The three main pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Today’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah teaches us about the kind of fasting that the Lord honors. In the reading, the Lord speaking through the Prophet Isaiah says that if you fast yet at the same time go on and mistreat your workers, underpay them, quarrel, gossip about others, fight other people – what kind of fast is that? How do you expect Me to honor your fast?
This afternoon we hear Jesus heal a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. There are several other forms of deafness or speech impediments that each one of us needs to pay attention to and ask Jesus to heal us from.
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Today is forty days after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In Jewish culture, forty days after a child was born, the child was presented by the parents to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Law of Moses, all the first-born male children and animals belonged to God. Animals were sacrificed, but for children, the parents presented the child to God but bought an animal to be sacrificed and went back home with their first-born child.
This week, the Church gave us the opportunity to reflect on the lives of different holy men and women. We had the memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr; we celebrated St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church; we celebrated the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle; and today is the Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, close collaborators in mission with St. Paul the Apostle.
In this month of December, we have the Advent and Christmas seasons. In this same month, the Board of Holy Cross Family Ministries will sit to reflect on the work that we do, and plan. At every Board sitting we have a theme that sets the tone for the Board meeting. As the President of the organization, I am given the privilege of choosing the theme and offering a reflection about it. I chose the theme “Emmanuel: God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14,8:8; Matthew 1:23) that speaks to the Advent and Christmas seasons yet is deeply rooted in the Third Joyful Mystery of the Rosary about The Nativity of the Lord.
In our gospel today, the Lord responds to some of the criticism He faced from the Scribes and the Pharisees. He uses the example of children’s behavior to illustrate His point. He said that his critics seemed like children playing in a village market. One group invited the other, ‘Come let us play weddings!’ and the other said ‘We don’t feel today like playing happiness.’ The first group said, ‘Alright, come on, let us play funerals!’ The second group said, ‘We don’t feel like playing sadness today.’ No matter what was suggested, the second group did not want to do it; and no matter what was offered, they found fault with it.