Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time (August 26, 2018): Memorial of Saint Monica

Chúa Nhật, 26-08-2018 | 16:35:52

Today’s Readings:

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5,11-12
Ps 96:1-5
Matthew 23:13-22

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”

Good News Reflection: Being a blessing to others

Today’s responsorial psalm has us proclaiming joyfully the marvelous deeds of the Lord. We’re proclaiming how awesome God is. So let’s look at how we truly know that he truly is awesome.

When you’re having a bad day, what restores a smile to your face? Nothing is as uplifting as someone taking time to show you that they care. How do you know that God cares about you? Through the people who show that they care. Their compassion comes from God. Their outreach to you is God coming to you through them — even when they’re not aware of it! (This is a big reason why we should place ourselves in the company of other Christians when we’re feeling down or troubled or sick.)

Now look in the mirror. The marvelous deeds of the Lord are revealed to others through you!

What do others boast about when they talk about you? Look at today’s first reading as a letter written to you personally. For example: You, dear reader, bless me — and I thank God for you. Whether you’ve prayed for me, written me a note of affirmation, made a donation of support for me and my team in our work, shared these Good News Reflections with others, or (best of all) put into practice what you’ve read in these reflections, you have blessed me greatly, because (to quote St. Paul), “your faith flourishes ever more and your love for one another grows ever greater.”

What do people praise you for? What are you doing that gets affirmed? This is your special area of ministry, your apostleship. If people commend you for being a good listener, it’s because God has gifted you with a ministry of letting people unburden themselves on your love. If a friend goes into the hospital and is blessed by your visit, you’re a good candidate for taking Communion to the hospitalized and homebound. If people frequently ask you to pray for them, you have an important ministry of intercessory prayer.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus warns about wrong priorities. The Pharisees considered oaths to be binding when sworn by the gold of the temple, but not by the sacredness of the temple. In today’s world, that would be like swearing on the price sticker of a Bible to prove that your word is good. If the Word of God inside the Bible is less important than the cost of the Bible, our oath is meaningless.

By the same principle, woe are we and how blind we are if we serve God for our own gain. If we minister primarily because of the affirmation it gives us, or because of the automatic respect it guarantees, or because we can wield authority over others, or to push our own agendas, then we are abusing our vocations and we are no better than the Pharisees. Yes, God affirms us through the people we serve in order to encourage us, but this must never be our reason for serving.

Today’s Prayer:

I thank You, Lord, because every minute of my day is under Your loving gaze and because You protect and guard me with Your saint angels. Amen.

© 2018 by Terry A. Modica

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