Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17; Colossians 3:15a, 16a; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Today we are invited to focus on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One may think being holy is being free from problems, but God’ Son was born into a dangerous world. From the beginning, Jesus was seen as a threat. Herod was a royal thug intent on removing anyone who threatened him, but Joseph acted to protect the child from the king’s murderous rage. A reciprocal regard holds a family together.
Sirach focuses on the honor and respect that children owe their parents. Colossians urges parents not to discourage their children. Furthermore, husbands and wives are to honor one another. Calling wives “subordinate” is unfortunate vocabulary in many cultures today, given the frequency o spousal abuse, but urging husbands to “love their wives and avoid any bitterness toward them” helps restore a mutual regard.
All relationships are to be transformed in Christ to bring His presence into the word. This transformation happens when we are “swaddled” in compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and above all, love. It is through this transformation that the grace of the Incarnation becomes enfleshed in the family and every family becomes holy.
What do you think makes a family holy?
Malachi 3:19-20a; Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9 (R/. cf. 9); 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:28; Luke 21:5-19
As the end of the liturgical year approaches, the readings call our attention to the “end time,” that “Day of the Lord,” referred to by both Old Testament prophets and most New Testament writings. Throughout history, groups have predicted the end time was right around the corner. In our own day, such dates have come and gone. And we are still here! Most recently, we all survived the supposed Mayan Apocalypse of December 21, 2012.
It may be more helpful to live aware that, while we do not know when the end of the world will come, we do know that one day we will face our own end, dying to this life as we know it. We can take comfort in Jesus’ final words today, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” For, if we persevere in faith, hope, and love, and if we strive to bring justice, mercy, forgiveness, and peace into our world, whenever the Day of the Lord comes, we will be counted among the just and experience it as the arrival of “the sun of justice with its healing rays.” In the meantime, as Paul advises, go about your lives, working quietly to bring about the kingdom of God even now.
How does life’s eventual end influence your days?
Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14 (R/. cf. 1); 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2; John 3:16; Luke 19:1-10
One may say Zacchaeus was ripe for the picking because that is what Jesus did. The man was up a tree and was plucked like a ripe apple to satisfy God’s hunger for lost souls. As the head tax collector hence a collaborator with Rome, Zacchaeus would have been hated by most people. Any crowd would have been a dangerous place, so being short was not the only reason he climbed a sycamore tree. But the one who went up came down a different person.
Notice that Jesus asked nothing of Zacchaeus, other than inviting himself to his house, but the little man grew that day. Was it the way Jesus greeted him so urgently saying, “Come down quickly for today I must stay at your house?” Or did the grumbling reaction of the crowd influence him? In any case, Zacchaeus was quickly transformed into a generous and repentant man. Salvation did indeed come to his house in the person of Jesus. New life flowed into and out of his heart. In Jesus, who came to seek and save, Zacchaeus knew God as the “Lord and lover of souls” (Wisdom 11:26).
How have you accepted Jesus’ request to come to your home?
Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23, (R/. 7a); 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Luke 18:9-14
“The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds,” Sirach teaches. Indeed, it touches God’s heart. The prayer of the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable certainly does not fall into this category. It is not necessarily a bad prayer, as the Pharisee stands before God, expressing gratitude for God’s many blessings. But notice the frequency of “I… I… I… I,” in contrast to the simple prayer of the tax collector, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus concludes by saying, “The latter went home justified.” To be justified is to be in right relationship with God. Recognizing our need for God’s mercy and asking for it puts us in right relationship with God.
Luke offers many prayers in his Gospel: the Canticle of Mary (the Magnificat), “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” (1:46-55); the Canticle of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist (the Benedictus), “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel…” (1:68-79); the Canticle of Simeon in the Temple when he takes in his arms the Christ Child (the Nunc dimittis), “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace…” (2:29-32), and the Our Father. Each recognizes God’s mercy, God’s loving-kindness. Each calls us to bow our heads humbly before God.
How have you known God’s loving-kindness this week?
Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8 (R/. cf. 1a, 7b); 1 Timothy 2:1-8; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9; Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13
The bottom line is clear, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning property, money, or possessions. Fr. John Haughey, SJ, has written about “mammon sickness” in his book The Holy Use of Money, describing three of its symptoms: running after things, numbness in our relationships, and a divided consciousness in our relationship with God. Today’s readings invite us to take our spiritual temperature to see if we are suffering from this sickness.
Dishonest business practices are the target of Amos’s wrath. The prophet connects the pursuit of wealth with both the diminishment of genuine worship of God and with trampling on the rights of the needy and the poor. Such are the results of “mammon sickness,” when God’s love and concern for the poor do not take flesh through us.
Rather than condemning the shady practices of a steward, Jesus seems to admire them. But a closer reading shows that what he admires is the initiative and shrewdness taken by this son of darkness, using money to make friends. Children of the light should use money to make friends with the needy, thereby giving God glory.
How can mammon/money/possessions be sacramental, mediating God’s love?
Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13 (R/. cf. 1); Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35
Today’s Gospel begins, “When Judas had left them…” We are at the Last Supper with Jesus, a few hours before he will be arrested, tried, condemned, and killed. Following today’s Gospel is Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial. Living between betrayal and denial, in his darkest hour, Jesus speaks of his glorification. By his suffering, death, and resurrection, God will be glorified and God will glorify Jesus. Jesus came for this “hour”. At the dawn of this “hour,” Jesus gives a new commandment: to love as he has loved, to give ourselves completely for each other, mirroring the love that Jesus has for all his disciples, past, present, and future. The meaning of life, then, is to be found giving and receiving love.
How are you called this week to bring the love of Christ to others?