Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 10, 2016 — “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” — Human Rights — What is the basis of human freedom?

Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 467

Reading 1 GAL 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1

Brothers and sisters:
It is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
Now this is an allegory.
These women represent two covenants.
One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery;
this is Hagar.
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother.
For it is written:
Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children;
break forth and shout, you who were not in labor;
for more numerous are the children of the deserted one
than of her who has a husband.

Therefore, brothers and sisters,
we are children not of the slave woman
we are children not of the slave woman.For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm
and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Responsorial Psalm PS 113:1B-2, 3-4, 5A AND 6-7

R. (see 2) Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Who is like the LORD, our God,
who looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

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Commentary on Luke 11:29-32 From Living Space

Today’s readings are about doing penance for our sins and they are linked by the name of Jonah.

In Mark’s gospel the crowds are often shown as recognising God’s presence in Jesus better than the Scribes and Pharisees do. In Luke, however, they are sometimes shown as people curious to see signs and wonders but without any real commitment to following Jesus.

So today we are told that “the crowds got even bigger” and Jesus spoke to them. But what he said was not very flattering. “This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign.” The only sign they will get will be the sign of Jonah. Jesus, like Jonah, is a call to repentance and radical conversion. And Jesus implies that many of his listeners are not ready or willing to hear that call. They don’t need any signs; Jesus has been giving them an abundance of signs through his teaching and healing work.

On the judgment day, they, the chosen people of God, will be surprised to see the Queen of the South rise up because she, pagan that she was, came a long distance to listen to the wisdom of Solomon – and Jesus is someone far superior to Solomon. They will be surprised to see the people of Niniveh, pagans that they were, rise up because they repented at the preaching of Jonah – and Jesus is far greater than Jonah.

We too, who claim to be God’s People, may be surprised to see who will be called to God’s side on judgment day because they heard and followed God’s word according to their capacity. The question is: where will we be on that day? Thomas A Kempis, the writer of a famous medieval treatise, called The Imitation of Christ, asked that very same question. He was worried about whether he would persevere in serving Christ to the very end of his life. He said he was told in answer to his prayer: “Do now what you would like to have done then, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Where will I be on the Day of Judgement? The answer to that question can be decided by me this very day and every single day from now on.

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Related:

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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10 OCTOBER 2016, Monday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time
STAYING FREE IN THE LORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  GAL 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1; LK 11:29-32 ]

Freedom is the most precious gift of God to man.  It is an inherent right of man, a right that is enshrined in the United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights.   This means that every person has the right to free speech, religion and worship.  What is the basis of human freedom?  The world advocates so much on the rights of the freedom of the individual.  Unfortunately, the freedom of the individual is now advocated in such a manner that it infringes on the rights of the community because of abuses and a lopsided emphasis on the freedom of God.  In the name of freedom, chaos is the consequence since the individual’s right seems to have primacy over the common good.

At the heart of the issue is a more fundamental question that we should pose to those freedom fighters that fail to respect the limited freedom of man.  What is the basis of their call to freedom?  Is this freedom founded on man per se or on absolute freedom?  Why should freedom be founded on man?  What about animals’ rights?  Should we also accord them the same freedom?  If freedom is founded only on man, then that freedom is relative and rather subjective.   Such freedom is not freedom but rather another form of slavery, to our passion, selfishness and pride.   Only God is absolute freedom.  Our freedom is always relative and conditioned on the freedom of others and most of all, the freedom of God.  The basis of Christian freedom is based on the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God.  Sharing in His intellect and will, we are therefore given the capacity to choose.

True freedom therefore presupposes that our freedom is founded in God alone.  All other forms of freedom seek to mirror the freedom of God.  This freedom reaches its highest level in Christ.  What is the basis of true freedom?  It is love.  St Paul tells us that the only debt we owe to each other is the debt of mutual love.  He wrote, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”  (Rom 13:8) “Love does not do wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”  (Rom 13:10)  Within this premise of Christian freedom, we can then better appreciate today’s scripture readings when St Paul in his exhortation to the Galatians wrote, “When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.  Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

When St Paul used the allegory of the children born of Hagar and of Sarah as symbolizing the Old and New Covenants, he wanted us to be reminded that salvation is not based on the Law, but on faith alone.  In the case of Hagar, she gave birth to a child as a surrogate mother for Sarah and Abraham.  It was done in accordance to the ancient laws in those days when the marriage contract demanded that a sterile wife had to find a surrogate mother, in this case, her slave, to bear the child for her husband for the sake of posterity.  In this sense, the child born of Hagar belonged to the Law.  In the case of Sarah, the child was born through faith in God who miraculously blessed Sarah and Abraham with a child although they were beyond child bearing age.   Understood within this context then St Paul wrote, “The first who comes from Mount Sinai, and whose children are slaves, is Hagar.  The Jerusalem above, however, is free and is our mother, since scripture says: Shout for joy, you barren women who bore no children! Break into shouts of joy and gladness, you who were never in labour.  For there are more sons of the forsaken one than sons of the wedded wife.  So, my brothers, we are the children, not of the slave-girl, but of the free-born wife.”   In a nutshell, we are not justified or saved by the Law, by human effort or ingenuity, by purely by the graciousness of God’s love.

