17Oct 17 October. Wednesday, Week 28

1st Reading: Galatians (5:18-25)

The fruits of “fleshy” living contrasted with spiritual living

If you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 1)

R.: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life

Blessed are they who do not follow
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walk in the way of sinners,
nor sit in the company of the insolent,
But who delight in the law of the Lord
and meditate on his law day and night. (R./)

They are like trees
planted near running water,
That yield their fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever they do will prosper. (R./)

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the Lord watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (11:42-46)

Woe to rigorists, for imposing burdens while neglecting compassion

Jesus said, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herb of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.”

BIBLE

Free to live a good life

Jesus declares the primacy of love, and warns against excessive individualism. In today’s text from Galatians, Paul minces no words in listing the kinds of bad behavious that results from the undisciplined flesh: lewd conduct, impurity, envy, envy, drunkenness and the rest. Jesus’ words are more carefully nuanced. While contrasting the Pharisees scrupulous payment of tithes, while neglecting justice and the love of God, he says that both love and tithes have their place. He did not campaign against the Jewish or Mosaic law. In fact, he observed it in most things and always had a sensible reason for departing from it. Whenever he permits a freer way of acting, it is generally in defence of his disciples, e.g., plucking and rubbing grain on the Sabbath (Mt 12:1).

The more we multiply rules and regulations, the more we try to control other people’s lives. With control over others comes a propensity to judge them. Jesus did not deny the need for rules and regulations, in this case, the requirement to pay tithes. So we should not carelessly neglect  such things. Yet he stresed the more important need for justice and the love of God. It is good to think about the fundamental values that guide our lives. Some consider the appearance of a home more essential than the happy life within the home. We may look good just because that is expected of us. But if we are in the habit of passing judgment on family, community and people at large, we have probably lost touch with the more central values of love.

Every individual has power to  live a good life, whatever their religion or none. We need to to look for this goodness in others before we hastily judge them. Jesus a dds another bit of important advice. Before we begin to judge other, we must first “lift a finger to lighten” their burden. Perhaps then we would noticetheir goodness and patience, so our negative attitudes would melt away.


Don’t stay burdened

We all find ourselves burdened from time to time. Sometimes it seems to weigh very heavily; at other times it is much lighter. The gospel calls us to help carry each other’s burdens, but the opposite can also happen, when someone is burdensome to us. In today’s gospel, Jesus accuses the lawyers, the experts in the Jewish Law, of loading people with burdens that are unendurable, without moving a finger to life them. They interpreted the Jewish Law in such a way that it had become a burden for people. Rather than a pathway to life, the Law had become another weight on an already burdened people.

Jesus did not come to weigh down those who were already burdened. Rather he invites them, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and have heavy burdens to carry, and I will give you rest.’ He wants to draw us into a deeper relationship with God and so live as God wants us to live. Following his gospel may be demanding, but they are the demands of love. They are the demands of a loving Lord who wants us to have life and have it to the full.


CANDLE

(Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr)

Ignatius (c. 50-107) was leader of the church in Antioch after Saint Peter. Sentenced to death during the fierce persecution under Trajan, he went as a prisoner to Rome where he suffered martyrdom in the amphitheatre in 107. On his way to Rome he wrote a series of inspirational letters to various local churches, commending them to be faithful to Christ and to remain united under their local bishop.

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