Offended

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
(Matthew 18:15-20)

Scripture Study

18:15 Your brother: a fellow disciple; see Mt 23:8. The bracketed words, against you, are widely attested but they are not in the important codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus or in some other textual witnesses. Their omission broadens the type of sin in question. Won over: literally, “gained.”

18:16 Cf. Dt 19:15.

18:17 The church: the second of the only two instances of this word in the gospels; see note on Mt 16:18. Here it refers not to the entire church of Jesus, as in Mt 16:18, but to the local congregation. Treat him … a Gentile or a tax collector: just as the observant Jew avoided the company of Gentiles and tax collectors, so must the congregation of Christian disciples separate itself from the arrogantly sinful member who refuses to repent even when convicted of his sin by the whole church. Such a one is to be set outside the fellowship of the community. The harsh language about Gentile and tax collector probably reflects a stage of the Matthean church when it was principally composed of Jewish Christians. That time had long since passed, but the principle of exclusion for such a sinner remained. Paul makes a similar demand for excommunication in 1 Cor 5:1–13.

18:18 Except for the plural of the verbs bind and loose, this verse is practically identical with Mt 16:19b and many scholars understand it as granting to all the disciples what was previously given to Peter alone.

18:19–20 Some take these verses as applying to prayer on the occasion of the church’s gathering to deal with the sinner of Mt 18:17. Unless an a fortiori argument is supposed, this seems unlikely. God’s answer to the prayer of two or three envisages a different situation from one that involves the entire congregation. In addition, the object of this prayer is expressed in most general terms as anything for which they are to pray.

18:20 For where two or three … midst of them: the presence of Jesus guarantees the efficacy of the prayer. This saying is similar to one attributed to a rabbi executed in a.d. 135 at the time of the second Jewish revolt: “… When two sit and there are between them the words of the Torah, the divine presence (Shekinah) rests upon them” (Pirqê ’Abôt 3:3).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us to speak directly to a person who has offended us. I know it is exceptionally difficult, but going to the person directly is both productive and spiritually up-lifting. It has at least a fighting chance of accomplishing something, and it confirms you in love.

Suppose the person blows you off, even lashes out at you. You are then encouraged to bring “one or two others” into the conversation. Perhaps the person will see the point and get over his defensiveness.

Now suppose he doesn’t listen even to this group? Then tell your church. Today, we might say the pastor and his team or perhaps some of the leading families in the parish. Suppose he doesn’t listen even to the church? Then the Lord recommends ongoing compassion and prayer: “treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” But remember how Jesus relates in love to Gentiles and tax collectors. Finally, the wonderful word on prayer: “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Pray together with one or two others for the conversion of a sinner.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

Lord of the Sabbath

While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath,
his disciples were picking the heads of grain,
rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.
Some Pharisees said,
“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you not read what David did
when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering,
which only the priests could lawfully eat,
ate of it, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
(Luke 6:1-5)

Scripture Study

6:1 sabbath: Under the Old Covenant, every seventh day (Saturday) was set aside for worship and rest; and no man, woman, slave, or beast was permitted to work (Gen 2:3; Ex 20:8–11; Deut 5:12–15). By NT times, Sabbath observance was greatly emphasized as a symbol of Israel’s unique relationship with God. The Pharisees made Sabbath observance a benchmark of Jewish faithfulness and added a multitude of precepts that differentiated between lawful and unlawful behavior. Even the slightest infraction of these Sabbath standards would bring one’s religious commitment into question in the eyes of the Pharisees. Jesus, though frequently accused of disregarding the Sabbath, acts out the true meaning of the Sabbath by restoring and giving rest to suffering individuals on this day.

6:2 unlawful: The Pharisees equate plucking grain with harvesting it. In their view, the disciples violated God’s commandment to abstain from gathering crops (Ex 34:21).

6:3 Have you not read: The question is intentionally sarcastic and would be taken as an insult by the well-educated Pharisees. what David did: Jesus appeals to a scriptural precedent from 1 Sam 21:1–6. ● The legal exception once made for King David and his men to eat holy bread permits Jesus and his disciples to eat grain on the holy day of Sabbath. In both cases the strict regulations of the Torah were allowed to bend to meet a pressing need (hunger) and to serve the anointed king of Israel (David and Jesus).

6:4 the bread offering: Twelve cakes of bread were replaced weekly in the Temple (Ex 25:30). When new loaves were set out on the Sabbath, Levitical priests ate the old ones (Lev 24:5–9). David and his men were permitted to breach this Levitical legislation by eating the bread reserved only for priests (1 Sam 21:6).

