Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Philippians 1:1-11

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus,
to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi,
with the overseers and ministers::
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you,
praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the Gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right that I should think this way about all of you,
because I hold you in my heart,
you who are all partners with me in grace,
both in my imprisonment
and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel.
For God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.
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Commentary on
Phil 1:1-11

St. Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with his usual combination of Greco-roman traditional greeting coupled with a Semitic/Christian practice of identifying his apostolic mission. His use of the term “slaves of Christ Jesus” to describe his completed obedience to and dedication to the Gospel mission he and his companions have undertaken. We note that the terms “overseers and ministers” are translated for the Lectionary into “Bishops and Deacons” taking the Greek words “episkopos” (one who oversees) and “diakonos” (one who serves or ministers to).

The evangelist immediately launches into praise and thanksgiving for the faith and fidelity of his foundling Christian community. He adds his own blessing and prayer that the good work Christ has started in them will continue and grow. The language used by St. Paul gives us insight into the affection he holds for this community and the love he shares with them.

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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (2) How great are the works of the Lord!
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will praise the LORD with all my heart
in the assembled congregation of the upright.
Great are the works of the LORD,
to be treasured for all their delights.

R. How great are the works of the Lord!
or:
R. Alleluia.
Majestic and glorious is your work,
your wise design endures forever.
You won renown for your wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
R. How great are the works of the Lord!
or:
R. Alleluia.
You gave food to those who fear you,
mindful of your covenant forever.
You showed powerful deeds to your people,
giving them the lands of the nations.
R. How great are the works of the Lord!
or:
R. Alleluia.
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Commentary on
Ps 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Psalm 111 is a hymn of thanksgiving. In this selection we find the singer giving thanks for God’s guidance and His works of creation and salvation. The hymn professes God’s greatness, revealed in creation and revered by all that live and have being.

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Gospel:
Luke 14:1-6

On a sabbath he (Jesus) went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and,
after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern,
would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
But they were unable to answer his question.
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Commentary on
Lk 14:1-6

The miracle of the cure of the man with dropsy (a condition in which there is severe swelling caused by the retention of water) is unique to St. Luke’s Gospel. The issue he addresses at the banquet, however, is also taken up in a different context in
Mark 3:1-6 and Matthew 12:9-14. The point (logion) expounded upon here is that fanatical observance of Mosaic Law is not serving God. Rather, the spirit of God’s law is love and compassion which he demonstrates by curing the man.

There is also a pun used in the language Jesus uses. When he says “if your son or ox falls into a well”, the words in Aramaic are be’îrā (“ox”) and berā (“son”) followed by bērā (“well”) giving us insight into Jesus sense of humor.

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Reflection:

Almost as if in counter point to yesterday’s exhortation to be prepared to battle the evil one, today St. Luke’s Gospel reminds us that we must make sure to temper our zeal for defending the faith with a reminder not to get fanatical about the rules but remember the spirit of the commandments the Lord asks us to follow.

We have see Jesus go after the Pharisees on numerous occasions for being what he calls “hypocrites”. He takes them to task because they have gotten so hung up on the minutia of following the 613 distinct laws found in Mosaic Law that they had forgotten that the whole purpose of that law was God’s desire for the happiness of his chosen people.

In the story St. Luke gives us today (which differs from the setting in which Sts. Matthew and Mark make the same point), Jesus is at the home of a leader of the local Jewish community. The Gospel says that “the people there were observing him carefully”, meaning he they were probably tying to set him up in such a way that he would violate Mosaic Law and they could call him out on charges of blasphemy.

Jesus was never one to shy away from doing the compassionate thing so he walks knowingly into their trap by first asking them to define their interpretation of doing work on the sabbath. When they say noting to his question, we are told “so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him.” He then came back and gave them his interpretation of the situation and at the same time defining to them in not too subtle terms, his relationship to God, whose adopted sons they were as a consequence of their relationship to Abraham. When he punned them with the question; “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day? (see the commentary above for an explanation of the pun used)” The relationship he describes between those who would run to aid the son or ox (one of blood relationship or ownership) by analogy implies the one he cured was his adopted son, his possession.

The point he makes, and the one we take away with us today is that we must always look to the spirit of our law of love and never become so fanatical that we ignore the spirit of that law for the scrupulous letter of the law. Our prayer today is that we always find that balance, following the law and applying it in ways in which Jesus would approve.

Pax

[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is “Hand Study with Bible” by Albrecht Dürer, c. 1506
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm
against the tactics of the devil.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood
but with the principalities, with the powers,
with the world rulers of this present darkness,
with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God,
that you may be able to resist on the evil day
and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth,
clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,
to quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.

