Thirtieth Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 30 OTC

 

Readings: Sir 35:12-14, 16-18; 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18; Lk 18:9-14.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV Sirach 35:12 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality. 13 He will not show partiality in the case of a poor man; and he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. 14 He will not ignore the supplication of the fatherless, nor the widow when she pours out her story. 15 Do not the tears of the widow run down her cheek as she cries out against him who has caused them to fall? 16 He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds. 17 The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord; he will not desist until the Most High visits him, and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment. 18 And the Lord will not delay, neither will he be patient with them, till he crushes the loins of the unmerciful and repays vengeance on the nations; till he takes away the multitude of the insolent, and breaks the scepters of the unrighteous.

 

2/ Reading II: RSV 2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 16 At my first defense no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week;, I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."



I. THEME: The faith and the necessary attitudes in praying

            How can one’s prayer be responded by God is the theme of all today’s readings. Before praying people need to know some basic attitudes they must have: God is the just judge, never be partial to or bribed from anyone; all sincere prayers shall be received; what God promises He shall fulfill it; people can never become righteous by themselves because all are sinners; people can only be righteous by their faith in God and by trying to keep all what God teaches them.

            Today readings illustrate these basic knowledge. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach described God is the just judge, never be partial or bribed. He protects the right of the oppressed and hears the cries of the widows and the orphans. In the second reading, Paul knew in advance what shall happen to him in his last days at Rome; he shall be forsaken by his companions and be maltreated by the Jews and the Roman authorities; but he had a firm faith in God. He believed God shall deliver him from all dangers and has ready for him the crown of righteousness in heaven. In the Gospel, Jesus cited a story to remind his disciples their needed attitudes when praying: Don’t rely on their righteousness or despise others; but rely on God’s mercy and humbly confess all their sins.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God listens to all sincere prayers.

           

1.1/ God judges rightly, not partially: He isn’t like worldly kings and leaders who used to partially judge for their material profits, God is the just judge who only judges according to the truth. He doesn’t take bribery and no one can buy God.

            Moreover, all people are His children so He has a special concern for the unjustly oppressed. The author of Sirach listed out two kinds of people whom God pays a special care:

            (1) The poor whom are unjustly oppressed: “He will not show partiality in the case of a poor man; and he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.”

            (2) The widow and the orphan: These people have no husbands or fathers to protect them so God shall protect them from those who oppressed them, “He will not ignore the supplication of the fatherless, nor the widow when she pours out her story. Do not the tears of the widow run down her cheek as she cries out against him who has caused them to fall?”

           

1.2/ God pays attention to all prayers.

            Some people question how can God hear and respond to all people’s prayers, especially of those who are oppressed or have no merits before Him? God controls the world by His angels. They are His messengers to bring people’s prayers up to Him and to convey His grace to people. For example, the archangel Raphael revealed this when he told Tobias all God’s plan for his family when his father, Tobit, and his wife, Sarah, prayed to Him.

            The author of Sirach also confirmed that God hears all people’s prayers and examines each case to see what He should do for people. He cited two cases in which God guarantees their prayers:

            (1) The one who works for the Lord: “He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds.”

(2) The one who is humble, “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord; he will not desist until the Most High visits him, and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment.”

            Therefore, the needed attitudes are to be humble and to firmly believe that our prayers shall be brought up to God by His angels. God shall examine each case and grant it as He knows it is good for us.

2/ Reading II: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom.”

2.1/ Paul completely believed in God’s providence.

            After witnessing for Christ in Jerusalem, Paul had a vision during the night in which Christ appeared to console and to let him know that he shall witness for him at Rome too; Christ also let him know all dangers are waiting for him at Rome.

            Paul wrote this Letter to Timothy, his disciple, when he was in prison at Rome, with a purpose to encourage Timothy being ready to witness for Christ, “I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

            Paul didn’t think he is worthy with the crown of righteousness by his works; but he wanted to emphasize on the faithful believing in Christ. He is the just judge; he shall declare Paul as the righteous person and give him the reward for his faith which is the crown of righteousness.

            This passage is a proof for those who misunderstood Paul when they said that people, according to Paul, are justified by faith only; and have no need of doing anything to show their faith. Paul proved his faith in Christ by fulfilling the mission of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles which Christ has entrusted to him; and now, he is also ready to pour out his blood to witness for the Gospel he is preaching at Rome, the land of the Gentiles.

