Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reflection for the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Supplement Your Faith

In today's first reading, St. Peter tells us to supplement our faith. He then provides a long string of characteristics that we are to pile one on top of the other in order to grow in Christian life. Let's look at these in some detail.

First, the verb translated here as “supplement” is epichorēgeō, and it implies a lavish provision intended to accomplish a great goal. For Christians, of course, that great goal is intimacy and eternal life with God. That life begins with faith, but it does not end there.

St. Peter tells us to supplement or lavishly add virtue to our faith. Virtue here is aretē or moral excellence. To virtue, we add knowledge, gnōsis, the kind of wisdom gained by direct personal experience. To knowledge, we add self-control, egkrateia. This indicates a mastery over ourselves. We guide our lives by our reason and our obedience to God's law rather than letting our passions and emotions run away with us.

To self-control, we add endurance, hupomonē, which is a steadfastness that allows us to remain under the trials of this life, persevere in faith, hope, and love, and even remain joyful in the midst of darkness. To endurance, we add devotion, eusebeia. This is piety, our right response to God. We worship Him with great reverence and seek to imitate Him in everything. To devotion, we add mutual affection, philadelphia, by which we recognize and love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To top off all of this, we add love, agapē, the kind of self-giving love that wills the absolute best for the other and is willing to sacrifice the self to achieve it. This kind of love is a share in the very love of the Blessed Trinity.

This long list could seem overwhelming, but we must realize that we are not left to achieve all of this on our own. We can't. God is the One Who will lavishly provide all of these gifts if only we ask Him and gratefully open our hearts to receive them.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Tuesday – Confident and Unafraid

“I am confident and unafraid.” God is my Savior. He pours out all the graces I need to come to know Him and love Him and spend eternity with Him. He fills me with strength and courage and wisdom. He fights against my enemies. He provides peace and joy in the depths of my being. He inspires me to praise and worship Him with wonder and reverence. He enters into me in the Holy Eucharist and permeates me with His presence and His love. He gives me His very Self, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. How could I be anything but confident and unafraid?

Wednesday – God of the Living

The Sadducees were itching to trip up Jesus. They firmly believed that there was no such thing as resurrection, and they were determined to get Him to admit it. So they concocted a long story about a woman with seven husbands and asked Jesus whose wife she would be at the resurrection. It seemed like the perfect trap.

But of course, it wasn't. Jesus brushed the whole matter aside quite handily. He told the Sadducees that they were simply wrong and did not know the Scriptures. Marriage was a temporal state that would no longer be necessary at the resurrection, but even more importantly, there would indeed be a resurrection. When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, Jesus reminded the Sadducees, He said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” 

Notice the present tense: I am. God made it quite clear that He was still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob right at that moment even though the patriarchs had been dead for centuries. Since God is a God of the living and not the dead, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had to be still living. And if the “dead” were still really living, then resurrection was a definitely possibility. God, being Who He is, wants His children to have the fullness of life, not just life of the soul, but life of the body, too. Therefore, Jesus concluded, resurrection of the dead was a reality, and the Sadducees were “greatly misled.”

This passage should give us great hope. This earthly life isn't all there is. Our God is a God of the living, and if we are in His grace when our earthly bodies die, our souls will move on to even greater and more abundant life. Then, at the end of time, when God is ready, He will raise our bodies to life, too. Jesus is the first fruits of that resurrection, but we will follow and be able to embrace life to its fullest.

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