Thoughts on the Readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) 2017

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/110517.cfm 

Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.   In the fist section, Jesus criticizes the scribes and Pharisees because “They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.  All their works are performed to be seen.”    The scribes and Pharisees were not deliberately hypocritical.   From their perspective, following the law exactly and slavishly was critically important.  In doing so they believed they were being true to God.  Unfortunately, they had allowed the precise and detailed following of the law to take the place of their relationship with God.  While their actions were correct, they did not flow from heart set on God.  Like the scribes and Pharisees, sometimes we too can “do” the right thing, and think that is enough.  Our actions, though, need to flow from a heart set on God.  It is only in this way that we can truly grow in our relationship with God. 

In the second half of our Gospel this weekend, Jesus reminds us his disciples that: “The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”   

Our first reading this weekend from the Book of the Prophet Malachi, shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it God, through the prophet, is critical of the priests because they “have turned aside from the way and have caused many to falter by your instruction, you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts.”  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In it Paul gives thanks to God because the Thessalonians: “in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees for a lack of consistency between their words and their actions.   When have your actions not been consistent with your words?
  2. Jesus invited his disciples to humble themselves.  What does that mean to you?
  3. Have you ever felt the word of God at work in you?   
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