• 1

Janet D'Souza

1) Opening prayer

Father of everlasting goodness,
our origin and guide,
be close to us
and hear the prayers of all who praise You.
Forgive our sins and restore us to life.
Keep us safe in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 15:21-28

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me." He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour.

3) Reflection

Context. The bread of the children and the great faith of a Canaanite woman is the theme presented in the liturgical passage taken from chapter 15 of Matthew, who proposes to the reader of his Gospel a further deepening of faith in Christ. The episode is preceded by an initiative of the Pharisees and scribes, who go down to Jerusalem and cause a dispute to take place with Jesus, but which did not last long, because He, together with His disciples, withdrew to go to the region of Tyre and Sidon. While He is on the way, a woman from the pagan region comes to Him. This woman is presented by Matthew by the name of “a Canaanite woman” who, in the light of the Old Testament, is presented with great harshness. In the Book of Deuteronomy the inhabitants of Canaan were considered people full of sins: evil and idolatrous people.
• The dynamic of the account. While Jesus carries out His activity in Galilee and is on the way toward Tyre and Sidon, a woman comes up to Him and begins to bother Him with a petition for help for her sick daughter. The woman addresses Jesus using the title “Son of David,” a title which sounds strange pronounced by a pagan and that could be justified because of the extreme situation in which the woman finds herself. It could be thought that this woman already believes in some way, in the person of Jesus as final Savior, but this is excluded because it is only in v. 28 that her act of faith is recognized precisely by Jesus. In the dialogue with the woman Jesus seems to show that distance and diffidence which reigned between the people of Israel and the pagans. On one side Jesus confirms to the woman the priority for Israel to have access to salvation, and before the insistent prayer of His interlocutor Jesus seems to withdraw, to be at a distance; an incomprehensible attitude for the reader, but in the intention of Jesus it expresses an act of pedagogical value. To the first invocation “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David” (v. 22) Jesus does not respond. To the second intervention, this time on the part of the disciples, who invite Him to listen to the woman’s prayer, He only expresses rejection that stresses that secular distance between the chosen people and the pagan people (vv. 23b-24). But at the insistence of the prayer of the woman who bows before Jesus, a harsh and mysterious response follows: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs” (v. 26). The woman goes beyond the harsh response of Jesus’ words and gets a small sign of hope: the woman recognizes that God’s plan being carried out by Jesus initially concerns the chosen people, and Jesus asks the woman to recognize that priority; the woman takes advantage of that priority to present a strong reason to obtain the miracle: “Ah yes, Lord, but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27). The woman has exceeded the test of faith: “Woman, you have great faith” (v. 28); in fact, to the humble insistence of her faith corresponds a salvific gesture.
This episode addresses an invitation to every reader of the Gospel to have that interior attitude of “openness” toward everyone, believers or not, that is to say, availability and acceptance without distinction toward all people.

4) Personal questions

• The disturbing word of God invites you to break open your smugness and all of your small plans. Are you capable of accepting all the brothers and sisters who come to you?
• Are you aware of your poverty to be able, like the Canaanite woman, to entrust yourself to Jesus’ word of salvation?

5) Concluding Prayer

Lord, do not thrust me away from Your presence;
do not take away from me Your spirit of holiness.
Give me back the joy of Your salvation,
sustain in me a generous spirit. (Ps 51:11-12)

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

A few days earlier, Jesus had said that he, the Son of Man, had to be tried and crucified by the authorities (Lk 9:22; Mk 8:31). According to the information in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the disciples, especially Peter, did not understand what Jesus had said and were scandalised by the news (Mt 16:22; Mk 8:32). Jesus reacted strongly and turned to Peter calling him Satan (Mt 16:23; Mk 8:33). This was because Jesus’ words did not correspond with the ideal of the glorious Messiah whom they imagined. Luke does not mention Peter’s reaction and Jesus’ strong reply, but he does describe, as do the other Evangelists, the episode of the Transfiguration. Luke sees the Transfiguration as an aid to the disciples so that they may be able to overcome the scandal and change their idea of the Messiah (Lk 9:28-36). Taking with him the three disciples, Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and, while he is praying, is transfigured. As we read the text, it is good to note what follows: “Who appears with Jesus on the mountain to converse with him? What is the theme of their conversation? What is the disciples’ attitude?”

b) A division of the text as an aid to the reading:

i) Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis
ii) Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer
iii) Luke 9:30-31: The appearance of the two men and their conversation with Jesus
iv) Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction
v) Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice

c) The text:

Luke 9:28-36

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" - not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What pleased you most in this episode of the Transfiguration? Why?
b) Who are those who go to the mountain with Jesus? Why do they go?
c) Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain next to Jesus. What is the significance of these two persons from the Old Testament for Jesus, for the disciples for the community in the 80s? And for us today?
d) Which prophecy from the Old Testament is fulfilled in the words of the Father concerning Jesus?
e) What is the attitude of the disciples during this episode?
f) Has there been a transfiguration in your life? How have such experiences of transfiguration helped you to fulfil your mission better?
g) Compare Luke’s description of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Lk 9:28-36) with his description of the agony of Jesus in the Garden (Lk 22:39-46). Try to see whether there are any similarities. What is the significance of these similarities?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

a) The context of Jesus’ discourse:

In the two previous chapters of Luke’s Gospel, the innovation brought by Jesus stands out and tensions between the New and the Old grow. In the end, Jesus realised that no one had understood his meaning and much less his person. People thought that he was like John the Baptist, Elijah or some old prophet (Lk 9:18-19). The disciples accepted him as the Messiah, but a glorious Messiah, according to the propaganda issued by the government and the official religion of the Temple (Lk 9:20-21). Jesus tried to explain to his disciples that the journey foreseen by the prophets was one of suffering because of its commitment to the excluded and that a disciple could only be a disciple if he/she took up his/her cross (Lk 9:22-26). But he did not meet with much success. It is in such a context of crisis that the Transfiguration takes place.
In the 30s, the experience of the Transfiguration had a very important significance in the life of Jesus and of the disciples. It helped them overcome the crisis of faith and to change their ideals concerning the Messiah. In the 80s, when Luke was writing for the Christian communities in Greece, the meaning of the Transfiguration had already been deepened and broadened. In the light of Jesus’ resurrection and of the spread of the Good News among the pagans in almost every country, from Palestine to Italy, the experience of the Transfiguration began to be seen as a confirmation of the faith of the Christian communities in Jesus, Son of God. The two meanings are present in the description and interpretation of the Transfiguration in Luke’s Gospel.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis
On several occasions Jesus entered into conflict with the people and the religious and civil authorities of his time (Lk 4:28-29; 5:21-20; 6:2-11; 7:30.39; 8:37; 9,9). He knew they would not allow him to do the things he did. Sooner or later they would catch him. Besides, in that society, the proclamation of the Kingdom, as Jesus did, was not to be tolerated. He either had to withdraw or face death! There were no other alternatives. Jesus did not withdraw. Hence the cross appears on the horizon, not just as a possibility but as a certainty (Lk 9:22). Together with the cross there appears also the temptation to go on with the idea of the Glorious Messiah and not of the Crucified, suffering servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (Mk 8:32-33). At this difficult moment Jesus goes up the mountain to pray, taking with him Peter, James and John. Through his prayer, Jesus seeks strength not to lose sense of direction in his mission (cf. Mk 1:35).

Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer
As soon as Jesus starts praying, his appearance changes and he appears glorious. His face changes and his clothes become white and shining. It is the glory that the disciples imagined for the Messiah. This transformation told them clearly that Jesus was indeed the Messiah expected by all. But what follows the episode of the Transfiguration will point out that the way to glory is quite different from what they imagined. The transfiguration will be a call to conversion.

Luke 9:30-31: Two men appear speaking with Jesus
Together with Jesus and in the same glorious state there appear Moses and Elijah, the two major exponents of the Old Testament, representing the Law and the Prophets. They speak with Jesus about “the Exodus brought to fulfilment in Jerusalem”. Thus, in front of the disciples, the Law and the Prophets confirm that Jesus is truly the glorious Messiah, promised in the Old Testament and awaited by the whole people. They further confirm that the way to Glory is through the painful way of the exodus. Jesus’ exodus is his passion, death and resurrection. Through his “exodus” Jesus breaks the dominion of the false idea concerning the Messiah spread by the government and by the official religion and that held all ensnared in the vision of a glorious, nationalistic messiah. The experience of the Transfiguration confirmed that Jesus as Messiah Servant constituted an aid to free them from their wrong ideas concerning the Messiah and to discover the real meaning of the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction
The disciples were in deep sleep. When they woke up, the saw Jesus in his glory and the two men with him. But Peter’s reaction shows that they were not aware of the real meaning of the glory in which Jesus appeared to them. As often happens with us, they were only aware of what concerned them. The rest escapes their attention. “Master, it is good for us to be here!” And they do not want to get off the mountain any more! When it is question of the cross, whether on the Mount of the Transfiguration or on the Mount of Olives (Lk 22:45), they sleep! They prefer the Glory to the Cross! They do not like to speak or hear of the cross. They want to make sure of the moment of glory on the mountain, and they offer to build three tents. Peter did not know what he was saying.
While Peter was speaking, a cloud descended from on high and covered them with its shadow. Luke says that the disciples became afraid when the cloud enfolded them. The cloud is the symbol of the presence of God. The cloud accompanied the multitude on their journey through the desert (Ex 40: 34-38; Nm 10:11-12). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he was covered by a cloud and they no longer saw him (Acts 1:9). This was a sign that Jesus had entered forever into God’s world.

Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice
A voice is heard from the cloud that says: “This is my Son, the Chosen, listen to him”. With this same sentence the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed the Messiah-Servant (Is 42:1). First Moses and Elijah, now God himself presents Jesus as the Messiah-Servant who will come to glory through the cross. The voice ends with a final admonition: “Listen to him!” As the heavenly voice speaks, Moses and Elijah disappear and only Jesus is left. This signifies that from now on only He will interpret the Scriptures and the will of God. He is the Word of God for the disciples: “Listen to him!”
The proclamation “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him” was very important for the community of the late 80s. Through this assertion God the Father confirmed the faith of Christians in Jesus as Son of God. In Jesus’ time, that is, in the 30s, the expression Son of Man pointed to a very high dignity and mission. Jesus himself gave a relative meaning to the term by saying that all were children of God (cf. John 10:33-35). But for some the title Son of God became a resume of all titles, over one hundred that the first Christians gave Jesus in the second half of the first century. In succeeding centuries, it was the title of Son of God that the Church concentrated all its faith in the person of Jesus.

c) A deepening:

i) The Transfiguration is told in three of the Gospels: Matthew (Mt 17:1-9), Mark (Mk 9:2-8) and Luke (Lk 9:28-36). This is a sign that this episode contained a very important message. As we said, it was a matter of great help to Jesus, to his disciples and to the first communities. It confirmed Jesus in his mission as Messiah-Servant. It helped the disciples to overcome the crisis that the cross and suffering caused them. It led the communities to deepen their faith in Jesus, Son of God, the One who revealed the Father and who became the new key to the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets. The Transfiguration continues to be of help in overcoming the crisis that the cross and suffering provoke today. The three sleeping disciples are a reflection of all of us. The voice of the Father is directed to us as it was to them: “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him!”

ii) In Luke’s Gospel there is a great similarity between the scene of the Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36) and the scene of the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Lk 22:39-46). We may note the following: in both scenes Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and takes with him three disciples, Peter, James and John. On both occasions, Jesus’ appearance is transformed and he is transfigured before them; glorious at the Transfiguration, perspiring blood in the Garden of Olives. Both times heavenly figures appear to comfort him, Moses and Elijah and an angel from heaven. Both in the Transfiguration and in the Agony, the disciples sleep, they seem to be outside the event and they seem not to understand anything. At the end of both episodes, Jesus is reunited with his disciples. Doubtless, Luke intended to emphasise the resemblance between these two episodes. What would that be? It is in meditating and praying that we shall succeed in understanding the meaning that goes beyond words, and to perceive the intention of the author. The Holy Spirit will guide us.

iii) Luke describes the Transfiguration. There are times in our life when suffering is such that we might think: “God has abandoned me! He is no longer with me!” And then suddenly we realise that He has never deserted us, but that we had our eyes bandaged and were not aware of the presence of God. Then everything is changed and transfigured. It is the transfiguration! This happens every day in our lives.

6. Psalm 42 (41)

“My soul thirsts for the living God!”

As a hart longs for flowing streams,
so longs my soul for thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me continually, "Where is your God?"
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me,
therefore I remember thee from the land of Jordan
and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts;
all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love;
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
"Why hast thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
"Where is your God?"

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

1) Opening prayer

Father of everlasting goodness,
our origin and guide,
be close to us
and hear the prayers of all who praise You.
Forgive our sins and restore us to life.
Keep us safe in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves." He said to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves." But they said to him, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." Then he said, "Bring them here to me," and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over– twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

3) Reflection

• Context. Chapter 14 of Matthew, which contains the account of the multiplication of the loaves, provides an itinerary that guides the reader in a progressive discovery of faith in Jesus: from the lack of faith on the part of His fellow countrymen to the acknowledgment of the Son of God, passing through the gift of bread. The fellow citizens of Jesus marvel at His wisdom but do not understand that this is what acts behind His works. Besides, having a direct knowledge of Jesus’ family, of His mother, of His brothers, and of His sisters, they only succeed in seeing in Him His human condition alone: He is the son of the carpenter. Not being understood in His own home town, from now on, Jesus will live in the midst of His people, to whom He will give all His attention and His solidarity, healing and feeding the crowds.
• The dynamic of the account. Matthew has carefully narrated the episode of the multiplication of the loaves. The episode is enclosed between two expressions of transition in which he tells us that Jesus withdrew (“separated Himself”) from the crowds, from the disciples, from the boat (vv.13-14; vv.22-23). Verse 13 does not only serve as transition but offers us the reason why Jesus went to a deserted place. Such a device serves to create the environment in which the miracle takes place. The evangelist concentrates the account on the crowd and on Jesus’ attitude in regard to the crowd.
• Jesus was moved deeply to pity. At the moment when Jesus arrives He finds Himself before a crowd awaiting Him; on seeing the crowd He took pity on them and healed their sick. This is a “tired and depressed crowd, for they were like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36; 20:34). The verb that expresses Jesus’ compassion is really meaningful: “Jesus’ heart was broken”; and this corresponds to the Hebrew verb that expresses maternal visceral love. This is the same sentiment experienced by Jesus before the tomb of Lazarus (Jn 11:38). Compassion is the subjective aspect of the experience of Jesus that becomes effective with the gift of the bread.
• The gift of the bread. The account of the multiplication of the loaves is opened with the expression, “when evening came” (v.15) that will introduce the account of the Last Supper (Mt 26:20) and also that of the burial of Jesus (Mt 27:57). In the evening, then, Jesus invites the Apostles to feed the crowd. In the middle of the desert, far away from the villages and from the cities, Jesus and the disciples find themselves before a very big human problem: to feed the big crowd that follows Jesus. They cannot take care of this task to provide for the material needs of the crowd without the power of Jesus. Their immediate response is to send the crowd back home. In the face of human limitations Jesus intervenes and works the miracle satisfying the hunger of all the people who follow Him. To feed the crowd is Jesus’ response, from His heart which breaks in the face of a very concrete human need. The gift of the bread is not only sufficient to satisfy the crowd but it is so superabundant that it becomes necessary to gather what was left over. In v.19b we can see that Matthew gave a Eucharistic significance to the episode of the multiplication of the loaves: “He raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing, and breaking the loaves He handed them to His disciples”; the role of the disciples is also made evident in their function of mediation between Jesus and the crowd: “and the disciples distributed to the crowd” (v.19c). The gestures that accompany the miracle are identical to those that Jesus will fulfill later, on the “night when He was betrayed”. He raised his eyes, blessed the bread and breaks it. From here comes the symbolic value of the miracle: it can be considered an anticipation of the Eucharist. On the part of Jesus, feeding the crowds is “a sign” that He is the Messiah and that He prepares a banquet of joy for all humanity. The disciples learn from Jesus, who distributes the bread to them, the value of sharing. A symbolic gesture that contains a real fact that goes beyond the episode itself and is projected on the future: in our daily Eucharistic celebration, where we relive that gesture of the broken bread, it is necessary that it be multiplied throughout the whole day.

