10Nov 10 November. Saturday, Week 31

1st Reading: Philippians (4:10-19)

Thanks to the community who helped Paul in his imprisonment

I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 111)

R.: Happy are those who fear the Lord.

Happy the man who fears the Lord,
who takes delight in all his commands.
His sons will be powerful on earth;
the children of the upright are blessed. (R./)

The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour,
The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever. (R./)

With a steadfast heart he will not fear.
Open-handed, he gives to the poor;
his justice stands firm for ever.
His head will be raised in glory.
(R./)

Gospel: Luke (16:9-15)

Maxims about worldly goods and the service of God

Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your heats; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”

BIBLE

Inter-dependency

In yesterday’s gospel Jesus reproached idle disciples for not showing enterprise and initiative, and today Paul commends his active co-workers in the service of the gospel, claiming that he himself has learned to cope in all circumstances, whether he is well fed or going hungry. The gospel directs us to make good use of this world’s goods. How conscious are we of the needs of people who share this world with us?

Chained in a prison cell, Paul has adapted to his environment and even made a virtue out of necessity. “I know what it is to have plenty and how to go hungry.” In effect, he says, “I know how to eat well when I have the good fortune to do so.” Most of us might cringe at admitting this publicly; we may also hesitate to acknowledge how others have helped us. Paul is fulsome in thanking his “dear Philippians,” for their gifts. These did more than relieve his hunger in his prison; they gave him spiritual comfort at a time when no other local church sent him anything.

We need to accept our dependency on others while maintaining our dignity and self-respect. Paul advises us to share our own selves, our time, our insights, our ability and our sympathetic listening. Long before the universal socialism urged by Karl Marx, St Paul valued the principle, “To each according to their need; from each according to their ability.” The gospel says unambiguously that we must share whatever we have and not be slaves of money. If we are faithful in such small matters, we can be trusted in greater things. And in financial matters, very often what humans think important is worthless in the eyes of the living God.


Relative ownership

Jesus distinguishes between material riches and genuine riches, associating genuine riches with heaven (the mansions of eternity.) He calls us to a just use of material riches so as to prepare us to receive the genuine riches of eternal life. This involves using our resources in the service of the Lord and his people.

St Paul singles out his Philippian Christians as an example of using material resources in the service of others. He remembers how in the early days of his preaching the gospel, the church in Philippi helped him with gifts of money. Writing from prison, he thanks them for their more recent help. Knowing Paul was in prison, they sent their gifts to him by courtesy of their messenger Epaphroditus. Paul is grateful for their parcel, presumably of food and clothing, but states es that he is not dependant on it, because, as he says, ‘there is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength’, namely Jesus. Paul found his strength, his security, in the Lord, and this left him detached in regard to material things. His example shows that if we find our strength and security in the Lord we need not become a servant of Mammon of material well-being.


CANDLE

(Saint Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the Church)

Leo I (c. 400-461) from Tuscany, was the first pope to have been called “the Great.” He succeeded Sixtus III as bishop of Rome in 440 and in 452 persuaded Attila the Hun to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He is most remembered theologically for writing the Tome which guided the debates of the Council of Chalcedon. Leo understood Christ’s being as the hypostatic union of two natures – divine and human – indivisibly united in one person of Jesus.


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