Thirty-first Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 31 OTC

 

Readings: Wis 11:22-12:2; 2 Thes 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10.

1/ Reading I: RSV Wisdom 11:22 Because the whole world before thee is like a speck that tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground. 23 But thou art merciful to all, for thou can do all things, and thou do overlook men's sins that they may repent. 24 For thou love all things that exist, and have loathing for none of the things which thou have made, for thou would not have made anything if thou had hated it. 25 How would anything have endured if thou had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved? 26 Thou spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord who loves the living. 12:1 For thy immortal spirit is in all things. 2 Therefore thou do correct little by little those who trespass, and do remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, O Lord.

 

2/ Reading II: RSV 2 Thessalonians 1:11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2:1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."



I. THEME: God’s loving forgiveness 

 

            Many of us don’t understand why the Church doesn’t permit the followings: birth controls; abortion even knowing the child carries a disease; euthanasia though they greatly suffer; death penalty no matter how many people he killed. The simple reason behind these is the Church recognizes the right to life belongs to God, not to human beings. God creates all things; He loves and protects all creatures. People are only His creation; no one can destroy what God created.

            Today readings want to highlight God’s love for all creatures, especially His loving forgiveness for humankind. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Wisdom emphasizes the principle: since God creates all things, He loves and protects all things. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost; but to repent and to live. In the second reading, St. Paul taught that even people should be destroyed because they misused their freedom; but God gave them Christ to redeem their sins. Therefore, they shouldn’t worry about the Last Day because it is the day that people shall be glorified with Christ. In the Gospel, even in the midst of a big crowd, Jesus still recognized a short and sinful tax-collector, Zacchaeus, who was standing on a sycamore tree. He wanted to visit his house and to bring salvation for him.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God loves all things He created.

           

1.1/ God created all things: The author of the Book of Wisdom wanted to highlight the following important truths which people need to know:

            (1) God’s power: The universe, though is giant to people, but to God, it is only “a speck that tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground.” His power also surpasses what people can see because there are countless things in heaven and in the abyss which people can’t see.

            (2) God’s love for all creatures: “Thou love all things that exist, and have loathing for none of the things which thou have made, for thou would not have made anything if thou had hated it.”

            (3) God’s providence: God not only creates but He also sustains their existence by protecting them. The author pondered, “How would anything have endured if thou had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?”

           

1.2/ God gives sinners opportunities to repent.

            The human parents often love and care for the sick child more than the healthy ones. If this is true for human beings; it is more true to God who proclaimed many times through the prophets, “If a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Eze 18:21). Jesus said the same thing, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17).

            Many people aren’t patient when they see the wicked prosperously live upon the righteous’ suffering so they pray to God to destroy them as soon as possible. They don’t understand why God let the wicked to live in this life. To these people, the author of the Book of Wisdom gives the answer, “You are merciful to all, for you can do all things, and you do overlook men's sins that they may repent.”

            Many people doubt these wicked can repent. They forget that nothing is impossible to God. The author revealed one important thing, that is, “God’s immortal spirit is in all things.” Therefore, to the wicked, “You do correct little by little those who trespass, and do remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord.”

            One more thing we need to know: According to the author, the process returning to God is also initiated by Him, not from human beings. If God weren’t, it is impossible for people to repent.

2/ Reading II: “The name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2.1/ Live accordingly to God’s call.

            God calls us to be His children and gives all necessary grace so that we can live a life worthy to this call. There are many temptations in the world that prevent us to live in opposition to this call; but we must use God’s grace to overcome that. Some people complain that they are prone to sins and failure because they are so weak. To these people, St. Paul confirms that the grace of Christ’s redemption is enough to help us overcoming all our weakness in life. The important thing is for them to pray and to make an effort to do good deeds, as Paul wrote, “We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

           

2.2/ Do not be afraid about Christ’s second coming day.

            In Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, he thought Christ’s second coming is near so he invited them to immediately prepare for that day. In his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, he corrected his viewpoint about Christ’s second coming, as he wrote, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”

            In Paul’s time as also in the year of 2000, many people wrongly prepared for this event by stop working. They withdrew their money from the banks and spend all their savings because they are afraid that they shall have no opportunity to spend them if this day comes. They forgot what the Lord said to his disciples that this day shall certainly come but no one knows about the time. It shall come at the time when people least expect it.

