Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: September 27 – October 4, 2020

Sunday, September 27, 2020 – A New Mentality

Monday, September 28, 2020 – The Greatest

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 – Angelic Company

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – Costly Christ

Thursday, October 1, 2020 – Bumper Crop

Friday, October 2, 2020 – Heavenly Helpers

Saturday, October 3, 2020 – Better Than Success

Sunday, October 4, 2020 – The Darkness of Selfishness

 


September 27, 2020 – Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A New Mentality

 

Matthew 21: 28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord, help me to follow you, regardless of circumstances and times.

  1. A Higher Authority: Jesus is in Jerusalem, exchanging words with the Pharisees. They have tried to trap our Lord by asking him from where he gets his authority. Our Lord, in his wit, turns it back to them. He asks them a question that brings them to accuse themselves of lacking fidelity to God. Jesus is looking for faith. Faith is the attitude that searches for an authority in life higher than one’s own. When God calls us to live his will, we should in faith accept it and live it. Even if it seems inconvenient or uncomfortable to us, we should not look for ways to live outside it. It is very important that we bypass inauthentic outlooks on life.
  2. Christ’s Mentality: If we are to understand this Gospel passage, we must make an effort to rid ourselves of the “modern mentality”. In the modern mentality, we do whatever we please as long as we don’t step on anyone else’s toes. Jesus proposes a different mentality. He suggests that we not only listen to, but also do the will of God in our lives. Neither son in this parable was perfectly in tune with Christ’s suggestion, but at least one of the sons came to his senses and repented of his stubbornness of heart.
  3. An Apparent Defeat: Many of us reading through this scene would congratulate Jesus for putting down his enemies and winning the debate. We would toss confetti at the Lord for his wisdom and knowledge in getting out of this predicament. This, though, wasn’t the case. Jesus felt it as a loss. He did not care about appearing better than the others. He left this encounter saddened because he truly desired that the Pharisees believe him and accept his saving message. We ought not to try to shine over our foes. Instead, we should work hard to help them see the light.

Conversation with Christ: With even a little of your charity, I could certainly be a son of two “yeses”. Help me to say “yes” when you ask me something and also to do it immediately – without hesitating for even a moment. Lord, may your will be done!

Resolution: This week, when the alarm goes off early to start my day, I will make an effort to be diligent and punctual for love of God’s will.


September 28, 2020 – Monday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

The Greatest

 

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 9: 46-50

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Holy Spirit, teach me to see myself as the least of all, as one called to serve all.

  1. Me-first Syndrome: Listening wasn’t the disciples’ strong suit. How could it be? If they had truly paid attention to the Master, they should have known that the Good News wasn’t about striving for prestige and recognition. It was about humility and service. We can only wonder why Jesus’ words didn’t sink in for his disciples. Yet, are we much better? We hear or read the same Gospel passages year after year, yet we still fall into sins of pride. We might think ourselves better or smarter or holier than the rest. But how does Christ see us?
  2. The Corrupter: Jesus explains in what greatness consists: the acceptance of the weakest and most defenseless, in his name. This requires a humble heart. God gives us certain powers that he hopes will be used for good purposes. The history of mankind seethes with tales of people exploiting one another at every opportunity. Examples abound: ethnic groups that exploit minorities, employers who take advantage of poor immigrants, the road-rager who cuts off people in traffic. “Power corrupts,” says the ancient adage. Indeed, it does. How do I treat the people over whom I have authority? Am I like a dictator? Do I always want to show them “who’s the boss”? Or is my attitude one of service?
  3. Zealously Jealous: John explains that he and the other disciples tried to stop someone who was doing good in Jesus’ name. The person’s crime was that he didn’t follow “in our company.” Christians have derailed more than a few good works over the centuries because they thought themselves appointed by God to police the Church. The Holy Spirit raises up all kinds of new works which need to be serenely discerned, not systematically squelched simply because they are new. “By their fruits you will know them,” Jesus says (see Matthew 7:16). The lesson Our Lord wants to give is: Don’t be so quick to judge others’ motives. Give them the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what their work produces. Is there anyone I’m keeping from doing good?

Conversation with Christ: Give me the grace to see people and actions through your eyes. Let me bring my standards in line with yours. Let me learn to look at a person’s heart rather than his appearance. And above all, give me the wisdom never to stand in the way of people doing good for your Church.

Resolution: I will do an act of charity for the pro-life movement or for a children’s group, in whatever way I can.


September 29, 2020  – Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, Archangels

Angelic Company

 

John 1: 47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I approach this time of prayer earnestly. I believe that you have called me to be faithful and loving in your service. I thank you along with Mary, the saints and the holy angels for the marvelous works of creation. I will humbly try to reflect your greatness to all I meet today by honestly fulfilling my duty.

