Interior Alms

After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
(Luke 11:37-41)

Scripture Study

11:37 Pharisee The Pharisees were Jewish religious authorities (not priests) who promoted strict adherence to the law of Moses. Luke’s reference to teachers of the law probably is synonymous with the group mentioned in Luke 5:21.

11:38 did not observe Washing one’s hands before eating is not required in the law of Moses, but was part of the Pharisees’ tradition (see Matt 15:2).

11:39 cleanse the outside Jesus contrasts external purity (proper behavior) with internal cleansing (transformation of the heart).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, Jesus concludes today’s Gospel by prescribing giving alms as a key to holiness. I’ve quoted to you before some of the breathtaking remarks of saints and popes about almsgiving: Leo XIII says, “Once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest of your money belongs to the poor.” John Chrysostom says, “The man who has two shirts in his closet, one belongs to him; the other belongs to the man who has no shirt.”

The deepest root of all of this is in the prophets, who continually rail against those who are indifferent to the poor. The prophets teach us that compassion is key to biblical ethics, feeling the pain of others in our own hearts. We’re not dealing with an abstract Aristotelian moral philosophy, but rather with something more visceral.

This is precisely why the two great commandments are so tightly linked: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.” In loving God you feel the feelings of God, and God is compassionate to the poor and oppressed. That’s all the argument that a biblical person needs.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.   

Sing Praise

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
(Psalm 98:1-4)

Scripture Study

98:1 holy arm God’s arm is a symbol of his strength in both judgment and salvation. The arm of God is a symbol of His strength in judgment as well as salvation (Exod 6:6; Isa 52:10). The right hand, specifically, represents the hand of special blessing according to Hebrew thought (Gen 48:17–20). It also is connected as a metaphor to God’s protection (Ps 119:173) and His powerful acts of salvation (98:1; 109:27; 118:15–16) or creation (95:5; 102:25).

98:2 his salvation Refers to deliverance from real hazards and problems. The Hebrew word used here, yeshu’ah, refers to help or deliverance. God’s yeshu’ah here is viewed as deliverance from hazards and problems. his righteousness The psalmist describes how God’s deliverance displays His righteousness.

98:3 the house of Israel Probably refers to family or community. the salvation of our God Coupled with v. 2, the term yeshu’ah (“salvation”) provides a bookend structure to define what God has revealed to Israel and the nations. By remembering His commitment to Israel and acting on it, God has shown Himself to the world.

98:4 Sing joyfully to the Lord Compare 100:1.

Scripture Reflection

The psalm is the Old Testament text for Isaac Watts’s Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World!” The hymn celebrates the birth of Jesus as the coming of the LORD to rule the world with truth and grace. It uses the language and themes of the psalm in order to say that the nativity is an event of the kind and significance proclaimed in the psalm. The psalm announces the coming of the Savior God as king of the world.

Psalmists and prophets saw the exodus and the return as a “coming” of the LORD into the affairs of human beings. They believed that the mystery of that coming was the meaning of history. The kingdom of God was coming through salvation. The New Testament witnesses saw in Jesus a continuation and climax of these salvific comings. In an echo of verse 3, Mary called her unborn child a marvelous deed in which the LORD “remembered his mercy to Israel.” Paul saw in the gospel of Jesus Christ the salvation of God that reveals God’s righteousness to the nations.

The early Christians chanted the psalm as a hymn about the Christ to express their joy at having found a king who brought salvation instead of oppression and misery. When Isaac Watts transformed the psalm into a hymn for Christmas, he was tutored by Scripture and tradition—and he got it right. “Joy to the World!” as hymn reflects and renews what the psalm has always meant as Christmas liturgy. It catches and repeats the exuberance of humankind and nature in recognition of what is happening. It interprets Christmas as a decisive event in the reign of God, something that changes history for the nations. It maintains the connection between salvation and rule: “The Savior reigns.”

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Incomplete Conversion?

