These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Thus says the LORD: "You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate." (Ex 22:20-26)
Aliens, widows and orphans, the poor. Why is it we never pay attention to these passages? Some folks choose to ignore Catholic Social Teaching (CST) as if it were some modern heresy invented by Vatican II. But in fact, CST is quite ancient . . . as old as the Book of Exodus. If God listens to aliens, widows and orphans and the poor . . . we just might all be in serious trouble.
You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22)
No longer strangers and sojourners, but rather fellow citizens, members of the household of God, a temple sacred in the Lord, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. That is the truth of who we are! As we celebrate the choosing of the Twelve, we also celebrate our own apostolic mission to bring Good News to all the earth.
For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want . . . Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 7:18-25a)
We can all sympathize with Saint Paul because we’ve all been there too. But sin is not the last word. The last word belongs to the Lord . . . and that word is grace. Pope Francis has designated today as a time of fasting, prayer and penance for peace. As the pope says, “We do not belong to any “Caesar” of this world. We are the Lord’s, and we must not be slaves to any earthly power. War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!”
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:19-23)
“For the wages of sin is death” . . . . one of Saint Paul’s most quotable lines—unfortunately used more often as a clobber-passage, to beat people over the head, rather than as the Apostle chose to emphasize: “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Alleluia (Mt 24:42, 44)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
As we come to the last few weeks of Ordinary Time we begin to hear little reminders about the coming of the Lord in glory. “Stay awake” is not so much a warning, but rather an invitation to not miss the glorious coming by being “asleep.” Perhaps we need to be “faithful and prudent” servants busily preparing for that glorious coming.
Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:12,15b,17-19,20b-21)
According to Saint Paul, the reality of sin in the world means that grace has “overflowed all the more.” There’s more grace in the world than there is sin. Perhaps the problem is the 24/7 news channels. Like they say, “if it bleeds, it leads.” But we should never forget that there’s more goodness in us than there is meanness—thanks to God’s overflowing grace that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?'Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God. (Lk 12:13-21)
To be rich in what matters to God calls us to see the world through the eyes of Christ and to adopt the values of the Kingdom where the poor have the seats of honor—definitely a challenge to the church in every age.