining the Kingdom of God in these provocative and puzzling stories and images that seemed to be his preferred way of preaching. And he replies to his disciples, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.'” In other words, because the crowds refused to believe in him and what he has to say.

Many parables are strange and initially off-putting and puzzling. Of course, that is the point of parables: to bother us, throw us off base, confuse us a bit. How characteristic this was of Jesus’ preaching! He rarely lays things out in doctrinal form: he prefers to tell these puzzling, funny stories. Why? Because in many cases stories reveal truth that arguments can’t quite capture.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

Everything for the Glory of God

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-15)

Scripture Study

4:7 This treasure: the glory that he preaches and into which they are being transformed. In earthen vessels: the instruments God uses are human and fragile; some imagine small terracotta lamps in which light is carried.

4:8–9 A catalogue of his apostolic trials and afflictions. Yet in these the negative never completely prevails; there is always some experience of rescue, of salvation.

4:10–11 Both the negative and the positive sides of the experience are grounded christologically. The logic is similar to that of 2 Cor 1:3–11. His sufferings are connected with Christ’s, and his deliverance is a sign that he is to share in Jesus’ resurrection.

4:12–15 His experience does not terminate in himself, but in others (12, 15; cf. 2 Cor 1:4–5). Ultimately, everything is ordered even beyond the community, toward God (2 Cor 4:15; cf. 2 Cor 1:11).

4:13–14 Like the Psalmist, Paul clearly proclaims his faith, affirming life within himself despite death (2 Cor 4:10–11) and the life-giving effect of his experience upon the church (2 Cor 4:12, 14–15). And place us with you in his presence: Paul imagines God presenting him and them to Jesus at the parousia and the judgment; cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Rom 14:10.

4:16–18 In a series of contrasts Paul explains the extent of his faith in life. Life is not only already present and revealing itself (2 Cor 4:8–11, 16) but will outlast his experience of affliction and dying: it is eternal (2 Cor 4:17–18).

4:16 Not discouraged: i.e., despite the experience of death. Paul is still speaking of himself personally, but he assumes his faith and attitude will be shared by all Christians. Our outer self: the individual subject of ordinary perception and observation, in contrast to the interior and hidden self, which undergoes renewal. Is being renewed day by day: this suggests a process that has already begun; cf. 2 Cor 3:18. The renewal already taking place even in Paul’s dying is a share in the life of Jesus, but this is recognized only by faith (2 Cor 4:13, 18; 2 Cor 5:7).

Scripture Reflection

In contrast to the greatness of the Gospel—the “treasure” entrusted to them by God—St Paul emphasizes the limitations of its ministers: they are “earthen vessels.” To illustrate this he describes the afflictions and persecution to which he finds himself subjected and in which God’s grace always comes to his aid.

In some way these sufferings of the apostles and of all Christians reproduce in their lives the sufferings of Christ in his passion and death. In his case his suffering opened the way to his glorification after the Resurrection; similarly his servants, even in this life, are experiencing an anticipation of the life they will attain in heaven; this helps them overcome every kind of affliction.

St Paul’s attitude is a model for the kind of supernatural way the Christian should look at everything that happens to him; they should try to see events the way God does, and should concentrate ones’ attention on the things that cannot be seen. By doing this they will more easily recognize the difference between the fleetingness and insignificance of the good things of this life, and the solidity and permanence of heaven: “Let us drink to the last drop the chalice of pain in this poor present life. What does it matter to suffer for ten years, twenty, fifty … if afterwards there is heaven for ever, for ever, … for ever?” – St Josemaría Escrivá

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

Something Greater

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here.”
(Matthew 12:38-42)

Scripture Study

The scribes and Pharisees refuse to accept the exorcisms of Jesus as authentication of his claims and demand a sign that will end all possibility of doubt. Jesus’ response is that no such sign will be given. Because his opponents are evil and see him as an agent of Satan, nothing will convince them.

12:38 Teacher: for Matthew, this designation of Jesus is true, for he has Jesus using it of himself (Mt 10:24, 25; 23:8; 26:18), yet when it is used of him by others they are either his opponents (Mt 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 22:16, 24, 36) or, as here and in Mt 19:16, well-disposed persons who cannot see more deeply. Thus it reveals an inadequate recognition of who Jesus is.

12:39 Unfaithful: literally, “adulterous.” The covenant between God and Israel was portrayed as a marriage bond, and unfaithfulness to the covenant as adultery; cf. Hos 2:4–14; Jer 3:6–10.

12:40 While the sign was simply Jonah’s preaching to the Ninevites (Lk 11:30, 32), Matthew here adds Jonah’s sojourn in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, a prefigurement of Jesus’ sojourn in the abode of the dead and, implicitly, of his resurrection.

12:41–42 The Ninevites who repented (see Jon 3:1–10) and the queen of the south (i.e., of Sheba; see 1 Kgs 10:1–13) were pagans who responded to lesser opportunities than have been offered to Israel in the ministry of Jesus, something greater than Jonah or Solomon. At the final judgment they will condemn the faithless generation that has rejected him.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today in our Gospel some Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign. And Jesus replies, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet,” who was in the belly of the whale for three days and nights.

Jonah was called by God to preach conversion to Nineveh, which is described as an enormously large city. It took, they said, three days to walk through it. I can’t help but think of Nineveh as one of our large, modern cities, a center of all sorts of worldly activity and preoccupation.

