Ordinary Time
Monday of the Twentieth Week

“... the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They served the Baals ...” (Judges 2:11.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“It was the ancients who did this, of course, but because what was written is said to be “written for our sake, to whom the end of the ages has arrived,” not on their account, we should watch lest these sayings are seen to be true of more of us than of them. Do you want to see that such things are applied to us through the apostle, rather than through me? Listen for yourself to what he said: “What does Scripture say about how Elijah interceded with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they killed your prophets, they destroyed your altars, and I am left alone and they seek my soul.’ But what was the divine response? ‘I preserved for myself seven thousand men who did not bend the knee to Baal,’” then the apostle adds “‘thus, in this time also a remnant chosen by grace is saved.’” You can see, therefore, that those who “bent the knee to Baal” and those who “did not bend the knee” are understood by the apostle as the multitude of unbelievers and the remnant of believers, respectively. This demonstrates, then, that those who lived in unbelief and impiety at the time of the Savior also “bent the knee to Baal” and worshiped idols, whereas those who believed and fulfilled the works of faith “did not bend the knee to Baal.” It is never mentioned in the historical books or in the Gospels or in any other book of Scripture that some at the time of the Savior did in fact bend the knee to idols, but such an act is indeed attributed to those persons who were bound by their sins, as though held by fetters. Whenever we sin and “are taken captive to the law of sin,” therefore, we “bend our knees to Baal.” But we are not called to this, nor do we believe in this, such that we would again become servants of sin and again “bend the knee” to the devil. Instead, our calling and the purpose of our faith is both to bend the knee at the name of Jesus, for “at the name of Jesus, every knee bends in heaven and on earth and in hell,” and to bend the knee to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Homilies on Judges, 2.)

O God,
Who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen