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Wednesday – Twenty-third week – OT1
Readings: Col 3:1-11; Lk 6:20-26.
1/ First Reading: RSV Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you once walked, when you lived in them. 8 But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices 10 and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for their fathers did so to the false prophets.”
I. THEME: Live as Christ teaches us.
Many faithful are called Catholics in name because they received the sacrament of Baptism; but don’t practice what Christ teaches them. Can those who live such a life be saved? Jesus clearly answers, “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7:21).
Today readings explain why the faithful need to live their faith by practicing God’s words in their life. In the first reading, the author reminds the Colossians though they are living in the world, they can’t live according to the worldly values and standards; but must live according to the heavenly values and standards because they received the sacrament of Baptism. In the Gospel, St. Luke described a new life in Christ by reporting Christ’s four blessings and four curses. Christ completely inverts the worldly standards of evaluation: what they call blessings, he regards as curses; and what they call curses, he regards as blessings.
1/ Reading I: Two main acts of the sacrament of Baptism
To understand what the author wanted to teach the Colossians, we need to understand Paul’s teaching about the sacrament of Baptism: When we are emerged in water, we are emerged in Christ’s death; and we rise up, we are shared in his glorious resurrection. Therefore, there are two applications in life which the faithful must do:
1.1/ To destroy what belong to the world: Since were emerged in the water of Baptism, the faithful must wash way their sins. The author listed out the sins which the faithful must purge out of them: “fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” They must put away all “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from their mouth.” The faithful are no longer permitted to live according to their will; but must find out and live according to God’s will. They must live according to God’s truth, not worldly falsity. They must live in unity and charity with all people, can’t discriminate Greeks or Jews, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarians or Scythians, slaves or freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
1.2/ To look for what belong to heaven: The author said, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
St. Paul called the receiving of the sacrament of Baptism is to put on Christ. When was put on Christ, the faithful must live a like as Christ lived: according to the heavenly standards and doing God’s will. St Paul told the faithful to imitate him as he imitated Christ. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
2/ Gospel: Paying too much attention to the worldly things shall make people to forget the heavenly things.
2.1/ The differences between the Matthean and the Lucan’s account: If one compares Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (5:2-12) with Luke’s Sermon of the Plain (6:20-26), there are two main differences between them as follows:
– Matthew used the third person for general application while Luke used the second person to directly apply for Jesus’ disciples and audiences.
– Matthew structured Jesus’ sermon in “eight beatitudes” while Luke in “four beatitudes” and “four maledictions.” Luke’s four beatitudes are displayed in Matthew’s eight beatitudes. Luke might want to highlight the contrast between the heavenly and the earthly standards.
What Jesus said in Luke’s four beatitudes bring hope for those who are poor, hungry and thirsty, suffered and persecuted because of the Son of Man; while served as severe warnings for those who are rich, satiated, joyjul and praised. Jesus took the values which the world worships and reversed them: four worldly beatitudes become four maledictions, and four worldly maledictions become four beatitudes.
2.2/ The lasting values of the heavenly standards: Why are the heavenly standards completely opposed the worldly standards? The simple reason is what St. Paul gave in the first reading, “for the world is passing away” to come to a lasting nation in heaven. A detailed analysis in Jesus’ four beatitudes helps us to understand them better:
(1) Poor: Richness prevents people to enter the kingdom of heaven as Jesus warned people: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 19:24). Richness makes people to be content with enjoyments of the present life and forgets about the next life. They use all their time and effort to earn money, and after having money, they are worried about enjoyment. They have no time for God. The poor (anawim) understand that they only need to eat to live, they don’t store up things for themselves. They believe that if God nourishes birds of the air and animals of the field, he shall not let his children to die because of famine. They spend their time and effort to prepare for the next life.
(2) Hungry: Lucas only had the verb “hungry;” while Matthew had the added predicament “rightousness.” God certainly doesn’t advertise famine or He is happy when He sees people to die of famine; but what Jesus wanted to talk about here is the spiritual hungry. The world relies on their own effort while the poor relies on God. He shall fill their spiritual hungry.
(3) Suffering: if there is no suffering, there shall be no glory; if people want to share Jesus’ glory, they must share his suffering too. Moreover, suffering also helps people to discipline themselves to overcome temptations and obstacles in their life. Those who like happiness and avoid suffering shall not be succesful, even in this world.
(4) Being persecuted because of the Son of Man: The prophets and the preachers who were persecuted and killed because they said what the world don’t want to hear, but what God wanted them to speak. Whoever glorifies God before people, Jesus also glorifies him before his Father.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– As Christians, we can’t live according to the worldly values and standards; but must orient our soul to heaven and live according to the heavenly values and standards.
– We certainly must pay a dearly price for living according to the heavenly way; but shall find joy because we do what Christ teaches us, and are guaranteed to attain the salvation for our soul.