“No one can serve two masters.” Mt. 6:24
The reality for most people today is that we have many masters. We each have lots of demands on our time and energy. We juggle several different projects at the same time and all of them are important. Multitasking is a way of life for most of us as. We talk on the phone while cooking dinner. We listen to the radio while driving. We wash the dishes while planning the next activity. Our lives are often so full that we simply move from serving one master to another.
But Jesus says we cannot serve two masters. Is this teaching just outdated?
I don’t think so. Jesus teaching has practical relevance for us today.
First, it challenges us to be aware of what we are doing. Service requires attention. In order to know what master we are serving, we need to know what we are doing. Jesus forces us to ask ourselves, am I sleepwalking through life?
Second, this teaching of Jesus forces us to dig deeper. Why we are doing anything? Are we driven by obsession or fear or merely a sense of duty to get the laundry done, or are we acting out of love for God and for our family? Even the most ordinary chores can be acts of love that serve God, our true master.
Jesus is teaching us a key to living a life of freedom and joy. If we pay attention to what we are doing and why we are doing it we recognize how often we are driven by our own compulsions and obsessions, rather than love of God and neighbor. Only then can we begin to act freely. Jesus’ teaching is as true today in our multitasking culture as it was in ancient Galilee.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
“… be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect..” Mt. 5:48
This is a dangerous Gospel. It is dangerous because we misinterpret Jesus teaching in two ways.
One way we misunderstand Jesus teaching to “be perfect” as God is perfect is to think that it means to be perfect by human standards. It is easy to think that God wants us to be like “Little Miss Perfect” whose hair is always in place, who dresses immaculately, and who always has the right thing to say. Or we think that God wants us to be like “Mr. Perfect” who is liked by everyone and always has the right answer. We may even think that God wants us to be like the “perfect” child who is seen but not heard, gets straight A’s, and always obeys their parents. Jesus is not talking about human perfection.
The other mistake we often make in understanding this teaching is to think that Jesus wants us to “try harder” at being good. This can play into our natural perfectionism and lead to burnout. We get so busy trying to be good that we lose track of what God wants from us. Inevitably we will fail to live up to this teaching of Jesus. This failure throws us into the arms of the merciful Father (the very Father we are called to imitate) who “makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45).”
And mercy is the heart of the matter. The perfection Jesus is calling us to is not human perfection. It cannot be brought about by human effort. It is the perfection of the Father, a perfection of mercy and forgiveness. Like our heavenly Father we are called to respond with gentleness instead of judgment, forgiveness instead of retaliation, generosity instead of frustration. This is the perfection Jesus is calling us to.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
“If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.” Sirach 15:15-16
In this week’s readings, we hear about following God’s commandments. Life is full of choices…as human beings we don’t always make the best choices. We are human. We fall down. We make mistakes. Sometimes we pick ourselves up, other times it is harder to move on. Sometimes we forgive, other times we can’t. Sometimes, we just need help to figure things out.
Maybe you know somebody who needs help working through a problem. Catholic Charities is a great place to refer people, it’s hard to believe all the amazing counseling services they provide. They offer a light to people in darkness. Mental health issues, poverty, debt management, bankruptcy, drug or gambling addiction, pregnancy, adoption and parenting support, family conflict…Catholic Charities helps people resolve problems and choose to make better choices.
We recently partnered with Catholic Charities. Chelsea, an Adoption Specialist with Catholic Charities, is using some of our office space at St. Mary’s a few days a week. This allows Catholic Charities to have a presence in this area of the diocese to continue their important work. Chelsea is usually in on Mondays. If you see Chelsea around the St. Mary’s parish center be sure to say “hi’ and introduce yourself.
Last week, our annual diocesan Bishop’s Appeal kicked off. Your gift to the Bishop’s Appeal makes a tremendous difference to Catholic Charities. They are in a position to change, or even save people’s lives. To make a gift contact our parish office, use the letter and pledge you received at home or visit the Bishop’s Appeal website at www.catholicfoundationgb.org/give.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
A good video by Fr. Robert Barron on the fundamental Catholic approach to morality and moral issues.
I am usually frustrated when I talk with people about the relationship between religion and science. I taught a course one summer at the University of Wyoming on the topic and trying to move past the extreme positions is challenging. This piece is a helpful introduction to the Catholic approach, but the real issue is the lack of a deep enough philosophical context to even have a debate/conversation.
Bill Nye, Ken Ham, and the Catholic Third Way | Strange Notions.
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘ … You are the light of the world.’” Mt. 5:13-14
Jesus is the light of the world (Jn. 8:12). Yet today’s Gospel from Matthew tells us that Jesus’ disciples (that’s us!) are the light of the world. What is going on here?
We know that Jesus is the fullest revelation of God. He is the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, incarnate in the world. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. He is certainly the light of the world.
But Jesus says we are the light of the world. As disciples, we are called to become like our Master and Lord. We are called to live lives that reveal God to the world, just as Jesus’ life revealed God to the world. But there is more. It is not a matter of us trying to reveal God by being good, nice, people. There is something deeper going on.
As the Workbook for Lectors states this week:
[Jesus] does not say we will be light “if” or that we will be salt “when.” Because of our Baptism, we are incorporated into Christ and that status makes us salt and light. Our very being is now sacramental and we go forth evincing Christ with every breath, for we are his body. A married couple does not strive to become a sacrament of God’s love; they are made a sacrament when, in love, they bind themselves to each other. What remains for them is to grow in their ability to show forth God’s love for the Church through their ever deepening love for each other…. Duties flow from identity, not the other way around. Once we know who we are we begin to intuit what we should do.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood