Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reflection for the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Jesus Christ Crucified

St. Paul makes a rather shocking statement to the Corinthians in today's first reading. He says, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Human wisdom was not enough. High words and rhetorical genius were insufficient. All the arguments in the world wouldn't cut it. St. Paul had only one message: Jesus Christ crucified.

Here is the very center and heart of our faith. Jesus Christ crucified. The God of the universe nailed to a tree. The King of Kings crowned with thorns. The God-man suffering for our sins. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity crying out, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” The Messiah giving His life that we all might live eternally.

Jesus Christ crucified. This is why Catholic Churches have crucifixes and why Catholics all over the world display them in their homes. Whenever we look at a crucifix, we remember what Jesus did for us, how much He loves us, how He died for us.

Jesus Christ crucified. The very power and wisdom and mystery of God.

Tuesday – Authority and Power

The crowd at the synagogue stood amazed with their mouths hanging open. They had known for quite some time that the man had an evil spirit, but they had never seen anything like this before. The man, or rather the demon, had challenged that new teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, and he had said something very strange: “What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!”

The Holy One of God? What did he mean by that? Wasn't this just Jesus the carpenter?

What's more, Jesus hadn't been one bit disturbed by the man's taunting. Instead, He spoke calmly, almost nonchalantly, and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”

The man immediately dropped to the floor, but when he raised his head, the crowd knew something was different. The evil spirit was gone! The man was perfectly normal, perfectly sane, and extremely grateful.

A buzz passed through the crowd as the people whispered to one another, trying to understand what had just happened. “What is there about His word?” they wondered. “For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

Yes, authority and power. Jesus indeed had both in a greater quantity and quality than the crowd could have imagined. Little did they know Who Jesus really was. Little did they understand what He could do. Little did they realize what His mission truly would be. They were just beginning to see that there was something different about this Man, an authority and power they couldn't quite grasp but could only witness with amazement.

Wednesday – God's Co-workers

We are God's co-workers. Think about that for a minute. God doesn't need any of us really, yet He has chosen to make us His co-workers. How? Well, empowered by His grace (and that's really important – He gives us grace to work with Him; otherwise we wouldn't be able to), we cooperate in important ways in our own salvation and that of others.

First, we pray. Prayer makes a huge difference in our lives, in the lives of others, and in the whole world. Why? Because God designed it that way. He wills that our prayers work.

Second, we spread the Gospel. There are many ways to do this, of course. Sometimes we speak directly about God and His plan. Sometimes we answer people's questions or respond to their doubts. Sometimes we teach. Sometimes we comfort. Sometimes we argue. But we always spread the truth.

Third, we live what we believe. We practice our faith with confidence. We obey the moral law openly and unapologetically. We go to Mass. We pray in public as well as in private. We treat others as we would want to be treated. We speak out against injustice and evil. We never hide our love for God. Instead, we allow Him to shine through us.

Lord, You have made us Your co-workers. May we always fulfill that role, that blessing, that honor with faithfulness and love. Amen.

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