Readings & Reflections: Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time & St. John Paul II, October 22,2014
Poet, philosopher, priest, Karol Wojtyla (1920-2005) was born in Poland an served as pope for 28 years. Rooted in the conviction that Christ reveals man to himself, his apostolic witness included trips to 129 countries, the eloquent defense of family life, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“Lord, you are faithful even when I fail. Help me to remain ever faithful to you and to not shrink back when I encounter difficulties. Make me diligent in the exercise of my responsibilities and wise and prudent in the use of my gifts, time and resources.” Amen.
Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation,
as I have written briefly earlier.
When you read this
you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
which was not made known to human beings in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit,
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same Body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace
that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the Church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.
Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6
R. (see 3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – The riches of Christ
Saint Paul preached to the Gentiles the “inscrutable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8 God entrusted to him a task that did not end in his lifetime. It was handed down to all generations so that every man may have the chance of knowing our Lord Jesus and in Him achieve the fullness of life. God expected Saint Paul and all believers who shall follow after him, to contribute their fair share in expanding His kingdom so that every man may have the chance of knowing Him and experiencing His love through Christ which is beyond measure.
This job was entrusted to us when Jesus said: “Go into the world and proclaim the good news to all creation.” Luke 16:15 It is also stated in Acts 1:8: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, yes even to the ends of the earth.” And in Matthew 5:16, Jesus said:“ Your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.”
When we speak of stewardship, most often our focus is made on wealth, riches and anything that is tangible. But today God is speaking to us about the true kind of wealth, one that is not limited to currency, acreage, power and influence. One that neither moth nor rust can corrode nor thieves can break in and steal. He is speaking of the riches and the true wealth we all have in Christ and His Word.
Christ as God’s gift to us flows from the loving provision of the Father and our role is to be sensible, faithful stewards. God gave His all to us, even the gift of Himself. What have we done to God’s gift to us? What He has given to us for free, have we shared with God’s people or have we kept it within the enclosures of our selfish hearts? Have we done our share of opening up to the Spirit and allow His work in us so that our character may be formed according to Christ?
We are caretakers of God’s Word and it’s a great privilege to be counted among those who have been asked to be fruitful in His Name. With such privilege, comes our responsibility. What have we done for our Heavenly Father in terms of bringing His Word to the world and being His witness? Jesus reminds us today, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
Let us conduct a self-examination and ask ourselves how we have allowed the Spirit to work in us. The Spirit is calling us now to face ourselves while time is still in our favor.
We are accountable to our Heavenly Father. None of us can escape that fact. On judgment day all of us have to answer to our Lord. Not just somebody else, but me and you.
Let us open our hearts to the mighty action of the Spirit as accountability from a Christian perspective at the present time is not meant for punishment, but for growth in God’s grace. How well have we cared for God’s people within our community? How well have we shared Christ with others? How well have we all grown in His grace? Our goal is to become more like the One to whom we ultimately are to give our account. Let us resolve to be faithful to our calling as His disciples and servants and bear fruit.
Bring God’s Word to friends and family, acquaintance and co- worker. Be a shining example of our Lord. Live in the Spirit and be transformed.
Heavenly Father, I pray that You will continue to use me as your vessel of love, mercy and healing despite my shortcomings and failure to be totally faithful to You. In Jesus, I pray Amen.
Reflection 2 – Use It Or Lose It
Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. –James 1:22
I once came across an article that was titled “National Geographic, The Doomsday Machine.” It humorously stated that National Geographic magazine will soon doom the American continent to a watery grave because no one ever throws it away. Issue after issue piles up in attics and basements all over America. In time, the accumulation of heavy paper will trigger earthquakes in California, sink coal-mining towns, and precipitate mud slides. Especially hard hit will be large cities where subscribers cluster.
This lighthearted idea has a serious spiritual counterpart in people who accumulate God’s Word in their minds. The tendency is to store up and file scriptural truth in our heads, but that isn’t enough. James reminded us that we must be doers of the Word, not just hearers (1:22). Jesus spoke of the need to put His words into practice (Lk. 12:41-48). Understanding the Scriptures makes us responsible to put its truths into action. It’s all too easy to have a “save it” rather than a “use it” attitude.
The Lord hasn’t made His Word available just to give us interesting reading. He’s preparing us for action. If we ignore this truth, we’ll find out on judgment day that taking God’s Word lightly carries weighty consequences. — Mart De Haan
No truth of God stored in the mind
Will ever meet our needs
Until that truth gives birth to faith
And faith gives birth to deeds. –DJD
It’s a heavy responsibility to own a Bible (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).
Reflection 3 – The struggle of our spiritual life
In Romans 6:12-18, Paul speaks about the power of sin. He refers not simply to individual acts but to sin as though it were a foreign power or virus inside us with its own momentum which we cannot control. Even though we are baptized into the Lord Jesus, the residual effects of the extracted power of sin remain in us. They are somewhat like the phantom feelings that remain when a limb is removed. The battle between sin and grace continues in our bodies and lives. Much like a habit that we think we have under control, we find that it surfaces again when we least expect it. We are constantly reminded of the holding power of sin. Baptism does not immunize us from those residual effects. For this reason, our prayer life and spiritual life need constant attention not only because old tendencies tend to resurface but also because special moments of grace-filled revelation can come unexpectedly as well. What shall we do then for our spiritual life?
In his sermon, St. Augustine of Hippo wrote: “Once and for all, a short rule is laid down for you: Love, and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love… Let the root of love be within. From such a root nothing but good can come.” As St. Paul points out that freed by grace and the gift of Christ’s resurrection, we are slaves no longer of sin, but of justice. To the extent that we manifest that grace in our daily lives, our actions will reflect the love and justice from which they spring.
