Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 66:1-3a, 5 and 8, 16-17; Matthew 18:15-20
Today is Wednesday of the nineteenth week in ordinary time. Think about that: ordinary time. We know what that means liturgically but I think that it describes how many of us live our lives spiritually. Anyone who sets out on the journey of becoming like Jesus embraces certain spiritual practices. Service, prayer, worship, meditation on Scripture, and other disciplines become important to us. At first, many of these practices are exciting and life-changing. We eat up the scriptures. We cannot get enough time for prayer. We are filled with love for the Spirit who works through these practices and shapes us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1675
A Gifted Relationship
In 1950, five years after the end of the carnage of the Second World War which had ruptured the peace of the world and during which millions of human beings made in the image and likeness of God had been consigned to oblivion and literally gone up in smoke Pope Pius XII promulgated the doctrine of the Assumption; a teaching about the value of an individual human life to the rest of humanity. He declared in the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus that ‘the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, on completing the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.’ The human being who most reflected the splendour of her Son’s humanity and his obedient response to the Father’s will did not undergo separation from him. She who was at his side on the Way of the Cross and who accepted the role of Mother of the Church at the foot of the cross was called to his side in heavenly glory.
Today’s gospel begins with Jesus telling his disciples that he will be betrayed and killed before he is raised. We are invited into the life of being a disciple, following Jesus, living his message even in the difficulties, and receiving new life.
Into the middle of Jesus’ message comes a question about taxes from Rome. It’s a part of real life for Jesus just as it is for us. But rather than get on the tax, Jesus quickly dispenses with it and provides the coin to pay the tax so he can get back to his work. Yes, it’s important and part of real life, but it’s not the focus.