With all prayer and supplication,
pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication
for all the holy ones and also for me,
that speech may be given me to open my mouth,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel
for which I am an ambassador in chains,
so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
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Commentary on
Eph 6:10-20

This passage, continuing St. Paul’s exhortation on building up faith is “a general exhortation to courage and prayer. Drawing upon the imagery and ideas of
Isaiah 11:5; 59:16-17; and Wisdom 5:17-23, Paul describes the Christian in terms of the dress (armor) and equipment of Roman soldiers. He observes, however, that the Christian's readiness for combat is not directed against human beings but against the spiritual powers of evil (see also Ephesians 1:21; 2:2; 3:10). Unique importance is placed upon prayer.”[iv]

In the final verses this “perseverance” in prayer by the Christian must match that of the devil. There will be no truce until the final victory.

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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 144:1b, 2, 9-10

R. (1b) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle,
my fingers for war;
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My safe guard and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues peoples under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, a new song I will sing to you;
on a ten-stringed lyre I will play for you.
You give victory to kings;
you delivered David your servant. From the menacing sword
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
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Commentary on
Ps 144:1b, 2, 9-10

Psalm 144, taken in its entirety, is difficult to classify as it opens with a lament, seen in the strophes given today but concludes in thanksgiving (v. 9-10). It carries with it the marshal theme of the heavenly conflict seen in both St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and Jesus vision of the impending passion in Jerusalem from St. Luke’s Gospel

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Gospel:
Luke 13:31-35

At that time some Pharisees came to him (Jesus) and said,
“Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go and tell that fox,
‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow,
and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.
Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day,
for it is impossible that a prophet should die
outside of Jerusalem.’

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how many times I yearned to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
but you were unwilling!
Behold, your house will be abandoned.
(But) I tell you, you will not see me (until the time comes when) you say,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
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Commentary on
Lk 13:31-35

In this passage from St. Luke’s Gospel we hear Jesus responding to Pharisees who are warning of a plot by Herod. Their motives are not made clear but we see Jesus using the opportunity to reinforce his role as fulfilling the Law and the Prophets- declaring in essence that he is the Messiah. There is a subtle message carried in St. Luke’s use of the number three and one half as well. This number (half of the perfect number “7”) symbolizes a time of dark persecution that will end with God’s glorification (see
Daniel 7:25, 8:14, 12:12, and Luke 4:25)

The poem at the end, ending in a quote from
Psalm 118:26, is found in St. Matthew’s Gospel linked with the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Mt 23: 37-39). Placed here (and actually paraphrased again after Palm Sunday) it takes on a prophetic tone, an image of the passion to come.

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Reflection:

We are at war! This is not a reference to the worldly strife of which there is much in this day and age; but rather we are at war with the legions of the evil one who sound fair but fell foul. St. Paul uses the image of war and the ancient armor of war to describe how we must prepare ourselves to meet this daily challenge. Even the opening verse of our psalm today echoes that theme: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war;”

While the psalm, sung in it’s day, referred to physical battle, it fits in today between St. Paul’s great analogy of Christian preparation for battle against the evil one and Jesus on preparations as he first avoids a trap planed by Herod and embraces his own battle in the passion to come in Jerusalem.

Sacred Scripture, placed before us by Mother Church, is a call to arms. There are no exemptions. In our Baptism we registered for this draft.

Now there are those who may feel that this attitude of battling evil is too drastic – overly melodramatic. Yet if we do not prepare to combat the evil of the world, if we try to placate it; thinking that there can be “peaceful co-existence” they are as mistaken as Neville Chamberlain
[v] who nobly tried to negotiate a peace with Adolph Hitler. Thinking this is not really a battle allows those so persuaded to walk into the cunning traps laid by the enemy.

The traps are told off by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians heard earlier this season; “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies” (see
Galatians 5:20-21). These things are held up by societal values and the media as perfectly fine. They are exalted as marks of success in many cases. They cannot coexist with the Christian.

So, today we leave our place of prayer and meditation, fully aware of the tumult we face. We wrap ourselves in the armor of faith and go out to challenge the status quo and strike a blow to change the world for Christ’s sake.

