Oct 8-13: Oct 8 Monday: Lk 10:25-37: 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
The context: A scribe asked Jesus a very basic religious question: “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” In answer to the question, Jesus directed the scribe’s attention to the Sacred Scriptures. The Scriptural answer is, “Love God and express it by loving your neighbor.” However, to the scribe, the word “neighbor” meant another scribe or Pharisee, never a Samaritan or a Gentile. Hence, the scribe insisted on further clarification of the word “neighbor.” So, Jesus told him the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable clearly indicates that a “neighbor” is anyone who needs help. Thus, the correct approach is not to ask who our neighbor is, but instead, to ask, “Am I a good neighbor to those I meet, helping them in their needs?” The Good Samaritan is a symbol of Jesus, himself, in his role as Savior of the world.
The parable: In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus presents three philosophies of life concerning our relationship with our neighbor: 1) the philosophy of the thieves who robbed the Samaritan: “What is yours is mine; I will take it by force. 2) the philosophy of the Jewish priest and the Levite: “What is mine is mine; I won’t part with it.” 3) the philosophy of the Samaritan: “What is mine is yours as well. I shall share it with you.
Life message: We need to have hearts of mercy: We need to remember that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho passes right through our home, parish and workplace. Jesus is inviting us to show mercy and kindness to those who are being hurt or mistreated on any of the “Jericho Roads” of our lives in our family, neighborhood and parish. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Oct 9 Tuesday (St. Denis, Bishop and Companions Martyrs; St John Leonardi, priest): Lk 10:38-42: 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
The context: Today’s readings are about hospitality and the necessity of listening to God before acting. Jesus welcomed and tended to the needs of all, reflecting in his actions the very hospitality of God. All four Gospels recount Jesus’ welcoming and feeding the multitudes of people who came to hear his teachings. The Gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal for him, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking to him and listening to him.
Jesus’ advice: The episode is also intended to teach us where we should place our priorities. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a true listener to the word of God, today’s Gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence, after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer — listening to God and talking to God — as Mary did. We are able to minister truly to the needs of others only after welcoming God’s words into our hearts and minds.
Life messages: 1) We need to recharge our spiritual batteries: Without the “fuel” of prayer, silence and communion with God, service can become a crushing responsibility, a burden rather than a vocation, an annoyed grumbling rather than a response to the invitation of God.
2) We need listening Marthas and serving Marys: Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world needs such men, women, boys and girls who get the job done. This is certainly true in the Church where we need the active cooperation of many parishioners in its various ministries. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Oct 10 Wednesday: Lk 11:1-4: 1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread; 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”
The context: The disciples were fascinated by watching their master Jesus at prayer. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. In response to the request made by one of his disciples, Jesus taught the beautiful prayer, Our Father. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel” (CCC #2761).
A prayer in two parts: In the first part of the prayer, we address God, lovingly acknowledging Him as our Heavenly Father, praising and worshipping Him. Then we promise Him that we will try to do His Holy Will in our lives on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. In the second part, we ask our Father’s blessings on our present time (daily bread), our past (forgiveness of sins) and our future (protection against the tempter and his temptations). In this part we also invite the Triune God into our lives. We bring in 1) God the Father, the Provider, by asking for daily bread, 2) God the Son, our Savior, by asking forgiveness for our sins and 3) God the Holy Spirit, our Guide, Advocate, Comforter and Illuminator, by asking for protection and deliverance from evil.
Special stress on spirit of forgiveness: In this prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask for forgiveness from others for our offenses and to give unconditional forgiveness to others for their offenses against us as a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness ourselves. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Oct 11 Thursday (St. John XXIII, Pope): Lk 11:5-13: 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? ..13
The context: After teaching a model prayer, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray to God their Heavenly Father with the same boldness, daring, intimacy, conviction, persistence and perseverance as Abraham did and as the friend in need in the parable did. He gives us the assurance that God will not be irritated by our requests, nor will He be unwilling to meet them with generosity. Jesus stresses the power of intercessory prayer and the necessity for persistence, perseverance, trusting Faith and the boldness of Faith in our prayer.
