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Monday – Twenty-third week – OT1
Readings: Col 1:24-2:3; Lk 6:6-11.
1/ First Reading: RSV Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me. 2:1 For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 6:6 On another Sabbath, when he entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And he looked around on them all, and said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
I. THEME: The believers’ duty is to build up Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church.
In God’s plan of salvation, Christ is the one who brings God’s plan to fulfillment through his Incarnation, revelation, teaching, training his apostles and going through his Passion and Death to redeem people’s sins. The salvation now belongs to all people, not excluding anyone. In order for this salvation be affected in everyone, people need to believe in Christ. In order for people to believe in Christ, the Church needs many preachers. Beginning with a small group which is Jesus’ disciples, the Church gradually grows and extends through all corners of the earth as we see today. It needs to expand more and more until all people believe in Christ. To accomplish this, all members of the Church have a duty to build her up by sacrificing and contributing in the preaching of the Gospel.
Today readings help the faithful to recognize and to contribute in the building of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church. In the first reading, St. Paul joyfully endured suffering for the building of Christ’s body through his preaching of the Gospel. He tried the best for the Gospel to permeate, to develop and to bear fruits in the faithful’s life. In the Gospel, while Jesus was on his way to preach the Good News and to heal all kinds of diseases for people, the scribes and the Pharisees, in the name of the law, prevented him to heal on the Sabbath and devised all tricks to destroy him. Jesus got angry and rebuked them as hypocrites because instead of encouraging people to believe in him to inherit salvation; they prevented people to come to him because they feared of losing their profits.
1/ Reading I: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”
1.1/ Paul recognized his duty: Before he could witness for Christ, Paul needs to ascertain his faith.
(1) Paul recognized his past sins and God’s love: The event that happened on the way to Damascus helped Paul to recognize that the salvation isn’t only for the Israelites but also opens up for all the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation. St. Paul talked about this plan as follows, “The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints.To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
(2) Take love to return love: After was healed from both spiritual and physical blindness, Paul recognized God’s immense love for him when he is still a sinner. Paul thinks if God loves him that much, he must also respond to that love by bringing Christ’s salvation to all people. Paul knew he can’t do anything for God, so he paid attention to building the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church. He described his mission to the Colossians, “I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known.”
(3) What are the sufferings which are still lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Although Christ is already victorious over death by his glorious resurrection and brings salvation for all people, but God’s plan of salvation isn’t complete until all are saved by believing in Christ. To complete this plan, Christ relies on the contribution of all faithful. The sufferings which Christ is still suffering are the faithful’s indifference in the preaching of the Gospel; the worldly oppositions and plans which aim to destroy the Catholic religion; the frivolous life of the faithful and the preachers prevents them to witness for the Gospel, and the division between Christian churches divides Christ’s body.
1.2/ Paul finds all possible ways to fulfill his mission: He said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” His life of preaching proved his effort; here are some of his efforts:
(1) He preached the Gospel everywhere and at all times: in synagogues, market places, prisons, courts. He did it whether it is convenient or not.
(2) He helped the faithful to be more and more perfected in Christ: He isn’t only pleased with the establishment of the communities, but he also came back to visit them when he had chances; if not, he wrote letters to teach and to console them.
(3) He used God’s love and strength to overcome all individual selfish contentions and to preserve the Church’s unity.
2/ Gospel: Jesus condemned some scribes and Pharisees.
2.1/ They look for a cause to persecute Jesus: Usually, those who were sick or those who had their sick relatives followed Jesus and asked to be healed; but something is unusual today passage, that is, a man with a withered hand was already there. He is used as a trap for Jesus to fall in so that the scribes and the Pharisees might have a reason to condemn Jesus, as the Godpel reported: “On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.”
But they underestimated Jesus’ wisdom and power, because not only he has power to heal but also wisdom to know their calculating intention to condemn him. In order to teach them a lesson, Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there.Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”
2.2/ Jesus courageously confronted them: Those who wanted to persecute him now became the accused. They must know that the spirit of the Sabbath requires them to do good, but they were planning to accuse a good man as Jesus. The Sabbath requires them to value and to protect life, but they were condemning Jesus’ healing. As a thief who is caught when he is stealing, Jesus displayed their wicked intention before people, and they were quiet.
Jesus wants them to go back to the principles; the law is promulgated to protect human life. The foundation of the morality is to do good and to avoid evil; to save life not to destroy it. Therefore, no one can, in the name of the law, destroy a human life or reject to do good things on the Sabbath.
Jesus could cure the man in a secret or at other place; but he wanted to teach people a lesson about the need to discard bad examples and hypocrisy. Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored.And St. Luke reported their reaction, “But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.” They were displayed all of their wicked intention; instead of repenting, they let their pride take control and they planned together another plan to kill Jesus.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We all have a duty to bring God’s plan to perfection by providing opportunities for all people to listen to the Gospel.
– We should never use the Gospel for individual profits; or make people to lose their faith because of our life which is opposed to the Gospel; or in the name of the Gospel to divide Christ’s body.