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Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 7:6, 12-14
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, these are sobering words. Enlighten me and help me to draw the lessons from this reflection that you have for me on this day.
- Pearls to Swine: What a vivid description Our Lord used to show us how he wants us to evangelize! When we speak of the beauty of knowing Christ to others, love demands that we first prayerfully assess their receptivity. It takes mature discernment to know what to say, how to say it, and when it will be well received. If we’re overly enthusiastic, too forceful, or speak in a churchy tone (i.e., quoting line-and-verse of the latest encyclical to someone who doesn’t even know Jesus), our listener may “tear us to pieces.” Additionally, if we overshare or proffer books, website links, etc., too much too soon, we may fail as the Lord’s emissary. Jesus wants his disciples to communicate first and foremost his love. For this purpose, he sent his Spirit to teach us what to say (Luke 12:12).
- The Golden Rule: What a world we would live in if people abided by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Our workplaces, our homes, and our communities would be a little slice of heaven on earth. This rule of life applies equally to Christians and non-Christians because the point of reference for behavior is not Christ, per se, but ourselves. However, Christ told us later in the Gospel of John to do what he has done (John 13:15). In this case, the model for our behavior is Christ himself. Not only are we to do for others what we would have them do to us, but we are called to imitate Christ’s love for others: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). We can fulfill this lofty command only by relying on the Lord’s grace.
- The Narrow Gate: We can certainly surmise, looking around at our current culture, that there are many broad roads leading to destruction. But, as faithful followers of Christ, how are we expected to respond to Our Lord’s description of the narrow and constricted gate that leads to life? Only a few find it. How many is “a few”? Would this “few” include me, my family members, those I pray for, my grandparents, my future grandchildren? The best response to Jesus’s warning is to practice the sometimes elusive virtue of hope. “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817). Full of hope, we emanate peace in our dealings with others, reflecting the love of Christ in our countenance.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, in these short lines of Scripture your admonitions are very challenging. I need to be discerning before I speak about you, to love others as you love them, and to enter through the narrow gate. And of course I want to bring my loved ones with me. Without your grace, I can truly do none of these things. You make it very clear that I am to love you, depend on you, and trust you with everything and everyone I care about. Please send your Holy Spirit to bring me peace and confidence so that I may radiate not anxiety of any kind, but only your joy.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray ardently for those you place on my heart and have hope that you will bring them through the narrow gate to heaven.
For Further Reflection: “Remember!–It is Christianity to do good always–even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbours as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful, and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to show that we love him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in peace” (Charles Dickens).
Written by Maribeth Harper.
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