Petition: Lord, help me be an instrument of your peace and love.

  1. Honesty Is the Best Policy: Once as Jesus spent the whole night in prayer, he searched for apostles that would be honest and sincere. Jesus took a liking to Nathanael when he discovered an Israelite without guile in his heart. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” It seems that Jesus admired this angelic trait in men. As soon as he saw Philip bringing Nathanael forward to meet him, Jesus immediately noticed the virtue Nathanael lived. If I want to be highly thought of by Jesus, then I need to be sincere in mind and heart.
  2. The Holy Angels: The Church venerates today the holy service of three of the archangels. They stand out for their honest love for God’s most holy will. With such fidelity, St. Gabriel faithfully delivered the most important messages of human history to Zacharias and Mary. St. Michael wrestled with Lucifer and cast him out of heaven. St. Raphael came to the aid of Tobias in the Old Testament. In these angels there isn’t any duplicity of heart. God asks them a favor and they truly fulfill it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to implement our talents and gifts toward a service of this nature? Wouldn’t it be great to be honest instruments of God’s infinite love like these three archangels?
  3. The Lord’s Gaze: Jesus looks into the heart and doesn’t judge by appearances. Christ’s gaze penetrated Nathanael on this occasion. Jesus penetrates the motives of my heart even though they are kept hidden from the others. Jesus is the first one to know if I am true to the faith I have received. If I am faithful to the dictates of my conscience and obey God’s lead, in private or in public, then I have nothing to hide and nothing to lose. If, on the other hand, I am dwindling in my surrender to Christ by boredom and monotony, then it is about time I sought renewal. Christ needs me! How many are dying and fading away because they lack Christ and his love? I, in turn, have been graced by many special spiritual favors! Jesus gazes into my eyes and dreams of my fidelity and love.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the example of these three archangels and of the holy apostles. The holy apostles ended up shedding their blood for you, and the holy angels aid us on our journey towards you. Lord, seeing so many lacking the faith, I resolve to be your tireless instrument, like them, so that many may come to praise you for all eternity.

Resolution: I will visit the Eucharist (if this is impossible, then kneel before the crucifix) and repeat confidently, “Lord I wish to be your instrument – help me!”


September 30, 2020  – Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Costly Christ

 

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 9: 57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Let me willingly accept the cost of following in your footsteps.

  1. Hidden Expenses: A would-be disciple of Jesus’ boasts that he will follow Our Lord anywhere, whatever the sacrifice. Jesus’ response makes us wonder whether the fellow understood what he would be getting into. Following Christ is demanding — and not always glamorous. We might dream of doing great things for Christ, but then find the day-to-day struggle distasteful (“the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head”). Unglamorous challenges take many forms. A new wife might discover to her chagrin that her husband can’t handle finances. Or a parent with high hopes learns that a child has a learning disability that will limit her capacity to excel. Or a husband takes a higher-paying job to support his family, only to find his new boss is a tyrant. Or a teen suffers ridicule at public school for her modest clothes. All these trials can be the cost of following Christ. What price am I willing to pay?
  2. Family Ties: Christ tries to dissuade another would-be follower from “burying his father.” The man was probably settling his father’s estate and getting too involved in family finances. Our Lord wanted him to cut with all that, immediately, and get on with the work of the Kingdom. Too often money matters distract us from doing what Christ wants. No wonder St. Paul warns, “The love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). Is money holding me back in my relationship with Christ? Am I working longer hours than I need to, just for the sake of money?
  3. Long Good-bye: The moment of decision had arrived. But instead of joining Jesus’ camp, the would-be disciple felt the tug of family ties. As followers of Christ, we have to be willing to make a fundamental option for Christ — an option that by necessity excludes other paths. Does this sound hard? It should sound familiar. Think of the young woman who says yes to a proposal of marriage. She does so assuming that her beloved has long broken off other romantic relationships. Or take the student who decides to go out for the soccer team at school. He rules out spending hours of practice on the basketball court. By extension, if we want to follow Christ, why do we fritter away hours in activities that have nothing to do with our faith or the Church? Are there things I need to weed out of my life?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me better focus my energies on you and what you are asking of me. Let me not be distracted by activities or material possessions or even relationships that aren’t helping my spiritual life.

Resolution: I will weed out one thing from my life that doesn’t fit in with my state as a Christian. It could be a website, a subscription to a publication, an immodest piece of clothing, or a toxic relationship.


October 1, 2020  – Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Churc

Bumper Crop

 

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 10: 1-12

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

Introductory Prayer: Good Jesus, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you again and to listen to you. I know that you have longed for this moment we will spend together. You silently wait for hours in the tabernacle, hoping that one of your friends will come to make a visit. You always have something to say when we finally turn to you, so I willingly set aside all distractions and give you my undivided attention.

