Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lord, You Give Back To Everyone According To Their Works.

First Reading
Romans 2:1-11

You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.
For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.
We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.

Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things
and yet do them yourself,
that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience
in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God
would lead you to repentance?

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,
you are storing up wrath for yourself
for the day of wrath and revelation
of the just judgment of God,
who will repay everyone according to his works,
eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality
through perseverance in good works,
but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth
and obey wickedness.

Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyone
who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone
who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
There is no partiality with God.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 62:2-3, 6-7, 9

R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Only in God is my soul at rest;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all.

R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.

R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!

R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Luke 11:42-46

The Lord said:
“Woe to you Pharisees!
You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,
but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.
These you should have done, without overlooking the others.

Woe to you Pharisees!
You love the seat of honor in synagogues
and greetings in marketplaces.
Woe to you!
You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
“Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

+++ +++ +++ +++

The “seats of honor” in the synagogue faced the congregation, and those who sat there were visible to everyone. The Pharisees loved to sit right up front, so everyone could see how pious they were. Jesus also calls the front seats the perfect place – for hypocrites. The Pharisees’ religious practice was superficial, in the strict sense of the word: it was about surfaces. Jesus once said, “If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

Today’s first reading, from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, touches on another facet of hypocrisy, reminding us that “by judging others, you condemn yourself”. Most of us, when we were infants, received baptism, and became members of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”. Yet, when the Church receives new members who, as grownups or teenagers, belonged to other communities of Christians, they are welcomed into the Catholic Church without being baptized again. Clearly, that signifies that they became members of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” when they were first baptized. As Christians, we believe in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God IS Truth, the absolute fullness of truth is an aspect of God’s nature (as IS the fullness of justice, of mercy, and of love). We humans, by our very nature, are imperfect beings. We cannot know the fullness of truth until (and unless) we are welcomed into the heavenly presence of God at the end of our natural lives. From the perspective of divine justice, God has ever reason to deny some of us (perhaps most of us, even all of us) entry into Heaven because of our sinfulness. If that does not happen, it is because the fullness of God’s justice is exercise in the fullness of God’s mercy and love.

One of the legal experts said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, what you are saying is insulting us, too!” He answered, “Woe also to you, scholars! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but do not lift one finger to help them." Jesus reminds those of us who administer the law, and interpret it for his people – and in doing so, reminds all of us – that our mission as members of Christ’s Church, is to reflect the “theological” virtues – the three which are the mirrors of God, faith, hope and love – in our own lives. I believe that God will give me the graces I need to do his will on earth. I hope that I will cooperate with God’s grace well enough to be admitted to heaven, and to help my brothers and sisters to achieve that goal. Finally, I keep reminding myself that God’s charity is exercised in mercy, and mercy in forgiveness, and that I must strive to emulate God’s charity if I am ever to be welcomed into His eternal above. For the measure I measure out will be measured back to me.

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