17Oct 17 Oct, Monday of Week 29

Alternative: Memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch. (Click the link, for the life and letters of St Ignatius.)

Rom 4:20ff. Like Abraham’s faith, our Christian faith will be credited to us, trusting in Jesus’ resurrection, who was raised up for our justification.

Lk 12:13ff. Warning against greed in all its forms. A person’s possessions do not guarantee that his/her life is a success in God’s sight.

Failings of the Good

If the Scriptures insist frequently on justification by faith, they are not condemning good works, as though we were to do nothing but believe and pray. We have the example of Jesus, who went about doing good, preaching, healing, listening, defending, encouraging, giving alms to the poor. If faith meant the absence of good works, then many of the prophets went astray, especially those like Isaiah who preached a strong message of faith and of works.

Paul’s favourite author was Isaiah, responsible for that stirring, if almost untranslatable couplet: Unless your faith is firm, You shall not be affirmed (Isa 7:9). This same prophet also stressed good works. When Isaiah condemned Israel’s liturgy as presumptuous and useless, he called for conversion: Make justice your aim: redress the wrongs, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow (Isa 1:16,23).

The gospel reminds us of possible faults of seemingly good people. They can be greedy and miserable about preserving what they have amassed diligently and properly. They can find total security in wealth and respectability. To this streak in most of us, Jesus gives this warning: Avoid greed in all its forms….Possessions do not guarantee life… Do not grow rich for oneself instead of growing rich in the sight of the Lord.

First Reading: Romans 4:20-25

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that ou need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.