Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 477

You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?


One of the privileges of hospital ministry is hearing less about the “social gospel.” When the patients are well enough to argue politics or religion we send them home.
But we do have to argue politics and religion sometimes. Life is not all about weather and sports; there is also news, which we might call the signs of the times. Ever since the Lord promised Moses he would liberate the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt our religion has been political. We honor Saint Joseph because he watched the political situation closely, intuited what might happen, and acted accordingly:
…when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.
We might prefer a religion without politics. In the United States there are endless choices and consumers can buy any kind of religion they like. But our Catholic faith, with its roots in the body, history, geography and Jewish traditions, cannot dissociate itself from reality – and politics is very real.

In today’s gospel Jesus chides the crowds for watching the weather but ignoring “the present time.” What was happening at that present time that they were missing?
First there is the division we heard about yesterday:

From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

A fire has been set upon the earth in the person of Jesus. If you only want peace you don’t want Jesus. Families are often troubled by the peacemaker who first suppresses all quarrelling and arguing, and then disagreement and discussion. The Spirit of Jesus is going to stir up trouble as children and adults ponder the times and their response. Children must have a different reaction to the times, often to the disappointment of their parents who had hoped their offspring would mirror their own opinions, attitudes and beliefs.
I remember my own disagreements with my Dad back in the tumultuous 1960’s, but I also recall his encouragement when we quarreled: “Stick to your guns!”

An opinion which has not been challenged in discussion and argumentation does not merit the word opinion. Just as the steel of a good sword must be folded and hammered and heated and folded again, hundreds of times over, a useful opinion has been challenged in conflict.
We work out our salvation in the real world, not in the Lala-Land of our fears, preferences and dreams. The Bible does not describe a make-believe world like Tolkien's Middle-Earth; it was not found under a rock in New York State or recited to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. It was created, collected, edited and translated by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through a long, difficult, complex political process. 

Is the life of faith complicated? You bet! Can we live with that? "With God all things are possible." 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.