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Monday – Thirty-first Week – OT1
Readings: Rom 11:29-36; Lk 14:12-14.
Reading 1: Rom 11:29-36:
Brothers and sisters:
The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy
because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given him anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
Gospel: Lk 14:12-14:
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
I. THEME: God’s way versus human way
Many people have a tendency to think very carefully before they do a charitable act in their community or society. They calculate to see if such an act could benefit them in any way; for example, they only give away something when there is a hope that they will receive something back; they give alms for the sake of vainglory; they only visit and pray for the dead in a family whom they would expect his family will also come to pray for the dead in their family.
Today readings suggested us to change these selfish calculations, In the first reading, St. Paul advised us to study to understand God’s way in His plan of salvation for mankind. He chose the Israel to prepare the way for the Messiah to come; then when the Messiah comes, he will open the way of salvation to all; lastly, He will find the way to save the harden Jews who did not believe in Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus advised his disciples to do good deeds to those who could not pay back to them in this life; but God will compensate their good deeds in the life to come.
1/ Reading I: How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
1.1/ There are three periods in God’s plan of salvation: One thing that made St. Paul could not understand was the hardness of many Jewish heart. They did not want to believe in Jesus whom God sent to save people, even though they are the people who God chose to prepare the way for him to come; while so many Gentiles believed in him.
Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Romans is the place where St. Paul explained this Jewish hardness of heart. He firmly believed that “both the Jews and the Gentiles could inherit salvation in God’s plan.” To easily understand the reading, we can divide three periods in God’s plan of salvation.
(1) From the beginning until Jesus’ coming: The Gentiles are those who did not believe and and obey God. In this period, both of them are sinners and in need of God’s salvation. St. Paul gave us the reasons why they are sinners.
– The Gentiles are sinners because “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened” (Rom 1:19-21).
– The Jews are also sinners: They were very proud of their law which God who is the Lord of heaven and earth had given to them through Moses; but St. Paul asked them to examine their conscience: Is there any of them has carefully kept all the law? The answer is no; therefore, they could be condemned more because they knew but did not keep the law.
(2) From Jesus to before the Last Day: Since some of the Israelites did not believe in Jesus, God’s salvation is offered to all Gentiles. St. Paul was specially chosen by God to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, and there is a reason for that as he confessed: “Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. ”
Some of the Gentiles, after they had received the Good News and believed in Christ, were so proud of themselves and despised the Israelites. St. Paul explained and gave them a reason why they should not be contempt of the Jewish position in God’s plan of salvation: “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in” (Rom 11:25).
(3) The last period: God will lead the Israelites back and save them because “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Rom 11:2). The reason for their hardness is “in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy.”
And St. Paul concluded: “For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” We don’t understand the mystery of God’s plan of salvation; only God who created men knows how to use human beings to fulfill His plan of salvation.
2/ Gospel: Do good deeds to those who have nothing to pay you back.
2.1/ Two ways of living: justice or mercy?
(1) According to human justice: “A bit for a bit. If someone gives us a stone, we must give him back a lead.” Jesus gave us a practical example. When people organize a dinner or a banquet, they used to invite their friends, brothers and sisters, or the rich with a hope that they will be also invited by them or to receive something from them. That way of this behaving is purely justice.
(2) According to charity of Jesus’ disciple: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
2.2/ Why must we help those who have nothing to pay back? Because we also received grace and gifts from those we did not have anything to pay them back. If we look back to our past, we would recognize we received many of helps from:
(1) God: He gives us the most precious gift of life; let us enjoy many things which our hands did not make them; forgives our sins against Him; and keeps sending those who help us both our spiritual and material needs. What did we do to return all of His favors to us?
(2) Others: We owned many things from our grand parents, parents, brothers and sisters, teachers, friends and benefactors. As a refugee, if not for the country who opened their arms to settle us, or the help of charitable organizations during our first days in the foreign country, how could we have a stable life as right now? What did we do to pay back their helps?
Due to all the grace and gifts we have received in our life, we must help those who are in need. Moreover, God counts what we did to others as we did to Him, so that He could reward us the eternal life.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God’s thoughts and acts are so different with human thoughts and acts. We need to study and practice God’s way because they will bring good results to us both in this life and the future life.
– In order to live the perfect charity, we must let Jesus to permeate our whole life: from our thought, reason to action. In order to give freely, we need to constantly to review our life to see what we have received from God and others.