            In this Letter, Paul said we should not be “quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us.” If people are ready, this day should be the joyful day because they shall be glorified with Christ.

 

3/ Gospel: The son of man comes to save what has been lost.

3.1/ The encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus

            Zacchaeus was described by St. Luke, not as a tax-collector as Matthew, but as the chief of tax-collectors in Jericho, a very prosperous region of Judah, near Jerusalem. His name shows he is a Jew who works as a tax-collector. To the Jews, tax-collectors were classified as prostitutes and robbers because they follow the Roman Empire to exploit them. He is, of course, very rich.       

            Due to curiosity, he wants to see Jesus but it is impossible because there is a great crowd and he is short in stature; “so he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way.” At Jericho now, there still exist a giant sycamore tree, surrounded by a fence, for the pilgrims to visit. People at Jericho identify this tree as the one which Zacchaeus climbed up to see Jesus!

            Jesus recognized him in the midst of so many peoples. He took the first step in the process of reconciliation with Zacchaeus by saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today!”

3.2/ Three different reactions on the encounter

            (1) The crowd: When people saw it, they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." To them, tax-collectors and prostitutes are considered as public sinners and prohibited to enter the temple. Whoever converses or makes friend with them is also considered as a sinner, and here is the chief of tax-collectors! They thought a person as Jesus can’t make friend with or enter his house because he shall become a sinner.

            (2) Zacchaeus: He never thinks Jesus could recognize him in the midst of so many people. Not only that, he also called out his name and expressed his intention to visit him at his house. Up until now, all the Jews looked down on him, considered him as a scum to be avoided; but Jesus doesn’t treat him as such; he considers him as a friend and wants to come to his house; a thing that no Jews would like to do. Therefore, he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully.

            When he heard people’s murmuring and knew that he is a sinner, he stood and said to Jesus, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” First, he promises to give away half of his possession to the poor. The verb is used at present time. Secondly, the Law only requires him to return what he unjustly took from people and pay a fine amounting to one-fifth of the value of the property unlawfully retained or withheld (Lev 6:1-5); but Zacchaeus generously promises to restore it fourfold.

            The joy of received by Jesus makes him a new person. Up until now, he only found ways to hoard up others’ possessions; but now, he generously gives the possession which he stored up. When making the decision to return, he courageously leaves his old lifestyle to begin the new lifestyle according to the standards of the gospel. His decision could evaporate all what he has; but it can’t take away the joy of Jesus’ loving forgiveness and his wish to visit his house.

            (3) Jesus: He said to Zacchaeus, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

            Jesus comes to bring salvation for all peoples, not only for the selected ones. Though Jesus heard people’s murmuring, but he didn’t pay attention to them. His only concern is Zacchaeus and he wants to bring him back to God.

            Jesus had his loving forgiveness for Zacchaeus before he promises to do many good things. The reason for this loving forgiveness is all are his children and Abraham’s descendants. When recognized Jesus’ loving kindness, Zacchaeus is urged to respond and he did.

            Jesus’ purpose when he comes to the world is to save what has lost. He comes not to save the righteous because they have no need of it; but to save the sinners who are considered as the patients looking for a doctor. The truth is that no one is the righteous; all are sinners and needed of God’s loving forgiveness. Those who self-label them as the righteous; they are deceiving themselves and losing the opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness and salvation.

 

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

 

            - God creates all things and sustains them with His grace; we should value and protect all God’s creation especially we must protect all people from the conception until they finish their life on earth.

            - We are equipped by God to overcome obstacles and to live our vocation as God’s children, so we should overcome sins and obstacles to bring Christ’s salvation to all people.

            - Imitating Christ, we must also have a forgiving attitude to the sinners and find ways to lead them back to God, not to hate, to condemn or to chase them away.

