GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

19 October/Tuesday/29th Week in Ordinary Time,   

Rom 5,12.15.17-19.20-21/Psa 40,7-8.89.10.17/Luke 12,35-38

By Most Rev Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading: Romans 5:12,15,17-21

Divine grace, coming through Jesus Christ, came as an abundant free gift

 

Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned; but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. When law came, it was to multiply the opportunities of failing, but however great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater; and so, just as sin reigned wherever there was death, so grace will reign to bring eternal life thanks to the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

 

Responsorial Psalm                                                                           Psalm 39(40):7-10,17

 

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

 

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,

    but an open ear.

You do not ask for holocaust and victim.

    Instead, here am I.

 

In the scroll of the book it stands written

    that I should do your will.

My God, I delight in your law

    in the depth of my heart.

 

Your justice I have proclaimed

    in the great assembly.

My lips I have not sealed;

    you know it, O Lord.

 

O let there be rejoicing and gladness

    for all who seek you.

Let them ever say: ‘The Lord is great’,

    who love your saving help.

 

Gospel Acclamation                                                                                          cf. Luke 8:15

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are those who,

with a noble and generous heart,

take the word of God to themselves

and yield a harvest through their perseverance.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel:  Luke 12:36-38

Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.’

 

Reflection

What Jesus says in the Gospel Reading about the master who finds his servant awake on his return does not seem to reflect the reality that we experience in everyday life. It is more common for us to see the servant wait on his master no matter the condition. Even when the servant comes back tired from the fields, he/she must first wait on the master at table before having something to eat. Seen from this perspective, we have to say that the master of whom Jesus speaks in the Gospel Reading must be God. Only God would act in this way toward his servants.

Jesus uses his own life example to show us the generous service of God toward his servants. In Mark 6,31 Jesus found it necessary to invite his disciples to a place where they can rest and eat after their tiring mission. Jesus cares for his disciples and is concerned that they find something to eat. He did not want to overburden them with more task when he realised they needed rest and nourishment. The various accounts of multiplication of bread in the Gospels point to his concern to satisfy the nutritional needs of those who were following him.

We can benefit abundantly from the banquet of the kingdom if we are well prepared for it. The exhortation of Jesus at the beginning of the Gospel Reading indicates that we must be ready for action at all times. This means we must live our lives in such a way that at every moment, we are ready to welcome the Lord into our lives. We must be conscious of what Paul tells us in the First Reading, that the divine grace that we have received is an abundant free gift. We should be good and faithful custodians of this gift so we can render account any time he calls on us. We should live in such a way that no matter when the Lord calls on us, he would find us ready for him. Only those who live in readiness for the Lord would benefit from his invitation. Let us therefore endeavour to be ever ready to welcome the Lord, no matter when he comes.

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

 

18 October/Monday// Luke, Evangelist

2Tim 4,9-17b/Psa 145,10-11.12-13ab.17-18/Luke 10,1-9

By Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading: 2 Timothy 4:10-17

Only Luke is with me

 

Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful helper in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself, because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

 

Responsorial Psalm                                                            Psalm 144(145):10-13a,17-18

 

Your friends, O Lord, make known the glorious splendour of your reign.

 

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,

    and your friends shall repeat their blessing.

They shall speak of the glory of your reign

    and declare your might, O God.

 

They make known to men your mighty deeds

    and the glorious splendour of your reign.

Yours is an everlasting kingdom;

    your rule lasts from age to age.

 

The Lord is just in all his ways

    and loving in all his deeds.

He is close to all who call him,

    who call on him from their hearts.

 

Gospel Acclamation  cf. John 15:16

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

I chose you from the world

to go out and bear fruit,

fruit that will last,

says the Lord.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel:  Luke 10:1-9

Your peace will rest on that man

 

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

 

Reflection

The choice of the First Reading on the feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist is determined by the phrase “only Luke is with me.” By this phrase, Paul indicates that Luke was one of his companions. Paul travelled with Luke on some of his missionary journeys. Luke himself bears witness to this in what is generally called the “we sections” of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke having been in the company of Paul obtained part of his account of Jesus from Paul. He would also indicate in the prologue to his Gospel that he relied on eyewitnesses of the Word as well as the accounts of those who wrote the story of Jesus before him.

