Posts Tagged ‘Abel’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, February 18, 2017 — The Essential Role of Faith For Man — “Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.”

February 17, 2017

Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 340

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The Transfiguration Jesus by James Tissot

Reading 1 HEB 11:1-7

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,
so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s.
Through this, he was attested to be righteous,
God bearing witness to his gifts,
and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
and he was found no more because God had taken him.
Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him,
for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen,
with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household.
Through this, he condemned the world
and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Responsorial Psalm PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

AlleluiaMK 9:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 9:2-13

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
then from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Then they asked him,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things,
yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man
that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written of him.”

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Transfiguration of Jesus. Source – Orthodox Metropolitanate Of Singapore And South Asia
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Why Peters, James and John were Chosen Witnesses of the Transfiguration
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According to the explanation of St. John of Damascus, “the Lord took Peter in order to show that His testimony truly given to him will be affirmed by the testimony of the Father and that one should believe him in His words, that the heavenly Father revealed this testimony to him (Mt. 16:17). He took James as the one who before all the Apostles would die for Christ, to drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism (Acts 12:2). Finally, He took John, as the virgin and purest organ of Theology so that he, after having beheld the eternal glory of the Son of God, has thundered these words: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (Jn. 1:1). Besides this on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter who hadn’t yet spread the ideas about the suffering and death of his Teacher and Lord (Mt. 16:22), might mature in the truth of His glory, which forever remains inviolable despite all hostile efforts; James and John, awaiting the opening of the earthly kingdom of the Messiah and pursued the first places in this kingdom (Mk. 10:37), might behold the true majesty of Christ the Savior, surpassing every terrestrial power. The three disciples were under the law (Deut. 19:15) sufficient witnesses of the revelation of the glory of God and, according to the expression of St. Proclus, ‘in spirit personally represented all the others’.”
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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18 FEBRUARY, 2017, Saturday, 6th Week, Ordinary Time
FAITH AND VISIONS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ HEBREWS 11:1-7; MARK 9:2 -13  ]

If you have paid attention to the scripture readings, you would wonder why after taking a break from the letter to the Hebrews to focus on the Book of Genesis, we return to  the Letter to the Hebrews.  This is because this chapter sums up the faith of those characters mentioned in the book of Genesis.  Why is faith critical in the Christian Religion?  This is because faith entails trust in God’s love, fidelity to His promises and His omnipotence. “Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who try to find him.”  Without total trust in God, our human ego will become an obstacle for God to work in and through us.   Accordingly, the author declares that “only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.”

And he added, “It was for faith that our ancestors were commended.”  Then he went about to describe the necessary faith in the creation of the world by God who brought all things into existence; the faith of Abel who “offered God a better sacrifice than Cain”; the faith of Enoch who “was taken up and did not have to experience death”; and the faith of Noah who was asked by God to build an Ark outside his house.  All of these who placed their faith in God were counted as righteous before God and were well rewarded.

But then this call to faith in God seems to be in conflict with the visions that God also gives to man, as in today’s story of the transfiguration or the vision given to the unbelieving St Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus.  Hence the question is: does it mean that Jesus and the disciples were dispensed from faith, since faith implies believing without seeing?  On the surface it appears to be this way.  Yet, in truth, faith is presupposed before visions, and greater faith is required after visions.  How is this so?

Faith is a pre-requisite to being receptive to the signs that God gives to us.  Signs are not proofs.  There is no pure naked faith that is not supplied by some signs.  Otherwise we can fall into the danger of fideism, which is to believe without a reasonable basis for doing so.  Credulity is as dangerous as rationalism, the latter which demands that things must be proven beyond doubt before one would believe.  Credulity is not faith, but sloth and irresponsibility.  Rationalism is against faith, because one trusts only in one’s knowledge and wisdom.  One reduces the power and wisdom of God to his limited knowledge and wisdom.  Fideism is against faith because it fails to respect the gift of intellect given to man.

Truly, all the visions found in the Bible and our own visions remain at best signs to point us to a greater mystery, namely, God Himself.  At Jesus’ baptism, and once again at the Transfiguration, faith is required to perceive that what they saw and heard is from God.  It could be their imagination or even a hallucination and mass hypnotism.  So without faith, we can try to explain away any marvelous events that happen in this life.  And when confronted with the totally inexplicable, without faith, we can respond like many atheists do, that we will find the scientific answer one day.  But with faith, like the disciples, we will view these visions or works of wonders as means by which God elicits our response in faith and love.  With faith, we begin to see and hear more than what the person without faith could.

