The death of John the Baptist is an outrage, a stark example of human cruelty that assaults our sensibilities. While we acknowledge the presence of violence and hatred in our world we continue to see in the Cross of Christ God’s response: a love that embraces our sins.
Jesus addresses a teachable moment when he explains that glory in Heaven comes from offering one’s life in charity and service. James and John will drink from the cup of of Christ, reminding us that every time we offer our lives for others we follow the example of Christ.
Speaking with the pharisees, Jesus offers an insight into God’s compassion and mercy when he says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Today we have the opportunity to offer to Christ the gift of mercy as we lovingly respond to the weaknesses of those around us, as we claim the Lord’s mercy for ourselves.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of Matthew that there are consequences for our actions that will take place in the final judgment. With this awareness in mind, we have the opportunity today to repent of our sins and turn to the Lord for his mercy and forgiveness.
Several powerful themes surface in the readings this week.
1st Reading – The Lord is the source of justice
Psalm – “Lord, you are good and forgiving.”
2nd Reading – The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness
Gospel – Jesus offers several parables; two of them are about weeds and seeds
A common pattern emerges from these themes as we discover that in the midst of injustice, sin, weakness and evil the Lord comes with justice, forgiveness, strength and power. Simply put, God gives us grace to confront the weeds in our lives.
So that begs the question: Where are the weeds in our hearts today? What struggle are we facing that requires the Lord’s mercy and love? Perhaps we might step back and pause this week to reflect on the state of our soul, so that we can honestly assess what is growing and what needs to go.
Jesus Christ knows our hearts and loves us unconditionally. As we look at the garden of our hearts may we trust that the one who knows us completely will help us root out what does not belong and help us grow as Sons and Daughters of God.
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” As Jesus says these words to the paralytic we find that the mercy of Christ is greater than all our sins…and we are inspired to draw near to the one who loves us completely.
The feast of the Sacred Heart of the Jesus celebrates the love of God for the whole world. Without limit or boundary, the Lord’s love for us is unconditional and offers us the opportunity to both receive and share this love with one another.