24 Sept. Monday of Week Twenty Five
Prov 3:27ff. Practical guidelines for dealing justly with one’s neighbour.
Luke 8:16ff. A lamp must shine, to brighten the house. People of spiritual depth will be given more.
The power of cryptic statements
This short gospel text is a good introduction to two weeks of readings from Israel’s wisdom literature. Jesus’ word about the lampstand is clear, though startling in its implications; his next word, however, about having and gaining, or not-having and losing even that little, is enigmatic and baffling, like so many of the best proverbs in the sapiential literature.
The cryptic statement in the Gospel, “The one who has, will be given more; the one who has not, will lose even that little.” can perhaps be paraphrased: the one who has time to pray and reflect will be given more; the one who has not taken the time to turn to God and friends for advice will lose even the little wisdom that he or she possesses. The sapiential books in particular remind us that the Bible is for adult reflection throughout life.
Mature reflection must always take into consideration one’s relation with one’s neighbours. This is the topic of the short essay from Proverbs,. Each line is as down to earth as sidewalks and working clothes. “Say not to your neighbour, Go and come back again, when you can give at once. Do not quarrel with a person without cause. Do not envy the lawless person.” Typical of the sapiential literature, the responses are moderate and possible. For these writers, the cardinal sins are extremism and radicalism. The sage even seems to permit “quarrels” or “envy” – but not without cause nor with the lawless person.
“There is nothing hidden that will not be exposed.” Often the Gospel of Jesus does not share the moderation of the sapiential literature. Evidently we need both for the diverse needs and challenges of our life. There is a time to be quietly prodded by the sapiential style; there is another time to be shaken up by the martyrs. At times we think about our past, at other times we seek our future, enlightened by Wisdom and the Gospel.
First Reading: Proverbs 3:27-34
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbour, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it” – when you have it with you.
Do not plan harm against your neighbour who lives trustingly beside you.
Do not quarrel with anyone without cause, when no harm has been done to you.
Do not envy the violent and do not choose any of their ways;
for the perverse are an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence.
The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the abode of the righteous.
Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he shows favour.
Gospel: Luke 8:16-18
“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”