Prayer and Meditation for Friday, October 14, 2016 — We were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One

Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 471

Art: Rejoice from the Rooftops

Reading 1 EPH 1:11-14

Brothers and sisters:
In Christ we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the Gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 12-13

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

AlleluiaPS 33:22

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May your kindness, LORD, be upon us;
who have put our hope in you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:1-7

At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
“Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows.”

Art: Fear the one that can cast you into Gehenna


Commentary on Eph 1:11-14 From Living Space

Today we continue our reading of God’s plan of salvation at the beginning of the Letter. As Paul continues his panoramic vision of God’s plan for the whole human race and the whole of creation, he speaks today first of the Jews, his own people, and then of the Gentiles or “pagans” (that is, non-Jews) who had responded to God’s call.

“It is in Christ we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning.” In using the word “we” Paul indicates his fellow-Jews. He tells them that Christ is at the centre of God’s plan. Whether we speak of the whole of creation or the individual, it is only in relationship to Christ that there is a meaningful future destiny. Christ is the paradigm for all creation, the visible re-presentation of God himself among us. He is the Alpha and the Omega. However, Paul goes on now to speak, not of the whole of creation, but of those who have responded to God’s call in Jesus.

“We were claimed as God’s own” – that is, the Jewish people, who were called in a special way to be his witnesses to the coming of the Messiah. The completion of their call would only take place in Jesus, who, of course, was also a Jew, a descendant of David and a son of Abraham (cf. Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies).

The Jews “put their hopes in Christ before he came”. That is to say, it was among the Jews that God would become incarnate and it was they who gave witness over the centuries to the hope of a saviour Messiah. A number of Jews would recognise that hoped-for Messiah in the person of Jesus but many others would not. These latter still live in the hope of a Messiah yet to come.

“Now, you too, in him [i.e. Christ] have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation and have believed it.” Paul now turns to the Gentiles – very likely the majority of his readers – who have heard the message of the Gospel, have accepted it and become followers of Jesus.

They, like their Jewish brothers and sisters, have been “stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit”. Paul completes his trinitarian account of God’s plan with the Spirit, since the giving of the Spirit shows the plan has reached its final stage. The Gentiles, too, are called to share exactly the same salvation as the Jews. The proof of this is the clear evidence that the Spirit has come upon them and made them his own. They, too, share in that special kind of freedom that Christ gives to those who are truly his own and which puts an end to the moral slavery they experienced during their pre-Christian life.

Nevertheless, though this gift has already begun, it is only given in a hidden way while the unspiritual world lasts, and will only be given fully when the kingdom of God is complete and Christ comes in glory.

There is a great wealth of ideas in this magnificent presentation of what God has planned for his people through the saving work begun by his incarnate Son and carried out by the Spirit. These words are addressed as much to us as they were to the original readers of this letter. They can provide an endless source for prayer, reflection, praise and thanksgiving when we realise the kind of God we believe in.

Let us, too, ask him to help us live up to the calling which has come from him, a calling going back to long before we were even thought of.



Commentary on Luke 12:1-7 From Living Space

After his confrontation with the Pharisees and Scribes, Jesus now turns to the crowds. We are told that they were gathering round him in their thousands, so densely that they were trampling on each other. Clearly they were hungry to hear a man who had spoken in such an extraordinary and daring ways to their religious leaders.

But Jesus begins by speaking first to his own disciples. “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” The fermenting characteristic of yeast is seen by the Jews as a corrupting agent. That was why they only use unleavened bread at the Passover.

The corrupting agent in the Pharisees was their hypocrisy. On the outside they pretended to be what they were not on the inside. “There is nothing…hidden that will not be made known.” It can mean that the hypocrisy of the pharisaical will ultimately be laid bare. In contrast to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees the followers of Jesus must practice transparency. And, although much of the teaching that the disciples receive is in private, ultimately all will have to come out into the open.

