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Eyes and ears on Jesus Print
Sunday scripture column

Kevin Perrotta

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 38:4-6, 8-10
Psalm 40:2-4, 18
Heb 12:1-4
Gospel: Lk 12:49-53



For the times when it's hard to do the right thing, the author of today's second reading makes a suggestion. Keep looking at Jesus, he says.

Thinking about how Jesus refused to give in to those who opposed his message, even though that meant his death, can help us get through the moments when we need to stand against the internal opposition we feel to staying on the path of responsible and loving behavior.

But the author would like us to pay attention not only to Jesus' actions but also to the way he handled the situation he faced. In addition to being atrociously painful, crucifixion was degrading. The victim, stripped of his clothing, hung in public view, an object of contempt and horror.

Jesus, the author tells us, "despised" this shame. He disregarded the humiliation the way parents might disregard the impoverishment they would suffer from covering the legal expenses of a child accused of a crime.

The author tells us Jesus considered the humiliation of the cross as nothing in comparison to the joy he would experience on the far side of his sacrifice. It was not that his suffering itself was joy.

The author tells us earlier in his letter that Jesus pleaded with the Father "with loud cries and tears" to be rescued from this suffering. Rather, the joy Jesus knew he would experience after his death, in resurrection, motivated him to move forward in God's plan, painful as it was.

Here we get a glimpse of Jesus' motivational structure and, perhaps surprisingly, it is entirely human. He did the right thing, although it was incredibly hard, because he looked forward to the happiness that lay beyond it.

In today's Gospel, Jesus himself speaks of his approach to his mission. "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!"

Jesus very much wanted to see his ministry succeed. He felt an inner torment that would be relieved only by finishing what he had set out to do.

Far from being an unperturbable stoic gliding smoothly toward his goal, Jesus experienced profound emotions. His determination to fulfill God's plans was grounded in deep and powerful human feelings.

We should, indeed, keep our eyes on him.


Kevin Perrotta is the editor and an author of the Six Weeks with the Bible series (Loyola Press), teaches part-time at Siena Heights University, and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 
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Prayers
In 2019, the Pope will present one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than two.
Pope's August Prayer Intention

Families, Schools of Human Growth

That families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly

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Readings
Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013 -- 10:21 AM
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Scripture readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
 
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Holy Days of Obligation Description
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
Thursday, May 30
Ascension Thursday
Thursday, Aug. 15
Solemnity of the Assumption
Friday, Nov. 1
All Saints Day
Monday, Dec. 9
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Wednesday, Dec. 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
 
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photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.

Amen.

 
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