Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 PRV 3:27-34
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.Plot no evil against your neighbor,
against one who lives at peace with you.
Quarrel not with a man without cause,
with one who has done you no harm.Envy not the lawless man
and choose none of his ways:
To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination,
but with the upright is his friendship.The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern,
but to the humble he shows kindness.
Responsorial Psalm PS 15:2-3A, 3BC-4AB, 5
He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
Alleluia MT 5:16
Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 8:16-18
Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
• Today’s Gospel presents three brief phrases pronounced by Jesus. They are phrases scattered in different places which Luke collected here after the parable of the seed (Lk 8, 4-8) and of his explanation to the disciples (Lk 8, 9-15). This literary context, in which Luke places the three phrases, helps us to understand how he wants people to understand these phrases of Jesus.
• Luke 8, 16: The lamp which gives light. “No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or to put it under a bed; no, it is put on a lamp-stand so that people may see the light when they come in. This phrase of Jesus is a brief parable. Jesus does not explain, because all know what he is speaking about. This belonged to everyday life. At that time, there was no electric light. Just imagine this! The family meets at home. The sun begins to set. A person gets up, lights the lamp, covers it with a vase or places it under the bed. What will the others say? All will scream out: “But are you crazy… place the lamp on the table!” In a Biblical meeting somebody made the following comment: The Word of God is a lamp which is necessary to light in the darkness of the night. If it remains closed up in the Book of the Bible, it will be like the lamp under a vase. But when it is placed on the table it gives light to the whole house, when it is read in community and is connected to life.
• In the context in which Luke places this phrase, he is referring to the explanation which Jesus gave about the parable of the seeds (Lk 8, 9-15). It is as if he would say: the things which you have just heard you should not keep them only for yourselves, but you should share them with others. A Christian should not be afraid to give witness and spread the Good News. Humility is important, but the humility which hides the gifts of God given to edify the community is false (1Cor 12, 4-26; Rom 12, 3-8).
• Luke 8, 17: That which is hidden will be manifested. “·There is nothing hidden which will not be manifested, nothing secret which will not be known and brought to light”. In the context in which Luke places this second phrase of Jesus, it also refers to the teachings given by Jesus particularly to the disciples (Lk 8, 9-10). The disciples cannot keep these only for themselves, but they should diffuse them, because they form part of the Good News which Jesus has brought.
• Luke 8, 18: Attention to preconceptions. “So take care how you listen, anyone who has will be given more, anyone who has not, will be deprived even of what he thinks he has”. At that time, there were many preconceptions on the Messiah which prevented people from understanding, in a correct way, the Good News of the Kingdom which Jesus announced. “For this reason, this warning of Jesus concerning preconceptions is quite actual. Jesus asks the disciples to be aware of the preconceptions with which they listen to the teaching that he presents. With this phrase of Jesus, Luke is saying to the communities and to all of us: “Be attentive to the ideas with which you look at Jesus!” Because if the colour of the eyes is green, everything will seem to be green. If it were blue, everything would be blue! If the idea that I have when I look at Jesus is mistaken, erroneous, everything which I receive and teach about Jesus will be threatened by error!
If I think that the Messiah has to be a glorious King, I will not want to hear anything which Jesus teaches about the Cross, about suffering, persecution and about commitment, and to lose even what I thought I possessed. Joining this third phrase to the first one, I can conclude what follows: anyone who keeps for himself what he receives and does not distribute it to others, loses what he has, because it becomes corrupt.
• Have you had any experience of preconceptions which have prevented you from perceiving and appreciating in their just value, the good things that persons have?
• Have you perceived the preconceptions which are behind certain stories, accounts and parables which certain persons tell us?
How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
Blessed are those who observe his instructions,
who seek him with all their hearts. (Ps 119,1-2)
My spiritual Father often said to me, “You must be a beacon.”
Jesus said, “Nothing is hidden but it will be made clear, nothing secret but it will be known and brought to light.” These words of our Lord should remind us that things cannot be hidden for long and all things will be revealed, if not on earth, at the end of time. In truth, there is no secret on earth. For that reason, it is better to walk in the light at all times. In other words, as the psalmist tells us, “The just will live in the presence of the Lord.”
Because we know that what is kept secret will be revealed in time, many of us live in fear when we have done wrong in life, more so if it is a crime we have committed. Even though we might be apparently doing well in life, yet we are not happy. This is because we have secret and hidden sins which we dare not reveal. We live in anxiety and fear that one day our past sins and our failures will be exposed; or even current and ongoing sins.
Indeed, we can never be happy regardless of our wealth and other material security when our heart is insecure because of dishonesty. We might have a beautiful bed but we cannot sleep. We have good food but cannot eat in peace. We have a big car but we know it does not belong to us. Those who cheat and steal can never find peace with ill-gotten gains. So long as we take what is not ours, we cannot be at peace because we are living on stolen goods, “for the willful wrong-doer is abhorrent to the Lord, who confides only in honest men.” Cheating is not confined only to money but in relationships as well. When we cheat on our friends, our loved ones especially, or our spouse, we can never find peace in that extra-marital or irregular relationship. We rationalize that it is all right because of certain circumstances. We try to justify our actions but deep within our hearts, our conscience condemns us. It speaks so loudly in our heart, robbing us of our peace and joy.
Then there are many who do not have peace in their hearts because of addictions, especially to drugs, sex and gambling. Those addicted to drugs are afraid to let their loved ones know about their addiction. Often by the time they are discovered, it is too late. But even if those hidden sins are not criminal, such as those sins involving sex, pornography and gambling, they are shameful and often not confessed. More so if you are Catholic, or worse still, an active Catholic in Church! We would do all these things under cover for fear of being recognized. When confronted we would deny vehemently that we are addicted. We claim that these are pure fun. So long as our conscience is not clear, we know that what we are doing is wrong.
Peace comes only when we do what is right and just. This is what the psalmist tells us. “Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain? He who walks without fault; he who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart; he who does not slander with his tongue. He who does no wrong to his brother; who casts no slur on his neighbor; who holds the godless in disdain, but honours those who fear the Lord. He who keeps his pledge, come what may; who takes no interest on a loan and accepts no bribes against the innocent. Such a man will stand firm forever.” Otherwise, we will always live in fear of being discovered. That will bring shame to us and our family; cause us to lose our friends and sometimes our reputation and even our livelihood. So it is better to walk in the light than to walk in darkness. To walk in the light is to walk in the presence of the Lord, knowing that He is watching us in whatever we do. We can deceive the world but we cannot cheat ourselves. Most of all, we cannot cheat God. That is why we feel disgusted with ourselves.
In truth, being frail and mortal beings, because of our fallen nature we can expect to fall into sin or succumb to our human weaknesses. We should never condemn ourselves when we fail in Christian charity or in truth. This is the reason why God sent our Lord to reveal to us His unconditional love and mercy. Most of all, He came to assure us that in His humanity, He understands our struggles against sins and the temptations of the Evil One. So He wants to offer us forgiveness and His strength that comes from grace, to overcome sin. We cannot be perfect by our own efforts alone but solely with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The real problem is because we keep our sins hidden from God and from others. We harbor all our secret sins and this puts unnecessary burden on our guilt. The more we try to hide or suppress them, the more they will manifest themselves in neurosis. Hidden sins have to do with the sin of pride. We fear shame and pain. But by not talking about our fears, we end up neurotic, depressed and often wild imaginations of punishment and frightening dreams will haunt us to no end.
Hidden sins and unconfessed sins is the weapon that the devil uses to put fear into our hearts and so cripple us from finding peace and joy in our lives. When that happens, we become quarrelsome, picking fights with others for no reason, irritable, angry and suspicious of others. We allow our past to cripple us from living in the present. If we cannot forgive ourselves or find forgiveness, there will be no healing. Those of us who sinned and then refuse to confess our sins because of shame and fear, have already begun the prison sentence even before being discovered. We sentence ourselves to our crimes and our sins and suffer silently without others knowing it.