           

2.2/ Paul could overcome all obstacles because he firmly believed in God.

            Looking back at Paul’s life of preaching, we are startled by his perseverance when facing sufferings both inside and outside of his body, as he wrote in today passage, “At my first defense no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!” Though being suffered as such, Paul imitated Christ by not only he didn’t blame them but also prayed for them.

            Paul recognized that the strength to suffer and the success in preaching of the Gospel don’t come from him, but from his complete trust in Christ. He confessed, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

 

3/ Gospel: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”

            First of all, we need to know Jesus’ intention when citing this story is to rebuke those who are calling them the righteous and despise others.

           

3.1/ The Pharisee’s prideful attitude:

            (1) The Pharisee’s way of praying: By looking at the people’s behavior, we can recognize what they think. The passage describes two contrasted behavior between the Pharisee and the tax-collector, “The Pharisee stood and prayed.” He thought that he is deserved of what he asked for.

            (2) The Pharisee found ways to extol him: He found two ways to extol him: by debasing others and telling good about himself. He accused and debased others when he prayed, “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”

            Praying is talking to God; it isn’t the time to accuse others. He might thank God who gives him grace to be such a good person; but it isn’t things God wants to hear. God wants him to recognize his weakness, not to condemn others because it isn’t his business. He talked about his accomplishments, “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”

            His displaying of accomplishments showed that he didn’t know who God is. God is the One who knows all his works and intentions. He has no need to be reminded by him. Even his paying of tithes is only to return what God gave to him. If we pay a close attention to the Pharisee's prayer we shall recognize that he didn’t ask God for anything; he only thanked God, or to be more exact, he only displayed of his accomplishments for God to see.

3.2/ The tax-collector’s way of praying:

            (1) His behavior: The tax-collector was “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!'”

            (2) He knew he is a sinner: He knew that he had no merit before God; therefore, he completely relied on God’s compassion.

3.3/ The results of prayers: God is the only One who accepts people’s prayers. Jesus proclaimed the results as follows, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” The reason for accepting or rejecting a prayer is clearly proclaimed by Jesus, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

            To proclaim who is righteous completely belongs to God because there is no one without sin. People become righteous because of their faith in Christ who took away people’s sins and reconcile them to God. The self-proclaimed righteous attitude causes many dangers for people:

            (1) Since they think they are good, they have no need of God’s forgiveness. We can see this kind of people in every generation, to wit, the Pharisees in Jesus’ time; the Pelagists or Semi-Perlagists in St. Augustine’s time; etc. St. John said to his community, “Nếu chúng ta nói là chúng ta không có tội, chúng ta tự lừa dối mình, và sự thật không ở trong chúng ta. Nếu chúng ta thú nhận tội lỗi, Thiên Chúa là Đấng trung thành và công chính sẽ tha tội cho chúng ta, và sẽ thanh tẩy chúng ta sạch mọi điều bất chính. Nếu chúng ta nói là chúng ta đã không phạm tội, thì chúng ta coi Người là kẻ nói dối, và lời của Người không ở trong chúng ta” (1 Jn 1:8-10).

            (2) These people think they have no sin; that is because they don’t carefully examine of themselves or their conscience is so bad that they can’t differentiate between good and evil. If they carefully examine their conscience, they shall recognize they are also sinners as others.

            (3) When they think they are perfect, they easily despise and judge others. This bad habit causes them to have no peace and destroy their family and community, because they want others to live according to their “perfect” standards.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - The prayer with a loyal desire to do God’s will, shall certainly be heard by God. There is no prayer which shall not be ascended to Him.

            - We must be ready to face sufferings to witness for God. He shall protect and gives us strength to overcome them.

            - We must have a humble attitude when praying by confessing we are sinners and look for God’s forgiveness.

Saturday in the twenty-ninth week of the Ordinary Time1

Saturday of the 29 OT1

 

Readings: Rom 8:1-11; Lk 13:1-9

1/ First Reading: RSV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

10 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? 3 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

6 And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

7 And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?'

8 And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"


I. THEME: Live in a way that benefits ourselves and others.

            When people would like to do something, they want good results; if not, they will not continue to do it. For example, a gardener will not plant seed or keep a tree which did not yield good fruits; a business man will not stock up items which moved slowly or no one wanted to buy; an owner will not keep workers whom brought no profit for his company. Same thing happens in the spiritual area, God demands people to bear fruits for Him, others, and themselves. He will give them many opportunities to bear fruits, and will stop to give opportunities if they did not yield any profit.