4) Personal questions

• Do you try to extend gestures of solidarity toward those who are close to you or who are close to you along the journey of life? In the face of very concrete problems of your friends or relatives, do you know how to offer your help and your availability to collaborate to find a solution?
• Before breaking the bread, Jesus raised His eyes to heaven: do you know how to thank the Lord for the daily gift of bread? Do you know how to share your goods with others, especially with the poorest?
• Do you share your life with the poorest (as well as immigrants) or just share from your excess? Do you know of their lives personally or just from the news, statistics, or the internet?

5) Concluding Prayer

Keep me far from the way of deceit,
grant me the grace of Your Law.
Do not deprive me of that faithful word,
since my hope lies in Your judgments. (Ps 119:29,43)

1. Let us recollect ourselves in prayer – Statio

We are here before You, O Holy Spirit; we feel the weight of our weakness, but we have all gathered here in Your name; come to us, help us, come to our hearts; teach us what we should do, show us the path that we should follow, fulfill what You ask of us. You alone be the one to suggest and to guide our decisions, because You alone, with God the Father and with the Son, have a holy and glorious name; do not allow justice to be hurt by us, You who love order and peace; may ignorance not cause us to deviate; may human sympathy not render us partial, nor charges or people influence us; keep us close to You so that we may not drift away from truth in anything; help us, we who are meeting in Your name, to know how to contemplate goodness and tenderness together, so as to do everything in harmony with You, in the hope that by the faithful fulfillment of our duty we may be given the eternal reward in the future. Amen.

Luca 12, 13-21

2. Prayerful reading of the Word – Lectio

Of the Gospel according to Luke:

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

3. To ponder the Word – Meditatio

3.1. Key to the reading:

The text of the liturgy for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time forms part of a long discourse from Jesus on trust in God, which drives away every fear (Lk 12:6-7), and on abandonment to God’s providence (Lk 12:22-23). The passage for today, in fact, is precisely between these two texts. Here are some of the teachings given by Jesus, before He was interrupted by “one of the crowd” (Lk 12:13), about trust and abandonment:

Lk 12:4-7: “To you My friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, he is the one to fear. Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God's sight. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Lk 12:11-12: “When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.”

It is precisely at this point that the man interrupts Jesus’ discourse, showing his concern about the question of inheritance (Lk 12:13). Jesus preaches and says not to have “fear of those who kill the body and then can do nothing else” (Lk 12:4) and this man does not perceive the meaning of Jesus’ words addressed to those whom he recognizes as “My friends” (Lk 12:4). From the Gospel of John we know that a friend of Jesus is one who knows Jesus, in other words, one who knows everything that He has heard from the Father (Jn 15:15). The friend of Jesus should know that his Master is deeply rooted in God (Jn 1:1) and that His only concern is to seek to do the will of the one who has sent Him (Jn 4:34). The advice and the example of Jesus given to His friends is not to worry or be troubled for material things because “life is worth more than food and the body worth more than what you will wear” (Mt 6:25). In an eschatological context Jesus admonishes, “be on guard or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life” (Lk 21:34).

This is why the question of the man who asks Jesus to tell “his brother to give me a share of our inheritance (Lk 12:13) is superfluous before the Lord. Jesus refuses to act as judge between the parties (Lk 12:14) like in the case of the adulterous woman (Jn 8:2-11). We can see that, for Jesus, it is not important which of these two is right. He remains neutral before the question between the two brothers because His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36). Jesus’ behavior reflects the image which Luke gives us of the Lord, meek and humble. The accumulation of material goods, the inheritance, fame, power, do not form part of the hierarchy of Jesus’ values. In fact, He uses the question of the two brothers to repeat and confirm that “life does not depend on goods” (Lk 12:15), even if they are abundant.

