Daily Reflection
August 27th, 2002
Deb Fortina
Academic Affairs
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of St. Monica
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-16
Psalm 96:10, 11-12, 13
Matthew 23:23-26

 “…with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a ‘spirit’, or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand…”  2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3a, 14-17 

“…Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice before the Lord who comes, who comes to govern the earth, to govern the world with justice and the peoples with faithfulness.”   Psalm 96:10-13 

 “…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.  You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity…”  Matthew 23: 23-26 

St. Monica (331-387 a.d.) whose feast we celebrate today was born of a family with a highly disciplined Christian upbringing probably in Tagaste, North Africa.  Her marriage was arranged to Patricius, who held an official position at Tagaste.  Although he may have come from a Christian community, he was not baptized until 370.  Patricius’ mother, who also lived with them, became a Christian because of St. Monica’s influence.  St. Monica is more widely know because of her prayers for her son’s conversion, who later became St. Augustine.  Although St. Monica had other children, it was Augustine for whom she would spend most of her life pursuing and praying for his eventual conversion.   Early in the 19th century, an association of Christian Mothers in Paris named St. Monica their patron saint and directed their prayer for their own sons and husbands who had gone astray.  St. Monica, we ask you to intercede for all of us who may have family members who have left their Christian faith, and who are still seeking the Truth.  May they be led full circle and return to the Faith that has sustained our many generations. Amen.

Today’s readings are short in length, but not in meaning.  In 2 Thessalonians, Paul warns the Christian community to be wary of the false voice or signs that would say that the time of our Lord’s second coming is at hand.  Paul had found hostility towards him and his salvation message in this region.  When Paul found out that the community of Christians living there was being deceived, he wrote and told them to stay faithful to their earlier teachings.  Then he prayed “May the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” (2Thes 2:16-17)  This reading made me think about our own daily encounters with a false message, and how important it is to stay close to the Church for the Truth.

In our gospel reading, we have only two from a list of seven “woes” to the scribes and Pharisees.  The message is a reminder for us that in our human nature, we may try to follow certain rules, and completely miss Christ’s message.  He says we “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.” (Mt. 23:24)   Jesus is referring to those people whose piety is for show, rather than to ask for a true change of heart.  We all have some of this character to shed.  I know myself that I will go out of my way to make it to Mass, but then I don’t pay attention to the family member, friend or stranger who is crying out for help.  I have a real hard time loving my enemies.  Jesus refers to those weightier things of the law that we don’t pay attention to as “judgment, mercy and fidelity.”  When we go to Mass today, let us ask the Spirit of God to change our hearts, to convict us with the Gospel message.   I know I’ve spent a lot of unproductive time in prayer, filling in the time, but not earnestly trying to change my heart and become new. 

When I think about the weightier points of the gospel message I remember our call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and I remember Christ’s sermon on the mount. See Matthew 5:3-12.  Let us pray: St. Monica we ask your intercession for the conversion of our hearts, and those of our loved ones, to become that new creation in Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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