Pax


[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is “St. James the Great in the Battle at Clavijo” by Juan Carreño De Miranda, 1660
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
[iv] See NAB footnote on Eph 6:10-20
[v] See Wikipedia article

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 6:1-9

Children, obey your parents (in the Lord), for this is right.
“Honor your father and mother.”
This is the first commandment with a promise,
“that it may go well with you
and that you may have a long life on earth.”
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling,
in sincerity of heart, as to Christ,
not only when being watched, as currying favor,
but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
willingly serving the Lord and not men,
knowing that each will be requited from the Lord
for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Masters, act in the same way towards them, and stop bullying,
knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven
and that with him there is no partiality.
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Commentary on
Eph 6:1-9

St. Paul’s instructions to the Church at Ephesus goes to the fundamental laws of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments,
Deuteronomy 5:16) as he instructs the children to obey their parents (the fourth commandment but the first to focus on love of neighbor). This was a problem especially among those from pagan traditions and under Mosaic Law it was punishable by death (see Exodus 21:17, Deuteronomy 21:18-21). The apostle goes on to instruct parents not to be so harsh on their children that they discourage them but to be examples of faith to inspire them.

In St. Paul’s time, slavery existed throughout the region. With his comments in verses 5-9, he attempts to establish that the dignity of the person should be observed regardless of the relative roles. Slaves (members of the community) should do their duties faithfully and masters should treat their slaves with compassion and dignity as well. While slavery was not directly condemned by St. Paul, the Gospel he preached served to undermine it (see
Galatians 3:28 and Philemon 16).

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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 13cd-14

R. (13c) The Lord is faithful in all his words.
All your works give you thanks,
O LORD and your faithful bless you.
They speak of the glory of your reign
and tell of your great works
R. The Lord is faithful in all his words.
Making known to all your power,
the glorious splendor of your rule.
Your reign is a reign for all ages,
your dominion for all generations.
R. The Lord is faithful in all his words.
The LORD is trustworthy in every word,
and faithful in every work.
The LORD supports all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is faithful in all his words.
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Commentary on
Ps 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 13cd-14

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise. These strophes call on the faithful to give thanks to God for opening the gates of his Heavenly Kingdom. The psalmist sings his praise to God who is faithful to his people and who saves those who are in need.

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Gospel:
Luke 13:22-30

He (Jesus) passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.’
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”
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Commentary on
Lk 13:22-30

Jesus has just told the Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast and the questioner is asking if many will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ answer has two levels of meaning. Entering through the “narrow gate” implies that there is but one set of directions that must be followed to achieve heaven. He says many will attempt to follow these directions but will not be able to because they are difficult.

The Lord’s example of the Master locking the door is an analogy for the end times, the eschaton, when final judgment will be leveled against those who seek entry to the heavenly kingdom. Reminiscent of Isaiah 66:18-21, we hear that people from all over the world will be called. He concludes saying that some of the last (called to discipleship) will be first (have higher places of honor) and vice versa.

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Reflection:

We can sum up the scripture passages today by saying Jesus tells us were to go and St. Paul tells us how to get there. In St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus sees the end of time, the Eschaton and, in visionary terms describes how difficult it will be to follow the path (both faith and actions are required here) to get to the Heavenly Kingdom.

The Lord’s specific response is to the members of the Jewish hierarchy who have rejected him. Jesus tells them, using imagery they will certainly understand, that because they failed to understand the message he brought they would no enter that kingdom but would suffer greatly as they see the great patriarchs of their faith, “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets” enjoying the Kingdom he proclaimed and they are cast out. The Lord then predicts that many, not of the Jewish faith will come to believe and share in that promise.

Now we come to St. Paul who is writing to the church at Ephesus. Applying the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, to their situation, he explains the fourth commandment; “Children, obey your parents.” (or “'Honor your father and your mother” as is stated in Deuteronomy). While this issue was problematic then as it is now, it is important that we see how he balances that injunction with the next – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger”. We see how the Apostle strives to show how important mutual love and respect have become under Christ. It is not simply that children are to be obedient; parents too have an obligation to their children.

Although it is not meant to be analogous, the next verses say the same thing with reference to slaves and masters – the message is the same; mutual respect, the dignity of the human person, regardless of position or rank, this is to be a defining characteristic of the Christian faith.

It is a difficult way indeed, this path to the heavenly kingdom. Who among us has not felt the urge to misuse power over another person; over a younger sibling, a co-worker, or even one of your children? And who among us has not felt the bitterness when one in power used that power frivolously or unjustly? The sword of power cuts both ways and it is difficult to wield unless guided by love of others alone.

