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Jesus as Our Dictionary

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Genesis 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
While the people were migrating in the east,
they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another,
“Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.”
They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower
that they had built.
Then the LORD said: “If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language,
they have started to do this,
nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do.
Let us then go down and there confuse their language,
so that one will not understand what another says.”
Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth,
and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.
It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Gospel: Mark 8:34—9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”

NAB

Where is your pain? How long have you been in pain? Can you describe the pain?

Pause, wait, translate.

I am a dentist for a community dental health center in the heart of a Spanish-speaking community in Oakland, California. Most of my patients speak little to no English and have had limited access to dental care throughout their life. I am proud to serve them. I am grateful that I get to improve their health in any way that I can. But I don’t speak their various languages fluently. After four years of high school Spanish and limited practice on my part, I rely on my assistants to help me translate throughout my appointments.

While contemplating today’s First Reading, I immediately thought, Now, THAT would be useful! If we all spoke the same language, that would be mighty handy. Too bad we don’t . . . . 

As I continued thinking and praying over the Scripture, I wondered why the Lord had scattered the people and took away their ability to understand one another.

Pssh, that’s not helpful, Lord.

But wait, isn’t it though? After thinking on it for a while, I came to realize that of course there was a purpose to confusing their language. And of course He would want them to stop building this city. Their city.

The Lord knew it would not be “a nation whose God is the Lord” but one built upon the hubris of man and on a foundation that could crumble. Instead, in all His wisdom and graces, He confused our speech in order to drive us to Jesus, our unfailing dictionary. He does not want us to make a name for ourselves, but longs for us to lose our lives for His sake alone. Instead of relying on ourselves completely, we must turn to the universal truth of His Word. We head to Jesus translate dot com and search for meaning and truth and His kingdom.

So yes, Your wisdom prevails, Lord!

Are you proud of being self-sufficient and not needing God to help you make sense of your life? I promise it will actually all make more sense if you rely on Him for translation!

Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife, mom of two, and dentist currently living in The Bay Area, California. You can find out more about her here.

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