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

Readings: (Wis 3:1-9; Rom 5:5-11; Jn 6:37-40)

1/ Reading 1: (Wis 3:1-9)

 

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

2/ Reading II: (Rom 5:5-11)

 

KJV Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

 

3/ Gospel: (Jn 6:37-40)

 

Jesus said to the crowds:
"Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, OP.

I. THEME: Face the death to learn how to live.

            It is not accidental the Church reminds all the faithful that November is the month of all souls, and invites us to meditate about the rapid passing of life and the death. Looking out of a window, we recognize right away the change of weather: green leaves have changed to yellow, some already felt from trees, been torn down by cars’ tires or flown away by wind. Entering a car which was bought new some years ago, now became old, was repaired so many times, and then it will be ended up in a cars’ junk yard.

            Looking into our own body, it used to be a young, firm, healthy, quick to move for some years ago; now was completely changed: black hairs turned to silver, skins to tortoise shell; the whole body must be warmed up every morning before it can stand up and move around; our health will be gradually decreased until a day, people will carry us to a cemetery. Is our life also such meaningless as leaves or a car? If not, what is the purpose of our life and how could we reach that purpose?           

            Today readings provide us many important things to meditate about. In the Gospel, the Son of God himself clearly revealed to us what is the purpose of life and how could we reach that goal end. The first reading showed us the fates of two lives: of the righteous and of the unbelief. The second reading explained the main point of Pauline theology: all people have sinned and deserved death; but out of God’s immense love, He gave people His Only Son to redeem us from sins. His blood took away death and purchase for us the eternal life.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Two different beliefs lead to two ways of life.

            Depending on what people believed, they will live according to it and must endure its result. People must know what do they live their life for, before they can decide how to live in order to reach that goal.

           

1.1/ The belief and the way of life of the righteous: They believe:

            (1) Death is not the end, but the beginning of the eternal life with God. This belief is based on Isaiah’s prophecy: “He (God) will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.He will swallow up death for ever” (Isa 25:7-8a).

            (2) Death is the end of human suffering and the beginning of eternal happiness: Isaiah continued: “The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation”” (Isa 25:8b-9).

            (3) The meaning of all sufferings in our life is to show our faith and love for God: Since “having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.”

            (4) The reward of the righteous: “In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.”

            (5) The righteous’s way of life: If they shared their sufferings with God in this life they will also share His glory in the life to come. The author of the Book of Wisdom declared: “Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.”

1.2/ The belief and the way of life of the unbief: They believe:

            (1) Death is the end: To them, there is no resurrection, nor the etranal life. There is no need to pray for the death.

            (2) Death is the most painful of their life: Death ends everything. When death comes, they can no longer enjoy anything in life; therefore, must avoid death at all cost.

            (3) Sufferings of life is meaningless. They need to avoid all sufferings.

            (4) The reward of the unbelief: To them, there is no reward or punishment in the next life. All they have are in this life.

            (5) The belief and the way of life of the unbelief: How long they live in this life, they must find all possible ways to enjoy life and to be happy in this world.

2/ Reading II: Why are people not dead for ever?

 

2.1/ Everyone has sinned; therefore, all must be dead: The law which God gave to the Israelites can be liken as the two-edges knife. It can give life to people if they live according to the law, or if can lead people to death if they violate it, even only one time, as Moses said to them:

"See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30:15-19).

            But no one in this life can claim that he never commits any sin. Therefore, all must be dead because all have sinned against Him.

2.2/ Why are people not dead for ever?

            (1) God looks over people’s sins: The Jews and the Muslims believe this because they don’t believe Christ. Such faith, though highly esteems God’s mercy, but gravely despises God’s justice. Do God’s words through Moses have any true effect? Why doesn’t God forgive devils’ sins too?

            (2) God’s plan of salvation: To protect both God’s mercy and justice, one needs to believe in His plan of salvation. According to His plan, the followings must be happened:

            - Christ, the Son of God, agreed to die in the place of humankind: St. Paul explained this fact: “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

            - Christ reconciled people with God: “Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

            - People can have the eternal life: When people believe in Jesus, they are justified by Christ; as a result, “now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

 

3/ Gospel: The only way to achieve the eternal life

            The most important revelations of God were revealed in five verses of today Gospel (Jn 6:35-40).

