May 23, 2013
click here for Saint Bede the Venerable,
Click here for Saint Mary Magdeline
Prayer After Reading the Bible:
Lord, thank you for your attention and special Presence with me.
Thank you for the opportunity to know you better.
Open my heart for the best way to put into practice what you reveal to me.
Thank you, Lord, for your Son, for your help and for your sacred Word.
In today’s reading from Sirach, we find a description of what seems like the opposite of yesterday’s topic, the fear of the Lord. In the absence of the reverence, and care for our Heavenly Father, we are prone to rely on worldly wealth. There is danger here of resting on one’s “strengths” of the flesh and to be consumed in our pursuit of corporeal desires. Joshua ben Sirach next relates a statement that often follows an experience usually encountered by children. It is that of getting away with something, and then thinking that there is no recompense for their misbehavior. It is folly that can lead to one piling sins upon sin. Another error in judgment is being overconfident in forgiveness, thereby forgetting true regret and actual repentance which are necessary components for turning away from sin. Our conversion requires that we throw ourselves at His feet and strengthen our resolve to reject evil and do what is right in the Lord’s sight. We need to be diligent and not delay in clinging to the Lord. “Take heed lest ye fall.” Surely, unless we repent of every sin upon the conviction of it in our hearts, we are in danger of destruction when wrath flares up on the Day of Judgment.
They are strong warnings that come out of love in the reading and from the mouth of Jesus in the Gospel today. It is out of Christ’s love for “the little ones” and for those who would listen to his warning that he uses such strong language. It is hard to imagine that the Lord would use a mere expression without its basis in fact. Surely it would be a lesser evil for a man to tie a millstone around his neck if he were certain that he was about to lead one of God’s children into mortal sin. What if such a child never came back to the Lord? In the same vein, if we give even a cup of water to someone because he is Jesus’ disciple, we will be rewarded. There is no contradiction in the Lord’s tremendous mercy. It is for the faithful, and those who put their trust in the Lord.
The Lord uses harsh, even absurd sounding expressions to explain how strong our aversion to sinning should be. If our foot is wicked, we are better off without it. Can we not see that the mystical Body of Christ, the Church is better off without a member that leads the body to forfeit its eternal reward? Likewise, it is better for each of us to sacrifice and relinquish things of this world that we cherish as much as we do our own eye. Will we not be happy that we have done so on the Day we find ourselves in Heaven in the fellowship of the Father, the Son and his holy angels? Today’s Gospel ends with the comparison of salt and fire. The phrase “Everyone will be salted with fire” probably stems from Lev 2:13 which reminds us to give God our very best, consideration of the new covenant. There is no debate that a good example is powerful and persuasive as is alluded to the version of this proverb in Matt 5:13. Here the addition of salt’s pairing with fire tells us that it is through enduring tribulation and resisting temptation on earth that we preserve ourselves in eternal life. Salt has been a symbol of wisdom and of friendship. Jesus is persuading the disciples to have the salt of wisdom and to keep peace among each other. Perhaps we find this placed here because of the dispute between them in verse 32. The point of their enterprise is to preserve themselves and to help to save others in eternal peace.
Creighton U. Online ministries Daily Reflections
More reflections from The Journey
Grant, O Lord,
that we may always revere and love your Holy Name,
for you never deprive of your guidance
those you set firm on the foundation of your love.