Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
August 26, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we begin eight days of Thessalonians, coupled with the final section of Matthew’s Gospel before the Passion, Death and Resurrection narrative.
First Thessalonians is a love note, a thank you note. In it, Paul speaks to the community with great affection and gratitude because they have caught fire with the Gospel he shared with them.
Paul’s words carry the loving, grateful voice of God to us who also try, with all our hearts, to give ourselves to the Gospel.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew gives us the sad counterpoint to Paul’s joy. Jesus thunders woe over the Pharisees who, unlike the Thessalonians, smother the ardent message he offers them.
They bind. They control. They peddle a religion rooted in parsimonious law rather than generous freedom. They promote a system that sustains their privilege.
Jesus tells us that Pharisaical religion sucks the soul from people, binding them in a self-serving, spiritless law – where power and material prosperity supersede truth, loving community, and sincere worship.
In Paul’s words, God blesses and thanks us for our true faith which – by generosity, hope, love, sacrifice and hopeful endurance – builds the Community of God.
Throughout history, some people have used the scripture to justify the kind of pharisaical selfishness bewailed in today’s Gospel. They isolate and demonize other human beings by the deceitful turning of the holy Word. They are clever and convincing. They appeal to our rationality rather than our souls.
Today’s readings remind us to take great care in discerning the Spirit. We will never find Her where there is no love, mercy, kindness, freedom, forgiveness, and joy.
Music: one of my favorite hymns. Though from Ephesians, it carries the same message as our reading from Thessalonians today. I pray this prayer for all of you, dear friends.
Ephesians 1 – by Suzanne Toolan, RSM
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In him we were chosen to live through love in his light.
That is why I never cease to give thanks to God for you.
And pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ
will grant you the Spirit of wisdom
and knowledge of himself
that you may glory, glory in his goodness.