3.1/ Christ is the Bread of Life: Jesus said to them: " I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” The sacrament of the Eucharist is the divine food that gives life (zoê) to people when they still live in this life. John used the same word “life” (zoê) to indicate the divine life or the eternal life. Once people was tasted the Bread of Life, the eternal life belongs to them.

3.2/ The required condition to reach the eternal life: When people stand before Christ, they can have two attitudes; and depending on their attitudes, they will receive the eternal life or be destroyed forever.

            (1) Believe in Christ:There is no other places in Scripture that reveal clearly God’s will than today passage of John’s Gospel. Jesus repeated twice his Father’s will:

            - “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.”

            - “ For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

            (2) Don’t believe in Christ: “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Whoever doesn’t believe in Christ when one faced him, that one cannot have the eternal life.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE

                    

             - We must know for sure what do we live this life for, before we decide how to live our life. The purpose of life is to inherit the eternal life from God. In order to reach this goal, we must firmly believe in Christ and practice his teachings.

            - Practice what we believed. Don’t believe in one thing and live according to other things. The danger for those who want to enjoy both this life and the life to come, is that they could loose both.

            - What should we do for our beloved death? They are parts of our life; without them, we cannot be as we are now. We need to pray for them, especially through Mass’ intentions, and to do good deeds so that God could lessen their punishments.

            - To love the souls is to love ourselves, because when they finish their purification, they will joint with all the saints in heaven, and they will intercede for us when it is our time to be purified. We hope that we will see them again and live happily with them forever in heaven.

            - The Church is in communication: We have three different communities in the Church, they are: the glorious church in heaven which is all the saints; the suffering church in purgatory which is all the souls; and the fighting church on earth which is all living Christians. There are only two which can do good are the glorious and the fighting churches; the suffering church cannot do anything good, they completely rely on all the saints’ intercessions and our prayers.

Save

Save

Thursday in the Thirtieth Week of the Ordinary Time1

Reading 1: Rom 8:31b-39

 

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:

For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel:Lk 13:31-35

 

Some Pharisees came to 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."


 

I. THEME: Love is stronger than death.

            Love has power to motivate the lover to sacrifice for the beloved. Many are touched by the story of a mother who cut her breast so that her baby could suck her blood because she no longer had milk in her; or the love stories, such as: Titanic, Roméo and Juliette, or “You must live.” When one is motivated by love, one could do such brave acts.          

            Today readings center around God’s love for men and men responded to His love. In the first reading, St. Paul ascertained that if God so loved the world to the point He sacrificed His only Son to die for men, He will not hold back anything He can give to them. To respond to this immense love, men need to overcome all obstacles in their life, even their death to be loyal to God’s love. In the Gospel, when some of the Pharisees notified Jesus that king Herode is looking to kill him so that he could hide himself from him, Jesus was not afraid. He sent words to him that he will continue to work to fulfill the plan which his Father entrusted him to do; and he is ready to accept death in Jerusalem.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

1.1/ God’s love for human beings: Even we never see God, but when we look up and see Christ died on the cross, we should feel God’s love for us. St. Paul said: “If God is for us, who is against us?He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?”

            St. Paul as well as St. John did not concern God’s judgment than God’s love for human beings. St. Paul rhetorically asked: “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies;who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?” St. John said God so loved the world that He gave us His Only Son; therfore, God did not concern about judgment; but human beings judge themselves by their welcoming or their rejecting God’s love through Christ (cf. Jn 3:16-21).

1.2/ Human response to God’s love: Once we felt God’s love for us, we must find out all possible ways to respond to this love. Some obstacles could prevent people to respond to God’s love:

            (1) Trials and sufferings: Real love demands people to accept all sufferings and to overcome all trials. St. Paul challenged Christians: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."” Human strength is not enough to overcome sufferings; but with God’s love and grace, people can overcome all obstacles in life.

            (2) Death: Human nature desires life and avoids death; but after one is enlighten by the Holy Spirit, one must be ready to accept even death to be a witness for the truth. Death in body is not the end; it is just the beginning of a new and happy life with God the Father and Christ.

