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Do Not Worry About How You Are to Speak

“Do not worry about how you are to speak”
A reflection on Matthew 10:17-20
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Matthew 10:17-20

Neither Gold Nor Silver

“Neither Gold Nor Silver”
A reflection on Matthew 10:7-10
Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.

Matthew 10:7-10

Variations of this passage exist in the Synoptic Gospels. The New American Bible Revised Edition footnote to Mark 6:8-9 explains: “In Mark the use of a walking stick (Mk 6:8) and sandals (Mk 6:9) is permitted, but not in Mt 10:10 nor in Lk 10:4… These differences indicate a certain adaptation to conditions in and outside of Palestine and suggest in Mark’s account a later activity in the church. For the rest, Jesus required of his apostles a total dependence on God for food and shelter; cf. Mk 6:35-44; 8:1-9.”

Faith and Providence

“Faith and Providence”
A reflection on Matthew 9:2
Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.

Matthew 9:1-8

The faith of friends
Heaven’s will bends?

The couplet ends in wonder because theologians themselves debate the workings of divine providence. How can God be both “immutable” (lacking imperfection) and also be moved by the prayers of the faithful? Does prayer change God?

Any attempted solution comes from a “perspective,” which by definition is limited. From the perspective of time, observers mark the changes of being and becoming, and it appears that prayer changes God. 

From the “perspective of eternity” (a contradictory notion), God is “the simultaneously-whole and perfect possession of interminable life” (definition of Boethius as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica 1.10.1). Accordingly, God does not change.

Eternity and time, primary and secondary causes, find their convergence in God beyond all concepts and “perspectives,” even beyond the concept of God. 

In Aquinas’ classic solution, prayer fulfills God’s unchangeable will from all eternity (ST 2-2.83.2c). 

St. Thomas realized at the end of his life, however, that all words fail to circumscribe the uncircumscribable: “All that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me” (December 6, 1273 after a mystical experience).