Engaging the Gospel – Luke 5:1-11

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 5:1-11

Despite the fact that Simon Peter had failed to catch a single fish after spending all night at sea, he obediently followed Jesus’ instruction to “put out into the deep water,” and was amazed at the miraculous number of fish bursting within his nets. As a result, he grasped the significance of Who Jesus is:

Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance….Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ (Catechism paragraph 208).

The term “Lord” itself encompasses the name of God:

Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce His Name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (Yhwh) is replaced by the divine title ‘Lord’ (209).

The New Testament uses this full sense of the title ‘Lord’ both for the Father and – what is new – for Jesus, Who is thereby recognized as God Himself (446).

By attributing to Jesus the divine title ‘Lord,’ the first confessions of the Church’s faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor, and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus (449).

Question for reflection: When have I found unexpected joy in doing God’s will?

Engaging the Gospel – Matthew 5:38-48

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time — Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

Jesus continues to perfect the Law, revealing His divine authority

Today’s Gospel is a seamless continuation from last Sunday, with Jesus perfecting the Old Law in His teaching of the New Law. Beyond just instructing us in His Law, Jesus also embodied it, living it out perfectly to become a model for us.

“Jesus could say to His disciples not only and not merely, ‘Follow My law,’ but, ‘Follow Me, imitate Me, walk in the light which comes from Me,’” as Blessed John Paul II summarized.

Why must we do so? Because Jesus reveals Himself as God:

In the important passages of the Sermon on the Mount, the contraposition is repeated, ‘You have heard that it was said….But I say to you.’ This was not to abolish the divine law of the old covenant, but to indicate its perfect fulfillment…

He did so by claiming for Himself an authority identical with that of God the lawgiver. It can be said that in that expression repeated six times, ‘I say to you,’ there resounds the echo of God’s self-definition, which Jesus also attributes to Himself, ‘I Am.’

John Paul II also noted how this struck Jesus’ audience:

It is a witness to us that the people immediately recognized the difference between Christ’s teaching and that of the Israelite scribes, not only in manner but also in substance. The scribes based their teaching on the text of the Mosaic Law, of which they were the interpreters and glossators. Jesus did not at all follow the method of a teacher or commentator of the old law.

General Audience, October 14, 1987.

Question for reflection: What concrete steps might I take to act more charitably?

Revere God’s Holy Name

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 2142-67, 2808-12:

  • The Second Commandment follows logically from the First: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
  • By revealing His name, God establishes a personal relationship with us, entrusting us with an aspect of His divine mystery; if we fail to show the respect due to His name, we abuse and violate this gift of friendship.
  • God’s name evokes His majesty – YHWH, “I Am Who Am,” the fundamental ground of all being, encompassing every beauty and perfection; to protect the inviolability of the name of YHWH, the Jewish people have substituted the term Adonai (“Lord”) for it, lest it be pronounced unworthily.
  • When the Son of God became man, He took on a deeply significant name: “Jesus,” meaning “God saves,” sums up His work of salvation; the title of “Christ” conveys His “anointing” by the Holy Spirit as priest, prophet, and king.
  • Ever mindful of God’s sublime holiness, heroes of faith through the ages have been filled with zeal for His holy name; so should we, who are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – the Most Holy Trinity.
  • Blasphemy is therefore a grave sin; it ranges from irreverent use of God’s name to expressions of mockery, contempt, or hatred toward God as well as toward the Church, the saints, and things consecrated to Him.
  • We also sin against this commandment when we do not keep promises or oaths made in God’s name; through such a failure on our part, we implicate God, so to speak, in our own lack of fidelity.
  • That is why perjury – the deliberate violation of an oath, or the swearing of a false oath without meaning to keep it – is so grave; God is Truth, yet we misuse His name to promote a lie.
  • For the same reason, we must refuse to take any oath that goes against the dignity of the human person or that harms our unity in the Church, the Body of Christ; we should not take any oath at all unless it is strictly necessary for the sake of truth or justice and administered by legitimate authorities (as in court).
  • Our name is likewise worthy of respect, for it reflects our dignity as a human person and a child of God; our unique individuality will radiate in a special way in His heavenly kingdom.

