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Janet D'Souza

Reading 1         1 MC 4:36-37, 52-59

Judas and his brothers said,
"Now that our enemies have been crushed,
let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it."
So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month,
that is, the month of Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-eight,
they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law
on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it,
on that very day it was reconsecrated
with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals.
All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven,
who had given them success.

For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar
and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices
of deliverance and praise.
They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields;
they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers
and furnished them with doors.
There was great joy among the people
now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel
decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar
should be observed with joy and gladness
on the anniversary every year for eight days,
from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.

Responsorial Psalm           1 CHRONICLES 29:10BCD, 11ABC, 11D-12A, 12BCD

R.(13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

"Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity."

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

"Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours."

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

"Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you."

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

"You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all."

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

Alleluia           JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel          LK 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out
those who were selling things, saying to them,
"It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,
but you have made it a den of thieves."
And every day he was teaching in the temple area.
The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile,
were seeking to put him to death,
but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose
because all the people were hanging on his words.

Reading 1          1 MC 2:15-29

The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy
came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices.
Many of Israel joined them,
but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart.
Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias:
"You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city,
supported by sons and kin.
Come now, be the first to obey the king's command,
as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah
and those who are left in Jerusalem have done.
Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King's Friends,
and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts."
But Mattathias answered in a loud voice:
"Although all the Gentiles in the king's realm obey him,
so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers
and consents to the king's orders,
yet I and my sons and my kin
will keep to the covenant of our fathers.
God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments.
We will not obey the words of the king
nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree."

As he finished saying these words,
a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all
to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein
according to the king's order.
When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal;
his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused;
he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar.
At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king
who was forcing them to sacrifice,
and he tore down the altar.
Thus he showed his zeal for the law,
just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu.

Then Mattathias went through the city shouting,
"Let everyone who is zealous for the law
and who stands by the covenant follow after me!"
Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons,
leaving behind in the city all their possessions.
Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom
went out into the desert to settle there.

Responsorial Psalm          PS 50:1B-2, 5-6, 14-15

R.(23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

"Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

"Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me."

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Alleluia           PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel          LK 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
"If this day you only knew what makes for peace–
but now it is hidden from your eyes.
For the days are coming upon you
when your enemies will raise a palisade against you;
they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.
They will smash you to the ground and your children within you,
and they will not leave one stone upon another within you
because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

Reading 1         2 MC 7:1, 20-31

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law.

Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
"I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man's beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law."

Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
"Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them."

She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
"What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king's command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God."

Responsorial Psalm          PS 17:1BCD, 5-6, 8B AND 15

R.(15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Alleluia          SEE JN 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel          LK 19:11-28

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
"A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.'
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
'We do not want this man to be our king.'
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.'
He replied, 'Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.'
Then the second came and reported,
'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.'
And to this servant too he said,
'You, take charge of five cities.'
Then the other servant came and said,
'Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.'
He said to him,
'With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.'
And to those standing by he said,
'Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.'
But they said to him,
'Sir, he has ten gold coins.'
He replied, 'I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.'"

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Reading 1         2 MC 6:18-31

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes,
a man of advanced age and noble appearance,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork.
But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement,
he spat out the meat,
and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture,
as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.
Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately,
because of their long acquaintance with him,
and urged him to bring meat of his own providing,
such as he could legitimately eat,
and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice
prescribed by the king;
in this way he would escape the death penalty,
and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner,
worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age,
the merited distinction of his gray hair,
and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood;
and so he declared that above all
he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.

He told them to send him at once
to the abode of the dead, explaining:
"At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense;
many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar
had gone over to an alien religion.
Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life,
they would be led astray by me,
while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men,
I shall never, whether alive or dead,
escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now,
I will prove myself worthy of my old age,
and I will leave to the young a noble example
of how to die willingly and generously
for the revered and holy laws."

