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Tuesday – Thirty-first Week – OT2
Readings: Phi 2:5-11; Lk 14:15-24.
Reading 1 (Phil 2:5-11):
Brothers and sisters:
Have among yourselves the same attitude
that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and, found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel (Lk 14:15-24):
One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, OP.
I. THEME: The dangers of ignorance
People have a tendency to abridge their life to the material needs such as: eating and drinking, job and recreation; and not many people want to spend their time to learn and to satisfy spiritual needs. Therefore, when they must make decisions for their life, they shall aim at material than spiritual values.
Today readings want to show people God’s way to salvation, and if people don’t spend their time to learn and to apply it in their life, they shall not have God’s salvation. In the first reading, the author described the way of God’s salvation through Christ who saved people not by his mighty and strength, but by humility and perfect obedience to his Father. In the Gospel, Jesus wanted to illustrate the danger of paying too much attention to material needs of people to the point that they refused to attend the heavenly banquet which God prepared for them from eternity.
1/ Reading I: God’s way to save people
The majority of Scriptural scholars agreed that Philippians 2:6-11 is a hymn which was existed in the early communities, and St. Paul used it to advise the Philippians to imitate Christ in order to live according to his perfect charity, as he expressed his intention from the beginning, “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.” There are three main lessons one can learn from this passage:
(1) Christ’s humility: There are many dogmatic points which the Church’s Fathers and the first few Councils drawed out from verses 6-7 of this passage: Christ Jesus “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance.” Based on these verses, we know Jesus had two natures: divine and human natures when he incarnated in the Blessed Mary’s womb. The Church used these dogmatic points to fight against many heresies; for examples, against Arianism who denies Christ’s divinity; against Adoptionism who said Christ is adopted by God and not equal to God; and against Docetism who said that Jesus only seems to be a man, but not truly a man. The reason why he humbly incarnated is to redeem people’s sins.
(2) Christ’s absolute obedience: The author said, “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” God doesn’t make Jesus to suffer, but Jesus himself volunteered to suffer to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. He truly died, not seemed to die as Docetism believed.
(3) Christ’s supreme glory: Because of Christ’s humility and absolute obedience, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Some main victories which Jesus harvested from his Passion, Death and Resurrection are:
– He conquers human sins: By his Passion and Death, he redeems people’s sins.
– He conquers human death: If Christ weren’t resurrected, death would dominate humankind and human beings have no hope to live for ever with God; but because he resurrected, he conquered death, the last enemy of human beings.
– He conquers devils: In desert, the devil tempted Jesus to use his ways to conquer people such as: giving people bread, glory and performing miracles. Jesus showed him a better way to conquer people by God’s word, love, sacrifice and eternal life.
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:
– The human life can’t be abridges to material needs. We need to spend time to learn about God and to satisfy our spiritual needs. Ignorance or wrong knowing shall lead us to making wrong decisions for our life.
– Those who are called are many, but those who are chosen are few. Though we are already invited to the heavenly banquet; but if we don’t spend time to learn about God, to often receive the sacraments to fight against our enemies, we are easy to get lost and be discarded outside.