60 Second Reflections

June 10, 2021

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Paul could have been one of those Pharisees Jesus was condemning – was, in fact, one of those Pharisees. Adhering scrupulously to the book of Moses, that is, the first five of the Hebrew scripture, had veiled his heart such that he violently persecuted the followers of Jesus until the day he himself was blinded by the light of the glory of Christ. It was that merciful encounter with the Risen One that brought him to his own ministry of preaching the good news. Through that Paul understood that the veil Moses wore because he had been in God’s presence, beholding and reflecting God’s glory, concealed behind it a man, not God. The covenant he brought to the people had created a screen between them and their Lord. However, Jesus is the visible face of the invisible God, upon whom the people of his time had gazed with their very own eyes. Those who then turned to him had that veil removed from their hearts. The Gospel proclaimed by Paul was also not veiled from those who saw clearly the evil of the god of their age with all its anger and its connivance. But for those who continued to adhere to the legalism embodied by the scribes and the Pharisees, the Gospel message remained hidden and the freedom of the Spirit of the Lord unable to be experienced. Veiled as well then were the poisonous beginnings of murder, wrathful reflections leading to contemptuous words, that Jesus demanded be seen for what they really were, actions to be condemned in and of themselves. But a heart that is veiled to the knowledge of the glory of God cares not for reconciliation and healing. Such a heart considers only how much hostility and revenge can be inflicted on another without violating the enforceable letter of the law. And that way of life, Jesus made clear, does not gain one entrance into the Kingdom of heaven. That way of life, St. Paul would argue, preaches ourselves rather than Jesus Christ as Lord. That way of life makes us slaves to the god of this age, squeezing every last bit of satisfaction and revenge for ourselves, rather than making us slaves for the sake of Jesus, forgoing bitterness and contempt for the good of others. The Spirit of the Lord ever gleams in our hearts, but her presence is thickly veiled when we see only what is in it for us and focus only on how much we can get away with. Yet it simply takes looking directly in the eyes of someone we have hurt, or who has hurt us, offering forgiveness and mercy, for that veil to drop completely away. And the glory of Christ will thus shine forth, shedding its brilliant light on the Kingdom of heaven, visible right before our very own eyes. 2 Cor 3: 15-4:1, 3-6; Ps 85: 9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14; Mt 5:20-26

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