Abraham and Sarah in their impatience did not wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled and took things into their own hands by having Hagar conceive the child for them.  As a consequence, they brought more problems into their lives and that of future generations.   It is believed that the Arab world came from Hagar’s child and the Jewish world from Sarah’s child.  This divide and competition between both nationalities continue even today.   If Abraham and Sarah had only trusted and relied purely on the grace of God, perhaps history would have been written differently.  Yet, we know that everything is in God’s hands.  Our abuse of freedom cannot destroy the divine plan of God for humanity because God reigns supreme and His plan can never be jeopardized by man even though we often inflict self-harm.

With Jesus therefore, we are set free and given true freedom both from our sins and from the law.  Both are different forms of slavery.  To simply follow our passion and satisfy our needs will lead to self-indulgence. Without self-control, we will only allow our passions to destroy us.  St Paul warns us later in the same letter, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”  (Gal 5:19-21)

On the other hand, we can also come under the slavery of the Law like the Jews.  The Law cannot save us because knowing the Law can only tell us what is right and wrong.  It only brings us to consciousness of our sins.  The Law can cause us to hate ourselves for the wrongs we have done, or make us self-righteous and proud that we have been able to keep the Law.  Instead of saving us, the Law can make us hate ourselves and despise our neighbours.  It is not salvific as it does not promote love.  For this reason, St Paul urged the Galatians, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Gal 5:16-18)

Salvation can only come from Jesus who is the Freedom-in-love of the Father.  Jesus in His passion, death and resurrection revealed to us the unconditional love and mercy of the Father.  Freely, Jesus gave Himself up to the Law that condemned Him so that He could set us free from the Law.  By His paschal mystery, He poured forth the love of the Father into us through the Holy Spirit.  Salvation is to remember God’s love for us.  Faith in God’s love for us in Jesus is the basis of true freedom from the Law and sin.  It is also the basis for loving oneself and loving our neighbour.