Nevertheless, visions cannot be substituted for faith. Vision presupposes faith, and once perceived, it calls for a greater contemplation on the mystery experience.  We can be sure that for Jesus and the disciples, after the revelation of the Father at Jesus’ baptism and at the Transfiguration, they continued to contemplate and draw out the deeper meaning of the vision that took place.  It is significant that Jesus purposely began His public mission after His baptism when He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, having experienced in a radical manner, Himself as the Son of the Father and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh in the Book of Isaiah.  In the same manner, it was after the Transfiguration that Jesus again resolutely took the road to Jerusalem, the place of His suffering and glory.

In truth, visions invite us to a deeper faith.  More often than not, after encountering a vision, things become even more confused.  That visions invite us to grow in faith can also be glimpsed from the reaction of the disciples.  “As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean. And they put this question to him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’”  Indeed, understanding one’s vision takes time.

Vision does not clarify everything all at once, and clearly.  It is only a vehicle to make us deepen our faith further by ongoing study, contemplation and prayer.  One begins to ask more questions and seek clarification. Quite often, understanding the full significance of the vision might take years, if not a lifetime.  And if a vision commands us to act, it is even more daunting, as one is called to act by faith, not by sight.  Only because they asked and inquired further, seeking to understand their vision and grow in faith, did Jesus instruct them that “Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him.’”  Even then, they could not understand what Jesus told them.  Otherwise, how do we explain the disciples’ abandonment of Jesus when He was arrested by the soldiers, or their disbelief when told of Jesus’ resurrection?   Similarly, Jesus, too, in spite of the Father’s affirmation of His Sonship and mission, had to endure the agony in the garden of Gethsemane and surrender in faith to the Father’s will.

Finally, those who have received visions are expected to have a greater faith by surrendering their lives to God. This was true of Abraham and all the prophets of the Old Testament when, after being called, they were asked to prophesy to the people of God at the risk of death.  So, too, the apostles, after encountering the Lord, were sent out to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.  One can say that no one receives a vision just for himself or herself, but it is at the service of a mission which requires much faith, perseverance and endurance, because the mission entails suffering and even martyrdom.  Indeed, one can be certain that one has a real vision when the vision inspires him to give his life entirely to God who gave that message to him.  Unless vision is followed by action, that vision is placed in doubt.  In a nutshell, an authentic vision must manifest the fruits and actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his or her life.

How should we be disposed to vision?  A vision cannot be engineered by us.  That would be hallucination, as it lacks objective reality.  Vision, if ever given, is the sheer grace of God at work in us.  We can of course be disposed to vision by being docile to the Lord.  Of course, not all have great visions.  In many ways, all of us have our mini-transfiguration experiences, especially in prayer.  Through our intimacy with God, in listening and dialogue, we can encounter Him speaking to us, directing and through inspiration.  That is what the Father says to us when He told us, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.”  Like the Psalmist, if we ponder the wonders of God in our lives, we will encounter the majesty and glory of God.

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

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Lectio Divina From The Carmelites

