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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Hos 14:2-10): Thus says the Lord: «Return, o Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord. Say to him, ‘Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls. Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount; we shall say no more, “Our god”, to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion’. I will heal their defection, says the Lord, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.

»I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; they shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I will prosper him. I am like a verdant cypress tree, because of me you bear fruit! Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them».
Responsorial Psalm: 50
R/. My mouth will declare your praise.
Have mercy on me, o God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart, and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom. Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, that I may be purified; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

A clean heart create for me, o God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 16:3; 14:26): Alleluia. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you to all truth and remind you of all I told you. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 10:16-23): Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

“You will be hated by all because of my name”

Fr. Josep LAPLANA OSB Monk of Montserrat (Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel highlights the difficulties and contradictions that Christians will have to endure for the sake of Christ and His Gospel, and how they must resist and persevere until the end. Jesus promised us: "I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Mt 28:20); but He did not promise His followers an easy path. On the contrary, He said: "You will be hated by all because of my name" (Mt 10:22).

The Church and the world are two realities of “difficult” coexistence. The world, which the Church must convert to Jesus Christ, is not a neutral reality, as if it were virgin wax waiting for a seal to give it shape. This would have been the case only if there had been no history of sin between the creation of man and his redemption. The world, as a structure apart from God, obeys another master, whom the Gospel of John refers to as “the prince of this world,” the enemy of the soul, to whom the Christian made a vow of disobedience on the day of their baptism, to stand up against him, and to belong solely to the Lord and the Mother Church who gave birth to him in Jesus Christ.

Still, we continue to live in this world and not another; nor do we deny our honest contribution to sustain and improve it —the duties of civic citizenship are also Christian duties; paying taxes is a duty of justice for Christians. Thus, Jesus said that His followers are in the world, but not of the world (cf. Jn 17:14-15). We do not belong to the world unconditionally; we belong entirely to Jesus Christ and to the Church, our true spiritual homeland, which transcends the barrier of space and time and leads us to our final homeland in heaven.

This dual citizenship inevitably clashes with the forces of sin and dominion that move worldly mechanisms. Perhaps this is why, reflecting on the history of the Church, Newman said that "persecution is the mark of the Church and perhaps the most enduring of all."

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “The athlete does not win because he strips himself, for he undresses precisely in order to begin the contest, whereas he only deserves to be crowned as victorious when he has fought properly.” (Saint Paulinus of Nola)

  • “Jesus tells us: ‘I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves’. The Christian will have to be rather prudent; at times even shrewd. These are virtues that are accepted by the logic of the Gospel. But never violence.” (Francis)

  • “We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ ...” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 1821)