The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

27th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Sat, 10/14/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew” is an idiom,
a phrase that communicates a warning:  if you try to do too much at one time,
if you try to take on more responsibility than you can handle, you will regret doing so.
You will not accomplish your overall goal.
 
The Catholic Church has taken this idiom to heart when it comes to the Word of God.
At daily Mass the entire Gospel of Matthew or Mark or Luke or John  is not proclaimed at one time.
The Gospel is sub-divided into manageable pieces.
Our goal, in doing this, is to savor its richness, to understand its subtlety,
to take our time mulling over its lessons
so that we don’t miss, don’t overlook what is essential for our Salvation.
 
There is a weakness with this approach and practice.
We hear stories, accounts of controversies, we hear conversations with Jesus,
that are taken out of context.
If we don’t know where Jesus is, or to whom he is speaking,
or what has just happened prior to the gospel we hear, or what follows,
we might misinterpret, we might miss intended meanings, we might come to inadequate conclusions.
 
In today’s gospel, Jesus is on his journey to Jerusalem.
He is instructing his disciples about the joys and difficulties of following him.
Teachable moments abound.  Jesus takes advantage of them.
Someone from the crowd shouts out “your mother is fortunate to have a son like you.”
Implied in this statement is the belief that blood relatives are the immediate beneficiaries
of Jesus’ healing, his power over evil, his growing popularity.
They are blessed:  they will find safety under his protection; they are delivered from misfortune;
he helps them avoid obstacles and trouble; he will free them from the snares and pitfalls of life;
they will enjoy the fruits of Jesus’ success and prosperity.
 
Jesus redirects the thinking behind this compliment.
He responds “you too can share in such blessings….
if you take God’s word seriously, root it in your heart, choose to obey God’s commands,
if you walk the path God sets before you….you will be blessed:
you will find safety under God’s protection, you will be delivered from misfortune;
you will experience God’s help when confronted by obstacles and/or trouble;
you will be saved from the snares and pitfalls of sin and death;
you will enjoy the fruits of God’s victory over evil.
 
The people, the crowds at this time, were witnessing the power Jesus had over demons
It was something they had never seen before.
The people were helpless in the face of demonic forces.
They had no defense, no protection, and once imprisoned they had no way to regain their freedom.
And then this travelling rabbi shows up in their village or town.
He commands the demons like a master commands a dog…and they obey.
And people regain their lives, their freedom, their place in the community.
The people are saved.
 
But wait a minute…. “don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched” (another idiom).
The demons come back….they come back with a vengeance.
And here is the lesson for Jesus’ disciples and the local people:
God’s word is God’s help.  If you don’t want to fall back into the clutches of the devil
it is necessary for you to hear God’s word and put it into practice.
Those who don’t internalize Gospel values,
those who do not dedicate time to the reading and study of God’s word
will wind up in the hands of, and under the influence of, the devil.
Those who pray for God’s help but never read the scriptures
are like people who see the doctor but refuse to follow his/her orders.
(When I was ordained a priest, I made a promise to read Scripture 5 times a day.)
 
Let’s put this another way:  if you are not pursuing the goodness and truth of Jesus Christ
by reading and contemplating the Sacred Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments,
then you have pitched your tent with Satan.
There’s no in-between.  There’s no other alternative. 
Life is either Heaven or Hell in this world and in the next.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, Your Word reveals to me Your way.  Jesus Christ is Your Word.  I am blessed.  I have the opportunity and the freedom to hear Your Word.  Help me to understand it and to observe it….to integrate it into my life, into my thinking and choosing.  Help me to integrate it into my judgments, into my praying and into my working.  Amen!”