28Aug 28 August 2013. Wednesday of the Twenty First Week

1 Th 2:9ff. The gospel is received not as mere opinion but as God’s word.

Matt 23:27ff. Woe to hypocrites, splendid outside but nasty inside.

First Reading: 1 Th 2:9-13

You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.

Gospel: Matthew 23:27-32

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

Work and Faith as Complementary

The readings offer us two complementary views on human activity. Paul stresses ordinary, daily work while the gospel condemns “works”. Paul’s church-work was unpaid, so he needed to was support himself by his handiwork as a tentmaker. Clearly he spent most of whatever he earned, and only a little was left over to share with the poor. Yet he knows that his religious message was to be received not as just one man’s opinion, “but as it truly is, the word of God at work within you who believe.” God must be “at work within you” before anyone can believe. Yet here external means help to enable people to recognize God at work. These external means preparing for faith are Paul’s daily work.

People who are willing to be thoroughly human have a better chance of being used by God than those who are always trying to seem sacred and different. Conscious sanctity carries the threat of pride and false superiority, which is destructive of healthy human relations.


3 Responses

  1. Darlene Starrs

    August 28th is the Feast Day of St. Augustine…or so it is in Canada. St. Augustine would have been one of those people that Jesus saw under the fig tree and from what one of the readings says above….God would have been urging Augustine to lead a life worthy of God…I realize that many people today have issues with Augustine’s theological contribution, however, there is still a timeless lesson in Augustine’s life story….and that is the glorious reconciliation between God and himself…I never dispute the unconditional love of God….which makes God both love and justice at the same time. I shall be saying a prayer to St. Augustine that our Church experiences genuine conversion, particularly, as it seeks to move forward, dispensing with rigid theological formulas and the many “isms”, none more troublesome than clericalism…Since Augustine becomes a “bishop”, he may be very “potent” from a heavenly position!

  2. Teresa Mee

    I’m worried about Augustine’s wife/partner of 15 years. Did he ditch her or did she ditch him?

    Whichever it was, who CONTINUED TO care for and nurtured their young son?

  3. Eddie Finnegan

    Cherchez la femme, Teresa! No, not his unnamed (common law) wife/partner, but the “oul’ lassie” herself, Monica whose feast was yesterday, 27th. I’m sure the Berber Monica was really an Irish mother at heart. Her legendary tears and pursuit of Augustine across the Mediterranean, up to Rome and then on to Ambrose in Milan weren’t all about her son’s wild oats or even his Manicheism. True, Augustine’s gap year at 15 had started him on a year or two of extra-curricular activities around the ‘cauldrons’ of Carthage, but by 17 he was already settled down with ‘yer one’ especially after ‘God’s Gift’, Adeodatus, arrived. That, I’d guess, is really what annoyed Monica: ‘yer one’ was just too common for Monica (or even the times they lived in)to regard as a wife for a man of the ‘honestior’ middle-class. He didn’t ditch her, nor she him – any ditching was done by the oul one, the sainted Monica. So after 15 years of faithful cohabitation, yer one and her teenager Ade were given their tickets back to Africa, while Monica set about arranging a proper State & Church hitching for her 33-year old boy. It never worked out, of course, for Augustine discovered ascetic celibacy and Monica died on their way through Ostia. Poor Monica shouldn’t be blamed too harshly: her pagan husband played away most of the time. Maybe Monica’s lachrymose piety was too much for him. Like Constantine, he saved it all up for a deathbed conversion more or less.
    Perhaps I should declare a minor interest. I discovered Augustine on a calendar (probably SMA or MMM) around my sixth birthday which happens to be 28th August. It seemed to make sense when Cardinal D’Alton asked me about four years later which moniker he should confirm me with that I should plump for Monica’s lad. So Augustine has been a sort of occasional companion of mine ever since. Now that I’ve reached my three-score-and-ten today, I thought I’d treat myself to a nice Folio Society edition of ‘City of God’, which I last encountered in Augustine’s Latin with Prof Tom Finan in Maynooth just fifty years ago.