Let your yes be yes, and your no be yes to helping Jesus by helping the poor


This coming Sunday is the Seventy Sunday in Ordinary Time at our Cathedral in Reno, Nevada. We will read from 2 Corinthians and sing from Psalm 41. In the process we will learn some truths about Jesus and about what he asks from us. From the second reading we will read:

Let your yes be yes, and your no be yes. St. Paul

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us… was not “yes” and “no,” but “yes.” 2 Corinthians 1:18-22.

Psalm 41, the Psalm for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time has two parts, which properly understood, are really only one part. The first part is Psalm 41:1-4. The second part is Psalm 41:5-14.

The first part refers to Jesus, and to all of us who help the poor. In a few days we begin Ash Wednesday and Lent at our Cathedral in Reno. Lent ends with Jesus Passion and the Last Supper. Jesus refers to the second part of Psalm 41during this Last Supper:  (Mark 14:17-21)

I said: Personal Name, be kind to me; heal my animate being; I failed you.’ My enemies speak rot of me: ‘When shall he die; his name perish?’ If one comes to see me, he speaks vanity; his heart gathers oppressive power; when he goes abroad, he speaks of it… My friend, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, lifted up his heel… (Own Translation)

In Jesus time and culture, people were convicted based on two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15 Leviticus 19:16 Vain witness can be true witness, if not backed up with two or three witnesses. Matthew 18:15-17 Deuteronomy 5:16. “When he goes abroad he speaks of it,” where he does not have two or three witnesses.

Jesus is the healer. Jesus discerns the needs of the poor. St. Luke says as much in the thesis statement of his Gospel, Luke 4:6-21. At the end of his life, Jesus has no followers. Peter denies him three times. Jesus’ name means salvation. He must feel he failed. His enemies spoke rot of him. They cannot wait for Jesus’ Passion and death. The Pharisees feel full of power. In reference to Judas, Psalm 41 speaks of the one who ate his bread.

St. Paul tells us, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us…

He also states, “Our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but in the Holy Spirit, and much conviction… You became imitators of us and of the Personal Name, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit…”

Jesus discerns, and acts upon the needs of the poor. We are also his imitators. All who imitate Christ, having the Spirit of God, work to preserve the needs of the poor, including the 48.8 million people and 16 million children living in food insecure households in the United States. We will not go about as talebearers/ peddlers/ merchants, complaining that if the poor are poor, it must be because of something they did. We act based upon the Spirit within.

Our Epistle for this Sunday continues, “The one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us; has also put his seal upon us and put the Spirit in our hearts.” This Spirit discerns the needs of the poor. If we have the spirit within, we also discern, and act upon the needs of the poor, as individuals and as a nation.

What separates us Catholics from the rest of the population is that we participate in Jesus’ Passion when we participate in his Last Supper, the Eucharist. We watch Judas as he walks away. We listen as we hear people speak of us, and Jesus at the cross asking him to come down from the cross, or die. We listen as the Pharisees gloat over Jesus’ suffering, calling his body rot. When we leave Mass, we then see it in the poor who are always before us.

For us, there is therefore no yes and no. There is only yes. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22. When God says jump, remembering what God did for us, we only ask, “How high?”

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