            (3) Waiting time: “Absence in face, absence in heart” or “longer praying, weaker our knees.” When someone must wait or suffer for a long period of time, he has a tendency to loose his patience and to fall easily to the devil’s trap by loosing his faith. To avoid such situation, he needs to strengthen daily three theological virtues of faith, hope and love through prayers and reception of the sacraments.

            In a word, our love for God and Christ must be firm in order for us to proclaim as St. Paul: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2/ Gospel: “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”

            Jesus seldom called anyone by an animal name; but in Lucas’ today passage, he called Herode a “fox” to indicate his shrewd and contempt of truth. Jesus expressed his feeling for him and for the people of Jerusalem as follows.

2.1/ For Herode Antipas of Galilee: He is the one who killed John the Baptist because he spoke the truth, and now he is looking to destroy Jesus. When Jesus was announced of his wicked plan, he was not afraid and sent his words back to him: “Go and tell that fox, `Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’” Jesus would like to finish the mission which his Father entrusted to him, even he has to face many opposition, sufferings, and death.

2.2/ For the people of Jerusalem: In the middle of the Olive Mountain today, there is a chapel, called “Jesus wept,” with a tiny hole to look down Jerusalem Temple. Acccording to the tradition, Jesus stopped here before his Passion and death, to mourn for the people of Jerusalem as in today passage: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'" 

            There is no deeper pain than the refusing of one’s love. However, Jesus was still loyal in his love for the people to the end, with a hope that they will recognize and welcome his love for them. The prophecy that Jerusalem people will see Jesus and praise: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” was fulfilled when Jesus solemnly entered the city before his Passion.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

                     

            - The most important thing in our life is to recognize God’s love for us. This can be achieved by many ways: studying Scripture, meditating what God has done for ourselves, our family, and the whole of humankind.

            - Once we felt God’s love for us, we must be courage as Jesus and St. Paul, ready to face all worldly power and to fulfill the mission which God has entrusted to us, and to love God and people until the end.

Solemnity of All Saints

Readings: (Rev 7:2-4:9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a)

Reading 1: (Rev 7:2-4, 9-14)

 

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
"Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb."
All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:
"Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
"Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"
I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows."
He said to me,
"These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."

Reading 2: (1 Jn 3:1-3)

 

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God's children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Gospel: (Mt 5:1-12a)

 

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, OP.

 

I. THEME: The Beatitudes is the way to become a saint.

            There was a young lion, who lived with a herd of goats because his mother died when he was born; he adapted and lived like a goat. One day, a huge lion was called the lord of the forest, passed by; a herd of goats ran away to protect their life, the young lion also followed them. The lord of the forest surprised because of the young lion’s action, so he ran after and seized him. He led him to a spring and told him: “Look into the spring and see! You are also a son of the lord of the forest, why were you fear and ran away like those timid goats?”

            We are created according to God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27) and are fellow citizens with all the saints whom we celebrate today (Eph 2:19). Since we are created in God’s image and likeness, today is the proper day for us to look into the mirror, the lives of the saints, to see how much do we look alike them.

            Today readings help us to reflect. In the first reading the author of the Book of Revelation reminded us that the saints are those “who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” In the second reading, St. John reminded us of our vocation to be God’s children which we have received in our Baptism. How do we live this vocation in our life? In the Gospel, Jesus taught us a sure way to become a saint is to live according to his Beatitudes.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: "These are those who have come out of the great tribulation.”

1.1/ The first vision: those who were sealed. Before the angels harmed the earth and the sea, the servants of God have been sealed. The vision reported the people who were sealed are one hundred and forty-four thousand people, out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. This is a symbolic number, it is not an actual amount of people who were saved.

1.2/ The second vision: “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” They proclaimed two things:

            (1) God the Father: "Our God who sits upon the throne.”

            (2) The Lamb is Jesus Christ: “The Lamb is the one who saved us.”

            And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen."

           

1.3/ All the saints are those in their white robes: One of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?"I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” White is the color of victory.

            The saints are those who lived a life according to Christ’s teaching. They forfeited a selfish and individual life to accept all sufferings, and even death to witness for God.