The Church is not a secret society, although it has its “mysteries”, its special teachings and rituals, which are only fully understood by those who are “inside”. The Church is of its very essence evangelical. Its purpose is to share the vision of Christ with the whole world. This is crucial to the setting up of the kingdom, the accepted reign of God in the world.

“What you have whispered in locked rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.” This, of course, will involve dangers. The Gospel will be resisted, it will be seen as a dangerous threat to other views of life. Christians will die and, in fact, thousands have sacrificed their lives simply because they were followers of Jesus.

But death is not the worst enemy. It is a fact of living. It is an end we will all have to face one day, sooner or later, one way or the other. The one we are really to fear is the one “who has the power to cast into Gehenna after he has killed”. Only God as the Supreme Judge has this power. Of course, the only person God “casts” into “hell” is one who has chosen to separate him- or herself definitively from God.

‘Gehenna’ (in Hebrew) ge-hinnom, ‘Valley of Hinnom’ or ge-ben-hinnom, ‘Valley of the Son of Hinnom’, was situated on the south-west of Jerusalem. In the time of the kings it had been the centre of a cult in which children were sacrificed (cf. 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31) and hence seen as a place of abomination. The Hebrew is transliterated into Greek as gaienna, which appears in the New Testament as geenna (geenna). The punishment of sinners by fire after death first appeared in Jewish apocalyptic literature but the name geenna for this punishment first appears in the New Testament. The term is only used in Matthew, Mark, the Letter of James and here. The word is not to be confused with Hades, which was a general name for the place of the dead.

The one we are really to fear is the one who can make us deny Christ and all that Christ means and to die in a state of denial. But, whatever threats hang over us, we are not to fear. We have the example of many before us who have gone to their deaths in peace and without hesitation. They knew they had no other choice: either death or Truth.

Even little birds sold in the market place for a few cents do not die unknown to God, says Jesus. The very hairs of our head are counted. So our duty is clear: to proclaim the good news of the Gospel with openness and integrity and not to fear the consequences. Because we are not alone.



“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” — Jeremiah 1:5


Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
4 OCTOBER 2016, Friday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time

Inspite of scientific and technological progress, the truth is that the materialistic and sensual man remains unfulfilled.  He is also lost.  There is a feeling of incompleteness and also paralysis.  He does not know what he is living for except to have a career, make money and live a luxurious life.  But life cannot simply be lived on this level.  Anyone who has gone through life will tell you that power, success and money cannot bring you happiness.  Indeed, when you arrive at that stage, you will feel even more frustrated and can even become nihilistic because everything seems meaningless.

Indeed, the key to life is meaning!  When we ask what the meaning of life is, what we are really asking is, what is our goal, destiny and purpose in life?  As Christians, we are fortunate because the purpose and goal of life is revealed to us.  We need not search for our origin or destiny because we know our origin and destiny; we also live with purpose.  What, then, is the meaning of life?

Today, in the first reading from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, we are given the grandiose vision of God for the world.  The letter of St Paul to the Ephesians is called the Queen of Epistles because it gives usthe vision and mission statement of God.  In biblical and Pauline terms, this vision and mission statement is what the mystery of God is all about.  The mystery of God for St Paul is His divine plan for creation and humanity.

There are two parts to this vision and mission statement.  In the first section of this outline of the plan of God, St Paul shows us that “the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning to act upon when the times had run their course to the end: that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth.”  Christ therefore is the basis and the agent of true unity in the world.   Indeed, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has “blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.”

Secondly, St Paul says that God “has chosen us in Christ even before the world began to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.” Indeed, when we contemplate on our great calling to be sons in the Son, that is, to share in the life of God, the Trinitarian life of love and giving in absolute freedom, we cannot but also marvel with St Paul “the richness of the grace which he has showered on us in all wisdom and insight.”

Today, in the last part of this hymn which we have read, St Paul reminds us that it is “in Christ that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.”  In other words, we were not chosen simply for ourselves but for His greater glory.

