21.09.2023 — Divine Outlook

Posted under Reflections on September 21st, 2023 by

St. Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist, Thursday – 21stSeptember 2023 — Gospel: Mt 9,9-13

Divine Outlook

The Gospel presents Mathew’s version of Jesus calling a tax-collector to be a disciple. The tax collectors have a very poor reputation in the Gospel. They were considered traitors to the Jewish people since they worked for the Romans, the “oppressors” of God’s chosen people. So, they were seen both as renegades and traitors. They are numbered among the groups of outcasts with whom no decent person would have any contact. Even Jesus, when speaking of members of the Christian community who refuse to change their sinful ways, would compare them to tax collectors, “… let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector” (Mt 18,17). The ordinary Jew would not even converse with one such as this. But Jesus invites such a person to be his disciple. This tells a number of things about Jesus. It means that he does not look at stereotypes. He does not neglect, rather looks at him optimistically and sees his potential. In inviting him to be his close follower and apostle, to carry out Jesus’ mission to the end of the world, he manifests his divine nature. For Jesus, our past is not very important. What counts is where we are now and where we can be in the future.

19.09.2023 — Leadership Reputations

Posted under Reflections on September 19th, 2023 by

24th Week in Ord. Time, Tuesday – 19th September 2023 – 1 Tim 3,1-13; Gospel: Lk 7,11-17

Leadership Reputations

The first reading expresses requirements for two different levels of church leadership. These are men, who are placed in high leadership positions within the church. The first are “elders” also known as pastors, bishops, or overseers (1 Tim 5,17; 1 Pet 5,1; Eph 4,11). These men are to be experienced Christians, respectable, capable teachers, with a good reputation and a well-ordered family life. The second group are “servants”, or deacons, (Acts 6,2.4) who share many of the same expectations of the elders. However, unlike elders, deacons are not necessarily called on to teach. They are expected to be “tested” prior to taking on their role. The focus here is on the character sketch of the person, rather than the position. Authority and ministry in the community are always seen in terms of service rather than control.  As 1 Pet 5,2 states, church leaders are to be those who help others “not under compulsion, but willingly.” However, those who desire it desire a good thing. Two Greek words for aspire/desire are used here. The first is oregetai, emphasizing an internal or private desire. The other is epithymei, emphasizing an external or overt desire.

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