Eleazar spoke thus,
and went immediately to the instrument of torture.
Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed,
now became hostile toward him because what he had said
seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows,
he groaned and said:
"The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that,
although I could have escaped death,
I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging,
but also suffering it with joy in my soul
because of my devotion to him."
This is how he died,
leaving in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Responsorial Psalm         PS 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (6b) The Lord upholds me.

O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”

R. The Lord upholds me.

But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.

R. The Lord upholds me.

When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.

R. The Lord upholds me.

Alleluia         1 JN 4:10B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

God loved us, and sent his Son
as expiation for our sins.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel          LK 19:1-10

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”

1) Opening prayer

Father of all that is good,
keep us faithful in serving You,
for to serve you is our lasting joy.

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 - Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance. He was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He kept trying to see where Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see Him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and spoke to him, "Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today."
And he hurried down and welcomed Him joyfully.
They all complained when they saw what was happening. "He has gone to stay at a sinner's house," they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, "Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount."
And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost."

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel, we reach the end of a long journey which began in chapter 9 (Lk 9:51). During the journey, it has not been easy to know where Jesus is going. Now the geography is clear. Jesus reaches Jericho, the city of the palm trees, in the Valley of the Jordan. This is the last stop of pilgrims before going up toward Jerusalem. He went to Jericho where the long road of exodus in the desert ended. Jesus’ exodus has also ended. In entering Jericho, Jesus meets a blind man who wanted to see Him (Lk 18:35-43). Now, going out of the city, He meets Zacchaeus, a tax collector. He also wants to see Him. Both the blind man and the Publican are excluded from Jewish society. Both bother and disturb the people. The blind man disturbed people because he was shouting to Jesus. The Publican incurs people’s hostility because he collects taxes. Both are accepted by Jesus.
• Luke 19:1-2: Jesus enters Jericho and crosses the city where he sees “a man whose name was Zacchaeus, head of the tax collectors and a rich man”. The tax collector was the person who collected the public taxes on selling and buying of merchandise. As head tax collector, Zacchaeus was closely linked to the Roman government which dominated the Israel. Since the more religious Jews believed their king to be God, they regarded Rome’s dominion as ungodly. Anyone who collaborates with the Romans sins against God. Thus, the soldiers who served in the Roman army and tax collectors like Zacchaeus were excluded and avoided because they were considered traitorous and impure.
• Luke 19:3-4: The attitude of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus. Being small, he ran ahead and climbed up a tree and waited for Jesus to go by. He really had a great desire to see Jesus. Before, in the parable of poor Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16: 19-31), Jesus had said that it was truly difficult for a rich person to be converted. However, in Zaccheus, we see a rich man who does not close himself up in his riches. Zacchaeus wants something more. Certainly, an adult who climbs a tree does not care much about the opinion of others. Something more important moves him. He wants to open the door for poor Lazarus.
• Luke 19:5-7: Attitude of Jesus, reaction of the people and of Zacchaeus. Seeing Zacchaeus in the tree, Jesus does not ask, nor does He demand, anything. He only responds to the desire of the man and says, “Zacchaeus come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your home today!” Zacchaeus gets down and receives Jesus, in his house, with great joy. All complained, “He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house!” Luke says that all complained. Jesus is alone in His attitude of accepting the excluded, especially Roman collaborators . But Jesus does not care about the criticism. He goes to the house of Zacchaeus and defends him from the criticism. Rather than calling him sinner, He calls him “son of Abraham” (Lk 19:9).
• Luke 19:8: Decision of Zacchaeus. “Look, Lord, I am going to give half of my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount!” This is the conversion produced in Zacchaeus because of the acceptance that he received from Jesus. To give back four times was what the law prescribed to do in certain cases (Ex 22:1;). To give half of my possessions to the poor was the novelty which contact with Jesus produced in him. In fact, sharing was taking place.
• Luke 19:9-10: Final word of Jesus. “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a son of Abraham”. The interpretation of the Law by means of the ancient tradition excluded the tax collectors from the race of Abraham. Jesus says that He comes to seek and save what was lost. The Kingdom is for all. Nobody can be excluded. By denouncing unjust divisions, Jesus opens a space for a new way of living directed by the values of truth, justice and love.
• Son of Abraham. "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a son of Abraham!” By being a descendant of Abraham, all nations of earth will be blessed (Gen 12:3; 22:18). It was very important for Luke’s communities, formed by Christians of both Jewish and pagan origin, that Jesus calls Zacchaeus “son of Abraham”. For we find the confirmation that in Jesus, God was fulfilling the promises made to Abraham, addressed to all nations. Gentiles are also sons of Abraham and heirs of the promises. Jesus accepts those who were not accepted. He offers a place to those who do not have it. He receives as brothers and sisters people whom the religion and the government excluded. Here is a list of those outcasts in who found acceptance in Jesus: :
- immoral: the prostitutes and the sinners (Mt 21:31-32; Mk 2:15; Lk 7:37-50; Jn 8:2-11)
- heretic: pagans and Samaritans (Lk 7:2-10; 17:16; Mk 7:24-30; Jn 4:7-42),
- impure: lepers and possessed (Mt 8:2-4; Lk 17:12-14; Mk 1:25-26)
- marginalized: women, children and the sick (Mk 1:32; Mt 8:16;19:13-15; Lk 8: 2-3)
- fighters: publicans and soldiers (Lk 18:9-14;19:1-10);
- the poor: the people of the place and the poor who had no power (Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20; Mt 11:25-26).