Gospel Reading – Mark 9,2-13
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Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain on their own by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became brilliantly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
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Then Peter spoke to Jesus, ‘Rabbi,’ he said, ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened.
And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
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As they were coming down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean. And they put this question to him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’
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He said to them, ‘Elijah is indeed first coming to set everything right again; yet how is it that the scriptures say about the Son of man that he must suffer grievously and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him.’
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Reflection
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• Today’s Gospel speaks about two facts linked between them: the Transfiguration of Jesus and the question of the return of the Prophet Elijah. At that time people were waiting for the return of the Prophet Elijah.
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Today many people are waiting for the return of Jesus and write on the walls of the city: Jesus will return! They are not aware that Jesus has returned already and is present in our life. Some times as a sudden lightening, this presence of Jesus bursts into our life and enlightens it, transfiguring it.
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• The Transfiguration of Jesus takes place after the first announcement of the death of Jesus (Mk 8, 27-30). This announcement had disturbed or upset the mind of the disciples, especially of Peter (Mk 8, 31-33). They were among the poor, but their mind was lost in the ideology of government and of the religion of the time (Mk 8, 15). The Cross was an obstacle to believe in Jesus. The Transfiguration of Jesus will help the disciples to overcome the trauma of the Cross.
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• In the years 70’s when Mark wrote, the Cross continued to be a great impediment for the Jews, to accept Jesus as Messiah. They said: “The Cross is a scandal!” (1 Co 1, 23). One of the greatest efforts of the first Christians consisted in helping persons to perceive that the cross was neither a scandal, nor madness, but rather the expression of the power and the wisdom of God (1 Co 1, 22-31). Mark contributes to this. He uses the texts and the figure of the Old Testament to describe the Transfiguration. In this way he indicates that Jesus sees the realization of the prophecies and the Cross was a way toward Glory.
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• Mark 9, 2-4: Jesus changes appearance. Jesus goes up a high mountain. Luke says that he goes up to pray (Lk 9, 28). Up there, Jesus appears in the glory before Peter, James and John. Together with him appear Moses and Elijah. The high mountain evokes Mount Sinai, where in the past, God had manifested his will to the people, handing them the Law. The white clothes remind us of Moses with a radiant face when he spoke with God on the Mountain and received the Law (cfr. Ex 43, 29-35) Elijah and Moses, the two greatest authorities of the Old Testament, speak with Jesus. Moses represents the Law, Elijah, the prophecy. Luke informs on the conversation concerning the “exodus of Jesus”, that is, the Death of Jesus in Jerusalem (Lk 9, 31). It is then clear that the Old Testament, both the Law as well as the prophecy, already taught that for the Messiah Servant the way to glory had to go through the Cross!
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• Mark 9, 5-6: Peter is pleased, likes this, but he does not understand. Peter is pleased and he wants to keep this pleasant moment on the Mountain. He offers to build three tents. Mark says that Peter was afraid, without knowing what he was saying, and Luke adds that the disciples were sleepy (Lk 9, 32). They were like us: they had difficulty to understand the Cross!
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• Mark 9, 7-9: The voice from Heaven clarifies the facts. When Jesus was covered by the glory, a voice came from the cloud and said: This is my Son the Beloved! Listen to him! The expression: “Beloved Son” reminds us of the figure of the Messiah Servant, announced by the prophet Isaiah (cfr. Is 42, 1). The expression: “Listen to him!” reminds us of the prophecy which promised the coming of a new Moses (cf. Dt 18, 15). In Jesus, the prophecies of the Old Testament are being fulfilled. The disciples can no longer doubt. Jesus is truly the glorious Messiah whom they desired, but the way to the glory passes through the cross, according to what was announced by the prophecy of the Servant (Is 53, 3-9). The glory of the Transfiguration proves this. Moses and Elijah confirm it. The Father guarantees it. Jesus accepts it. At the end, Mark says that, after the vision, the disciples saw only Jesus and nobody else. From now on, Jesus is the only revelation of God for us! Jesus is alone, the key to understand all of the Old Testament.
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• Mark 9, 9-10: To know how to keep silence. Jesus asked the disciples to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of man had risen from the dead, but the disciples did not understand. In fact, they did not understand the meaning of the cross which links suffering to the resurrection. The Cross of Jesus is the proof that life is stronger than death.
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• Mark 9, 11-13: The return of the Prophet Elijah. The Prophet Malachi had announced that Elijah would return to prepare the path for the Messiah (Ml 3, 23-24): this same announcement is found in the Book of Ecclesiasticus/Ben Sira (Si 48, 10). And then, how could Jesus be the Messiah if Elijah had not yet returned? This is why the disciples asked: Why do the Scribes say that before Elijah has to come?” (9, 111). The response of Jesus is clear: “But I tell you Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the Scriptures say about him” (9, 13). Jesus was speaking about John the Baptist who was killed by Herod (Mt 17, 13).
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Personal questions
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• Has your faith in Jesus given you some moment of transfiguration and of intense joy? How do these moments of joy give you strength in times of difficulty?
• How can we transfigure today, our personal and family life as well as our community life?
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Concluding Prayer
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All goes well for one who lends generously,
who is honest in all his dealing;
for all time to come he will not stumble,
for all time to come the upright will be remembered. (Ps 112,5-6)
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Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, October 13, 2016 — “In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ.” — “In Christ we have redemption by his Blood.”

