Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Hilarion, October 21,2016
The hypocrite is one so obsessed with self-made preconceptions that he becomes desensitized to sincerity, to tenderness, to genuine self-sacrifice. His hardened heart prevents him from judging what is right. Christ present in “the present time” moves us to live with humility, gentleness, patience. We remain attentive, not to our self-will, but to the one “who is over all and through all in all.”
“Lord, change my heart and my life that I may fully live for you. Help me to choose what is right and to turn away from every sin and from every attachment to worldliness which keeps me from loving and serving you wholeheartedly.” Amen.
Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
through the bond of peace;
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
The word of the Lord.
Ps 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face
Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is.
You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – How to interpret the present times? Let us imagine a young teenage girl who is alone by herself in her parents’ home in the middle of the night when suddenly the fire alarm goes off. Instead of reacting positively and checking what was wrong, she decides to pretend that she is not hearing the loud noise. She buries herself under the comforter and places her two pillows on her head. The signs of trouble and a big fire in their home were so prominent yet she never reacted to them. One can only conclude the consequence of such reaction. If she does not move fast enough, total destruction will be upon their home. Death would also not be too far behind.
During the time of Jesus, the people whom he ministered to were like this young teenage girl, they were naïve and callous to His works and teachings. Despite the exhortations and invitation of Jesus, they appeared to be deaf. They never listened to Him neither did they have the heart to accommodate and listen to what He had for them. Their eyes were blind to every miracle and to every good thing He did. They seemed to have tucked themselves tight in their blanket of arrogance and covered themselves with too much pride, that to see and hear Jesus was quite impossible, much more follow Him.
“Why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”
Today’s gospel invites us to meditate and reflect on our very own attitude and disposition towards God’s word and the coming of His kingdom. It alerts us on how we have responded to the teachings of our Lord Jesus. Have we been faithful to our covenant relationship with our God that should death come upon us in the middle of the night, would we be ready to face our Creator? Or are we living a life of sin that death could catch us unprepared?
As we journey back home, it is quite necessary that as we abide by our Lord’s will for us. We also need to settle every account that separated us from Him. In the context of community life, our Lord is asking us to confront and address community conflicts which have polarized the general membership.
Let us then be encouraged by the closing exhortation of today’s gospel. ”If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? or who may stand in his holy place? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.
Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.
Heavenly Father, remove every stain of sin in my soul so that I may always see You, hear You and abide in You. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – Confused? Pay attention!
What big question about your life do you have? In today’s Gospel, we’re reminded that we already have the answer! We know how to interpret the signs of nature; therefore we have the ability to discern what God is doing in our lives and in the world.
Are you surprised that you have this ability? If you’re a person of prayer, constantly dialoging with God about everything that happens, the Holy Spirit is explaining to you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Trust this process!
Are you worried about the future? We don’t need to go to fortune tellers (which is a sin; see Deut. 18:10-12), and we don’t need to seek out holy visionaries, because if we pay attention, God makes his will clear – not every detail of his plan, but certainly his will for today, one step at a time as we move forward in the fulfillment of that plan.
However, we get confused if we listen to the desires of our own will when it contradicts God’s, or if we listen to the voices of logic when God doesn’t make sense, or if we trust the half-truths and lies that are spoken by Fear.
The portents are plainly evident. We can eliminate a lot of aggravation and misdirected decisions and mistake-laden frustrations, not to mention sins and self-inflicted sufferings, if we pay attention to the multiple ways that God is delivering his guidance to us.
If we take note of the signs of the times, through the Holy Spirit we can discern the good changes that are approaching. When hardships are hardest and the dark night is darkest, a new dawn is going to arise, and probably soon. When evil attacks us with greater vengeance, it’s because the devil knows his time is short, praise Jesus! But if we focus on the problems and not on Jesus, we continue to feel frustrated and dissatisfied and frightened. We create our own misery!
The most important observation to make is the condition of our own soul. Jesus says, “Why not judge for yourselves what is right?” The answer is already within us, because the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth – has been living in us since our baptism.
If you don’t already have one, find a spiritual director, i.e., a priest or religious or qualified lay person who can help you read the signs of your life. Your local parish or diocesan center probably has a list of available spiritual directors. But first, pray for discernment about which person the wind of the Spirit is blowing you toward!