4) Personal questions

• How does our community accept people who are despised and marginalized? Can we, like Jesus, perceive people’s problems and give them attention?
· How do we perceive salvation entering into our house and our community? The welcoming tenderness of Jesus produced a total change in the life of Zacchaeus. Is the tenderness of our community producing some change in the neighborhood? Where?

5) Concluding prayer

With all my heart I seek You,
do not let me stray from Your commandments.
In my heart, I treasure Your promises
and seek to avoid sinning against You. (Ps 119:10-11)

1) Opening prayer

Father of all that is good,
keep us faithful in serving You,
for to serve You is our lasting joy.

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 - Luke 18:35-43

Now it happened that as Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to Him, and when he came up, asked him "What do you want me to do for you?" "Sir," he replied, "let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you."
And instantly his sight returned and he followed Him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God.

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today describes Jesus’ arrival in Jericho. It is the last stop before Jesus goes to Jerusalem, where His “Exodus”, according to what He announced in the Transfiguration scene will take place. He has also issued similar sentiments along the way to Jerusalem (Lk 9: 44; 18:31-33).
• Luke 18:35-37: The blind man sitting on the side of the road. “Now it happened that as Jesus drew near to Jericho, there was a blind man sitting on the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by”. In the Gospel of Mark, the blind man is called Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46). Since he was blind, he could not participate in the procession which accompanied Jesus. At that time, there may have been many blind people in Palestine possibly because of the strong sun and arid conditions.
• Luke 18:38-39: The cry of the blind man and the reaction of the people. “Then he began to cry out: Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” He calls Jesus using the title “Son of David”. The teaching of that time taught that the Messiah would descend from David, a “Son of David”. Jesus did not like this title. In quoting the Messianic Psalm, he asks Himself: “How is it that the Messiah can be the son of David if even David calls him “My Lord?” (Lk 20:41-44) The cry of the blind man bothers the people who accompany Jesus. Consequently, “The people in front scold him telling him to keep quiet.” However, “he only shouted all the louder, Son of David have pity on me!” This occurs in our time when the cry of the poor bothers the established society.
• Luke 18:40-41: The reaction of Jesus before the cry of the blind man. And what did Jesus do? Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to Him. Those who wanted to stop the blind man from shouting now are asked to help the poor man to get to Jesus. The Gospel of Mark adds that the blind man left everything and went to Jesus. He did not have much, only his mantle to cover his body (cf. Ex 22:25-26). His mantle was his home! Today, Jesus listens to the cry of the poor which we do not want to hear. When he came up to Jesus, He asked him: “What do you want me to do for you?” It is not sufficient to shout or cry out. It is necessary to know why he is shouting! The blind man answers, “Lord that I may see again”.
• Luke 18:42-43: Go! Your faith has saved you! And Jesus says, “Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you”. Immediately he recovers his sight and begins to follow Jesus praising God. And all the people, when they saw that, praised God. When the blind man calls Jesus by a title that was uncomfortable, by the title “Son of David,” he probably bothered people. His faith in Jesus exceeded his ideas about Jesus. He did not demand anything as Peter did (Mk 8:32-33). Healing is the fruit of his faith in Jesus. Once he is cured, he follows Jesus and walks along with Him toward Jerusalem. In this way, he becomes a model disciple for all of us who want “to follow Jesus along the road” toward Jerusalem. This decision to walk with Jesus is the source of courage and seed of victory in the cross, The cross is not something fatal but rather an experience of God. It is a consequence of the decision to follow Jesus in obedience to the Father.