Our prayer for today is that we will be given that wisdom to act in such a way that the dignity of the human person is always kept before us in our actions, whether we serve or whether we are served. We recall our master’s words – “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Pax

[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is “The Difficult Way”, artist and date were not cited.
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude




Apostles

Biographical Information about Sts.
Simon[i] and Jude[ii]

Readings for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude[iii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iv]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 2:19-22

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
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Commentary on
Eph 2:19-22

St. Paul, speaking to the Church at Ephesus speaks of the unity of all Christians, those who were formerly Jews and those who were formerly Gentiles. They are, says the apostle, joined through Christ on the same road to the Kingdom of God. They share the same foundation of faith, transmitted to them through the Apostles and held firm by Christ the “capstone”. Together they form the “Temple of the Spirit”; the essential understanding that together the Church is the mystical Body of Christ.

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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5a) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky proclaims its builder's craft.
One day to the next conveys that message;
one night to the next imparts that knowledge
.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
There is no word or sound;
no voice is heard;
Yet their report goes forth through all the earth,
their message, to the ends of the world.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
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Commentary on
Ps 19:2-3, 4-5

Psalm 19 is a song of praise with the earth’s elements proclaiming the greatness of God who created them. In all that is, the handy work of God is proclaimed. Placed as it is on the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude (and also used on the Feast of St. Matthew), this passage with its antiphon reminds us of the great work of spreading the Gospel of Christ.

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Gospel:
Luke 6:12-16

In those days he (Jesus) departed to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.

When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
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Commentary on
Lk 6:12-16

This passage is the call of the Twelve Apostles from St. Luke’s Gospel. It is noteworthy that Jesus began this process with a prayer of discernment. He then names the twelve (including Judas Iscariot who was replaced after his suicide). This important event extends Jesus mission through these chosen ones (selected from the ranks of Jesus’ disciples; see
Mark 3:14-15). This selection marked them with special authority (Matthew 10:1ff) and responsibility to transmit the Gospel to the world.

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Reflection:

The celebration of Sts. Simon and Jude recalls for us our own call to be an apostolic people. We’ve heard that term used, especially in the
Dogmatic Constitution On The Church (Lumen Gentium). Through Christ’s call in scripture and through our own understanding of what we, as a people of God believe our call to be we recognize a special responsibility to participate in the same mission for which the “Twelve” were selected.

While it is argued that we are all given different gifts and aptitudes by God and therefore we are not all cut out to go into the world verbalizing God’s call to holiness to each person we meet, we are all called to do our part in this great work. We believe this is not optional. We cannot simply say “I believe in God and that Jesus came as God’s Only Son. Therefore, because I accept him as my personal Savior (He did not come for just one person), I am saved.” No, our faith, breathed in through Sacred Scripture, breathed in through the sacraments, breathed in through prayer, must be breathed out in actions, a living witness that testifies to our faith.

The Apostles were taken aside by Jesus and given a special authority, special gifts that would allow them to take Jesus’ message into the world so that all might hear the message and live. He did not restrict this truth to his followers; some how inferring this was a secret or special insight given to them alone! Rather he gave is followers the mission of taking that message to all the corners of the earth.

The world to Jesus was a giant canvas with which he painted using the brushes of the Apostles in bold strokes. But much of what they (the Apostles) could do was also passed on. The blank pieces of canvas to be filled in by those they touched and then further by those touched by students of the students of the Twelve, and so on until at last the brush is handed to us, so that every speck can be coated with the love of Christ.

We celebrate today the great work of Simon and Jude, Apostles. In their lives and missions we see the hand of God reach out to the world, inviting all to come and live. We see also in their call, our own invitation to participate in this great apostolic work of the Church in the world. We pray today for all who work to spread God’s message. We pray also for ourselves, that we might accept the call to witness the love of Christ in all we do.

Pax

[i] The first picture is “St. Simon the Zealot” Iconifer and date UNKOWN
[ii] The second picture is “St. Jude the Apostle” by Georges de La Tour, c. 1620
[iii] ALTRE
[iv] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 4:32–5:8

(And) be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you,
as is fitting among holy ones,
no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place,
but instead, thanksgiving.
Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person,
that is, an idolater,
has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments,
for because of these things
the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
So do not be associated with them.
For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.
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Commentary on
Eph 4:32–5:8

St. Paul continues to exhort the church at Ephesus to live as imitators of God in Christ. He lists the virtues of Christ’s love and excludes a litany of behaviors inappropriate for those who wish to be part of the community; insisting that such people have no share in the inheritance of the Kingdom of God (of Christ).

He concludes this section with a strong statement warning that those who turn away for God and embrace the darkness with receive God’s wrath. He then calls them to “Live as children of the light.” (Quoted in the Sacrament of Baptism as the newly baptized are presented with a candle lighted off the Easter Candle, the light of Christ).