Petition: Grant me, Lord, the grace to accept your instructions with a great spirit of simplicity.

  1. The Harvest: The Holy Spirit works constantly to stir up souls and prompt them to turn their lives toward God. He nudges them when they listen to Scripture or a homily. He speaks to them in the little events of day-to-day life. But there is often one other ingredient he uses to reach souls: He uses us. He uses our example, our words, our drawing close to others. This is why Our Lord speaks of a crop waiting to be harvested. Harvesting is all about toil and timing. Crops not brought in quickly rot in the field. What harvest of souls might Our Lord be asking me to help with? It might be an engaged couple who need to be helped in their faith. It might be a sick relative who needs to prepare spiritually for death. It might be a troubled teen who needs guidance to keep on the right path. All these could be souls who need help now. Will I respond?
  2. Full-time Laborers: Besides the work that all of us are called to do by our baptism, there is also a need for people who dedicate their entire lives to the mission of evangelization. Priests especially are needed, to confect the Eucharist and to grant absolution within the sacrament of reconciliation. The principle outlined in the first point of this meditation applies here as well: The Holy Spirit inspires new vocations, and frequently he depends on others to promote this work. Do I join in this crucial work for the Church? Do I encourage vocations? Do I speak well of priests and religious? Am I willing to let a son or daughter, a brother or sister, pursue a vocation? Do I see that the vocation I encourage today might be the vocation that helps save the soul of a child or grandchildren in the future?
  3. Details Matter: Jesus’ precise instructions to his disciples show that details matter to him. Our Lord doesn’t leave anything to chance. He has a system for how to evangelize, and it is crucial that the disciples follow his orders precisely. This reminds us that the work of evangelization and building the Kingdom is Jesus’, and as such he makes the rules. Free-lance evangelization doesn’t substitute for what Christ wants. This principle applies to all walks of life. Hence, there are rules that regulate conduct within marriage and before marriage. There are guidelines as to what lawmakers can and cannot support, and how businesspeople should and should not treat their employees and customers. Might I think that I’m exempt from Christ’s rules? Might I be living my faith on my terms, rather than on Christ’s?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me avoid fooling myself that I’m doing your will, when in fact I might be following my own whims. Let me appreciate that there is a teamwork aspect to the Christian life that helps me grow in patience and humility.

Resolution: I will pray or offer up a sacrifice for vocations, or speak of vocations to at least one person, either by word or by email.


October 2, 2020 – Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Heavenly Helpers

 

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Matthew 18: 1-5, 10

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Introductory Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for giving me another day to grow in love for you, another day to move ahead in my spiritual life, another day to pray for the souls closest to me. I want only to please you during this brief time of prayer.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace of childlike simplicity.

  1. Turning the Tables: The disciples are curious about the Kingdom of Heaven, and their curiosity has a tinge of self-interest. They want to know how to get ahead in the Kingdom. Their very question belies a misunderstanding of Christ. The Kingdom, among other things, is reflected in the Church on earth. And the Church, being universal, is a kind of family that takes in all mankind. If ever we ask, “Who is the greatest in our family?” we can be sure that it is the wrong kind of question. The more appropriate question is: “How can I be a better member of the family? How can I be a better husband? A better wife? A better son or daughter or brother or sister?” That is the question Christ wants us to ask ourselves.
  2. Child’s Play: We must not think that Christ had a naive notion of children as little angels who never do wrong. So why does Christ hold up children as models for the rest of us? In part, it is their simplicity, their tendency to trust. They might not understand why a parent tells them something, but they likely will accept it because they realize it comes from someone who loves them. The spiritual life requires that same kind of trust. We might not understand completely why God asks us to do something, but if there’s a basic trust and openness to him, it is easier to follow his commands. Many people, unfortunately, squander what should be the most productive years of their lives because they doubt God and his Church. They complicate things, only to find years later the wisdom of what Our Lord was trying to tell them. By then, their faults can be forgiven, but not undone. Once a vase is broken, it can be fixed but it will never be the same as if it had never broken. Am I saying no to God because of a lack of trust?
  3. Angelic Aid: Prayers to guardian angels used to be popular with Catholics. It is fitting that we pray to them, because each of us has one. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life,” writes St. Basil (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 336). Our angel reflects God’s loving providence for our welfare and protection. The world is a moral minefield, waiting for us to make the wrong step. Our angel helps us make it through this valley of tears. Do I ever think to pray to my angel?

Conversation with Christ: The simplicity of children can make me look foolish by comparison. I believe in you and trust you, Lord. Help me to translate that trust into serenity and simplicity. Let me accept the crosses of daily life with calmness, seeing your loving designs behind them.

Resolution: I will say “yes” to the next difficult thing someone asks of me, so long as it is something morally good.


