The apparently unfair gospel today emphasizes the tremendous generosity of our God, a God who calls each of us through baptism to some service in the Church. Today it is my honor and privilege to commission the teachers and catechists here at St. Rita Parish for another year of service. These faithful Catholics have responded to the generosity of God by being generous with their own time and passing on the faith to others.
Our first reading today comes from the book of Sirach, also called the book of Ecclesiasticus (Church Book). The first lines tell us: “wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail.”
In the first reading today the Lord says to Ezekiel: “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them.” Ezekiel the prophet and all prophets were called to speak God’s message to the people. When the people were straying from God’s way, the prophet was to warn them. In the Gospel Jesus extends that duty to his followers when he says: “If a brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Hopefully the warning of a friend will help them change their ways.
In our gospel today Jesus says these words to Peter: “You are not thinking as God does, but as humans do.” These words were said because Peter wanted to prevent Jesus from going to Jerusalem where he said he would be killed. From a human perspective, that seems appropriate for we would all like to avoid pain and suffering. However, quite often the very worst situations of life often become the most powerful occasions of transformation.
t is interesting to ask myself – Who do people say that I am? My parents call me son, my siblings call me brother and the people of this parish call me pastor or Fr. Tom. In reality, there are many titles given a person throughout their life, but which is the predominant one? Reflecting on this question I realized I am a child of God and that all other titles flow from this one. As God’s child I ought to do the things that make God proud and try and avoid those things which would bring disappointment. I am created in His image and likeness, so Who I Am is a giver, a servant and a companion.
What the apostles thought was a ghost turned out to be Jesus. How loving the words He spoke: “Take courage…do not be afraid.” We too, have seen “ghosts” that have turned out to be blessings in disguise. We may have been fearful of a situation only to find out in the end that it was something for our good.
In the first reading today Solomon is told by God, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon responds, “Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” God was pleased with this request from Solomon, for he had not asked for “long life, nor riches, nor for the life of his enemies” but for a gift which would serve the good of the people.
The second reading today from Paul’s letter to the Romans continues explaining the effects of living in the Spirit. Paul emphasizes the effect that the Spirit has on our human weakness. “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groaning.”