We live in troubling times. It is easy for us to panic, to become anxious or worried and to lose perspective. Fr. Kevin Stephens, O.P., reminds us that even Jesus was “deeply troubled.” Christ has taken on our flesh, carried our sins, and he can take our worries and anxieties as well. We may be troubled, but we must trust in the Lord. For like it says in Isaiah, if we are like a polished arrow in the hands of God, we know that we shall find our mark.
Judas Iscariot remains forever one of the great villains of history. But more than a villain, he is a tragedy. In turning his back on Christ, in refusing to seek mercy and forgiveness for his betrayal, Judas betrayed not only Jesus and the disciples. He betrayed himself. That’s what sin does. It takes what is great within us and it twists it beyond all recognition.
Brother Joseph Paul shares with us that we are to look for the crucified one and bow to Him. Christ is our companion in our suffering.
The Gospel exposes the scapegoating both of Christ and of so many people in our world today. Fr. Mark Wedig, O.P. points us to Christ. Christ who becomes the despised through the agony of His Passion and he is united with all those who society victimizes and abuses through violence and hatred. But it is there that violence stops. Violence stops at the Cross.
And more than stopping, the nonviolence of the Cross, Christ’s willing suffering, reverses the savagery and hatred of groups and transforms it and us in an all together supernatural manner. Violence stops at the Cross and with Christ Crucified.
Christ asks us not merely to trust and believe in his words, but to trust in what he has done for us and what he continues to do in us in our lives today. It can be hard for us to believe mere words, even if the words are those of Christ himself and the words of the Church. But in these moments of difficulty we are called to believe because Christ has come into our lives like a great wind. He has healed us, freed us, and redeemed us. And we, through Christ’s saving action, has transformed us into vessels of His Living Word.
Rev. Brother and Deacon Christopher Johnson, O.P., has always admired Abraham. It took immense faith and courage to leave behind everything he knew to trust in God’s promise. It took even greater faith to offer up his greatest treasure, his very son, to God. Yet when called, Abraham answered. In the same way the saint today, St. Francis Paola, answered the call to leave behind the comfortable religious life he had found in Italy for the more difficult job of teaching the nobles and royalty of France about humility and charity.
The law of scarcity which so governs our material world has no place in the world of grace and charity. In the world, scarcity rules. But in Christ abundance is freely given.
We are called to be faithful and to remember that it is Christ who is the Center of our lives. We cannot let complaints and bitterness take over the spot in our hearts reserved for God.
Fr. Kevin Stephens, O.P., asks us to look at the question of fear. In both the first reading and in the Gospel passage, a woman fears for her life. We too, in our own lives, suffer from fears, both ordinary and extraordinary. But Psalm 23, our responsorial psalm, reminds us of an essential truth: God always walks beside us. Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God remains by our side. When we turn to him in prayer it is not so much that we are asking for some supernatural miracle or for God to somehow ‘change his mind’ but we are turning to him and asking for the reassurance that is his Presence.
Fr. Simon Felix Michalski, O.P., calls our attention to the fact that Jesus knew He would die if He went up to Jerusalem, and yet He went anyway. Why did He go? He went for love of us. Fr. Simon Felix reminds us of this, and then reminds us that we are all called to follow in His footsteps; to be willing to lay down our lives for love of others.