Friday, November 13, 2015 ~ Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin
~ Foundress, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart ~
Holy Gospel: Luke 16:1-Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, someone who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise one in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”
Meditation: Jesus quoted a familiar proverb to his audience: Where the body is, there the eagles (or vultures as is the case in our NAB translation of the Bible) will be gathered together. Eagles, like vultures, are attracted to carcasses of dying or dead animals. The Book of Job describes the vulture spying out its prey from afar (Job 39:29). The vultures swoop to catch their prey when the conditions are right, especially if the prey is exposed and vulnerable to a surprise attack. Severely weakened or dying prey have no chance of warding off forces that can destroy and kill. So what is the point of this analogy? When the day of God’s final judgment and vindication comes, the scene and location will be obvious to everyone. Those who have rejected God and refused to believe in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ will perish on the day of judgment – just like the beasts of prey who are cut off from the land of the living. The Lord Jesus will vindicate those who have believed in him and he will reward them with everlasting joy and happiness in his kingdom. The return of the Lord Jesus at the close of this present age is certain, but the time is unknown. The Day of the Lord’s judgment and final verdict will come swiftly and unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God’s good time! So what, then. does Jesus mean when he says that one person will be taken and another left? God judges everyone individually on how each person has responded to his gracious mercy and invitation to accept his Son as Lord, Savior and Redeemer. The Lord Jesus gives us personal freedom to accept or reject him as Lord and Savior. We are free to live as citizens of his kingdom or to choose for the kingdom of darkness that stands in opposition to God and his rule. No one can pass off their personal responsibility to someone else – no matter how close the ties may be in this present life. We will each have to give an account to the Judge of All for how we have accepted or rejected him as our lord and savior. The good news is that the Lord Jesus freely offers each one of us the grace, strength, and help we need to turn to him to receive pardon for our sins and healing for our minds and hearts so we can embrace his will for our lives and find the way to God the Father’s home. The Lord Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in his wisdom, truth, and love. The Holy Spirit helps us to turn away from sin and rebellion and to embrace God’s way of love, righteousness, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment is motivated by his love for each one of us. He does not desire the death of any one. He bids us to choose for life rather than death – for goodness and righteousness rather than sin and evil. The Day of Judgment will bring terror and disaster for those who have not heeded his warning or refused his grace and help. The Day of the Lord’s Return will be a cause for great joy and vindication for those who have put their trust in him, and followed him as he invites us to do.
Prayer: God our Father, who called Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America, by her example, teach us to have concern for the stranger, the sick, and all those in need, and by her prayers help us to see Christ in all the men and women we meet. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: The people in Noah’s time ignored the Lord’s warning of judgment because their hearts were hardened and rebellious towards God. When the great flood swept over the earth, they literally missed the boat. In today’s generation when everyone expects to be given a trophy, even though they may not have earned one, we might pause and reflect about our ultimate goal – getting to heaven. But the question is what are each of us doing to get there? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when the day of final judgment comes. They rejoice even now that their names are written in heaven and they look with eager longing for the day when they will see the Lord face to face. But those who expect to get to heaven based solely on their Baptism, but not living a life of faith in Christ after that will be sorely disappointed when they do not get their expected trophy. Now is an opportunity to get away from this contemporary an empty mindset of “everyone gets a trophy” and look at what we need to do to work and to earn our place in heaven. It is a simply one – live a life in Christ, nourish yourself by the living word of sacred scripture and by participation in the sacraments, be “doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22), embrace and live the 10 commandments, embrace and live the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12a), love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself, put into action the corporal works of mercy, make God and Jesus number one in your life. Now those aren’t hard to do, are they? If a radical conversion of mind and heart is necessary to get there, there is no time like the present – make a firm purpose of amendment today, and let Jesus be your true Shepherd and guide on the one path that leads to eternal life.
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.