1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
In most of the New Testament, Peter appears to be somewhat dumbfounded by what he sees Jesus do and hears him say, but here Peter seems to be very much in tune with the situation and what is called for. He is a professional fisherman, and a tired one at that, and his first response to the Lord shows what he thinks will happen; nevertheless, he puts himself and his crew into the Lord's hands and very simply does what the Lord asks him to do.
Today’s reading depicts a Jesus on the move. We see a Jesus who leaves the synagogue, enters the house of Simon, rebukes a fever, lays hands on the sick, cures the multitudes and sets out to preach in other synagogues. He doesn’t seem to stop. It exhausts me just reading it!
But Jesus does pause in his ministry. We almost miss Luke’s passing mention of how, “at daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.” We can only assume that Jesus went there to pray and rest.
“Who is this guy?”
“Isn’t he so-and-so’s kid?”
“Get outta here!”
“Where do you get off coming in here and lecturing us like this?”
“Take a hike!”
“Who do you think you are, anyway?”
Luke tells us: “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.”
First Corinthians 2:10-16; Psalms 145:8-14; Luke 4:31-37
Few would argue that things like radio waves and ultraviolet light do not exist because they are unseen. We know that they exist because the former can be harnessed to carry music while the latter can burn our skin on a sunny day. Still, our natural human faculties are unable to perceive these things. Indeed, the world is full of things “seen and unseen,” to recall the words of the creed. As I age, reality seems to grow in complexity. There are things in the world I will never understand, even when perceived, and there are things I will never know simply because I do not notice their existence. Human perception is fragile and extremely limited.
Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus' foretelling of his death and resurrection follows on immediately from Peter's declaration of Jesus as 'the Christ, the Son of the living God', which was read last Sunday.
In this passage, Peter is once again the protagonist: in the previous passage he received Christ's affirmation, in this passage he receives Christ's rebuke. It is not enough to confess that Jesus is the Christ, we must also understand that his messiahship involves suffering and death.
Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29
A royal birthday party, a resentful and scheming wife, a dancing girl, a wine-addled king, a murder resulting in a bloody head served up on a platter—what does all this have to with the Good News of Jesus Christ? And why, in the shortest of the gospels, does Mark spend thirteen verses on this bloody flashback (sex, booze, and violence) interrupting the forward motion of his narrative? No one has ever accused Mark of wasting parchment, so this episode must be something more than a fascinating distraction.
Saint Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor
(354 – 430)
A psychologist, theologian, and working bishop is the greatest convert after Saint Paul
The mighty African Saint Augustine climbed the heights of thought, stood upright on their peaks, and turned toward Rome, and thus spread his long, deep shadow over the entire globe. As a Christian thinker, he has few equals. He is the saint of the first millennium. Augustine was born in the small Roman village of Tagaste, in Northern Africa, to a minor civil official and a pious, head-strong mother. Tagaste had no swagger. Its simple people were bent over from working the land since time immemorial. The great African cities hugged the Mediterranean coast, far from Tagaste, which was cut off, two hundred miles inland. When he was a boy, Augustine imagined what the far-off waves of the sea were like by peering into a glass of water. When he was twenty-eight, he descended from his native hills and sailed for Rome to find himself, God, and holy fame. When he returned to Africa many years later, it was forever. The hot-tempered young African had matured into a cool-headed spiritual father. He was now their bishop, lovingly and tirelessly serving the open, forthright townsmen that were his natural kin.
Saint Monica, also known as Monica of Hippo, is St. Augustine of Hippo's mother. She was born in 331 A.D. in Tagaste, which is present-day Algeria.
When she was very young, she was married off to the Roman pagan Patricius, who shared his mother's violent temper. Patricius' mother lived with the couple and the duo's temper flares proved to be a constant challenge to young Monica.
1 Thess 2:9-13; Mt 23:27-32
The gospel for today changes the tone as it sends us a strong message with Jesus warning,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth.
Jesus challenges the hypocrisy of some of the religious leaders, who have robbed religion of its meaning by focusing only on laws and appearances. We can tell he's angry, because their pseudo-holiness not only doesn't take people deeper into their faith, but causes others to turn away, making them cynical about religion. In so many ways, Jesus reminds us that our holiness has to be better than the mere "externals" of religion. It's about a change of heart, an interior conversion, about placing our trust completely in him. He is "heartsick" that these people whom he loved had hardened their hearts so much against his message.
One of the problems with texts that revile the Pharisees is that they habituate us into thinking that they are the bad guys of the Bible who have nothing to do with us. The truth is, not every Pharisee was the hypocritical monster that Jesus describes in today’s gospel text, and many people who are not and were not Pharisees are and were just like the nasty folks in the reading. The issue has more to do with religious attitude than with specific sectarian membership. Thus, while the ancient Pharisees are long gone, pharisaic attitudes remain.