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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R. (see Eph. 5:1) Behave like God as his very dear children.
Happy those who do not follow
the counsel of the wicked,
Nor go the way of sinners,
nor sit in company with scoffers.
Rather, the law of the LORD is their joy;
God's law they study day and night.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.
They are like a tree
planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
Its leaves never wither;
whatever they do prospers.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.
But not the wicked!
They are like chaff driven by the wind.
Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment,
nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Psalm 1 serves as a preface to the whole book of the psalms. The psalmist here exalts those who follow the Lord’s commands and reflects upon the blessings they will receive. As is usual, this selection emphasizes the contrast between the salvation of the just and the punishment of the wicked
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gospel:
Luke 13:10-17

He (Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Lk 13:10-17

The story of the cure of the crippled woman is parallel to the story of Jesus curing the man with dropsy on the Sabbath (see
Luke 14:1-6). He is challenged by the local Jewish leadership for doing “work” on God’s holy day. As before, he uses the need to tend to the necessities of life on the sabbath as parallel to his need to cure the woman.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:

“Live as children of the light.” We are all called to that reality and images of light and darkness fill our culture and myth. So ingrained has this analogy of good and evil become that we use it without thinking. We see those who embrace the “Goth” look (dressing in black, striving for a dark appearance) as seeking a persona that is intimidating because of its embrace of darkness. When we think of a “dark” place we automatically associate it with fear (afraid of the dark) and evil deeds (most crime is conducted at night- in the darkness).

On the other side we are called as “children of the light”, the antithesis of darkness. Our actions are to represent the goodness of one to another. St. Paul defines this understanding of children of the light with his exhortation to the church at Ephesus. He tells them to love one another, as Christ loved us. He calls them to be compassionate; that there is no place among them for greed, malice, or even suggestive behavior which leads to dehumanizing attitudes and detracts from the dignity which all deserve as children of the same God.

This last example is subtle. We might think that, even in polite company, friendly or suggestive banter is acceptable. What harm does it do? It generally injects humor into a conversation and that is a happy thing. We take St. Paul’s warning to heart though. To often the butt of this humor is hurtful (even innocently so) and while the person who is the target of this wit may even laugh with us, the intent can lead down a path that is destructive or may encourage inappropriate; even licentious behavior.

In essence, St. Paul warns about the slippery slope that can come through familiarity and familial fraternity. Where else is this type of interplay more prevalent than with friends, co-workers or classmates. We are called to be “children of the light” and as such we do not need to be condescending or critical of our peers, but we can choose to stand apart from these types of activities. Our lack of participation will mark us for what we hope to be and when it is appropriate and can be done in a loving way, we can gently chide our friends for their insensitivity to the dignity of the person.

Being “children of the light” is a call we dare not refuse; but it is difficult. We pray today for the strength and wisdom to find the lighted path and to always choose that way. And when we fail, we ask God and His Son to forgive us and show us the light once more.

Pax


[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is “The Crippled Woman” by Alexandre Bida, c.1875
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Readings for Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Exodus 22:20-26

"You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him
by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge,
you shall return it to him before sunset;
for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.
What else has he to sleep in?
If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate."
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Commentary on
Ex 22:20-26

This passage is taken from what is called “The Book of the Covenant” (see
Exodus 24:7). This part of the “book” contains social laws dealing specifically with interaction of the faithful with aliens (residents living in the same region but of Gentile status. While the general rule was that the Israelites were to remain separate (segregated) from these populations, the covenant law clearly states that there should be peaceful cohabitation reminding them that they too were once aliens in the Egypt. The covenant goes on to cover treatment of widows and orphans and the need for compassion when conducting business within the community of faith.
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Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51

R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, LORD, my strength,
LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
My God, my rock of refuge, my shield,
my saving horn, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim!
I have been delivered from my enemies.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock!
Exalted be God, my savior!
You have given great victories to your king,
and shown kindness to your anointed,
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51

Psalm 18 is a song of thanksgiving for a military victory. The psalmist, in these strophes, rejoices in God’s saving power. The theme of the “rock” is a reference to the solid nature of the faith foundation.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reading II:
1 Thesalonians 1:5c-10

You know what sort of people we were (among) you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit,
so that you became a model for all the believers
in Macedonia and in Achaia.
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth
not only in Macedonia and (in) Achaia,
but in every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God
and to await his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from (the) dead,
Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
1 Thes 1:5c-10