As usual, here too Jesus teaches by means of a parable in which He presents “a rich man” (Lk 12:16). We would say an insatiable rich man who does not know what to do with his goods which are so abundant. (Lk 12:17). This man reminds us of the rich man who closes himself in self and is not aware of the misery of poor Lazarus (Lk 16:1-31). It is certain that we cannot define this rich man as just. Just is the one who, like Job, shares with the poor the goods received from God’s providence: “because I helped the poor who asked for help, the orphan who had no helper, the dying man’s blessing rested on me and I gave the widow’s heart cause to rejoice” (Job 29:12-13). The rich man of the parable is a foolish man (Lk 12:20) who has his heart full of goods received, forgetting God, the Supreme and only One who is good. He “accumulates treasures for himself, but is not enriched before God” (Lk 12:21). In his foolishness he is not aware that everything is bestowed freely from God’s providence, not only his goods but also his life. The terminology used in the parable makes us notice this:
- The harvest: “The land […] had given a good harvest” (Lk 12:16)
- The life: “This very night the demand will be made for your soul” (Lk 12:20).
It is not wealth in itself which constitutes the foolishness of this man but it is his avarice and greed which reveal his foolishness. In fact, he says, “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time” (Lk 12:19).

The attitude of the wise man instead is very different. We see this for example embodied in the person of Job who with great detachment, exclaims, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return again. Yahweh gave, Yahweh has taken back. Blessed be the name of Yahweh!” (Job 1:21). The wisdom tradition has handed down or transmitted to us some teachings on the right attitude to have before riches: Prov 27:1; Sir 11:19; Eccl 2:17-23; 5:17-6:2. The New Testament also admonishes on this point: Mt 6:19-34; I Cor 15:32; Jas 4:13-15; Rev 3:17-18.

4. Question to orientate the meditation and the application:

● What struck you most in this passage and in the reflection?
● What does it mean for you that Jesus remains neutral toward the rich man’s question?
● Do you believe that avarice has something to do with the social condition in which one finds oneself? (the answer may be the opposite of what you might expect)
● Do we believe in God’s providence?
● Are you conscious or aware that what you possess has been given to you by God, or rather do you feel that you are the absolute master of your goods?
● How does fear enter into our greed or our charity? Do you fear not having enough? Do you use fear (of being sued perhaps) as an excuse for not getting involved in helping your neighbor (as Jesus defines it) on a personal level?
● When you share your wealth, is it through an organization which provides return benefits? If you receive a tax deduction, discount, coupons, or other compensation, is it really a “gift” (and with spiritual benefit), or would Jesus say that you have had your repayment? (see Lk 14:13, Lk 6:35, Mt 6:2-4)

5. Oratio

1 Chronicles 29:10-19

"May You be blessed, Yahweh, God of Israel our ancestor, for ever and for ever!
Yours, Yahweh, is the greatness, the power, the splendor, length of days and glory, everything in heaven and on earth is Yours. Yours is the sovereignty, Yahweh; You are exalted, supreme over all.
Wealth and riches come from You, You are ruler of all, in Your hand lie strength and power, and You bestow greatness and might on whomsoever You please.
So now, our God, we give thanks to You and praise Your majestic name, for who am I and what is my people, for us to be able to make this freewill offering like this? - since everything has come from You and we have given You only what You bestowed in the first place, and we are guests before You, and passing visitors as were all our ancestors, our days on earth fleeting as a shadow and without hope.
Yahweh our God, all this wealth, which we have provided to build a house for Your holy Name, has come from You and all belongs to You.
Knowing, my God, how You examine our motives and how You delight in integrity, with integrity of motive I have willingly given all this and have been overjoyed to see Your people, now present here, willingly offering their gifts to You.
Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel our ancestors, watch over this for ever, shape the purpose of Your people's heart and direct their hearts to You, and give an undivided heart to Solomon my son to keep Your commandments, Your decrees and Your statutes, to put them all into effect and to build the palace for which I have made provision."

6. Contemplatio

Psalm 119:36-37

Bend my heart to Your instructions,
not to selfish gain.
Avert my eyes from pointless images,
by Your word give me life.

1) Opening prayer

God our Father and protector,
without You nothing is holy,
nothing has value.
Guide us to everlasting life
by helping us to use wisely
the blessings You have given to the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, "This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

