by Sr. Dorothy Rolf, ND
In today’s Gospel message, Matthew 22:34-40, the Pharisees ask Jesus “which commandment in the law is the greatest?” There are many laws stated in the books of Exodus and Leviticus, therefore they hope to catch Jesus in some practice that would delineate the rest. But Jesus answers: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your entire mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
This challenges one to ask how I live this commandment. If I love God with my whole heart, soul, and mind, then my every thought, desire, and feeling will be to respond in love to God’s presence and invitations throughout the day. Are my first thoughts of the day about how I will live this love of God? My heart calls me to reach out in love, my soul calls me to desire the most good for the other and my mind gives me the courage and energy to do it. It almost seems natural that to love God is shown in love for our neighbor. Our neighbor is never far from us, always in our family, workplace, church, neighborhood, the homebound, the sick and the dying, the forgotten and the lonely and you can name the rest.
Pedro Arrupe, former Superior General of the Jesuits, wrote “nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in Love in a quite absolute final way. What seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how your spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
This week: take time to examine the ways you love each day.
by Linda Cernik, Notre Dame Associate
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to him” - the coin with Caesar’s image. “Repay to God what belongs to God” - the human person stamped with God’s image. All that we are and have belongs to God. We are called to give ourselves to God and to God’s people. We can do this by loving and serving especially the least among us, as Jesus did. If we rely on God’s power and the Spirit’s guidance we can accomplish this challenge.
Jesus is also reminding us it is our duty as Christians to pay taxes and influence elected officials through frequent contacts. It is our Christian duty to make sure our officials maintain law and order and promote the welfare of our citizens without violating God’s laws. In this day and age, a huge challenge indeed.
The collect for Sunday –“Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
In so praying, we ask to be in the midst of the economy of God’s salvation, offering ourselves as coinage carrying God’s image.
by Mary Toline, Notre Dame Associate
Matthew 22: 1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.” A second time he sent other servants. Saying, “Tell those invited: Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them and killed them.
Whenever I’m invited to a wedding or something special, I consider it an honor that I received an invitation. I’m sure like the king there has been so much planning and preparation to get everything ready for this big event. It usually is a wonderful time and so happy I attended.
Now look at being invited to the big party in heaven. Everything has been planned out for this big event, all we need to do is say yes and go. But most think they are too busy, and have better things to do now.
It has always been that we put God first in our lives, but how much of that is true now days? When we watch the news lately, we have forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and more hurricanes. Is God trying to wake us up and tell our world that we are not putting him first? We all need wake up calls from time to time. Are we ready to go to God’s banquet?
by Sr. Rosalee Burke, ND
Today’s readings are pretty clear that building a grape yard is hard work. And finding honest, hardworking people to care for the grape yard is also difficult. In the Gospel parable the tenants are not faithful workers. They kill the owner’s servants who come to collect the owners share. What will the owner do? If he comes, how will he be treated?
We are all good at knowing what bad things will happen in a story. We are not as good at knowing what undeserved good things might happen. God points out what bad things can happen to both the vineyard and to the workers. But we also know what good things might happen. The owner may replace his workers with new people who are honest, hard workers. They and he might both be rewarded with wonderful, tasty grapes and wine.
Seldom in life do we receive great results without some work on our part. Let us thank God for teaching us the right ways to live.
by Dick Connealy, Notre Dame Associate
Jesus asks a question (Matthew 21:28-32)
A very easy question is asked in today’s gospel. The harder question is why?
I believe the answer the first son would have given to that question is the same one Jesus gave, “I must be about my father’s business”.
I was very fortunate to have a father who did not just tell me, but showed me what our business was here. If someone needed help on the side of the road we stopped and helped them. It did not matter if we were on the way to church, school, or our own work. We helped because that was our business.