6:5 Son of man: Hints at Jesus’ messianic authority.

Scripture Reflection

Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus is portrayed as violating the sacred command to rest on the seventh day. For example, he often cures on the Sabbath, much to the dismay of the protectors of Jewish law.

And then in today’s Gospel, after his disciples pick grain on the Sabbath, Jesus declares himself “Lord of the Sabbath.” It’s hard to express how breathtaking this claim would be for a first-century Jew to make. Yahweh alone could be assigned the title “Lord of the Sabbath,” so what is Jesus implying?

In short, he is claiming that he is above their rituals, even perhaps the defining practice of pious Jews, because he is the Lord. Thus the rules must be placed in subordination to the kingdom of God, the kingdom that the Lord Jesus is ushering in even here and now.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

Chosen Above All Women

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
(Matthew 1:18-23)

Scripture Study

1:18 Betrothed to Joseph: betrothal was the first part of the marriage, constituting a man and woman as husband and wife. Subsequent infidelity was considered adultery. The betrothal was followed some months later by the husband’s taking his wife into his home, at which time normal married life began.

1:19 A righteous man: as a devout observer of the Mosaic law, Joseph wished to break his union with someone whom he suspected of gross violation of the law. It is commonly said that the law required him to do so, but the texts usually given in support of that view, e.g., Dt 22:20–21 do not clearly pertain to Joseph’s situation. Unwilling to expose her to shame: the penalty for proved adultery was death by stoning; cf. Dt 22:21–23.

1:20 The angel of the Lord: in the Old Testament a common designation of God in communication with a human being. In a dream: see Mt 2:13, 19, 22. These dreams may be meant to recall the dreams of Joseph, son of Jacob the patriarch (Gn 37:5–41:19). A closer parallel is the dream of Amram, father of Moses, related by Josephus (Antiquities 2, 9, 3; (par.) 212, 215–16).

1:21 Jesus: in first-century Judaism the Hebrew name Joshua (Greek Iēsous) meaning “Yahweh helps” was interpreted as “Yahweh saves.”

1:23 God is with us: God’s promise of deliverance to Judah in Isaiah’s time is seen by Matthew as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, in whom God is with his people. The name Emmanuel is alluded to at the end of the gospel where the risen Jesus assures his disciples of his continued presence, “… I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). 

Scripture Reflection

In celebrating the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary today, we recognize that she was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus and by extension the Mother of all human beings. This role she played and has continued to play even as she is in heaven with God. She took good care of Jesus from birth until death and she never faltered in her maternal role.

Mary was focused on her mission and she played her role well till the end. She gave birth to a Son who was focused also and played His role, of bringing us salvation, till the end. So today we enjoy the liberation and salvation He has given us by virtue of His suffering, death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

Like Mary, we have all been chosen by God to fulfill different purposes in life. We must be ready to let Him work in us and through us to bring the purpose of which He has chosen us to full realization. We must give God a chance in our lives and we must let Him rule and guide us. We must be ready to do God’s will at all times and God will be glorified and praised through our service.

– Fr. Austin Eleke

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

Fishers of Men

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.
(Luke 5:1-11)

Scripture Study

5:1 lake of Gennesaret: Also called the Sea of Galilee (Mt 4:18) or the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 6:1).

5:5 at your command: Though exhausted from a night of unsuccessful fishing, Peter places his faith in Christ, despite the apparent odds against catching anything.

5:8 I am a sinful man: Peter’s imperfections seem magnified to him in the presence of divine holiness (Gen 18:27; Is 6:5; CCC 208).

5:10 James and John: Zebedee’s sons enjoy a close relationship with Jesus (8:51; 9:28). you will be catching men: Peter’s occupation points to his future mission, when Christ will send him and the other apostles to preach the gospel (Mt 28:18–20; Jn 21:15–17). Peter himself will play a leading role among the Twelve (22:31, 32; Acts 1:15–20; 2:14–40; 15:7–11).

5:11 they left everything: Luke’s Gospel stresses that Christian discipleship demands a loose attachment to worldly possessions and a willingness to part with them if necessary (5:28; 12:33; 14:33; 18:22).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel gives us the story of the miraculous draught of fishes. In many ways, the whole of the spiritual life can be read off of this piece.

Without being invited, Jesus simply gets into the fisherman’s boat. This is to insinuate himself in the most direct way into Simon’s life. And without further ado, he begins to give orders, first asking Simon to put out from the shore and then to go out into the deep. This represents the invasion of grace. The single most important decision that you will ever make is this: Will you cooperate with Jesus once he decides to get into your boat?

