GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

23 October/Saturday/29th Week in Ordinary Time, 

Rom 8,1-11/Psa 24,1-2.3-4.5-6/Luke 13,1-9

By Most Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading  Romans 8:1-11

The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you

 

The reason why those who are in Christ Jesus are not condemned is that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what the Law, because of our unspiritual nature, was unable to do. God dealt with sin by sending his own Son in a body as physical as any sinful body, and in that body God condemned sin. He did this in order that the Law’s just demands might be satisfied in us, who behave not as our unspiritual nature but as the spirit dictates.

The unspiritual are interested only in what is unspiritual, but the spiritual are interested in spiritual things. It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual; life and peace can only come with concern for the spiritual. That is because to limit oneself to what is unspiritual is to be at enmity with God: such a limitation never could and never does submit to God’s law. People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23(24):1-6

 

Such are the men who seek your face, O Lord.

 

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,

    the world and all its peoples.

It is he who set it on the seas;

    on the waters he made it firm.

 

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?

    Who shall stand in his holy place?

The man with clean hands and pure heart,

    who desires not worthless things.

 

He shall receive blessings from the Lord

    and reward from the God who saves him.

Such are the men who seek him,

    seek the face of the God of Jacob.

 

Gospel Acclamation: Psa 144:13

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord is faithful in all his words

and loving in all his deeds.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

'Leave the fig tree one more year'

 

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’

 

Reflection

The opening words of the First Reading are very comforting and reassuring. There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. Having listened to Paul speak about sin and death for a long time, we seem unprepared for this positive declaration. Paul makes this statement now because he is aware that one must be assured of acceptance with God before he can grow in grace and conformity to Christ. Paul could not continue speaking only about sin and death without pointing out that there is life in Christ. In the reading today, Paul makes it clear that God has dealt with sin by sending his only Begotten Son into the world. When we believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as our personal saviour, we share in his life.

The life that is given to us in Jesus Christ must be nourished in order to keep it alive. It is only through such nourishment that we can bear fruit and show that we are really rooted in Christ. The Gospel Reading points to the essence of bearing good fruit. If we are not able to bear fruit, it means we are useless or we are not making good use of the graces given to us in Jesus Christ. Fortunately, when we fail to bear fruit, God does not immediately dispose of us. He gives us a second chance.

In the Gospel Reading, the gardener pleaded with the owner of the vineyard to give him time to cater once more for the fig tree in the hope that it would bear fruit. When God gives us a second chance, he also provides us with the nourishment we need to grow and do better. His word is always there to guide us. It is up to us to open ourselves to his treasures and to drink deep from the source of life. Let us turn to the Lord and ask him to nourish us so that we can bear fruit in abundance.

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

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

Rom 7,18-25/Psa 119,66.68.76.77.93.94/Luke 12,54-59

By Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading    Romans 7:18-25

Every time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand

 

I know of nothing good living in me – living, that is, in my unspiritual self – for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me.

In fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand. In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law, but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118(119):66,68,76-77,93-94

 

Lord, teach me your statutes.

 

Teach me discernment and knowledge

    for I trust in your commands.

You are good and your deeds are good;

    teach me your statutes.

 

Let your love be ready to console me

    by your promise to your servant.

Let your love come and I shall live

    for your law is my delight.

 

I will never forget your precepts

    for with them you give me life.

Save me, for I am yours

    since I seek your precepts.

 

Gospel Acclamation: Psa 94:8

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

Harden not your hearts today,

but listen to the voice of the Lord.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel   Luke 12:54-59

Do you not know how to interpret these times?

 

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it will be hot, and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?

    ‘Why not judge for yourselves what is right? For example: when you go to court with your opponent, try to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the bailiff and the bailiff have you thrown into prison. I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the very last penny.’

 

Reflection

In the First Reading, Paul sounds very negative about himself. He dared to say there is nothing good living in him. This is a strong statement to be made about oneself. Basing ourselves on Paul’s own testimony about himself and what his letters convey to us, we believe Paul is not as bad as he wants to present himself in the First Reading. The only reason we can offer for such a negative presentation is for Paul to be able to show the divide between what his spirit wants and what really happens in his life.

The experience of Paul is not unique. It happens to all who strive to do the will of God or to live good Christian lives. Very often we know what God demands of us; we know the teachings of Christ and we desire very much to live by them. Unfortunately, we are not able to match our desires with our concrete actions. We are not able to resist the temptation to do what is contrary to the will of God. It is as if our human self is more inclined to sin than to good acts.

The reproach of Jesus in the Gospel Reading offers us food for thought in trying to know why we end up doing what we do not want to do. We can ask ourselves why we are capable of reading the weather that is very unpredictable but we are not able to do the same with events that concern our salvation. We should be able to develop for ourselves an early warning system about sin similar to the one we use in reading the weather. We can do this by familiarising ourselves with the word of God. It would become our warning post each time we risk going beyond limits. In this way, we can thank God for rescuing us from death by the grace of his word.

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

20 October/Wednesday/29th Week in Ordinary Time,  

Rom 6,12-18/Psa 124,1-3.4-6.7-8/Luke 12,39-48

by Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading:   Romans 6:12-18

Make every part of your body a weapon fighting on the side of God

 

You must not let sin reign in your mortal bodies or command your obedience to bodily passions, you must not let any part of your body turn into an unholy weapon fighting on the side of sin; you should, instead, offer yourselves to God, and consider yourselves dead men brought back to life; you should make every part of your body into a weapon fighting on the side of God; and then sin will no longer dominate your life, since you are living by grace and not by law.

