For the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, the second reading from Hebrews captures a vivid snapshot of the deepest longing of our hearts, a life of eternal glory with God, in the midst of all the angels and saints. The first and third reading reveal humility is a necessary virtue to get there.
The author of Hebrews describes the giving of the first covenant on Mount Sinai as a fearful and dreadful experience, with "blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm," together with a trumpet blast and a voice so frightening that the people begged never to hear such words again.
God is the initiator of all salvation and He sends His invitation to everyone. What we do with that invitation affects God's glory. If we receive and live it, we bring God's glory to others; if we reject it, we diminish God's glory and rob Him of the opportunity to glorify us.
The readings for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time demonstrate that God's love is a purifying fire to prepare us for eternal glory with Him, because ours is a jealous God who wants us for Himself.
In the first reading, Jeremiah has been put into a cistern and lowered into the mud to be killed. God used Jeremiah to speak a word of repentance to the people of Judah, but they refused to listen. Now the Babylonian army is ready to capture the people and take them into exile.
God is always leading us from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the known and trusted to the unknown and, therefore, to the fearful. If we knew the way to heaven, we would not need God to show us the way.
The reading from the Book of Wisdom begins to develop this theme. The author of the Book of Wisdom wrote, "The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers." However, where did that knowledge come from? It came from God's revelation to Moses. This knowledge was very vague and enlisted them in a trust relationship with God.
The readings for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time are a great gift to us because they remind us that our greatest gifts aren't possessions, but God found within us.
In the first reading, the author reflects on the fruits of human labor. For example, the man who has labored "with wisdom and knowledge and skill" must leave all his property to "another who has not labored over it."
The readings for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time make clear that God desires to share His power with sinful mankind.
To fully appreciate the importance of the first reading from Genesis, we must review what had happened just before this passage from Genesis. Abraham and Sarah were very old, many years past the childbearing age. Yet God had promised over and over again to Abraham that he would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea shore.