I want to concentrate this week on our second reading, which is a very brief passage from Paul’s magnificent letter to the Romans. It comes at the end of chapter eleven, which completes the Apostle’s consideration of Israel in relation to the Church. How do we make sense of the ancient Jewish tradition in light of the resurrection? How do we understand gentiles coming to the faith when salvation was supposed to be through the Jews, many of whom were rejecting the Christian faith? Looking into these questions, we learn about the inscrutability of God.
Christians have said for centuries that everything is a grace, that no one deserves anything, and therefore we should never complain about inequities. How can this be fair that some people are clearly chosen by God while others are not? Well, with this dilemma in mind, let’s look at our first reading and our Gospel for today. These passages reveal that Israel is named a chosen people not for their own sake but for the sake of the whole world. The key to understanding grace is that it is given to be given away.
Elijah is a contemplative who has the eyes to see and the ears to listen. God does not appear in the glory of the world. Rather, he appears in a silent way. Weed out of your heart all of those fears and desires that prevent you from discerning the silent presence of God.
The Transfiguration signals the purpose of religion. The first thing we notice is that Jesus' appearance becomes more beautiful. Second, in his transfigured state, Jesus transcends space and time. Contemporary culture attempts to reduce all religion to ethics, but in Jesus' transfiguration we see that the final purpose of our religious devotion is not that we become just nice people, but rather we become transfigured as sons and daughters of God.
Our second reading for this weekend is taken from the end of the eighth chapter of Paul’s magnificent letter to the Romans. In this great book of the Bible, we learn that in Christ, God has disclosed his providential plan whereby he intends to reconcile all things to himself. I don’t know about you, but those words always give me comfort and peace.
The Gospel for this Sunday is taken from the 13th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew and it features three marvelous parables of Jesus. How rich are these parables! How inexhaustible in meaning! Take some time to read and contemplate these parables in light of your own suffering and faith as we seek together the Kingdom of God.
God sows his Word into each of our hearts liberally. He does not solely give his grace to those he knows will bear fruit. He sows the Word in everyone, but it doesn't flourish for each person due to circumstances (secularism, anxiety, the allurement of the world), but strive to counter that by letting the Word open you to the implications of his Lordship. God is always giving himself to you, listen and act.
What is it like to have Christ for a king? All three of this Sunday's readings examine this very question in some way. The answer is to submit to his kingship and accept his yoke upon your shoulders to make your life an offering to his plan.
In our second reading for this week, St. Paul reminds the Christian community in Rome that baptism means an immersion into the dying of the Lord. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he had similarly told his followers that every eucharist is a participation in the dying of Christ. Why this preoccupation with death? Because it is only through this journey into Christ's death and resurrection that we can effectively conquer the fear of death, which tends to cramp us spiritually. Once we have died witih Jesus, we can walk "in newness of life."
As we return to the regular cycle of readings in Ordinary Time, we meet with a bracing spiritual teaching from the Lord Jesus. No matter who is threatening you, who is thundering denunciation, who is coming at you with furious intensity: don’t be afraid! Why? Because in Jesus Christ, you are connected to the very power of God, to that which is here and now creating the universe.