In many ways, everything else in your life is secondary, is commentary. When the Lord Jesus Christ gets into your boat, he will always lead you to the depths. Duc in altum, as St. John Paul II loved to quote. More dangerous? Yes. More exciting? Yes.

Now mind you, the depths we’re talking about here are spiritual depths. The excitement we’re talking about is the true excitement that comes from spiritual transformation. The depths have nothing to do with what the world considers important or exciting.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

The Healer

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon.
Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.”
But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak
because they knew that he was the Christ.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.
But he said to them, “To the other towns also
I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God,
because for this purpose I have been sent.”
And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
(Luke 4:38-44)

Scripture Study

4:38 The house of Simon: because of Luke’s arrangement of material, the reader has not yet been introduced to Simon (cf. Mk 1:16–18, 29–31). Situated as it is before the call of Simon (Lk 5:1–11), it helps the reader to understand Simon’s eagerness to do what Jesus says (Lk 5:5) and to follow him (Lk 5:11).

4:41 They knew that he was the Messiah: that is, the Christ.

4:42 They tried to prevent him from leaving them: the reaction of these strangers in Capernaum is presented in contrast to the reactions of those in his hometown who rejected him (Lk 4:28–30).

4:44 In the synagogues of Judea: instead of Judea, which is the best reading of the manuscript tradition, the Byzantine text tradition and other manuscripts read “Galilee,” a reading that harmonizes Luke with Mt 4:23 and Mk 1:39. Up to this point Luke has spoken only of a ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Luke may be using Judea to refer to the land of Israel, the territory of the Jews, and not to a specific portion of it.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in our Gospel we see Jesus in action. He is always hurrying from place to place, on the go. Today Luke gives us a sort of “day in the life” of Jesus. And it is quite a day! Our Gospel opens just after the dramatic expulsion of a demon in the Capernaum synagogue. And after entering the house of Simon, Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law and then the entire town comes to his door. He spends the whole evening curing presumably hundreds who were variously afflicted.

In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, in an attempt to make Jesus more palatable to rationalists and “realists,” theologians put great stress on Jesus’ preaching, especially his ethical teaching.

But this is not the Jesus that Luke presents. Rather, he is a healer. Soter, rendered in Latin as Salvator, which just means “the bearer of the salus” or health. Jesus is portrayed as a healer, a savior. In him, divinity and humanity have come together; in him, the divine life and divine power are breaking through. God’s deepest intentions for his beloved creatures appears—what God plans for us in the Kingdom to come is now historically anticipated.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

Authority and Power

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
(Luke 4:31-37)

Scripture Study

4:31 Capernaum: The headquarters of Jesus’ Galilean ministry (Mt 4:13; Mk 2:1). The town lies on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee and thrived on its fishing industry.

4:34 What have you to do with us?: This verse may seek to show that Jesus did not work miracles to help his family and friends, as in the apocryphal gospels.

Have you come to destroy us?: the question reflects the current belief that before the day of the Lord control over humanity would be wrested from the evil spirits, evil destroyed, and God’s authority over humanity reestablished. The synoptic gospel tradition presents Jesus carrying out this task.

4:36 with authority and power: Many popular exorcists during NT times recited long incantations and used odorous roots to expel demons (Wis 7:20; Mt 12:27; Acts 19:13). Jesus, however, merely speaks a word and the spirits depart. Exorcism played a pivotal role in his campaign against Satan’s kingdom (4:41; 8:28–29; 9:42; 11:14–20) (CCC 550).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus teaches in the synagogue at Capernaum. One of the things that he comes to do is to teach, for at the root of our troubles and our suffering is a powerful clouding of the mind. What is it like to be in the same room with Jesus? “The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”

“Astonished” is a pretty strong word. But we have to understand the tenor of the time. When a Jewish rabbi would speak, he would reference his teacher—another rabbi—who in turn had learned from another rabbi and he by another and so on. Finally, appeal would be made, implicitly or otherwise, to Moses, who had received the word and commandments of God on Mt. Sinai.

What makes Jesus’ teaching so striking—apart from the content, which is striking enough—is his manner of teaching. He doesn’t appeal to Rabbi “so and so” and finally back to Moses. He teaches on his own authority. The Greek word here is instructive (exousia), meaning “from his own being”. He moves through his public life, Chesterton said, like a lightning bolt.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

Mission Statement

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
(Luke 4:16-30)

Scripture Study

4:16 Nazareth: Jesus’ boyhood home (2:51). See note on Lk 1:26. synagogue: A small building used for worship and instruction in the Bible. Sabbath services were structured around the reading and exposition of the Law of Moses (Acts 15:21) and the prophets (4:17; Acts 13:15).

