FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION:
FIFTEENTH WEEK OF THE YEAR
Weekday readings: Matthew 10:34 to 12:21: Themes of Jesus calling us into crisis; warning against complacency; promising his own knowledge of the Father; offering a yoke of gentleness and love; condemning those who condemn others out of legalism; presenting himself as the gentle but victorious Savior.
Jesus calls us to “lose our lives” on the level of the ordinary human fulfillment that might be our goal now and to aim instead at “life to the full. To water down the Gospel is to pollute the water of Baptism. But demanding ministry to others must be characterized by patience, tenderness and mercy.
Our faith: How many of these statements do you believe? And live?
Matthew 10:34 to 11:1: Jesus’ goal, (like that of the Mass) is not to make us “feel good.” Jesus came to call us into “crisis,” to make us choose, not just between good and bad, but between the good and the perfect.
Matthew 11: 20-24: Jesus gives a dire warning about the consequences of complacency. Those who most consistently rejected Jesus were those who were just good enough to think they were good enough: the public “law observers,” the Pharisees, and “the chief priests and the elders of the people.” Those who most readily accepted him were those who knew they needed “more”: the “tax collectors and the prostitutes.” To reject “life to the full,” however, is to be left in the living death of stagnation.
Matthew 11: 25-27: In Christ we are called to bear the fruit of divine life, “life to the full.” But we can do nothing of divine value unless Jesus does it with us, in us and through us.
Matthew 11: 28-30: Life in union with Jesus — even carrying the cross with him — is easier and more peaceful than life apart from him.
Matthew 12: 1-8: Jesus reveals that he is not just another prophet calling people back to observance of the Law. Christian ministry is love calling us to love, divine life calling us to be divine, Christ calling us to be Christ.
Matthew 12: 14-21: People who find power and security in a religion focused on law-observance are constantly denouncing Christian ministers whose primary concern is is to make Christ’s “yoke easy” and his “burden light,” those who offer hope to the wounded and weak in faith. But these are the ministers who, like Jesus, are God’s “delight,” “chosen,” “loved,” “endowed with his Spirit.”
Hear the cry of the poor and nurture them.
Be Christ calling others to be Christ. Never despair of urging people to the “more.”