This Sunday's readings can be found here.
The crowd gathered around the foot of the cross shouted, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” “He saved others but cannot save himself.” “He trusts in God, let God rescue him now” (Mat 27:38-44) Those who mocked him were the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders, but also the criminals who were crucified with Him. The leaders who mocked Christ should have seen the company that was with them. They were behaving like criminals who had been sent to their deaths.
Sinners are often offended by those who stand up for what is right in God's eyes. People who have prayed in front of abortion clinics, porn shops, and on Bourbon Street in New Orleans can tell you this is true. They have received taunts and insults from passersby and honks from cars with people shouting out of the windows as they drive by. At times it can be disheartening to experience this, but it can also be a boost to the just who pray harder for God's work to be done. Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth suffering the taunts of the sinful. He did it, and we should do it too.
The prayer of the psalmist is “O God, by your name save me, and by your might defend my cause.” It is a wonderful prayer to those who are being persecuted. The second reading gives a warning though, to those who would not follow God's plan. When we pray and do not receive it is because we have prayed to satisfy a passion that is not God's passion. We are praying for something that is selfish, conflict-driven, covetous, envious and of a human passion. If what we pray for is just, then the result should be peaceful, gentile, merciful and fruitful, without inconsistency and insincerity. God is passionate about justice. God is consistent and sincere about justice. We must pray to have this same passion and to know our part is in God's plan for justice.
Jesus tells us “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” To receive God we must receive the child, the lowly, the cast aside in our society. Our actions in this world should be for the lowly: the children, the poor, the cast aside. Mother Teresa once said, “each of them is Jesus in disguise.”
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