Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Decision and Discernment

Today's readings (Tues after XV Sun of O.T., cycle C1; Ex 2:1-15; Ps 69; Mt 11:20-24) seemed to have little in common as I reflected upon them before Mass this morning. The priest preached primarily about the Gospel reading, in which Jesus warns Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum about their lack of response to his miracles and preaching. "Woe to you..." sure isn't something to wake up to on a Tuesday morning. Father said that the sin of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum was indifference. Jesus had come through, healed the sick, cast out demons, and preached, and they all flocked to him, listened attentively for a few minutes, and then changed the channel, so to speak. "The Gospel? Oh, right. I heard that last week, didn't I?" You can almost hear them asking, "What else is on?"

If the Gospel does not affect the way we see, think, feel, and act in concrete ways, we must wonder if we have heard it. If we have heard it, and even been convinced of it on some level, but then not given ourselves over to it, not even changed, not even a little... "Woe to you!" The Gospel is meant to be like the red- and blue-lensed 3-D glasses you put on for a 3-D movie. The whole world never quite makes sense, just like the movie is all out-of-whack, until the lenses go
on. Then, like with those lenses, the Gospel message of the Cross and Resurrection makes everything come alive and it changes our whole perspective on everything. How we see things will change the way we think and feel, how we think and feel changes the way we act. If we are acting the same, then something has gone wrong in the process. It is possible that deep down inside Jesus is just a hobby for us, something we do for an hour a week on Sunday, but that isn't very interesting beyond that. "Woe to you!" For the Gospel to gain traction in our life, we must make a decision to do things differently.

The first reading is a classic example of a bad decision. Moses had come to realize that he was a Hebrew, and was furious to see one mistreated. Highly placed in Egyptian society, he might have acted differently. Acting out of his anger at injustice, or self-hatred for his luxury while his countrymen languished, Moses acted rashly and took blood upon his hands. Far from winning the trust of his countrymen, it earned him a reputation as a hotheaded and spoiled murderer. When we begin to make decisions in light of the Gospel, firstly by rejecting sin, we get to know ourselves better and see how many of even our good actions are tainted by mixed and impure motives. It is not so much the choices we make that needs to change; what needs to change is us. The whole person. On the deepest level, we have to learn to stop doing our own will and pleasing our own desires, and start seeking after God and his will. "Be it done unto me according to Thy will," (Lk 1:38) we must say with the Blessed Virgin. We must learn from the Scriptures and the Living Tradition of which they are a part what is the will of God in general, the way he thinks and acts, and the way he wants us to think and act. Then it becomes a matter of learning to listen in prayer and discern from among the particular distractions, voices, ideas, and plans which ones are of God.

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