Hidden sins will destroy all that we have, including our friends and loved ones. When we live in guilt, we will end up fighting and quarreling with our loved ones. They will be so hurt and can no longer talk to us. Without open and sincere communication, there will be no trust, breeding suspicions. Besides destroying our family and marriage, our health will also suffer. With poor health and guilt, we cannot do our work or run our business with peace of mind either. So even if we have everything in the house but because we know that we live a dishonest life, cheating those whom we love and serve, we cannot do anything well.
So let us take the first step to find peace by admitting that we are sinners or that we are addicts or that we have committed some grave sins. Acknowledgement of sins and contrition for our sins that have caused so many to be hurt, including ourselves, is the first step to true liberation and freedom. Spending time to examine our conscience is necessary to realizing our problems. When we do not acknowledge and name our sins, the devil will continue to deceive us by helping us to justify our actions. If many are not healed of their past, it is because they never truly come to grasp their past mistakes but simply gloss over them.
Once that is done, we need to share our worries, fears and struggles with someone whom we can trust. If we have a confidant whom we can share with, that would be ideal. But we must make sure that this person is trustworthy and mature enough to offer us guidance and thoughtful reflections and encouragement on what we are doing. Speaking and sharing our shame with those who are very close to us will bring about the first stage of healing. Unloading our guilt and shame, sharing our griefs and tears with someone who is empathetic with our situation will bring much relief and peace. But sometimes, this is not sufficient because we need the forgiveness of God. We need to know that God has forgiven us.
For this reason, the Church has given us the Sacrament of reconciliation. This is the most beautiful gift of Christ to the Church. Unlike in other situations and even professions, no sharing is absolutely confidential. But in the confessional, no priest, under the pain of mortal sin and excommunication, can reveal the sin of the penitents to anyone under whatever circumstances. There is absolute secrecy in confession. Thus confession is never done through the phone, email or letter, but always in person. To allow a person to confess freely so that he could be healed of his shame and guilt, the Church gives the penitent the option of confessing face to face with the priest or behind the curtain. The Church respects the privacy of the penitent and his sensitivity. What the Church wishes is that we do not harbor our private and hidden sins, especially the shameful and embarrassing ones so that we can be set free from guilt, and find peace and joy again. The confessional therefore is one place where one is set free without conditions and with respect and compassion for those who have failed. A good confessor is one who is sensitive, patient, compassionate, forgiving and encouraging to the penitent.
Next, we must choose to walk in the light and in the truth. Walking in His presence at all times will give us true and lasting peace even when things do not turn out the way we want. Let us take heed of the warning of our Lord, “So take care how you hear; for anyone who has will be given more; from anyone who has not, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.” The psalmist also warns us in the same vein. “The Lord’s curse lies on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the virtuous. He mocks those who mock, but accords his favour to the humble.” So let us walk in the light and also be the light in the world as Christ commands us. The best way to fight sin and evil is to live in truth, in good and be the light for others.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
“Humility is man’s subjection to God; reverence for what belongs to God in others, for God’s sake.” — St. Thomas Aquinas
Oct. 28, 2012
Photo by Sheryl Edelen
Tags: "Listen with your heart, be a beacon, Catholic Mass readings, For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light, Humility is man’s subjection to God - reverence for what belongs to God in others - for God’s sake, Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father, Lk 8:16-18, Luke 8:16-18, MT 5:16, No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel, Nothing is hidden but it will be made clear, Plot no evil against your neighbor, Prayer and Meditation, Proverbs 3:27-34, prv 3:27-34, Psalm 15, Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him, September 19 2016, St. Thomas Aquinas, The best way to fight sin and evil is to live in truth in good and be the light for others, The just one shall live on your holy mountain O Lord, To anyone who has more will be given and from the one who has not even what he seems to have will be taken away