Immersed in Christ: October 30, 2020
Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Begin reading Philippians)
The Responsorial Psalm opens our eyes to what God is doing on earth: “How great are the works of the Lord” (Psalm 111).
In Philippians 1: 1-11 Paul is encouraged by the way the Philippians have “continually helped promote the Gospel from the very first day” of their conversion. As soon as they were evangelized they began to evangelize — as prophets, priests and stewards of the kingship of Christ. They were not “passive” Christians thinking they could be “saved” without saving. This told Paul they had truly “got the message.”
Jesus said once, “To all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”1 Paul echoes the positive side of this when he says to his new converts, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Authentic Christianity keeps changing, developing, growing to perfection. Vatican II is explicit about this:
It is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love…. Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection and all must… play their part so that the Church...[and the world] may daily be more purified and renewed.2
So Paul prays with confidence that his converts’ “love may more and more abound, both in understanding and in wealth of experience,” so that they will “learn to value the things that really matter” and labor fruitfully to establish the reign of God on earth. Then, “having produced the harvest of righteousness,” they will be judged faithful stewards when Jesus returns.3
In Luke 14: 1-6 Jesus deals with the “lawyers and the Pharisees,” members of the “Pharisee party” in every age, whose religion focuses more on keeping rules than on bearing fruit. They don’t react to the man suffering from dropsy, and they refuse to answer when Jesus asks them, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” Any normal person would say, “Well, duh; it’s self-evident.” But they (and the little Pharisee our culture has grown in all of us) actually believe God prefers observance of the rules over healing people’s hurts. This is to be unfaithful stewards by focusing on the words, rather than on the will, of the master. When “love abounds” and we obey rules with understanding and insight into God’s heart, we show “How great are the works of the Lord.”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Seek growth in love and understanding.
1 Luke 19:26.
2 The Church no. 40. (see also nos, 32 & 39); Decree on Ecumenism, no. 4.
3 Matthew 9: 37-38; 21: 28-43.
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