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Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum

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The Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

     The Gospel for today is one that we must take to heart as the Church combats the evil of these times. It is in this set of readings that we are told the fate of the offenders and how to identify the servants of the Lord.

     The most obvious is the message that the Lord sends to those who commit evil in His name. As I read through the scripture, the seriousness of the all sin is revealed. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” -Mark 9:42

     It is better to have our earthly body suffer and die in a horrendous way than it is to lead others away from Christ. We need to recognize that sin is not a matter to be treated lightly, particularly when our sin leads others to sin. We must learn to cut ourselves off from the things, the habits, the processes, the people, and the places that lead us from sin. As painful as it might be to sever a relationship or habit, the pain of adjusting our life is far better than the pain that we would have to endure if we did not amend our sinful ways.  This is needed in every area of the Church, in our own lives, in the lives of our communities, and especially in the lives of those who lead in the Church. As we have seen in the recent clergy sex abuse scandal, when those who lead lead others astray or allow others to sin, it has catastrophic consequences for the entire Church. The fate of all who lead others astray is made known in the second reading. As St. James says,  “Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you.” Those who remain firm in sin will be left to answer to the Lord.

 

     It isn’t all bad news, though. Instead of drowning in despair and anger, Christ empowers us to be proclaimers of the Gospel and truth. We are all called to preach God to people, to call others to a relationship of life and love with the Lord, this is not just the call of priests and religious. We hear in today’s Gospel that the Apostles tried to stop someone from proclaiming the Word and doing great deeds because that stranger was not chosen as an Apostle. But when our Lord says that the man who is doing good works in His name is valid in doing so, because he performs acts of good through the Lord, we need to heed this message! We can do acts of good in Christ’s name. Do not wait for change to happen, become the change and it will happen! Moses says that he wished all of the Lord’s people were prophets, that we all had the Spirit of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we do have the Spirit of the Lord, and we are called to proclaim His word and do mighty deeds. Though we face difficult times, it is up to us to answer the call to be the saints that the Church needs us to be.

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The Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

    “The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us… For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him…” (Wis 2:12-18). Although we are outside the season of Lent, these words harrow Christ’s crucifixion and death on the cross at Golgotha. This passage from Wisdom was fulfilled and addressed by Christ to his disciples in the Gospel reading when he said, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise” (Mk 9:31).

    This truth is especially important because of the significance it has on our faith. It’s easy to believe and blame those in Jesus’ time for choosing to crucify the Son of God when asked by Pontius Pilate; it is much harder, however, to recognize and admit that we continually deny Christ when we throw away the gift of faith that He has presented us and instead choose the things of this world. Sometimes, we are like the crowd, choosing Barabbas and crucifying Jesus, choosing vice instead of virtue. This truth, that the Lamb of God would die for mankind, leaves an immense precedence for us.

    This sacrifice teaches us what it means to live an authentic Christian life. How is it that we shy away from greatness when it is difficult to do so? Christ’s cross wasn’t comfortable. We are called for greater, to pursue holy excellence. That doesn’t simply mean to “be nice,” or to pray whenever we feel compelled to. Rather, we are held to a higher standard, to hold true to faith every day of our life, especially when it is difficult to do so.

    To draw closer to Christ requires tearing us away from ourselves and recognizing that everything that we have been given is only in virtue of Him. “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity” (Jas 3:16-17). May we pray for an increase in wisdom, in order that the fullness of faith may be revealed to us. May we become people of prayer and walk alongside others in this life, so that we may receive Christ in everlasting joy.

The Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Boyle, UF Student

    Who is Jesus? Who do other people say that he is? All Christians should ponder this question in order to grow in our faith. Even Saint Peter, who is the first to call Jesus “the Christ” in the Gospel of Mark, did not understand what this truly means. So misunderstood about the nature of Jesus is Saint Peter that Christ exclaims, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8:33). What is even more puzzling about this verse, besides the apparent harshness of the accusation, is that Peter had expressed concern that Jesus said He must be rejected and die. Jesus is very serious about the fact that He must suffer in order to live. We too, as followers of Christ, are called to share in this great and mysterious loss of life. It would be false to say that the essence of Christianity is merely embracing suffering for its own end, since it is only when we lose our life “for the sake of the Gospel” that we will truly be alive (Mark 8:35). Every day we should take up our cross and follow Christ to the hope of resurrection, for then we can really answer to ourselves and to the world who Jesus is.

