Disciples called to higher standard

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), Oct. 26 (Exodus 22:21-27; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40)

Don’t ever forget who you were and always remember your own experience. This is good advice in any setting, but in this week’s Scripture readings it is a divine command rather than a suggestion.

God is the only valid authority

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 19 (Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21)

Cyrus would probably have been very surprised and even amused to discover that he was the Messiah of the Jewish people. After all, he did not share their culture or religion, and he was not a member of their nation at all. In fact, he was their enemy — the one who ruled them during the latter part of their exile in Babylon. But the Hebrew text of Isaiah is clear — Cyrus is called moshiach — messiah or anointed one.

We're all invited to God's Kingdom

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 12 (Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:10-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14)

Visions of redemption and hope are born out of suffering, pain and despair. Conquest, disgrace and exile had been the lot of the people of Israel and they asked the question asked by so many human hearts: when will it all end? Is this all there is? Is there any meaning at all in either our suffering or our lives?

It's God's vineyard

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 5 (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43)

Many people can identify with God’s frustration in Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard. Perhaps they have given many hours of backbreaking work in a yard or garden with heat and blisters thrown in as a bonus. And when there are no results, when the anticipated flowers, trees or plants fail to grow or grow in wild and bizarre ways, there is only disappointment, frustration and anger. Why bother!

Our problems can't be laid at God's feet

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 28 (Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32)

People often shake their fist at heaven and lament the “unfairness” of God. Sometimes this can mean that God did not deliver the goods when they prayed for something. The apparent inequalities and injustices of life are another source of disappointment in the divine. Why do vicious, aggressive or dishonest people seem to get ahead?

We are truly alive in Christ

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 21 (Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16)

Isaiah’s plea to seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near leaves one with the impression that God is going somewhere. But God is not about to check out or disappear.

God is the antidote

Triumph of the Cross (Year A) Sept. 14 (Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17)

As anyone who has ever been on a long journey knows well, there is nothing like heat, thirst and hunger to bring out the worst in people. The Israelites provide a good example of human fickleness and fear during their journey through the wilderness.

Praying for 'something more'

Labour Day came early this year, along with those September-school-starting feelings. Even for those of us who’ve been out of school many years, they can be startling. If you’re a parent of school-age children, perhaps you’ve been “getting them ready,” assisted as always by advertisers who prod weeks early. If you’re not, you may remember the years when you prepared for term-time, possibly with competing feelings. 

Love thy neighbour

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 7 (Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20)

Ezekiel has a new job along with excellent incentive to do well. It is nothing less than an offer he can’t refuse: do your job as instructed or die. His assignment is stand as an intermediary between God and Israel. Additionally, he is to warn people when they have strayed from the path and call them back to the ways of God.

Suffering often comes from doing right

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Aug. 31 (Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27)

It is easy to sympathize with the rather unwilling prophet Jeremiah. His proclamation of the “bad news” — violence and destruction — was not well received. Nothing had gone right, he was a laughingstock, his life had been threatened, and he wanted out in no uncertain terms. And he was angry with God — he accuses God of putting one over on him and even forcing him against his will.

Beware of those who think they have God figured out

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 24 (Isaiah 22:15, 19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20)

Scandal in high places — nothing new about that, is there? The setting is Jerusalem in the seventh century BC in the court of King Hezekiah. Shebna was a very high ranking official (master of the palace), signified by his possession of the "key of David." This was apparently a symbol of governing authority exercised in the name of the king. Shebna had committed an unnamed offence that dishonoured the name of his master the king. He was bounced from his position and demoted to scribe and Eliakim elevated in his place — end of story.