Bulletin: October 18, 2020
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
God’s word speaks to our hearts today, acknowledging the sad fact that we lose hope at times, and encouraging us to trust in the Lord. Isaiah speaks of God’s astonishing plan to us
e Cyrus, a Persian king, to deliver God’s people from exile. After generations in captivity, the Israelites take new hope in this unexpected plan and praise God’s might. Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians encourages Christ’s followers there to remain faithful to their call. Never tiring, they continue their “labor of love and endurance in hope.” The Gospel relates a heartbreaking reality in Christ’s ministry: plots to humiliate and capture Jesus. Knowing their treacherous plans, Jesus does not despair. He remains faithful to God and persists in his own labor of love.
Perhaps the most shocking sentence in today’s Gospel comes from the mouth of a Pharisee: “And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status.” In context, that false compliment sounds savagely passive-aggressive. These scripture scholars do not actually admire Jesus’ freedom, the unconventional way he interacts with men, women, and children from every background. It’s possible some of Jesus’ peers are jealous of his confident ease, but mainly they find Jesus threatening. Over and over again, Matthew’s Gospel highlights the ways Jesus offends the Pharisees and scribes: failing to wash his hands in the traditional manner, for example, or, on the Sabbath, curing diseases and allowing his disciples to pick grain. Jesus does not focus on earthly status and the status quo; his mission is to proclaim the kingdom of God.
THE RISK OF DISCIPLESHIP
When we deepen our relationship with Jesus, we follow in his footsteps. Sometimes this discipleship brings about obvious blessings, like belonging to a thriving parish community or feeling good about helping people in need. At other times, imitating Jesus means sharing in his sufferings. Like Jesus, we know the sting of rejection. We fear to lower our social status by spending time and money as Jesus may call us to do. At a social gathering, choosing to spend time with someone who is awkward or unpopular means we are not hanging with the in-crowd. Offering a full tithe to charity means we have less money to spend on trendy items. Letting go of our earthly desire to be admired can be difficult, but the Lord accompanies us in the struggle. Truly, Jesus Christ does not “regard a person’s status.” Inspired by this divine impartiality, we pray: Lord God, help us to love the extravagant freedom that comes from you. Help us to follow you out of the status quo and into your compassionate heart.