Day 261: ornate souls
Matthew 11:1-6 Christ pointed to his actions, in particular his miraculous healings, in answer to this question posed by the disciples of John the Baptist. All of these were signs of the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. Through faith, we can see the Kingdom of God present through the miracles of Christ and his Church. (CCC 548-549, 2443)
Ch 11:7-15 Prophets: Prophets were those inspired by the Holy Spirit to call the Chosen People to fidelity to God’s Law and proclaim the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist is considered the last of the prophets, completing the cycle begun by Elijah. John was also the first to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God, just as Elijah was the first to proclaim God’s promise of redemption. (CCC 719, 523)
Ch 11:16-19 Christ pointed out the cold-hearted stubbornness of his critics, who found fault with him and with John the Baptist no matter what they did. He employed the image of uncooperative children at play to indicate their refusal to accept the loving overtures of God through Jesus Christ. Many fail to understand his mission to call sinners to repentance, and instead accuse him of being possessed. (CCC 574)
Ch 11:20-24 Those who witness the works of Christ or hear the Gospel but reject the grace of God face dire consequences. Chorazin and Bethsaida seem to be towns where he had preached and performed miracles, but the people did not embrace his message of salvation; Sodom and Gomorrah were towns known for sin and iniquity destroyed in the Old Testament (cf. Gn 18:20-19:29). (CCC 678)
Ch 11:25-26 Infants: Christ refers primarily not to children, but to those who, with childlike faith, accept humbly Christ and his teachings-the poor in spirit, who rely on God’s providence to provide for their needs.
Yes Father: By saying “yes” to the Father, Christ affirmed his perfect submission to the Father’s will. (CCC 153, 544, 2603, 2701, 2785)
Ch 11:27 No one knows...to reveal him: The Father transcends all human knowledge and experience; thus, any human effort to conceive of him falls infinitely short of reality. The humble believer with a pure heart will see the face of God in Jesus Christ, who is the perfect image of the Father. (CCC 151, 240, 473, 2563, 2779)
Ch 11:28-30 Christ is especially compassionate toward those who suffer and carry a heavy heart. He invites them to prayer with the assurance of peace and serenity. “No one is without a family in this world: The Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden’” (St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 85). (CCC 459, 1658)
Ch 12:1-8 According to Jewish teaching, with few exceptions, no work whatsoever was to be done on the Sabbath. Christ always gave the greatest honor to the Sabbath and taught his followers its authentic meaning. He taught that the Sabbath rest is not violated when we serve God or neighbor, as in the example of the Temple priests who do their “work” on the Sabbath. (CCC 581-582, 2173)
Ch 12:6 Greater than the temple: The Temple was God’s dwelling among people; Christ described himself as the definitive Temple since he is the Son of God made flesh. (CCC 586, 590)
Ch 12:7 Christ quoted Hosea (cf. Mt 9:13) to affirm how our exterior acts, devotions, and pieties must be accompanied by love of God and mercy toward our neighbor. (CCC 2100)
Ch 12:15-21 Christ’s actions echoed those of the Suffering Servant of the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 53) and thus identify him as the Messiah. (CCC 713)
Ch 12:22-32 Jesus Christ, through his redemptive life, death, and resurrection, conquered the Devil. The arrival of the Kingdom of God serves as a sign that the evil one’s reign has ended. (CCC 439, 550, 574, 590, 635)
Ch 12:31-32 Blasphemy against the Spirit: The Church understands this sin to be final impenitence, the resolute refusal to repent from sin and accept the forgiveness and mercy of God, which is a tacit rejection of the grace of salvation. It is the “sin committed by the person who claims to have a ‘right’ to persist in evil” (Dominum et Vivificantem, 46).
Either in this age or in the age to come: Because this statement implies that some sins can be forgiven after death, it provides evidence of a purification prior to the Final Judgment. The Church refers to this purification after death as Purgatory. (CCC 674, 1030-1031, 1054, 1864)
Ch 12:33-37 The tree is known by its fruit: Good comes from good, and evil from evil. A person’s true nature can be seen in our acts, and we will be judged accordingly. (CCC 1810-1811)
Ch 12:39-40 Christ’s Resurrection from the dead is the greatest sign of his victory over sin and death. (CCC 994)
Ch 12:38-42 Sign of the prophet Jonah...heart of the earth: Christ alluded to his own Resurrection from the dead.
Greater than Jonah...greater than Solomon: Along with his claim to be greater than the Temple (cf. Mt 12:6), Christ identified himself with God.