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
(Matthew 22:1-14)

Scripture Study

22:2 Wedding feast: the Old Testament’s portrayal of final salvation under the image of a banquet (Is 25:6) is taken up also in Mt 8:11; cf. Lk 13:15.

22:3–4 Servants … other servants: probably Christian missionaries in both instances; cf. Mt 23:34.

22:7 This parable has been given many allegorical traits by Matthew, e.g., the burning of the city of the guests who refused the invitation (Mt 22:7), which corresponds to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d. 70. It has similarities with the preceding parable of the tenants: the sending of two groups of servants (Mt 22:3, 4), the murder of the servants (Mt 22:6) the punishment of the murderers (Mt 22:7), and the entrance of a new group into a privileged situation of which the others had proved themselves unworthy (Mt 22:8–10).

22:10 Bad and good alike: cf. Mt 13:47.

22:11 A wedding garment: the repentance, change of heart and mind, that is the condition for entrance into the kingdom (Mt 3:2; 4:17) must be continued in a life of good deeds (Mt 7:21–23).

22:13 Wailing and grinding of teeth: the Christian who lacks the wedding garment of good deeds will suffer the same fate as those Jews who have rejected Jesus; the first occurrence of a phrase used frequently in this gospel to describe final condemnation (Mt 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). It is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Lk 13:28. 

Scripture Reflection

The parable of the wedding feast is about our response to God’s call. It cautions us first of the dangers of indifference. When the Father invites us into a relationship with his Son, we can either choose to respond or we can quietly decline the invitation and go back to our personal pursuits as though nothing has changed and no new demands have been placed on our lives.

Another danger brought to our attention is indignation. Many people fight the idea that we are all sinners in need of salvation. In such cases, the good news and its call for repentance can seem like a threat to our happiness and our deepest desires for fulfillment in life. This can put us on the defensive and even provoke a hostile response toward those who challenge us with the claims of Christ.

Finally, the parable warns us against incomplete conversion. The man without the wedding garment had neither ignored nor refused the invitation to the feast. But his yes to the call of God was not carried through in his life. He wanted the good things of the kingdom, but not enough to break with his sinful ways and live as a committed disciple.

– Edward Sri 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Blessed Word

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied, “Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”
(Luke 11:27-28)

Scripture Study

11:27 Blessed is the womb that carried you An echo of what Mary, the mother of Jesus, has already articulated about her own role (Luke 1:48). As Jesus is moving toward His death, He states the inverse of the woman’s cry, pronouncing that someday those who are childless will be called blessed (23:29).

11:28 hear the word of God and observe it True blessedness, according to Jesus, is found in obedience to God’s revelation (compare 8:21).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel blesses those who hear the word of God and observe it. In this regard, I would like to speak about the response of the Polish people to the word proclaimed by St. John Paul II. The power of the Polish Communist state, and behind that the power of the Soviet Union, is what John Paul faced at the beginning of the 1980s. But he was practiced in the art of facing down oppressive political forces, having grown up under Nazism and Communism.

He spoke of God, of human rights, of the dignity of the individual—frightening at every turn, his handlers worried about diplomatic repercussions. As he spoke, the crowds got bigger and more enthusiastic. This went beyond mere Polish nationalism. At one gathering, the millions of people began to chant “We want God! We want God!” over and over for fifteen minutes.

There was no controlling this power, born of the confidence that God’s love is more powerful than any of the weapons of the empires of the world, from crosses to nuclear bombs. This is, of course, why Communist officialdom tried vehemently to stop John Paul II. But there is no chaining the Word of God!

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Scattering

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”
(Luke 11:15-26)

Scripture Study

11:15 He casts out demons: Jesus forces his opponents to decide for themselves whether he is empowered by God or the devil, leaving no neutral ground for them to stand upon. Beelzebul: A derogatory name for Satan. A Philistine god worshiped at Ekron (2 Kings 1:2–16). It translates something like “Prince Baal”, a well-known god of the Canaanites. Jews mockingly changed its meaning to “lord of flies” or “lord of dung”. In the Gospels, it refers to Satan, “the prince of demons.”

