October 9, 2022

XXVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year C
Fr. Jon Reardon

I was chatting with one of the staff at the high school the other day and we got to talking about reading the Bible… I mentioned to her that I don’t think we realize that as Catholics, we have two thirds of the entire Bible read to us in a 3-year period. So, when someone ever says that Catholics don’t read Scripture you can tell them this fact – however it does not let one off the hook for reading the Bible on your own… but nevertheless, we can’t say that we’re not familiar…. Now, the other important piece is how the readings are structured… 99% of the time the Old Testament reading is linked in some way to the Gospel – showing how Jesus fulfills the prophesies that were made by the ancient prophets. The New Testament reading is usually something from St. Paul, St. Peter, or St. John… These epistles generally give us a moral exhortation or are pastoral in nature.

This sums up the content of St. Paul’s second letter to St. Timothy – it is mainly a pastoral letter to the shepherds of the Church at the time. He is exhorting them to have zeal for the pastoral care of the faithful. He encourages them to be faithful to the Gospel – not a gospel they have made up but the Gospel of Jesus Christ…

St. Paul says something interesting at the very end of the reading – “if we have died with him we shall also live with him…” In the funeral liturgy, during the Eucharistic prayer, you might here the priest say: “remember your servant, Joe, who was united with your son in a death like his may also be one with him in his resurrection…” I have to be honest, when praying for someone at their funeral – this line hits me… Joe – or whoever – wasn’t crucified like Jesus. This person did not die a death “like his” – so what exactly does it mean? Let’s remember that St. Paul’s letters are meant for our moral exhortation. This death, therefore, is not physical … it is a death to self. This poetic line suggests that through baptism Christians die spiritually with Christ and hope to live with him and reign with him forever, but the Christian life includes endurance, witness, and even suffering …

I think at times we get too caught up in our own lives… We get comfortable with the status quo, comfortable with the established order of our lives… St. Paul calls us to something greater than just the established order. He calls on us to faithfulness that bears trust in Him in everything… to be constant in our love for God no matter what the situation or circumstance of our lives – good or bad. St. Paul call upon us to let down our ego, to soften our hearts, to learn from the Gospel about what it means to be humble, to serve, to love… He shows us what it means to die …

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