The story of the mission of the seventy(two) which is proposed as the  Gospel Reading in no way affirms that Luke was one of these disciples that Jesus sent on mission. Its choice could have been dictated by its uniqueness to Luke. It could also be Luke’s way of showing that Jesus sent many of his disciples on mission during his life time. Each disciple has a way of making Christ known. Luke chose the way of telling the story of Jesus by writing. His story of Jesus is very appealing because of his closeness to human feelings and expressions.  His two volume work is a treasure that unfolds before our eyes each time we read them. Luke reveals to us the message of Jesus and invites us to be disciples who are ready to carry our cross behind Jesus.

When we embrace the teaching of Jesus recorded in Luke, we come to love Jesus in a personal way and we are able to manifest the true fruits of our faith. The feast of Luke is a good opportunity for us to read his writings. This would help us discover the image of Jesus that he presents to us. It would also help us journey with the early Church as she struggles to take root in the then known world. Such insight would help us to be grateful to God for those who preserved the Good News of Jesus for us.

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

16 October/Saturday/28th Week in Ordinary Time, 

Rom 4,13.16-18/Psa 105,6-7.8-9.42-43/Luke 12,8-12

By Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi, Fianu, SVD

 

First Reading: Romans 4:13,16-18

Abraham hoped and believed and became the father of many nations

 

The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.

Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 104(105):6-9,42-43

 

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

 

O children of Abraham, his servant,

    O sons of the Jacob he chose.

He, the Lord, is our God:

    his judgements prevail in all the earth.

 

He remembers his covenant for ever,

    his promise for a thousand generations,

the covenant he made with Abraham,

    the oath he swore to Isaac.

 

For he remembered his holy word,

    which he gave to Abraham his servant.

So he brought out his people with joy,

    his chosen ones with shouts of rejoicing.

 

Gospel Acclamation 1Sam 3:9,John 6:68

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:

you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel:  Luke 12:8-12

If you declare yourselves for me, I will declare myself for you

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of the angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.

‘Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

‘When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.’

 

Reflection

The words of Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel Reading are very straightforward. It is a question of acknowledging Jesus here on earth. As Christians, we are to bear witness to Christ. We are to live in such a way that the people we encounter would identify us as Christians. The statement of Jesus about acknowledging him before people simply goes to show that it is not at all moments that we are willing to disclose our identity or to stand up for Jesus. The particular context of the Gospel Reading points to human trials but there are other situations in life when we need to acknowledge that we belong to Christ.

There are different reasons why we are not able to acknowledge before people that we are Christians. At times, we are not able to do so for fear of being persecuted. It is as if we are not ready to suffer or die for Christ. We want to be Christians but our commitment is such that we do not want to stick out our head for Christ. Other times it is because we do not want to be considered different from those around us, so we prefer to be anonymous. We are afraid that if we identify ourselves as Christians, those around us would consider us as people seeking righteousness. Since they may not be seeking what is right, they may isolate us in order to act without being rebuked by anyone. At times we do not want to acknowledge Christ before others because we know what we are doing is not right or is not in line with the teachings of Christ. If people should know that we are Christians they may be scandalised by our actions.

In the First Reading, Paul reminds us that we are descendants of Abraham so we should be people of faith. As people of faith, we must be righteous in all our ways. We cannot be Christians only when it pleases us or when it is beneficial for us. We have to live out our Christian faith at all moments, in season and out of season. It may be difficult to do this but we have to strive to live our faith at all times. We know that God’s spirit is there to assist us always so we should call on him for assistance.

GOD'S WORD IN DAILY LIFE

17 October/Sunday/29th Sunday of Year B

 Isa 53,10-11/ Psa 33,4-5.18-19.20.22/Heb 4,14-16/Mark 10,35-45 or 10,42-45

By Most rev. Emmanuel Kofi, Fianu

 

First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11

If he offers his life in atonement, what the Lord wishes will be done

 

The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering.

