Thursday, 17 October 2013

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Rights of the Chosen ones

Reading 1 

EX 17:8-13 

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.
Moses, therefore, said to Joshua,
"Pick out certain men,
and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. 
I will be standing on top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand." 
So Joshua did as Moses told him:
he engaged Amalek in battle
after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.
As long as Moses kept his hands raised up,
Israel had the better of the fight,
but when he let his hands rest,
Amalek had the better of the fight.
Moses’hands, however, grew tired;
so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. 
Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other,
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people
with the edge of the sword.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (cf. 2) Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
I lift up my eyes toward the mountains;
whence shall help come to me?
My help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
May he not suffer your foot to slip;
may he slumber not who guards you:
indeed he neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the guardian of Israel.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade;
he is beside you at your right hand.
The sun shall not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your life.
The LORD will guard your coming and your going,
both now and forever.
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Reading 2

2 TM 3:14-4:2

Beloved:  Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,

because you know from whom you learned it,

and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,

which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation

through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God

and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction,

and for training in righteousness,

so that one who belongs to God may be competent,

equipped for every good work.
 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,

who will judge the living and the dead,

and by his appearing and his kingly power:

proclaim the word;

be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;

convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.


LK 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. 
He said, "There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, 
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'" 
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night? 
Will he be slow to answer them? 
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. 
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Theme for reflection:  Rights of the chosen

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? (Lk. 18:7)

(It may be a good thing to ask ourselves and ask one another at the beginning itself whether we consider ourselves, in keeping with these words of Jesus, the chosen ones of God? It is not a mere exercise in futility but a profound statement of belief which has its roots in the Apostles creed which we recite and affirm.)

Thus it is affirmed in Scripture: We are God’s chosen ones in Christ Jesus. 1 Pt. 2:9; also refer: Mt. 22:14; Jn. 13:8; Acts 9:15; Rom. 11:5; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 1 Pt. 1:2.

We become his chosen ones by virtue of our call to afaith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire.” 1 Peter 1:7

At the same time, to be a chosen is not a guarantee of eternal life unless and until we live a life worthy of that calling, with hearts filled with gratitude and persevering faith, resolute in a battle where victory is surely ours in Christ Jesus.

Judas was also a chosen one but perished because he did not live up to his calling through faithful obedience. (cfr. Jn. 13:18)

If we consider ourselves faithful and chosen ones of God then we need to know that we are constantly walking the narrow path, into the Promised Land of eternal life and at the same time in constant battle with the enemies of Christ both in the world and in the spiritual realm.

This battle is not on account of us wanting to battle with others but rather because the enemy wants to rob us of the eternal life which God has prepared for those who respond to his unconditional love. 

Yes, we are the chosen ones of God and hence called to use the special gifts and blessings we have received from God for our own sanctification and for the sanctification of others. It is a responsibility that is not to be abused. 

The weapons of warfare provided us by God are not material ones but spiritual and what we see in the first reading is a glimpse into the battle which takes place in the heavenly realm; a foretaste of things to come.  

It was not Joshua who wins the battle against the Amalekites or Moses, who actually spearheads the battle in the visible realm, but the living God who accompanies them in a humble unassuming power that is able to lead every thought into submission to God. 

We has Catholics have the additional graces in the intercession of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, the saints in glory who do warfare on our behalf in the heavenly sphere just as Moses was high up on the mountain assisted by Aaron and Hur. 

Therefore St. Paul says; For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Cor 10:3-6

Further he says: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Eph 6:12-13

Some additional scripture verses for reflection and use:        
And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return:'To me every knee shall bow. Isa 45:21-23
Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Tim 6:12
See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. Col 2:8-15    

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Tim 4:7-8

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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Leprosy of Sin

Reading 1
Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of Elisha, the man of God. 
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child,
and he was clean of his leprosy.

Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. 
On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said,
"Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.
Please accept a gift from your servant."

Elisha replied, "As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;"
and despite Naaman's urging, he still refused. 
Naaman said: "If you will not accept,
please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth,
for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice
to any other god except to the LORD."
Responsorial Psalm
R. (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
his right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands:
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Reading 2
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
"Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
And when he saw them, he said,
"Go show yourselves to the priests."
As they were going they were cleansed. 
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. 
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
"Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine? 
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" 
Then he said to him, "Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you."

Theme for reflection: Leprosy of Sin 
Leprosy is a deadly disease because it separates the victim from the community.

In that sense it is no different than death itself which separates us from the living.

Unlike in death there are a few exceptions, the first one is that of some people accommodating a leprous. Prominent among them is the leprous community itself, which welcomes another leprous and even understands the state of his leprous brother or sister belonging to the community.

The other category could be the parents or the near or loved ones who will accept their own leprous and will do anything to reach out to them.

While the parents would reach out to them they would take the help of the medical fraternity wherever possible.
Why So? Leprosy is a contagious disease which eats into us and renders our nerves and limbs lifeless, numb and deformed.

If one were to explain the consequences of sin, then it has the same effect on the individual. Hence, just as leprosy is to the body so too is the effect of sin on the soul.

Just as leprosy separates us from others so too sin separates us from the life of God.

Such is the separation of the lepers that even God in Christ Jesus does not go out of his way to reach out to them on his own volition. 

Rather they in their misery cry out to Jesus first; "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"

God though may not reach out to us without our consent or desire but he does reach out to us promptly if only we cry out to him who is able to save us, our savior God.

We need to take that first step and God will even take a thousand steps forward in order to reach out to us with his saving grace. 

And what is more, he even restores to us to the community from which we have been estranged, through the office of the priest.

Just as in the Old Testament a priest would separate the victim of leprosy from the commonwealth of Israel and then also becomes an instrument to restore the leper, who is cleansed, back to the community similarly Jesus through his death on the cross and through the ministry of reconciliation exercised by the priest restores us back to the community of Christian faith. 

Similarly, the priest by proclaiming the moral gospel of Jesus may bring about an estrangement of the sinners in the midst of the church as in the Old Testament.likewise by the proclamation of the word and by calling people to repentance and faith he reconciles and restores them to God and to one another.

Some additional scripture verses for reflection and use:    

The Lord said to Moses, 2 "This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest; 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall make an examination. Lev 14:1-3

Read Lev. Chps. 13 & 14
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands -  12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone. Eph 2:11-20
For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Heb 7:26-27
Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:10

I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands, no one seeks for God.  12 All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one."  13 "Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."  15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they do not know." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:9-26

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