33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – November 19, 2017

It Seems Prudence, But it’s Cowardice

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://youtu.be/p8jTvPNkSkw

 

The following link provides a commentary in English by Fr. Johnson Thurackal CMF, given in Epiphany Parish, Hong Kong 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn5-GxhEIwQ

 

Introduction

 

Jesus recommended to be “wise as serpents” (Mt 10:16), and yet, his behavior and his words seem distant from what is commonly meant by prudence. He pronounced invectives against the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23) and joked about their gait in “long robes” (Mk 12:38), has turned against the Sadducees, disavowing their theological convictions (Mt 22:23-33), he called Herod “fox” (Lk 13:32) and launched barbs to kings, “wrapped in soft raiment,” living in luxurious palaces (Mt 11:8). He broke the Sabbath, frequented the company of the infamous and impure people, called “serpents, brood of vipers,” the spiritual guides of the people (Mt 23:33) and claimed that the tax collectors and the prostitutes would have preceded them in the kingdom of heaven (Mt 21:31) But … what kind of prudence is this?

 

The alternative was not to move from Nazareth and to limit oneself to plane work, to keep the mouth shut or to open it only to flatter; to ignore the hungry, tired, in disarray crowd “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mk 6:34); to close the heart to compassion before the man with a withered hand, and resign oneself to the fact that sometimes a man accounts less than a sheep (Mt 12:12); to plug one’s ears to not hear the cry of the lepers (Lk 17:13) and to let the adulterous woman be stoned to death (Jn 8:5).

 

The prudence of God is not that of people, an excuse to laziness, idleness, inertia, disinterest. It is better to run the risk of making a mistake for love rather than give up fighting for the great values ; it is better to see the seed of the word rejected by barren ground—as happened to Paul at the Areopagus (Acts 17:32-34)—rather than hide it, for fear, shrouded in silence.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
Full joy is to getting oneself involved, without fear in the projects of the Lord.”

 

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – November 12, 2017

It Is Not Difficult to Believe

but to Persevere in the Faith

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1rYGUrSTUQ

 

Also watch the Bible Study Session held in Epiphany Parish, Mui Wo by Fr. Alberto Rossa: https://youtu.be/jAYNHzp1y5c

Introduction

 

Israel has experienced the faithfulness of his God. For him, Israel coined the term hesed we ’emet that occurs frequently in the Bible and which can be translated as: faithful in love. When the Lord stipulates an alliance he is faithful to it, even if the other party betrays its commitments. When He makes a promise, he never misses a word.

 

Paul was deeply convinced of it: “The faithful God who has called” (1 Cor 1:9); “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13) and, recalling the unfaithfulness of Israel, he says: “Will their unfaithfulness do away with the faithfulness of God? Of course not” (Rom 3:3-4).

 

But will people ever match this love?

 

The Bible speaks of the hasidim (the faithful: from hesed, loyal). Even before Christ, a group of pious and virtuous men—who were given this name—were meant to embody the loyal, law-abiding Israelite, willing even to be martyrs rather than betray their faith. This spiritual power has remained to this day in the Jewish people. Here is what one of these hasidim has written in front of the gas chamber: “God of Israel, you have made the possible so that I would not believe in you. If you thought of being able to divert me from my way, well I’ll tell you, my God, the God of my fathers, you will not succeed. You can hit me, take away from me whatever is precious and dear I have on earth, you can torment me to death, but I will always believe in you. I’ll love you forever. I die as I have lived, firmly believing in you.”

 

When the wind of test blows “the lamp of the godless is extinguished, the light of the virtuous is bright” (Pro 13:9).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
Grant, O Lord, that on the last day, I can repeat, like Paul, ‘I have finished my course, I have kept myself faithful.’”

 

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – November 5, 2017

Invited To Dance With God

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://youtu.be/af10z7j0xmc

 

Introduction

 

At the time of Jesus, there were many Jewish sects. Some are also mentioned in the Gospels: the Sadducees, the Herodians, the Pharisees, the Essenes, the Zealots…. All of them disappeared except the Pharisees who survived the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the catastrophe of 70 AD. Without the Pharisees, Israel would no longer exist.

 

When we hear of them, the invective of Jesus immediately resounds in our ears: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” But were the members of this sect really a repository of evil and wickedness? The people worshiped them for their knowledge of the sacred Scriptures and their ascetic austerity. They were considered legitimate masters, enlightened leaders and, without their support, it was not possible to win the sympathy and the consent of the people.

 

They were faithful to God and respectful of all moral laws which they scrupulously and blamelessly observed. They would have been the religious group closer to Jesus. Instead, they became his fiercest opponents. How so?

 

Some of them—perhaps many—from the early years of the church, were converted (Acts 15:5). However, entering the Christian community, they brought with them the legalistic mentality, the religious formalism, the moral rigor, the conviction of obtaining salvation by their own good works. Above all, their image of God was that of a stern and strict judge, incompatible with the God preached by Jesus.

 

The Pharisees are not missing. They will never disappear, because “a Pharisee” is hidden in every disciple. When he re-emerges, he spreads his yeast of death, a yeast against which one must be on guard (Mt 16:6).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
The Pharisee is devout, religious, blameless, and yet, paradoxically, away from God.”

 

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