Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

The Word of God deals with the subject of conversion in today’s readings.  Conversion is certainly not a one-sided process.  God does not simply wait patiently for us to repent one day of our sins.  The threats of the Old Testament prophets were delivered in order to provoke swifter conversion.  God “repents,” of the evil He threatened to commit when the people repent.  Fear issues from our conscience when we face the threat of punishment.  There are consequences for our actions, and God does not want to us to forget that the eternal consequences are far more important than the temporal ones.  Indeed, there are no discernable temporal consequences of a refusal to listen to God’s Word.  Conversion is certainly the free and willing change that takes place in the mind and heart of a sinner.  Conversion is more importantly a change of mind and heart about the Word of God.  This Word can come to us from unexpected places, it can catch us by surprise, it can challenge us and condemn us.  Most importantly, this Word can save us.  The goal of conversion is salvation, healing, liberation, and illumination: all of these take place in the heart of someone who believes in the Word of God. read more

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Faith is certainly demanding, but Jesus has come to make believing easier.  His miracles, His words, His presence – this closeness of God to us is unprecedented grace which ought to make us believe with great fervor.  What we see, however, is the contrary.  Caphernaum was the city most loved and cherished by Christ.  It was practically His headquarters, the place probably referred to in the scriptures by “his city.”  Some of the twelve were from there, He gave the discourse on the bread of life at the synagogue in that city.  He performed so many miracles there.  We should stop to consider what events and circumstances we have received as helps in our life of faith.  If we take them for granted and begin to become lukewarm, we are all the more to be condemned.  Jerusalem rejected its messiah although it had all the full revelation of God – its terrible lack of faith excuses the apparent depravity of Sodom.

Faith is faith, it is first the act of adhering to something I can’t understand or don’t fully understand.  If I wait for “something a little more convincing” before giving my full assent, I should expect to be roundly rebuked by Jesus instead of comforted and consoled for my lack of faith and trust.  If you see yourself hesitating to believe the Gospel, don’t trust your instincts – trust the only One who can save your soul for eternity.  You will understand what you need to understand when you need to understand it – prior to that the only path to understanding providence, grace, salvation, and love is faith.


It is essential to notice that the statement means that those who read it do not only need understanding but also faith; and not only faith but also understanding. Those of the circumcision who do not believe in the Christ of God, though even now they hear these words, do not have understanding of the subject of this prophecy because they do not hear with the mind. The only reason for their lack of understanding is their lack of faith, as the prophecy clearly reveals both about them and to them.


If you are not able to understand, believe, that you may understand. Faith goes before; understanding follows after; since the prophet says, “Unless you believe, you shall not understand. read more

Saint Benedict, abbot

Saint Jerome points out an important fact about today’s Gospel.  Judas, one of the twelve, was also granted the power to work miracles in Jesus’ name.  We don’t know if he actually performed any miracles, but it is quite probable that he did.  He was probably just as involved in the ministry of healing and deliverance as the other eleven chosen and sent by Jesus.  This serves to rectify an important misconception about miracle-workers: their ability to work miracles is neither the evidence of their moral rectitude nor the reason we should listen to what they have to say.  If some have the gift of healing and others do not, it is not a way to measure holiness.  Special gifts are not a reflection of a special love by God for an individual, or some kind of reward system.  They are given by God for the service and edification of the Church – if we use them well as good stewards we will be honored, if we squander them selfishly we will enter the kingdom of heaven and the talent will be taken away from us.  But Judas’ greatest failure was not his betrayal of Jesus, it was his despair.  St. Peter denied Jesus even after His teaching, “Whoever denies me before men, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”  St. Peter did not lose hope and in his heart sought reconciliation and a greater humility to cooperate with God’s grace.

Do we want to be perfect in our own eyes?  In the eyes of others? Or do we want to humbly follow the path that Jesus traces for us?  We will fall, we do fall, but we can understand through our weaknesses that God’s power and grace are transforming us at a much deeper level.  Trusting humbly in His mercy, and cooperating with the grace He gives us will liberate us from our obsession with human perfection.


Having good shoots and fruit-bearing branches, she [Israel] produced many clusters, and the abundance of the grapes equaled the great number of the branches. But she who before was of such a kind offended God afterward, turning the abundance of the fruits into a great number of offenses. The more people she had, the more altars she built, and she overmatched the abundance of the land by the number of the idols.


The kind and merciful Lord and Master does not begrudge his followers and disciples their powers. Even as he had healed every disease and every infirmity, he empowered his apostles to heal every disease and every infirmity. But there is a great gap between having and granting, between giving and receiving. Whatever he does, he does in the power of the Lord. Whatever they do, they display their own weakness and the power of the Lord, saying, “In the name of Jesus, arise and walk.” It must be noted, further, that the power to work miracles is granted to the apostles even to the twelfth man. read more