Consequently, we who are privileged to know our calling because we “have heard the message of the truth and the good news of our salvation, and have believed it; and have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, the pledge of our inheritance which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his glory praised” now have an obligation to make known to the whole world, their calling as well.  Indeed, we have a duty to share the vision of God with the whole of humanity waiting for salvation and fulfillment so that they too can be restored to their true freedom as sons of God by being freed from slavery to this world and the emptiness of life.

How can we do this if not by revealing the glory of God in and through our lives in this world?  Yes, in this great plan of God, each one of us is called to live a holy and spotless life, and show forth His glory in us through our contribution to the world, the building of humanity and the fostering of unity and peace, through the promotion of justice, truth and the dignity of the human person which is so much needed in the world today.  This is particularly true for those called to be leaders of society and church.  Being chosen for leadership, the future of humanity depends on them.  But all, regardless, are called to reveal the glory of God.   We need to discern how the Lord is calling us to witness His love in the world.

What is important in the discernment of vocation is that we must never exclude the possibility of being called to the priesthood or religious life.  Priests and religious are called to witness to the love of God in a special way and more direct manner of proclaiming the Good News both in word and in deed.  To be priest is to be a bridge between God and man.  Priests are called to bring humanity to God so that they know their true destiny and high calling in life.  In this way, humanity can live in peace and love.

Whichever vocation we choose, we must be true to the voice of God.  We should not choose something simply because we like to do or because it gives us satisfaction and fulfill our needs, be it material, affective, psychological or egoistic needs. Consequently, there is a danger of hypocrisy as the gospel warns us.  ”Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is, their hypocrisy. “  We, too, because of pressure from society or even from our loved ones, might end up choosing a vocation that is not truly ours.

For what is hypocrisy, if not to be what we are not?   A hypocrite is a person who pretends to be what he is not.  He puts on a mask just to please people.  In a certain sense, when we do not follow our calling in life, we are actually cheating ourselves and even those whom we purport to serve.  If we are not really called for a particular vocation, we can never excel in that particular area.  Most of all, we find ourselves lacking fulfillment and happiness in what we do because we have no passion or conviction or even aptitude for it.

This explains why Jesus said, “Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.”  Indeed, those who are not faithful to their calling in life will only be exposed later on and regret that they made the wrong choice.

Yes, the gospel invites us to be faithful to our calling, regardless whether it is to be involved in the civil and public life of society, in politics or economics, or to be his priests and religious.  We must not allow material gains or the pressures of society to make us fearful of choosing what is in our hearts.  For if we are afraid to be true to ourselves, we will only suffer more misery later on.  Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell.”  Clearly, we must not allow ourselves to sell our soul, that is, our spirit or enthusiasm or conviction to the world.  Truly, our soul is more important than material gains or worldly benefits.   Our personal and spiritual fulfillment is more satisfying and fulfilling than money, power and fame.  Money and pleasure cannot replace the higher need for love and service.

So, today we must be courageous in being faithful to our vocation, especially when it is a calling to the priestly and religious life or even civil and political office.  We must not be afraid to make conscientious choices.  We must find the strength to climb every mountain and every hill to find our dream.  Today, the Lord consoles us that He who has chosen us to be part of His divine plan will be the one who will help us to bring it to fulfillment.  We need not worry.  After all, He said, “Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight.  Why, every hair on your head has been counted.  There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.’”  Yes, we are worth more than just mere creatures because we are called to be sons in the Son.  We only have to do our part and God who chose us will never allow His plan to be wrecked by man.  All He wants of us is to cooperate generously with Him.

In this way, we will find true happiness for ourselves because we are faithful to our calling in Christ to be His glory in the world through our vocation.  At the same time, humanity will benefit from us and together with humanity, we become one with each other because we are called to be one in God and in Christ.   By so doing, the plan of God for humanity will be realized.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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