• Faith is a force which transforms the person. The Good News of the Kingdom announced by Jesus was a sort of fertilizer. It made the seed of life hidden in people grow. That seed lay hidden like fire under the ashes. Jesus blew on the ashes and the fire ignited. The Kingdom appears and people rejoice. The condition was always the same: to believe in Jesus. The cure of the blind man clarifies a very important aspect of our faith. The blind man had faith and was cured despite his understanding of Jesus. He was converted and left everything behind and followed Jesus along the road toward Calvary! The full understanding of the following of Jesus is not obtained from a theoretical instruction but rather from a practical commitment to walk with Him in the way of service. Anyone who insists, as Peter at one point does, that Messiahship comes without the cross, understands nothing of Jesus. Such a person does not have the attitude of a true disciple of Jesus. Anyone who believes in Jesus and gives himself (Lk 9:23-24), anyone who accepts being last (Lk 22:26), anyone who drinks the chalice of suffering and carries his/her cross (Mt 20:22; Mk 10:38), will succeed in “following Jesus along the way” (Lk 18:43). Walking with Jesus is the source of courage and provides the seed of victory in the cross.

4) Personal questions

• How do I see and hear the cry of the poor such as migrants, people of color, AIDS sufferers, beggars, refugees, et al. ?
• What is my faith like? Am I rigid in my ideas about Jesus?.

5) Concluding prayer

How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked
and does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread,
nor a seat in company with cynics,
but who delights in the law of Yahweh
and murmurs His law day and night. (Ps 1:1-2)

1. Opening prayer

Lord, You who have made sky and earth and sea, and everything in them; it is You who said through the Holy Spirit and speaking through our ancestor David, Your servant:
Why this uproar among the nations,
this impotent muttering of the peoples?
Kings of earth take up position,
princes plot together
against the Lord and His Anointed”.
... Stretch out your hand to heal and to work miracles and marvels through the name of Your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:24-25,30)”. Fill us with Your Spirit as You gave it to the Apostles after this prayer, in the time of trial, so that we can also proclaim the Word openly and give witness as prophets of hope.

Luke 21, 5-19

2. Lectio

a) The context :

The passage concerns the beginning of Jesus’ discourse on the end of the world. The passage Luke 21:5-36 is a whole literary unit. Jesus is in Jerusalem, at the entrance to the temple, the Passion is near. The Synoptic Gospels (also see Mt 24; Mk 13) have the so called “eschatological” discourse precede the account of the Passion, Death and Resurrection. These are events to be read in the light of the Passover. The language is the “apocalyptic” one. Attention is not placed on each word, but on the announcement of the total overturn. The community of Luke already knew about the events concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. The Evangelist universalizes the message and makes evident the intermediate time of the Church waiting for the coming of the Lord in glory. Luke refers to the end of time also in other parts (12:35-48;17: 20;18:18).

b) A possible division of the text:

Luke 21:5-7: introduction.
Luke 21:8-9: initial warning.
Luke 21:10-11: the signs.
Luke 21:12-17: the disciples put to the test.
Luke 21:18-19: protection and trust.

c) The text:

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here-- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?" He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come.' Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. "Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. A few questions

- Which sentiments prevail in me: anguish, fear, trust, hope, doubt...?
- Where is the Good News in this discourse?
- Do we love what we expect and do we conform ourselves to its demands?
- How do I react to trials in my life of faith?
- Can I make a connection with the present historical events?
- What place does Jesus have in history today?