October 12, 2016

 

Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 470

The plan of humanity that God has for us has been revealed to us

Reading 1 EPH 1:1-10

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
to the holy ones who are in Ephesus
and faithful in Christ Jesus:
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
to the holy ones who are in Ephesus
and faithful in Christ Jesus:
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.In Christ we have redemption by his Blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4, 5-6

R. (2a) The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.

Alleluia JN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:47-54

The Lord said:
“Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute’
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

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Commentary on Luke 11:47-54 From Living Space

More strong words from Jesus against the Pharisaic mentality. Today the charge is of hypocrisy.

They now build monuments to remember the prophets of old but those same prophets were killed by the ancestors of those who later built them. On the one side they are building the monuments as an act of atonement while they themselves have exactly the same attitudes as their ancestors. They do not listen to their own teaching.

Jesus utters words which he identifies as “the wisdom of God”: “I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of these they will persecute and kill.” It is not a quotation from the Old Testament or any other book known to us. It could refer to God speaking through Jesus (the Word, the Wisdom of God) or presenting in quotation form God’s decision to send prophets and apostles, even though they would be rejected.

Jesus is basically saying that the mission of the Church (apostles) is linked with the mission of the Old Testament prophets, who, like Jesus’ disciples, suffered and, in some cases, died at the hands of their contemporaries. Jesus, of course, himself will be one of them, the last and greatest Prophet.

Jesus says the scholars of the Law carry with them guilt for the killing of every good person and every prophet since the murder of Abel down to that of Zechariah. The murder of Abel by his brother Cain is recorded in Genesis 4:8, the opening book of the Old Testament, and that of Zechariah, son of Jehoiada in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, a book regarded as the closing of the Hebrew Testament by the Jews. It is like our describing the whole Bible in terms of “from Genesis to Revelation”. Jesus was referring to the history of martyrdom right through the whole of the Old Testament.

There is one final attack against the Scribes and their way of thinking and acting. They interpret the Law in such a way that they make it inaccessible to the ordinary person. And, what is worse, they do not observe it themselves. “You yourselves have not gained access, yet you have stopped those who wish to enter!” They kept both themselves and the people in ignorance of the true way to salvation and wholeness. As it is put in Matthew’s gospel: “They shut the kingdom of heaven [God] in people’s faces” (Matt 23:13).

One wonders how many of our Church leaders, teachers and theological and moral ‘experts’ have not done exactly the same thing over the years and down to the present day? How many Catholic parents and teachers have made the Christian message basically inaccessible to the young and then we wonder why they have “no interest in religion”?

Not surprisingly, all these attacks only increased the hostility of the Pharisees and the religious leaders against Jesus. They got him to speak on a multitude of religious questions hoping that he would convict himself out of his own mouth. As far as they were concerned, they were more than successful. What they did not realise was that Jesus was operating from a completely different vision of what life is really about. His new wine could not fit into their old wineskins.

The question for each one to ask is: Do I share the vision of Jesus? What does ‘Christianity’ mean to me?

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2285g/

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Members of Pakistan’s Christian Democratic Alliance march during a protest in Lahore in 2010, in support of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death under local blasphemy laws. © AFP/File / by Gohar Abbas

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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13 OCTOBER 2016, Thursday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time
A REASON TO LIVE AND A REASON TO DIE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  EPHESIANS 1:1-10; LUKE 11:47-54  ]

Not in any epoch in history has there been a time when the world was on the brink of despair, as we are now in, because of hopelessness.   In those days of war, famine and pestilence, at least there was a hope for a new world to come in the next life.   People then, in spite of their miseries, believed in the Sacred and retribution after death, where the good would be rewarded with paradise and the evil consigned to hell.

Indeed, when you remove God from the world, man has no place and no way to explain himself.  Man cannot explain his existence on earth, whither he came from and where he is going after life on earth.  The universe and his own existence are seen as something that happened accidentally.  Life has no purpose except to work hard, have sufficient to live on comfortably and enjoy the pleasures of life.  A man is defined more as an epicurean, a hedonist, a sensualist and a pleasure-seeker, not much different from the animals.  Not surprisingly, the world has become very materialistic. We are living in a consumerist society.

Thus, we can understand why many who have no faith live in hopelessness and meaninglessness.  They do not live beyond this earth.  So much so there is not much meaning in this life because they know all is temporary and everything will end in annihilation.  The purpose and motivation for doing good is reduced to pure humanitarian reasons, compassion for one’s fellow human beings in their suffering.  St Paul wrote, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor 15:19)  Man cannot live just on food alone but he needs purpose, meaning and hope.