    Many people will call this pursuit of sacrificial love illogical, unreasonable, outdated, and so on, but even the first pope did not understand the truth fully at first. We should not be disheartened if we do not understand why the world seems to be full of contradiction and paradox. Part of the beauty of the Christian life is contemplating the mystery of the Cross, for this helps us to carry our own crosses with more purpose. Thomas Merton, an influential spiritual writer of the 20th century and Trappist monk, highlights this truth in his book New Seeds of Contemplation, In dying on the Cross, Christ manifested the holiness of God in apparent contradiction with itself. But in reality this manifestation was the complete denial and rejection of all human ideas of holiness and perfection” (P. 62). What Merton helps point out is the grand paradox that the infinite God of Life died a physical death, which seems troubling to religious people and absurd to the secular world. The news of Jesus does not end at his death since we know the Resurrection restored life to humanity. For contemporary culture, part of the difficulty in accepting the Gospel is first accepting that we ourselves have, through our own sin, turned our backs on God and are not living as we should. Another part of the difficulty is a lack of introspection, which causes us to focus only on the earthly life and forsake the interior life of the soul. If we want to think more like God does, so to speak, we must humbly accept our own faults so that we can leave them crucified with Christ and then proceed to give up part of our own earthly lives to suffer for the Good News which brings us true life.

The Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Evan Cowie, UF Student

As Catholics, we believe that God is omnipotent – that He holds power over everything that exists. Every moment of every hour, every little thing is just so because He allows it to be. We also know that God loves us, with the deep abiding love of a Father.

So then, why do we fear? Why are we anxious? God is all-loving, and all-powerful: He will give you everything that you need. Trust in Him, and all will be provided for.

From the first reading (Isaiah 35:4): “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”

What’s more than this, that same God did not see fit to reign from upon the heights. Rather, He stepped into our brokenness, dwelling among us in our squalor and our filth. The King of Infinite Glory took the form of a humble carpenter.

As it says in the Angelus: “Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.”  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt amongst us.

While He was here among us, He healed many – the blind, the lame, the leper, the deaf and mute. With great tenderness and compassion, He treated even the lowliest among us.

From today’s Gospel (Mark 7:33-35): “He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’ – And immediately the man’s ear were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.”

Indeed, Our Lord continues to love us in this same fashion, emptying Himself out for all. It is what He did on the Cross, and so it is what we receive in the host and chalice of the Eucharist, and in the absolution of Confession. We the blind, are made to see. We the lame, are made to walk. And we the deaf and mute, are made to hear and speak.  

Given this incredible love, this act of perfect self-sacrifice, this complete condescension of God, how is it that we are to treat any one as less than another?

As James instructs the faithful (James 2:1): “My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”

Whether rich or poor, blind, crippled, or of any other condition, we are called to extend the love of Jesus, the folly of the Cross, to each and every person. Just as it was given to us, freely and extravagantly, so must we give it to others.This is the great beauty of our faith – we are all called to participate in the work of salvation, the work of the Cross, trusting in God always.

The Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

    Where is my heart? Growing up, my parents rarely permitted us to eat junk food because we needed to take care of our bodies and eat food that provides nutrients and allow our bodies to function. If we only ate pancakes, big burgers, cake, ice cream and candy every day, our physical body would reflect this. We would become bloated. We would be low on energy. We would become lazier and simple tasks would become more and more difficult to perform. We would be killing our bodies. You might think that such a diet could be sustainable if you exercise a lot, but I say that I have tried to run after eating a tasty fried meal of fried chicken and, needless to say, my run quickly turned into a walk, and then into a sit. My body was not able to thrive because I was not giving it what it needed to excel, to be the best it could be, to grow, to become strong, to become a healthy person.

    There was another rule that my parents enforced in their household. There was absolutely no tolerance for using profane language. No cursing, swearing or using words to hurt others. If you’ve ever seen the movie A Christmas Story, you are likely familiar with the scene in which Ralphie, the main character, had to sit with a bar of soap in his mouth for saying a curse word. Such was my fate if I ever dared to say any bad words in my parents’ presence. Why? It wasn’t an excuse for them to make me suffer or an attempt to give me blindness from soap poisoning. It was because they understood it was what came from our mouths and from our hearts which could sanctify or defile us. Just as Jesus says in the Gospel for today, “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile” (Mark 7:21-23).