What would its conversion look like? A turning back to God as the only enduring good. After hearing the word of Jonah, the Ninevites “proclaimed a fast, and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” What is the purpose of these ascetic practices? To wean people away from an attachment to worldly pleasures.

Go beyond the mind that you have. Repent. Live as though nothing in this world finally matters. And you will be living in the Kingdom of God!

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

Inexpressible Groanings

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.
(Romans 8:26-27)

Scripture Study

8:26 the Spirit helps us: When distress makes prayer difficult, the Spirit makes our groaning and sighing (8:23) an impassioned prayer to the Father (CCC 2729–31, 2739).

8:27 intercedes for the saints: The same is said of the Son in 8:34. Both the Son and the Spirit request from the Father what we need, not necessarily what we want. The will of God for our life is the determining factor.

Scripture Reflection

In this passage Paul’s discussion of the role of the Spirit in Christian life comes to its climax. The third testimony to the new life and glorious destiny of Christians is borne by the Spirit itself. Human aspirations risk being inefficacious because of the natural weakness of the flesh dominated by sin and subject to death, but the Spirit aids by its intercession, transcending the weak human condition. Without the aid of the Spirit, even the prayer of justified and reconciled Christians can fail. Even in their intimate life with God Christians are weak, and as a remedy for this weakness the Spirit intervenes with assistance.

– Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J.

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

The Love of Christ Impels Us

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

Scripture Study

5:14 the love of Christ impels us: The sacrificial love of Christ displayed on the Cross was overwhelming to Paul as it should be to us (Rom 5:8). This same divine love is poured into our hearts through the Spirit (Rom 5:5) and urges us to spread it among others by word and example (Jn 15:12–13) (CCC 851).

5:15 no longer for themselves: Christians are born to a new life of grace that enables them to conquer selfishness and the tendency to live solely for private, personal interests. Purchased for God at the price of Christ’s blood (1 Cor 6:20), believers should strive to live the rest of their days for him (CCC 655, 1269).

5:16 according to the flesh: According to some, this implies that Paul knew the historical Jesus during his earthly ministry. More likely, Paul is claiming that life in the Spirit brings a new perception of things, more penetrating than natural reason (1 Cor 2:12–15). Whereas the crucified Christ appears dead and defeated from a human viewpoint, from a spiritual viewpoint his Cross is a powerful sign of victory and life.

5:17 a new creation: Baptism transfers us from the bondage of sin and slavery to the blessings of salvation and sonship. The New Covenant thus begins a new order in history where creation is steadily renewed, beginning with our souls and extending into every corner of the cosmos (Rom 8:19–25; Rev 21:1–5). Christ does not destroy the old order of creation but heals it, perfects it, and elevates it with supernatural life (CCC 1214, 1265). ● The prophets of Israel envisioned this renewal far in advance of Christ’s coming. Isaiah announced that Yahweh would restore the world, beginning with Israel (Is 42:6–9; 43:18–21; 65:17; 66:22). Other oracles foretold a return to the conditions of creation in Eden before sin and decay entered in (Is 51:3; Ezek 36:33–35).

Scripture Reflection

“The love of Christ impels us.” With these words, St Paul sums up what motivates his tireless apostolic activity, the love of Jesus. So immense is this love that it impels him to spend every minute of his life bringing this same love to all mankind. The love of Christ should also inspire all Christians to commit themselves to respond to Christ’s love, and it should fill them with a desire to bring to all souls the salvation won by Christ through a life modeled by His love.

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

Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”
(Matthew 12:1-8)

Scripture Study

12:1–2 The picking of the heads of grain is here equated with reaping, which was forbidden on the sabbath (Ex 34:21).

12:3–4 See 1 Sm 21:2–7. In the Marcan parallel (Mk 2:25–26) the high priest is called Abiathar, although in 1 Samuel this action is attributed to Ahimelech. The Old Testament story is not about a violation of the sabbath rest; its pertinence to this dispute is that a violation of the law was permissible because of David’s men being without food.

12:5–6 This and the following argument (Mt 12:7) are peculiar to Matthew. The temple service seems to be the changing of the showbread on the sabbath (Lv 24:8) and the doubling on the sabbath of the usual daily holocausts (Nm 28:9–10). The argument is that the law itself requires work that breaks the sabbath rest, because of the higher duty of temple service. If temple duties outweigh the sabbath law, how much more does the presence of Jesus, with his proclamation of the kingdom (something greater than the temple), justify the conduct of his disciples.

12:7 Matthew adds the prophetic statement of Hos 6:6 to the Marcan account. If mercy is superior to the temple sacrifices, how much more to the laws of ritual impurity.

12:8 The ultimate justification for the disciples’ violation of the sabbath rest is that Jesus, the Son of Man, has supreme authority over the law.

Scripture Reflection

Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus is portrayed as violating the sacred command to rest on the seventh day. For example, he often cures on the Sabbath, much to the dismay of the protectors of Jewish law.

And then in today’s Gospel, after his disciples pick grain on the Sabbath, Jesus declares himself “Lord of the Sabbath.” It’s hard to express how breathtaking this claim would be for a first-century Jew to make. Yahweh alone could be assigned the title, “Lord of the Sabbath,” so what is Jesus implying?

In short, he is claiming that he is above their rituals, even perhaps the defining practice of pious Jews, because he is the Lord. Thus the rules must be placed in subordination to the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom that the Lord Jesus is ushering in even here and now.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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