Judgment: At the end of time, Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. Those who reject Christ will face eternal condemnation. Sin, left unchecked, leads to greater sin; if the “present generation” fails to heed the call to repentance, it will become more deeply steeped in evil, which will make repentance that much more difficult. (CC 590, 627, 635, 678-679, 994)
Ch 12:46-49 My mother and my brethren: Christ’s true family is his disciples, those who accept his teachings and put them into practice, When we are faithful to Christ’s message, our relationship with him is likened to that of a brother, sister, and mother. The “brothers” of Christ were other male relatives or fellow tribesmen rather than blood brothers. The Hebrew and Aramaic languages often used the same word to refer to brothers, sisters, cousins, and other relations that share the same ancestry. See commentary on Matthew 13:53-55. (CCC 764, 2233)
Ch 12:50 Whoever does the will of my Father…: Christ explained why Mary (and by extension all of his true disciples) are special to him, thus illuminating the meaning of verse 49. Mary perfectly fulfilled the will of God. (CCC 2826)
Ch 13:1-23 Christ often spoke in parables-stories that use images or metaphors to illustrate mysteries about the Kingdom of God. Through these parables, Christ instructed us to reflect on the nature of the Kingdom of God and how it grows within us. The Parable of the Sower describes how those who receive Christ wholeheartedly will grow in holiness and bear good fruit, whereas those who reject or do not fully accept the Word will not bear fruit. (CCC 546, 1724)
Ch 13:10-17 Christ always had an intimate relationship with his disciples and often elaborated on the “secrets of the kingdom of heaven” by explaining his parables to them privately. The Deposit of Faith has been handed down through the Apostles to the whole Church by Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. (CCC 84, 787, 546)
Ch 13:22 Attachment to material wealth and temporal concerns distract us from seeking Christ and turn our attention from doing God’s will. To be fruitful, we must respond to God in faith and heed his Word. (CCC 29, 1153)
Ch 13:23 Those who receive the Word of God will bear fruit according to their good dispositions. (CCC 1802-1803)
Ch 13:24-43 The weeds in this parable can be regarded as unrepentant evildoers who refuse to repent and ultimately are winnowed out for condemnation. However, the weeds can also be viewed as our imperfections. The Church is composed of sinners who are called to struggle against sinful tendencies so as to lead virtuous lives. They are on the path to salvation and holiness but have not yet arrived. In this parable, then, the weeds of sinfulness and the wheat of sanctity will coexist in each of us until the end of time. Our own fruitfulness in hearing and keeping the word of God is determined by our desire and eagerness for a close friendship with Christ and fidelity to his teachings. (CCC 827)
Ch 13:33 Leaven: Relatively small amounts of yeast, or leaven, when mixed with flour, make an entire loaf of bread rise. Christians are compared to leaven for the effect they have on the world. (CCC 897-903, 928-930)
Ch 13:44-52 The truth, which is the greatest treasure, can only be known through the Holy Spirit. These similes symbolize the search for truth and the joy in finding it. Those who respond to Christ’s invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven will find the truth, while those who do not do so will remain puzzled by the parables he preached. (CCC 546)
Ch 13:53-55 Carpenter’s son: This is the only reference in Matthew to Joseph’s profession.
His brethren: It is a matter of revealed truth that Mary, the Mother of God, remained a virgin all her life, and nothing in this verse contradicts that doctrine. See commentary on Matthew 12:46-49. Elsewhere, in fact, Matthew referred to James and Joseph as the sons of “the other Mary” (Mt 27:56, 61). (CCC 496-497, 500)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
GOSH YOU GUYS!
As always there are so many things in the Gospel that are SO INCREDIBLE!!
In Matthew Ch 11 we have Messengers from John the Baptist
Remember, we had the description of John the Baptist before
He was dressed in camel’s hair
He had a leather belt around his waist (clearly it was made by Ralph Lauren 🤪)
He was eating locusts and honey
He lived out in the wilderness
HE WAS ELIJAH!!
The incredible thing is that Jesus even references, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.”
Matthew 11:14, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
Here is this John the Baptist IN THE ROLE OF ELIJAH
Now this DOES NOT MEAN that John the Baptist is the REINCARNATED ELIJAH
Here is something SO IMPORTANT to realize
Jesus gives INCREDIBLE PRAISE to Elijah
Matthew 11:11, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist…”
THAT IS MASSIVE!!
THAT IS INCREDIBLE…
BUT HE GOES ON…
Matthew 11:11, “...yet who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”
Do you realize that when you are BAPTIZED
When you are BROUGHT INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
There are all these INCREDIBLE THINGS that the prophets have done
There are all these INCREDIBLE THINGS that those who have served the Lord in the Old Testament have done
WE DO HONOR THEM AND TAKE NOTHING AWAY FROM THEIR ROLE IN THE WAY GOD LOVES THEM AND THE WAY GOD HAS USED THEIR MINISTRY TO TRANSFORM HEARTS AND TO BRING THOSE TO HIM
If you have been BAPTIZED that means you are in the Kingdom of Heaven
If you have been BAPTIZED that means you have been made a SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD THE FATHER
And Jesus is saying, “Yup. No one greater born of women than John the Baptist. And yet, the LEAST in the Kingdom, the LEAST person BAPTIZED is even greater than John the Baptist. Because you have been RAISED UP to be the son or daughter of THE FATHER.”
