Serve One Another through LOVE

06-26-2016Weekly Reflections

Yet again in Ordinary Time, Jesus seems to demand extraordinary commitment. A would-be disciple enthusiastically volunteers to follow Jesus "wherever" (Luke 9:57). Jesus replies that "wherever" means "nowhere to rest his head" (9:58). To other candidates, Jesus brusquely denies reasonable requests to fulfill family obligations (9:59, 61), declaring that discipleship demands total commitment—now! But Jesus also demands that we not judge how others respond. When James and John volunteered to "call down fire from heaven" (9:54) to destroy an unwelcoming town, Jesus "turned and rebuked them" (9:55). All violence of any kind is completely unacceptable among Jesus' disciples, a lesson this Jubilee Year of Mercy is teaching the Christian community once again. Paul's challenge to the Galatians and us reinforces Jesus' decisive command to James and John that they express their commitment to him through compassion for others. We must abandon the violence of "biting and devouring one another" (Galatians 5:15), choosing instead to "serve one another through love" (5:13).
—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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Take up Your Cross Daily, and Bear one Another's Burdens

06-19-2016Weekly Reflections

Today, as he often does, Luke portrays Jesus "praying in solitude" (Luke 9:18). The Jubilee Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the value of silence as the prayerful setting in which to reflect on the ways in which God's mercy transforms our lives, in order to make mercy the heart of our own lifestyle. But in a line that sounds odd, Jesus "rebuked" his disciples "and directed them not to tell anyone" (9:20–21) after they professed their faith in Jesus as "the Christ of God" (9:20). Jesus challenges us also to profess our faith not by what we say, but by what we do: take up our own cross daily (9:23) and "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). Our gratitude for God's mercy toward us should make us instruments of God's mercy toward all. Then, as Zechariah prophesies in today's first reading, the fountain of God's mercy will open to purify the whole world from the sin and selfishness that cause suffering and sorrow to so many (Zechariah 13:1).

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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Humble Sinners or Judgmental Pharisees?

06-12-2016Weekly Reflections

On today’s Jubilee for Those Sick and Suffering Disabilities, Jesus encounters a woman who is “spiritually ill.” She is thus “disabled” from participating in Israel’s worshiping community or polite society.On today’s Jubilee for Those Sick and Suffering Disabilities, Jesus encounters a woman who is “spiritually ill.” She is thus “disabled” from participating in Israel’s worshiping community or polite society. Bathing Jesus’ feet with tears, drying them with unveiled hair, anointing them (Luke 7:38) risk Jesus’ becoming “unclean.” Yet his mercy welcomes even such inappropriate behavior as her sincere manifestation of love: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace” (7:48, 50). Go not just in “peace,” but in shalom, the all-enveloping, life-changing assurance of God’s mercy. She is anonymous, “known in the city” only as “a sinful woman” (7:37). The character with name and religious title, “Simon the Pharisee” (7:36, 40), judges her harshly, but himself not at all, and thus forfeits God’s mercy. This Jubilee Year of Mercy challenges us to self-examination. In which role do we most often cast ourselves, humble sinner or judgmental Pharisee? Jesus declares that only by an unfailing willingness to show mercy to fellow sinners can we hope to obtain mercy ourselves (see Misericordiae Vultus, 9).

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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Are you doing your part as an Extraordinary Christian?

06-05-2016Weekly Reflections

Half the liturgical year 2016 is completed after six months of extraordinary celebrations. The Incarnation mystery: Jesus' advent, nativity, epiphany. The Paschal mystery: Jesus' passion, death, resurrection, Pentecost's Holy Spirit. The solemnities of Holy Trinity and Jesus' Body and Blood. Today the Church resumes Sundays in Ordinary Time, but with a Gospel of extraordinary mercy: Jesus raises a dead man to life. Yet the one who benefits most from his extraordinary mercy is not the dead son, but his widowed mother. With her husband and only son deceased, this woman's material support, in that patriarchal society, had vanished. So had her emotional support, leaving her helpless, abandoned, on society's "peripheries." One of Pope Francis' hopes in calling this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is to transform us into more extraordinary Christians, by making our caring outreach to just such vulnerable people, and our practical self-sacrificing love for them, our ordinary, daily, Christian way of life!

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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