4:18–19 A reference to Is 61:1–2, with an additional excerpt from Is 58:6. Since many during NT times expected the Messiah to liberate Israel from the political domination of the Romans, the townspeople mistakenly thought these passages promised their national independence (CCC 439). ● Isaiah’s oracle picks up the language of Lev 25 regarding the jubilee year. As part of Israel’s economic legislation, a jubilee was celebrated every 50 years. It signaled the remission of debts, the release of slaves, and the return of ancestral property to its original family owners. Isaiah projects this jubilee celebration into the future when God will come to release Israel from its slavery (idols) and debt (guilt). Jesus follows the spirit of Isaiah when he announces liberation from sin, not from political or economic subjugation (Rom 6:6).

4:18 good news to the poor: Christ reserves many blessings for the lowly and powerless (1:52; 6:20; 14:12–14; 16:19–26; 18:1–8; 19:8–10; CCC 544, 2443).

4:22 Joseph’s son?: People naturally considered Jesus the offspring of Joseph, unaware of his virginal conception by the Holy Spirit (1:34–35; 3:23). The Nazarenes were skeptical about Jesus’ credentials and felt he was unqualified to inaugurate Israel’s national liberation (Mk 6:1–3).

4:24 no prophet is acceptable: Jesus places himself in the company of the OT prophets, many of whom were rejected and even killed by fellow Israelites (11:47; 13:33–34; Acts 7:52).

4:25–30 Jesus recalls the mission of Elijah and Elisha to explain his own. ● These prophets lived during dark times, when God looked unfavorably upon the northern kingdom of Israel and sent blessings to the Gentiles instead. Elijah was sent to a widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:1–16), and Elisha cleansed a Syrian leper (2 Kings 5:1–14). Jesus declares that the “acceptable year of the Lord” (4:19) will likewise be a time of blessing, even outside of Israel. This collided with Jewish perspectives that anticipated only punishment for Gentile nations.

Scripture Reflection

The words of Isaiah which Christ read out on this occasion describe very graphically the reason why God has sent his Son into the world—to redeem men from sin, to liberate them from slavery to the devil and from eternal death. Christ worked miracles not so much to release the people concerned from suffering, as to demonstrate that he had a God-given mission to bring everyone eternal redemption.

The Church carries on this mission of Christ to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:19–20).

These simple and sublime words point out the obligation of all the baptized to preach the truths of faith, the need for a sacramental life, and the promise of Christ’s continual assistance to his Church. It is with this mandate that Christ founded his Church so that it can bring salvation to souls – only if she remains faithful to Christ in her teaching.

– Curtis Mitch

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

A Living Sacrifice

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:1-2)

Scripture Study

12:1 mercies of God: Divine mercy is a leading theme in the preceding chapters (9:15–16, 18, 23; 11:30–32). living sacrifice: Sacrificing the body means putting to death the deeds of the flesh (8:13) so that our members can become instruments of righteousness (6:13). Virtues associated with the body are probably in view (chastity, temperance, etc.). ● The body is made a sacrifice when the eye looks at nothing evil, the tongue says nothing filthy, and the hand does nothing lawless. More than this, the hand must give alms; the mouth must bless the one who curses; and the ear must listen to the reading of Scripture (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 20). spiritual worship: Or, “rational worship”, that is, service to God that is proper to man as a rational and spiritual being. There may be an implied contrast with the sacrifice of irrational animals under the Old Covenant.

12:2 Do not be conformed: Because worldly wisdom and values are often deformed (1:21, 28), Christians must allow God to transform them into the image of Christ (8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). The grace of the Spirit enables us to interpret our lives and evaluate the influences of our culture with respect to the gospel. In all things, God’s will should be the central object of our discernment, for it alone is pleasing and perfect (CCC 2520, 2826).

Scripture Reflection

In the New Testament Christians are clearly called to offer sacrifices to God—no longer sacrifices of animals, as in the Old Law, but offerings of themselves. This new kind of worship must take a spiritual form, as Jesus told the Samaritan woman, rather than a purely material form. It must be something living, holy, not merely external and formal, and pleasing to God. It is by the apostolic preaching of the Gospel that the people of God is called together and gathered so that all who belong to this people, sanctified as they are by the Holy Spirit, may offer themselves ‘a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.’

