Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16
As I share this brief reflection on our readings for the day, there are two simple thoughts that come to mind. In our first reading from Isaiah it is clear how foolish we can be when we think that all the good we do comes from our own hand. Assyria, an "impious nation", believed that its victories were due to its own shrewdness and wisdom. How foolish of this great nation to take itself so seriously and how quickly the Lord would humble this nation and people. We are tempted to do the same aren’t we? How quick we are to believe that even our small successes are due to ourselves; how easily we forget that the Lord is at work within us in all ways and at all times! Still, we forget and the Lord has his way of reminding us later on in life.
The beautiful Gospel reading is one only too familiar to priests who have the precious opportunity of anointing the sick with the Sacrament of the Anointing. In the Gospel of Matthew, today and tomorrow, we read the beautiful meditation that begins with Jesus’ prayer of praise to the Father and then concludes with the soothing invitation, "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest." There is no priest who, when he reads these gentle words, does not remember countless moments of anointing a dear soul in need of comfort, encouragement, and consolation. What a sacred moment it is; what a great privilege to enter into such a moment standing by the bedside of someone in the midst of their suffering and reminding them that they are not alone.
Two very simple points for us on this day: remember that it is all the work of the Lord and we simply serve; and what a joy to serve, especially when we are able to bring the very compassion and kindness of the Lord to someone in need.
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.