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Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum

The Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Boyle, UF Student

     Hypocrisy, vanity, pretentiousness. Jesus goes after them all in today’s Gospel reading. We see two distinct teachings of Christ here, firstly a public criticism of hypocritical religious authorities and then a discussion of the true depth of different people’s generosity.

     Jesus’ first message in today’s reading seems increasingly apt for reflection given the current scandals that are harming His Church. With so much evil and hypocrisy from certain Catholic clergy around the globe being brought to light in recent times, it makes many question the legitimacy of religious authorities at all. It is important for Christians to consider the content of Jesus’ critique here, specifically that He is harsh against hypocrisy of religious authorities, not the reality of their authority itself. It is easy to draw parallels between the leaders of Christ’s time “who go around in long robes…and take places of honor at banquets” and bishops in today’s Church. Surely there were virtuous scribes in the first century, and Jesus does not say that their teachings are false and that his disciples, rather He tells us to “beware.” Today, many bishops and clergy are great people who spread the light of Christ, yet we also ought to beware that merely because somebody has a legitimate position of authority does not mean that they are always good people to emulate on the basis of their actions. A fulfilled Christian life needs to have interaction with the Sacraments which clergy minister and the communities which they head.

     The second main teaching presented in today’s Gospel is that we should focus on giving our all more than we focus on giving a lot. Christ specifically highlights the life of a poor woman who gives a very little amount of money, but claims that she is giving more than the rich people who donate big sums of money. It is obvious that society is not made up of all equally wealthy people, and as such, Jesus shows us that we are called to pursue lives, at whatever socioeconomic status we have, that are dedicated to giving of what we have. Followers of Christ are not guaranteed earthly riches, but we are also not judged by our earthy economic status, and so we should always be at peace with ourselves so long as we truly give all that we have to give even if it does not appear to make much objective difference financially. The crux of Jesus’ message here is that the authentic love of God is so consuming that it can be recognized by sincere and absolute generosity and dedication to virtuous acts.

     One might wonder why Christ is not mentioned warning the widow to stop donating because some of the Jewish authorities were corrupted morally, but again we should remember that Jesus speaks out against their vanity and hypocrisy, while maintaining that the work they do as part of their ministry is still good and important. This ties into the first part of this reflection because even though we may have concerns about the state of the Church’s clergy, that we should not forget that they perform the work that God wills for us to experience Himself through. As such, we ought to be mindful of where we can give our “two small coins” in order to aid the good work of the Church.

     To summarize, though some clergy are guilty of awful acts, the work of religious authorities is still good for Christians to participate in and to help foster by giving our talents and resources. We should reflect personally on the ways that we may better give what we have to God’s community on Earth and in what ways we have been hypocritical in our own lives so that we may humbly seek to grow in virtue in ourselves, even if our faith in the holiness of others is shaken.

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The Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Evan Cowie, UF Student

     All things have their end in God. We are created to be in eternal union with Him, and He alone can provide the satisfaction we so desperately seek. He’s the only one that can fill that peculiarly God-shaped hole in our hearts. So, of all the commandments, the greatest is this:

The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

     This commandment is presented to us in the first reading for a reason – it is what gives the rest of the commandments, and the whole of our lives meaning. It is the foundation on which our relationship with God is built, and when observed, it animates us and moves us to action.

     We see this in the second Greatest Commandment. Let’s take a look: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Why is this? Indeed, it is because our neighbor, too, is made in the image and likeness of God. If we humans were not created in this image of God, this great dignity and destiny for union to the Divine, any love directed toward us would be in vain, as is love towards any temporal thing. Temporal things will all go away, but the human soul is immortal. So, we see that the second Great Commandment is not separate from the first: to love God is to love neighbor.

     Christ fulfills both of these commandments perfectly in His ministry as Eternal High Priest. Let’s review exactly what makes a priest a priest: out of love of God and love of neighbor, a priest offers sacrifice to God on behalf of neighbor, intercedes for him before God, and distributes to him the fruits of this sacrifice. It is to exercise this priestly ministry that Christ becomes our neighbor in the Incarnation: taking our humanity, so that He may offer it to the Father as a perfect and total sacrifice, and distribute the graces of that sacrifice to us.

     The Levitical priests of the Old Testament exercised a hereditary priesthood – they offered material, temporal sacrifices to God. While these were indeed pleasing to God, they could not hope to amend the infinite debt owed by sinful man to God. The sacerdotal priesthood of the New Covenant, however, is different: it is not merely natural, it is supernatural – one and the same with the Eternal Priesthood of Christ. Not because our priests are in any way equivalent to Christ, but because Christ acts through their ministry, offering through them the same Eternal Sacrifice at every Mass, and distributing its graces in each of the Sacraments.

     While this privileged participation in the sacerdotal priesthood of Christ is restricted to those ordained, we all have a royal priesthood by virtue of our baptism. So, we also can live the two Great Commandments according to Christ’s model of priestly service. First, notice that the commandments pertain to the interior disposition of charity. We are commanded to love God and neighbor from the heart – not to act as if we love them, but to actually love them. Yet, it’s also clear that we aren’t to stop here. These commandments are concrete instructions, not nebulous sentiments. To love God, follow His laws. To love neighbor, offer sacrifice and intercede for them. To perform real and meaningful service. But always, we need to keep in mind that without the spirit of charity, all of these works are empty and void. It matters not how much you have sacrificed, or how well you have kept the law: to love God and neighbor “is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Faith needs works, and works need faith. The two are inseparable.Do these things, and it will be said: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.

The Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Mooney

     We need to be more like Bartimaeus. It is tempting, when we believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good God, to sit back and expect the Lord to cater to our needs while we sit in waiting. In our lives, it is very tempting for us to become over expectant of the Lord to fill our needs. However, as a priest told me this last summer, if we want something from the Lord, we should ask. In the Gospel today, Bartimaeus was a man stricken with blindness. Jesus did not walk up to Bartimaeus and heal him immediately. No, Jesus granted Bartimaeus the opportunity to act in faith and in love through his calling upon our Lord and asking for healing. Because of this, we get the verse from Jesus: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.

The Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

     In the first reading today, we hear the prophet Isaiah say, “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him” (Is 53:10). Now, this seems fairly direct, as Isaiah is calling the Israelites to offer up their lives in order that they may fully follow God’s will. This, after all, is a calling that is ever-present in our Christian lives. But underneath the surface of this proclamation, Isaiah prefaces the coming of Christ, the High Priest, begotten by the Father, who came down from heaven in order to offer His life for us men and our salvation.

     St. Paul further addresses the nature of the Son in his letter to the Hebrews, as he calls us to “approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (Heb 4:16), for Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses. The Lamb of God fully revealed the words stated by Isaiah; He offered his life for our sins and the sins of the world through His crucifixion, fully embracing the Father’s will. And in this action, His descendants have encompassed the earth over the last 2000 years of history.

     With this, we should never be afraid to turn to God, as he has endured the trials of the world and overcome death. Christ loved us enough to become man and experience these temptations, so that He may sympathize with our struggles and bear our crosses for us. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). May we become the servant of all and let go of our own wills, in order that we may fulfill the will of the Lord.

The Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Boyle, UF Student

All things are possible for God.
(Matthew 10:27)

     This phrase will likely evoke one of two reactions for you: “Yeah, of course” or “What a nice sounding superstition.” What is it that causes these extremely different reactions? The context might be given in how this Gospel passage from Matthew starts:

“‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 
Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.’

(Matthew 10:18)

     If we presume, as the Church teaches, that God is fully good, and that Jesus is fully God, then we’ll know in our consciences that the teachings of Jesus are true, and this is aided by the theological virtue of Faith. The big first steps in the Christian life involve having faith guide you in a way that your free will tries to best conform to a God who you know is good. Through God’s grace we experience echoes of what eternal life is like first through the Sacrament of Baptism which both literally and spiritually cleanses us. If we choose to have faith in Jesus, the phrase “All things are possible for God” will be understood on a level which helps you to better love your neighbor and God.

     Through this full love of God and neighbor we become better followers of Christ to whom Heaven is promised. If we reject the teachings of Christ, however, eternal life is not promised. Many who would react to the aforementioned phrase in the Gospel with doubt or skepticism write off the whole idea of being saved since the teachings of Christ and the Church seem so difficult so who could even be saved anyway?! Christ responds to us when we are doubtful in the same way he did in the Gospel when asked who could have hope of being saved: “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” It is the very virtue of faith that enables us to understand the omnipotence of God which also teaches us how live a good life in accordance with the teachings of Jesus which is the path to eternal life.

     If you are like me and neglect to contemplate the limitless ability of God when we have temporary doubts in our faith lives, you might do well to reflect this Sunday on the reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew and remember the words of Jesus, “All things are possible for God.

The Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Evan Cowie, UF Student

    Who are we, really – what exactly are we as humans? Are we simply another animal, or some senseless pile of amino acids that just so happen to move? Are we a byproduct of an unknowing chance?

    In a word, no. In the Beginning, God created Adam in His image and likeness, and we are all likewise created with this Imago Dei. To have something in our nature which is a reflection of the Divine – this is our greatest dignity, and our greatest responsibility. We see that Adam is placed as ruler over all the Earth – all the creatures are brought before him, and he names them, and so naming them claims dominion over them as owner and steward.

    Yet, in all of this creation, there is nothing fit to be a partner of Adam. No dog, or cat, nor horse, nor any other animal can live up to the dignity of Adam as Image of God. And so because “it is not good for man to be alone,” God fashions a suitable partner from Adam’s very flesh, and she too is made in the Imago Dei. She has that same inherent dignity, and Adam is to love her for this: to provide for her from Creation, and also to protect her from it. They are truly husband and wife, truly one flesh.

    This is the first sacrament – marriage, so very fundamental to our nature as humans. From it, we learn the innate complementarity of men and women, how we are made for each other and how each provides for the other what they cannot provide for themselves. From this sacrament, we also learn that man does not live just for himself, but always in service to one another, wife and neighbor alike. For though God is our ultimate fulfillment, they too are His children bearing His image. Service to the child will always bring us closer to the One who is the Father of us all.

    Though created perfect, this relationship becomes corrupted through the fall of Original Sin. It is for this reason that we see Christ come as the New Adam in today’s Second Reading, who becomes “for a little while … lower than the angels” by taking on the form of man, such that He might put all things under His feet, restoring the proper dominion and ordering of Creation as it was under Adam. What was lost and corrupted under Adam is renewed by Christ, the self-same Word who wrought it in the Beginning, alleluia!

    And so Jesus reminds us of the preeminent dignity of the husband and wife, of the bond of marriage as being instituted by God. “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” He reminds us of this deep unity between us, that we are not made for ourselves, but for others.

    He continues to teach this lesson by the Passion, freely giving Himself for His Church. In love for the Church, He pours Himself out for her, and in gratitude she returns to Him what He has given. So must a husband love his wife, and a wife love her husband.

    For this is the greatest truth of marriage – that we are called to love one another in self-giving love. Even those not called to marriage’s particular vocation are still called to live out its virtues. Priests embody Christ, wed to the Church and dedicated to protecting and nurturing it. Religious sisters embody the Church, wed to Christ and returning to Him the fullness of His love.  So then, let us all live sacramentally, with deep, abiding, and self-sacrificing love for one another, just as Christ has for us.

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.

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.

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