“The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.’” (MT 9: 14-15)
We have our good and bad moments, we have our ups and downs. This is life. We also have moments when we are feeling alone, misunderstood, or even rejected. Our Lord recommends for moments like these— a fast. Normally probably we will eat more, especially something sweet, because we are not happy, but a fast helps us to reflect, to ask wise questions: why it happened, what I did wrong, where is my mistake. A fast helps us to listen and to reflect.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’” (JN 20: 28-29)
We know the famous Jesus’ sentence where we were recognized as blessed because we are the ones, “who have not seen and have believed.” We are so disappointed with our weaknesses and our failures, but from Our Lord’s perspective, even our weaknesses have some purpose, and God’s love can make sense also when we are not proud of ourselves.
“You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!”
“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic, ‘Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.’ He rose and went home.” (MT 9: 5-7)
Because of the virus how many of us couldn’t go to confession and meet God’s reconciliation. But even we can’t meet a priest, we can make the examination of conscience, we can ask God for forgiveness and make our lives better. When we make this regularly, we will be perfectly ready to meet God’s reconciliation. Only Our Lord “has authority on earth to forgive sins”; priest are doing this on His authority.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.” (MT 8: 34)
Quite strange, how can anybody wants Jesus “to leave their district”? We ask and ask Him to stay with us, to protect us, to lead us, and just to love us. When material needs are a priority, when career or fun is more important than our beloved one, Jesus is “persona non grata.” In many countries, we experienced a tendency to eliminate Our Lord’s presence from public areas: from schools, official buildings, and daily life. The more the world rejects Him, the more we want to invite Him to our homes and relationships.
“The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, ‘Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.’ He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I will do it. Be made clean.’ His leprosy was cleansed immediately.” (MT 8: 2-3)
Our Lord is always a YES; He always wants to help, to heal, to answer and to protect. There are no conditions or expectations. We ask—He answers. It is simple. So, why we still have so many problems? Because we do not ask. Or when we ask, we are not patient. It is like expecting that our spouse will do something for us, but we didn’t ask. Is it his or her obligation to know, what we want?
“Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (MT 7: 21)
Sometimes when we listen to “the will of my Father in heaven,” it sounds for us like something difficult; as though God is planning to take all our pleasures from us and leave us with only praying and sacrificing. God is the One Who loves us and wants to be with us: “and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” Our Lord wants to protect us from shallow piety when we only say: “Lord, Lord” and these are only empty words without any action behind them. Like saying to our spouses “honey, my dear” which is followed by no time together, no action to prove how much we care, and no small gestures to make our relationship stronger.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed.” (LK 1: 62-63)
Today less serious. This is probably the first official announcement about the new tool: tablet; before any computer company. 😉 Now tablets, phones, e-ink readers, and all kinds of electronic gadgets are in our homes. First, it is good to remember that the main purpose of these tools always should be communication. It is good to have some of them, but the reason for them should be that we want to use them to make our relationship stronger. Second, it is good to remember that we can use them when even our extraordinary ways of communication do not work: “so they made signs asking his father…” So finally, “he asked for a tablet and wrote…” First, communicate in person; second, communicate with “signs”; third, communicate with tools. These forms of communication are always and only just tools for good or for bad—our choice.
“You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (MT 7: 13-14)
We know that marriage and taking care of the relationship does not like shortcuts. If it works, it works only for a short time. A good relationship needs a lot of effort, good strategy, and investing of time. It looks like we are losing with so many distractions (going with boys/girls to pubs, playing our favorite computer game or watching our favorite TV series, enjoying time with his/her own family or staying longer on my business trip to enjoy local attractions); how wide could be that kind of road. But, the “narrow gate” filters all my activities with one simple question: is it good for our relationship, will it make us better, closer, and more loving to each other? Does the road “lead to life”?
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” (MT 7, 1-2)
We know how important it is to protect ourselves from mistaken patterns of interpretation from our inner dialog. It is important not only for our spouses and children, our friends and neighbors, but also it is so important for ourselves. When we judge, we change our identity from spouses to judges. When a judge is a profession, it takes years of study and practice on how to be honest and professional; when we judge because we know better, we are in danger.
“The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (MT 10: 29-31)
It does seem difficult to imagine that God is interested not only in our lives, but also in every aspect of who and what we are. He knows everything about His creatures, even those small like sparrows. God, Who is Love and Life, protects everything. We are not only just important for Him, we are the most important. We are loved beyond imagination.
“The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify.” (Gospel Acclamation)