12Nov 12 November. Monday of Week Thirty Two

Titus 1:1ff. The blessings of the faith and the qualities of a church leader.

Lk 17:1ff. Instruction on scandal, forgiveness and faith.

Firmly Planted

The Scripture texts for today suggest a healthy balance between care for the world outside us and the quest for inner peace. This interaction of ideals with hard-nosed common sense is evident in the Epistle to Titus, which reads like a late New Testament document, less enthusiastic than Paul’s earlier letters and displaying great pastoral concern.

Paul writes in paternal tones, calling Titus “my true child in our common faith,” but trusting in his prudent judgment, “I left you in Crete to do what remains to be done, especially the appointment of presbyters in every town.” He goes on to speak of faith’s broad horizons: Titus must promote the knowledge of the truth, the hope of that eternal life which God promised in endless ages past. Within this setting, Paul inserts his practical concern for the nitty-gritty. The presbyters to be appointed must be of irreproachable character, not self-willed, married only once, not arrogant, respectable family men, hospitable and amiable.

Today’s gospel tackles one of the most difficult problems among people who are high-minded and idealistic: they can too easily be scandalized. Maybe such people just need to be more streetwise and tough, but Jesus defends their innocence and warns against giving scandal to them.

Idealists often find it difficult to forgive, or to empathise with the temptations felt by others. Even in the Church, some are so obsessed with their own criteria of holiness and their own scale of values that they fail to see goodness in the different values of others. The inability of a church leader to dialogue with others may turn out to be a scandal to the less devout, less religious person. One’s quest for holiness needs to be balanced by faith in God’s activity in the lives of others.

First Reading: Titus 1:1-9

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began – in due time he revealed his word through the proclamation with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Saviour, To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.

Gospel: Luke 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.