Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: (Phlm 7-20)

Beloved:
I have experienced much joy and encouragement from your love,
because the hearts of the holy ones
have been refreshed by you, brother.
Therefore, although I have the full right in Christ
to order you to do what is proper,
I rather urge you out of love,
being as I am, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus.
I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment,
who was once useless to you but is now useful to both you and me.
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the Gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.
And if he has done you any injustice
or owes you anything, charge it to me.
I, Paul, write this in my own hand: I will pay.
May I not tell you that you owe me your very self.
Yes, brother, may I profit from you in the Lord.
Refresh my heart in Christ.

Gospel: (Lk 17:20-25)

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come,
Jesus said in reply,
"The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed,
and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.'
For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you."

Then he said to his disciples,
"The days will come when you will long to see
one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
There will be those who will say to you,
'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.'
Do not go off, do not run in pursuit.
For just as lightning flashes
and lights up the sky from one side to the other,
so will the Son of Man be in his day.
But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation."


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

I. THEME: The signs to recognize the kingdom of God has come.

            People often judge according to what they see; they want to use outside standards to determine when the Messiah and the Last Day shall come. In opposition with human beings, God judges according to what He sees in humand mind. He invites people to look deeply in their mind to recognize these days according to the kingdom of heaven’s standards.

            Today readings advise people to judge according to inside standards. In the first reading, St. Paul advised Philemon to welcome back his slave who ran away from him. Though Paul had the authority to command Philemon to do so, he didn’t want to use that authority but let Philemon to freely decide it with charity. In the Gospel, Jesus taught people that the kingdom of God can’t be recognized according to outside factors, but on inside changes of people’s life.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: People must treat others with charity.

            The Letter to Philemon has only two pages and concerned about one main thing. St. Paul petitioned Philemon, one of his companions, to welcome back Onesimus, his slaves who ran away from him to Rome for freedom. Many commentators compared Paul’s petition for Onesimus as Christ’s petition for human beings before God. Christianity’s charity was emphasized through the whole Letter.

            (1) St. Paul praised Philemon’s charity: Right from the beginning of the Letter, St. Paul praised Philemon’s charity: “For I have experienced much joy and encouragement from your love (agápê), because the hearts of the holy ones have been refreshed by you, brother.”

            (2) In the name of charity, he petitioned Philemon to receive back Onesimus: According to Roman law at that time, the master has a full authority on his slave. If a slave runs away and is found, he could be killed by his master. St. Paul understood that people don’t like to be commanded, but to have freedom to decide, so he said to Philemon, “Although I have the full right in Christ to order you to do what is proper, I rather urge you out of love, being as I am, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

           (3) St. Paul treated Onesimus with charity: He didn’t consider him as a slave but as a son. He said to Philemon, “I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment, who was once useless to you but is now useful to both you and me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. ”

            (4) St. Paul concerned for Philemon more than him: Eventhough St. Paul wanted to keep Onesimus so he could help him in his old age and imprisonment, but Onesimus belonged to Philemon; therefore, only Philemom has a right to decide. Paul said to him, “I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.”

            (5) St. Paul advised Philemon to treat Onesimus with charity: Paul advised Philemon to treat Onesimus, no longer as a slave but a brother in Christ, “Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord.”

            (6) St. Paul considered Philemon’s welcome of Onesimus as welcoming of himself: Paul made a final appeal, “So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me. If he has done you any injustice or owes you anything, charge it to me.” And he asked Philemon to grant him this favor in Christ’s name: “Yes, brother, may I profit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.”

2/ Gospel: “Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

2.1/ When does the kingdom of God come? First of all, we need to pay attention to the way the author used of the tense in this passage: All the main verbs in verses 20 and 21 were used in the present tense. This shows that Luke wanted his readers to differentiate between the kingdom of God coming into the world and the second coming of Christ in the next four verses. The kingdom of God has come in the world with Christ’s coming; that is why Luke used the present tense.

            (1) To recognize the kingdom of God, one can’t rely on the outside signs as Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!'”

            (2) The kingdom of God is in the midst of people: Christ is God’s Messiah. When one recognizes Christ and believes in him, the kingdom of God has come to that person.

2.2/ When will be Christ’s second coming? The main verbs of the next three verses, 22-24, were used in the future tense. Verse 25 is the prediction, Jesus fortold what will be happening to him in the near future. About the second coming of Christ, Jesus declared:

            (1) No one knows the time when it will happen: “The days are coming... they will say to you, `Lo, there!' or `Lo, here!' Do not go, do not follow them.”

            (2) No one knows the place where it will happen: “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.”

            (3) The disciples knew what will happen to Jesus in the near future: “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” When the disciples witness these things which happened to Jesus, they knew the kingdom of God has come to the world. After that, Jesus was taken away from them. Then, at that time, they desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and they will no longer see it.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We can recognize the kingdom of God has come to us by our faith in Christ, expressed through our charitable works for others, especially for the unfortunate, as St. Paul advised Philemon to treat Onesimus, his slave.

            - The kingdom of God doesn’t come from outside signs, such as: victory, power and glory as wordly kingdoms; but we can recognize the kingdom of God has come to us by inside indications, such as: repentance, believing in Christ and treating others with charity.

            - We don’t know when Christ shall come the second time because he clearly told us: That day shall certainly happen, but no one knows of the time or the place. Therefore, we shouldn’t predict that day or believe someone who tell us about that day. It is better for us to always be ready and prepared. 

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