11:20 the finger of God: i.e., the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:28; CCC 700). ● Jesus alludes to Ex 8:19, where Pharaoh’s magicians finally confess that their own sorcery has been outmatched by the power of Yahweh. Jesus likewise wields divine power that is far superior to that of other exorcists in his day (11:19).

11:22 one stronger: A reference to Jesus, who overthrows Satan and plunders his house of sinners held captive (13:16; Is 49:24–25; Heb 2:14–15).

11:26 the last state: Those delivered of demons must be filled with the goodness of Christ’s kingdom. To benefit from his ministry without accepting his message leads to spiritual ruin (2 Pet 2:20).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel we learn of a person possessed by a demon. Jesus meets the man and drives out the demon, but then is immediately accused of being in league with Satan. Some of the witnesses said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.”

Jesus’ response is wonderful in its logic and laconicism: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?”

The demonic power is always one of scattering. It breaks up communion. But Jesus, as always, is the voice of communio, of one bringing things back together.

Think back to Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Facing a large, hungry crowd, his disciples beg him to “dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus answers, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”

Whatever drives the Church apart is an echo of this “dismiss the crowds” impulse and a reminder of the demonic tendency to divide. In times of trial and threat, this is a very common instinct. We blame, attack, break up, and disperse. But Jesus is right: “There is no need for them to go away.”

And today he says, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Ask!

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”
(Luke 11:5-13)

Scripture Study

11:5 Suppose you have a friend Jesus employs a parable to instruct His disciples to pray with persistence and with faith.

11:6 I have nothing to offer In Israel’s culture of hospitality, hosts were expected to feed their guests.

11:7 my children and I are already in bed The image is one of a single-room house or a dwelling where the sleeping quarters were confined to one room—usually on an elevated platform above the main floor. To meet the friend’s request would cause the entire family to be disturbed.

11:8 because of his persistence Refers to the friend requesting bread. His persistence illustrates how Jesus’ disciples should pray.

11:9 ask With all three commands in this verse, Jesus encourages His followers to anticipate God’s generosity and kindness.

11:10 For everyone who asks receives This is not meant to imply that God will always provide what a petitioner requests.

11:11 what father among you Jesus asks rhetorical questions to set up His closing remark about giving good gifts (Luke 11:13).

11:13 how much more Since sinful parents know how to provide for their children, God can be expected to do abundantly more—even pouring out His Spirit upon His children.

Scripture Reflection

There are two wonderful lessons in the reading. St John Mary Vianney said, “Persevere in prayer. Persevere even when your efforts seem sterile. Prayer is always fruitful. Do you see the effectiveness of prayer when it is done properly? Are you not convinced like me that, if we do not obtain what we ask God for, it is because we are not praying with faith, with a heart pure enough, with enough confidence, or that we are not persevering in prayer the way we should? God has never refused, nor will ever refuse, anything to those who ask for his graces in the way they should.”

The second lesson speaks to the example of human parenthood as a comparison to stress again the wonderful fact that God is our Father, for God’s fatherhood is the source of parenthood in heaven and on earth. St Josemaría Escrivá told us, “The God of our faith is not a distant being who contemplates indifferently the fate of men—their desires, their struggles, their sufferings. He is a Father who loves his children so much that he sends the Word, the Second Person of the most Blessed Trinity, so that by taking on the nature of man he may die to redeem us. He is the loving Father who now leads us gently to himself, through the action of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts.” 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

I Lift Up My Soul

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.

All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O Lord,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
(Psalm 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10)

Scripture Study

86:1–4. The psalmist presents himself to God as a “poor” man who has placed his trust in him, and as a “servant” devoted to his service (cf. Is 42:1). Hence the constant reference to God as “Lord” or “my Lord” (Adonai: vv. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15), in the sense of “my Owner”, “my Master”.

86:5–7. The psalmist knows that God, being who he is, listens to him when he pleads for help, and this conviction, in turn, gives strength to his prayer.