For us who are Christians, we do not walk in the dark as if we have no hope.  The plan of humanity that God has for us has been revealed to us.  This is succinctly summarized in today’s first reading.  No Catholic should ever say that he or she does not know what is life and what he or she is living for.  Because of Christ, the plan of God is revealed.  St Paul calls Christ the mystery, that is, the plan of God revealed.   He is the mystery of salvation, not in the sense of mysterious, but that the hidden plan of God for all eternity has now been revealed in Him.  Christ is “the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.” (Col 1:26) In his letter to the Ephesians, St Paul says “before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ.”

What, then, is the plan of God for us in Christ?  We are called “to be holy and spotless.”  Our first call then is the call to holiness.  This is the common vocation of all Christians when we were baptized in Christ.  We desire to be holy and spotless in Christ.  In other words, we want to be pure like Christ.  St John said, “What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1 Jn 3:2f)  Living a life of holiness is to live a life of purity in love and in truth.   It is to be another Christ in the way we live.

Secondly, we are called “to live through love in his presence.”  In other words, living a holy life is not something that we seek to do with our own strength.  Rather, we must do it with the love of God in our hearts.  Only when we draw His love by living in His presence, can we then find ourselves capable of loving, giving and sharing.  We all can carry our crosses in life when we live in His presence because knowing that He is with us and that He loves us will give us the strength to persevere right to the end.  With God’s love and with Him in us, we have no reason to fear because we are not alone.

Thirdly, we are called to “become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ.” This is our dignity as Christians.  We are called not just to be creatures of God but to be heirs with Christ.  St John affirms this divine filiation given to us when he wrote, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 Jn 3:1)   As adopted sons and daughters in Christ, we too share in His dignity.  “When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:15b-17)

How is this possible if not through the redemption wrought by Christ’s death and resurrection?  Christ who has been foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament is the Saviour who set us free from our sins through forgiveness manifested in His death on the cross.  Salvation is freely given through faith in God’s love and mercy in Christ.  His death enabled us to overcome death and sin.  Through His resurrection, He gave humanity a clear hope of our destiny at the end of time.  Death would not be the end of everything as what the world thinks but it will lead to new life in the resurrection.  Indeed, God’s plan is 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.”  Truly with the psalmist, we declare, The Lord has shown his salvation.  Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders. His right hand and his holy arm have brought salvation.  The Lord has made known his salvation; has shown his justice to the nations.  He has remembered his truth and love for the house of Israel.”

Accordingly, Christ is the One who is our leader in salvation and all things are recapitulated in Him.  “He has let us know 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.”   In Christ everything is made clear, our origin, our destiny.  He is the answer to all riddles in life.  In the constitution of the Church, she teaches, “The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under the heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man, as well as of all human history.” (GS 10.3)

Acceptance of this divine plan presupposes that we accept Christ as the mystery of our salvation, the revealer of the Father, the Way, the Truth and the Life.   Do we truly believe that Christ is the Christ that the prophets foretold?  Those in the time of Christ and before Him did not.  All the prophets that prepared for the Lord’s coming were put to death, including John the Baptist, the precursor of our Lord.  This is what Jesus told the people, “I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute, so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet’s blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary.”  Today, many still reject Christ as their Saviour and by so doing also reject the revelation of God through Him.

Secondly, there are some, whilst not outrightly rejecting Christ as the revelation of God, do not accept Him in fact.  Many Catholics are like the Jews criticized by the Lord.  “Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.”  Indeed, we might not have killed the Lord but by our lives of counter-witness, we have also killed Him.  Nominal Catholics do Christ as much harm as those who reject Him.

Finally, we too show ourselves to have rejected the Lord when we lack faith and understanding.  We are all supposed to be leaders of faith and mentors to our children, as parents, elders and adults.  But when we do not even know our faith and have no relationship with the Lord, how can we ever lead our children to God, to know Him?  It is bad enough that we do not enter the Kingdom of God but by so doing, by our scandalous conduct and shallow faith, we prevent others from entering as well.  We have committed a double sin.

Although we are saved through grace by our faith in Christ, grace requires a response.  And such a response means responsibility in living out our faith.   Let us therefore live out our calling to be God’s children in Christ by sharing in His life, living in His presence and living in love and holiness.  We are reminded that we are called to be “saints who are faithful to Christ Jesus.”

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