Last week Thursday in my reflection on Matthew 13:10-17 I shared with all of you my Saint Theresa of Lisieux rose story (July 23, 2015) , my fervent prayers leading up to its appearance in my life, the newfound wisdom I gained through the experience and the awareness of the power we all hold in our un-knowingness of God’s plan for our lives. Yes, God came into my life rather clearly that day. Today’s Gospel reminds me of how far I have come since my “pre-rose” days.
Looking at today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:47-53) we see Jesus again speaking in parables as he shares with his disciples that “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore to sit down and put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age”… Then the frightening part comes – the stuff of horrible nightmares! “ The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” – yieks!!!!
However, I thought God said his creation was very good… Genesis 1:31 reads “Now God saw all that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. The twilight and the dawn were the sixth day.” This was the day God made man – and he said it was very good… so what is up here? How can we go from being very good to the fiery furnace? Of course, the answer is sin. However, today’s Gospel gives us a significant clue as to how we can avoid such eternal pain in the second half of the reading.
As I read the Gospel the most significant piece is not the “wailing and grinding of teeth”, rather it is the words Jesus spoke to his disciples after they assured him they understood the consequences the “wicked” would suffer – remember, these men were called to save God’s children and spread the Good News. “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
The scribe Jesus is referring to is not one of his twelve disciples, or he would have used the word “disciple” instead of “scribe”. Rather, the scribe is a leader among a group, a teacher, who knows both the “new” teachings of Jesus and the “old” teachings of the law and prophets. This leader, a man or a woman, shares this wisdom with others. This makes me think of Mary Magdalene as she was called the “the apostle to the apostles”, who incidentally was not the sinful woman portrayed in Luke’s Gospel – but that is a story for another daily reflection…
So is Jesus giving us a way out of the “wailing and grinding of teeth”? I believe so, after all, we are his lost sheep and he came so that we could live. So how is he telling us we can escape such eternal agony? Listen to the scribes, or become a scribe yourself. How do we do this? We become one who knows both the old and the new! We study the Word, we spend time with Sacred text, we draw his Word into our hearts and minds.
This brings me back to my personal story and the beginning of my reflection – life after my Saint Theresa of Lisieux rose. Receiving that rose turned out to be a significant turning point in my life. Now instead of chasing after what I thought God wanted of me, I create the space to listen and follow him. While I am the first to tell you I have not arrived, nor do I know where I am going, I will share with you that I currently enjoy a multitude of blessings in my life – with the greatest blessing being my relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. All because I spend time with him and his Word on a daily basis.
As a result, I enjoy blissful peace, happiness and pure joy that I never saw coming. Even when strife occurs, I know where to go to find peace – to Him. I find God in daily Mass, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel and in scripture – both the old and the new. Now, as I spend more time immersed in scripture I witness his hand in my life. Hopefully I can be a useful instrument leading a spiritual household, no matter how small, sharing both the old and the new so that his sheep return to the “very good” they were created to be – myself included.
Since you are reading this reflection (thank you for hanging with me by the way!) I assume you already have a love for the “old” and the “new” in your heart. So I ask you, what household do you lead? Where do others see your love for Christ and listen to scripture from your mouth? What are some of your favorite bible verses? I believe it’s a good idea to always have a few “ready to go” so to speak. Here are a few of my favorites that I often share with others – I hope you enjoy them.
Romans 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
Isaiah 57:15, 18-19 “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite”… “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and requite him with comfort, creating for his mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near, says the LORD and I will heal him.”
– This one I paraphrase focusing on the healing God has for us, even though he sees our sinful ways.
Psalms 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
2 Cor 12:9-10 “but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
John 14:6 “Jesus said: I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
– You may want to read my reflection on Thursday June, 25th 2015 to glean a deeper insight as to why I love this verse so much. I share it often with my non-Christian friends in an attempt to show them the truth of Christ – their eyes inevitably open wide when I present this scripture the way I do.
Acts 17:28 “In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your poets have said, For we are indeed his offspring.”
– Whether we know it or not, it is in Christ that we exist. The air we breath, the food we take in – everything we see, hear, touch and feel. He is that close to us – always. The Kingdom is at hand – just touch it and you will be forever changed.
Be blessed my friends. Continue to immerse yourselves in His Word – beauty beyond all human comprehension awaits us there.
LIVE Healthy, LIVE Happy, LIVE Wholly – LIVE!
Jesus – I love you!!!