Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 10:34-11:1 - World English Bible

Jesus said to the Twelve:

34 "Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man's foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me. 38 He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me. 39 He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward. He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42 Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you he will in no way lose his reward."

1 When Jesus had finished directing his twelve disciples, he departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Jesus ended his Mission discourse in Matthew 10 with a warning about persecution, a call to the cross and the promise of reward for hospitality. The Lord's presence and message would not bring peace but controversy and turmoil. By extension, the missionary effort would divide the building blocks of ancient culture, the clan, thus fulfilling the prophecy found in Micah 7:6 about the day of YHWH: "For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house." (World English Bible). In other words, persecution, even in the extended family, had overtones of the end times. In response to such dark time, the disciple must be willing to take a risk, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, even to the cross, for such a willingness would lead to the eternal life the Risen Christ enjoyed. But, what would be the fate of those who offered shelter and food to those who traveled in order to evangelize? They, too, would share in the benefits promised to the missionaries, receiving the reward of the prophet and the righteous man, the blessings of anyone who was willing to face dangers in order to spread the Good News.

What problems do you face when you speak to others about Jesus?

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Tuesday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 11:20-24 - World English Bible

20 Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his mighty works had been done, because they didn't repent. 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 You, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, you will go down to Hades. For if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in you, it would have remained until today. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, on the day of judgment, than for you."

Jesus condemned Jewish hamlets on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee for their lack of faith. He added sting to his denunciation by comparing these "faithful" towns with Gentile enclaves on the Mediterranean coast (Tyre and Sidon). Like Jonah preaching in Nineveh, if he would have preached and healed in those cities they would have repented. So, the Lord will show them more mercy than those areas in which he ministered but the people reacted with either indifference or hostility.

Jesus saved his fiercest remarks for his base of operations, Capernaum. Because of his presence and activity, this town saw the lion's share of his ministry, but did they repent and believe? No, they will be condemned, even worse than the paradigm of evil, Sodom.

Do you sometimes take your faith for granted?

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Wednesday in the Fifteenth Week of the Ordinary Time

Matthew 11:25-27 - World English Bible

25 At that time, Jesus answered, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father. No one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son desires to reveal him."

After condemning in the Jewish hamlets that rejected him, Jesus addressed the Father for the gift of revelation and the intimacy they shared. He felt gratitude for the revelation he offered his followers; those who claimed wisdom didn't understand but the innocent did and this pleased the Father. At the core of this revelation was the relationship the Son shared with the Father. That intimacy he gave to others; he drew them into the love between the divine persons of the Trinity. When they experienced that union, then they truly knew who Jesus really was.

Sit for a moment and reflect on your knowledge of Jesus, not the book smarts you learned, but the intimacy he shares with the Father.

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Thursday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 11:28-30 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his Apostles:

28 "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

In the past verses in Matthew, Jesus addressed the cost of discipleship; now, he spoke of its benefits. A relationship with Christ meant freedom from the burdens of the Pharisees, a highly regulated lifestyle that "built a fence around the Torah." Discipleship replaced worry over the minutiae that came with duty with the joys of devotion to Jesus. He compared this relationship with the yoke shared by field oxen; sharing a task like farm plowing lightened the load. When a disciple learned from the Master, he shared not only the instruction given but he also associated with the character of the Teacher. When the student followed the humble Instructor, he found an ease that came with respect. It was far easier to have a direction in spiritual life based upon attachment to a Master than to feel guilt over what some could do or not do.

Do you worry about your actions? Or do you lay your burdens at the feet of Christ?

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Friday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 12:1-8 - World English Bible

1 At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain fields. His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to him, "Behold, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath."

3 But he said to them, "Haven't you read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him; 4 how he entered into God's house, and ate the show bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law, that on the Sabbath day, the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? 6 But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

The beginning of Matthew 12 reflected discussion on the Law in 5:17-48 but, this time, in the midst of controversy. On the Sabbath, the disciples plucked grain from the fields as they traveled. While travelers could pluck kernels, farmers could not reap (Deuteronomy 23:25), so the controversy was a matter of degree. Jesus pushed back with two references from Scripture: a direct one in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 (David feeding his troops with the show bread) and and an indirect one in Numbers 28:9 (Torah regulation allowing priests to prepare a lamb for sacrifice). Once he had set precedent, he asserted the priority of mercy over sacrifice (Hosea 6:6); someone was greater than the Temple. " For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Not only was Jesus master of legal interpretation (Matthew 5), he was master of the Law itself. The disciple should not worry about minutia in the Law, but devotion to the Son of Man.

How can you shift your focus away from duty to devotion for Jesus?

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Saturday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 12:14-21 - World English Bible - World English Bible

14 The Pharisees went out, and conspired against him, how they might destroy him. 15 Jesus, perceiving that, withdrew from there. Great multitudes followed him; and he healed them all, 16 and commanded them that they should not make him known: 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,

18 "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen;
my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased:
I will put my Spirit on him.
He will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not strive, nor shout;
neither will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He won't break a bruised reed.
He won't quench a smoking flax,
until he leads justice to victory.
21 In his name, the nations will hope."

According to tradition, President Theodore Roosevelt uttered a foreign policy adage that still contains a grain of wisdom: speak softly and carry a big stick. In his own way, the author Isaiah 42:1-4 (cited in Matthew 12:18-21) said the same thing. The prophet addressed the relationship between YHWH and his servant, the king. The power of the regent would not depend upon loud, splashy displays or town criers proclaiming his greatness (Isaiah 12:19). No, his effectiveness would depend upon the power of God, the Spirit. With YHWH, he would bring justice to the land without a show of force (Isaiah 12:20). Instead, he would bring hope to all peoples, implicitly with the wisdom that came from the Spirit. The king would downplay his own status, for the big stick was the really the Spirit.

Matthew applied this description of the just king to Jesus. The reputation of the holy man from Galilee depended upon the power of the Spirit that worked through him. He preached God's word and healed with God's power. The Lord played down his own glory, in order to give glory to his Father in heaven.

How can you give God glory today? How can you show others God's word and power in your life?

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