86:8–10. Because the psalmist knows that God listens to him, he gives him praise, acknowledging him to be the only God there is. The Canticle of the saved in Revelation 15:3–4 contains the words of v. 9; there they are credited as “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb”: “All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed” (Rev 15:4). 

Scripture Reflection

What is the psalmist telling us about prayer?

Prayer is the cry of a servant.
Prayer is made in confidence that God will respond.
Prayer is made in confidence that God can help.
Prayer is not based on one’s personal faith alone but on the ancient and continuing confessions of the whole community.
Prayer is the voice of dependence.
Prayer is the voice of trust.

Prayer is the utterance of an identity that is lived out. It is not mere language but brings to expression the role of servant adopted in existence. That is the force of all the self-descriptions in the psalm.

The prayer seeks not only deliverance from trouble but as well help in the formation of the self. The one who prays acknowledges that even his faith and faithfulness depend on the instruction and integration of his soul. Prayer is not only a plea for life, it is a submission of life. The servant can serve only one master. Prayer is the voice of commitment.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

In the Every Day Chaos

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42)

Scripture Study

The story of Martha and Mary further illustrates the importance of hearing the words of the teacher and the concern with women in Luke.

10:38 entered a village Bethany, about half a mile east of Jerusalem (John 11:1).

10:39 sat beside the Lord at his feet the posture of a learning disciple.

10:40 with much serving likely making provisions for Jesus and His followers.

10:41 Martha, Martha the double use of her name serves as a gentle rebuke.

10:42 There is need of only one thing: some ancient versions read, “there is need of few things”; another important, although probably inferior, reading found in some manuscripts is, “there is need of few things, or of one”.

Scripture Reflection

This story of Martha and Mary is often seen as choices between an active life or a contemplative life. We see Martha, who was arranging and preparing the Lord’s meal, busy doing many things, whereas Mary preferred to listen to what the Lord was saying. Some will say that Mary, in a way deserted her sister, who was very busy, and sat herself down at Jesus’ feet and just listened to his words, being obedient to what the Psalm said: ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps 46:10).

Yet our challenge as disciples is to see beyond the either-or nature of this story. An active life forgetful of union with God is useless and barren; but an apparent life of prayer which shows no concern for serving and evangelizing the world through our daily, ordinary actions, also fails to please God. The key for engaged discipleship lies in being able to combine these two lives, without either harming the other.

St Josemaría Escrivá says that “God is calling us to serve him in and from the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life. He waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating room, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work. There is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it. Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday chaos of life, or else we shall never find him.” 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Go and Do Likewise

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:25-37)

Scripture Study

10:25 a scholar of the law: An expert interpreter of the Mosaic Law.

10:27 the Lord … your neighbor: A reference to Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18, which Jesus calls the two greatest commandments of the OT (Mt 22:37–40; Mk 12:28–34).

10:30–37 The parable of the Good Samaritan presents both a moral and a theological lesson. Morally, Jesus teaches that love for our neighbor must accompany our love for God. These together, and not one without the other, are indispensable for living in God’s friendship. Theologically, Jesus illustrates that holiness, as defined by the Old Covenant, is now surpassed by the holiness of the New. The priest and the Levite adhere to Israel’s purity laws, which forbade them from touching the corpses of anyone other than family members (Lev 21:1–3). They therefore chose to preserve their legal purity and so passed by the half dead victim. The Samaritan exemplifies this new standard of holiness, where God no longer requires his people to separate from others, but calls them to extend mercy to everyone in need and exclude no one on the grounds of prejudice, dislike, or even legal uncleanness as defined by the Torah (CCC 1825, 2447). ● The parable recalls a similar story in 2 Chron 28:8–15, where the people of Judah were ravaged and captured by a northern Israelite army. Instead of taking them as prisoners, four men of Samaria had compassion on the Jews. Among their works of mercy, they “anointed” them, put them upon their “donkeys”, and took them peacefully to “Jericho”. ● Allegorically (St. Augustine, De Quaest. Evang. 2, 19): the parable signifies Christ’s restoration of mankind. Adam is the man attacked by Satan and his legions; he is stripped of his immortality and left dead in sin. The priest and the Levite represent the Old Covenant and its inability to restore man to new life. Jesus Christ comes as the Good Samaritan to rescue man from death and brings him to the inn of the Church for refreshment and healing through the sacraments.