Following his introduction, identifying himself and praising the faithful of Thessalonika, St. Paul reminds his flock of how they were before he came to them and before they became believers (“…a model for all the believers”). The apostle fairly rejoices over the success the lived Gospel has had, turning them away from idols to serve the one true God and his Son. This faith has spread as a result, not only of his teaching, but their example as well.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gospel:
Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
[a scholar of the law] tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Mt 22:34-40

The story of Jesus delivering the Great Commandment is the fourth of the “Controversy Stories” in St. Matthew’s Gospel (stories in which Jesus argues with the Jewish leadership). The question posed by the “Scholar of the Law” (probably a scribe; see also
Luke 10:25-28) “…which commandment in the law is the greatest?”, is asked in a rabbinical sense, meaning; which of the 613 distinct statutes was considered greatest. Within this body of law, 248 of these precepts were positive and 365 were prohibitions. In addition these precepts were further divided into “Light” and “Heavy”. This was a fairly typical type of exchange for a rabbinical debate.

In answering Jesus quotes two texts of the law that now form the foundation for a new morality in the Gospel. He fist quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This text forms part of the Shema, the Jewish profession of faith. This first quote would not be surprising. What makes this exchange novel and important is that Jesus adds the quote from Leviticus 19:18b “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This juxtaposition of quotes makes them equally “Heavy” and there is no parallel In Jewish literature.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:

The Great Commandment, as Jesus tells us, provides a foundational morality by which we can evaluate all of our thoughts and actions. We are given two absolutes by which to conduct our self-evaluation.

Let’s think of an example to see how we might apply this foundational belief: Let’s say, for instance, we are at work and we have just completed a difficult task. As is customary, the entire team gets together and celebrates that event. Your boss calls you up and congratulates you specifically for your hard work and you notice that one of your co-workers is obviously not thrilled with the attention you are getting (probably thinking they worked as hard as you did).

In this situation how do we live the Great Commandment? First, on the inside, we must hold our success up to God. It was only through his gifts that we accomplish anything worth while. If we do this sincerely, our attitude in success must necessarily be one of humility. After all, it was not through our effort alone that this task was accomplished and certainly not in our control to make it successful. In addition to being constantly thankful to God, our praise at times of joy is the hallmark of the Christian living the Great Commandment.

Next we must deal with our disgruntled co-worker. We are called to “love our neighbor as our self.” How do we do that in this situation? If we are quick, we might ask to share the accolade in the moment. Perhaps, in keeping with our humility before the Lord, we invite that person to join us “up front” or at least acknowledge, in sincerity, that what was done was a team effort, pointing out other members of the team. Praising our neighbor is on the same level of need as praising God. Jesus made it so with his pronouncement.

We see from this example how difficult and complex living the Great Commandment can be. We must constantly keep God (and Christ) in the fore as we go about our daily lives. When we encounter others, the Lord invites us to see in them the God-given spirit they posses and pay them the same respect.

Love the Lord – that is so hard for our selfish hearts. It is so easy to forget Him completely and focus only on our own petty needs and problems. Today our prayer must be that we find in our hearts the love of God and are able to live that love, along with love of neighbor, well and fully.

Pax

[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is, “Holy Trinity“ by Hendrick van Balen, 1620s
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Saturday of the Twenty Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 4:7-16

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Therefore, it says:

He ascended on high and took prisoners captive;
he gave gifts to men.

What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended
into the lower regions of the earth?
The one who descended is also the one who ascended
far above all the heavens,
that he might fill all things.

And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood
to the extent of the full stature of Christ,
so that we may no longer be infants,
tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching
arising from human trickery,
from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.
Rather, living the truth in love,
we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ,
from whom the whole Body,
joined and held together by every supporting ligament,
with the proper functioning of each part,
brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Eph 4:7-16

St. Paul continues his plea for unity in this passage. He defines unity, through his analogy and example as more than just sharing a belief in Christ. Unity is exemplified by the gifts (and grace) given by Christ. The apostle uses a quote from an older form of
Psalm 68:18-19 (the psalm itself depicts Yahweh leading Israel to salvation, St. Paul sees in this image Jesus entry to the New Jerusalem) to describe how Jesus (metaphorically capturing the spirits of the faithful) brought gifts to each person. The reference “…he also descended” likely refers to Christ’s incarnation rather than to his decent following his crucifixion.

