"Are you envious because I am generous?" So often, we expect God to operate the way we do. We expect to be able to understand everything he does. When we don't, it's tempting to think that the problem is on God's end, not ours. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about God's mercy. And some of us may not understand it at first glance. Why should the "lazy" workers who showed up late in the day be given the same wage as the diligent ones? Doesn't this suggest a kind of fundamental disrespect for the efforts of the first group? Extending the principle spiritually, we might ask a similar question. Why should sinners who spend much of their lives doing wrong be allowed to "show up" suddenly and receive the mercy of God? What about those faithful Christians who have walked the road of virtue all along? Shouldn't they receive something more than these ne'er-do-wells?READ MORE
"I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?" The parable Jesus tells today is the story of a king, but in truth it is about Jesus himself. He is the "king" who has forgiven our debts. We are the "servants" whose sins have earned us chastisement. But when we repent and ask for Christ's mercy, he grants it to us without hesitation. The point of the parable, then, is that we too should extend this mercy to others. We should not be like that "wicked servant" who begged for mercy but would not show it to others.READ MORE
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." This is a fascinating promise. Jesus enlightens us today about the power of communal faith. He emphasizes that a gathering of like-minded believers, small though it may be, has a powerful effect. As he tells his disciples, "If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father."
Alright then, what are we waiting for? We should take Jesus up on this amazing offer! Going to Mass is one way to do so. When we gather together every Sunday, we do more than listen to readings and receive the Eucharist. We also PRAY together. The priest leads us in these prayers, of course, but we are meant to join with him, as the Second Vatican Council put it, with "fully conscious, and active participation" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #14). We are to make the prayers our own by attentively joining in with them from our hearts. Mindlessly reciting "Amen" or absently whispering the words of the Our Father likely loses the effect Jesus was talking about in today's Gospel. But truly praying together with our parish community certainly fits the bill.READ MORE
"You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Peter had expressed horror at the prophetic words announcing that Jesus' suffering and death were imminent. Peter didn't want his friend and teacher to undergo this terrible ordeal. He wanted "no such thing" ever to happen to his Lord. But Jesus sharply rebuked Peter's response, comparing it to that of the tempter, Satan. Just as temptation becomes an obstacle to our doing what is right, so Peter was presenting an obstacle to Christ's mission. Suffering was part of it, like it or not. To deny this difficult element of Christ's work would be to deny the bigger plan of God. And so Jesus rightly told Peter that he wasn't thinking like God thinks.READ MORE