The Most Demanding Commandment

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Couples talking
By Dr. David M. Thomas for CFM

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:34-40

Today we hear one of the shortest gospels of the year. But don’t be fooled by its brevity. Its message is very large. And extremely important.

It seems that Jesus attracted people with questions. Or more precisely, with disputed questions. Maybe they were hoping for an argument. People do that sort of thing, even today. Their question had to do with right and wrong, with commands and laws. 

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What Does God Want from You?

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Actions image
By Dr. David M. Thomas for CFM
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:15-21

Is there any connection between politics and religion? This is a major topic of debate in most countries. Fifty years ago, social philosophers noted a general decrease in religious activity and observance and predicted that as the years passed, the connection between religion and politics would disappear. They were wrong. The rise of radical religious fervour around the world is evident.

In the time of Jesus, Rome ruled his part of the world and levied heavy taxes on the people. When Jesus was asked about a possible conflict in obligations to the state (Rome) and to God, he was being led into a kind of trap. If he said, pay taxes only to Rome, he would lose his religious reputation. If he said the opposite, he could be accused of treason.

This gospel records a scene in the gospels where Biblical commentators mention the brilliance of Jesus. He came up with the perfect answer. Pay to Caesar what is his (which was a tax) and to God, what was due God. This basically meant everything else. It was the kind of response that quieted his questioners.

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God Invites All People

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Inclusion
By Dr. David M. Thomas for CFM
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:1-14

We are being treated to a series of parables about God’s Kingdom during the last few weeks. To say that they are far from clear is an understatement. They are gripping stories (lots of action and sometimes even killing) and oftentimes difficult to understand.

Today we’re told of a king who arranged a wedding feast for his son. Invitations went out and you would think that all those invited would surely come. The food and drink would be abundant, there would be wonderful music and dance, and all the important people would be there. This would be one wedding no one would want to miss. Except that’s not how it went.

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Don't Quit

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home by Dr. David M. Thomas for CFM Family Tree
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 21:33-43

Today’s gospel is R-rated for violence. Lots of killing in this parable of Jesus. It’s hard to give an exact number of how many die in it. Clearly, quite a few. In fact, at the end, even the owner of the vineyard gets the last word by killing his tenants, who had killed his son. So, what’s the point? Here’s what I think.

Jesus initiated the beginning of God’s Kingdom on earth. And he was quite serious about making this central to his message. And God will do all that God can do to make it successful. God will never cease working on this “project”, no matter what. Even if opposition arises, in the end, God will remain faithful. God doesn’t quit.

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Your Actions Speak

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home by Dr. David M. Thomas woman and man consoling

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 21:28-32

We start with a Catholic quiz about the saints. First question: After Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who is the most popular Catholic saint? (Answer: St. Francis of Assisi) Next question: What are the most famous words said by St. Francis? (Answer: “Preach the Gospel at all times and only when necessary, use words.”) Third question: Where did Jesus express this same idea? (Answer: In today’s gospel!)

If you were not able to answer all these questions correctly, don’t worry. Most can’t. Including the writer of this mediation until I read today’s gospel and thought about it as connected with Pope Francis.

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God's Shocking Generosity

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- Dr. David M. Thomas

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matt. 20:1-16a

Equal pay for equal work. That’s the way it should be, It’s a matter of justice. It’s a principle that is part of Catholic social teaching. Unfortunately, sometimes women receive less than men, immigrants less than citizens. Years ago, I came upon a print-out of the salaries of various professors at the school where I taught. I wished I had not seen it because I learned that some of my co-professors were receiving much more salary than I was. Some of them even taught fewer classes and students. A seeming matter of inequality became quite difficult for me to accept.

That’s why today’s gospel is often difficult to understand. Some workers labored all day in the landowner’s vineyard in the hot sun while some worked but an hour or so. And they all received the same wage. In other words, equal pay for unequal work. We wonder, “What’s going on?”

First, let’s admit that this is the least-liked parable in the gospels. Some might wonder why Jesus, who is usually in top form, communicates a parable that seems, on the surface, at least, ridiculous. Or unjust. If we focus only on it from the standpoint of the workers who worked the whole day or on simple economics, we would be at best confused, or worse, disturbed.

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What Forgiveness Means

At Home with Our Faith Seedlings.jpg

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Mt 18: 21-35

If we sin, God is ready to forgive us again and again. He keeps to door open for us to return to him. His love has the power to help us change. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ response to Peter’s question -- “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?” – is to call us to imitate the loving forgiveness of God and open the door to healing for the other person and for ourselves, too. Forgiveness can take a long time, maybe “seventy-seven times.” A heart hardened to others becomes its own prison. The anger and hatred we are holding onto will eat away at us in there. With patience and understanding, a person can earn our trust again. However, forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing, and it is prudence to understand the difference.

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Positive Peer Pressure

At Home with Our Faith - Gospel Reflections from a Family Perspective

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time Mt 18: 15-20 family group

Love has the power to change others when force or argument cannot. Members who were conflicted about how to act were likely to get some direction from a brother or sister about the right way to go. Even when a brother or sister or child is rebellious, Jesus doesn’t tell the Church family to give up on them. He says to “treat them as you would a Gentile or tax collector.” When we recall that many of Jesus’ closest friends and not a few apostles fell into those social categories, we will understand that everyone is deserving of a loving second chance.

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Job Description

At Home with Our Faithplanting trees

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time -- Matthew 16: 21-27

Wanted: Disciple. Must be willing to deny himself or herself, take up a cross (sight unseen), and follow this Jesus. That may include any or all of the following: to be willing to put pet projects on hold, to think of others first, to stoop to do the meanest task, to not always get the gusto. Considerable swallowing of pride involved. This job may entail living on less so that another may have a decent lifestyle. It may mean embracing a wayward child, dirt and all.

This is a company-wide directive. As Pope Francis puts it, “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

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God Waits for Us Patiently

The Nazareth Page - A gospel thought for the home sprout in sidewalk
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matt. 16:13-20

By David M. Thomas, Ph.D.

From time to time, CFM's blog will feature reflections on the Sunday Readings by Dr. David Thomas, veteran Catholic family life minister

Years ago, one of our sons asked me to drive him to a school dance. He wasn’t old enough to drive himself. “Just drop me off at the door, Dad, and don’t tell anyone that you’re my dad.”

I smiled. I know that parents can be an embarrassment. Or his friends might get the wrong idea about me. So the “drop off” went quickly and I remained in the shadows.

In today’s gospel Jesus says to his disciples, right after Peter had correctly identified him as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” that they should not tell anyone that he was the Christ. What’s going on? Did not Jesus, the Son of God, come to us so that we might know the true nature of God? He asked his disciples about their view of him and Peter had answered correctly. You would think that the next thing would be Jesus saying that they (the disciples, led by Peter) should now go to the ends of the earth telling everyone that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah sent by God. But instead he said, “Don’t tell anyone.” What’s going on?

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