Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

The Shrewd steward

Readings: Phil 2:1-4; Lk 14:12-14.

1/ First Reading: NAB Philippians 2:1 If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. 3 Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, 4 each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.

2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 14:12 Then he said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


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

I. THEME: Live according to Christ’s spirit of charity.

            Many people carefully think before they do any volunteer or charitable works in community. They calculate to see that if these works can bring any benefit for them or their family; for examples: giving out with a hope to get back something; giving alms to attract attention; attending someone’s funeral mass with a hope that their relatives shall also be present in their funeral mass, etc.

            Today readings suggest people to completely change these selfish calculations. In the first reading, St. Paul listed out four necessary attitudes and their corresponding important works to live according to Christ’s perfect charity. In the Gospel, Jesus advised people to do good deeds to those who can’t return favor in this world, so that God shall return favor for them in the next world.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory.

            St. Paul had so many experiences about jealousy, contention and division in the communities which he established; so what he was worrying is to convince his faithful to discard bad habits which were so deep in their life. He found the only key to solve these problems is the faith in Christ. According to the sentence’s structure, he used continuously four if-clauses and the four consecutive result-clauses which are corresponding with the four if-clauses. In order to easily analyze, we need to separate them, fill them with the phrase “complete my joy” and put them in right order.

            (1) If there is any encouragement in Christ, complete my joy by being of the same mind: According to St. Paul, all the faithful are members of the one body which is the Church, with Christ is the head. If the body can have only one head, being of the same mind (phronéo = thinking) is necessary.

            (2) If any solace in love, complete my joy by being with the same love: Christian love originates from God and comes to us from Christ. Jesus himself confessed this when he said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9). Then, Jesus demanded his disciples, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you” (Jn 15:12). So, there is only one love (agápê) which comes from God.

            (3) If any participation in the Spirit, complete my joy by being united in heart: If people are united in Holy Spirit, they shall be united in heart (súmpsukos). This Greek word is composed by “sum” which means together with and “psukos” which means spirit. If all the faithful follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, they shall be in harmony and united in one spirit. The spirit of teamwork and patriotism are examples of this unity.

            (4) If any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being thinking one thing (tò en phronountes): The verb used here is the same verb used in (1) which is “phronéo.” The differences are that the author used the verb at present participle and added the adjective “en” which means one. St. Paul might want to emphasize that there is only one head which is Christ in (1), and there is only one body in (4).

            St. Paul wanted to advise the Philippians that if they were assimilated to Christ’s body, they have a duty to build uo his body by “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.”

2/ Gospel: Do good deeds to those who have nothing to pay you back.

2.1/ Two ways of living: justice or mercy?

            (1) According to human justice: “A bit for a bit. If someone gives us a stone, we must give him back a lead.” Jesus gave us a practical example: When people organize a dinner or a banquet, they used to invite their friends, brothers and sisters, or the rich with a hope that they will be also invited by them or to receive something from them. This way of behaving is purely justice.

            (2) According to charity of Jesus’ disciple: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

2.2/ Why must we help those who have nothing to pay back? Because we also received grace and gifts from those we did not have anything to pay them back. If we look back to our past, we would recognize we received many of helps from:

            (1) God: He gives us the most precious gift of life; let us enjoy many things which our hands did not make them; forgives our sins against Him; and keeps sending those who help us both our spiritual and material needs. What did we do to return all of His favors to us?

            (2) Others: We owned many things from our grand parents, parents, brothers and sisters, teachers, friends and benefactors. As a refugee, if not for the country who opened their arms to settle us, or the help of charitable organizations during our first days in the foreign country, how could we have a stable life as right now? What did we do to pay back their helps?

            Due to all the grace and gifts we have received in our life, we must help those who are in need. Moreover, God counts what we did to others as we did to Him, so that He could reward us the eternal life.

2.3/ Doing good deeds for the poor is doing for God: We are fortunate people because Jesus revealed to us the standard which he shall use to judge us on the Last Day which is to help the unfortunate: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me... He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me'” (Mt 25:40, 45). Therefore, we can say with certainty that charity is the decided element for us to enter heaven or to be condemned for ever.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - To live in perfect charity, we must let Christ permeate our whole being: from thinking, reasoning, to acting.

            - To give out free-of-charge, we must often reflect to know what we have received free-of-charge from God and others.

            - To be able to help all people, we must learn to see God in others. We should never forget that charity is God’s standard to judge us on the Last Day. If we know the standard before hand and still don’t follow, we choose to be condemned. 

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