August 16, 2022
by Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton University's Jesuit Community
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 419

Ezekiel 28:1-10
Psalm 32:26-27AB, 27CD-28, 30, 35CD-36AB
Matthew 19:23-30

Praying Ordinary Time

An Invitation to Make the Online Retreat

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

What If I Have Trouble Getting Better?

          Psalm response: The Lord speaks of peace to his people

          Jesus here announces a very concrete and specific part of what it takes to truly be one of his disciples: accepting that wealth is not a reward but a burden.  In other Gospel passages he also proclaims other unlikely and demanding values and practices as well, such as loving even those who hate you and inviting the poor to your feasts, but it is all the same thing: his kingdom is truly not of this world.

          Consider that the disciples are here overwhelmed, not merely amazed, and that they ask not why Jesus says such a thing but how it can be possible – and we have heard or read this question too often to notice how this stands out. 

          The answer is actually fairly simple.  Go to the first few chapters of Job and read what God does to a supposedly just man, taking away all of his blessings – numerous children, much land and wealth, a good reputation, health, and even the support of his wife – and in the final chapters of this book we see all of that restored to him.  This is the clearest and most complete example I can think of to show what the Old Testament Jews considered to be God’s blessings.  No wonder the disciples are so radically puzzled and perturbed!  If God does not reward (“bless” us) in these ways, what does God’s love actually mean?

          We don’t think that way today, do we?  Or do we?  We seem to judge God’s love for us by whether we get what we want or not, and we leave that all up to him – or work like the Prodigal Son’s brother and wonder why we don’t feel loved.  I believe that even at the best of times we look too much to the gifts of God and not to the Giver, who is himself the only blessing that we should seek.

          Re-read this Gospel passage once more, and see what you think.

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