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Friday – Thirtieth Week – OT2
Readings: Phil 1:1-11; Lk 14:1-6.
1/ First Reading: NAB Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and ministers: 2 grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, 4 praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, 5 because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, 10 to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 14:1 On a Sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. 2 In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. 5 Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 But they were unable to answer his question.
I. THEME: The way to solve conflicts
In our life, different opinions can’t be avoided because people are shaped in different backgrounds: culture, custom, religion, etc. The difference in opinions is the cause of all conflicts, especially when people must protect their rights. When people face conflicts, there are three main reactions: Some try to eliminate those who are different with them by waging war under all forms. Others try to ignore the opposition and go on with their life. Still others try to solve their conflict by discussion to find an acceptable solution.
Today readings help us to understand conflicts and how to solve them. In the first reading, St. Paul set an example for us by displaying all necessary virtues we need to possess before we can effectively solve a conflict. In the Gospel, Jesus solved his conflict by accepting his enemies’ invitation to their dinner on the Sabbath so he could have an opportunity to educate them.
1/ Reading I: St. Paul displayed important virtues before he solve his conflicts with the Philippians.
1.1/ Humility: This must be the primary virtue one must have before solving a conflict. He must be humble enough to recognize that he doesn’t possess all the truth and has a willing to learn from others. If he thinks he is always right, he shall not open his mind to any discussion. St. Paul realized the importance of this virtue when he advised the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” (Phil 2:3); and to learn from Christ this virtue (Phil 2:6).
1.2/ Respect and sincerity: The faithful also need to know the role of each person in bringing God’s salvation plan to perfection; they don’t have to do all the things but to create opportunities for others to contribute in. Therefore, the faithful must be joyful and thank God when they see many contributing in the preaching of the gospel, not to be jealous when seeing others’ success or higher position in the Church. Moreover, each one also needs to pray for others so all shall have an eager heart to preach the gospel as St. Paul expressed his sincerity for the Philippians, “I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
1.3/ Charity: The Vietnamese probably recognize the importance of love in solving conflicts when they said, “When people love each other they shall not mind of anything; even there are hundreds of differences, they shall find a way to level them off.” In opposition, if people don’t have charity, even one difference might draw them apart. St. Paul expressed his sincere love for the Philippians and appreciated their love in sharing his sufferings, “It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
To avoid conflicts to happen in their family or community, parents and leaders not only to show their love in actions but also to educate, to pray and to create a loving atmosphere for all of their members. St. Paul also recognized the importance of charity for unity, so he prayed for his faithful, “and this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”
2/ Gospel: The way Jesus solved his conflict with the Pharisees.
2.1/ The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees: St. Luke reported two different attitudes between Jesus and his foes as following:
(1) The Pharisees and the scribes’ attitude: The Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him and his friends on the Sabbath. He also set up a trap by arranging a drowsy in his house to see if Jesus heals him on the Sabbath.
(2) Jesus’ attitude: Though Jesus knew his evil intention; he still accepted his invitation because he wanted them to have an opportunity to learn a truth and to change his hypocritical life.
2.2/ Jesus educated them in the truth and healed the drowsy:
(1) Jesus invited them to dialogue with him: Without any hesitation, Jesus took an active role in his process of solving the conflict with them by posing a question to the Pharisees and the scribes, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent.
Their silence can be either they didn’t know the answer or they pretended that question has no connection to them. The Pharisees and the scribes might be in the latter case.
(2) Jesus courageously defended the truth: Without showing any fear, Jesus healed the drowsy and set him free. Then Jesus questioned them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”
There are many cisterns in Palestine because of lacking of water and they are the cause of accidents for human beings and animals (cf. Exo. 21:33). When a human being or an animal falls to it, no one questions should that person or animal be pulled out from it because it is the right thing to do. The fact that Jesus healed the drowsy on the Sabbath is the right thing to do, why they made a big deal out of that?
2.3/ The hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the scribes: Jesus invited them to dialogue with him to find out the truth; but they kept silence. Jesus wanted to correct their double standards: one standard for their own people and properties, the other standard for others, especially for the poor and the marginalized. They couldn’t provide an answer for Jesus’ question because they know Jesus fathomed their intention. In this passage, St. Luke didn’t tell us the reaction of these Pharisees and scribes; but in many other places, he and Matthew often reported they became angry and look for an opportunity to seize and to kill him.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– When dealing with conflicts, we need to have a humble attitude and an opened mind to recognize the truth. Don’t let an arrogant attitude and profits obscuring our eyes and to prevent us to recognize the truth.
– Above all, we need to possess charity so that we can recognize the common good for people, not just our individual needs.
– To live righteously, we need to avoid the double-standards attitude: one for ourselves and one for the rest of people.