St. Paul continues his discourse enumerating the leadership gifts given to “building up the Body of Christ”, bringing the fledgling Church to maturity. In maturity, the apostle tells the Ephesians, they will resist those who teach falsely and become more unified in the love they share.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the LORD."
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city,
walled round about.
Here the tribes have come,
the tribes of the LORD,
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
As it was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
Here are the thrones of justice,
the thrones of the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

Psalm 122 is a processional psalm sung by pilgrims making the required three annual trips to Jerusalem. In these strophes the image of “going up to Jerusalem” echoes the Lord’s return in St. Paul’s quote of Psalm 68.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gospel:
Luke 13:1-9

At that time some people who were present there
told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
He said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them–
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’

He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Lk 13:1-9

The incident recorded at the beginning of this reading (likely the accidental death of those on whom the tower fell) is found only in St. Luke’s Gospel. Based upon historical works of the time, the actions of Pilate were in keeping with his character. Jesus uses the event to call his audience to repentance.

“Following on the call to repentance, the parable of the barren fig tree presents a story about the continuing patience of God with those who have not yet given evidence of their repentance (see
Luke 3:8). The parable may also be alluding to the delay of the end time, when punishment will be meted out, and the importance of preparing for the end of the age because the delay will not be permanent”[iv]
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:

The challenge of Christian unity is much greater than most of us understand. At the level of denominational integration (or reunification) there are major challenges of dogmatic differences. These may be eventually overcome as truth is debated in open dialogue. The greater challenge may be at the individual level; the level at which most of us will engage in our evangelical process of witnessing the faith in the world.

When we begin discussing things of God, we quickly discover what a slippery slope secular values and understanding creates for those whose faith foundation is either inadequate or ineffective. In a recent discussion with a person I assumed to be a member of a Protestant denomination, I discovered to my amazement (because the person was a sibling) that when push came to shove, they did not believe in the divinity of Christ. A notable quote from that conversation was “The best Christian I have ever met was a Hindu.”

We wonder how a person, brought up in a Christian home could fall so far from the core beliefs of the Christian faith. We went further speaking about what Sacred Scripture meant and found that there too, my sibling believed it to be nothing more than a moral code, arbitrarily assembled from ancient documents. How do we bring such a one to understand the fundamental lack of understanding?

We are called to be one body, believing in one Lord Jesus Christ. We should feel compelled to share that gift and promise with others. But how do we tell them that they need to make that change – especially if they have rejected that call and turned away? All we can do is continue to witness our faith and pray for those who have not come to faith or who have fallen away, that they might be brought through the death of faith back to the light. In the mean time, we thank God for the fig tree. God is patient.

Pax

[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is “The Redeemer” by Master of the Osservanza, c. 1450
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
[iv] See NAB footnote on Luke 13:6-9

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Saint Antony Mary Claret, Bishop

Biographical Information about St. Antony Mary Claret[i]

Readings for Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 4:1-6

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
through the bond of peace;
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Eph 4:1-6

St. Paul begins this chapter of his letter to the Ephesians with an exhortation to live (walk) in unity with each other. The theological foundation laid in the previous parts of the letter is now translated into the need to act upon that reality. The apostles plea for unity uses the a litany of bonds that bring Christian unity; one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The earth is the LORD'S and all it holds,
the world and those who live there.
For God founded it on the seas,
established it over the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who may go up the mountain of the LORD?
Who can stand in his holy place?
"The clean of hand and pure of heart,
who are not devoted to idols,
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
They will receive blessings from the LORD,
and justice from their saving God.
Such are the people that love the LORD,
that seek the face of the God of Jacob." Selah
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

Psalm 24 is a processional song. It recalls that God is the great creator and he calls his people to be faithful. It asks the question who can come into his presence and answers only those who are sinless (completely reconciled to God). They who achieve that beatified state will receive the reward of eternal life from the savior. It focuses on the character of the one who worthily seeks God and the one who is worthy to come into God’s kingdom and stand before him.

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Gospel:
Luke 12:54-59

He also said to the crowds,
“When you see (a) cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Lk 12:54-59

The Lord continues his reflection on the end times (the Parousia) and, using the analogy of seeing what weather will come based upon the direction of the wind, he asks if they cannot see the signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Using that urgency generated by the uncertainty of the hour of that call to judgment, he exhorts the crowd to order their lives now and do not delay.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:

In St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus continues his discourse about the inevitability of the end times. He has already said that we must be prepared because we do not know when that will happen. In this final part of his discourse, Jesus now, speaking once more to the crowd that had gathered, uses the analogy of a person going into litigation over a debt to emphasize the need to avoid procrastination.

