12Nov 12 November. Monday, Week 32

1st Reading: Titus (1:1-9)

The blessings of the faith and the qualities of a church leader

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began — in due time he revealed his word through the proclamation with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Saviour, To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 23)

R.: Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm. (R./)

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things. (R./)

He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Gospel: Luke (17:1-6)

Instruction on scandal, forgiveness and faith

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.


Planted in the real world

Our Scriptures today present both high ideals and hard-nosed common sense. The common-sense pragmatism appears in the Epistle to Titus, which reads like a manual for clergy, less enthusiastic than Paul’s earlier letters and focussed on details of church governance. Paul writes in paternal tones, calling Titus “my true child in our common faith,” yet trusting in his prudent judgment, “I left you in Crete to do what remains to be done, especially the appointment of presbyters in every town.” He goes on to speak of faith’s broad horizons: Titus must promote knowledge of the truth, the hope for which God promised in endless ages past. Within this setting, Paul inserts his practical concern for the nitty-gritty. The presbyters to be appointed must be of irreproachable character, not self-willed, married only once, not arrogant, respectable family men, hospitable and amiable.

The gospel tackles a problem often expereienced by idealists: they can too easily be scandalized. Maybe such people just need to be more streetwise, but Jesus defends their innocence and warns against giving them avoidable offence. Idealists often find it difficult to forgive, or to empathise with the temptations felt by others. Even in the Church, some are so obsessed with their own criteria of holiness that they fail to see goodness in the different values of others. The inability of a church leader to dialogue with others may turn out to be a scandal to the less devout, less religious person. Our personal quest for holiness needs to be balanced by faith in God’s activity in the lives of others.

Disciples need faith

In the gospels we find many prayers of petition made to Jesus by various people. When his disciples were in danger in a storm at sea, they prayed aloud ‘Lord, save us.’ Today’s gospel reports another prayer of theirs, ‘Lord, increase our faith.’ It is a prayer we can all make our own. It reminds me of another prayer of someone in the gospels, ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.’

The request, ‘Lord, increase our faith’, comes soon after they were called to ‘forgive those who offend us, even if they offend us seven times.’ In response to this high ideal, the disciples felt their need of more faith. Jesus declares that even faith the size of a mustard seed can do extraordinary things. The Lord can work even through our little faith. Though we feel our faith is weak at times, we can thank God for what little faith we have, because the Lord can do great things with it. Never underestimate how the Lord can work in and through our little faith, if we let him.


(St Josaphat, bishop and martyr)

Josaphat (1580-1623) was born in Lithuania into a Catholic family and early promoted Catholic unity in a country divided between Orthodox and Catholic. He became Catholic archbishop of Polotsk in 1614. While clinging to unity with Rome, he opposed those Latins who would suppress Byzantine traditions in the name of Catholic unity. A hotbed of trouble was Witebsk, and Josaphat went there to bring about peace. But when he tried to address the mob, he was struck in the head and his mangled body was thrown into the river, making him a martyr to the cause of Christian unity.

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