3) Reflection

•Today’s Gospel describes the way in which John the Baptist was the victim of corruption and arrogance of the government of Herod. He was killed without due process, during a banquet of the king, with the powerful of the kingdom. The text gives us much information on the time in which Jesus lived and on the manner in which power was used by the powerful of that time.
• Matthew 14:1-2. Who is Jesus for Herod? The text begins by telling about the opinion which Herod had of Jesus: "This is John the Baptist himself, he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Herod tries to understand Jesus starting from the fear which assailed him after murdering John. Herod was very superstitious and hid his fear behind the ostentation of his riches and his power.
• Matthew 14:3-5: The hidden cause of the murder of John. Galilee, the land of Jesus, was governed by Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod the Great, from the year 4 BC until the year 38 AD. Forty-three years in all! During the lifetime of Jesus, there were no changes of government in Galilee! Herod was the absolute lord of everything; he did not render an account to anyone; he did whatever passed through his mind: arrogance, lack of ethics, absolute power, without control from the people! But the one who ruled Palestine since the year 63 BC was the Roman Empire. Herod, in Galilee, so as not to be dismissed, tried to please Rome in everything. Above all, he insisted on an efficient administration which would bring riches to the Empire. His concern was his own promotion and his security. For this reason, he repressed any type of subversion. Matthew says that the reason for murdering John was because John had denounced Herod, because Herod had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Flavius Joseph, a Jewish writer of that time, says that the true reason for the imprisonment of John the Baptist was Herod’s fear that there would be a popular revolt. Herod liked to be called the benefactor of the people, but in reality he was a tyrant (Lk 22:25). John’s denunciation of Herod was the drop that caused the glass to overflow: “It is against the Law for you to have her.” And John was put in prison.
• Matthew 14:6-12: The plot of the murderer. An anniversary and a festive banquet, with dances and orgy! Mark says that in the feast were “the great of the court, the officials and the important people of Galilee” (Mk 6:21). This is the environment in which the murder of John the Baptist is planned. John, the prophet, was a living denunciation of that corrupt system. This is why he was eliminated, as a personal revenge. All this reveals the moral weakness of Herod. So much power accumulated in the hands of one man, unable to control himself! In the enthusiasm of the feast and from the wine, Herod makes a promise by oath to Salome, the young dancer, daughter of Herodias. Superstitious as he was, he thought that he had to respect this oath and respond to the caprice of the girl, and because of this he ordered the soldier to bring the head of John on a tray and give it to the dancer, who then gave it to her mother. For Herod, the life of his subjects was worthless. He disposes of them as he would the staircases in his house!
The three characteristics of the government of Herod: the new capital, large estates, and the class of functionaries:
a) The New Capital. Tiberiade was inaugurated when Jesus was only 20 years old. It was called that in order to please Tiberius, the emperor of Rome. It was inhabited by the lords of the earth, the soldiers, the policemen, the unscrupulous judges (Lk 18:1-4). The taxes and the products of the people were channeled into it. It was there that Herod made his orgy of death (Mk 6:21-29). Tiberiades was the city of the palaces of the King, where those who wore soft, delicate dresses lived (cf. Mt 11:8). The Gospels do not record that Jesus ever entered this city.
b) The large estates. Scholars say that during the long government of Herod, the large estates grew, causing harm to community property. The Book of Enoch denounces the lords of the land and expresses the hope of the little ones: “And then the powerful and the great will no longer be the lords of the land” (En 38:4). The ideal of ancient times was the following: “Each one will peacefully sit under his vine and nobody will frighten them” (1 Mac 14:12; Mic 4:4; Zech 3:10). But the politics of the government of Herod made this ideal impossible.
c) The class of functionaries. Herod created a whole class of functionaries faithful to the project of the King: the Scribes, the merchants, the lords of the land, the officers of the market, the tax collectors, the militia, the policemen, the judges, the local heads. In every village there was a group of people which supported the government. In the Gospels, some Pharisees appear together with the Herodians (Mk 3:6; 8:15; 12:13), and that shows the alliance between the religious power and the civil power. The life of the people in the villages was very controlled, both by the government and by the religion. Much courage was necessary to begin anything new as John and Jesus did! It was the same as attracting to yourself the anger of the privileged ones, both from the religious and the civil powers.

4) Personal questions

• Do you know any people who died victims of corruption and domination of the powerful? And here among us, in our community and in the Church, are there victims of authoritarianism and of the abuse of power?
• Herod, the powerful, who thought he was the lord of life and death of people, was a coward before the great and a corrupt flatterer before the girl who danced. Cowardice and corruption marked the exercise of Herod’s power. Compare all this with the exercise of religious power and civil corruption in the different levels of society.

5) Concluding Prayer

The humble have seen and are glad.
Let your courage revive, you who seek God.
For God listens to the poor;
He has never scorned His captive people. (Ps 69:32-33)

1) Opening prayer

God our Father and protector,
without You nothing is holy,
nothing has value.
Guide us to everlasting life
by helping us to use wisely
the blessings You have given to the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today tells us of Jesus’ visit to Nazareth, His native community. Passing through Nazareth was painful for Jesus. What was His community at the beginning, now is no longer so. Something has changed. Where there is no faith, Jesus can work no miracles.
• Matthew 13: 53-57ª: The reaction of the people of Nazareth before Jesus. It is always good for people to go back to their land. After a long absence, Jesus also returns, as usual, on a Saturday, and He goes to the meeting of the community. Jesus was not the head of the group, but just the same, He speaks. This is a sign that people could participate and express their own opinion. People were astonished. They did not understand Jesus’ attitude: "Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” Jesus, son of that place, whom they knew since He was a child, how is it that now He is so different? The people of Nazareth are scandalized and do not accept Him: “This is the carpenter’s son, surely?” The people do not accept the mystery of God present in a common man, as they are, and as they had known Jesus. In order to speak about God He should be different. As one can see, not everything was positive. The people, who should have been the first ones to accept the Good News, are the first ones to refuse it. The conflict is not only with foreigners, but also with His relatives and with the people of Nazareth. They do not accept because they cannot understand the mystery which envelops Jesus: “Is not His mother, the woman called Mary, and His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude, and His sisters too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?” They are not able to believe.
• Matthew 13:57b-58: Jesus’ reaction before the attitude of the people of Nazareth. Jesus knows very well that “no one is a prophet in his own country.” He says, “A prophet is despised only in his own country and in his own house.” In fact, where there is neither acceptance nor faith, people can do nothing. Prejudice prevents it. Jesus Himself, even wanting, can do nothing. He was astonished at their lack of faith.

