Please enjoy these inspiring reflections form a VIDES Canada member.
October 12, 2020
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reflection on Matthew 22:1-10
Let us today ponder on the Great Banquet waiting for us in the Kingdom of God.
Our invitation to this Banquet was given to us by God, the Merciful Father Himself, by sending Jesus Christ our Lord incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Jesus has made the way possible to this Great Banquet by His resurrection. This is because His resurrection accomplishes what we need to get there which is OUR RESURRECTION- body and soul as professed in the Nicene Creed.
St. Athanasius (On the Incarnation) says, the supreme object of His coming, was to bring about the resurrection of the body.
This is the Father’s heart. He has prepared a Great Banquet for us so that we may share in His divine life forever!
Every time we go to Holy Mass we see a glimpse of what the Heavenly Banquet will be like. The sacraments and the life that they give us foreshadow what our resurrection will be like.
So if the Father’s heart is so great and loving then why did the people that He invited refuse to come?
These people are those who live in fear of death and under the bondage of sin. They made light of the invitation. Each went to their own business and some mistreated and killed the slaves who came to invite them to the wedding banquet.
But as the first reading in Isaiah says, “And the LORD will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.”
Jesus is the one to come make the long hoped for resurrection possible and deliver people from the fear of death. He came so we don’t have to be slaves to the anxiety that grips us when we think of the grave and which leads us to sin.
Christ came to set us free! Let us proclaim what is said in the first reading,
THIS IS OUR GOD;
WE HAVE WAITED FOR HIM,
SO THAT HE MIGHT SAVE US.
THIS IS THE LORD FOR WHOM WE HAVE WAITED;
LET US BE GLAD AND REJOICE IN HIS SALVATION.
Let us not reject the invitation of our Heavenly Father to attend His Wedding Banquet.
September 20, 2020
Reflection on Matthew 20:1-16
In today’s Gospel we can see God’s heart for lost sinners. God is generous. From His infinite capacity of love, He wants to give to us. The landowner who represents God in this parable went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. He then went again and again at different times looking for laborers. This is God’s heart that pursues us persistently.
God goes out to look for us. As Jesus says in John 15:16, you did not choose me, but I chose you. And who are we? We are those standing idle in the market place and unemployed.
A man without work is perishing and without hope. We are not living until we are working for God. Those who are not working towards something do not have hope. Proverbs 29:18 says, where there is no vision, the people perish. The work that God provides give us hope.
Hope often entails that a person or group of people are working towards something that is not currently there. It is God who gives us a living hope, so as to obtain what we cannot see. We work towards it with patient endurance relying on His graces to carry it out.
All relationships need work. There is no human relationship that is perfect because there are no perfect people. We are bound to mess up at some point or another. Our Lord, in His kindness has given us the sacrament of reconciliation so that we may be reconciled to God and to man. He has given us directions so that we may resolve disputes among ourselves.
Our Gospel begins today with Jesus speaking to his disciples saying. “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.” Someone might say that does not sound like love. Are we really to point out the mistakes of our brothers and sisters? According to today’s Gospel, yes that is what we are called to do. However, it is very specific in the manner that we are to do it.
Before getting into the specifics of the Gospel, I would like to draw on the 1st and 2nd readings of the day. As per the second reading today from the book of Romans, it says that love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. If your neighbour or brother sinned against you it is loving them to point out their sin, and not just letting them slide by. It is called accountability. We are all one in the body of Christ. Therefore, if one member sins it affects us all. In my opinion a true friend or brother or sister is not one who watches you sin and says nothing about. That person is a coward. Rather a true friend or brother or sister is one that speaks to you about your wrong doing. It is called moral courage. Yes, it is hard to do this. You may even loose a friend in the process. Due to inflated egos and pride sometimes pointing out a person’s sin may cause them to run far away from you. Yet, if the person does consider what you have said, and after they have healed from the wound of your words, then they may love you even more than before, recognizing that you are a true friend, brother, or sister. Often it is the people that we love the most, who hurt us the most. Why? They are the people who know us best and we know them as well. It is good that we take steps into being vulnerable with others. When we are alone we may be saints in our own eyes, yet in the context of a community that is when we realize how weak we are. Thus Jesus, gives us some direction in how to deal with one another.
The first reading speaks about the great importance of letting other people know their sins. The Lord said to Ezekiel that if the Lord told him to tell someone that they are wicked and if he did not, then the wicked person would die in their iniquity, having not repented for their sins, and their blood would be required at his hands. But if he warns the wicked person to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, they shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved their life.”
Now returning to the Gospel this is a great segway to what Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. We are actually losing people because we are not telling them when they are wrong. Too often we think we are losing people because we are not saying enough nice, kind, or flattering things. Things that make the ear feel good and the heart feel warm and fuzzy inside. Yet, often we can do much more damage when we deliver nice messages to people who actually need to be told that they are wrong. For an extreme example, imagine several people witnessing a murder in the middle of the street and having no one confront the man who commits the murder or even anyone calling the police to help. It’s not my responsibility some might say. If I look away it will all be fine, another says. Or imagine being a nurse looking after an end stage lung disease patient who has never been told that smoking is bad for their lungs. Is that nurse supposed to support the bad habit of the patient? Shouldn’t someone tell them that smoking is bad for them. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news or the person who deflates the party, aka the party pooper. We all just want to add to the excitement and inflation that will eventually lead to our ruin.
Yet, someone has to stand up. God is calling his children to do this job. If we actually care and love for one another, and want to have relationships that go beyond the surface, the kind that creates a brotherhood or sisterhood in Christ, we have to start telling one another when we are in the wrong. So how do we do this?
Step 1: “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. This is not a public display of someone’s sin. We are not called to defame one another in public. That would be a breaking of the commandment of thou shall not murder. Killing someone’s reputation. Rather be alone with that person and tell them on a one to one basis. Jesus probably had a few reasons for this. First of all this would allow for a discussion. You can’t just point out someone’s sin and then run off, and be like “I’m going to work”. No. You need to give that person time. Timelessness is ideal. A human being has emotions, reasons and other factors involved. The person may be emotional and cry and you need to be willing to support that person if they are hurt by your words. In time, if he or she listens to you, you have regained your brother or sister. If the conversation is not going anywhere and the person will not recognize their sin, then move to step 2.
Step 2: Take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. Now I will not speak on this step or the next step as I personally have not moved forward with this kind of protocol. Yet Jesus is serious about this topic and our Master has given us a direction/ outline to follow.
Jesus’ prayer when He was on earth is the same as it is now: unity among the believers. Pointing out each other’s sin in a loving way is not to break the body of Christ, but to unite it more strongly. Our unity is more of demonstration of God’s glory. Jesus says at the end of the Gospel today, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. God’s power is made manifest in our weakness. May we who are broken vessels come together united in all of our brokenness and ask the Lord for His Pentecost to come among our midst.
Peace be to you.