16Oct 16 October, 2019. Wednesday of Week 28

1st Reading: Romans 2:1-11

Jew and gentile will be judged by the same criteria

You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Responsorial: Psalm 61:2-3, 6-7, 9

R./: Lord, you give back to all according to their works

In God alone be at rest, my soul;
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress: I stand firm. (R./)

Take refuge in God all you people.
Trust him at all times.
Pour out your hearts before him
for God is our refuge. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 11:42-46

Woe to Pharisees and lawyers who insist on impossible legal details

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.”


Liberty, not Licence

The Scriptures promote freedom and the primacy of love, but warn against libertinism and individualism. Jesus’ teaching on this is carefully nuanced. He criticises how the Pharisees put a priority on payment of tithes, while neglecting justice and the love of God. The latter are more important, says Jesus, but he adds, “without omitting the other.” He did not campaign against the Mosaic law. In fact, he observed it carefully and always gave a good reason for departing from it, such as when defending his disciples for eating grains of corn on the Sabbath.

Discernment helps us distinguish the essential from the non-essential, and avoid rashly judging others. The more that we multiply rules, the more we try to control other people’s lives and are tempted to judge them. We can run the danger of Pharisaism by insisting on conformity. Devotion to punctilio can be a barrier to holiness. Jesus did not reject all rules and regulations, in this case, the duty of each Jew to support the temple. But he taught that the love of God and social justice came before all other obligations. We need to similarly avoid judging people by narrow, external criteria. Some would esteem the appearance of a home more than the happy life within the home. If we quick to judge others, we have probably lost touch with the more central values of love.

St Paul harshly portrays the sinfulness of the pagan Roman empire. But he adds an important guideline, “With God there is no favouritism.” He notes the cultural diversity between Jews and Romans and their different sets of values. People from one culture must be fair to those from an alien background. While we may hold some moral truths as absolute, we must be respectful of different cultures. Jesus advises that before judging others we must first try to lighten their burden. Perhaps then we would recognise their good qualities, and see them in a new light.

Status seekers, beware!

Jesus blames the Pharisees for taking the V.I.P. seats in the synagogues. Publin honour and status was highly prized in the culture of those days. Most of the generous giving for public parks, baths and temples was with a view to gaining honour from the public. The donor’s name was clearly inscribed for all to see. Things haven’t really changed much in that regard. Jesus taught a different attitude to honour and prestige. He certainly did not seek it for himself, nor did he want his disciples to seek fame, even though they were prone to doing so, each one competing to be a celebrity.

James and John wanted the most prominent seats in the future kingdom of God. But according to Jesus we should direct all honour to God and not seek fame for ourselves. Any good works we do should be for the honour of God and not to for our own glory. At the beginning of the sermon on the mount he invites us to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Status seekers, beware!


Saint Gall, abbot and missionary

Gall or Gallus (c. 550-645) studied in the monastery at Bangor, Co. Down and was one of the companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to the European continent. First they lived a monastic life in Luxeuil (France); and then (610) they voyaged up the Rhine to Bregenz. But when Columban moved on to Italy, Gall remained behind due to illness and was nursed at Arbon, just south of the Bodensee (Lake Constance). He led the life of a hermit and preacher for many years, and died at the age of ninety-five near the city now called Sankt Gallen.

Saint Hedwig, religious

Hedwig or Jadwiga (1174-1243) was Duchess of Silesia from 1201 and High Duchess of Poland from 1232. On the death of her husband, Henry (1238) she entered the Cistercian monastery which he had established at her request and lived there the rest of her life as a lay sister.

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, religious

Margaret Alacoque (1647-1690) from L’Hautecour, Burgundy, was from early childhood devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. After four years of illness, at the age of 13 she vowed to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, and was restored to perfect health, adding the name Mary to her baptismal name. She experienced mystical visions of Jesus Christ, whom she zealously proclaimed under the symbol of the Sacred Heart.


One Response

  1. Eddie Finnegan1

    Saint GALL (Gallus), saint of the day:

    If GALL in his hermitage near what became Sankt Gallen on Lake Constance, unable to say Mass for ?three years even in private, got a glimpse of Romans 2:1 in today’s First Reading, what would he think of his erstwhile Master, COLUMBAN(us), far to the south in Milano or Bobbio?

    Romans 2:1: “You have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”

    The little thumb-nail life of Gall above necessarily glosses over an intriguing episode in the parting of Columban and Gall in 612 after their couple of years at their monastery in Bregenz and more than twenty years before that since they left Comgall’s Bangor. The Benedictine monk Walafrid Strabo, a good two centuries later, gives what is probably the St Gallen tradition:
    “When the time for their departure (southwards) was at hand, Gall fell suddenly ill of a fever. He threw himself at the Abbot’s feet and said he was suffering from a severe illness and was unable for the journey. Columban said to him, ‘Brother, I know that now it seems a heavy burden to you to suffer fatigue for my sake. Nevertheless, this I enjoin on you before I go, that as long as I live in the body, you do not dare to celebrate Mass.”

    Columban was a tough nut, it seems, when it came to a matter of the greater Mission. Apparently he didn’t lift that sanction from his right-hand man, Gall, until he was practically on his own deathbed in 615. They never met again on this side of the grave.

    I would be interested in any light that Pádraig, or Seán McDonagh or any other Columban can shed on this episode.

    For general readers like myself, I think that Tomás Ó Fiaich’s ‘Columbanus in his own Words’ (Veritas 1974 / 1990) is still good on Columbanus’ relationship with his Irish and Continental monks and monasteries. And of course Ó Fiaich’s ‘Gaelscrínte i gCéin’ 1960/61 & ‘Gaelscrínte san Eoraip’ (FAS, 1986) gives the wide sweeping picture, with an excellent ‘Tuilleadh Eolais’ agus Index in the 1986 Edition – a great guide as I found during my few hours on my first visit last Easter to Lucca and the trail of Naomh Fridian / San Frediano / Fredianus / Frigidiano / Frigidianus who, Tomás Ó Fiaich tells us, has no fewer than 23 Tuscan parishes named after him.

    It’s time we heard more in Ireland about Gall, Fridian and all our other European ambassadors of the 6th century onwards – if only to consign Boris and Brexit to their own proper little footnote in history. Tom Fee would like that!

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