The parable: By presenting the parable of the friend in need, Jesus emphasizes our need for persistent and persevering prayer, acknowledging our total dependence on God. In the ancient Hebrew world, hospitality was the essence of one’s goodness, and, hence, to welcome a visitor without food and drink was unthinkable. A traveler who was traveling in the evening to avoid the heat of the afternoon might well arrive late at night. So in this parable, when a man received an unexpected guest late at night and found his cupboard bare, he went to the man next door and woke him in order to borrow a loaf of bread. Because of the persistence of his neighbor, the unwilling householder got up and gave him the bread he needed for his guest. This parable stresses the necessity for our persisting in prayer as the expression of our total dependence on God. St. Paul says, “Be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12), “pray at all times” (Ephesians 6:18), “be steadfast in prayer” (Colossians 4:2), and “pray constantly” (2 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus assures us, “Knock and the door will be opened”(Luke 11: 10).
Life messages: We need to stop giving lame excuses for not praying. Modern Christians give four lame excuses for not praying: 1) We are too busy. 2) We don’t believe that prayer does that much good, other than giving us the psychological motivation to be better persons. Such people forget the fact that prayer establishes and augments our responsive relationship with God, the Source of our power. 3) A loving God should provide for us and protect us from the disasters of life, such as diseases or accidents, without our asking Him. True! Prayer does not inform God; it expresses our awareness of our need for God and of our dependence upon Him. 4) Prayer is boring. People who use this excuse forget the fact that prayer is a conversation with God: listening to God speaking to us through the Bible and talking to God through personal and family prayers. We can’t have a close relationship with anyone, including God, without persistent and intimate conversation. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Oct 12 Friday: Lk 11:15-26: 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; 22 but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. 23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.
The context: When Jesus healed a mute man by exorcism, the jealous scribes and the Pharisees spread the malicious slander that Jesus was collaborating with Beelzebul, the head of the devils, to cast out smaller devils.
Jesus’ response: Jesus makes his counterattack, first by asking the question whether their children (the Jewish exorcists), are seeking the help of the big devil to exorcise minor devils. Then he asserts that no kingdom, divided against itself, can survive for long. So the chief devil will not help exorcists to cast out devils. Jesus then claims that the fact that he has expelled demons is proof that he has brought the Kingdom of God. When people are liberated from the control of evil spirits, it is a sure sign that the loving power of God (the finger of God), is at work. Then Jesus uses the image of a strong man guarding his house and keeping his possessions safe until someone stronger attacks and overthrows him. Jesus claims that he is the stronger one and the evil spirits are being driven away by him. They are helpless before him. This liberation of people and society from evil powers is one of the most dramatic proofs that the all-powerful reign of God is present in the person of Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Jesus teaches us that the devil is relentless in his struggle against man. The devil continues to lay his traps, in spite of man’s rejecting him with the help of grace. That is why St. Peter warns us to be sober and vigilant because, “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your Faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). 2) We have to fortify ourselves against the devil by prayer, penance, the Sacraments and the effective use of the word of God. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Oct 13 Saturday: Lk 11:27-28: 27 As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
The context: A woman in the audience was so impressed by Jesus’ powerful refutation of a slander against him (that Jesus collaborated with the devil in exorcisms), that she shouted a blessing praising the mother of Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” She meant that any woman would be proud to have such a great son.
The reason for real blessedness: Completing the truth of the blessing the woman had pronounced, Jesus states that the real source of blessedness is the willingness to hear and the readiness to obey the word of God. Mary heard God’s message at the Annunciation, and her prompt response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). That is why she could boldly proclaim to her cousin Elizabeth in her canticle, “All generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). No one listened more attentively to the word of God than Mary did. She “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:10). Jesus clarified the same truth on another occasion, stating that His true mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 8:21). In today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that that those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than those who are related to him only by blood.
Life message: 1) We become the members of the Heavenly family of the Triune God, that is, children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus, by our Baptism. But it is our fidelity in hearing the word of God and in putting that word into practice in our daily lives that makes us really blessed. What makes a person happy in this life and in the life to come is precisely the fulfillment of God’s will, as we learn through the attentive reading of, and listening to, His words. (Fr. Tony) L/18