Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time (October 13, 2018): The surprising blessing

Thứ Sáu, 12-10-2018 | 21:58:44

Today’s Readings:

Galatians 3:22-29
Ps 105:2-7
Luke 11:27-28

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied, “Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”

“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.” (From Saturday’s Gospel reading)

Reflection for Saturday: The surprising blessing

“Observing” or “practicing” the Word of God, as Jesus describes it in this Saturday’s Gospel reading, usually begins with some sort of repentance. Biblically, repentance involves “metanoia”, a personal, absolute and unconditional surrender to God as our Sovereign Lord. To repent is to change direction or change our mind, turning toward God. And as result, we are blessed. But what does this blessing look like?

Before we repent — before we’re willing to change our minds — God’s ways can seem distasteful, unhelpful, unpleasant. Definitely not a blessing. Think of someone you know who is unpleasant or unhelpful. Jesus told us to go the extra mile for them when they ask us to do something (Matthew 5:41). Our first reaction is to say no or, at most, do it minimally. And we complain before, during and after. We need a metanoia, a transformation of our thinking. Only then will the unpleasant become blessedly enjoyable.

But oh how difficult it is to turn away from our distaste for the Word of God. We justify the sin of disobeying Jesus, telling ourselves that God’s Word doesn’t apply to our situation. We name plenty of valid reasons for doing only what feels right to us.

If we truly want to follow Christ, holy living is our priority. This is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. Metanoia comes from the Holy Spirit. The transformation of our minds is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Here’s the prayer I use when I don’t feel like obeying the Word of God:

“Come Holy Spirit, fill me. Come Holy Spirit, renew me. Come Holy Spirit, You have my permission to change me.”

Oh no! I don’t really want to change, or else I wouldn’t need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. Ahhh, but when the Holy Spirit takes over, it doesn’t hurt. It turns out to be like flipping the switch on a lamp; the room was dark but now it’s full of light. Now I actually want to obey God’s Word. Metanoia. I have been blessed! Despite how I used to feel about the change I didn’t want to make, I feel joyfully peaceful. I feel victorious. I feel blessed, thanks be to God.

More on this from Graciela Ramos, Director of Online Ministry:

When I read in this Saturday’s Gospel, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it”, I immediately remembered the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32) in which one of them first he says he does not want to go to work and then he goes, and the other son agrees at first, then does not fulfill what was promised.

To hear the Word of God alone is not enough. Demons also hear it and know it. Satan tempted Jesus in the desert with the Word of God, because he knows it.

The Word of God can be powerful, penetrating to the deepest part of our being, but only if we allow it to change to us. What do we have to repent of? Above all, we need to stop judging with our worldly mind the plans and projects of God. Remember, Jesus told Satan, who was using Peter to prevent God’s plans, “Get away from me, because your thoughts are not of God but of men” (Matthew 16:23).

When we allow the Word of God to transform us, the Kingdom of Heaven opens over us, even in this world. We become more like Christ. We are blessed to become the saints that God created us to be. It feels so good to become our very best selves!

© 2018 by Terry A. Modica

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