EVEN WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING!!
EVEN WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY CLOSE TO WHAT JOHN THE BAPTIST DID!!
Just by virtue of the fact that YOU HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU!!
Just by virtue of the fact that YOU CAN CRY OUT, “ABBA!! FATHER!!”
Jesus says, “EVEN GREATER. EVEN GREATER!!”
WHICH IS INCREDIBLE!!
So there are UNREPENTANT CITIES we learn about, maybe you caught that
Remember, Capernaum is Jesus’ home base
Chorazin and Bethsaida are not too far from Capernaum
So Jesus is doing all these miracles
There are people bringing their sick, their lame, their possessed, from ALL CORNERS
HE IS HEALING THEM ALL!!
There were people who SAW THIS AND DID NOT CHANGE!!
The Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign or miracle
Matthew 12:39, “But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
Because whenever anyone says, “I just need to see a miracle and I’ll be fine.”
THEY DO NOT KNOW THEMSELVES!!
THEY DO NOT KNOW HISTORY!!
THEY DO NOT KNOW THE GOSPELS!!
Because there were SO MANY PEOPLE who SAW THE MIRACLES
AND THEY DID NOT CHANGE!!
They saw the miracles and they were not willing to give their lives to Jesus
They saw the miracles and they were not willing to pick up their cross and follow the Lord
So many of us may think, “If I just saw the miracle, I’ll be fine.”
We read the Gospel today and we realize…
THAT IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE!!
So we have SO MANY PARABLES TODAY
In Matthew Ch 12 we have The Return of the Unclean Spirit
Have you ever wondered about that?
Matthew 12:43-44, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’”
Basically, the spirit goes back into the same person
It continues…”And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
So you might wonder what that is all about
Monsignor Charles Pope was a BRILLIANT PERSON
He writes about this in one of his columns
He dives deeply into the Gospels
He looks at the ORIGINAL GREEK WORDS
Don’t worry, you don’t have to read this next part in Greek 😉
The three descriptions that Jesus gives of that soul that has been set free from that demon is EMPTY, SWEPT, and PUT IN ORDER
But a more accurate term is ORNATE
So Msgr. Pope asks the question, “What does that mean? Does that give us any indication of the state of this person’s soul?”
That sounds like it is a GOOD SOUL!
But Msgr. Pope points out, “No, it is EMPTY.”
A lot of times when we get rid of something that was not supposed to be in our lives, WE DO NOT REPLACE IT WITH SOMETHING GOOD!!
IT IS EMPTY!!
So here is the demon that left a vacuum/void in the space of that person
This space that the demon left EMPTY was NOT FILLED WITH GOD’S PRESENCE!!
SO IT IS STILL EMPTY!!
This is SO IMPORTANT for us
WE CAN DO THAT SAME THING!!
Msgr. Pope points this out, “Here is someone who gives up something for Lent. But he does not replace that thing with goodness. He does not replace that thing with some act of virtue, or prayer, or whatever that is. And so it is empty, that does not mean good. It just means there is a vacuum there that is just waiting for evil to come back in.”
Msgr. Pope points out, “If a good person has, by God’s grace, been able to sweep sin from his life, praise be the Lord! But not to that person. Because they might think, ‘I have swept this place. I have done this work.’”
So yes, God has set that person free
But that person thinks, “I have swept it. I have cleaned it out.”
So what was SUPPOSED TO BE THE WORK OF THE LORD has now become the work of the person
So PRIDE can be something that enters in
Also, “put in order” DOES NOT SIMPLY MEAN ORDERED
Or that everything is in the RIGHT POSITION
But a better word for that from the original Greek is “ORNATE”
So we think, “Well that’s not too bad. It’s been dressed up. It’s been decorated.”
That ORNATE interior life that has more preoccupation with APPEARING BEAUTIFUL rather than CHOOSING GOODNESS
I want to APPEAR to be ORNATE
I want to APPEAR to have that BEAUTY
I want to APPEAR to have that DIGNITY
I want to APPEAR to have that HONOR
RATHER THAN ACTUALLY HAVING HONOR IN MY SOUL AND MY CHARACTER
So the state of that person-EMPTY, SWEPT, AND ORNATE-reveals that of course that soul would be RIPE FOR THOSE SEVEN DEMONS COMING IN
So we need to recognize that when the Lord eliminates evil from our lives and He helps us with sin, WE NEED TO FILL THAT WITH VIRTUE!!
