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Monday – Thirty-second Week – OT2
Readings: Tit 1:1-9; Lk 17:1-6.
1/ First Reading: NAB Titus 1:1 Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones and the recognition of religious truth, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began, 3 who indeed at the proper time revealed his word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted by the command of God our savior, 4 to Titus, my true child in our common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior. 5 For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you, 6 on condition that a man be blameless, married only once, with believing children who are not accused of licentiousness or rebellious. 7 For a bishop as God’s steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, 9 holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 17:1 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” 5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6 The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
I. THEME: Christ’s disciples must believe that they can make this world better.
Living in a world with so many bad things such as: contention, hatred, violence and war, people are easy to choose either ignoring or criticizing them. People of the past advised, “It is better to light up a candle than to rebuke darkness.” Jesus’ disciples must believe that they can make the world better by preaching the Gospels, doing good deeds and training future good leaders.
Today readings help people to recognize that they can make the world better. In the first reading, after established many Christian communities, St. Paul concerned about how to sustain them after he left. In today reading, he instructed Titus whom he left at Crete how to establish leaders for leading the faithful there. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples not to be causes for others to sin; but they must teach, correct and forgive others. Above all, they need to have a strong faith in God Who can do all things and to believe others can be changed.
1/ Reading I: Preaching the Gospels and leading the local church
Paul’s Letter to Titus, his disciple, gives us an inside look to one of the early churches at Crete island. Though the preaching of the Gospel is important to help people to believe in Christ; but to organize a local church to protect the faithful from dangerous temptations isn’t less important. St. Paul wisely recognized this so he let his disciples, such as Timothy and Titus, stay back with them to organize local churches and prescribed necessary conditions for them to choose the elders and the administrators to lead local churches, while he continued to spread the Gospel to other locations.
1.1/ St. Paul’s mission: He listed out three things which he must do for people:
(1) First, he must help those chosen by God to faith by believing in Christ;
(2) Secondly, he must teach them to recognize all religious truths which are corresponding to the holy religion;
(3) Lastly, he must guide them to live in a way that they will attain the eternal life which God, who never lies, promised them before time began.
1.2/ Titus’ duties: St. Paul early recognized that he can’t do all works, but needs helps from many people. He must choose and train his disciples before he can hand the works to them. He knew the most important condition to work with others is to have a common faith which is to believe God as the Father and Christ as the Redeemer. This common faith is the necessary force to wipe out all differences and to help people to work together in order for God’s kingdom to come. St. Paul stated the reason why he let Titus remain in Crete, “I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.” He prescribed the necessary conditions to select two kinds of leaders in the local church:
(1) The elders (presbytéros): Like the Jewish tradition, the elders, chosen among people, are one part of the leadership. According to Paul’s standard, “a man be blameless, married only once, with believing children who are not accused of licentiousness or rebellious.” Since prebysters are people who live among people, their faith, manner and family shall be observed by people. If they can’t control themselves and govern their family, how could they govern and lead others?
(2) The administrators (episcopos): are the heads and responsible for the local churches before the Church. Since this is the important position, St. Paul not only gave the bad habits they shouldn’t have, but also the virtues they must have:
– They shouldn’t have these bad habits: “God’s steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain.”
– They should have these virtues: “Hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.”
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 that we can help to build up a better world by: preaching the Gospel or selecting good leaders or creating a healthy environment for people to live, such as: to set good examples, to get rid of bad examples, to correct and to forgive each other.