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Wednesday – Thirtieth Week – OT1
Readings: Rom 8:26-30; Lk 13:22-30.
Reading 1 (Rom 8:26-30):
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.
Gospel (Lk 13:22-30):
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
“Lord, open the door for us.”
He will say to you in reply,
“I do not know where you are from.”
And you will say,
“We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.”
Then he will say to you,
“I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!”
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”
I. THEME: To live happy with God in heaven is a progress.
To live happy with God in heaven is a progress which requires the preparation of our whole life, not just only in a period of time or in last minutes on the death bed as many people think. Some are so naive when they take the story of the good thief in Lucas’ Gospel to imitate it. They think God is so merciful, and He will forgive all their sins when they confess; so they don’t need to prepare, they can enjoy life to the fullness until their last minutes on the death bed, make a confession to God, and go straight to heaven. Many people died without lied on their death bed; and even if they have time to prepare on their death bed, it is not easy to make a confession at that time for they have no power to fight against devils.
Today readings advised us to prepare all moments of our life in order to enjoy a happy life with God in heaven. In the first reading, St. Paul listed out the progress which God has planned for men before they can live a glorious life with Him; that are: foreknowing, predestining, calling, justifying, and enjoying the glorious life. In the Gospel, Jesus emphasized the relationship between God and men. To enter heaven, knowledge about God is not enough, people must sacrifice and fight to enter through a narrow door, which means they must sacrifice to preach the Good News and to be a living witness for Him.
1/ Reading I: Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.
1.1/ We don’t know how to pray properly: There are at least three reasons that prevent people to pray properly:
(1) We don’t know what will happen in the future: We can only know what is happening now; therefore, a thing we asked for can be good in the present, but will be no good for us in the future. For example, asking to be rich can lead us to loose our life or happiness.
(2) We don’t know what is good for ourselves: There are many things we think they are good, but they will bring bitterness for us. For example, asking to be famous or powerful will bring bitter results which we cannot endure.
(3) We don’t know what we asked can be harmful to others: God must be fair to all because they are His children even they know Him or not. For example, we cannot ask God to destroy the wicked properly or immediately.
1.2/ The Holy Spirit will help us to pray: Since we don’t know how to pray properly, so God gives us His Spirit. St. Paul clearly explained: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”
The Greek verb used in Rom 8:23 is “stenázô,” which means “to wail in the heart.” The noun used in today passage is “stenámois alalêtois,” which means “the wailing which cannot be expressed by words.” This noun had an origin in the Book of Exodus, when God heard the Israelites’ wailing when they were slaves in Egypt. They were maltreated by taskmasters and suffered greatly; but did not know whom to ask for help, they only know to wail in their heart (Act 7:34; Exo 3:7-10).
Why does God need to give His Spirit to men? St. Paul explained: “For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit” (1 Cor 2:11-13). “And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
1.3/ God’s plan of salvation: In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul confirmed: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
To know the purpose of life is not enough, one must also know how to reach that purpose. St. Paul described generally God’s plan of salvation in these sentences: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
According to St. Paul, one is justified by his faith in Christ; but this faith needs to be tested by trials and sufferings which God sends them to one’s life. A Christian must show his faith in Christ by overcoming these obstacles. If a Christian is loyal in his faith to the end, he will be welcomed by Christ and live a happy life with Him in heaven.
2/ Gospel: “Strive to enter by the narrow door.”
2.1/ Strive to enter by the narrow door because the large road only leads to destruction:
Many people would prefer the easiest way, the shortest route; but experience shows such preference only leads to failure. Without discipline, a student or an athlete cannot be succesful. This is true not only for an individual but also for a community. Many people are so centered on God’s mercy, they forget about God’s justice. These people believe and preach the Universialism: since God so love people He will save all, including those who refused to be saved. Jesus’ message in today Gospel must be a warning for these people.
2.2/ The kingdom of God is only for those who put Jesus’ preaching into practice, not just knowing him: Many emphasizes knowledge about God, Jesus stressed deeds. He warned those who only believe him in words: “Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’”
Jesus also warned us a painful reality: “There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– To be with God in His glory is a progress which requires our preparation for the whole life. We must train ourselves to have an unshakable faith in God.
– We must fight to enter the kingdom of God through a narrow door, because an easy and large road only leads us to destruction.
– We must remember that God is not only God of mercy but also of justice.