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Today’s scripture has two, I think, insights into the Gospel. By way of insights, you also is encouraging us in our reflection today on Catechetical Sunday, the Sunday when traditionally we would begin all the religious education programs that would take place both for the young, as well as for those beginning in the RCIA programs, catechetical programs for those who would be interested in both entering the Church, as well as those who would be interested in completing their sacraments of initiation.
But this year is different, as all things are different this year. And so while we will reflect on Catechetical Sunday, we will also offer a blessing for all the catechists at the end of the Prayer of the Faithful, and will pray that we can all learn better to use the technology that’s available to us, because that will be the process that we will be using here at Saint Charles – as Father Smith has shared with me – that’ll be the process that we’ll be using for the religious education of the young.
The phrases that I think help us look to the Gospel are found first in the First Reading from Isaiah. And Isaiah on reflecting on the Lord, says, my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. The sense of Isaiah was getting at – and this is as the people are coming back from their exiles, and they are not exactly sure as to where our future will be bringing them.
And so the Lord through Isaiah reminds the people that the ways of God, the thoughts of God, the mind of God is not our mind, not our thoughts, not our ways – but in a sense challenging us to continually immerse ourselves in a knowledge and understanding of the ways of God.
If we go to the Second Reading from Paul to the Philippians, it ends with, “only conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ,” in the sense of Paul encouraging us to immerse ourselves in the life of Christ. It’s basically saying, in his own personal experience and that has become the most important thing, whether he’s alive and continues to be active, or whether God in God’s goodness has called him home. And he ultimately is living in the fullness of Christ’s life.
I use those two examples for those two pieces of scripture – to go to the Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew – which certainly in our day is difficult.
If you run a business, you know that, again, you have gradations in how you pick people. They don’t pay you all the same thing. The one who started 20 years ago is at one level; the person who comes in yesterday starts at another level, and there is this growth process that goes on. I can tell you that in the experience of having been involved in different ventures, it gets very complicated.
And if, in effect, you have the person who has worked for you 20 or 25 years ago – in my case 50 years ago – somebody was asking me the other day what did you get from being 50 years, and they said I got what I got from day one. Same thing – I’m not sure no big deal – but somebody else coming in today starts at actually a better level.
And so you might say we would end up being like that last one who comes to get paid, resentful of the fact that those who came at five o’clock get the same thing as those who started at five o’clock in the morning, and were out in that field all day. And when you take that parable, you can apply it in so many different ways. How often in families when the elder dies – right – the battles that go on about the will and particularly if in the case of that family, there is the person who is the natural child and the person who is the adopted child. And when you open the will and read, oftentimes you’ll find that the bequests are equal, and so you’ll hear the comment: oh wait a minute, shouldn’t I get more because I’m the natural child – they only showed up at a later date.
And you hear it in the area of immigration – certainly one of the more controversial parts of our life experience today. Why should they get the same benefits as I get – after all I was born here. They came five years ago, ten years ago, and yet they should be entitled to all the same benefits that I’m entitled to? After all they didn’t pay into the systems like I’ve paid in from day one?
And so we have all of that which is so much part of our life experience. But the challenge of the Scripture is to say to us, learn to think and act with the mind of God. And how do you learn to think and act with the mind of God? Well, then we go back to Catechetical Sunday. I know we often restrict, that we restrict that to the young children preparing for first communion, confirmation, or the adults that are coming into the Church, as I see through RCIA. But in effect, Catechetical Sunday is a call to all of us, and it’s called all of us to continue to familiarize ourselves with the mind of God.
And how can you familiarize yourself with the mind of God? The Gospel. The Scriptures. For Jesus taught us the mind of God, both by his actions and his words. And in effect if we are to grow in the mind of God, if we are to fulfill the call of Paul, conduct yourselves in the Way, learning the Gospel of Christ, then we must continually immerse ourselves in the Scripture, in the word of God.
And I ask you – I won’t ask anybody to raise their hands or anything like that, because I know that becomes difficult and you won’t do it anyway – but I ask you, how many of you begin each day or at some point in the day open up your bibles and read a passage, a section from the Scripture? How often do you allow the word of God to enter your life? How often do you allow the actions and the words of Jesus to inform you in the way, in the mind of God?
So that in effect, what Isaiah said in that First Reading grows. My thoughts are not your thoughts, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if God came down on us and say, because you have faithfully immersed yourself in my Word, you have grown in the light of my Son, and I can say to you when you appear before the throne of God, you know what, your thoughts have become my thoughts, and for that reason I rejoice in welcoming you into the eternal kingdom for all life, for all of eternal life.
Wouldn’t that be, or shouldn’t that be the goal of every one of our lives?