Monthly Archives: September 2014

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

Christ: the stone that shatters our idols

 

Introduction

 

The last verse of Psalm 137—the famous song of exile—is always carefully ignored. After the poignant reminder of the tears of the deportees along the rivers of Babylon, the poet, addressing the bloody city, exclaims: “Happy is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Ps 137:9). The concluding verse of today’s gospel raises an embarrassment. It is not carried in the lectionary text. Referring to Christ—the stone which the builders rejected—the evangelist comments: “Whoever falls on this stone, he will be broken to pieces; on whomever this stone falls, he will be ground to dust” (Mt 21:44).

 

These images are disconcerting. They suddenly illumine each other if one catches their reference to the scene described in the book of Daniel: a stone—not driven by human hands—comes off from the top and hits a colossal, beautiful looking but terrible statue that collapses and falls apart (Dn 2:31​-35). It’s the idol that, in his foolishness, man himself built and from its slavery he can no longer free himself. It is the unjust, corrupt and inhuman society man created and of which he remains a victim.

 

Christ and his gospel are “the stone” hurled by God against this monstrous structure. They are “the stone” that shatters the logic of this world, the tricks, cunning and above all the foolish images men made for themselves of God. The stone is intended to shatter the plans of the wicked and smash their children. The wicked will have no offsprings, will remain without posterity, and no future because God will vanish all doers of iniquity. This is the good news.

 

The great of this world—the builders of the new “Tower of Babel”—discard this stone because it does not fit their plans, it messes up their dreams, destroys their kingdoms. 
They tried to eliminate it but God chose it as the rock of salvation. Whoever puts it as foundation of his life will not be disappointed.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“We are the Lord’s vineyard, which fruits can we offer him?”

 

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26th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

The more convinced “yes” passes through a “no”

Introduction

There are people who answer yes without having understood. There are also sincere people who say no because they are not convinced and want to understand better. Their ‘no’ is just a polite way to ask for explanation and to say that they want to see things more clearly. Whoever immediately answers ‘yes’ to God perhaps does not realize who he is, what he thinks and proposes.

Whoever produces is appreciated in our society. The old, the sick, the disabled are respected, loved, helped, but are often felt as a burden. The perception of their value and the preciousness of their contribution to making our world more humane is not immediate. We reward the efficient and the capable. We esteem those who are able to succeed by themselves and we remunerate those who work. God instead starts from the last, is interested of the last, privileges and rewards the last. Freely.

The parable of last Sunday has shocked us and perhaps, during the week, we reflected on the inconsistency of the master’s behavior. He pays the last hour workers as the first ones. It is difficult to give up the religion of merits and believe in gratuitous love of God. Today’s reading seems to respond to our objections: “You say Yahweh’s way is not just! Why Israel, is my position wrong? Is it not rather that yours is wrong?” (v. 25).

Saying yes to God means giving up one’s own thoughts and accepting his. He does not look for the satiated, but those who are hungry to fill them of his possessions (Lk 1:53). He does not appreciate the powerful who sit on thrones, but lowers himself to raise the lowly (Lk 1:52). He does not reward the righteous for their own merits, but makes himself companion of the weak and introduces the tax collectors and prostitutes first in the kingdom. Only those who recognize themselves as last, sinners and in need of his help will experience the joy of being saved.

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“The Lord teaches his ways to the humble, the poor and the sinners.”

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