The readings for today evoke a variety of responses. The first reading poses a bit of a warning – we “should know how to behave,” while the responsorial psalm encourages us to rejoice in the works of the Lord. The gospel challenges in yet another direction as we hear of dichotomies in the conduct of people.
St. Paul, in the first reading, greets Timothy with his news of an impending visit yet warns Timothy what he expects in terms of behavior in the household of God. This could be likened to the parent returning home who calls ahead to announce that he/she will soon be home and expects everything is under control and in great shape. It certainly provides a heads up -- perhaps it is affirmation that, of course, you know the right way to behave, you know what is expected and when I arrive I will see evidence of that.
As we see so frequently in the psalms, we find a list of examples of the wonders of God. Indeed, the works are great and we have only to walk outside and truly open our hearts. Perhaps the combination of the psalm with the above readings provides more motivation to assure that we remember the works and our responsibilities in relationship to them. Our gratitude and our realization need to be reflected in our correct behavior.
The gospel really spoke to me when I first reviewed it a couple of weeks ago. Most times as I hear or read the readings they are old familiar words. I did not remember ever reading this one before although obviously I had to have heard it. Once again the hand of God is moving in terms of presenting a reading right at the time I need that particular message. As one academic term was coming to a close and a new one about to begin, I was agonizing over how to please the many “masters” expecting my time. Reading student feedback from the semester is frequently bittersweet (sometimes more bitter than sweet). As I read the contrasts, I felt sorry for my self – how can I please them? What one group touted, the other panned. I was frustrated and then I read this gospel. It called to me in terms of how to explain us all – we are all at one time or another impossible to please. Since John denied himself food and drink, he was possessed; since Jesus ate and drank, he was labeled glutton and drunkard. This rang a familiar note and reminded myself that I was in good company with my frustration. How could I think I will find a way to please everyone with my feet of clay when the Perfect One could not even satisfy them? I found great hope in this, that “wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Not that I will stop trying to improve but realizing the judgments on earth will always be harsh and difficult to find approval. I “know how to behave in the household of God” – that is what I must focus upon and that is the judgment that deserves my greatest energy.
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