Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 7:1-5 - World English Bible

Jesus told his followers:

1 "Don't judge, so that you won't be judged. 2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam that is in your own eye? 4 Or how will you tell your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye;' and behold, the beam is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye."

We all judge others, implicitly or explicitly, but our judgment measures our character. Do we judge harshly or with understanding, with vengeance or with mercy? After all, others will judge us as we have judged them.

Jesus told the parable of the beam to make his point. Again, he painted the story in extremes, in an absurdity that lead many scholars to believe he told a joke. How could some have a beam in his own eye without noticing it? How could someone blinded by such an obstruction take the speck of dust out of another's eye? Underneath such humor, lay his moral; prejudice blinded people and led them to judge harshly. Remove the vice and judgment would turn toward empathy.

We all judge others, for better or ill, but judgment is a two edged sword. The way we treat others reflects the way we treat ourselves and the way we encourage others to treat each other.

How do you judge others?

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Tuesday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 7:6, 12-14 - World English Bible

Jesus told his followers:

6 "Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

13 "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. 14 How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it."

In the midst of his teaching, Jesus presented three sayings: an admonition, a statement on Christian ethics and a statement on salvation. First, he warned his followers; do not present what is most precious to the unclean. Dogs were scavengers in the the time of Jesus and pigs (actually wild boars) were unclean. People used both titles as insults towards sinners and Gentiles. What can we make of this saying? Be selective about Christian witness, for it requires wisdom.

Next, Jesus restated his teaching on second part of the Great Commandment, paraphrasing Leviticus 19:18: "Love your neighbor as yourself." He insisted this summed up Scripture ("the Law and the prophets").

Last, Jesus spoke of a sheep gate, narrow in construction, so sheep could be controlled as they entered or left the pen. Going through the gate took time, hence required patience. A large or loose gate would allow many sheep to escape the pen, creating chaos, leaving the shepherd without control over his flock. Notice how he applied the image to salvation. Yes, it is a gift from God, but responding to salvation took time and patience and wisdom. One cannot rush into heaven. Like a sheep entering the sheep gate, one answered God's call one step at a time.

How do you develop wisdom in your spiritual life? How do you apply that gift in your relationships with others?

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Wednesday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 7:15-20 - World English Bible

Jesus told his followers:

15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18 A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them."

At the beginning of Matthew 7, Jesus warned his disciples about judging others; now, he assumed they would size up those who claim a mantle of leadership. The difference, of course, was the social peaking order. The disciple did not judge an equal or one below them, but the person who strove for authority. A disciple had a responsibility to measure the worth of a leader, for, by definition, a follower aligned himself with the values and direction of the one above him. Was it worth the energy or effort to be part of a leader's group or social circle? That was the question the Lord implicitly asked his audience.

Jesus gave a pragmatic answer in an agricultural analogy. Don't look to the person's ideas but to the results of their behavior (fruit). Product trumps ideology. A leader could have a smooth delivery, but if their actions were shady or their intent was self-serving, beware! "By their fruits you will know them."

Which leaders do you admire? Why? Which ones have disappointed you? Why? What sort of leader are you?

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Thursday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 7:21-29 - World English Bible

Jesus told his followers:

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?' 23 Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'

24 "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. 25 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall."

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he taught them with authority, and not like the scribes.

In Matthew, Jesus finished his first discourse (chapters 5-7) with a warning and a parable. First, he laid a caveat upon the disciple. One could not enter the Kingdom by simply evangelizing and exercising charisms; after all, the self-centered could behave as a Christian for his own ends. No, a disciple must focus on the will of the Father to enter His Kingdom.

Next, the parable of the wise and foolish builder summed up his teaching. In the story, he divided his audience into those who applied his words to their lives (the wise man who built upon rock) and those that ignored his teaching (foolish man who build upon sand). Notice the type of person he addressed and the position he took as teacher. The wise man was highly esteemed in both Greek and Jewish cultures, while the fool was more than a dolt; he was "godless" (Psalm 14:1). Jesus set himself up as the source of wisdom and, hence, the conduit to God. To hear his words meant to hear God's words; to reject his words meant to turn away from God. One way led to solid ground; the other way led to destruction.

At the end, his listeners sat astonished. Jesus did not claim any school of teaching, unlike the scribes who claimed legitimacy from a line of rabbis. No, he gained his authority from a higher source.

What is your reaction when you read the words of the Lord? How have you tried to apply them to your life?

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Friday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 8:1-4 - World English Bible

1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 Behold, a leper came to him and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean."

3 Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be made clean." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 Jesus said to him, "See that you tell nobody, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

After his first discourse (Matthew 5-7), Jesus came down from the mountain and encountered a leper. Instead of remaining in quarantine as the Law demanded, the ill man engaged the Lord, implicitly making him unclean. But that did not stop the man from recognizing the power of Jesus and making a request for healing. The Lord agreed and touched the man, making himself ritually unclean, yet cleansing the leper. Then, Jesus sent the man on his way, commanding the man to show himself to the priests to fulfill the Law and to testify to the power of the Lord.

Notice in the encounter that, through healing, Jesus possessed the power to declare what was clean and, implicitly what was not clean. His authority replaced that of the priests and the scribes. He made the sick and sinner clean, not through isolation, but through engagement. His touch cleansed.

Have you a desire to have the Lord touch you today?

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Saturday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 8:5-17 - World English Bible

5 When Jesus came into Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking him, 6 and saying, "Lord, my servant lies in the house paralyzed, grievously tormented."

7 Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."

8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

10 When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those who followed, "Most certainly I tell you, I haven't found so great a faith, not even in Israel. 11 I tell you that many will come from the east and the west, and will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, 12 but the children of the Kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way. Let it be done for you as you have believed." His servant was healed in that hour.

14 When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her. She got up and served him. 16 When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons. He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick; 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, "He took our infirmities, and bore our diseases."

In these verses from Matthew 8, Jesus healed a Gentile and a Jew. The narrative of the Gentile came by the request of a centurion, an officer in the hated Roman army. In this case, the Lord chose to make himself unclean for the good of the soldier's servant, but the Gentile stopped him from breaking ritual kosher. The man understood military protocol; once a command was given, it was expected to be obeyed. Jesus remarked on the power of the centurion's faith; the soldier and many like him would enter the banquet of the Kingdom and feast along side the patriarchs, but those who rejected the Lord would be turned away. Notice Jesus praised the feared Roman, but spoke disparagingly of his fellow countrymen.

Next, Jesus healed the Simon Peter's mother-in-law who responded by serving him, a social expectation for a woman who had little status in her in-laws' home. But he went on to heal others in his home base of Capernaum. Matthew lost no time in describing his efforts as fulfilling Scripture, in this case Isaiah 53:4.

Have you seen God work in the life of someone you held in suspicion? How has he healed you?

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