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Monday – Thirty-second week – OT1
Readings: Wis 1:1-7; Lk 17:1-6.
1/ Reading I: RSV Wisdom 1:1 Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth, think of the Lord with uprightness, and seek him with sincerity of heart; 2 because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him. 3 For perverse thoughts separate men from God, and when his power is tested, it convicts the foolish; 4 because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin. 5 For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit, and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts, and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness. 6 For wisdom is a kindly spirit and will not free a blasphemer from the guilt of his words; because God is witness of his inmost feelings, and a true observer of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue. 7 Because the Spirit of the Lord has filled the world, and that which holds all things together knows what is said.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 17:1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, `I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
I. THEME: A disciple of Christ must believe he can make the world better.
Living in a world that has so many problems, such as: contention, hatred, violence and war, people tend to have two attitudes: either avoidance or criticism. There is an ancient proverb that encourages people to have a positive attitude: “It is better to light one candle than to curse darkness.” A disciple of Christ must believe he can make the world better by preaching the truth of Gospel and by selecting good leaders who live according to the truth.
Today readings help us to recognize what we can do to make a better world. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Wisdom highlighted the core of all problems is to discard falsity to live according to the truth. The holy spirit of the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit, will instruct people about the truths of God. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples they should not be a cause for others to sin; must correct and forgive; and above all, must have a strong faith in God that He can do all things, even changing people’s mind and heart.
1/ Reading I: The Spirit of the Lord holds all things together.
1.1/ False arguments cause people to separate themselves from God: Most of the authors of the Sapient Books recognized the most important truth, that is: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Therefore, the most important duty of educators is to teach people to fear the Lord. When someone must choose a leader or a spouse, the standard to choose is to see if that one fears the Lord. If he does, he will love people and not cause damages for others because he fears to face God’s judgment. If he does not, he will do anything to protect his right.
In order to live a relationship with God, the first things people need to have are the virtue of humility and the mind of loving the truth. The arrogant can never find God since He loves the humble and avoids the pride. To love the truth is the basis for the relationships with God and others, because false arguments cause people to separate themselves from God. The wicked will never know God’s truth, and “wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin.”
1.2/ The holy spirit is the wisdom of God: The concept about the Holy Spirit was already mentioned in the Old Testament under many different names. The author of the Book of Wisdom called him “the holy spirit” and “the wisdom of God.”
One of the essential roles of the Holy Spirit is to guide people to recognize the truth from the false: “For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit, and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts, and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.” To live according to the truth, people must live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. To achieve this, people must be humble to identify bad habits in themselves and to ask him for strength to destroy them. The Holy Spirit will lead people to God, not to satisfy people with fame, power, or material gains. Therefore, the sign to know if one has the holy spirit is to look at his life: he is living for God’s benefits or for his selfish gains.
The holy spirit of the Lord is inside a man, so he knows all what are happening in his mind and heart. Because of him, “God is witness of his inmost feelings, and a true observer of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.” One cannot hide anything from God, so he has only one way is to live straightfully according to the truth. “For wisdom is a kindly spirit and will not free a blasphemer from the guilt of his words.”
Lastly, the Holy Spirit is the cause of unity for those who want to live according to the truth, as written by this author: “Because the Spirit of the Lord has filled the world, and that which holds all things together knows what is said.” The unity which is not based on the truth, is purely fake, sooner or later it will lead to separation.
2/ Gospel: The religious life of a Christian
Today passage highlights three things related to the Christian life, each thing is contained in the two verses.
2.1/ A cause for people to fall: The Greek uses “skándalon.” This noun has 3 meanings:
(1) A trap: to catch mice, or a nail is put on the street to cause explosion of tires.
(2) A cause for sins: such as casinos, brothels, bad websites, dirty jokes, slander. Even Christ’s cross is a cause of sin for those who don’t believe.
(3) A person who causes others to sin: prostitutes, those who wear provocative clothes, those who set bad examples for children. Jesus called Peter “Satan,” because he is a cause for sin.
If there is a fire, there will be smoke. If there is no cause, there will be no sin. Jesus said to his disciples: “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone was hung round his neck and he was cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” The one who causes chidren to sin commits a grave sin because they are not mature to make a distinction between good and bad thing.
2.2/ Fraternal correction and forgiveness: The Matthew’s Gospel explains more clearly than Luke (cf. Mt 18:15, 21-22). In Luke, these themes are abbreviated in two sentences: (1) One must first correct people, then forgive if they repent: “Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” (2) One must always forgive: “and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, `I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
2.3/ The power of faith: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” because it is not easy to avoid of being a cause for people to sin or to always forgive. Jesus said to his apostles: “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” This attitude is needed for people to act. If one doesn’t have this kind of attitude, he can not fulfill any hard works. God won’t command people to do impossible tasks; if one believes in Him, he will achieve things he never thinks he is able to do them, because nothing is impossible to God.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
We must believe we can build a better world. This can be done by preaching the truth of the Gospel, selecting good leaders, creating a healthy environment for people to live, teaching people to set good examples, eliminating bad examples, fraternal correction and forgiving each others.