GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

 

29 October/Friday/30th Week in Ordinary Time, 

Rom 9,1-5/Psa 147,12-13.14-15.19-20/Luke 14,1-6

by Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Readin Romans 9:1-5

I would willingly be condemned if it could help my brothers

 

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 147:12-15,19-20

 

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

 

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

    Zion, praise your God!

He has strengthened the bars of your gates

    he has blessed the children within you.

 

He established peace on your borders,

    he feeds you with finest wheat.

He sends out his word to the earth

    and swiftly runs his command.

 

He makes his word known to Jacob,

    to Israel his laws and decrees.

He has not dealt thus with other nations;

    he has not taught them his decrees.

 

Gospel Acclamation   cf. 1Thes 2:13

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

Accept God’s message for what it really is:

God’s message, and not some human thinking.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel:  Luke 14:1-6

'Is it against the law to cure a man on the Sabbath?'

 

Now on a Sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. There in front of him was a man with dropsy, and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees. ‘Is it against the law’ he asked ‘to cure a man on the Sabbath, or not?’ But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day without hesitation?’ And to this they could find no answer.

 

Reflection

The Gospel Reading is quite an interesting one in as far as it presents a scenario that allows a debate between Jesus and some lawyers and Pharisees. In the middle of the controversy, we have the Sabbath law and a sick person. The lawyers and the Pharisees consider themselves the rightful custodians of the law and its authoritative interpreters. They probably have knowledge of previous healings carried out by Jesus on the Sabbath. Had that not been the case, Luke would not have said that they were watching Jesus closely. The reason for watching Jesus was to know what he would do for the sick man so that they may use it against him.

Dropsy is actually not a disease but a symptom which refers to a massive retention of fluids in the body. This is due mostly to quite serious and even life-threatening health problems. Thus, we do not really know the sickness of the man but what he needed from Jesus was healing. To the surprise of the lawyers and the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a simple question. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”. Although the question was simple, it was not easy to answer because of the implication of any answer that they give. If they answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ they would either be contradicting themselves or going against the nature of God who is for the good of the human person he has created in his love.

Their reaction to the question is apparently the most prudent on their part. It was equivalent to admitting that they had no way of defending their own position. In their reaction, they affirm that it is one thing to criticize Jesus for healing on the Sabbath; it is another thing for one to take responsibility for denying restoration to a needy person on the Sabbath. Faced with such a difficult choice, they preferred not to shoulder that responsibility.

This episode exposes the shortcomings of some interpretations of rules and regulations that do not give consideration to the persons affected by what is being set forth as a rule. The Jews to whom Paul refers in the First Reading seem to look at the law in absolute terms. Paul was ready to allow himself to be condemned to that it may benefit them in the sense that they would become more objective with their interpretation of the law. The truth of the matter is when we are not directly affected by the rule, we are eager to defend and enforce it. At times, it is good to place ourselves in the position of the one who has to endure the consequences of the law. It is only then that we begin to feel with those people and realise how unrealistic some of our laws can be. As Christians, we should endeavour to promote just laws so that we can make life bearable for all people.

 

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

30 October/Saturday/30th Week in Ordinary Time,  

Rom 11,1-2.11-12.25-29/Psa 94,12-13.14-15.17-18/Luke 14,1.7-11

by Most Rev. emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading    Romans 11:1-2,11-12,25-29

The Jews have not fallen for ever

 

Let me put a question: is it possible that God has rejected his people? Of course not. I, an Israelite, descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin, could never agree that God had rejected his people, the people he chose specially long ago. Do you remember what scripture says of Elijah – how he complained to God about Israel’s behaviour? Let me put another question then: have the Jews fallen for ever, or have they just stumbled? Obviously they have not fallen for ever: their fall, though, has saved the pagans in a way the Jews may now well emulate. Think of the extent to which the world, the pagan world, has benefited from their fall and defection – then think how much more it will benefit from the conversion of them all. There is a hidden reason for all this, brothers, of which I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do. One section of Israel has become blind, but this will last only until the whole pagan world has entered, and then after this the rest of Israel will be saved as well. As scripture says: The liberator will come from Zion, he will banish godlessness from Jacob. And this is the covenant I will make with them when I take their sins away.

The Jews are enemies of God only with regard to the Good News, and enemies only for your sake; but as the chosen people, they are still loved by God, loved for the sake of their ancestors. God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 93(94):12-15,17-18

 

The Lord will not abandon his people.

 

Happy the man whom you teach, O Lord,

    whom you train by means of your law;

to him you give peace in evil days.

 

The Lord will not abandon his people

    nor forsake those who are his own;

for judgement shall again be just

    and all true hearts shall uphold it.

 

If the Lord were not to help me,

    I would soon go down into the silence.

When I think: ‘I have lost my foothold’;

    your mercy, Lord, holds me up.

 

Gospel Acclamation: cf. Col 3:16a,17

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness,

find a home with you;

through him give thanks to God the Father.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel   Luke 14:1,7-11

Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled

 

Now on a Sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

 

Reflection

The Gospel Reading is part of the episode that took place in the house of the Pharisee who invited Jesus for a Sabbath meal. The healing of the man with dropsy precedes the present admonition. With all probability, Jesus observed how the lawyers and the Pharisees who were also invited for the meal were choosing places at the banquet. A casual reading of the Gospels teaches us how the Pharisees like to seek prominence in public gatherings. After disconcerting them with his question about the Sabbath healing, Jesus takes the liberty to give them a lesson on humility. A bit of caution is always necessary if we do not want to be disgraced in public. This is especially the case when it has to do with sitting positions at large gatherings.

In the parable, Jesus indicated that it is the one who invites who has the final word on where people should sit at the banquet. Whereas self-importance can lead a person to initially choose a position of highest honour, it is up to the host to determine if one is at the right place or not. If one happens to have exalted him/herself too much, shame would cause him/her to bypass intermediate ranking positions for the lowest of all. The reverse movement is more honourable so Jesus advises us to adopt that one instead.

The advice in the parable is not only applicable to concrete human life but also to the kingdom of God. If we want to have a place in God’s kingdom, we must learn to be humble in life. Jesus tells us in the Gospel Reading, “everyone who raises himself up would be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up”. The triple occurrence of this saying in the Gospels (Matt 23,12; Luke 18,14) is an indication of how dear these words were for Jesus and for the early Christian community that preserved them. We should also take them seriously and reflect often on them so that they can guide our life as Christians. We should also learn from the First Reading that people whom we may think are abandoned by God like the Jews who have not embraced the Good News of Jesus Christ, have not really lost divine favour. They still enjoy his favour and we should treat them as such.

 

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