“Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness …”
What powerful verses in scripture we have for the first reading for Mass today! If these words do not inspire you to fight the good fight, then what would? There is such strength, such power in Saint Paul’s words. They encourage us to do battle for Christ. However, if you notice, Saint Paul wrote that we should have, “our feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace.” And he said that we should, “quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.”
Sometimes when people are upset, if you react to their anger it is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It only makes things worse. Anger builds, the more aggravations it encounters, regardless as to why a person is upset. To “quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One” could very well mean to ignore the assault of angry words someone throws at you, or to walk away from a fight. By responding back, will it make the situation worse? It is so difficult to curb our impulse to respond back to someone’s anger, but that is exactly what Saint Paul is telling us to do in today’s first reading. Sometimes all a person needs to do is be left alone for a while, and their anger will calm down by itself. Once a person’s anger is subdued, it is much easier to talk about the problem.
Genuine peace does not occur by ignoring a problem and then hope that it goes away. It doesn’t. The problem usually keeps simmering just under the surface until it is addressed and resolved (with mutual respect). The sword of the Spirit Saint Paul talks about, is the Word of God, but the Word of God teaches us about mutual respect. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love others as you love yourself.
At the beginning of the first reading today, Saint Paul said that our struggle is with the world rulers of this present darkness. That is what the Gospel is about today as well. The Pharisees approached Jesus and told him:
“Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.”
Jesus’s emotions seem to be so close to the surface in today’s gospel. He called Herod a fox, and his mind was on his crucifixion and resurrection, because he said, “on the third day I accomplish my purpose” and that it is impossible for a prophet to die outside of Jerusalem. His next words sound like he is greatly distressed when he said:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!”
This statement is very beautiful though. The image of Jesus gathering his people together, and protecting them from harm. His love and tenderness for us too, must be a lot like this. Jesus gathers us together in the Mass, strengthens us, and protects us, by his own Body and Blood each time we receive him in communion. Jesus loves each one of us just like a mother hen takes care of each little baby chick in her brood, but we are also gathered together as one Body. It is a communion with one another, just like the baby chicks instinctively stay together as a group too.
There is strength in numbers and strength in the Lord Jesus, who protects us and nutures us every day. Perhaps this is what Saint Paul was writing about in the first reading for Mass today. We do not travel through life alone. We do not have to handle all the temptations, heartaches, trials and sufferings alone either. Jesus Christ is the strength we turn to, just like a baby chick turns to its mother. Baby chicks feel safe by their mother, and with all the other little baby chicks too. Perhaps this is a good image to keep in mind today. We are never alone in our life, even if we live alone. We belong to the family of God and Jesus Christ and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Our families live under Christ’s care and protection too. No matter what happens though, Jesus accompanies us through it all.
Daily Mass Readings:
Ephesians 6: 10-20 / Psalm 144 / Luke 13: 31-55