5. Meditatio

a) A key for reading:

Let us not allow ourselves to be attracted by the exterior upheavals, typical of the apocalyptic language, but by the interior ones, which are necessary, which pre-announce and prepare the encounter with the Lord. Even being aware that today also, in different parts of the world, “apocalyptic” situations are being lived, it is possible to make a personalized reading, not an evasive one, which shifts the attention to personal responsibility. Luke, regarding the other Evangelists, underlines that the end has not come, that it is necessary to live the waiting with commitment. Let us open our eyes to the tragedies of our time, not to be prophets of misfortune, but courageous prophets of a new order based on justice and peace.

b) Comment:

[5] “When some were talking about the temple remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings”, He said: Jesus was probably at the entrance to the temple, considering the reference to the votive offerings. Luke does not specify who the listeners are. It is directed to all. He universalizes the eschatological discourse. This discourse can refer to the end of time, but also to our personal end, the proper time of life. In common there is the definitive encounter with the Risen Lord.

[6] “All these things you are staring at now, the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another; everything will be destroyed”. Jesus introduces a language of misfortune (17:22; 19:43) and repeats the admonitions of the prophets concerning the temple (Micah 3:12; Jer 7:1-15; 26:1-19). It is also a consideration on the fragility of every human achievement, no matter how marvelous. The community of Luke already knew about the destruction of Jerusalem (year 70). Let us consider our attitude towards the things that end with time.

[7] They asked Him: “Master, when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that it is about to take place?” The listeners are interested in the external upheavals which characterize this event. Jesus does not respond to this specific question. The “when” is not placed by Luke in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem. He underlines that the end “will not be immediately” (v. 9) and “that before all this...” (v. 12) others things will happen. He questions us on the relation between the historical events and the fulfillment of the history of salvation: the time of man and the time of God.

[8] He answered, “Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using My name and saying: ‘I am the one’ and ‘the time is near at hand’. Refuse to join them”. In regard to the other Evangelists, Luke adds the reference to time. The community of the first Christians is overcoming the phase of an immediate coming of the Lord and prepares itself for the intermediate time of the Church. Jesus recommends that they not allow themselves to be deceived, or better, to be seduced by impostors. There are two types of false prophets: those who pretend to come in the name of Jesus saying “I am the one” and those who affirm that the time is near at hand, that the day is already known (10:11; 19:11).

[9] “When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be terrified, for this is something that must happen first, but the end will not come at once”. Even the war events, and today we would say, the terrorist acts, are not the beginning of the end. All this happens but it is not a sign of the end. Luke wants to warn them about the illusion of the imminent end of time with the consequent disillusionment and abandonment of faith.

[10] “Then He said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
[11] There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines in various places; there will be terrifying events and great signs from heaven‘”. The words “and then He said” is a repetition of the discourse after the initial warnings. This is fully apocalyptic language, which means revelation (Isa 19:2; 2Cor 15:6) and at the same time concealment. Traditional images are used to describe the rapid changes of history (Isa 24:19-20; Zech 14:4-5; Ezek 6:11-12, etc.). The imaginary catastrophe is like a curtain which hides the beauty of the scene which is behind: the coming of the Lord in glory (v. 27).

[12] “But before all this happens, you will be seized and persecuted; you will be handed over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and brought before kings and governors for the sake of My name.”

[13] “and that will be your opportunity to bear witness”. The Christian is called to conform himself to Christ. They have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. Luke recalls the scene of Paul before King Agrippa and Governor Festo (Acts 25:23-26, 32). Behold the time of trial. Not necessarily under the form of persecution. Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus suffered the absence of God for eighteen months, when she discovered her illness. A time of purification which prepares for the encounter. It is the normal condition of the Christian, that of living in a healthy tension which is not frustration. Christians are called to give witness to the hope which animates them.