God doesn’t want us to be confused. He certainly won’t ignore our need for the truth. He always answers our questions – and we hear him if we but pay attention (Source: Terry A. Modica, Good News Ministries http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2016-10-21 ).
Reflection 3 – Heed the warning signs before it is too late to act
How good are you at reading warning signs? Jesus expects his disciples to accurately read the signs of the times! Seafarers and farmers know the importance of spotting weather conditions for safe travel and planting. A lot of effort is made today, with the help of science and technology, to discern potential natural dangers, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earth quakes, and erupting volcanoes, so that people can be warned to take shelter before disaster hits.
Don’t miss God’s kingdom and power to transform your life
Our need for accurately discerning the spiritual condition and moral climate around us is vital if we want to avert spiritual crisis and moral disaster. The Lord is ready to transform our lives by offering us his kingdom of righteousness (moral goodness), peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). – But we can miss it if we allow a permissive attitude that takes sin lightly or puts off repairing wrongdoing before it is too late to get reconciled with God.
Jesus used a very vivid illustration of a threatening lawsuit to show the urgency of settling a bad case outside of court before a worse sentence could passed against us. Why did the neighbor in Jesus’ story make an effort to come to an agreement with his adversary before the matter was sent to court for judgment? The accused knew that he had a bad case which would likely go against him in court. He quickly tried to come to an agreement with his adversary to avoid receiving a worse sentence of being thrown into prison and given a costly fine as well.
Jesus will set us free and fill us with the Holy Spirit
We all stand in need of God’s mercy, grace, and protection. The Lord Jesus is our physician and healer and he is ready to set us free from any sinful patterns of thinking, acting, and speaking. If we give our lives over to him he will fill us with his Holy Spirit and give us a new heart and a transformed mind that is filled with his truth, love, and goodness. If you want lasting peace and joy with God, then allow the Lord Jesus to transform every area of your life, your home, your work, your relationships, and possessions so that he may truly be the Lord and Giver of abundant life. Are you ready to surrender all to him – and to receive all from him?
“Lord Jesus, flood my heart with your love and free me from all that would keep me from doing your will. Transform my mind that I may discern what is right and choose what is good and pleasing to you.”
Reflection 4 – To read weather signs
Today’s Gospel opens with our human ability to read weather signs. When I was growing up, I always knew when rain was coming because the wind would blow north, bringing the stench of the stockyards. But if Jesus’ crowds are so good at predicting the weather, why don’t they know how to interpret the present time, that is, what Jesus was doing among them? As Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” Yes, these miracles, many fulfilling OT expectations, constitute the time to which Jesus refers. What prevents the crowds from recognizing immediately the true meaning of these signs and making a true judgment in Jesus’ regard?
This Gospel’s second part exhorts believers to make prudent judgments. About to be hauled before the judge, a person recognizes his mistake and pleads with his accuser. Seek reconciliation with your enemies while you can. On the level of divine judgment, however, this passage prods reflection about believers who will soon approach God the judge. They need to settle accounts with God for their debts. Prisons, even debtors’ prisons, were not comfortable places, and how could an accused person in prison pay the last penny?
Let me sum up the contrasts we preachers have been seeing so far this week: Ephesians (4:1-6) enthusiastically celebrates God’s gifts of love and reconciliation between those near and far away. On the other hand, the readings from Luke underscore the seriousness of the call received by believers, who will be held responsible for gifts received. Indeed, God’s grace is both free and costly.
Reflection 5 – St. Hilarion (c. 291-371 A.D.)
Despite his best efforts to live in prayer and solitude, today’s saint found it difficult to achieve his deepest desire. People were naturally drawn to Hilarion as a source of spiritual wisdom and peace. He had reached such fame by the time of his death that his body had to be secretly removed so that a shrine would not be built in his honor. Instead, he was buried in his home village.
St. Hilarion the Great, as he is sometimes called, was born in Palestine. After his conversion to Christianity he spent some time with St. Anthony of Egypt, another holy man drawn to solitude. Hilarion lived a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert, where he also experienced spiritual dryness that included temptations to despair. At the same time, miracles were attributed to him.