    Now, back to the junk food. We are sanctified or defiled by what is within us. If we feed our bodies junk food, we are, in a sense, defiling them in that we keep them from prospering and reaching their potential. The same goes for our hearts. What are we feeding our hearts? Do we feed it with thoughts of gossip, jealousy, lust, anger or pride? If so, our soul will become lazy and it will die. Just as physical exercise is hard when you live on junk food, spiritual exercise becomes more and more difficult if I feed my heart with junk. I can’t pray well if I am pondering how John Doe has a better car or how he cheated in the soccer game. My soul would become lazy, my prayer would become lazy and they will die. I must feed my heart with what is good. My soul needs goodness in order to grow, become strong, to thrive! I must ponder love, forgiveness, service, beauty, chastity. I must feed my heart what is of God. Then, my prayer will become strong and my actions will follow. I will become sustained not by the world but by God. Then I will realize that it truly is what comes from within that will sanctify or defile.

The Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

    In today’s Gospel reading, we pick up from where we left off last Sunday, continuing the Bread of Life discourse (John 6). After Jesus reaffirms the Eucharist as truly His Flesh and Blood, even those closest to Him, His disciples, were taken aback. “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6:60). The words of these disciples echo in the hearts of many throughout the history of Christianity. This lack of belief and doubtfulness can be seen in the first reading, where Joshua states, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15). But just as the people gathered in front of Joshua responded, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord… He performed great miracles before our very eyes,” (Joshua 24:16-17), so too must we remember God’s strength and gifts in his establishment of the Sacraments and Traditions of the Church, especially that of the Eucharist.

    Just as the Paschal Lamb was sacrificed and eaten during Passover, Christ was sacrificed and gives His Flesh and Blood for us to eat, in order that we may be saved. How fitting and humbling is it that Jesus, the Son of God, became the new sacrificial lamb, the Lamb of God, in order to take away the sin of the world? So when we look at the Eucharist, we must not simply rely on human reasoning and emotions, but rather, we must look at this truth and sacrifice within the realm of salvation history. We must let go of our shock and recognize the beauty in this gift that God has provided for us. The Eucharist was established for our nourishment; that is why the culmination of Mass is Communion, our reception of the Eucharist. Instead of shying away from Christ’s teachings, such as many of the disciples did, we should strengthen our convictions and echo the words of Peter: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

The Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By: Sam Abbott, UF Student

    “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35).

    Today’s First Reading is from Exodus and details the plight of the Israelites who are wandering in the desert after fleeing Egypt. While traveling through the desert, the Israelites lament their dismal situation and grumble against Moses. To aid their plight and ease their starvation, God provides for them bread and flesh. Today’s Gospel is the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide life-fulfilling bread to His people.

    The Gospel for this Sunday begins with a crowd searching for Jesus and his disciples to hear the good news. The people who came to Capernaum to seek out Jesus were delighted to hear of this bread that gives life forever and were eager to have it. These followers thought Jesus was talking about a particular kind of bread, similar to what rained down upon the Israelites in the desert. These people shouted to the Lord, “Lord, give us always that bread!” This misunderstanding is comparable to Christ’s conversation with Samaritan women at the well, who upon hearing Christ tell her she could have a spring of living water that offers eternal life proclaims, “Lord, give me of that water!” (Jn 4:15) In both situations, God offered them more than they could possibly conceive.

    In Exodus, God provided flesh and bread to save His people from death. In the Book of John, Jesus turns bread into His flesh to not only save us from death, but grant us eternal life. We should always hunger for the Bread of Life, knowing that like regular food, imbibing in it once will not sustain us. We must make it our “daily bread”, for if we stop eating and drinking from this Source we will cease living. By treating the Eucharist as the new “bread that the LORD has given you to eat,” we can be constantly nourished through God’s sacrifice and spirit. Bread from heaven saved the Israelites from starvation, similar to how the Bread of Life now saves us from sin.

The Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

    So often throughout a given week we may feel very normal, simply content in existing just like the rest of our society does. We are shown a very different example in the Readings this Sunday. Take, for example, the case of Amos who was a “shepherd and dresser of sycamores” before he was called by God to travel and prophecy (Am 7:14). For reference, these professions of Amos would be roughly the equivalent today to a blue collar career. God is not concerned with the mediocrity of Amos’ profession, instead God recognizes his good nature and calls him to be a prophet to Israel. So too does God call every one of us, no matter how great or small our careers are, to be a prophet for the Kingdom of God. Even if we examine our lives and feel ordinary, we should frequently remind ourselves of the greatness of the mission that every Christian has to spread the Good News. Like Amos, even if we feel too regular to stand in front of kings, we are wise to follow the call of God wherever that may lead us.