• The brothers and sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers of Jesus” causes much division between Catholics and Protestants. Based on this and other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had many brothers and sisters and that Mary had more children! Catholics say that Mary did not have any other children. What are we to think of this? Both positions, that of Catholics as well as that of Protestants, contain arguments taken from the Bible and from the tradition of their respective Churches. We should consider that in our communities today we also call each other “brother” and “sister”, yet we don’t share immediate parents. In that day, children didn’t move far from their parents like they might do today, so many extended family relationships existed within the same community. For this reason, it is not helpful to discuss this question with arguments which are only intellectual, because it is a question of profound convictions, which have something to do with faith and with the sentiments of each one. An argument which is merely intellectual cannot change a conviction of the heart! It only irritates and repels! Even if I do not agree with the opinion of others, I have to respect it. In the second place, instead of talking about texts, all of us, Catholics and Protestants, should unite in order to fight for the defense of life, created by God, a life disfigured by poverty, injustice, lack of faith. We should recall some other sayings of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and life to the full” (Jn 10:10); “That all may be one, so that the world may believe that You, Father, have sent Me” (Jn 17:21); “Do not prevent them! Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 10:39,40).

4) Personal questions

• In Jesus something changed in His relationship with the community of Nazareth. Since you began to participate in community, has anything changed in your relationship with your family? Why?
• Has participation in the community helped you to accept and to trust people, especially the more simple and the poorest?
• When two join to form a new community in marriage, their relationship with their families also changes. Reconsider the previous questions in light of this as well.

5) Concluding Prayer

For myself, wounded wretch that I am,
by Your saving power raise me up!
I will praise God’s name in song,
I will extol Him by thanksgiving. (Ps 69: 29-30)

1) Opening prayer

God our Father and protector,
without You nothing is holy,
nothing has value.
Guide us to everlasting life
by helping us to use wisely
the blessings You have given to the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13:47-53

Jesus said to the disciples: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." "Do you understand all these things?" They answered, "Yes." And he replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old." When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel presents the last parable of the discourse on the parables, the story of the net thrown into the sea. This parable is found only in the Gospel of Matthew without any parallel in the other three Gospels.

• Matthew 13:47-48: The parable of the dragnet cast into the sea. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that is cast into the sea and brings in all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then sitting down; they collect the good ones in baskets and throw away those that are of no use.” This story is well known by the people of Galilee who live around the lake. This is their work. The story clearly shows the end of a day of work. The fishermen go fishing with only one purpose: to cast the net and to catch a great number of fish, to haul the net ashore and to choose the good fish to take home and to throw away those that are no good. Describe the satisfaction of the fishermen, at the end of a day, being very tired after having worked hard. This story must have brought a smile of satisfaction to the faces of the fishermen who listened to Jesus. The worst thing is to arrive at the shore at the end of the day without having caught anything (Jn 21:3).

• Matthew 13:49-50: The application of the parable. Jesus applies the parable, or better still, gives a suggestion in order that people can discuss and apply the parable to their life: “This is how it will be at the end of time, the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the righteous, to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” How are we to understand this blazing furnace? These are very strong images to describe the destiny of those who separate themselves from God or who do not want to know anything about God. In every city there is a place to throw away the garbage every day. There is a permanent furnace nourished every day by the daily garbage. The garbage place in Jerusalem was located in a valley called Gehenna, where, at the time of the kings, there was a furnace even to sacrifice to the false gods of Molok. For this reason, the furnace of Gehenna becomes the symbol of exclusion and of condemnation. God is not the one who excludes. God does not want the exclusion and the condemnation of anyone; He wants that all may have life and life in abundance. Each one of us excludes himself/herself.

• Matthew 13:51-53: The end of the discourse on the Parables. At the end of the discourse on the parables, Jesus concludes with the following question: "Have you understood these things?” They answered: “Yes.”. And Jesus finishes the explanation with another comparison which describes the result He wants to achieve through the parables: “Well, then every Scribe who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old.”
Two points to clarify:

(a) Jesus compares the doctor of the law to the father in the family. What does the father of the family do? “He brings out from his treasure new things and old things.” Education at home takes place through the transmission to the sons and daughters of what the parents have received and learned over time. It is the treasure of the family wisdom where the richness of faith is enclosed, the customs of life, and many other things that the children learn with time. Now Jesus wants that in the community, that the people who are responsible for the transmission of faith be as a father within the family. Just like the parents are responsible for the life of the family, in the same way, these people who are responsible for the teaching should understand the things of the Kingdom and transmit it to the brothers and sisters in the community.

