Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary 425. Aug.23. II Thessalonians 1:1-5,11-12. Psalm
96:1-2.2-3.4-5. Matthew 23:13-22:

Paul is always prayerful and thankful at the beginning of each of his
episltes--except for the Epistle to the Galatians where he is not happy
with what is happening there in the local churches, house churches.  But
today we have his encouraging words in II Thessalonians and as readers and
listeners we learn from Paul how to pray in these first chapters of his
writings to the churches.  One easily recognizes that the prayers we use at
the beginning of Mass are from Paul; so, too are the final expressions of
blessing and affection gestures at the end of his epistles are familiar to
us. At the beginning we hear , "Grace and peace be yours from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."  At the end of this short epistle we
read, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." The
message today is one of faith where we find Paul coming back to that gift
of grace three times: first, "your faith grows". Secondly, "your faith in
persecution and trial".  And thirdly, "the work of faith." This faith helps
us glorify God who is within us and we in God.  Paul and Silvanus and
Timothy remind us that all is gift and grace when it comes to our faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ.

Recently in our readings from the prophet Ezekiel we heard that the bad
shepherds were excoriated and condemned by the word of the Lord spoken
through Ezekiel 34.  Jesus is doing something similar in the woes that we
will hear throughout Matthew 23.  We are speaking of ourselves and our role
in what Jesus says not the Pharisees and the scribes.  The words of Jesus
pertain to us and we have to transpose those that offend the Jewish people
by our applying these texts to the past and not to ourselves and our own
lack in certain areas of what is expected of the life of Christ within us.
We are to reverence sacred places and not make them a market place.  We are
not to make foolish promises and take vows that we know we do not want to
keep.  Deviousness in church matters is not to be ours. Offerings are to be
given generously and not with a grudge.  The poor are to be helped and not
neglected in our churches.  Oaths and swearings should not be a part of our
approach to the sacred places and shrines where we pray.  Woe to us if we
do not listen to what the Lord is saying to us.  Amen.