Blessed Are The Servants

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus calls us to stay awake and be vigilant! The time of our Lord’s return is unknown, therefore, we must always be ready for that day. During the recent period of quarantine, we had to abstain from receiving the Body of Christ, and the message of this gospel seems to emphasize our situation of being cut off from that valuable source of sustenance.

Paul tells us: “Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22. Jesus gave us the wonderful gift of Himself through the Eucharist. When we go to church every Sunday, it is not simply to listen to a priest preach and read scripture; we to to enter into the community of the Lord. The ceremony of the Mass is celebrated not only by human beings, but by the angels and saints alike. While we celebrate the Mass, the heavens open up and all who reside there join in our celebration. We share a meal and take in the presence of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Because of COVID-19, we were forced to be denied receiving Christ in the Eucharist. Churches had to close their doors, and we were asked to remain in our homes. By the grace of God, we were able to attend Mass virtually and receive spiritual communion through prayer, but now churches are open again and we can return to Christ’s home, the Church. We do have to ask ourselves, are we still vigilant servants? The new reality of life in this world created by the pandemic has resulted in so much fear that people are afraid to leave their homes. Jesus calls us to be awake and vigilant by going back to His Bride, the Church, and receiving Him through the Eucharist.

The ability to attend Mass with fellow believers is a gift and can be taken away. We should be eager to go to church each Sunday and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever we can, as well as the Eucharist. We do not know what day the Master will return, and that day may be closer than we think.

Have Mercy on Me

How many times have we told ourselves–if we only prayed more, went to daily Mass, said the rosary everyday, gave more to charity…as humans we can easily believe that our actions are what will save us. Perhaps we fall into this trap because we can control our actions and we want to have control over achieving salvation. Reality has the ability to generate fear within our hearts. The road to redemption is only by the mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ, and it can be scary to realize that there is nothing we can do to climb the ranks and gain entrance to heaven over another.

Paul articulates this perfectly with great simplicity and understanding: “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Gal 5:6

The Pharisees had succumbed to several false beliefs, but on the outside they did everything right. They observed the law and believed that made them clean. Jesus Christ revealed the truth: “The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.” Luke 11:39

While good faith practices are always important because these will bring us closer to the Lord, finding intimacy with Jesus Christ is the way to fulfillment and ensuring we are walking the path the Lord intends us to tread. However, this will guarantee our salvation only through the mercy of Christ.

Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord,your salvation according to your promise.

By the grace of God, if we accept the Lord’s mercy, we will be able to live the life ordained by Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the light. Whenever we lose our way or struggle with our faith, we are called to return to Him and He will have mercy on us. Praise the Lord!

Mary and Martha

Today’s gospel reading seems like a “tale as old as time.” The story of the two sisters who welcomed Jesus into their home so often was told to me over and over again throughout my childhood. Mary was always presented in a somewhat more favorable light than Martha. After whoever presented the story finished it, the question that always seemed to follow was “are you a Mary or a Martha?” Are you someone who worries constantly and is anxious or are you a person who simply seeks Jesus first?

This is really not the most appropriate question–we cannot always be as contemplative as Mary and hopefully those of us who lean toward Martha-behavior can’t always be fretting over every detail. The truth is we can be both a Martha and a Mary; neither one should be perceived as having the better approach to life. There is a time for everything, from doing the housework involved in preparing for a guest to sitting still and listening to that most important guest, Jesus. Maybe Jesus was trying to convince these sisters (as well as all of us who read this gospel today) to look at their lives and ask themselves if they were in balance.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:28

Mary and Martha heard the Lord’s word and observed it, but in different ways. Mary obviously devoted her time with Jesus to focusing on everything He said, but Martha honored her Lord by serving Him and seeing to His physical comforts. Unfortunately, she let her stress and anxiety get the better of her in this situation. We can all become caught up in the present moment and lose sight of what is most important while having the best intentions. Mary may have “chosen the better part,” but Martha made sure her house was comfortable and clean so Jesus could share His words in a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere. Whether we are Marys or Marthas, we need to remember to look to the Lord for guidance in everything we do.

Let Us Offer Each Other the Sign of Peace

Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.

-Luke 10

I used to dread the part of the Mass where, all of a sudden, I had to interact with other humans to give the sign of peace. Here it comes: smile, shake hands, be friendly and non-threatening, be prepared for some people to pull away and just give you the nod or the two fingers. Oh, I did my best to avoid sitting next to people that I didn’t know—couples, families, anyone who seemed friendly, a talker…because let’s face it, my illogical, irrational, selfish fear tells me things that are simply not true.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives several instructions to the disciples he is sending ahead of himself. One such instruction is to give a blessing, a greeting, a love to any home they may enter. If accepted, the recipient is given peace and receives the blessing of the disciples; if they reject it, no big deal (really, Jesus?)—that peace, that blessing, returns to those same disciples who shared it.

We as disciples are charged with the same task. No matter where we are—at work, at home, at church, with whomever, Christians, non-Christians, people we like, people we don’t like—our love for God compels us to wish others peace and share the good news! This requires joy, trust, and humility. Joy, because we have received the peace of the Lord, trust, because we must trust in the grace of the Lord, and humility, because it is not, as I believed, a thing to own, but a gift to receive and to share.

Going back to Mass after quarantine has been a real blessing. I notice now that I receive such immense joy as I receive the peace of the Lord. His peace is strengthened in me not only when I am blessed but also too, now I realize, when I bless others with it. We give each other the sign of peace because as a sheepfold we feed one another, as God wants us to.

In situations where someone may reject your greeting, your invitation, your attention, your affection, your friendship—or reject you—our God reminds us that his peace comes back right at us. This rejection does not defeat the giver. Let us be courageous, knowing perfectly well that, received or rejected, we have the peace of the Lord always with us.

May the peace of the Lord be always with you. Looking forward to the time once more when I can give you the sign of peace.