2/ Reading II: See what love the Father has given us.

            (1) The vocation of God’s children: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will be God’s children (Jn 1:13), and should not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). We are not children of the world: “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

            (2) The reward of God’s children: Both St. John and St. Paul agreed on this point. According to St. Paul, if we are God’s heir, we have a right to inherit God’s inheritance (Rom 8:17). The reward for God’s chidren is the eternal life and all the glory which Christ has received from the Father. According to St. John as he advised his disciples: “Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

            (3) The duties of God’s children: If there is a right, there is also a duty to fulfill. According to St. Paul, if we shared in Christ’s suffering, we will also share in his glory (Rom 8:17). According to St. John, we must be pure, that is, holy; because: “every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

 

3/ Gospel: The Beatitudes is the way to become a saint.

            We use the Beatitudes as the standard to compare three ways of life: of Jesus, of the saints, and of the world.

            (1) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When the disciples asked Jesus, “where do you live?” Jesus answered them “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” St. Francis of Assissi, though he was the son of a famous merchant, imitated Jesus by took off his clothes, gave back to his father, and followed Jesus to live a life in poverty. To the eyes of the world, it is a stupid decision since most of people desire to be rich.

            (2) "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt 5:38-39). In his Passion, Jesus was liken as a meek lamb to be slaughtered. St. Francis de Sales, though had a nature of very hot temper, imitated Jesus to become a gentle and humble person. To the eyes of the world, meekness is equal to unintelligent person to be used by others.

            (3) "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” In the Olive Garden, Jesus said to his three beloved disciples: "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." St. Monica, Augustine’s mother, poured out so much tears in life forher family. In compensation, her husband repented on his death bed; Augustine also repented and became a great saint. The worldly people run away from tears and suffering. For them, whoever wants to be suffered is abnormal person.

            (4) "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Jesus declared: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me”(Jn 6:38). All of his life was a sacrificed life for God’s will. St. Thomas Moore, when was told to lie in order to live, courageously declared: “I am ready to accept death, not to accept falsity to be right.” The worldly people consider to live righteous is foolish because everybody must bent in order to achieve what he desires.

            (5) "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Jesus had compassion to all who suffered and he healed them. He moved with pity for people who lived in Jerusalem and cried out: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Mt 23:35). St. Martin de Porres brought the sick to his bed and cared for them while he himself slept on the floor. Mother Theresa of Calcutta dedicated her whole life to serve the poor. The worldly people are worry about themselves first because they think “if I have mercy on people, will they have mercy on me?”

            (6) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Jesus challenged his opponents in his Passion: “Who among you can accuse me of any sin?” St. Mary Goretti accepted death from her cousin to protect her virginity. Today youth mentality consider having sex before marriage is normal, and make fun of those who want to be pure as homeboys or homegirls! How many mothers today dare to challege their children that “I would rather see you to die before me than to commit a serious sin!”

            (7) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Jesus has used his death on the cross to reconcile the Jews to the Gentiles; and to reconcile both of them to God. St. Bernadino de Sienna imitated Jesus to reconcile his enemies. In the worldly eyes, reconciliation is weak and let people to take advantage of them. The results of “getting even” attitude are divorce, separation, fighting and war.

            (8) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Jesus went ahead to die for people as he foretold. So many martyrs of generation after generation courageously died to show their love for God. The Vietnamese also contributed 118 of them. St. Andre of Phu Yen, a young man of 17 years old, advised those who had mourned for his young death: “We must take love to compensate our love for Jesus; and take death to compensate for his death.” Many people think martyr is not necessary; they think they only need to believe God in their heart. Many people betrayed God and refused to be his witness before the world.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE

                    

            - Suffering is used to purify us as fire is used to purify gold. We show our faith and love for God when we accept suffering to witness for Him.

            - Returning to the story of the young lion from beginning of our meditation, since we are God’s children, we must live according to our vocation. Don’t hide in the darkness as the chidren of devils or of the world. We are created as God’s image, and holiness makes us to become more like God everyday.

            - The vocation to become a saint is for everyone. The Beatitudes is the way to perfection. We must try to live all the Beatitudes.

