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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 14th 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 disciples, «Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. Be on your guard with respect to people, for they will hand you over to their courts and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, and so you may witness to them and the pagans. But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who will speak; but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you.

»Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. For sure, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes».

«Everyone will hate you because of me»

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

Today, the Gospel emphasizes the troubles and contradictions we Christians have to suffer because of Christ and his Gospel, and how we must stand firm and persevere to 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 disciples an easy journey; on the contrary, He told them: «Everyone will hate you because of me» (Mt 10:22).

The Church and the world are two difficult to coexist realities. Church is bound to convert the world to Jesus Christ, but our world is not a neutral reality, as if of virgin wax waiting for the mould to shape it. This is what it would have been like, had there not been a history of sin between the creation of man and his redemption. But, as an isolated from God structure, the world obeys another lord, that St. John's Gospel names as “the lord of this world”, the soul's foe, whom —when baptized— the Christian has promised to disobey to, to stand up to him, so as to only belong to Jesus Christ and to the Mother Church, which begot him in Jesus Christ.

However, though christened, we still live in this world and not somewhere else; we do not give up our earthly citizenship nor do we deny our honest contribution to sustain and improve our world; our civic duties are also Christian duties; to pay taxes is a duty of fairness for Christians. Jesus said that his followers are in the world, but do not belong to the world (cf. Jn 17:14-15). We do not unconditionally belong to the world, we only belong to Jesus Christ and to the Church, our true spiritual fatherland, that is down here in our earth and goes through space and time barriers to finally disembark us in our definite destination, Heaven.

This double citizenship necessarily stumbles upon the forces of sin and its influence that powers the worldly mechanisms. When reviewing the history of Church, Newman said that «Church's brand is persecution and, perhaps, a longer-lasting one».

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