Gen 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-18; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
Today’s readings highlight Joseph and Jesus who came to greatness through slavery. Joseph and Jesus are similar in that they were betrayed by loved ones. Other similarities that grab my attention are the fact that both characters rose to help others through their adversity and that humans get sidetracked with over-comparing.
▪ Pope Francis designated February 8th, the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, as the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking. United with the Pope, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), set apart this day as an annual day of prayer and awareness about this phenomenon. Participating in the evening service that took place at St. Antony’s Church, we all, with loud voices, supported the theme that said “Together Against Human Trafficking”.
Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 16:19-31
The story of the rich man and the beggar at the gate is so familiar that it probably has lost its power to disturb us – as surely it should. Why? Well, there is no indication in the story that the rich man had broken any of the commandments – no indication that he even realized Lazarus lay in distress outside his door. So why this terrible reversal in the life after death? The message Jesus is conveying is not just that we should be generous. Of course we should! Not just that we should comfort those in need. Of course we should! It is much more.
Jeremiah 18:18-20; Matthew 20:17-28
One of my favorite things about today’s Gospel is the mother of the sons of Zebedee asking Jesus to give her sons prominent places in his kingdom. There’s a mom for you, willing to take matters into her own hands to make sure her sons have an equal chance, no matter the mutterings of the indignant apostles at the scene. Jesus says it’s his father’s decision, but he also warns all of them that his kingdom won’t be like what has gone before.
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
“I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm.” (2 Sam: 4-5a)
“The promise [is] guaranteed to all his descendants not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham.” (Rm 4:16)
“He did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife [Mary] into his home.” (Matthew 1:24a)
Today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and earthly father of Jesus of Nazareth. It might seem that we are taking a break from our Lenten readings, but not really. Today as we focus on Joseph we are encouraged to focus on a model of righteousness.
Daniel 9:4b-10; Luke 6:36-38
Today’s gospel is from St. Luke’s “sermon on the plain” a parallel to St. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. In these sermons, or collections of Jesus’ sayings, the Lord summarizes how he wants his followers to live their lives. The beatitudes contained in both these collections of sayings set the standard for discipleship, service of God, and love of the neighbor.
Our scriptural reading today is the end of that sermon on the plain and it effectively concludes these important words of Jesus as to how the disciple or we put into practice the spirit of Jesus in our dealings with one another and, ultimately, how we deal with God.
About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen. Lk 9:28b-36
Let’s go up the mountain.
Let’s go up to the place where the land meets the sky
where the earth touches the heavens,
to the place of meeting,
to the place of mists,
to the place of voices and conversations,
to the place of listening.
We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
the months of ministry transfigured to a beam of light,
the light of the world,
Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Matthew 5:43-48
The reading from Matthew challenges us even beyond the faithfulness owed to those we love. Jesus speaks about a love that must go further than that involving those we love. He seems to be saying that loving those who love us is the easy part. We are called to do more. This last part makes me more mindful of how much I need God's love because I often find it hard to "lay in for the stay" even with those I love deeply.
Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26
I’m always a little taken aback when I read scripture readings like today…. The reading from Ezekiel seems so harsh and scary and yet the message is clear, “do what is right and just.” I am reminded of my need to pay attention to what God has told us and not to confuse civil law with God’s law(s). I thought about the death penalty when reading Ezekiel and how imposing this civil law defies God’s call for allowing people, who have committed grave acts of violence, to come to accept responsibility for their actions; to ask for forgiveness and then to choose to live according to God’s laws.
Jesus asks us to pray, “Ask … Seek … Knock …” There is a persistence in this request of Jesus. But we frankly reflect on the distraction that many times we have prayed and our prayers do not seem to be answered!
Firstly, sometimes our prayers are answered by a heavenly reason as a “NO!” Reflect on what parents need to do when adolescents ask for permission for something that the parents know will not be good for them. Perhaps God is answering our prayers with a ‘no’ in that same sense.