From this it follows that the whole Christian life and the struggle which it implies are imbued with deep priestly significance: “If I renounce everything I possess, if I carry the cross and follow Christ, I have offered a holocaust on the altar of God. Or if I burn up my body in the fire of charity, I have offered a holocaust on the altar of God; if I mortify my body and abstain from all concupiscence, if the world is crucified unto me and not me unto the world, then I have offered a holocaust on the altar of God and I am become a priest of my own sacrifice” (Origen).

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

Give Your Gift Away

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”
(Matthew 25:14-30)

Scripture Study

25:14 It will be as when … journey: literally, “For just as a man who was going on a journey.” Although the comparison is not completed, the sense is clear; the kingdom of heaven is like the situation here described. Faithful use of one’s gifts will lead to participation in the fullness of the kingdom, lazy inactivity to exclusion from it.

25:15 Talents: The talent was a unit of coinage of high but varying value depending on its metal (gold, silver, copper) and its place of origin.

25:18 Buried his master’s money: In the unsettled conditions of Palestine in Jesus’ time, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them in the ground.

25:20–23 Although the first two servants have received and doubled large sums, their faithful trading is regarded by the master as fidelity in small matters only, compared with the great responsibilities now to be given to them. The latter are unspecified. Share your master’s joy: probably the joy of the banquet of the kingdom; cf. Mt 8:11.

25:26–28 Wicked, lazy servant: this man’s inactivity is not negligible but seriously culpable. As punishment, he loses the gift he had received, that is now given to the first servant, whose possessions are already great.

25:29 In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom,” the reference transcends the original level. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive”).

25:30 Matthew inserts into the story a Q saying (see Lk 13:28–29) about the entrance of Gentiles into the kingdom and the exclusion of those Israelites who, though descended from the patriarchs and members of the chosen nation refused to believe in Jesus. There will be wailing and grinding of teeth: the first occurrence of a phrase used frequently in this gospel to describe final condemnation.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel gives us the challenging parable of the talents. A man goes on a journey, but before leaving he entrusts his money to three of his servants. To one he gives five talents, to a second, two and to a third, one.

The first man trades with the five talents. The second does the same, and both receive a rich return on their investment. The third man cautiously buries his talent. When the owner returns, he praises the first two servants and gives them greater responsibilities, but the third man he upbraids.

Jesus loved to use examples drawn from the world of business. And he especially liked this dynamic of investment as a model of the spiritual life. The reason is clear, and I’ve said it to you often. God exists in gift form. Therefore, if you want his life in you, you have to learn to give it away. Think of the talents as everything that we’ve received from God—life, breath, being, and powers. Because they come from God, they are meant to become gifts. If you cling to them, in the manner of the third servant, they don’t grow; in fact, they wither away.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

Preparation

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
(Matthew 25:1-13)

Scripture Study

25:1 Then: at the time of the parousia. Kingdom … will be like is a warning to the disciples not to attempt to anticipate the final judgment of God by a definitive exclusion of sinners from the kingdom. In its present stage it is composed of the good and the bad. The judgment of God alone will eliminate the sinful. Until then there must be patience and the preaching of repentance.

25:2–4 Foolish … wise: cf. the contrasted “wise man” and “fool” of Mt 7:24, 26 where the two are distinguished by good deeds and lack of them, and such deeds may be signified by the oil of this parable.

25:11–12 Lord, Lord: cf. Mt 7:21. I do not know you: cf. Mt 7:23 where the Greek verb is different but synonymous.

25:13 Stay awake: some scholars see this command as an addition to the original parable of Matthew’s traditional material, since in Mt 25:5 all the virgins, wise and foolish, fall asleep. But the wise virgins are adequately equipped for their task, and stay awake may mean no more than to be prepared; cf. Mt 24:42, 44. 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today is the parable that compares the kingdom of heaven with ten virgins who with their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom. This is an image borrowed from the customs of the time. The bridesmaids would wait for the groom and, upon his appearance, would accompany him.

Well, this is the Christian community, waiting for Christ the groom to arrive. Did Jesus tell this parable because he knew that his church would be in for a long period of waiting?

We are wise in our waiting if we pray on a regular basis, if we educate ourselves in the faith, if we participate in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, if we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, if we become people of love. We are foolish in our waiting if we neglect these things.

And here is one of the hardest truths of this parable: the divine life, so cultivated, cannot simply be shared with another at the last minute. The wise virgins are not being difficult and self-absorbed when they tell their friends that they can’t help them. A saint can’t simply infuse his life into another; it just doesn’t work that way.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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