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Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Readings for Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
http://www.usccb.org/nab/112007.shtml
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible
http://www.universalis.com/20071120/mass.htm

Commentary:

Reading 1 2 Mc 6:18-31

The story of Eleazar given from the Second Book of Maccabees is the companion story to that of the mother and her seven sons (see 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14). These stories while intended to serve as examples of heroic courage and fidelity to God’s Law were popular with early Christians because they gave a solid theological underpinning to “Martyrology. “

Responsorial Psalm Ps 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. The Lord upholds me.

Psalm 3 is a lament singing of plight of one attacked and oppressed by enemies on all sides. Faith in the Lord, the singers proclaim is the only salvation and they asks the Lord to come and be their protector. This sense of persecution provides a strong link to the first reading from 2nd Maccabees.

Gospel Lk 19:1-10

Today we hear the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector and Jesus. While still on his final journey to Jerusalem this encounter takes place in Jericho, on the western edge of Jordan Valley, about 6 miles north of the Dead Sea, north east of Jerusalem. Jesus chooses Zacchaeus’ home for his resting place (an unpopular choice; “…they began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.’”)

Jesus uses this occasion to give us a clear idea of why he came. When Zacchaeus tells him what he as done with his material possessions, Jesus proclaims; “…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” His mission is salvation.

Reflection:

We reflected upon the Zacchaeus story just a few weeks ago (see 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time) and the companion story about the mother and seven brothers from 2nd Maccabees a week later on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Clearly, the themes of fidelity, faithfulness to the Laws of the Church in the face of extreme opposition and the mission of Jesus to save those who have turned from those laws are important ones.

In that fist reading, we find Eleazar, an old man in his nineties, faced with not only persecution but temptation. In spite of his willingness to immediately face torture for the sake of preserving his fidelity to the Mosaic Law that prohibited the eating of pork, his friends we are told, take up the role of the Evil one. They whisper in his ear – you don’t need to do this. You can go and get some other meat that is OK for you to eat and it will appear that you have done what is commanded by the evil ruler. His friends suggested this.

What a great example for us of how the well meaning of others can lead us away from our goal of holiness and fidelity to our faith. Think of all the examples from our own lives when temptation was presented to us. How many of those times when we either failed the test or came closest to failing was that temptation presented by one close to us? It is in those instances, when what we know what God calls us to do is most difficult, that our temptation to listen to alternatives that lead us away from our faith are most persuasive. The more difficult the effort called for on our part, the easer it is for a person who means well, even a loved on, to offer up an alternative that is easier but wrong.

We pray today that like Eleazar we will be strong in our faith when faced with such temptations (…lead us not into temptation). We also thank God for the gift of Zacchaeus who shows us that even if we do not pass that test, the Lord still invites us to return.

Pax

Jim Miles, Deacon


Posted by jrcmcneil at 8:45 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007 8:46 AM EST
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Monday, 19 November 2007
Monday of the Thirty third week in Ordinary Time

Monday of the Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
http://www.usccb.org/nab/111907.shtml
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible
http://www.universalis.com/20071119/mass.htm

Commentary:

Reading 1 1 Mc 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63

This reading from the First Book of Maccabees describes the introduction of Hellenistic traditions into Israel, the attempt to suppress Hebrew Tradition, desecration of the Temple with idols, and persecution of those who attempt to retain their faith and traditions. The verses selected omit some of the classic Hebrew poetry included in this book and the final verses are actually part of a Hymn of praise for those who resist the attempt by the Seleucid Kings to eliminate Mosaic Law.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.

David’s lament in Psalm 119 speaks of attempts by the Gentiles to force him to become apostate and recant his faith in the Law. He reiterates his faith and calls upon God for help. Like the first reading from 1 Maccabees, those held in greatest contempt are not the gentiles but the Hebrews who turn away from the Law, violating the covenant.

Gospel Lk 18:35-43

This passage from St. Luke’s Gospel takes place as Jesus is returning to Jerusalem for the last time. The blind man, whom he cures, addresses him as “Son of David”, a clear reference to Christ’s role as Messiah. Understanding his faith, the Lord announces “Have sight, your faith has saved you.” The message being that those who recognize Jesus as the Messiah are saved.

Reflection:

It is so much easier to fit in with those who do not have the religious scruples by which we are bound. At work, at school or even just with friends and family not of the faith, wouldn’t it be easier, and make them feel more at ease if we were not bound by the great covenant we have adopted in Christ Jesus.

Those of us who have made it a point to identify ourselves as Christian or Catholic (“religious fanatics” as we are sometimes called by the secular world) know the difference that can be felt when this is done. A gathering where our faith is not shared can be locally silenced as we approach since the topic being shared might offend our sensibilities.

Yes, the life of a devout Christian can cause discomfort among those who embrace the hedonistic values of our secular society. The results of this discomfort are generally felt by us in a number of ways. First, we will not be the most popular people in a workplace, school, or family environment where our faith is not adopted by a majority of that group. In fact, depending upon the make up of the group and how far they have gone down darker paths, we may be shunned. People who love the darkness do not love the light. Depending upon how closely we are forced to associate, they may even actively persecute the faithful. The less educated the group, the more violent the persecution.

Our reception by less dedicated hedonists, those who may even call themselves Christian may be more subtle. There would likely be polite acceptance in the group but certainly not inclusion in places where they hoped to have “fun”. It is part of our mission as disciples to cause some discomfort to those who need to be called back to the light; as we saw in the Gospel, to open the eyes of the blind.

Scripture calls us to faithfulness. We are given the examples of those who have gone before us and know that it is not an easy path. We know from earliest times, those who love the darkness hate the light and that walking the path of light is dangerous. We ask today to be given the strength to walk in the light and on our journey bring light to those who live in darkness.

We leave today with the final verses of the Canticle of Zachariah which we pray in Morning Prayer:

“You my child shall be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of our sins.

In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

Pax

Jim Miles, Deacon


Posted by jrcmcneil at 10:14 AM EST
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