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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B – November 4, 2018

Can the Heart be Controlled?

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

The pharaoh was “the beloved of the god Ra.” Since ancient times, the god Ra motivated his actions in favor of the king with the formula: “For the love I have for you.”

 

The God of Israel did not know this sweet and delicate feeling. In the oldest texts of the Bible only strong passions are attributed to him: he repents, disdains, mourns (Gen 6:6-7), and cultivates the fierce loyalty of the feudatory towards his vassal, but not love, for this one understands that—in prey of terror—Israel has begged Moses: “You yourself speak to us and we shall listen. But do not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Ex 20:19).

 

God looked at creation and “saw that it was good,” but he does not refer to his feeling of joy, instead his covenants with Noah and Abraham are referred to. However, one would search in vain the inscription “because he loved them,” as a motive of his choice, in the sacred text. The Lord hears the cry of his people oppressed in Egypt. He remembers his covenant, looks; he thinks of it (Ex 2:23-25), but even here there is no mention of love. Israel was reluctant to attribute to the Lord the word ‘aheb—to love—because of its erotic nuances.

It was Hosea who introduced the image of conjugal love and, after him, no expression of this love, even the most daring, was neglected. It served to express the feelings, emotions, and tenderness of God towards people. He disclosed his love for the patriarchs (Dt 4:37), Abraham was recognized as “his friend” (Is 41:8), he was given the visceral affection of a father (Ps 103:13) and the oath: “though the mountains may depart and the hills be moved, but never will my love depart from you” (Is 54:10).

 

Only after realizing this everlasting and free love, Israel felt the need to respond to it and understood that a God who loves so unconditionally, has the right to control even the heart and also to demand what seems humanly impossible, “If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink” (Pro25:21).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“Only one who understands that God is love becomes capable of loving.”

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2nd Sunday of Advent – Year A

She will flourish like the palm tree

and will grow like a Lebanon cedar

 

Introduction

 

Israel was a tree that the Lord had germinated and then cultivated. Later the enemy came, armed with the lumberjack’s ax. They had smashed with merciless blows and reduced it to a bare and desolate trunk (Ps 74:5-6).

 

It is our history. We are at the mercy of the forces of evil that enslave us. They take away the light and breath from us. We become dried branches, unable to bear fruit.

 

But woe if we lose hope.

 

In the future days—the prophets assured—Israel will take root, blossom, and sprout and fill the world with fruit (Is 27:6). I shall be like the dew to Israel—the Lord says—like the lily will he blossom. Like a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow and spread. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.

 

Nothing is impossible to him that has made even the dry stick of Aaron to flourish (Ex 17:3).

 

According to the promises of the Lord, from the root of Jesse, a vigorous tree has sprouted—Christ—in which all are grafted. From him, the sap will come to maintain its lushness and will make every tree planted in the garden by God produce abundant fruit.

 

There are no desperate situations for those who believe in the Lord.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“We fear the axes of our enemies, but not that of God who removes the malignant plants from our garden.”

 

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