It did not matter if it made us late. If people did not understand, then they do not understand why we are here. We are here to help one another. It is really that simple. I try in my feeble way to do that every single day. It is OUR business.
by Sr. Barbara Ficenec, ND
Today’s thoughts are reflections of St Matthew’s Gospel regarding the parable of Jesus about a generous landowner. (Matthew 20:1-16a)
In hiring laborers for his vineyard, the owner agreed with them for the usual daily wage. Interestingly, all workers did not begin to help at the same hour; there was quite a discrepancy in the time frame among them.
So, when evening came and the laborers were summoned and each received the same wage, there was dissatisfaction with the landowner who replied, “My friends, I am not cheating anyone. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? ...Am I not free to do as I wish? …Are you envious because I am generous?”
Over my years it took me some to get the lesson Jesus taught here. I knew life is not fair; all my young years there were rules for fair games results and for having the same privileges as other kids.
Gradually, my mother’s oft repeated and sincere response brought me an important insight. LIFE isn’t always fair, but LOVE is.
Love is incredible; it causes good things to happen. It makes us happy. It lightens every carried burden. Above all, it’s the basic important request of Jesus for each of us, “LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.”
Any effort to define LOVE and to understand it is difficult. (Try it - okay. It is so worth the effort.) God bless us all!
by Kris Lanik, Notre Dame Sisters Associate
The theme throughout today’s readings from Holy Scripture has to do with forgiveness. We must always realize that forgiveness is a two way street. We need to seek forgiveness, as we are all likely to do. However, forgiveness is also something we need to give to others.
Jesus is preparing his followers for the time his kingdom is to continue after he is no longer physically present. His focus is on building up harmony among his followers. His teaching is quite simple; we must learn how to forgive our sisters and brothers. It sounds like an easy task; it isn’t. It is only by the grace of Jesus that this is accomplished.
As we reflect on the Gospel reading, notice Jesus’ lesson ends with a warning. Christ always forgives us if we come to him with a humble and sorrowful heart. He expects the same from us. We need to forgive others just as we are forgiven.
by Sr. Mary Kay Meagher, ND
This Sunday’s readings are quite short, direct, to the point and powerful. They don’t lend themselves to equivocal discussion. They deserve honest reflection. Most importantly they are a call to action.
Read carefully all three, not focusing on the dos and don’ts but on the major theme which directly addresses our encountered relationships whether they are complex, supportive, broken, growing etc.
At times when reading these passages we focus on how we can love, accept, and care. But a focus we may tend to give less attention to is in every relationship. There is the essential of reconciliation whether it is with our God, ourselves or another person or group or community or nation. In other words those are those in our lives we call “other.”
By Sr. Mary Hlas, ND
Poor Peter! In today’s Gospel, Peter can’t seem to say the right thing. He was praised for calling Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Then later when Jesus shared with His disciples that He will go to Jerusalem, suffer, and be killed, Peter responded, “No such thing will ever happen to you.” Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” He also said, “You are thinking as human beings think and not as God does.”
As we walk through life each day, it might be good to check out thoughts. When all is going well, what are our thoughts? When nothing seems to be going right, then what are our thoughts?
Our prayer today might be a simple one: “Jesus, teach me to think as you think.”
by Theresa Homan, Notre Dame Sisters Associate
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" "But who do you say that I am?" MT 16: 13, 15
Who does Jesus say that he is? The Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus identifies himself with the poor and the least among us. We are all sinners, therefore we are all poor in some way. It is so important, then, to see Jesus in EVERYONE. We are all so different and hold opposing views on many things. Why does God make us so different yet expect us to get along and live in peace with our neighbors?
"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!" RM 11:33
What does God know about our nature, our abilities, our limitations, that creating us and allowing us such freedom seems like a good idea? Is there something holy in the struggle to rise above unloving influences from society, neighbors and even family, even while we often fall prey to them?
Our true nature is to love; to be one with each other in love. It is our calling to be true to this nature as individuals and in our communities. We must not allow hate groups or we/they thinking to take root. Who is God? God is love. Let us choose love as our God.