07Nov 07 Nov, Monday of Week 32

Wis 1:1ff. Think of the Lord constantly, and seek his guidance tryly, for the spirit of the Lord fills the world and knows our thoughts.

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

Lives Firmly Planted

Scripture urges us to reach outward and to be all-embracing, like the very spirit of God. At the same time we must attend to our inward heart, think of the Lord, and practice self-control and compassionate understanding. As we meditate on the texts for today, we are helped to form a healthy balance between concern for the world outside us and a silent quest for inner peace.

This week draws on the Book of Wisdom, the last of the sapiential books to be written; the 33rd and 34th weeks, on the two Books of Maccabees and the Prophecy of Daniel, where the Jews suffered for their fidelity to the Mosaic law in its prescriptions for daily and family living. The Book of Daniel, like Maccabees, reflects an era of intense persecution; and particularly in Daniel we have a glimpse of the glorious coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven. cycle II for weeks 33 and 34 reads from the New Testament counterpart to Daniel, the Book of Revelation.

We are to live with two feet firmly planted on earth. The Old Testament often strikes us as a very earthy document, yet no less valuable for that. God accepts us whoever we are and wherever we happen to live, whatever may be our family or neighbourhood setting. Already in its opening essay, the Book of Wisdom introduces many practical pointers or warnings for this steady positioning of ourselves: seeking integrity of heart; avoiding foolish advice; not putting God to the test; the duty to rebuke injustice; keeping guard over our tongue. We note the sense of God’s presence within this practical counsel: for God listens to all that is said. The wise Jewish writer in Egypt who composed the book also provides a larger setting for life, with heart and mind sensitive to God’s presence within oneself and open to a God-filled universe. No place is too small, no question too trifling, nor is any place too immense nor any problem too complex, for God not to be immediately at hand, struggling and resting with us. Paul hs exactly the same insight when he says, “Whether we eat or drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God” (I Cor 10:31).

Today’s gospel tackles one of the most difficult problems among people who are high-minded, trustful and idealistic: they can easily be scandalized. Some will say that such people just need to be more streetwise and hardened to life, but Jesus defends such innocence and warns against giving scandal. Paul wrote similarly, that if his eating meat causes scandal to his brothers and sisters, he will never again eat it (I Cor 10:28).

On the other hand, these idealistic people often find it difficult to forgive. Because virtue comes as second nature to them, they cannot appreciate the force of temptation felt by others, or they are so obsessed with their own criteria of holiness and their own scale of values, that they fail to see the goodness and the different values in the other. The inability of such pious folk to forgive may turn out to be a still greater 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: Wisdom 1:1-7

Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth, think of the Lord in goodness and seek him with sincerity of heart; because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.

For perverse thoughts separate people from God, and when his power is tested, it exposes the foolish; because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, or dwell in a body enslaved to sin. A holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit, and will leave foolish thoughts behind, and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

For wisdom is a kindly spirit, but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words; because God is witness of their inmost feelings, and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues. Because the spirit of the Lord has filled the world, and that which holds all things together knows what is said,

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.