(b) Here there is the question of a doctor of the law who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom. Therefore, there were doctors of the law who accepted Jesus, and saw in Him the one who revealed the Kingdom. Is this what happened to a doctor when he discovers the Messiah in Jesus, the Son of God? Everything he has studied to be able to be a doctor of the law continues to be valid, but it receives a deeper dimension and a broader purpose. A comparison can clarify what has just been said. In a group of friends one shows a photo, where one sees a man with a angry face, with his finger up, almost attacking the public. Everybody thinks that it is a question of an inflexible person, demanding, who does not allow for any intimacy. At that moment a young boy arrives, he sees the photo and exclaims, “He is my father!” The others look at him and comment, “A severe father, right?” He answers, “No! He is very affectionate. My father is a lawyer. That photo was taken in the tribunal, while he was denouncing the crime of a great landowner who wanted a poor family to abandon their home where they had lived for many years! My father won the case, and the poor family remained in the house!” All looked at him again and said, “What a pleasant person!” Almost like a miracle the photo lit up from within and assumed a different aspect. That very severe face acquired the features of great tenderness! The words of the son, the result of his experience of being the son, changed everything, without changing anything! The words and the gestures of Jesus, result of His experience as a Son, without changing a letter or a comma, illuminated from within the wisdom accumulated by the doctor of the law. And thus, God, who seemed to be so far away and so severe, acquired the features of a good Father and of enormous tenderness!

4) Personal questions

• Has the experience of Son entered in you and changed your perspective, making you discover the things of God in a different way?
• What has the discourse on the parables revealed to you about the Kingdom?

5) Concluding Prayer

Praise Yahweh, my soul!
I will praise Yahweh all my life,
I will make music to my God as long as I live. (Ps 146:1-2)

August 3, 2019 - When Truth Hurts - A Reflection on Matthew 4:1-12 

Herod Antipas was a first century ruler of Galilee and Perea. He was the son of Herod the Great. He divorced his wife to marry Herodias, who had formerly been married to his half-brother Philip. When John the Baptist told him that what he was doing was incestuous and unlawful, both Herod and Herodias became furious to the point of wanting him dead. Eventually, they succeeded, and Herod had John’s head chopped off and served on a platter to his wife.

Ok. Are we like Herod? I have met many people who actually get furious when they are confronted about the sin in their lives. I suspect some of you watching this are already beginning to squirm, knowing what is coming, so how about we overcome our reticence and seriously reflect upon this today. Why? Because the truth, although it might hurt, sets us free (see John 8:32).

First, what is the truth? We’ve reflected upon this before so it is easy. “I am the truth,” declares Jesus (see John 14:6). So the things that Jesus says are the truth. He also said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth”, implying the Holy Spirit also will teach us the truth. Since he has inspired Scripture, whatever is contained in the word of God is also the truth.

Second, why does the truth hurt? Because “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). A sword can hurt, yes? Especially one that is double-edged. When we read (or hear) the things that God says which go against his word — you’ll find a nice summary of a few of these things in Galatians 5:19-21 — it hurts.

Third, why do we react badly? Because — let’s be honest, shall we? — we enjoy sinning. Oh, the pleasures of the flesh! And we don’t want to stop. So when somebody comes to us and tells us that we are doing something wrong, we get upset. “Mind your own business” Is the first thing we say. Or, if we know a little Scripture, “Who are you to judge?” That way lies death, my friend. Can you imagine the fate of David if the prophet Nathan had not confronted him?

Fourth, what do we do? “Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”” (John 8:31-32). Also remember Jesus understands. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:13).

I took an extra para today, but I hope it was worth it. Let the truth set us free.

August 2, 2019 - Jealous Guy - A Reflection on Matthew 13:54-58

Do you remember that kid in school who was likable enough, but he came from a poor social background, so you stayed away from him because you’d rather hang around with a better class of kids? There’s a kid like that in every school, so there’s a good chance you know who I am talking about. Now imagine that one day this kid goes off to college in Australia or the US. He returns a few years later sporting designer clothes, a Rolex, and a fancy accent. He’s obviously become very rich and successful. How would you feel? Be honest.

I imagine that’s pretty much how the people in Jesus’ hometown felt when homeboy returned, speaking with great authority and backing his words with some of the most awesome displays of power they had ever witnessed. They would have first been incredulous (Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?), then resentful (who does he think he is, coming into our synagogues and teaching us stuff?), then murderous (in Luke’s gospel these good people try to throw Jesus off a cliff! (see Luke 4:29)). That’s what jealousy does.

Jealousy is an ugly emotion. It leads to depression, anxiety, anger, rage, frustration, fear, and even to murder. Scripture is replete with examples of what jealousy does to people. Cain killed his brother Abel because he was jealous of him. King Saul tried to kill David because he became jealous of him. Instead of looking after his subjects, Saul spent most of his time after that trying to kill the young man.

It is what we will do too. We may not physically murder somebody, but we will try to ruin them in other ways. Gossip and slander are ideal weapons. It is so easy to defame somebody, especially if you are in a position of some power or authority. A few words spoken to a few people are all it takes. A lie becomes a truth, and very often, can never be proven otherwise. I see this happening around me all the time.

What’s the cure? One: Don’t look at others. We often miss rejoicing in the blessings we have received when we look at what others have received. At the end of the gospel of John, we see that Jesus has just restored Peter. As they set off, Peter sees John following him. “What about him,” he asks Jesus. And Jesus retorts sharply, “What is that to you?” Two: Don’t give in to the flesh. In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us not to engage in quarreling and jealousy, but to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:13-14)

When we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, we start having the mind of Christ. Everything changes.

Page 7 of 793