For Paul, love and justice always involves more than the individual and his or her relationship with God. It is the believing community that passes on the gospel, beliefs and traditions through which we have been freed of our sins and set on a path of justice. And may we discern those specific ways in which we are called to love and do what we will for the sake of justice and on behalf of the powerless, the forgotten, and those without hope.
Let us always hope that the Lord comes to us unexpectedly even in crisis. It really is a warning against our complacency to do God’s will as His faithful servant as the subject of today’s gospel (Lk 12:39-48). Such admonition of Jesus is necessary not because the Holy Spirit is weak but because, unlike the Lord, we are not completely transparent to God’s power. We have pocket of resistance in our lives. This is the reason why we become the battleground and a place of struggle.
The fact that we experience the struggle of the spiritual life is not a sign of failure but of success. Those who are totally closed to God’s Spirit have given up the struggle. (Source: Rev. Joseph Krempa. Daily Homilies. Vol. I. New York: Alba House, 1985, pp. 201-202; Anthony J. Schulte. Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, October 21, 2009).
Reflection 4 – The Son of Man will come
Jesus teaches his disciples to be ready for our encounter with him at the moment of death and to be ready for his second coming.
Yesterday we listened to Jesus compare his disciples to servants waiting for the master’s return from a marriage feast. The servants who are vigilant and welcome the master are seated at table and served by the master when he returns. When Jesus knocks at the door, we must open the door to him.
Just like the householder does not know when a thief may strike, we do not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return. Saint Cyril of Alexandria interprets the three watches of the night to three stages in our lives: childhood, youth-adulthood and old age. “The first of these, in which we are still children, is not called to account by God but is deemed worthy of pardon, because of the innocence as yet of the mind and the weakness of the understanding. The second and the third – the periods of adulthood and old age – owe obedience and piety of life to God, according to his good pleasure. Whoever is found watching and well-belted, whether by change he is still young or has arrived at old age, shall be blessed. For he will be counted worthy of attaining to Christ’s promise” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 92)
Today, Jesus compares the apostles to domestic servants who are charged with various duties in the household of God’s kingdom. The royal tasks entrusted to them must be fulfilled diligently before Christ’s sudden return (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament, 133). Unfaithful stewards neglect their duties and are punished. To whom much is given, much will be required.
In short, watchfulness, diligence, service, fidelity leads to the joy of heaven; carelessness, laziness, greed and infidelity leads to punishment for sin.
Saint Paul exemplifies the characteristics of the good and faithful servant. He is watchful and allows himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit. He is diligent, even working to sustain himself and not burden the Christian communities with whom he stays. He serves tirelessly and sees his life as being for the service of the Gospel. Today, he calls his ministry “stewardship”, since it has been entrusted to him by God and given to him for the benefit of the people he serves. Finally, he is faithful, faithful to Christ and to the mission he has been given.
Not only is Paul a steward of the mysteries of God, he is a minister and servant (diakonos). Paul serves the Gentile Christians by communicating to them the mysteries of salvation, mysteries revealed to the Apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. This plan of salvation includes the Gentiles, who, in Jesus Christ and through the Gospel, have been made coheirs of the promises made to Israel and members of the Body of Christ. This inheritance is eternal life.
Reflection 5 – Much will be required
“It is within the everyday world that you, the laity, must bear witness to God’s Kingdom; through you the Church’s mission is fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Council taught that the specific task of the laity is precisely this: to “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging to the plan of God.” You are called to live in the world, to engage in secular professions and occupations, to live in those ordinary circumstances of family life and life in society from which is woven the very web of your existence. You are called by God himself to exercise your proper functions according to the spirit of the Gospel and to work for the sanctification of the world from within, in the manner of leaven. In this way you can make Christ known to others, especially by the witness of your lives. It is for you as lay people to direct all temporal affairs to the praise of the Creator and Redeemer.
“The temporal order of which the Council speaks is vast. It encompasses the social, cultural, intellectual, political, and economic life in which all of you rightly participate. As lay men and women actively engaged in this temporal order, you are being called by Christ to sanctify the world and to transform it. This is true of all work, however exalted or humble, but it is especially urgent for those whom circumstances and special talent have placed in positions of leadership or influence: men and women in public service, education, business, science, social communications, and the arts. As Catholic lay people you have an important moral and cultural contribution of service to make to the life of your country. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much (Lk 12.48). These words of Christ apply not only to the sharing of material wealth or personal talents, but also to the sharing of one’s faith” (Source: St. John Paul II, Magnificat, Vol. 16, No.8, October 2014, pp. 317-318).
Reflection 6 – St. John Paul II (1920-2005 A.D.)
“Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978.
Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.
Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin.
Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong!
He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to itsPastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later.
Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations.
He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria.
The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope.
“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, Redeemer of the Human Race. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.”
His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that.
One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.
In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people.
In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities.
Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1949
Before John Paul II’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square, hundreds of thousands of people had waited patiently for a brief moment to pray before his body, which lay in state inside St. Peter’s for several days. The media coverage of his funeral was unprecedented.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then dean of the College of Cardinals and later Pope Benedict XVI, presided at the funeral Mass and concluded his homily by saying: “None of us can ever forget how, in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi [‘to the city and to the world’].
“We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
In his 1999 Letter to the Elderly, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Grant, O Lord of life,…when the moment of our definitive ‘passage’ comes, that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope….Amen.”
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