19Sep 19th September. Friday, Week 24

Saint Januarius, bishop.

Gennaro or Januarius, Bishop of Naples, was martyred in the Diocletian persecution which ended in 305. The faithful gather three times a year in Naples Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of what is believed to be a sample of his blood.

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

(Belief in the Lord’s resurrection is not superfluous, but a vital basis for hope)

Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Gospel: Luke 8:1-3

(Jesus journeys with the twelve and some women, preaching the Kingdom of God.)

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

When the ministry is going well

There’s a clear tone of enthusiasm, hope and achievement in today’s Gospel story, while the epistle shows Paul locked in argument with some Christians in Corinth who feel that belief in the resurrection is superfluous. The Gospel has more appeal as a topic for today’s short homily.

Luke’s account mirrors the first springtime of Jesus’ apostolic journeys. The scene is idyllic, that of a glorious tour in which the Lord is winning everyone for the kingdom. The community of disciples around him, the apostles, the women and “many others,” impress us with their serene way of life. Some of them had been cured of serious illness or physical handicap. The “seven devils” from which Magdalene had been released do not necessarily mean sinfulness, much less demonic possession, but do suggest a profound cure that Jesus had worked in her. Sickness and death were reflected the reign of evil in the world and must be totally conquered and removed within the Kingdom of God. God’s final triumph is already anticipated by Luke, who in his “Gospel of women,” gives them a place of honour in this peaceful scene. Again, typical of Luke, the names of influential public figures are introduced, like “Johanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Chuza,” Somehow, the political and the spiritual Kingdom have come graciously toether. He is already anticipating the purpose of the cross, which is complete redemption, body and spirit, men and women, friends and strangers, heaven and earth.

 


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