The language used conveys an urgency that must have infected St. Paul later on as he fully expected this event to take place in his own life time. He never realized that Jesus was speaking in terms, not of some terrible cataclysm, ending all life everywhere, but of each person’s journey, ending before the judgment seat of Christ. When Jesus was crucified (“…a baptism with which I must be baptized” from
Luke 12: 50), the end that was a beginning started. We are not denying that, as scripture in other places foretells, there will be a second coming, a new resurrection. Rather that we face our own end and our life on this earth has its own conclusion for which we must be prepared.

Jesus sees this finite strand of life to which we cling and sees also that we must seek conform ourselves to God’s will on this earth to avoid our later regret. How many stories have we heard about the long line before the pearly gates? The reality of that line is something else completely. Who among us would wish to come before the Lord as we are – right at this moment? Would we be willing to show him all of the sins we have committed – un-atoned? Would we rather not hope that our assent to stand before that judgment seat might include a period of time when those sins we carried with us might be recognized and expiated by our will, our righteous understanding? Is this not how we understand Purgatory – that process of purification were we may be made worthy to stand before Christ, with his angels and saints?

To the Lord’s point though, even knowing that we; “…will not be released until you have paid the last penny." We are reminded that we have time, we should not delay. We all need to examine carefully what we have done and make sure that those sins are laid out before God and our contrition demonstrates a conversion of heart. We can think about this time as our time walking with the Lord, on the way to court. We pray that we can settle accounts before we reach that destination.

Pax

[i] The picture used today is “St. Antony Mary Claret”, Artist and date are UNKNOWN
[ii] ALTRE
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Saint John of Capestrano, Priest

Biographical Information about St. John Capestrano

Readings for Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[i][ii]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:
[iii]

Reading 1:
Ephesians 3:14-21

(For the reason) I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on
Eph 3:14-21

St. Paul has informed the Ephesians of the difficulties (imprisonment (see
Eph 3:1)) he is facing but has asked them to stay focused on their own spiritual growth rather that concern themselves over his “afflictions”. He offers the following: “The apostle prays that those he is addressing may, like the rest of the church, deepen their understanding of God's plan of salvation in Christ. It is a plan that affects the whole universe with the breadth and length and height and depth of God's love in Christ or possibly the universe in all its dimensions. The apostle prays that they may perceive the redemptive love of Christ for them and be completely immersed in the fullness of God. The prayer concludes with a doxology to God.” [iv]

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Responsorial Psalm:
Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Rejoice, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
For the LORD'S word is true;
all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right
and fills the earth with goodness.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever,
wise designs through all generations.
Happy the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people chosen as his very own.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
But the LORD'S eyes are upon the reverent,
upon those who hope for his gracious help,
Delivering them from death,
keeping them alive in times of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

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Commentary on
Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19

Psalm 33 is a song of praise and thanksgiving. In this selection the emphasis is on faithfulness to God who has saving power combined with hope, a central component of faith in God. It concludes almost in answer to St. Paul’s prayer for strength in the face of persecution.

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Gospel:
Luke 12:49-53

“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
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Commentary on
Lk 12:49-53

We see in this passage a glimpse of the passion and anguish the Lord feels for the message he is bringing. He sees the flame of faith igniting the whole world. He knows there will be those who accept the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and those who will reject both it and him. This disunion will result in friction and ill will, dividing even families.

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Homily:

Those who are most concerned about their own happiness and comfort look at the Christians who dare to live the faith in a public way as fools! They hear the message that is at the root of Christ’s teaching and reject it completely as being naiveté or as gullible. Ironically, the only reason they do not take more advantage of those of us who believe in Christ is there are those among us who are not sufficiently committed to “turning the other cheek”. As a consequence, the wolves must be cautious.

The message in the Gospel and tangentially in the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians is that Christ’s Gospel will not create harmony in the world. It will not even create peace in families. The commandment to love one another is not a requirement that everyone can accept. It is too difficult for some to overcome their need for self gratification, either physically or emotionally.

As a consequence, when we leave the comfort and support of the faith community, those with whom we share God’s love and grace, we enter mission territory. If we forgive a person in that often hostile environment, we must not expect understanding and should not be surprised at suspicion. When we offer compassion and understanding, as we are taught, we should not expect the same in return and should not be surprised if our love is met with fear.

As in all relationships, trust must be earned and we, the Christian Community must continue to reach out to others, in spite of the fact that we know our out-stretched hand may be bitten. Jesus tells us that he did not come to magically bring peace to the world, he came sending us, bring people back, one at a time.

Pax

[i] ALTRE
[ii] The picture used today is “Peasants Fighting” by Adriaen Brouwer, 1631-35
[iii] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Psalm Response is from Printed source United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
November 11, 2002 Copyright (c) by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
[iv] See NAB footnote on Ephesians 3:14-21