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Thursday – Thirtieth Week – OT1
Readings: Rom 8:31b-39; Lk 13:31-35.
Reading 1 (Rom 8:31b-39):
Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:
For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gospel (Lk 13:31-35):
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said,
“Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.”
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.
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.”
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!
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: Love is stronger than death.
Love has power to motivate the lover to sacrifice for the beloved. Many are touched by the story of a mother who cut her breast so that her baby could suck her blood because she no longer had milk in her; or the love stories, such as: Titanic, Roméo and Juliette, or “You must live.” When one is motivated by love, one could do such brave acts.
Today readings center around God’s love for men and men responded to His love. In the first reading, St. Paul ascertained that if God so loved the world to the point He sacrificed His only Son to die for men, He will not hold back anything He can give to them. To respond to this immense love, men need to overcome all obstacles in their life, even their death to be loyal to God’s love. In the Gospel, when some of the Pharisees notified Jesus that king Herode is looking to kill him so that he could hide himself from him, Jesus was not afraid. He sent words to him that he will continue to work to fulfill the plan which his Father entrusted him to do; and he is ready to accept death in Jerusalem.
1/ Reading I: Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
1.1/ God’s love for human beings: Even we never see God, but when we look up and see Christ died on the cross, we should feel God’s love for us. St. Paul said: “If God is for us, who is against us?He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?”
St. Paul as well as St. John did not concern God’s judgment than God’s love for human beings. St. Paul rhetorically asked: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies;who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?” St. John said God so loved the world that He gave us His Only Son; therfore, God did not concern about judgment; but human beings judge themselves by their welcoming or their rejecting God’s love through Christ (cf. Jn 3:16-21).
1.2/ Human response to God’s love: Once we felt God’s love for us, we must find out all possible ways to respond to this love. Some obstacles could prevent people to respond to God’s love:
(1) Trials and sufferings: Real love demands people to accept all sufferings and to overcome all trials. St. Paul challenged Christians: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”” Human strength is not enough to overcome sufferings; but with God’s love and grace, people can overcome all obstacles in life.
(2) Death: Human nature desires life and avoids death; but after one is enlighten by the Holy Spirit, one must be ready to accept even death to be a witness for the truth. Death in body is not the end; it is just the beginning of a new and happy life with God the Father and Christ.
(3) Waiting time: “Absence in face, absence in heart” or “longer praying, weaker our knees.” When someone must wait or suffer for a long period of time, he has a tendency to loose his patience and to fall easily to the devil’s trap by loosing his faith. To avoid such situation, he needs to strengthen daily three theological virtues of faith, hope and love through prayers and reception of the sacraments.
In a word, our love for God and Christ must be firm in order for us to proclaim as St. Paul: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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 Herode 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 Herode 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. Acccording 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:
– The most important thing in our life is to recognize God’s love for us. This can be achieved by many ways: studying Scripture, meditating what God has done for ourselves, our family, and the whole of humankind.
– Once we felt God’s love for us, we must be courage as Jesus and St. Paul, ready to face all worldly power and to fulfill the mission which God has entrusted to us, and to love God and people until the end.