10:30 from Jerusalem to Jericho: A 17-mile journey eastward that descends nearly 3,200 feet. Its rough terrain made the roadway a target area for bandits and thieves.

10:35 two silver coins [denarii]: About two days’ wages. It would have paid for several days of lodging.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today is one of the best-known of Jesus’ parables, the story of the Good Samaritan. Every story, parable, illustration, exhortation is, at the end of the day, a picture of the Lord.

In one of the great windows of Chartres Cathedral, there is an intertwining of two stories, the account of the Fall of Mankind and the parable of the Good Samaritan. This reflects a connection that was made by the church fathers. The Good Samaritan is a symbol of Jesus, himself, in his role as savior of the world.

Now our task is to be other Christs. “Which of these three was a neighbor to the man who fell in with the robbers? The one who treated him with compassion”. Jesus says to him, “Go and do the same.”

We spend our lives now looking for those people stranded by the road, victimized by sin. We don’t walk by, indifferent to them, but rather we do what Jesus did. Even those who are our natural enemies, even those who frighten us. And we bring the Church’s power to bear, pouring in the oil and wine of compassion, communicating the power of Christ’s cross.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Expectations

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
(Matthew 21:33-43)

Scripture Study

21:33 planted a vineyard … a tower: cf. Is 5:1–2. The vineyard is defined in Is 5:7 as “the house of Israel.”

21:34–35 his servants: Matthew has two sendings of servants as against Mark’s three sendings of a single servant (Mk 11:2–5a) followed by a statement about the sending of “many others” (Mk 11:2, 5b). That these servants stand for the prophets sent by God to Israel is clearly implied but not made explicit here, but see Mt 23:37. his produce: cf. Mk 12:2 “some of the produce.” The produce is the good works demanded by God, and his claim to them is total.

21:38 acquire his inheritance: if a Jewish proselyte died without heir, the tenants of his land would have final claim on it.

21:39 they seized him … and killed him: the change in the Marcan order where the son is killed and his corpse then thrown out (Mk 12:8) was probably made because of the tradition that Jesus died outside the city of Jerusalem; see Jn 19:17; Heb 13:12.

21:41 They answered: in Mk 12:9 the question is answered by Jesus himself; here the leaders answer and so condemn themselves; cf. Mt 21:31. Matthew adds that the new tenants to whom the vineyard will be transferred will give the owner the produce at the proper times.

21:42 Cf. Ps 118:22–23. The psalm was used in the early church as a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection; see Acts 4:11; 1 Pt 2:7. If, as some think, the original parable ended at Mt 21:39 it was thought necessary to complete it by a reference to Jesus’ vindication by God.

21:43 Peculiar to Matthew. Kingdom of God. Its presence here instead of Matthew’s usual “kingdom of heaven” may indicate that the saying came from Matthew’s own traditional material. A people that will produce its fruit: believing Israelites and Gentiles, the church of Jesus.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, just before his passion and death, Jesus tells the striking story that is our Gospel for today. The fertile vineyard stands for Israel, his chosen people. But it could be broadened out to include the world. What do we learn from this beautiful image? That God has made for his people a place where they can find rest, enjoyment, good work.

We—Israel, the Church, the world—are not the owners of this vineyard; we are tenants. One of the most fundamental spiritual mistakes we can make is to think that we own the world. We are tenants, entrusted with the responsibility of caring for it, but everything that we have and are is on loan. Our lives are not about us.

Christ is God’s judgment. We are all under his judgment. In the measure that we kill him, refuse to listen to him, we place our tenancy in jeopardy. And so the great question that arises from this reading: “how am I using the gifts that God gave me for God’s purposes? My money? My time? My talents? My creativity? My relationships?” All is for God, and thus all is under God’s judgment.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.