            Today readings center around the theme what people must do to bear fruits for themselves and God’s kingdom. In the first reading, St. Paul mentioned two lifestyles which are totally contrasted with each other, namely, one lifestyle according to the flesh will gradually lead people to dead, and one lifestyle according to the Holy Spirit will help people to bear good fruits and lead them to eternal life. In the Gospel, Jesus advised his audience not to judge people to find out the reason of their suffering; but to often examine their conscience, in order to repent and to yield good results.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The two ways of life: according to the spirit and to the flesh

            According to St. Paul’s understanding of Christ’s mystical body, no one can stand alone, but he has a relation to God and to others. As people have a relationship with Adam in the original sin and death, they also have a relationship with Christ in grace and the eternal life. The result of Adam’s sin is death; the result of Christ’s grace is the resurrection and the eternal life.

1.1/ The way of the flesh:

            (1) The meaning of “flesh”: Paul used “sark” to indicate the literal meaning which is human flesh, such as the circumcision (Rom 2:28). He also used this word for the symbolic meaning, which is, to live according to human standards (Rom 7:5). The way of the flesh is not only included sins of fleshy desire, but also extended to other sins, such as: idolatry, jealousy, envy... (cf. Gal 5:19-21).

            (2) The result of the life according to the flesh: As Paul discussed in chapter 7, human has no power to overcome temptation of sin, and the result human must get is death. St. Paul repeated this in today passage: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot;and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

1.2/ The way of the Spirit:

            (1) The meaning of “spirit”: Hebrew and Greek have only one word to indicate spirit, breath, or human power: “ruah” in Hebrew and “pneuma.” According to Paul, this word indicates human power, the divine life, or the Holy Spirit. When people live according to the Holy Spirit, they follow the instruction of the Holy Trinity.

            (2) The result of the life according to the spirit: It will lead people to peace and life because it has power to help them to become righteous. St. Paul believed: “if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.”

2/ Gospel: Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

2.1/ People must frequently examine their conscience in order to repent: What is the relationship between suffering and sin? There are two positions: The position of God and the world. According to the latter, suffering is the result of sin “whoever did evil will be punished by God, the more heavy of the sin the more severe of the punishment.” According to the former, suffering might not be a result of sin. For example, there are some who would like to suffer to give life to others as in the case of Jesus, or to give glory to God as in the case of Job or the man born blind in John 9. Jesus illustrated by two examples:

            (1) The Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.Jesus asked his audience: "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus. I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” The Jewish tradition believed those were killed because they opposed Pilate when he collected the Temple tax to build the water system for people who live at Jerusalem.

            (2) Those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: Jesus also asked them: “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?

I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

            The important thing Jesus wanted to point out is that instead of arguing to find out a relationship between suffering and sin, they should look deep into themselves to recognize their sins and to repent.

 

2.2/ People must bear fruit for God: Jesus gave them a parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

            (1) If the fig tree continues to bear no fruit, it will be cut off to plant another tree to bear fruits for people. Same thing will happen to people, if they don’t bear fruits as God wants, He will take them away and give their places to others so that they will bear fruits for Him.

            (2) God gives all people many opportunities to bear fruits; but if they don’t take advantage of opportunities, He will give them no more opportunities. Of course, God will be patient to wait for people to yield profit; but He cannot wait forever. He will give those opportunities to those who will bear good fruits.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We need to understand clearly God’s plan of salvation and our role in this plan. We should fulfill the role He would like us to play.

            - We should not envy of others’ positions, but to fulfill our vocation; so that together with everyone, we bring God’s plan of salvation to its fulfillment.

            - Don’t look around to inspect or to condemn others; but look into ourselves to see if we are bearing fruits according to God’s grace and gifts.

Thursday in the twenty-ninth week of the Ordinary Time1

Thursday of the 29 OT1

 

Readings: Rom 6:19-23; Lk 12:49-53.

1/ First Reading: RSV Romans 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations.

For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 12:49 "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!

50 I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?

No, I tell you, but rather division;

52 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."


I. THEME: Search and live according to the truth.

            There are many things that are irrational in life. The most irrational of all is that, instead of recognizing and love those who sacrificed their whole lives to raise, to educate, and to prepare for us; we follow those who always look for opportunities to take advantage of, to poison, and to destroy our future! Why can this irrational thing happen? The reason is the wicked know what people like: pleasure, easy things, and temporal values. 