Live Your Faith

Blasphemy is sadly so common these days that we’re desensitized to it, no longer finding it shocking or offensive. We would react with righteous anger if anyone mocked or otherwise abused the names of our parents, spouse, or children. Yet do we even bat an eye when Our Lord is dishonored?

At a minimum we should guard our own speech and preserve reverence for His sacred name. If someone blasphemes in our presence, let us charitably ask them not to hurt us in this way. Let us also make reparation to Our Lord by offering our own acts of love.

The Person of Jesus Christ

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 422-83:

  • Jesus Christ is the very heart of the teaching of our faith; indeed, the ultimate purpose of catechesis is to lead us into communion with Him.
  • The defining characteristic of the Christian faith is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who became man – the doctrine known as the “Incarnation.”
  • The Eternal Word of the Father took on flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary to reconcile us with God, save us from our sins, show forth God’s love, teach us to be holy, and raise us up to share in His own divine life.
  • The very name “Jesus” reveals His identity and redemptive mission, for its Hebrew form means “God saves.”
  • “Christ” is the title that describes His mission; deriving from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, the term refers to the One “anointed” by God to inaugurate His kingdom.
  • Jesus is anointed, or consecrated, by the Spirit as priest, prophet, and king; these offices are first glimpsed in the Old Testament, where they serve as precursors to their fulfillment in Christ.
  • Similarly, “son of God” is a title used in the Old Testament, but only in the sense of a sonship granted by adoption; Jesus is the Son of God in a radically different way, being His only Son by nature, and a divine Person Himself.
  • Jesus’ divinity is clearly recognized in the New Testament through the use of the divine title “Lord” – the same word that appears in the Old Testament as a substitution for God’s own name, YHWH; thus Jesus is God Himself.
  •  Jesus is fully God and fully man, not a little bit of both; He is one divine Person with two natures, the divine and the human, in perfect union; known as the hypostatic union, this doctrine was articulated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 in response to heresy.
  • This truth has profound implications: Jesus has united Himself to us and truly entered into our experience of human life – growing up, having to eat and sleep, taking care of daily responsibilities – becoming like us in all things except sin.

Live Your Faith

Our personal encounter with Jesus is the essence of Christianity. If we are not on intimate terms with our Lord and Savior, we are missing the entire point.

It is our relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ that fuels our prayer, drives our hunger for the Eucharist, sparks our desire to please Him in all things, and fires our enthusiasm for sharing our faith with others.

Jesus wants to draw us closer; don’t keep Him waiting!

Attributes of God

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 198-231 and 268-78:

  • God is the beginning and end of all things, the fundamental ground of all being.
  • Thus God is utterly unique; there is only one God.
  • Through Christ, we know that this one God comprises three divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the Holy Trinity (next topic).
  • In the Old Testament, God revealed His name to Moses: the Hebrew YHWH, a deeply evocative name meaning “I Am He Who Is,” “I Am Who Am.”
  • Profound honor and respect are due to God’s name; indeed, precisely to avoid casual or careless use of His sacred name, the Jewish people have substituted the term Adonai (“Lord”) instead of pronouncing YHWH.
  • This name signifies God’s fullness of being; transcending all time, He has every perfection, such as infinite goodness, almighty power, eternal beauty.
  • God is truth; therefore He can never deceive or be deceived.
  • God is ever-faithful to His promises and rich in mercy.
  • God is love; this divine love is lavished upon us, as Scripture attests with rich imagery of God loving us as a father, mother, and spouse.
  •  God’s inmost being is wrapped in mystery; as St. Augustine wrote, “If you understood Him, it would not be God.”

Live Your Faith

By reflecting upon God’s majesty, we soon realize our own littleness in the universe.

We begin to grasp that we are completely, totally, and absolutely dependent upon God for everything – our very existence; whatever talents and abilities we have; our families and friends; our possessions; and the priceless gift of our Catholic faith, whereby we come to know God and experience his love.

Once we see this truth, we live in a spirit of thanksgiving to God and learn to trust wholeheartedly in Him.