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Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3A, 14-17

We ask you, brothers and sisters,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling with him,
not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly,
or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Let no one deceive you in any way.

To this end he has also called you through our Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm
and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught,
either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them
in every good deed and word.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96:10, 11-12, 13

R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”

NAB

aug 23

At first, today’s readings were, well, a downer: don’t be shaken out of your minds suddenly; the Lord comes to judge the earth; woe to you!

That’s a lot of worry.

But, Scripture was not divinely inspired in order to make us worry, was it? It is said that the Devil incites worry and stress, and the Lord provides reassurance and comfort, so we must use that lens when we interpret the Word.

I think about times when my parents would send me out the door with little bits of information like, “Traffic is really bad on I-75 this time of day” or “Watch out for drunk drivers; it is New Year’s Eve.” They didn’t say these things to ruin my night or so that I would spend my evening worrying. They wanted to arm me with truth and information so I could act accordingly.

The messages in today’s readings are doing the same thing. Reread these passages, and imagine a loving parent’s tone of voice. Someone who is urgently trying to arm you with information to keep you safe, keep you holy, and keep you on the right path.

The Lord will encourage us and strengthen us in every good deed and word. He governs His people with equity. Cleanse the inside so that the outside might be clean.

These are the words your Father is calling as you walk out the door this morning. Pause and listen to what He is telling you.

And if you find yourself consumed with stress over how you will be a good steward today, remember the words of Saint Padre Pio, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

photo credit

Jenna Hines has a teeny army of three children (and one in utero), and is married to a bearded fellow named Mike. A former high school English teacher, she now stays at home where she blogs and runs a crafty embroidery business. You can find out more about her here.

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