            Today readings invite us to think and to reflect in order to recognize who truly love us. In the first reading, St, Paul advised the Roman faithfuls to recognize God’s truth and love by making a comparison: On the one side, God’s enemies always tempt them to become slaves for sin, the result of these temptation are shame, unrest, and a painful death; on the other side, God always loves, instructs, and does everything to bring salvation to them. By sending Christ to the world, He is ready to forgive their sins and to bestow grace so that people have strength to escape slavery for sins and to live righteously according to God’s way. In the Gospel, Jesus revealed his will for men: He brings the fire of love, of truth, and of peace to men; but they must receive them before these can benefit them.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Learn to make a comparison and to do God’s will.

            St. Paul wanted people to recognize two main things in today reading.

1.1/ Christians have power to overcome sins: Before the coming of Christ, people have no power to overcome sins, though the Law helps people to recognize their sins; but with Christ’s coming, he equips them with his grace to overcome sins. St. Paul explained this fact: “For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” If Christ has helped us to overcome sins in order to live righteous, why don’t we take advantage of the opportunity to escape slavery to sins?

 

1.2/ The results of two ways of lifestyle: To choose wisely, a man needs to recognize the results of his decision. St. Paul helped Christians to recognize the results of these two ways of lifestyle: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

            (1) The way of sinful lifestyle: “But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.” When people committed a sin, they feel ashamed with God and others: with God since they disobeyed what He commanded; with others since they violated their right. The most dangerous result of sin is it leads people to death. St. Paul called death is the wage of sin; since when people work, they will be paid correspondly with their work.

            (2) The way of righteous lifestyle: This way leads people to become holy and to inherit eternal life. The benefits when people live righteously are they will not be ashamed when they come to God or to others, because they have nothing to hide. The most desired benefit is it helps people to reach the eternal life. St. Paul called the eternal life is given to people by God, through Christ’s merit.

2/ Gospel: Live according to truth and love will help people to have true peace.

2.1/ “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” Fire has at least three uses for: to light up, to purify, and to warm up.

            - Jesus enlighten all by his words;

            - Live according to his word will purify people from all falsity and sins;

            - When one feels God’s love for him, he will wipe away all hatredness, division, and jealousy in order to love and to warm up all people.

            The fire which Jesus casts upon the earth and desires it to kindle up is God’s truth and love. If people would live according to this fire, they will have a happy life. Jesus continued, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished.” The Baptism Jesus mentioned here is the Baptism in blood, which is his Passion and death. This Baptism is only fulfilled when he dies upon the Cross to show the depth of God’s love for human beings.

2.2/ Did Jesus come to bring division? Jesus’ declaration causes a surprise to many people: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Why the God of peace brings division, and not peace?

            God’s peace is different with human peace, and God’s way to attain peace is different with human way to attain it. Human peace is not the true peace since it is based on human understanding; and war can break out anytime if there is a conflict of their understandings. God’s peace is based on the truth, and this truth is not changed; therefore, it is the true peace. God’s way to attain peace is not like human way. Jesus ascertains this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27). God’s peace is only achieved when one recognizes the truth of the mystery of salvation and God’s love for human beings.

            Since God’s truth is different with and above human understanding, so Jesus’ teachings will cause division: some believed in Jesus’ words as his apostles and disciples; some did not believe and oppose him as scribes and Pharisees. They found ways to kill Jesus and his disciples. Same thing happens when God’s words are sowed in a family: some will believe; some will not. The result is their division due to God’s words. If all members of a family believe in his words, then the family will truly have peace. No power can destroy this peace which is based on the truth.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

                    

            - We have a capacity to terminate sins and to follow God’s righteous way. Let us put God’s words in practice and frequently receive God’s power through the sacraments.

            - Christ is the source of peace. He comes to reconcile people with God and with one another. Our understanding of the truth and our love for Christ will help us to wipe away all differences and to become one in Christ’s mystical Body.

            - Christ has casted his fire of truth and love into the world and desired it to kindle. In order to have this true peace in our family and on earth, everyone of us must co-operate with God by preaching God’s word and by bringing His love to all.

Save

Save

Friday in the twenty-ninth week of the Ordinary Time1

Friday of the 29 OT1

 

Readings: Rom 7:18-25a; Lk 12:54-59.

1/ First Reading: RSV Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.

I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.

19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.

