Commentary on the Gospel of
Today’s readings challenge us to examine our attitudes and to grow in gratitude!
The first reading describes Paul’s journey to Rome, which was the product of unjust accusations. It is unlikely that Paul would have chosen this path for himself. After all, surely he would prefer to teach and share the gospel in freedom, rather than in the custody of a Roman soldier! If I had been in Paul’s situation, I don’t know that I could have avoided a meltdown. I am suffering for doing nothing wrong! I have lost my freedom! I have to struggle to vindicate my rights! I’m outraged – and you should be, too!
Instead, Paul finds a way to calmly adapt himself to this situation. He even reaches out to the people who are responsible for his plight -- either out of ignorance, animus, or perhaps a little of both – and to view them through a lens of charity. Paul’s trust in God’s plan for his life is further proof of the reality of his transforming relationship with the risen Jesus. His example challenges us: can we follow this path in our own milieu of injustice and indignity?
The gospel reading for today also challenges our tendencies to use the lives of others to measure our own expectations. Although this could lead us to gratitude and mercy, it has the unfortunate effect of validating our beliefs in unjust treatment. Why me? Why not me? Inequality is a rallying point for modern people, but the preferred basis for equality is often quite selective. We sometimes seek equal outcomes, but only when they are good. We don’t want to be loved or valued less than others, and if we are, somehow that is unfair.
Today’s gospel suggests a different standard, that seeks to shift our focus away from looking at the benefits that others have or enjoy, but to look instead with expectation to our own relationship with God. Can we trust God’s provision for us rather than clamoring for the same provision he makes for another? Can we accept perceived inequality, recognizing that we don’t have all the facts and the future is yet to fully unfold?
I am challenged by these readings. I know that I need to find a path toward more gratitude, and less grumbling; toward more trust in God’s provision, and less doubt and worry; toward persisting in doing just deeds, even when injustice surrounds us. This path is not easy, but it is the path we are called to follow.
Lord, help us in our weakness and rescue us from our doubt. We need your love and grace. Send us encouragement when we need it, and let us open our eyes and ears and hearts to receive these gifts we need to follow you on this path. Thanks be to God.