We Don't Need to be the Same.
The Fifteenth Monday of Ordinary Time.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Exodus 1: 8-14, 22.
• Psalm 124: 1-8.
• Matthew 10: 34—11: 1.
The Sixth Monday after Pentecost; and, the Commemoration of Saint Alexius, Confessor.*
Lessons from the feria, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Romans 6: 3-11.
• Psalm 89: 13, 1.
• Mark 8: 1-9.
When a Mass for the commemoration is taken, first lesson from the proper, the rest from the common of Confessors "Os justi…" of a Confessor not a Bishop:
• I Timothy 6: 6-12.
• Psalm 91: 13-14, 3.
• Luke 12: 35-40.
The Sixth Monday after Pentecost; the Feast of the Holy Great Martyr Marina; and, the Feast of the Blessed Martyr Paul Gojdič, Bishop of Prešov.**
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth from the menaion for the Martyrs, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Corinthians 5: 9—6: 11.
• II Corinthians 6: 1-10.
• Matthew 13: 54-58.
• Luke 7: 36-50.
8:12 AM 7/17/2017 — Today’s thoughts repeat some from a couple of Sundays ago, because our Gospel lesson is repeated from that same Sunday.
In my thirty years of hearing confessions, those I find the most edifying are those in which someone confesses that they have failed to put God first in their lives. I can only assume that these confessions are motivated by some spiritual reading they are doing, or some sort of direction or preaching by someone better than me. Of course, it’s the sort of thing you hear only from someone who confesses frequently—once a week or once every couple of weeks—and it reflects a high degree of commitment to spiritual perfection. For those not so advanced in the interior life, Our Lord’s instruction to His Apostles in today’s Gospel lesson is confusing: Isn’t the family the cell of the Church? Aren’t my duties to my family part of my obligation to Christ and His Church? The answer, of course, is “Yes,” but eschews the more mystical element being expounded upon by Our Lord, which is easily misunderstood by those whose knowledge of—and practice of—the interior life is very elementary.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to preach here, but what has been my ongoing theme since the summer began? “Our one purpose for being on this earth is to work out our salvation. Everything else just window-dressing.” And I’m not naïve. I know we come here with all sorts of problems, and it's hard to focus on eternal realities when we're depressed or trapped in a bad situation or worried about whether we can pay the bills. And yet, I’m still able to stand here and say: “Our one purpose on earth is to work out our salvation.”
That’s the secret to processing what Our Lord tells us today. When He says that we mustn’t love our families more than Him, what He means is that we should recognize that life on this earth is nothing more than a waiting room. Life in this world is a drop of water in the ocean compared to eternity, and it’s eternity that is our true home. He’s not suggesting that we should estrange ourselves from our families and give ourselves over to divine mystical union with Him to the exclusion of everything else. He’s only reminding us that this world and it’s concerns—personal, familial, ecclesial, whatever—are mostly just a distraction from what really matters: keeping ourselves right with God. And we do that by confessing out sins frequently, drawing strength from the Grace of the sacraments,—particularly the Most Blessed Eucharist—and not allowing ourselves to be distracted by popular or social concerns. Our one purpose for being on this earth is to work out our salvation. Everything else is just window-dressing.
The interior life is like a snowflake: no two paths are the same. My journey is nothing like yours, and yours is nothing like the person’s sitting next to you. That’s okay. We don’t need to be the same. What we need is Grace, and the ability to look each other in the face and say, “I understand. We’re all in the same boat.”
* Alexius, the son of the Senator Euphemian, renounced all earthly things and went to Palestine as a pilgrim. He returned after seven years and in his father's house was taken for an indigent beggar. There he died unknown in the year 404.
** Marina was martyred at Antioch under Emperor Claudius the Goth sometime between 268-269. Bishop Gojdič was killed by the communists in Czechoslovakia in 1960, and was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2001.