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Tuesday – Thirty-first week – OT1
Readings: Rom 12:5-16b; Lk 14:15-24.
1/ Reading I: RSV Romans 12:5 So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 14:15 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, `Come; for all is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, `I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ 19 And another said, `I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ 20 And another said, `I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, `Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, `Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, `Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”
I. THEME: Be faithful with your vocation.
God puts us in different circumstances and He wants us to be faithful with our vocation, either priestly or lay, leader or follower. One excellent example is St. Martin de Porres; his saintly life shows that everyone can be holy if one is faithful with his mission and vocation. Martin was born under a very difficult situation: He is black; his father is a white Spanish and his mother is a black Peruvian. His father followed the call of power and forsook his mother, him and his sister to live a poor life in Peru; but Martin didn’t let the difficult circumstance turn him to be a hater or a failure. Martin knew how to use all things given by God to show his love for his family, especially for the poor, even the animal, and later for his Dominican brethren and all those who need his help.
Today readings call us to be faithful with our vocation and warn those who aren’t faithful to their vocation. In the first reading, St. Paul gives us a deep view of God’s plan of salvation through the image of Christ’s body and parts. Every one of us is a member of Christ’s body and is given different gifts to fulfill our mission and to contribute in building up Christ’s healthy body. We shouldn’t compare or be jealous of other people’s gifts; but to humbly fulfill our mission. In the gospel, Jesus warns people that even though all are invited to attend God’s heavenly banquet, but is still up to them to accept and to attend the banquet. Many people, due to their business of worldly things, rejected God’s invitation; while many people, though is called late, accepted the invitation.
1/ Reading I: We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.
1.1/ Everyone has different vocation and different gifts: In two Letters, to the Romans and to the I Corinthians, Paul used the image of the members of the one body to illustrate that though we are different, but are called to be united with each other. In today Letter to the Romans, he wrote, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” accordingly. In the Letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13).
Some people have a habit of comparing their gifts with others. If they think their gifts are better than other’s gifts, they are proud and insult others; if they think their gifts are not equal to others, they are discouraged and blamed on God. St. Paul advised his faithful to avoid both these attitudes because each person has different gifts depending on grace which God bestows on them.
1.2/ Everyone are asked to be loyal to his/her vocation: In the one body, there is not a member which is greater than other members; all members are needed for a body to be healthy. The same thing happens in the Church, there is not a vocation which is better than other vocation; nor a grace which is better than other grace. All are needed to build up the Mystical Body of Christ. Therefore, a correct attitude we should have is to accept our vocation and gifts from God and try our best to contribute in building up God’s kingdom. St. Paul emphasized two important things the faithful must have:
(1) A sincere charity, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”
(2) A humble attitude, “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.”
2/ Gospel: “Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.”
2.1/ The Jewish banquet: According to Jewish tradition, the Jews believed that when the Messiah comes, he shall prepare for people a banquet (Isa 25:6-9). This is the reason why one of Jesus’ fellow guests said to him, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.” They also believed that only the Jews can attend this banquet. Jesus wanted to use a parable to teach them a lesson: if they aren’t prepared, they shall be discarded to have seats for other nations.
According to Jewish custom, after the banquet is planned without a fixed hour for it, the host shall send out his invitation to his guests; the invited guests must respond to his invitation, either yes or no. When it is time for the banquet and everything is ready, the host shall send out his servants again to gather those who positively responded to the host’s invitation. Therefore, those who denied to come to the banquet is an insult for the host.
2.2/ The reasons of denial:
(1) Too busy of working: The first said to him, “I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.” This might be the most popular reason of people in every generation. Since people are too busy with their works, they have no time for God, and gradually forget the ultimate goal of their life.
(2) Worldly allurements: Another said, “I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.” People are easy to be attracted by worldly allurements than keeping of God’s law. After a week of working, people like to go to recreation places more than to attend Sunday Mass. Such a life of satisfying their desire shall gradually make people to be far away from God.
(3) Worry about family: Another said, “I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.” Getting marry is people’s great joy. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, the one who had just married can be exempted from his military or public duty for a year to stay home with his wife (Dt 24:5). However, even this exemption can’t be a cause for people to neglect their duty to God, especially His invitation for the heavenly banquet.
2.3/ The parable’s meanings: Jesus used the parable to explain the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. According to this mystery, God chose and invited the Israelites from the beginning to attend His heavenly banquet; but because of their rejection, His banquet opens up to all people, such as: Gentiles, tax-collectors, prostitutes, etc., all those who believe in Christ. The allegory of the parable can be easily recognized as follow:
– The host: is God.
– The servants: are God’s prophets and Jesus’ disciples.
– The guests who refused to attend: are some of the Jews.
– The poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame: are the tax-collecors and the prostitutes.
– Those who came from all directions: are the Gentiles.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Since God calls us with different vocations and bestows on us with different gifts, we should use God’s given gifts to fulfill our vocation. We should not waste our time to compare and to be jealous of others’ gifts.
– God calls everyone to attend the banquet in His heavenly kingdom; but not all respond positively to His invitation. In order to properly respond, we must learn to know how precious is this invitation and don’t let worldly allurements distract us.