10.08.2022 — Exclusive Paradoxes

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St.Lawrence, Saturday – 10thAugust 2022 — Gospel: Jn 12,24-26

Exclusive Paradoxes

Lawrence was a deacon in Rome under Pope Sixtus II during the third century. He did his diaconate ministry in taking care of the poor and sick believers, whom he considered as the real treasures of the Church. He and four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian. He was martyred by being “roasted” to death over hot fire and coals. Lawrence was unafraid to fall into the ground and die, like the grain of wheat. In doing so, he became like his Lord and Master Jesus Christ. The church built over his tomb became one of the seven principal churches in Rome and a favourite place for Roman pilgrimages.

Jesus’ words apply to everyone who wants to follow Him. He assumes that we all want to save our lives. But He applies paradoxes to life: losing for gaining, dying for living, denying for following, present times for eternity. He tells us that the way to save our lives is to lose them for His sake and the gospel’s. And He’s talking about saving or losing our lives eternally. Therefore, He says, hate your life in this world if you want to follow Me, serve Me, and be with Me forever. Jesus is the ultimate model (12,24). He is the grain of wheat that fell into the ground, died and bore much fruit. By giving His life as a ransom for many, He continues to bear much fruit. The sure mandate to imitate Him is by hating one’s lives in this world (12,25). The phrase “in this world” means to live for “your best life now”. It also means to live for the same things people in this world love to live for. “Hating your life” means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake. Jesus says this is the only way to gain eternal life. He is referring to the daily, lifelong process to self as we live for Him. Jesus, Paul and Martyrs endured hardships in this life for the promised eternal life. The reason for doing it is to be with Jesus and to be honoured by the Father (12,26).  Jesus here doesn’t say that He will be with us. Rather, He says that we will be with Him. Finally He promises that the Father will honour us; it is an honour given to those who have faithfully served His Son.

09.08.2022 — Service for the Abandoned

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19th Week in Ord. Time, Tuesday – 9th August 2022 — Gospel: Mt 18,1-5,10-14

Service for the abandoned

The disciples, especially the leaders, can give scandal simply by neglecting or despising the weak members. Jesus the good shepherd (9,36; 15,24) has carefully avoided giving scandal (17,27), and he calls upon his followers to do the same. From the negative theme of scandal the evangelist then turns to the positive theme of how the disciples should care for the little ones who stray. Jesus stresses the unique value of each disciple in the eyes of God. God’s providential care, expressed here in terms of a ‘guardian angel’, is personal and intimate. Jewish theology had developed the idea of the guardian angel; but the rabbis also held that only the highest of angels could see God’s face, i.e., have direct access to the divine presence. Thus, Jesus declares that it is the highest type of angels who watch over the little ones, who plead their cause before God, the Father and who are at the service of the weak and despised. The disciples, like the shepherd and the guardian angel, should experience more joy in actively saving the endangered sheep than in passively tending the sheep who are safe.

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