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Monthly Archives: October 2020

ALL SAINTS DAY

ALL SAINTS DAY

(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity OF ALL SAINTS – Sunday, 1 November 2020

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

First Reading: Revelation 7:2-4,9-14; Psalms: Psalm 24:1-6; Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

The Scripture Text

Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12 RSV)

Since the Jews in Jesus’ day considered the laws in Scripture and in the oral traditions (the 613 man-made Jewish laws) guidelines to holiness, anyone who wanted to be holy had to follow all these laws. The problem was that the rich had time to study the laws and learn what they meant, but the average person could not do this because he was too busy working long hours just to provide the basic necessities for his family. Therefore, only the rich could be holy. Some Jews considered the way God blessed the rich with wealth and happiness proof that He favored them because of their observance of the laws. This favored status supposedly guaranteed them a place of honor in the Kingdom of God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus surprises a lot of people by saying the rich do not have a monopoly on holiness and therefore are not necessarily guaranteed the choicest spots in the Kingdom. Holiness, according to Jesus, is within the reach of even the poor and the powerless.

Jesus promises the reign of God to the poor in spirit and “the land” (a popular way of referring to the Kingdom of God) to the lowly. The persecuted, Jesus says, will receive a great reward and peacemakers will be known as God’s sons, a title the Jews used to describe the righteous who would occupy places of honor in the Kingdom of God. The people who Jesus said were holy and prominent in the kingdom were the poor and the weak, the same people who were considered sinners because they did not follow all the laws.

Sometimes we fall into the same trap the Jews in Jesus’ day fell into and think holiness is just for a certain few like priests, ministers, and those who are “professionally religious”. We are afraid to picture ourselves as holy because we do not understand what holiness really is.

Everyone who has a relationship with God is holy and as that relationship becomes stronger, the person becomes holier. Therefore, holiness is like a spiritual yardstick, measuring one’s relationship with God. This means that you, me, the person sitting next to us in the church, the neighbor who worships at the church down the street, and even the obnoxious kid who is always getting on your nerves may be holy. As Christians, we should all be working on developing a closer relationship with our God and, therefore, should be growing in holiness each day of our lives.

If saints are holy and if you are holy because you have a relationship with God, then you must be a saint. Therefore, rejoice because today the Church celebrates your feast day too!

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 362-363.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, the saints in heaven behold Your glory and know the rewards of Your life. Fill me with hope in Your promise of eternal life. May we all share the joy of Your saints in heaven. Amen.

Jakarta, 31 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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LUKE 14:10-11 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 14:1,7-11)

Jakarta, 31 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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LUKE 14:5-6 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 14:1-6)

Jakarta, 30 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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LUKE 13:34-35 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 13:31-35)

Jakarta, 29 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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LUKE 6:19 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 6:12-19)

Jakarta, 28 October 2020 [Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles]

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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LUKE 13:19 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 13:18-21)

Jakarta, 27 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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LUKE 13:15 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 13:10-17)

Jakarta, 26 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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MATTHEW 22:37-39 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:34-40)

Jakarta, 25 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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TEACHER, WHICH IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW?

TEACHER, WHICH IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW?

(A biblical reflection on the 30th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 25 October 2020)

Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:34-40

First Reading: Exodus 22:21-27; Psalms: Psalm 18:2-4,47,51; Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

The Scripture Text

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”(Matthew 22:34-40 RSV)

The Pharisees may not have had evil intentions when asking Jesus the question as to the greatest commandment. But they have done us a good service by getting this crystal clear answer from Him. In this answer He tells us that the person who loves God and neighbor fulfills all her/his obligations, and carries out all the duties that God’s self-revelation in “the law and the prophets” imposes on her/him. God revealed Himself to us in the Old Testament as our Creator and divine benefactor. He had no need of us, since He is infinitely perfect in Himself, but out of His infinite goodness He wished to share His eternal Kingdom of happiness with mankind and so He created us. That we should love such a benefactor and be grateful to Him is not asking much of us; such love should surely be the spontaneous reaction of a rational being, and yet there were and there are many who fail to acknowledge any such obligation.

No Christian, worthy of the name, can ever be among such thoughtless and thankless people. We have greater proofs of God’s love for us than “the law and he prophets” gave to the Israelites. We have the added proofs of God’s infinite interest in us brought to us by the Incarnation. We have been raised to the sublime status of adopted children of God.

Where Christians can, and too often do fail, is in their true love of neighbor. Yet Jesus says that this commandment is like the first. Love of neighbor is an essential part of our obligations toward God. If we fail in this we fail in our love for God, for we refuse to carry out this sacred duty. If we do not recognize our neighbor as our sister or brother we do not recognize God as our Father and we do not love Him. As Saint John puts it: “anyone who says: ‘I love God’ and hates (does not love) his neighbor is a liar” (1 John 3:20).

Let each one of us ask her/himself today how seriously she/he takes this law of fraternal charity and how faithfully she/he carries it out. Not all of us may be able to give material help to a neighbor in need but the poorest of us can spare a kindly word, an encouraging word, for a neighbor weighed down with care and troubles. All of us can pray for a neighbor who needs spiritual and temporal help. Most of us can deny ourselves some unnecessary luxuries in order to give a needed loaf of bread to a hungry fellowman, while those who have an abundance of this world’s goods need not look far afield to find cases and causes worthy of their Christian charity.

Remember that whatever spiritual or material help is given out of true charity to a neighbor in need, is given to God, and whatever is given to God is soundly invested in heaven, and heaven pays handsome dividends.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, and breathe on me! Empower me to live the law of love! Apart from You, I am powerless, but with You, I can fulfil the command to love. Make me realize that I cannot love others if I do not love myself first. Open my heart to the passionate love of the Father and help me to come to Him everyday as His child and good disciple of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jakarta, 24 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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LUKE 13:7 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 13:1-9)

Jakarta, 24 October 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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