    What exactly are we to say to others, then, if we are to be prophets in the ordinary world? In the second reading we are shown how the “riches of His grace” and  “redemption by His blood” form the basic message of evangelization (Eph 1:8). Think of all of the times during this past week where we acted as if the world was taken for granted and the sacrifice of Christ was completely unacknowledged. It is very easy in a culture filled with bountiful distractions to forget the massive love that we are shown by Christ. Each person we interact with has a deep longing for connection with God that we are blessed to have so often in the Sacraments. The irreverent atheist who belittles you on campus, the old lady at the bus stop, the completely agnostic friend wholly disinterested in religion, and even fellow Catholics all need the love of God, and we have been called to help them find it. Let us all ask that God “enlighten the eyes of our hearts” so that we may see the mundane as an opportunity to spread the Word of God (Eph 1:17).

    The Apostles, who take no money, food, or extra clothes, commit entirely to preaching in today’s Gospel. This seems like a very radical calling, so do we fall short of following Christ if we own food or clothes? Probably not, since God calls us by name to follow His will, and this calling might not involve traveling or extreme poverty. We can witness to Christ in a meaningful way to those around us in our normal lives, and if we do we will receive the joy that comes with spreading the Gospel. Even if we are not bishops or nuns or overseas missionaries, in every encounter with every human that we meet, we have the opportunity to share the love of Christ in some way. Do not be too upset when some of your attempts fail entirely. It is not expected for us to convert every single coworker, schoolmate or passerby on the street, Christ did not even expect this from his closest Apostles who had the power to cure diseases miraculously. At some point when you are not being “welcomed” or “listened to” we are advised to “shake the dust” from off ourselves so that we may move on to the next opportunity. As hard as you might try to help an individual, that person must be open to God and sometimes it is best that we humbly move on elsewhere.

    If there is a takeaway from this reflection, it is this: Only God can save the world, yet we have a duty to every face we see to demonstrate the love of Christ in our own lives, and this call to be a prophet for God Himself is truly powerful enough to turn the most ordinary parts of your life to the greatest purpose you could ever have.

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Written by: Evan Cowie, UF Student

    Familiarity breeds contempt. It happens with everything – when we become overexposed to something, whether good or bad, we can become desensitized to it. When it is a bad thing, we lose sight of just how much it hurts us. When it’s a good thing, we forget just how great it really is.

    This is what is happening in today’s readings. In the first reading, the Lord is commanding Ezekiel to go and speak to the Israelites. They’d grown arrogant, thinking of God as the God of the Israelites – that is, as if He belonged to them in some way – when in truth, it was the exact opposite. The Israelites were special because God favored them, and without Him they were nothing. They were too used to Him, and took His favor for granted.

    A similar thing happens in our Gospel reading – Jesus goes back to His homeland, and speaks to the people there. They just don’t seem to get it: He speaks wisdom to them in the synagogue, but they become offended by it. They think they already know Jesus – he’s just some carpenter, right? They have a superficial knowledge, and because of that they’re unwilling to dive deeper into real knowledge of Him. He was ordinary to them, and so when He finally made his extraordinariness known, they were offended by it.

    As Catholics, we have to be careful not to let the same thing happen to us. We should live constantly in the presence of God, going to mass and confession as often as we reasonably can. When taken properly, these sacraments have the ability to draw us closer to God than anything else. When taken improperly, though, they can just as easily drive us away from a real relationship with God. Just like anything, if we go to mass and confession too often, without sufficiently reflecting on their miraculous nature, we become desensitized to their true mystery. We put God in our pocket, and think He’ll be content staying there.

    So how do we guard ourselves against this human tendency? Today’s reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians might have a clue: rejoice in your weaknesses. In this life, while we are still working out our salvation, we are not going to be made perfect. If we start to think otherwise, to think of ourselves as perfect or complete, we forget that we need God. As created beings, we are categorically dependent upon Him for everything. So, paradoxical as it may seem, we should become aware of our weaknesses and rejoice in them, that they Lord’s power is made manifest through them. In this way, we may avoid the prideful contempt of the Israelites, and the callous familiarity of the Nazarenes.

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