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Thursday – Thirtieth Week – OT2
Readings: Eph 6:10-20; Lk 13:31-35.
1/ First Reading: NAB Ephesians 6:10 Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. 14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones 19 and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 13:31 At that time some Pharisees came to him and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. 33 Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! 35 Behold, your house will be abandoned. (But) I tell you, you will not see me until (the time comes when) you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
I. THEME: Our fighting in the world
Our fighting in the world is against not only one enemy but three, they are: the devils, the world and our own flesh. How can we fight against three heavy-weight enemies? The evil spirits aren’t imaginary because our Lord Jesus expelled them many times from people according to the evangelists. They are bad angels who were expelled from the heaven because they rebelled against God. They are shrewder than people and never want them to belong to God. The world includes all the forces that threaten our faith, such as: worldly leaders, power, fame and material gains. The flesh is our own body with all sickness and bad tendencies, such as: gambling, drinking, smoking and fleshy passion. In the first reading, St. Paul confirmed that we can’t oppose these three enemies with our strength, only with God’s grace. In the Gospel, Jesus himself must also face the worldly powers of King Herod and the Jerusalem’s people; but he overcame both of them.
1/ Reading I: Let draw our strength in the Lord and his mighty power.
St. Paul suggests two principal ways to fight against our enemies:
1.1/ Let wear God’s whole armor so that we may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil: St. Paul probably observed many times the Roman soldiers and their armor when he was in prison at Rome; he likens the faithful as the soldiers who must wear the armor and have all necessary weapons to fight against their enemies. He said, “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” He listed out some necessary weapons:
(1) Stand fast with your loins girded in truth: Once the faithful possessed the truth, they can stand firm before all shrewd temptations of their enemies.
(2) Wear righteousness as a breastplate: Like a soldier who wears a breastplate, nothing can touch his heart; so when the faithful become righteous, nothing bad can permeate their heart.
(3) Your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace: When a soldier put on his fighting shoes, he can be sent to any place; so also when the faithful were prepared, they can be sent to announce the gospel of peace.
(4) Hold faith as a shield to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one: A shield is a big weapon made by wood or metal to fight against the enemy’s flaming arrows; a soldier uses his shield to receive the flaming arrows and to quench their fire. Similarly, faith is likened as a shield to quench all the enemies’ temptations.
(5) Take the helmet of salvation: Christ gives us salvation by forgiving not only our past sins but also giving us grace to prevent our future sins.
(6) Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: The author of the Letter to the Hebrews likens God’s word with the two-edges sword: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
1.2/ Let take all opportunities to pray to God: Besides all the important weapons listed above, the faithful must always pray. St. Paul advised his faithful, “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.” Jesus also taught his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mk 14:38). St. Paul paid attention to the three characters of prayer:
To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones 19
(1) To pray always: People have a
con người có khuynh hướng chỉ cầu nguyện khi có nhu cầu; nhưng nếu quan niệm cuộc đời là bãi chiến trường, con người phải cầu nguyện luôn vì nguy hiểm có thể xảy ra bất cứ lúc nào.
(2) To pray with all our heart: càng ý thức được sự quan trọng của việc cầu nguyện, con người càng cần phải nhiệt thành để xin cho được những ơn cần thiết của Thiên Chúa.
(3) To pray also for others:
không phải chỉ cầu nguyện cho mình mà thôi. Cầu nguyện giúp con người liên kết với mọi người trong tòan thể Dân Thánh của Thiên Chúa. Thánh Phaolô cũng xin các tín hữu Thessalonica cầu nguyện cho ngài trong việc rao giảng Tin Mừng: “Pray also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.”
2/ Gospel: “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”
Jesus seldom called anyone by an animal name; but in Lucas’ today passage, he called Herod a “fox” to indicate his shrewd and contempt of truth. Jesus expressed his feeling for him and for the people of Jerusalem as follows.
2.1/ For Herod Antipas of Galilee: He is the one who killed John the Baptist because he spoke the truth, and now he is looking to destroy Jesus. When Jesus was announced of his wicked plan, he was not afraid and sent his words back to him: “Go and tell that fox, `Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.
Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’” Jesus would like to finish the mission which his Father entrusted to him, even he has to face many opposition, sufferings, and death.
2.2/ For the people of Jerusalem: In the middle of the Olive Mountain today, there is a chapel, called “Jesus wept,” with a tiny hole to look down Jerusalem Temple. According to the tradition, Jesus stopped here before his Passion and death, to mourn for the people of Jerusalem as in today passage: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”
There is no deeper pain than the refusing of one’s love. However, Jesus was still loyal in his love for the people to the end, with a hope that they will recognize and welcome his love for them. The prophecy that Jerusalem people will see Jesus and praise: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” was fulfilled when Jesus solemnly entered the city before his Passion.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Cuộc đời con người là một bãi chiến trường chống lại ba thù: ma quỉ – thế gian – và xác thịt. Chúng ta không thể thắng được nếu không mặc áo giáp và mang lấy mọi vũ khí cần thiết của Thiên Chúa; cùng phải cầu nguyện không ngừng.
– Một khi đã có sự trợ giúp của Thiên Chúa, chúng ta phải hiên ngang như Chúa Giêsu: sẵn sàng đương đầu với mọi quyền lực của thế gian để chu tòan sứ vụ mà Thiên Chúa đã trao phó, nhất là trung thành yêu thương tha nhân đến cùng cho dẫu bị khước từ.