20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self,

23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 12:54 He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming'; and so it happens.

55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens.

56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

57 "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.

59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper."


I. THEME: Must be careful in searching for the truth.

            On the jouney to search for the truth, people can use many different ways. They can use their reason, based on what they knew to find out what they know not. They can use experience, what happened in similar conditions, will happen next time. They can believe in what God taught through leaders or prophets. Or they can use the combination of all these ways.

            Today readings invite us to carefully search for the truth to believe. In the first reading, based on his reason and experience, Paul wanted to demonstrate to the Jews that the Law has no power to motivate people to do good and to save them from sins. This is the reason they must believe in Christ, whom was sent by God to liberate people from sins and to help people to overcome temptations by his grace. In the Gospel, Jesus said to his audience: If their reason and experience can help them to recognize phenomenons happened on earth, they also can help them to recognize what is good or bad in morality of which they must follow or avoid. If they don’t recognize them, they still have to endure all results of their acts.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Law helps people to know good or bad act; but gives them no power to do good and to avoid bad act.

1.1/ Men can recognize what is a good or bad act: To understand Paul’s argument, we need to understand Jewish mentality. To them, the Law of God is enough to liberate people from sins and to inherit God’s salvation. To Paul, the Law can only help people to recognize good or bad; but does not give them strength to do or to avoid them.

            Paul used his reason and experience to convince the Jews as follows: “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”

1.2/ Men can desire but have no power to do good things: According to experience, from what one knows to what one puts into practice is not easy. There are many who knew a lots, but they did not act according to their knowledge; sometimes they acted totally against them. St. Paul described this torn feeling as follows: “For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Jesus himself also warned his disciples about the danger of the flesh and the need to be awared: “For the spirit is quick but the flesh is heavy.”

            To help people to do good and to avoid evil, they need not only the Law, but also to put their trust in Christ, whom the Father sent to set people free from this inside battle. With Christ, people can do good and avoid evil, as Paul declared: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

            Paul did not explain in details how Christ helps people to avoid sins and to live righteously in today passage; but in the next chapter, Paul compared the two lives according to the flesh and according to the spirit. The tradition of the Church also emphasizes that the virtuous life by God’s grace and the human control of the flesh will help Christians to avoid sins and to live righteously.

2/ Gospel: Let use the intellect to search for the truth.

2.1/ Knowledge about weather: Our ancestors, though they did not have instruments used to predict weather as we have now, used their experience to predict weather and to teach future generation by simple maxims, easy to understand and to memorize. For example, “When you see a cloud comes from the east of Vietnam, you must run; but if you see it comes from the south, you can either continue to work or to play.” Their meanings are: If a cloud comes from the east of Vietnam, that is, from the sea of Nam Hai, then rain will certainly come; therefore, people must run as fast as possible to avoid rain. If a cloud comes from the south of Vietnam, it will not rain, people can continue what they are doing, either working or playing.

            Jesus also used their ancestors’ experience when he said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens.” Their meanings are: If a dark cloud comes from the west of Palestine, that is, from the Mediterranean Sea, it is certainly that rain will come (). If a wind comes from the south of Palestine, that is, from the Arabian desert, the weather will be hot.

2.2/ Knowledge about time: In the time period closed to the coming of Christ, almost every one of the Jews was looking for the Messiah, who will come to set them free from the foreign empire. According to prophets, God will give people signs to recognize when the Messiah comes; for example, according to the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isa 61:1). But when Jesus reminded them that he is the one who Isaiah fortold (Lc 4:21), they were still not believed in him. This is the reason why Jesus scolded them: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”

 

2.3/ Use knowledge about psychology to prepare for one’s future life: To prepare to face God’s justice on the Judgment Day, Jesus illustrated a case which people are so familiar: “As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.” The meaning is that according to justice, we must render to people what belong to them. If we treat them unjust, we must compensate for them the sooner the better; if not, we will have to pay them back by the judge’s order and to endure possible jail time.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Human being is a rational animal: they know how to use experience to draw out a lesson for present life, and to use present to prepare for future. So, we should not quickly believe what others said without carefully verify them, and don’t let people to control our life.

            - After knowing the truth, we must have courage to live and to witness for the truth to benefit our life and others.

            - We cannot avoid sins and live righteously without Christ’s grace; therefore, we should frequently receive sacraments to have strength to avoid sins and to practice virtues.