If he offers his life in atonement,

he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life

and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

 

His soul’s anguish over,

he shall see the light and be content.

By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,

taking their faults on himself.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 32(33):4-5,18-20,22

 

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

 

The word of the Lord is faithful

    and all his works to be trusted.

The Lord loves justice and right

    and fills the earth with his love.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,

    on those who hope in his love,

to rescue their souls from death,

    to keep them alive in famine.

 

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.

    The Lord is our help and our shield.

May your love be upon us, O Lord,

    as we place all our hope in you.

 

Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16

Our high priest is one who has been tempted in every way that we are

 

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

 

Gospel Acclamation: John 14:6

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;

No one can come to the Father except through me.

Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Mark 10:35-45

The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many

 

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

 

Reflection

The Gospel Reading is at variance with the Matthean version we find in Matt 20,20-28. In the Matthean version, it is the mother of James and John who makes the request on their behalf. Without going into much debate about which version may be more authentic, we note that Matt 20,22 betrays knowledge of the Marcan version. Matthew used the second person plural in the response of Jesus indicating that he was responding to the two sons and not to their mother. The choice of Matthew to introduce the mother of the sons of Zebedee into the scene is understandable when we consider the indignation of the other ten apostles at the request of the two apostles. By introducing their mother as the one who asked the question, Matthew placed the two apostles in a better light before their companions.

Mark however wants us to face the fact that the two apostles were the ones who made the request themselves. The initial question of the two apostles is like a trap into which Jesus was careful not to fall. Jesus could not promise them that he would do for them whatever they ask of him. That would have been too much of a commitment as was the case of Herod when the daughter of Herodias danced at his birthday party. Jesus was more cautious and asked the two what they wanted him to do for them. It is important that we seek clarification when things are not clear to us. We cannot commit ourselves to what we do not know. If we do so, we risk embarrassing ourselves or even losing our credibility.

The counter question of Jesus forced the two apostles to be more specific in their request. The desire to secure a place of glory on the left and the right hand of Jesus when he comes in his glory reflects the ambition of the two apostles. They must have been thinking of the restored kingdom of Israel that the Messiah was to establish on his ascent to the throne of Israel. These two apostles, just like their colleagues, failed to understand the mission of Jesus. They were thinking of his reign in terms that were different from what Jesus had been trying to reveal to them. The next question of Jesus to the two apostles drive further home the contrast in thought between him and the two apostles.

The cup and the baptism that Jesus was talking about were in reference to his passion and death but the two apostles did not understand him. The use of “cup” in the Bible is sometimes symbolic of fate, suffering or judgment. Thus, Jesus was referring to his passion as he would use the same symbolism in the Garden of Gethsemane. The lack of understanding on the part of the two apostles made them respond positively to the question of Jesus. They might have imagined that a positive response was going to let Jesus promise them what they were asking from him. Despite the positive response of the two apostles, Jesus only assured them that they would share his fate but he cannot assign seats on his left and his right. That is the exclusive prerogative of the Father.

Every follower of Jesus is called to the same fate as the Master because the way the enemies treated the Master is the same way they would treat the disciple. It is not however said that those who suffer the fate of Jesus are automatically assured of leadership roles in the kingdom of God. The two issues are separate from one another. This helps to avoid an erroneous tendency to think that when we follow Jesus, he is obliged to reward us with leadership positions. Jesus can assure his disciples that they would reign with him over the twelve tribes of Israel, but he does not consider it his prerogative to make specific appointments.

Leadership in the community of believers is a service and not an honour. Service in the Greek world is the opposite of happiness. This is confirmed by the Greek philosopher, Plato who asked: “How can one be happy when he has to serve someone?” Those called to be leaders in the Christian community are called to find joy and happiness in serving their brothers and sisters. They must not think that they are being rewarded by Jesus for their good acts and so their happiness is to have others wait on them. Leadership in the Christian community is not a question of power; it is a call to humility in service. It is only when we understand what Jesus is inviting us to embrace that we can be true leaders in any position in which we find ourselves in the Christian community.

 

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