Save

Save

Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of the Ordinary Time1

 

Reading 1: Rom 8:26-30

 

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Gospel: Lk 13:22-30

 

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."


 

I. THEME: To live happy with God in heaven is a progress.

            To live happy with God in heaven is a progress which requires the preparation of our whole life, not just only in a period of time or in last minutes on the death bed as many people think. Some are so naive when they take the story of the good thief in Lucas’ Gospel to imitate it. They think God is so merciful, and He will forgive all their sins when they confess; so they don’t need to prepare, they can enjoy life to the fullness until their last minutes on the death bed, make a confession to God, and go straight to heaven. Many people died without lied on their death bed; and even if they have time to prepare on their death bed, it is not easy to make a confession at that time for they have no power to fight against devils.

            Today readings advised us to prepare all moments of our life in order to enjoy a happy life with God in heaven. In the first reading, St. Paul listed out the progress which God has planned for men before they can live a glorious life with Him; that are: foreknowing, predestining, calling, justifying, and enjoying the glorious life. In the Gospel, Jesus emphasized the relationship between God and men. To enter heaven, knowledge about God is not enough, people must sacrifice and fight to enter through a narrow door, which means they must sacrifice to preach the Good News and to be a living witness for Him.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

           

1.1/ We don’t know how to pray properly: There are at least three reasons that prevent people to pray properly:

            (1) We don’t know what will happen in the future: We can only know what is happening now; therefore, a thing we asked for can be good in the present, but will be no good for us in the future. For example, asking to be rich can lead us to loose our life or happiness.

            (2) We don’t know what is good for ourselves: There are many things we think they are good, but they will bring bitterness for us. For example, asking to be famous or powerful will bring bitter results which we cannot endure.

            (3) We don’t know what we asked can be harmful to others: God must be fair to all because they are His children even they know Him or not. For example, we cannot ask God to destroy the wicked properly or immediately.

1.2/ The Holy Spirit will help us to pray: Since we don’t know how to pray properly, so God gives us His Spirit. St. Paul clearly explained: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”

            The Greek verb used in Rom 8:23 is “stenázô,” which means “to wail in the heart.” The noun used in today passage is “stenámois alalêtois,” which means “the wailing which cannot be expressed by words.” This noun had an origin in the Book of Exodus, when God heard the Israelites’ wailing when they were slaves in Egypt. They were maltreated by taskmasters and suffered greatly; but did not know whom to ask for help, they only know to wail in their heart (Act 7:34; Exo 3:7-10).

            Why does God need to give His Spirit to men? St. Paul explained: “For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit” (1 Cor 2:11-13). “And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

1.3/ God’s plan of salvation: In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul confirmed: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

            To know the purpose of life is not enough, one must also know how to reach that purpose. St. Paul described generally God’s plan of salvation in these sentences: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

            According to St. Paul, one is justified by his faith in Christ; but this faith needs to be tested by trials and sufferings which God sends them to one’s life. A Christian must show his faith in Christ by overcoming these obstacles. If a Christian is loyal in his faith to the end, he will be welcomed by Christ and live a happy life with Him in heaven.

2/ Gospel: "Strive to enter by the narrow door.”

2.1/ Strive to enter by the narrow door because the large road only leads to destruction:

Many people would prefer the easiest way, the shortest route; but experience shows such preference only leads to failure. Without discipline, a student or an athlete cannot be succesful. This is true not only for an individual but also for a community. Many people are so centered on God’s mercy, they forget about God’s justice. These people believe and preach the Universialism: since God so love people He will save all, including those who refused to be saved. Jesus’ message in today Gospel must be a warning for these people.

2.2/ The kingdom of God is only for those who put Jesus’ preaching into practice, not just knowing him: Many emphasizes knowledge about God, Jesus stressed deeds. He warned those who only believe him in words: “Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!'”

            Jesus also warned us a painful reality: “There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - To be with God in His glory is a progress which requires our preparation for the whole life. We must train ourselves to have an unshakable faith in God.

            - We must fight to enter the kingdom of God through a narrow door, because an easy and large road only leads us to destruction.

            - We must remember that God is not only God of mercy but also of justice.

 

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