WHEN IT IS SWEPT OUT WE NEED TO ALWAYS PRAISE THE LORD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE IN OUR LIVES !!
And as for being ORNATE, we need to be able to CHOOSE THE GREATER THINGS rather than just have the IMAGE OF HAVING GREATER THINGS!!
There are SO MANY PARABLES!! (Fr. Mike may not want to go through ALL OF THEM, but would any of us really mind if he did? I, for one, would LOVE IT!! 😁)
The Parable of the Sower in Matthew Ch 13 is INCREDIBLE
Jesus goes on to explain in Matthew 13:18-23, “Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches it away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
THIS IS IMPORTANT!!
We have to think of ourselves as the ones with the SEED BEING SOWN ON ROCKY GROUND
THAT COULD BE US!!
That could be us, “Yeah I am really giving my heart over to the Lord. But the moment when I have to actually stand against the culture, the moment that the culture stands against me, the moment that belonging to Christ COSTS ME SOMETHING...sigh….I NEED TO HAVE THOSE ROOTS or else I will fall away immediately”
THOSE THORNS ARE INCREDIBLE
Jesus does not talk about how SINFUL that can be
So what are the thorns?
The thorns are the CARES OF THE WORLD and the DELIGHT IN RICHES
WORRIES OF THE WORLD
DELIGHT IN RICHES
THE VERY THINGS THAT CAN CHOKE THE VERY LIFE OF GOD IN US!!
I’m more preoccupied with THINGS OF THIS WORLD
I’m more preoccupied with THE ANXIETIES I HAVE
I’m more preoccupied with THE THINGS I HAVE TO GET DONE
THAN WITH GOD HIMSELF!!
THERE IS GOOD SOIL!!
Now here is the INCREDIBLE THING!!
We do not get to CHOOSE what kind of SEED we receive
IT IS ALL THE SAME SEED
WE DO GET TO CHOOSE WHAT KIND OF SOIL WE WILL BE!!
The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat is such an incredible IMAGE OF THE CHURCH
Here is the field
Here is the Kingdom of God
Here is the Church on Earth
The Lord plants wheat, but the Evil One plants weeds
And we ask, “God, why do you allow evil people to be in your Church?”
As we undoubtedly know, there is so much evil that is even in the Church
Almost so much that we can say, “Is this really still your Church, Jesus? When there are so many evil leaders, evil pastors, evil priests?”
Jesus gives us an answer here, “I am allowing them to grow up among the wheat. Believe me, though, they are going to receive justice. Believe me, that whether they are in leadership or whether they are not in leadership, when we choose EVIL OVER THE LORD WE ARE GOING TO RECEIVE JUSTICE.”
So even while the Lord TOLERATES AND PERMITS evil in the Church, THANKS BE TO GOD because that means we get to be part of the Church or else we would already be ripped out of the earth (because we all sin and do evil sometimes too, right? 🤔)
When God tolerates evil in His Church, HE IS NOT CONDONING IT AND HE WILL BRING JUSTICE
Now for some of the last words Jesus has for us in Matthew Ch 13 Three Parables of the Kingdom
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a TREASURE HIDDEN IN A FIELD
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
When you find The Kingdom of Heaven, you want to sell EVERYTHING FOR THAT
FOR THAT GIFT
FOR THAT KINGDOM
FOR THAT PEARL
THAT IS WHAT WE ARE CALLED TO DO!!
God has given us SUCH A GIFT in this Gospel!
The commentary just went on and on and on....and we do not mind at all 😉
Because of that, Fr. Mike is asking for your grace and prayers
Fr. Mike is praying for you that you are able to make it all the way to the end of this episode and hear all these extra words of commentary (WE WANT MORE WORDS!! MORE WORDS!! 😁)
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER!!
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father, we give you praise. Thank you so much. Lord God, thank you for the teachings of Jesus, your Son. Lord, thank you. Thank you for your Spirit, that continues to inspire the readers and listeners to your Word. Thank you for the words of your Son captured and conveyed to us by your Holy Spirit and your friend, Matthew, our friend Matthew. We thank you and give you praise for this reprieve we have, this journey through the New Testament through the Gospel of Matthew. In the midst of all the prophets, Lord God, we thank you for finally bringing us to this fulfillment of everything the prophets had wanted, everything the prophets had pointed to, everything the Old Testament points to. Thank you for bringing us to this place in the New Testament, this Gospel where Jesus is the fullness of you revealed. Help us to understand Him more fully, and to love Him more deeply, and to follow Him with everything we have. We make this prayer in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”