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Saturday – Thirty-second week – OT1
Readings: Wis 18:14-16, 19:6-9; Lk 18:1-8.
1/ Reading I: RSV Wisdom 18:14 For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone,
15 thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior 16 carrying the sharp sword of thy authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth.
Wisdom 19:6 For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, complying with thy commands, that thy children might be kept unharmed.
7 The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,
8 where those protected by thy hand passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvelous wonders.
9 For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who didst deliver them.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man;
3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.’
4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man,yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'”
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.
7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
I. THEME: The immense and forgiving love of God
To understand God’s immense and forgiving love, let us compare it with human selfish and limited love. God is always ready and unconditionally forgives all human sins when people repent and confess. Once He forgives, He never reminds people of their sins. In opposition, human beings are hard to forgive others’ sin the third time; and in order to be forgiven, they may require many conditions. Moreover, when others’ sin was already forgiven, they still remember it; and when having a chance, they keep reminding and nagging others of their sin.
Today readings highlight God’s love and the patient praying so that God would forgive and redeem people. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Wisdom used the historical events in the Old Testament to set up the foundation for the future mission of the Word, which is Christ; he will purify people from their sins and save them from the destruction of death. In the Gospel, Jesus gave his disciples a parable of a judge and a widow, to advise them that they need to be patient to pray. In all cases, they need to have hope, even in a desperate case, since God always has mercy and looks for a way to save His people.
1/ Reading I: “People are praising thee, O Lord, who did deliver them.”
1.1/ Your mighty Word had left his throne: “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of thy authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth.”
This passage was composed from the inspiration of many events in the Old Testament which expressed God’s love and human sins (cf. Exo 12:23, Job 4:13-15, I Chr 21:15-27). St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Church’s liturgy used this passage for the Mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus’ missions in the world are to purify human sins and to destroy death.
The mighty Word is other name of Christ (Jn 1:1-3). The author of the Letter to the Hebrew compared “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12). Christ is also called the Mediator or the High Priest to connect between heaven and earth and to reconcile people to God (Heb 4:14-15).
1.2/ God protects His people: Sins has permeated and spreaded through out the world. The Word’s mission is to bring back people to their original state as the beginning of the world: “For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, complying with thy commands, that thy children might be kept unharmed.”
Today passage also recalled the Exodus and God’s protection of Israel in their journey to the Promise Land: “The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves, where those protected by thy hand passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvelous wonders.” Lastly, the author recalled the event when Joshua led the Israelites to cross over Jordan river to conquer the city of Jericho: “For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising thee, O Lord, who didst deliver them” (x/c Jos 1:11-15, Psa 114:3-5).
2/ Gospel: Loyalty in praying
2.1/ The unrighteous judge and the persevere widow: Jesus told his disciple a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
(1) The unrighteous judge: did not revere God and pay respect to anyone, to say nothing of a poor widow. For a long time, he didn’t pay attention to her request; but at last he thought: “Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.”
(2) The persevere widow: She had no one to rely on; therefore, she is easily become a prey for wicked people. This widow kept coming to him and saying, “Vindicate me against my adversary.” Being rejected many times by the judge, but she was not losing heart and determined to ask until she got the result.
2.2/ God loves His people: Jesus compared that unrighteous judge with his Father, and he guaranteed a reply: “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.” However, this is not meant God will give to people whatever they ask, because:
– People can ask what are not good for them: People can not forsee the future; therefore, they don’t know the result of what they ask for. For example, asking to win a lottery can lead to the separation of one’s family, or asking to have power can lead one to death.
– People can ask what are not good for others: For example, asking for their enemy to be destroyed. They forget that the enemy is also God’s child.
The best way to ask is to let God deciding what will benefit us and others. There is a story about a king who would like to divide his inheritance to his children. To teach his children a lesson, the king put the most valuable gifts in the bad looking boxes and the fair gifts in the good looking boxes. When it was the turn of his youngest prince, he hesitated for a while then told his father: “I don’t know how to choose, may you help me to choose.” The king chose the most valuable one for his youngest son.
Then Jesus said: “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” The faith in Christ is the most expensive gift God has given to people; but to protect and to develop it are people’s duty. To make it grow, suffering cannot be lacking. If people did not get what they ask, they must be perservered until they get what they desire.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Our God is rich in mercy. He doesn’t want to destroy a sinner, but always find a way to lead him back and to save him. If He gave us the Word, what else do we ask and He does not give it to us.
– We should pray to God by relying on the works of Christ, the Son of God, have been accomplished. He is the High Priest who will intercede for us with His Father.
– We must be persevered in prayer and petition. God can test us by not quickly granting so we have time to recognize the value of what we are asking. He can give us a better gift if He sees the one we asked will not bring a good consequence.