Reflections on the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time…November 5, 2023

by Theresa Wiggs, Notre Dame Associate

First Reading-Malachi

This, is the last line of the first reading:

Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?

I believe these words help me understand that God, as my Father, loves me in a particular and special way. I also noticed that we are called to remember that we are all God’s children, therefore we need to treat one another in special way; as family; as brothers and sisters. Especially now, many people are focusing on differences.; the us and them attitude is not what I believe this reading is calling us to inspire too.

What an elegant reminder to live our faith by loving one another as we love ourselves. If we remember to see Jesus in one another, how then can we continue to hold grudges or dole out blame to one another. Harsh words or actions of people we disagree with or have conflict with are naturally difficult to cope with. If we keep this scripture in mind, perhaps we will find it easier to suspend judgment of others. We all feel to be our best selves from time to time. Human frailty affects us all. Holding close to the understanding that we are all part of the body of Christ may help us, forgive our own frailties and be generous to those around us that also make mistakes.

Psalms 131:2 (Beautiful words!)

…But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul.

With the image of a mother nursing her child it is easy to think of the special bond a mother has with her child. Or, the bond with a close friend, a spouse, sister or brother; even, perhaps, the bond one has with special pet.  All these earthly relationships can bring us calm and necessary closeness with others. It makes me think about how important it is for me to develop a close bond with my God and my savior, Christ Jesus! I believe we are called to have a personal and intimate relationship with our God, and His son, Jesus. If we are able to see ourselves as God’s children, and, Jesus, as a brother or close friend, I believe we receive great benefits, including a sense of calm and deep gratitude.

Second reading—1 Thessalonians 2

This 1st line evokes another peaceful image:

But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children.

This short reading says a lot; it helps us understand that being part of the faith community we are taking care of in a special way. Our Church leaders care for us, guide us and nurture our faith. Our fellow parishioners also care for us in a special way. We help feed one another spiritually, and literally, often. It is comforting to think of my church community in this way.

Gospel-Matthew 23  

…said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples; 

 …”The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat;  

…practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

I believe we are called to live our faith in a responsible way. We follow the leaders of our church yet we don’t blindly. The hierarchy of our church are held to a very high standard. I believe we  can hold ourselves to a high standard as well; that is, to take responsibility for our faith and discern the path God has for us personally.

…They do all their deeds to be seen by men…

…you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren.

Perhaps we could hear in these words a challenge to respect our church leaders; learned from sermons and writings of priests and theologians, but not stop there. Are we not called also to study scripture, spend time in prayer, and develop a personal relationship with our God and Savior Jesus Christ?

…call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 

…you have one master, the Christ.

He who is greatest among you shall be your servant…

…whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

This familiar passage made me think as I read them again, that humility is a challenge for all of us. It is an especially difficult challenge for those in my office or church leadership. I believe we need to be patient with all church leaders, as they are only human, therefore, struggle with humility like we all do.

As we image closer to advent, let us be grateful for the wonderful lessons each Sunday’s readings bring us.