[14] “Make up your minds not to prepare your defense;
[15] because I Myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict”. The time has come to place our trust completely in God, God alone suffices. It is that same wisdom with which Stephen confused his enemies (Acts 6:10). The capacity to resist to persecution is guaranteed for the believer.

[16] “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death”.
[17] “You will be hated universally on account of my name. The radical following of Christ implies also the overcoming of blood relations, those which we affectionately believe to be more secure. There is the risk of remaining alone, like Jesus in His Passion.

[18] “But not a hair of your head will be lost”. Luke repeats the preceding verse (12:7) to remind us of the divine protection which is assured at the moment of trial. The believer is also guaranteed the care of his physical integrity.

[19] “Your perseverance will win you your lives.” Perseverance (cf. Acts 11:23; 13: 43; 14:22) is indispensable in order to bear fruit (8:15), in the daily trials and in persecutions. It means the same as the “remain in Christ” of John. The final victory is certain: the Kingdom of God will be established by the Son of Man. Therefore, it is necessary to be persevering, vigilant and in prayer (v. 36 and 12:35-38). The life-style of the Christian has to be a sign of the future which will come.

6. Oratio: Psalm 98

Sing a new song to the Lord

Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,
burst into shouts of joy!
Play to Yahweh on the harp,
to the sound of instruments;
to the sound of trumpet and horn,
acclaim the presence of the King.
Let the sea thunder, and all that it holds,
the world and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
and the mountains shout for joy together,
at Yahweh's approach,
for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with saving justice
and the nations with fairness.

7. Contemplatio

Good God, whose Kingdom is all love and peace, You Yourself create in our soul that silence that You need to communicate Yourself to it.
Peaceful acting, desiring without passion, zeal without agitation: all that can only come from You, Eternal Wisdom, Infinite activity, unalterable repose, principle and model of true peace.
You have promised us by Your prophets this peace. You have given it by Jesus Christ. You have given us the guarantee with the effusion of Your Spirit.
Do not permit that the envy of the enemy, the anxiety of passion, the scruples of conscience make us lose this heavenly gift, which is the pledge of Your love, the object of Your promises, the reward of the blood of Your Son. Amen. (Teresa of Avila, 38:9-10).

1) Opening prayer

God of power and mercy,
protect us from all harm.
Give us freedom of spirit
and health in mind and body
to do your work on earth.
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 - Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told a parable to His disciples about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. There was a judge in a certain town, who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, ‘"I want justice from you against my enemy!"’ For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must give this widow her just rights is troublesome to me, lest continually coming she weary me."
And the Lord said, "You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now, will not God see justice done to His elect if they keep calling to Him day and night even though He still delays to help them?
I promise you, He will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will He find any faith on earth?

