22Oct 22 Oct, Saturday of Week 29

Rom 8:1ff. God sent his son to us so that we can live according to the spirit. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will bring to life our mortal body.

Lk 13:1ff. Those who suffer are not always those who sin. But all must yield some good fruit – or the tree may be cut down.

Breaking down Barriers

Our Scriptures propose an ideal of close union of people among themselves and with God. The Bible seldom thinks of an individual as isolated, but always as a member of a race or nation, family or clan, and in the New Testament this relationship reaches out to all the earth. The Epistle to the Romans builds on a major position expressed already in chapter 5 that through one man, Adam, sin entered the world and that likewise, through one man, Jesus Christ, the grace of God is freely available to all. For Paul, we all share the same flesh and we are all gifted by the same Holy Spirit. “Flesh” for him indicates weakness and instability; while “Spirit” indicates life, strength, permanence, purity and sacredness. It is spirit that gives character, tonal quality, dignity and integrity.

Ideally, each member rejoices in the others and is assisted by them. However the variety of gifts and roles can provoke envy, antagonism, and even domination. The administrator must beware of over-administering, the teacher not try to resolve all problems speculatively, the practical-minded person not totally abandon study and reflection, or the spiritual-minded person leave everything to prayer. Each gift must function in a genuine role of service “to build up the body of Christ,” and therefore must cooperate with and depend on others, even while serving them.

If we share a common bond of flesh and spirit, as we read in Romans, then we are both dragged down and built up by one another. The same person’s talents can help and complement us, or annoy and threaten us.

As we live in close interaction, all of us one family with one another and with Jesus, we suffer together, we lift one another up. Together we sorrow for each other’s sins, so that together we bear fruit. If we do not transmit life together, we are like the persons whom Jesus warned, “You will all come to the same dreadful end unless you reform.” Or again, “If the tree does not bear good fruit, it shall be cut down.”

First Reading: Romans 8:1-11

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law – indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next ear, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

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