October 1 – God’s Ways

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October 1 – God’s Ways

In the stream of readings during this portion of Ordinary Time one week’s texts can often appear to pick up exactly where the previous week’s concluded. The sentiments expressed in today’s first reading seem to be a direct reaction to the Gospel passage we heard last week. In that Gospel, the landowner pays the same wages to his workers whether they worked for a full day or for only a few minutes. Today Ezekiel gives us the lament, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”(Ezekiel 18:25). These Sundays in Ordinary Time offer us a glimpse into the ways of the Lord. We see how God’s way has the tendency to turn the accepted conventions of the day upside down. Those who always expected that their way to heaven was guaranteed are disappointed. Those who thought they never had a chance are given that chance. Today offers us another opportunity to discover the abundance of God’s mercy and love.
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September 24 – Call Upon the Lord

The very first line of today’s first reading summons us to seek the Lord and to call upon God. This sentiment is echoed in the refrain for today’s responsorial psalm: “The Lord is near to all who call upon him” (Psalm 145:18a). Saint Paul is the embodiment of someone who constantly sought the Lord. In the excerpt we read today from his letter to the Philippians, we find Saint Paul toward the end of his life, a life he describes as completely consonant with Christ. He writes, “For to me life is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). To find out what it means to live life completely in accord with Christ we need look no further than today’s Gospel. There we find that God’s love and mercy are immeasurable for all those who seek and call upon the Lord.
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September 17 – Forgiveness

Nearly ten years before, a son and father had parted ways when the business they shared went bankrupt. The son blamed the father. They did not speak to each other again. Then the father became seriously ill. The mother called the son and told him he had better come soon. The son walked sheepishly into the hospital room. The father motioned his son to him and whispered: “Did you ever think you could do anything that would keep me from loving you?” Resentment and anger are foul things, the first reading from Sirach tells us. Remember the last things. Stop hating. Live by the commandments. As Saint Paul writes to the Romans, we are to live for the Lord and die for the Lord. Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel reminds us of God’s compassion. The immense sin of humanity has been forgiven and stricken from the record. We are to forgive others in the same way.

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September 10 – God’s Watchers

In the ancient world watchmen were extremely important people. They kept communities safe, and were there to alert them to any impending danger or attack. Before locks, alarms, and security systems, watchmen were the protectors, the safety measure. So when the Lord charges Ezekiel as a watchman today, it is a weighty charge. So weighty, we learn, that if Ezekiel fails to sound the alarm for those around him and they perish in a state of wickedness, Ezekiel will be held responsible! This profound connection between God’s will on earth and in heaven is repeated in today’s Gospel, where Jesus instructs us that we are to be the security force, the watchers placed on alert that nowhere in the Body of Christ, the church, will there be any two members of the one Body who are not reconciled. Scripture tells us that Jesus reconciled all things in heaven and on earth through the blood of his cross. But we are given the mission to continue that reconciliation on earth as in heaven through our ceaseless efforts to be, as Paul would write, ambassadors of reconciliation. Let us not get too comfortable thinking that we are responsible only for keeping our own lives from the path of wickedness and disagreement. We are also held accountable for the lives of the members of Christ’s body around us.

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September 3 – Following Christ

If you’ve ever had an unpleasant but somewhat amusing practical joke played on you, then you have some understanding of how Jeremiah feels today when he tells God “good one—you duped me.” We can almost see him shaking his head with a bit of a rueful smile, but an angry undertone in his voice. In similar fashion, Peter thinks Jesus is “duping” him when Jesus starts to explain that being Messiah means suffering and dying, and being a follower of the Messiah means taking up a cross and doing the same. Jeremiah tries to deny God’s will for him by trying to shut up; Peter—who has just been made the foundation of the church—out and out denies the teaching of Jesus, for which he is named “Satan” today. Fortunately for us, Jeremiah comes to realize that to have the word of God placed in your heart means that it will be futile to try and keep silent, even if it means scorn and derision from those around you. Luckily Peter ultimately returned to the faith he professed in last week’s Gospel, and came to understand our need as baptized followers of Christ to follow in his way, even when it means following him to our very death.

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