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Wednesday in the twenty-ninth week of the Ordinary Time1

Wednesday of the 29 OT1

 

Readings: Rom 6:12-18, 20b-21; Lk 12:39-48.

1/ Reading I: RSV Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.

13 Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness.

14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

16 Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.

2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 12:39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.

40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour."

41 Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?"

42 And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?

43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing.

44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

45 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,

46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.

47 And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.

48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.


I. THEME: Put into practice what one knew.

 

            The readings for today focus on practicing what people already knew, to benefit one’s life. In the first reading, Paul paid a special attention to two human positions: before and after receiving Christ. He advised the faithful to live according to the grace which Christ has brought to the faithful through his Passion and glorious Resurrection. If one intentionally immerses himself in sin as in his past, he will not be saved. In the Gospels, Jesus warned his disciples: They must live as faithful stewards in distributing of the mystery of salvation; if not, they will be punished more severe than those who do not know, when Jesus returns to judge.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1 / Readings I: You are the slaves to whom you obey.

1.1 / The believer must break away with sin: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness."

            (1) The legal status of people before and after Christ: Before Christ, human beings were completely under the law, and slavery to sin and death. They have no power to escape from these slaveries. When Christ comes, He freed people from the law, sin, and death. People, with the power of Christ's grace, can escape these slaveries, to be free to live for God. St. Paul compared the state of the believer with the slave's status: when a slave lives under his owner, he is completely dependent on his owner, and has no chance to escape from his slavery life, but when a ransom is paid to free him, the slave is now free to live for himself. The believers too, once liberated by Christ, they are no longer slaves to sin, but are free and are equipped to live for God.

            (2) The inner status of people before and after Christ: Before Christ, people have no strength to resist the power of sin beside the law tells them that it is a sin, but it does not help people to overcome sin. When Christ comes, he gives grace to people so they can overcome sin. St. Paul ascertained that: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

            Paul knew someone would question: “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” and he answered: “By no means!” Paul meant with Christ’s appearance, sin and death no longer have absolute power on people; but if they reject a life according to grace by keep living in sins, they will not have salvation. This is the sin against the Holy Spirit which we discussed many times.

1.2 / The results of the two lifestyles: St. Paul explained: “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

            (1) The result of a life according to sin: When people are slaves to the law and sins, they have no power to escape sins and no way to become righteous. The result is death as God said to Moses when He gave the Ten Commandments to people.

            (2) The result of a life according to grace: With Christ’s appearance, Christians become righteous because they believe in Christ. He gives them grace to live a holy life, and sets them free from death to inherit the eternal life.

            One thing people must keep in mind is that even Christ came to liberate, people still have freedom to choose between the two lifestyles. If they choose to immerse in sins, they will be death and live far away from God. An example will help us to understand what Paul explained. Medicine can heal, but a patient must abstain from dangerous food in order to be healed. If a patient relies too much on the medicine and do not abstain, the medicine will loose its effect; and his disease will get worse.

 

2/ Gospel: That servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.

2.1/ The owner handles his property and the right of distribution to his steward: A steward is chosen by his owner, though he has power over all other servants; but to his owner, he is still a servant. His duty is to manage all of business and servants in the household when his owner absents; one of his duties is to provide food for servants on time. Who is the servant whom Jesus wanted to imply here?

            Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?"Jesus answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?” Jesus’ answer implied his apostles. They are the ones who were chosen, trusted, trained, and sent out by Jesus to preach the Good News. They must be responsible before Christ about those whom he sent his disciples to preach. The answer can also be extended to all Christians for they are also leaders in their families and communities.

2.2/ The steward’s attitude: He can fall into one of these two attitudes:

            (1) Faithfull and the reward: A faithfull steward is the one who fulfills his duties when his owner presents or absents. If a steward had that kind of attitude, it is no surprise to his owner when he suddenly shows up and finds him doing as such. Jesus praised this steward: “Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions;” because whoever was loyal to small things, also loyal to great things.

            (2) Unfaithfull and the punishment: But if that servant thinks: “My master is delayed in coming, and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.”

            And Jesus declared: “the servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

                   

            - We were purified by Christ from all our sins and equipped to live righteous, we must break off our slavery to sins in order to live righteouly.

            - Jesus taught us all things, even the way we must prepare for our future. We should listen and and prepare for accordingly.

            - Christians have been taught and equipped with graces; if they don’t follow God’s will, they will be judged more severe than those who are not.

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