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel presents an element which is very dear to Luke: Prayer. This is the second time that Luke gives us the words of Jesus to teach us to pray. The first time (Lk 11, 1-13), He taught us the Our Father and, by means of comparisons and parables, He taught that we have to pray continually, without getting tired. Now, this second time, (Lk 18,1-8), He uses a parable taken from life to teach us insistence in prayer. It is the parable of the widow who pestered the unscrupulous judge. The way He presents the parable is very didactic. In the first place, Luke presents a brief introduction which serves as the key for the reading. Afterwards, he narrates the parable. Finally, Jesus Himself explains it.
• Luke 18, 1: The introduction. Luke presents the parable with the following phrase: “Then He told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart". The recommendation “to pray without losing heart” appears many times in the New Testament (1 Th 5, 17; Rm 12, 12; Ep 6, 18; etc), And it is a characteristic of the spirituality of the first Christian communities.
• Luke 18, 2-5: The parable. Then Jesus presents two personages of real life: a judge who had no consideration for God and no consideration for others, and a widow who struggles to obtain her rights from the judge. The simple fact of indicating these two personages reveals the critical conscience which He had regarding the society of His time. The parable presents the poor people who struggle in the tribunal to obtain their rights. The judge decides to pay attention to the widow and to do justice. The reason is to free himself from the widow who is pestering him and to get rid of her. This is an interesting reason. But the widow obtained what she wanted! This is an example from daily life, which Jesus uses to teach us to pray.
• Luke 18, 6-8: The application. Jesus applies the parable: “You notice what the unjust judge has said. Now, will not God see justice done to His elect if they keep calling to Him day and night even though He still delays to help them? Will He make them wait long? I tell you He will see justice done to them, and done speedily”. If it had not been Jesus, we would not have had the courage to compare Jesus to an unjust judge! Nevertheless, at the end, Jesus expresses a doubt: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” In other words, will we have the courage to wait and have patience, even if God delays in doing what we ask him?
• Jesus in prayer. The first Christians had an image of Jesus in prayer, in permanent contact with the Father. In fact, the life of Jesus was to do the will of the Father (Jn 5: 19). Jesus prayed very much and insisted that His disciples also pray. T. Luke is the Evangelist who gives us a great deal of information on the prayer life of Jesus. He presents Jesus in constant prayer. The following are some moments in which Jesus appears praying:
- When He was twelve years old and goes to the temple, to the House of the Father (Lk 2: 46-50).
- He prays when He is baptized and assumes His mission (Lk 3: 21).
- At the beginning of the mission, He spends forty days in the desert (Lk 4: 1-2).
- At ta time of temptation, He opposes the devil with texts from Scripture (Lk 4: 3-12).
- Jesus used to participate in the celebration in the Synagogue on Saturday (Lk 4: 16)
- He seeks solitude in the desert to pray (Lk 5: 16; 9, 18).
- Before choosing the twelve Apostles, He spends the night in prayer (Lk 6: 12).
- He prays before meals (Lk 9: 16; 24, 30).
- (Lk 9: 18).
- In a time of crises, He goes up to the mountain and pray where he is transfigured. (Lk 9: 28).
- When revealing the Gospel to little ones He says: “Father, I thank you!” (Lk 10: 21)
- In praying, He arouses in the Apostles the desire to pray (Lk 11: 1).
- He prays for Peter so that he does not lose his faith (Lk 22: 32).
- He celebrates the Paschal Supper with His disciples (Lk 22: 7-14).
- In the Garden of Olives, He prays, even when sweating blood (Lk 22: 41-42).
- In the anguish of the agony, He asks His friends to pray with Him (Lk 22: 40.46).
- At the moment when He was being nailed to the Cross, He asks pardon for the murderers (Lk 23: 34).
- At the hour of death, He says “Into your hands I commend my spirit!” (Lk 23: 46; Ps 31: 6)
- Jesus dies crying out with the cry of the poor (Lk 23: 46).
• This long list indicates everything which follows. For Jesus, prayer is intimately linked to life, to concrete facts, and to the decisions which He had to take. In order to be able to be faithful to the project of the Father, He sought to remain alone with Him. He listened to Him. In difficult and decisive moments in His life, Jesus recited Psalms. Just as any devout Jew, He knew them by heart. The recitation of the Psalms did not take away His creativity. Rather, Jesus Himself created a Psalm which He transmitted to us: the Our Father. His life is a permanent prayer: “I always seek the will of the one who sent me!” (Jn 5: 19.30) The Psalm applies to Him when it says: “I am prayer!” (Ps 109: 4)

4) Personal questions

• There are people who say that they do not know how to pray, but they speak with God the whole day. Do you know such a person? There are many ways which people express their devotion and pray today. What are they?
• What do these two parables teach us on prayer? What do they teach me regarding the way of seeing life and persons?

5) Concluding prayer

How blessed is anyone who fears Yahweh,
who delights in His commandments!
His descendants shall be powerful on earth,
the race of the honest shall receive blessings. (Ps 112:1-2)

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