“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
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Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
For this Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time we finish our third Sunday with the Bread of Life readings from the 6th chapter of John's Gospel, meditating on the words of Jesus who reveals that he is the bread of life. Some of his hearers grumble about these shocking words. Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Tuesday is the Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr. Wednesday is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with its own special readings.
This week we begin reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet to the people in exile in Babylon. He uses dreams and powerful symbolic visions - at first denouncing their infidelity and then offering hope for restoration and new life.
In Matthew's Gospel this week we reflect upon God's mercy and our call to imitate God's love. Jesus predicts his passion and miraculously resolves a conflict over temple tax. It is not the temple tax for which he will be executed, but for what he reveals about God's love and mercy to sinners. Jesus tells us we should "become like children": innocent, loving, trusting, humble. Jesus tells us the hard work we should go through to reconcile with a sinner. He says that whenever we are gathered together, in his name, he is with us. He tells us to forgive - over and over again - and tells the parable of the servant who is forgiven but won't forgive a fellow servant. Jesus speaks about the permanence of the marriage commitment. Children were not regarded very highly and the disciples tried to bar them from bothering Jesus. Jesus welcomes them - and all the powerless they represent: “for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
On the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time the key question the people are asking in John's Gospel is: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus tells us the eating his flesh and drinking blood is real food and drink. It gives us life, eternal life. We are one with him and he is one with us.
Daily Prayer This Week
Finding intimacy with our God is not limited to people who can go away on a retreat. We can all be contemplatives in action, if only we can focus on our relationship with the Lord in the background, every day. This week we can feed on the words of life which Jesus gives us. And, we can ask for the graces we need, in the midst of our busy lives.
Throughout this week, we can wake up and go through our morning routine asking for the grace that God's mercy might flow through us this day. One day, I might take notice of those in my life who need my forgiveness. I might pay attention to the one who frustrates me or has hurt me or has hurt those I love - real people I know (living or dead) or the anonymous people who represent the systems, institutions and structures that seem unjust or sinful. There are people who benefit from war, the poverty or slavery of others, the sacrilege against the dignity of life itself, the drug trade and the destruction of the environment. I can actually take the grace filled moments of brief intimacy with Jesus this week to forgive! This week of mercy can be a powerful blessing for our whole lives.
This can be a wonderful week for us to remember how many times we are called to forgive. And, we might want to take a few extra moments to reinforce this by re-reading the parable of the servant who has been forgiven himself but refuses to forgive. If we are really stuck in our struggle to forgive, we can find times to beg for the grace: “Dear Lord, you keep forgiving me, please let me experience the intimacy of forgiving as you have forgiven me.”
Throughout this week, we'll be embracing little children and other “little ones” because we will be delighting in being one with him and his being one with us. And, we'll give thanks and praise.
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