As his fame grew, a small group of disciples wanted to follow Hilarion. He began a series of journeys to find a place where he could live away from the world. He finally settled on Cyprus, where he died in 371 at about age 80.
Hilarion is celebrated as the founder of monasticism in Palestine. Much of his fame flows from the biography of him written by St. Jerome.
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1175
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Thabatha, south of Gaza in Syria Palaestina
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BY ERA OR CENTURY
The chief source of information regarding Hilarion is the biography written by St. Jerome. The life of Hilarion was written by Jerome in 390 at Bethlehem. Its object was to further the ascetic life to which he was devoted. It contains, amidst much that is legendary, some statements which attach it to genuine history, and is in any case a record of the state of the human mind in the 4th century. 
Hilarion was born in Thabatha, south of Gaza in Syria Palaestina of pagan parents. He successfully studied rhetoric with a Grammarian in Alexandria. It seems that he was converted to Christianity in Alexandria. After that, he shunned the pleasures of his day—theatre, circus and arena—and spent his time attending church. According to St. Jerome, he was a thin and delicate youth of fragile health.
Beginnings of monastic Life
After hearing of Saint Anthony, whose name (according to St. Jerome), “was in the mouth of all the races of Egypt” Hilarion, at the age of fifteen, went to live with him in the desert for two months. AsAnthony‘s hermitage was busy with visitors seeking cures for diseases or demonic affliction, Hilarion returned home along with some monks. At Thabatha, his parents having died in the meantime, he gave his inheritance to his brothers and the poor and left for the wilderness.
Time at Majoma
Hilarion went to the area southwest of Majoma, the port of Gaza, that was limited by the sea at one side and marshland on the other. Because the district was notorious for brigandage, and his relatives and friends warned him of the danger he was incurring, it was his practice never to abide long in the same place. With him he took only a shirt of coarse linen, a cloak of skins given to him by St. Anthony, and a coarse blanket. He led a nomadic life, and he fasted rigorously, not partaking of his frugal meal until after sunset. He supported himself by weaving baskets.
Hilarion lived a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert, where he also experienced spiritual dryness that included temptations to despair. Beset by carnal thoughts, he fasted even more. He was “so wasted that his bones scarcely held together” (Jerome): According to St.Jerome:
|“||So many were his temptations and so various the snares of demons night and day, that if I wished to relate them, a volume would not suffice. How often when he lay down did naked women appear to him, how often sumptuous feasts when he was hungry! (Jerome, Life of St Hilarion, 7)||”|
He finally built a hut of reeds and sedges at the site of modern-dayDeir al-Balah in which he lived for four years. Afterwards, he constructed a tiny low-ceilinged cell, “a tomb rather than a house”,where he slept on a bed of rushes, and recited the Bible or sang hymns. He never washed his clothes, changed them only when they fell apart and shaved his hair only once a year. He was once visited by robbers, but they left him alone when they learned that he did not fear death (and had nothing worth stealing, anyway).
Saint Jerome describes his diet as a half a pint of lentils moistened with cold water, and after three years he switched to dry bread with salt and water. Eventually, perceiving his sight to grow dim and his body to be subject to an itching with an unnatural roughness, he added a little oil to this diet.
After he had lived in the wilderness for 22 years, he became quite famous in Syria Palaestina. Visitors started to come, begging for his help. The parade of petitioners and would-be disciples drove Hilarion to retire to more remote locations. But they followed him everywhere. First he visited Anthony’s retreat in Egypt. Then he withdrew to Sicily, later to Dalmatia, and finally to Cyprus. He died there in 371.
Miracles were attributed to him. His first miracle was when he cured a woman from Eleutheropolis (a Roman city in Syria Palaestina) who had been barren for 15 years. Later, cured three children of a fatal illness, healed a paralysed charioteer, and expelled demons.
In time, a monastery grew around his cell, which was so beset by visitors, especially females, that Hilarion fled.
- Kirsch, Johann Peter. “St. Hilarion.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Jan. 2013
- Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited by Kevin Knight
- Butler, Rev. Alban, The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, Vol.III
- Foley O.F.M., Leonard, Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons, and Feasts, (rev. Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franscican Media
- “Saint Hilarion”, Saint Stories For All Ages, Loyola Press