Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Reading 1 1 COR 15:12-20
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead,
then neither has Christ been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching;
empty, too, your faith.
Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God that he raised Christ,
whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1BCD, 6-7, 8B AND 15
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings,
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Alleluia SEE MT 11:25
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 8:1-3
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.
St Mary Magdalene by Quentin Massys
Commentary on Luke 8:1-3 From Living Space
This passage follows immediately from yesterday’s about the sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee. It is one of those summary passages describing in general terms the work of Jesus.
He is accompanied by the chosen Twelve, his co-operators in the preaching of the word and the establishing of the Kingdom. And it is precisely the Good News (the Gospel) about the Kingdom that they are preaching in word and demonstrating in practice.
What is noteworthy here – and it is unique to Luke – is the mention of many women also travelling in the company of Jesus. Some of them were women who had been healed of evil spirits. One is mentioned by name, Mary of Magdala, from whom seven evil spirits had been exorcised. The number seven is not to be taken literally but indicates the woman had formerly been in a seriously immoral state. She appears very prominently in John’s gospel as someone very close to Jesus and he describes her as the first witness of the Resurrection. It is possible, too, that the “sinful woman” in the house of Simon the Pharisee was also in the group.
Some of the other women seem to be of more ample means and higher social rank. One of them was Joanna, the wife of King Herod’s steward. They helped Jesus and his disciples with their material needs. Once again, Jesus is not embarrassed to travel in the company of these women; nor are they uncomfortable in his.
We see here two roles being played by followers of Jesus. On the one hand are the apostles whose function it is to proclaim the Gospel and establish the Kingdom by word and deed, by preaching and by the example of the communal and shared life they are leading.
The other role is that of disciples who are materially better off and who support the work of proclaiming the Gospel by providing for the material and other needs of the evangelisers.
Both roles are complementary and both, taken together, form the evangelising work of the Church.
A good example are the Sisters of Mother Teresa who would never be able to take care of the destitute dying without the generous help of many benefactors. And the same for many other voluntary groups involved in looking after the disadvantaged.
• Luke 8, 1: The Twelve who follow Jesus. In one phrase alone, Luke describes the situation: Jesus goes through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the Twelve are with him. The expression “to follow Jesus” (cf. Mk 1, 18; 15, 41) indicates the condition of the disciple who follows the Master, twenty-four hours a day, trying to imitate his example and to participate in his destiny.
• Luke 8, 2-3: The women follow Jesus. What surprises is that at the side of the men there are also women “together with Jesus”. Luke places both the men and the women disciples at the same level because all of them follow Jesus. Luke has also kept some of the names of some of these women disciples: Mary Magdalene, born in the town of Magdala. She had been cured, and delivered from seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, steward of Herod Antipa, who was Governor of Galilee; Suzanne and several others. It is said that they “served Jesus with their own goods” Jesus allows a group of women “to follow” him (Lk 8, 2-3; 23, 49; Mk 15, 41).
The Gospel of Luke has always been considered as the Gospel of women. In fact, Luke is the Evangelist who presents the largest number of episodes in which he underlines the relationship of Jesus with the women, and the novelty is not only in the presence of the women around Jesus, but also and, above all, in the attitude of Jesus in relation to them. Jesus touches them and allows them to touch him without fear of being contaminated (Lk 7, 39; 8, 44-45.54). This was different from the teachers of that time, Jesus accepts women who follow him and who are his disciples (Lk 8, 2-3; 10, 39).
• Compare the attitude of our Church with the attitude of Jesus.
test me and know my concerns.
Make sure that I am not on my way to ruin,
and guide me on the road of eternity. (Ps 139,23-24)
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 COR 15:12-20; LK 8:1-3 ]We read in today’s gospel “Jesus made his way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God.” We are told too, that the Twelve, “as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments” accompanied Him. It is clear that already in the ministry of Jesus, many of His disciples had shared in His mission. The question of interest to us is: what drew these people, men and women to share in the ministry of Jesus?
What could have inspired such men like the apostles to give up everything, their families and livelihood, to follow Jesus and accompany Him on His mission? The fact that some of them were doing well in their careers, that they were of different personalities with contrasting visions of life and politics, would make them unlikely colleagues. Another man most unlikely to qualify for apostleship was St Paul. As he said of himself, he was a great persecutor of the Church and “hardly deserve the name apostle.” As an educated man, a staunch believer of Judaism, the Law and a rabbi, the Christians, including the Church leaders, initially met his conversion with skepticism and disbelief.
Equally surprising is, how women could be among Jesus’ disciples. We know very well that Rabbis never accepted women as disciples. They were considered to be second class citizens and categorized with the children. So how could one ever imagine that not only a woman, but also someone of ill repute like Mary Magdalene, supposedly an adulterous woman, could abandon her flirtatious lifestyle to join Jesus’ band? Furthermore, we know that Magdalene was previously possessed by seven demons, therefore an evil woman. So too, Joanna, a lady of the court. How could she leave her palace to mix with the vagabonds, the band of disciples of Jesus? Then again, how could these two ladies, coming from totally different economic and social standing, come to pool their resources to provide for Jesus and His apostles?
