January 16, 2023
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 311
Praying Ordinary Time

The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews reveals Jesus as the high priest bringing atonement for sins. The Psalm gives some background to the reference to Melchizedek in the first reading. In the Gospel Jesus responds to protests that he does not fast as the Pharisees do.

As described in The Book of Genesis, Melchizedek is a king and priest who brings out bread and wine and blesses Abraham, the father of salvation history. In today’s first reading, I am reminded that the (king and) priest Jesus is the fulfillment of this salvation history.

In some sense I see the Gospel as a reminder that we have the “Good News” in Jesus. I like to think that at least part of the message from today’s Gospel involves actively considering how we respond in each moment. While there is a time for penance and fasting, I am drawn toward the importance of recognizing and embracing the good that is present when it is present. We have a fragile existence on this earth. 2022 was a challenging year with viruses that continued, the start of a war in Europe, inflation and weather events hinting at the real impact of climate change. These challenges leave me asking myself how my time is spent. I think of time invested with my brother-in-law who died on Easter after a long illness. When I consider human frailty, I cannot help but be reminded of a dear friend who rapidly passed away last month because he had an injury to his toe that became septic. I realize that these serve as lingering prompts to recognize and acknowledge the moments we have with each other. In the United States, today is Martin Luther King Day which serves to remind me of another life that was unexpectedly cut short. Returning to the Gospel, my sense is that Jesus knows what lies on the road ahead and perhaps savoring time together is how these moments are best devoted.

I also see this Gospel as a reminder of how Jesus spends his time. I am reminded that He is present for bringing sinners back to God rather than concentrating on acts of piousness. I see in this passage His attempt to make clear that there is a new message that does fit in the old packaging. This serves as the focus of my prayer today.

Dear Lord,
Too often I fall into the self-righteousness of the Pharisees.
Life is so short; at the end of each day, I see how much of my time has been poorly spent.
Guide me in investing time in the things that really matter.
Strengthen my conscious awareness of the service that makes this world a better place.
Help me to embrace the new message that Jesus brings.

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