This freedom can be ours however only if we come to hear Jesus who is greater than Solomon and accept Him as the Wisdom and Word of God.   Hearing the message of the gospel, we are invited to repentance, like the Ninevites.  What hinders us from finding freedom in Christ is because we do not give heed to Jesus; the Word of God, unlike the Queen of the South.  Many of us take Jesus for granted.  We are so privileged to have the Word of God, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the other Sacraments but we do not make full use of these means to grow in the Spirit.  We do not appreciate Jesus and the means He has bequeathed to the Church.  Like the Jews, we seek self-justification and worse still, turn to other non-Christian sources using New Age means to find salvation and freedom from sin, ignorance and illnesses.  Some of our Catholics have unwittingly fallen into those methods that stress salvation through human effort and the use of dubious psychological techniques masked as Christian spirituality.   Today’s scripture readings make it clear that in Christ alone, we find our true freedom and in Him, we must hold firm and “not submit again to the yoke of slavery!”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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From Peace and Freedom and  “The Anawim Way: Liturgical Meditations”
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We saw in previous readings that although the Lord invites everyone to the banquet, not everyone accepts his call. Once we do accept the Lord, we enter into the fullness of life which the Lord intends for us. One of the best gift of our life in service to the lord is true freedom, about which Paul reflects today in the first reading: “It was for liberty that Christ freed us.”
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This freedom is a gift from God and is not a product of our own self-reliance. It does not come from our obedience to the laws of God. Real freedom come from obedience to the will of God through faith.
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Our freedom is a gift with strings attached: once we accept our freedom we have responsibilities. Once we accept freedom from God we must use it to His greater purpose and not for selfish things. We must use our freedom in the service of others! By free will we shape our lives for the good of God or toward evil things. But is we choose sin; we revoke out freedom and return to the “yoke of sin.”
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What does the story of Jonah mean to you? .
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Here at Peace and Freedom, Jonah teaches us that “we are never all washed up.” As long as there is one breath of life in us we can ask for the All Merciful Lord to forgive us. Just recently, at the bedside of a dying man I think I heard the words of Jonah when my friend used his last breath to say, “Lord, Have Mercy On My Soul.”
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John Francis Carey
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The yoke of slavery:
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Photo from “Secrets of the Dead – The Lost Diary of Dr. Livingstone”
Dramatized scene of slave in yoke.
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Clearly no human being would choose for himself “the yoke of slavery….”  So why do we sin?
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What the heck is “The Sign of Jonah”?
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Answer: The phrase “sign of Jonah” was used by Jesus as a typological metaphor for His future crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus answered with this expression when asked by the Pharisees for miraculous proof the He was indeed the Messiah. The Pharisees remained unconvinced of Jesus’ claims about Himself, despite His having just cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Shortly after the Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan, they asked Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
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For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38-41).
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To fully appreciate the answer the Jesus gave, we must go to the Old Testament book of Jonah. In its first chapter, we read that God commanded the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and warn its people that He was going to destroy it for its wickedness. Jonah disobediently ran from the Lord and headed for the city of Tarshish by boat. The Lord then sent a severe storm that caused the crew of the ship to fear for their lives. Jonah was soon thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish where he remained for “three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:15-17).
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After the three-day period, the Lord caused the great fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry land (Jonah 2:10).It is this three-day motif that Jesus was referring back to when He spoke of the sign of Jonah. Jesus had already been producing miracles that were witnessed by many. Jesus had just performed a great sign in the Pharisees’ presence by healing a deaf man who was possessed of a demon. Rather than believe, they accused Jesus of doing this by the power of Satan. Jesus recognized their hardness of heart and refused to give them further proof of His identity.
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However, He did say that there would be one further sign forthcoming, His resurrection from the dead. This would be their final opportunity to be convinced.Jesus’ paralleling of the Pharisees with the people of Nineveh is telling. The people of Nineveh repented of their evil ways (Jonah 3:4-10) after hearing Jonah’s call for repentance, while the Pharisees continued in their unbelief despite being eyewitnesses to the miracles of Jesus. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that their unbelief was culpable given the conversion of the people of Nineveh, sinners who had received far less evidence than the Pharisees themselves had witnessed.But what are we to make of the phrase “three days and three nights”?
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Was Jesus saying that he would be dead for three full 24-hour periods before he would rise from the dead? It does not appear so. The phrase “three days and three nights” need not refer to a literal 72-hour period. Rather, according to the Hebrew reckoning of time, the days could refer to three days in part or in whole. Jesus was probably crucified on a Friday (Mark 15:42). According to the standard reckoning, Jesus died at about 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46) on Friday (day 1). He remained dead for all of Saturday (day 2) and rose from the dead early on Sunday morning (day 3).
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Attempts to place Jesus’ death on Wednesday to accommodate a literal 72-hour period (while possible) are probably unnecessary once we take into account the Hebrew method of reckoning of each day as beginning at sundown. So it seems that the expression “three days and three nights” was used as a figure of speech meant to signify any part of three days.
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God would often use signs (or miracles) in the Bible to authenticate His chosen messenger. The Lord provided Moses with several miraculous signs in order to prove to others that he was appointed by God (Exodus 4:5-9;7:8-10; 19-20). God sent down fire on Elijah’s alter during Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-39). He performed this miracle to prove that the God of Israel was the one true God. Jesus himself would perform many miracles (or “signs”) to demonstrate His power over nature (Matthew 4:23; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 8:22-24; John 6:16-24). The “sign of Jonah” would turn out to be Jesus’ greatest miracle of all. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead would be God’s chief sign that Jesus was Israel’s long awaited Messiah (Acts 2:23-32) and establish Christ’s claims to deity (Romans 1:3-4).
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Homily Ideas for Luke 11: 29-32
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We who claim to be God’s People, may be surprised to see who will be called to God’s side on judgment day because they heard and followed God’s word according to their capacity. The question is: where will we be on that day? Thomas A Kempis, the writer of a famous medieval treatise, called The Imitation of Christ, asked that very same question. He was worried about whether he would persevere in serving Christ to the very end of his life. He said he was told in answer to his prayer: “Do now what you would like to have done then, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Where will I be on the Day of Judgement? The answer to that question can be decided by me this very day and every single day from now on.

The only day that I can get right is this day: today.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1014g/

Related:

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 (“Stay in the present moment.”)

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See also:

Fr. Mullady is the author of “Man’s Desire for God” and “Christian Social Order.”

“Christian Social Order” gives readers an understanding of how Christianity was an essential part of the growth of world social order. During the current years of disorder due to the Islamic State and other, this is a great time to encounter this wonderful book.

On The Theology of Death By Karl Rahner

From Henri “The Incomparable”

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 10, 2016 — “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” — Human Rights — What is the basis of human freedom?”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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