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Spirituality

Parousia postponed

It’s impossible to understand today’s first and third readings without an appreciation of the idea of biblical apocalyptic literature.    

The Bible isn’t a book, it’s a library. Not only does it include books written by different authors at various times, but, like any library, it contains works composed in different genres. We need only walk into our local library and look at the names above the bookshelves to surface those genres: history, fiction, reference, biography, etc.

Scriptures give us extraordinary examples of generosity

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This morning’s Scriptures give us some extraordinary examples of generosity and sharing of goods. Both the first lesson and the Gospel lesson give us the example of the poor, even the poorest of the poor, sharing everything they have. That widow from Zarepheth who is encountered by Elijah asking her for food tells him, “This is all I have, the last cup of flour and this little bit of oil. When I bake the bread and my son and I eat it, we will die.”

Two daring women

Jesus chose unlikely role models for his disciples to emulate. In a society where children were regarded as the property of their fathers, with no rights or voice of their own, Jesus set forth a child and claimed that the kingdom of God belongs to “such as these.” He also held up people who were thought to be ritually unclean or even sinful because of a physical malady or their ethnicity (the Gerasene demoniac, the woman with a hemorrhage in Mark 5; the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7; the boy with a demon in Mark 9; blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10).

Listen! Love!

In today’s liturgy, the Testaments meet. Both affirm that loving God and loving one another are the essential challenges that identify believers and authenticate their faith. However, this love is not about feelings. On the contrary, love is a deliberate decision to serve another regardless of our emotions. Love, as Ralph Kuehner and Joseph Juknialis have noted, is about making decisions based upon the vision of Jesus, despite the allure of those many other visions that may be clamoring for our attention and allegiance (Living the Word, World Library Pub., 2005).

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August 1-14, 2014

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