So on all counts, both the men and women who followed and supported Jesus in His ministry must have somehow been profoundly touched by Jesus. The key to their transformation lies in the text of today’s gospel. They must have come under the “spell” of Jesus and His Good News message. Isn’t this what the Good News is all about?
The etymology of the word “Good News” originates from the word “God spell”, which literally means the news of God. So the gospel is the good news from God that entices and overwhelms us. Perhaps, from the suffix, we have the word “spell.” Spell refers to some magic charm, using words or gestures or things to lure and fascinate us. When we refer to the gospel, then it is concerned with the attractiveness and empowering beauty of the gospel message of Jesus. So, what kind of god spell did they each receive to enable them to break from their past and follow Jesus in His mission?
For the apostles, it must be the experience of being called and chosen in spite of their unworthiness. St Peter was only an uncultured but proud and confident fisherman; and Matthew a tax collector, a traitor of the Jews. As for Mary, it must have been her experience of forgiveness for her sinful past when she was possessed by “seven demons”. Although everyone despised her and many would have wanted to have her stoned, Jesus’ acceptance of her was like a spell that healed her of her low self-esteem and raised her dignity. By exorcising her, she was liberated from the grip of evil; especially that of her lack of authentic self-love. As Jesus said, “her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love. It is the man who is forgiven little who shows little love.” As for Joanna, Jesus too must have touched her in ways not mentioned to us.
Finally, the most dramatic of all conversion experience is that of St Paul. The God spell of Jesus struck him whilst he was on his way to Damascus. The Acts narrate how Paul encountered the Risen Lord. In that encounter, he experienced Jesus as the Risen Lord in His forgiveness for him and His solidarity with the persecuted Christians. That experience, which changed the course of his life, strengthened his conviction that Jesus is truly Lord and Risen from the dead.
Conversion of St. Paul on the Road of Damascus (Circa 1600 by Caravaggio)
Hence, he was in dismay when he heard that some Christians were denying the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead. If that were so, Paul contended that the corollary would be to deny our faith also in Christ’s resurrection; and if we were to deny His resurrection, it would lead to a denial of His glory and divinity. Consequently, we are not saved as we continue to be in our sin. He could then be accused of perjury before God, since the proclamation of Christ’s resurrection is a lie. But such a logical consequence contradicts his existential experience of having been saved by Him and encountering Him as the Risen Lord. In gratitude and humility, he confessed, “I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am.” Indeed, St Paul’s transformation as a consequence of his experience of the unconditional love and mercy of Jesus in his life resulted in him preaching the God spell to others. He said, “I, or rather the grace of God that is with me, have worked harder than any of the others; but what matters is that I preach what they preach, and this is what you all believed.”
So it is clear that all those who collaborated with Jesus in His ministry were given a mission on account of a special experience of the love of the Lord in their lives. A real experience of God’s love according to one’s situation is what the gospel or the spell of God is all about. It could be a call, forgiveness or a healing experience. With the experience or encounter, one is overwhelmed by the spell of the love of Jesus and His message that one could properly respond to only by following Jesus and joining Him in His mission. Hence,it is the god spell that liberates us for love, service and mission.
As Christians we should ask, “What is the god spell I have received that so inspired me to become His disciple?” Unless, we have been so charmed by that god spell, it would be difficult for us, especially those of us who are serving in various Church ministries, to give up the lure of the secular world, our time and even our financial resources, to continue the work of Jesus, like the apostles, for the sake of the Good News and the Church. Recalling our god spell will awaken the call in us, our love for Him, which we may have forgotten, thereby reinforcing it.Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
Tags: 1 cor 15:12-20, Christ, Conversion of St. Paul on the Road of Damascus by Caravaggio, followers of Jesus, God Spell, If you love me keep my commandments, Jesus, Jesus is truly Lord and Risen from the dead, Joanna the wife of King Herod’s steward, lk 8:1-3, Mary called Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone out, Mary of Magdala, MT 11:25, Prayer and Meditation, Psalm 17, raised from the dead, Recalling our god spell will awaken the call in us, resurrection, Saint Cyprian, Saints Cornelius, Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, September 16 2016, service and mission, service to others, St Mary Magdalene, St Mary Magdalene by Quentin Massys, St Paul on the road to Damascus, St. Joanna Wife of Chuza, the good news of the Kingdom of God, the most dramatic of all conversion experience is that of St Paul, The Sorrow of Mary Magdalene by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, we are not saved as we continue to be in our sin, What is the god spell I have received that so inspired me to become His disciple?