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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

Saturday, October 28, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for Saturday, 29th Week of Ordinary Time:

(Feast Day reflection; daily reflection follows).

Lectionary no. 666 (Eph 2: 19-22; Ps 19: 2-3, 4-5; Lk 6: 12-16)

The Responsorial (Psalm 19) declares “Their message goes out through all the earth.” Those who carry it are driven by nurtured desire: “Give us this day our daily bread.” What they have been given, they want to give.

The spirit of Ephesians 2:19-22 is that of the Rite of Communion: a spirit of basking in what is while looking forward to what will be. We relish the fruit of Christ’s victory now, and rejoice in the fullness his Kingdom will have when God reigns throughout the world.

What Paul describes is already a fact for his hearers: “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” That is what we are. It is a mystery that invites “endless exploration.” We need to think about it until we appreciate it.

Paul also alerts us to action that is taking place right now, that we are called to be consciously involved in: “You form a building which... is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in him you are being built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.” Construction is under way. We are the construction workers.

The Rite of Communion has this double focus: simultaneously we are resting and being launched. We sit in “sacred silence” after Communion, assimilating the Bread of the banquet of the Lamb, absorbed in the foretaste of heaven we are experiencing right now. The assembly is deeply, consciously “one body” from receiving the “one bread.” This is all we desire, “Give us this day”—or in Luke 11:13, “Give us each day”—the “daily bread” of experiencing union with Christ. Let him be for us our daily bread. He who is satisfying our desire is inflaming it. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry”—except for the Bread itself, which we can never get enough of. After a while, he is all we desire (John 6:35).

At the same time, we are being moved and motivated, as stewards of what we have received, to give what we have tasted to the whole world. We cannot pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and then, when we receive it, not want to give it in turn to everyone who is hungry. Through this desire, “Their message goes out through all the earth.”

Luke 6:12-16 lists the “twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” that are written on the “twelve foundations” of the Church “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” These are the witnesses chosen by Jesus himself to be with him “during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” “Their message goes out through all the earth.” We are the stewards of this message, charged to be faithful in continuing it (Revelation 21:14; Ephesians 2:19-20; Acts 1:21-22).

Action: Make your prayer “Give us the Bread.” And give it to others.

Daily Reflection

Focus on Bearing Fruit by Grace

Lectionary no. 478 (Rom 8:1-11; Ps 24; Lk 13: 1-9)

The Responsorial verse tells us: “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face” (Psalm 24). This longing is an experience of the Holy Spirit in us.

In Romans 8: 1-11 Paul is teaching us that without grace, even if we are instructed about right and wrong and able to see the reasonableness of what God’s law requires, we are unable to keep from violating his law — not because we are not free, but because we are “weakened by the flesh.” All the “roots of sin” inside us — Pride, Envy, Avarice, Anger, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth — drag us down. Cultural conditioning “programs” us to false values, distorted attitudes and destructive desires. External forces in the environment entice or intimidate us. Left to our own resources, we just don’t have a chance.

“To set the mind on the flesh” — on what the “world” offers us — “is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” By giving us his Spirit with grace, “Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death.” What the guidance of the law alone “was powerless to do, this God has done” by sending his Son to give us the gift (grace) of sharing in God’s own divine life, and sending his Spirit into our hearts to guide and empower us. So we place our hope, not in our efforts to live by God’s law, but in the gift of the Spirit who empowers us to live on the level of God himself. That is why our focus as Christians must be, not on laws or law-observance, but on interaction with the living person of Jesus Christ. To be “faithful stewards” we must take responsibility for keeping the Church focused on the person of Jesus. “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.”

In Luke 13: 1-9 Jesus dismisses the idea that calamities are explicit punishments from God. Many, perhaps most, disasters are the natural consequence of sin; so, yes, Jesus says, “If you do not repent”; that is, make a radical turnabout in attitude, values, policies, practices and behavior, “you will all perish.” We see this happening: the shortsighted greed of our country is, in many cases, destroying the environment, polluting the atmosphere, increasing poverty at home and abroad, arousing such hatred in terrorists that they will kill themselves to kill us, and squandering billions on war. When we pay the price for this, it will not be God’s punishment but the fruit of our sin. And it will be because we have not been faithful stewards. Under our communal care the “fig tree” that is the Church has not been bearing sufficiently the fruit of grace, because we are not as we should be “the people that longs to see your face.”

Action: Be Christ’s steward. Focus the Church on bearing fruit by grace.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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