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Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
Opening Prayer: I come before you today, Lord, feeling my weakness and my need for your grace and mercy. I turn towards you, confidently praying with today’s psalm: “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever” (Psalm 16:11). This is what I desire. I want to stay close to you, to obey your teaching, to experience your love for me. Grant me your grace, Lord, during this time of prayer, so that I can know you better and experience your goodness afresh.
- God Knows What He Is Doing: This history of salvation began from the moment after original sin and will continue until Jesus comes again to judge the living and the dead. God has been faithfully executing his plan of salvation throughout the history of the world. All that he did throughout the Old Testament was his wise and providential preparation for the coming of Jesus, and all that the Holy Spirit continues to do through the Church is the faithful unfolding of what Jesus began. This is what Jesus wants us to understand when he tells us: “I have not come to abolish the law or the prophets… but to fulfill them.” The Catechism reminds us that “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (CCC 129). If we want to continue to get to know God and his plan for our lives, we can do so by digging into the whole Bible and seeing how God revealed himself through his words and actions in every period of history. Discovering the connections between all the different books of the Bible can help us know Christ better and grow in the wisdom that brings peace and joy to our souls.
- God’s Power and Faithfulness: The teaching of Jesus brings the teaching of the Old Testament to its fullness. The first commandment in the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments was the commandment to worship only the one, true God, to avoid worshipping idols and false gods. This is the commandment being violated by King Ahab and many of the Israelites at the time of the prophet Elijah. Many of them had begun to worship foreign gods, as is shown in today’s first reading. They continued to worship the Lord, but they would also worship these other gods—kind of hedging their bets. Elijah challenges them to make a decision: either be true to their identity as Israelites, God’s chosen people, or abandon that identity, but don’t sit on the fence. And so he throws down the gauntlet to the prophets of the false gods. God works a miracle in response to Elijah’s prayers, exposing the pagan gods as false and thus rekindling his people’s faith. God’s power and faithfulness come out vividly in that Old Testament encounter. God’s power and faithfulness come out vividly in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus as well. And it is God’s power and faithfulness, his wisdom and love, that ought to motivate our obedience to his commandments. God knows what we need; he knows how we can live the meaningful life we long to live; all of his teachings and his commandments are meant to guide us along that path. Today Jesus invites us to renew our faith in these God-given means.
- Subtle Idolatry: Idolatry, the violation of the very first commandment, can take many different forms. Only God, only Jesus, can “show us the path of life” (Psalm 16:11, today’s psalm). Only God can bring us true happiness in this life and in the life to come. Any time we seek that happiness from any other source, we are falling into idolatry – we are putting something else in the place of God. We may think that money, or success, or popularity will fill our hearts with the happiness we yearn for. But they can’t. And when we seek from them what only God can give we “multiply our sorrows” (Psalm 16:4, today’s psalm). This is as true today as it was at the time of Elijah and at the time of Jesus. Where am I seeking happiness? What do I think will bring me interior peace, satisfaction, fulfillment? Sometimes, we can begin to trick ourselves, saying that Jesus is in the center of our lives while starting to crowd him out with little idols. We can always tell where our real hopes and priorities are by looking at our calendar and our checkbook. If Jesus isn’t central in those two telltale areas of our daily lives, some idols are probably creeping into our hearts and “multiplying our sorrows.” Where are you, Jesus, in my calendar? Where are you in my checkbook? Where do you want to be?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you gave us your teaching and your commandments for a reason—because you want us to make good choices with our precious gift of freedom. You want us to find “the path of life” that we yearn to find. You have not hidden your wisdom and your truth; you have continued to reveal them to us, for our good. I want to follow your commandments. I want to believe in your goodness. I want to help others follow your commandments. But life seems so complicated sometimes. I am not always sure what you want me to do, or how you want me to do it. Keep teaching me, Lord, keep instructing me. Keep guiding me. “Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope” (from today’s psalm).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my calendar and my checkbook today, to see how my relationship with God is reflected in the way I use my time and my money.
For Further Reflection: This post on understanding our “root sin” and our tendencies towards idolatry: https://spiritualdirection.com/2010/04/26/how-can-i-identify-my-root-sin.
Written by Fr. John Bartunek, LC.