 

October 3, 2020 – Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Better than Success

 

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 10: 17-24

The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Introductory Prayer: Jesus, I approach you in prayer, knowing that these are some of the most important moments of the day. This time I spend with you helps put the rest of the day in perspective and gives me a sense of my total dependence on you. With childlike simplicity I trust in your loving providence. Though I am unworthy to be in your presence, I at least want to offer you my best effort during this prayer, seeking only to please you.

Petition: Let me see, Holy Spirit, that the most important thing in life is to reach heaven, and to act as if I really believe that.

  1. Name-dropping: The disciples marvel at the power of Jesus’ name, even before demons. Such is the great power of Christ in the world. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ, as the Messiah who came to redeem us, is in a league by himself. Thus, all authentic devotion, be it to Mary, be it to a favorite patron saint, only has sense insofar as it leads us to Christ. He is and remains the best model for us. As Vatican II teaches, Christ “fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Is there anyone I put ahead of Christ in my life?
  2. The Ledger: Jesus seems to shrug off the victories over Satan. What he deems more important for his disciples is that their names are written in heaven. Indeed, Christianity is about more than just defeating the devil. Ours is an eminently positive faith, designed to help us grow in our love for God and in our imitation of the virtues of Christ. As an exercise in love, it is open-ended, always inviting us to do more for others and for Christ. Love knows no limits, so we shouldn’t think that we “have arrived”. Do I understand that I’m called to love and to imitate Christ till the last moment of life?
  3. Model Son: Love drives Christ, specifically love for his heavenly Father. The realization that he does his Father’s will impels Christ to undergo hardships, tiredness, hunger and rejection. But he won’t be deterred. Like a young man in love, Christ seems to have an endless reserve of energy for the sake of his Beloved. It is his secret source of strength, so to speak. Thus, he teaches us a deep truth of human nature. “Man cannot live without love,” wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his first encyclical. “He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him.” If ever we feel burned out by the world, we should ask ourselves, “How much do I love others? Do I gladly sacrifice myself for others? Do I seek the good of others first?”

Conversation with Christ: My faith is first and foremost a relationship with you, Lord. It requires a constant response of love on my part. Help me be generous in responding to your inspirations toward love.

Resolution: I will show thanks for my faith by doing an extra act of charity today.


October 4, 2020  – Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Darkness of Selfishness

 

Father James Swanson, LC

Matthew 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, grant me a deeper humility that seeks you and not myself in all that I do.

  1. The Stone Rejected: Just a few days before, a great crowd had acclaimed Jesus as the Messiah as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem. However, the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Herodians see Jesus as a threat to their own position of leadership. Though they have not yet let it be known to the people, they have decided to reject Jesus and are already plotting together to kill him. In the meantime, they are pretending to be making a “thorough investigation”, to find the “truth” about what the crowds have acclaimed – that Jesus is the Messiah. What they are really doing is trying to ruin him, to catch him in some mistake, so as to denounce him as a fraud before the crowds. They seek to break the people’s support for him. They practice the kind of toxic politics we are so familiar with today: instead of seeking the common good or the truth, they only seek themselves and their own glory.
  2. The Cornerstone: Jesus sees what his detractors are trying to do. He tells them a series of parables, hinting that if they continue to oppose him, they will lose. In the parable of the vineyard he tells them that they can kill him; but even so they will still lose. Then he quotes Psalm 118, comparing himself with the rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone. What Jesus is hinting at goes beyond just the quoted verses. The whole psalm – which Jesus’ enemies would have known from memory – tells of Yahweh fighting for his faithful one. The faithful one will not be abandoned to death, and the enemies of Yahweh will be defeated. It is as if Jesus throws down a challenge: “You cannot beat me. Even if you kill me as you are planning to do, my Heavenly Father will not abandon me to death. He will fight for me and I will become the cornerstone. You would do better to join me.”
  3. Jesus Is True Progress: Jesus won. He continues to win today. His enemies still insist on smashing themselves to bits. When we survey history, we see what becomes of one group after another that oppose Jesus and his Church. They disappear into oblivion. Jesus is the future of the whole world. He won. He continues to win and will win in the end. Since Jesus is the future of the whole world, progress can only mean progress toward him, toward the civilization of justice and love he wishes to establish. Those who seek their own special interests are seeking a return to the past, to the Dark Age before Jesus. They seek to return to when humanity tried not just to know what was good and evil (eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), but to DECIDE it – to be gods themselves.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to be humble. Help me to accept you as Messiah and Savior – and as my future. So many times, instead of seeking you, I seek myself. I try to influence everything so that what is good and true is defined according to my will rather than yours. Please be patient with me and help me to change.

Resolution: In what area of my life is it hardest for me to accept the way God has organized things? Where do I most want to set up a system opposed to God’s plan in order to get my way? My resolution today has to be one that helps tear down this “structure of sin” in my life.

Share