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Monday – Twenty-ninth Week – OT2
Readings: Eph 2:1-10; Lk 12:13-21.
Reading 1 (Eph 2:1-10):
Brothers and sisters:
You were dead in your transgressions and sins
in which you once lived following the age of this world,
following the ruler of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.
All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh,
following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses,
and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.
But God, who is rich in mercy,
because of the great love he had for us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
raised us up with him,
and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come
he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
it is not from works, so no one may boast.
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works
that God has prepared in advance,
that we should live in them.
Gospel (Lk 12:13-21):
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!'”
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.”
Written by: Fr. Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: How to properly live?
Is it meant to have much money? Or to satisfy the desire of flesh? Or to have power and fame? Two readings today show us that the true life doesn’t depend on these things, but on how to live according to Christ’s teaching and God’s providence.
1/ Reading I: You are saved by God’s grace.
1.1/ The worldly way: is the way of life in sin (harmatia) and deviated from the right way (paraptoma). According to the original meaning, sin is like an arrow missing the goal. Understanding so, sin isn’t only about heavy sins such as: robbery, murder or adultery, but also all the sins that prevent people to attain the ultimate goal which God predestines for human beings. In today passage, St. Paul listed out five influences over the human life:
(1) Living according to worldly way: This means that people live according to worldly standards and values; these standards and values often totally contrast with God’s standards and valued. For example, God teaches people to sacrifice, to love and to forgive while the world teaches them to be selfish, to enjoy and to hate.
(2) Living according to the devil’s control: St. Paul expressed this way as “following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.”
(3) Living against Christ’s teaching: The Holy Spirit always guides people to live according to the truth. When people listen to the devil and live against the truth, they disobey God and become God’s enemy.
(4) Living according to desires of the mind (epithumia): is to live according to wrong and prohibited things. Many people don’t know how to use God’s gift and freedom to benefit themselves and others so they must endure sickness or be confined in prison.
(5) Living according to the passion of the flesh: According to Paul, the fleshy sins aren’t only sexual sins but also include many other sins such as: idol worshipping, jealousy, anger, hatred, separation and division (Cf. Gal 5:19-21).
We can abbreviate these five ways into three easy remembered ways which we use to read in many prayers. According to these prayers, people must confront three kinds of enemies in this life, that are: the devil, the world and their own flesh. All three enemies are dangerous and people can’t overcome if they don’t have the Holy Spirit’s gifts. St. Paul also confessed: “we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.”
1.2/ The Christ’s way: Contrasting with the worldly way is the Christ’s way or the Holy Spirit’s way as Paul mentioned in the Letter to the Romans, chapter 8. The result of the worldly way is that people must endure God’s wrath through punishments and death. The only reason which prevents people to be free from death was explained by Paul in today passage, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.”
1.3/ It is through faith and by grace that you are saved: And St. Paul concluded, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”
People can’t do anything to be saved, even to keep the law; so they must completely depend on God’s mercy, expressed through the fact that God gives Christ, His Only Son for human beings to redeem people’s sins and to bring people back to God. Therefore, we can’t come back to live according to the worldly way, but must live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to benefit ourselves and others.
2/ Gospel: Beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
2.1/ Fighting because of the inheritance: One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
There are two principles one needs to learn to use properly all material things:
(1) God gives material things to all: All things are already in the world when human beings first appeared. People don’t bring anything with them when they enter, and will not carry anything with them when they depart. Therefore, let no one use his power to hoard material things to make his own possession; but he must share them with others. One can work harder or spend more time to work; but no one has a right to keep in his hands an amount of money that can be used to feed millions of people. The reason of injustice is human greed, people want to have much money to squander or to protect their descendants to eternity.
(2) We must value people above material things: Everyone knows this, but not many live as such. In today society, we witnessed so many cases in which parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters fighted because of material things. The results of putting material things above relationships are lawsuits, division and separation.
2.2/ Human wisdom and God’s authority
(1) Human wisdom: Jesus presented a case to make people to think: “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ ”
So many people today have the same attitude as this rich man, they want to have very much and as soon as possible so they can retire at young age. Some try to work many hours, some try to invest in areas that bring them much profit, such as: stocks, lands, houses, gold and silvers. Many had to pay a dearly price for their endless greed! Even some are successful of doing that; but once God plans to take out their possession, they cannot prevent Him.
(2) Human life is in God’s hand: “But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
People know that they have no authority on his life even a short moment. When the appointed time comes, they must depart. If they know so, why do they have to worry and to hoard up money? They know they cannot bring a single thing with them. Their children might not need that, and even if they need them, it is not guaranteed that they will benefit them; for example, the above rift between siblings. Moreover, they have to suffer because of lacking spiritual and intellectual needs or diseases. The wise men are those who know how to live according to the Lord’s way; they use material things as a mean to reach to their future destination which is the eternal life.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– All of us sinned and are deserved of death, but because of God’s mercy, He predestines us to be saved through Christ.
– We can’t do anything to receive God’s grace, even keeping of the law. What we can do is to hope in God’s mercy and to believe in Christ.
– It isn’t by richess that our life is protected. We must avoid all kinds of greed and live in God’s providence.