Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 18

Jeremiah-Michelangelo_Buonarroti_027Central Idea: People often reject those who serve God. Doctrine and Practical Application: The family and an examination of conscience for family life.

To view the Lectionary 120 readings, click here.

Central Idea: People often reject those who serve God.

Reading 1 Jer 38:4-6, 8-10

  • The princes or military commanders of Israel didn’t like what Jeremiah was saying and characterized it as demoralizing and ruinous. They resolved to put him to death by throwing him in to a muddy cistern where he would die.
  • He was rescued by this Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian court official who interceded for him.
  • Jeremiah carried out his religious and civic duty by proclaiming what was right to those in authority. King Zedekiah and the princes preferred to kill Jeremiah rather than hear his inconvenient truths. The Ethiopian official had the courage to plead for Jeremiah’s life, which caused the King to relent.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:2, 3, 4, 18

He drew me out of the pit of destruction . . . and put a new song into my mouth.

  • God comes to the aid of those who are poor and afflicted. He promises to rescue those who call upon him. Jeremiah was literally sunk in the mud in a pit of destruction.
  • The “pit of destruction” and “mud of the swamp” that pull us down are sin and death. God promises forgiveness for sinners and eternal life to the afflicted and poor ones who call upon him. That is all of us.
  • The result for us is that even in the midst of affliction, we can be in awe of God and trust in his goodness to us.

Reading 2 Heb 12:1-4

  • The “great cloud of witnesses” the writer of Hebrews refers to are all the great Old Testament religious figures, including Jeremiah.
  • The greatest example of a living faith is Jesus Christ who endured the Cross to achieve the promise of salvation for us.
  • The promise or goal is heaven or eternal life or the secure possession of every good thing: God our loving creator.
  • The author of Hebrews compares our life to a race. The finish line is death. The prize is eternal happiness. The burdens we ought to throw off because they weigh us down are unnecessary attachments and sins.
  • Have we really struggled that hard against our own defects that we can say we have done enough? In our “struggle against sin” have we “resisted to the point of shedding blood”?

Gospel Lk 12:49-53

  • The baptism Jesus had to undergo was his death on the Cross.
  • Even though Christ did come to establish peace between God and man, that peace causes a division between those who accept it and those who reject it.
  • If there is a conflict between God’s will and any other will, including the will of your own family of birth or of marriage, whose will do you think you should follow?
  • We should never go looking for conflicts between our faith and our family, but what kinds of conflicts can we expect to see?
    • Your family might disown you if you become a Christian.
    • Your family might object to your taking the demands of your Christian faith seriously.
    • Your family might object to the vocation your conscience tells you God is calling you to.

Doctrine and Practical Application: The family and an examination of conscience for family life

  • The family is so important that the Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes 33 points to it exclusively (2201-2233).
  • Here we will look at the family through the Catechism’s summary points (2247-2257).
  • A person’s duties toward his parents, their duties toward him, his duties toward all other authorities including the government, and their duties toward him are all contained in the fourth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.”
  • Every one of us can examine our conduct in the light of the fourth commandment because we are children, or parents, or exercise authority, or are under authority.
  • Our duties under the fourth commandment differ, depending on our age, whether we are married or single, working or retired, and so on.
  • In surveying what the Catechism says about the Fourth Commandment, we will include some questions each person can ask himself.
  • To assure that we don’t misunderstand Christ’s words about being opposed to our parents, the CCC reminds us that, “According to the fourth commandment, God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents and those whom he has vested with authority for our good” (CCC 2248). When it comes to respect and obedience, then, God comes first, then our parents, then others who have legitimate authority.
    • Do I put God first in my life, asking what he wants, and then doing my best to make that real?
  • The family is founded upon “the covenant and consent of the spouses.” Husband and wife make a freely chosen, life-long, faithful promise. Their marriage and family, if God blesses them with children, exists for “the good of the spouses” and “the procreation and the education of children.” (CCC 2249)
    • Have I made a great enough effort to understand the nature of marriage and the family in this time when it is so severely under attack? Do I defend marriage and the family to the extent that I am able?
    • Am I living in a state contrary to marriage and the family through cohabitation, or refusal to have children without a serious reason, or “re-marriage”?
  • A great deal of the happiness and good order of individuals and society depends on whether marriages and families are healthy (CCC 2250).
    • If I want to be married someday, am I becoming the kind of person who can be a good spouse and father or mother?
    • If I am married and a father or mother, do I take my vocation seriously and give it my best attention?
  • “Children owe their parents respect, gratitude, just obedience, and assistance.” Brothers and sisters owe one another respect. (CCC 2251). While respect always remains, our obligation to obey our parents ends when we are adults.
    • Depending on my age, have I though about what I owe my parents and do I give it to them?
    • If I am an adult, in what ways do I actually honor my parents?
    • Regardless of how old I am, do I at least show respect for my siblings?
  • “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children in the faith, prayer, and all the virtues. They have the duty to provide as far as possible for the physical and spiritual needs of their children.” (CCC 2252)
    • If I have children, am I doing what I can to raise them in the Catholic faith and to provide for their physical and spiritual needs?
  • “Parents should respect and encourage their children’s vocations” but they do not determine those vocations. A Christian’s first duty is to follow Christ. (CCC 2253)
    • Am I open to my children discovering their vocation and living it? Do I pray for this?
  • Public authority must respect the rights of individual persons, while citizens have the duty to build up the common good. (CCC 2254-2255)
    • Am I a good citizen of whatever communities I belong to?
  • Citizens have the duty to disobey civil authority when it is immoral. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). (CCC 2256) Our own society is in danger of becoming totalitarian to the extent that it rejects the light of the Gospel. (2257). Being a good citizen means standing up for what is right.
    • Do I adequately inform myself of what is going on in society and the government and participate in shaping my society according to what is right?
    • Am I willing to shed my blood in defense of the Gospel if necessary?

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