Tuesday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Rom 1:16-25; Lk 11:37-41

Our sisters at OLM have four very fine young ladies in formation right now. They came to OLM because they wanted to be in a community where truly seeking God would connect them to others. They wanted a common life ordered to this seeking that would further connect them to others.

Jesuit Michael Ivens lists four questions that a person could ponder in deciding how he or she is called to “truly seek God.”

  1. When have I been energized by a vision?

For them it was perhaps a vision of self participating in a community ordered to truly seeking God.

  1. When has something made me say, “I want my life to be dedicated to that!”?

Living for a cause is very important to endurance, to long-term and repeated submission of the will to reason in the face of adversity.

  1. What qualities in others inspire me?

Admiration leading to emulation is a key to seeking God through the community common life.

  1. What have I experienced as so compelling that I would willingly suffer for it?

Monastic life was begun as a form of martyrdom (many say marriage was, too!). The sum of the answers to the first three questions will show the person what he or she experiences as “important-in-itself” and how one responds to it. There will be many occasions to repeatedly decide if it is more important than self. An affirmative answer will only be possible by the grace of the God one seeks.



Tuesday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings: Rom 1:16-25;  Lk 11:37-41

In 1985, I spent the first year of my Novitiate with a Maryknoll priest who, having been a political activist for years, and at one point being imprisoned for his activities, had a spiritual experience in a jail cell and thought maybe God was calling him to be a monk.  I had never met anyone like him before and he had never met anyone like me.  I thought he was a little strange, and didn’t really understand monastic life.  He thought I was hopelessly naïve, and didn’t understand what Christian discipleship is. 

He left the monastery after about a year in residence and, for a long time afterward, I thought about our curious encounter.  It seems to me now that each of us was trying to make sense of the world by, first, considering ourselves as the norm; as representing what a follower of Christ was supposed to be, and then, with ourselves as the starting point, trying to deduce God: who God is and what God wills for everyone else.  I wonder if this hopeless task of trying to deduce God from our own human reality, is where Vatican II inspired renewal tended to get things wrong. 

Hans Urs Von Balthasar, writing in 1972, critiqued what he saw going on in the church at that time, arguing that the Truth is “symphonic”.  Catholics in the seventies didn’t get that.  Truth is like a symphony, and the first really important insight to be gained from this metaphor is that you cannot deduce the Composer from the musical instruments.  The Composer, the artist who created the symphony, is not in the musical instruments: he transcends them.  He is the Composer.  He is Free.  He is Sovereign.  He is God.

In today’s gospel, we see a Pharisee presuming to deduce the Composer from the musical instruments – so, he, as an observant Jew always washes his hands before supper.  One day, he meets Jesus, God incarnate in the flesh, and wonders why God neglected to wash his hands before sitting down to supper.  The answer is: Because He is the Composer.  He is Free.  Jesus is Sovereign.  Jesus – is God.  As we proceed to the table of the Lord where our sins are cleansed; where defeat is changed into victory; and where death is changed into life let us make this Eucharist the celebration of our God who is free, sovereign, and incarnate in the person of Jesus our Lord.


Tuesday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

[Scripture Readings: Gal 5:1-6; Lk 11:37-41 ]

Sacrament of Reconciliation “Oh you Pharisees! You clean the outside of the cup, but inside you are filled with greed and wickedness.” Ouch! That must have hurt the Pharisee who invited Jesus to a meal in his home.

But then Jesus softens his reproach when he says, “Give alms, and see, everything will be clean for you.” But is that right? Can we buy a clean heart with money, by giving alms? Is that what Jesus said and meant? No, he actually said, “Give for alms those things that are within; and behold, everything will be clean for you.” In other words, “First, clean the inside with love and compassion and the Holy Spirit.”

Almsgiving is the expression of a clean heart, not the cause. It is God who makes us clean. So, with the Psalmist and those poor Pharisees who want to be clean inside and out we pray, “A clean heart create for me, O God. Purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51). And God who hears the cry of the poor, answers our prayer by washing us clean in Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Anointing of the Sick.