Does the fact that we are living by grace and not by law mean that we are free to sin? Of course not. You know that if you agree to serve and obey a master you become his slaves. You cannot be slaves of sin that leads to death and at the same time slaves of obedience that leads to righteousness. You were once slaves of sin, but thank God you submitted without reservation to the creed you were taught. You may have been freed from the slavery of sin, but only to become ‘slaves’ of righteousness.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 123(124)

 

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

 

‘If the Lord had not been on our side,’

    this is Israel’s song.

‘If the Lord had not been on our side

    when men rose up against us,

then would they have swallowed us alive

    when their anger was kindled.

 

‘Then would the waters have engulfed us,

    the torrent gone over us;

over our head would have swept

    the raging waters.’

Blessed be the Lord who did not give us

    a prey to their teeth!

 

Our life, like a bird, has escaped

    from the snare of the fowler.

Indeed the snare has been broken

    and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth.

 

Gospel Acclamation: John 10:27

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,

says the Lord,

I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Luke 12:39-48

The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

 

Reflection

The Gospel Reading continues the theme of vigilance which covers Luke 12,1-13,9. This time Jesus uses two examples to drive home his message. In everyday life, we know that a thief does not inform his victim about the time he would strike or when he/she would come to steal. Had it been so, the house owner would be waiting at the gate in preparedness to face the bugler. Since the house owner does not know when a thief would strike, he/she must continually be alert if he/she wants to protect his/her property. In a similar way, a servant who wants to retain his job must know how to behave when his master is out of sight. The master may return at any time and if the servant is found to be playing foul, he risks losing his job.

The two short examples fall well in line with what Paul says in the First Reading regarding sin. God created us for a life of righteousness with him. When we sinned he reconciled us to himself through the blood of his Son and set us back on the path of righteousness. The precious work of God demands that we sustain the new life of righteousness that we have attained in Jesus Christ. This demands careful vigilance if we do not want to fall back into sin.

We can compare our personal vigilance to the example of the house owner guarding his house in the Gospel Reading. Just as the house owner does all in his power to prevent a thief from breaking into his house, we must also be on our guard against sin. We do not have to leave anything to chance because the moment we lower our guard, we risk falling into sin. When we fall into sin, we lose our state of grace and righteousness. We pray that we may have the strength to resist all temptation that would let us lower our guard and fall into sin.

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

21 October/Thursday/29th Week in Ordinary Time,  

Rom 6,19-23/Psa 1,1-2.3.4.6/Luke 12,49-53

By Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading: Romans 6:19-23

Now you are set free from sin, and slaves to God

 

If I may use human terms to help your natural weakness: as once you put your bodies at the service of vice and immorality, so now you must put them at the service of righteousness for your sanctification.

When you were slaves of sin, you felt no obligation to righteousness, and what did you get from this? Nothing but experiences that now make you blush, since that sort of behaviour ends in death. Now, however, you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life. For the wage paid by sin is death; the present given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm                                                                                         Psalm 1:1-4,6

 

Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

 

Happy indeed is the man

    who follows not the counsel of the wicked;

nor lingers in the way of sinners

    nor sits in the company of scorners,

but whose delight is the law of the Lord

    and who ponders his law day and night.

 

He is like a tree that is planted

    beside the flowing waters,

that yields its fruit in due season

    and whose leaves shall never fade;

    and all that he does shall prosper.

 

Not so are the wicked, not so!

For they like winnowed chaff

    shall be driven away by the wind:

for the Lord guards the way of the just

    but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

 

Gospel Acclamation John 8:12

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;

anyone who follows me will have the light of life.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

How I wish it were blazing already!

 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

 

Reflection

The Gospel Reading today is one of the difficult passages in the Gospels. It is not easy to interpret many of the utterances of Jesus in this short passage. Despite the difficulty, when we read these verses in connection with the wider section of Luke 12,1-13,9, we can say that Jesus is speaking about the coming judgment itself. In the preceding verses, he spoke about preparing for the coming judgment. Now he concentrates on the judgment itself and points to his own commissioning to initiate the process. The process begins with casting fire on the earth which is reminiscent of the eschatological cleansing with fire. The time for the proper execution is yet to come but the purifying flames are anticipated in what Jesus calls his own baptism. This baptism is like a prelude to the coming judgment.

The baptism of which Jesus speaks here refers to his passion and death. It is a purging event because it is through this baptism that he would attain his glory. Anyone who desires to follow him would also have to go through a period of purging. Jesus announces that this exercise would lead to division among humanity, even within the same family. This should not surprise us because it is not all members of a family who agree to follow the same path in life. Not every member of a family decides to follow Jesus.

Since some people in their freedom decide not to follow Jesus, this would cause two family members to be against three. This warning of Jesus prepares us to face divisions in the family based on religious convictions. What is important is not to lose sight of the goal which is life together with Christ or a share in his kingdom. In the First Reading, Paul reminds us that we have been set free from sin and rewarded with sanctification. We should do all we can to preserve our sanctification so we can inherit the kingdom. We pray for the grace to be focused in life even in moments of turbulence in the family.

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