Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial Feast: Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross—(1891-1942), Patron Saint of Europe
Book of Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20, & Matthew 17:22-27
The death penalty is a topic of much discussion in the United States. Many states, and now even the federal government, invoke the death penalty to punish those convicted of terrible crimes. We are familiar with the debate that rages about the morality of the death penalty. Many Americans are convinced that the death penalty is immoral. Others are just as convinced that the death penalty is justified. Currently, there are 2,502 men and 51 women on death row in our country. The rest of us will probably never know what it is like to be in that situation.
In today’s Gospel narrative, we hear Jesus predict His passion and death to His disciples. It seems to me that our Lord had something in common with those on death row. Like them, He was under a sentence of death; He knew from the beginning that He was going to die with great suffering. Like them, He would die like a criminal. However, unlike most on death row, Jesus was entirely innocent of the charges brought against Him. Additionally, unlike prisoners on death row, Jesus did not spend long awaiting death as a prisoner. He continued His work here on earth until His passion began.
We just heard one of at least three predictions that Jesus made to His followers about His coming death. In the words of Matthew, the disciples responded that they were overwhelmed with grief. Interestingly, the evangelists, Mark and Luke, tell us that the disciples didn’t truly understand what Jesus was saying. They seem to have missed the point of the last words of Jesus entirely on this occasion by saying, “and He will be raised up on the last day.” We now understand that these words refer to the Resurrection. We know that the passion and death of Jesus cannot be separated from His Resurrection because they go together as part of God’s wondrous plan for our salvation.
Friends, there is no doubt that we could ever know the true feelings of someone on death row. However, through the Gospels and our prayers, we seek to learn about the sufferings and death of Jesus as much as possible. He encourages and helps us to appreciate His sufferings. In this endeavor, we prepare to experience the great joy of the Resurrection. We also prepare for our salvation, which the sufferings and death of Jesus made possible.
Question of the Day: Will you pray for the wisdom and grace to know and understand God’s salvific plan?
Prayer: “God has called you through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”