Scripture: 1st Reading: Rom9,1-5; Resp. Psalm: Ps147,12-15,19-20; Gosp. Accl.: Jn10,27; Gospel: Lk14,1-6
There are times in life we seem at a loss of what to do to bring a loved one to the understanding of a truth, a life-changing position. It is painful to see someone going the wrong direction who still remains unconvinced and adamant in spite of all efforts to make him see reason and follow the right path. When that person is one that we know has been privileged with certain favours in life, then the sadness and anguish become even more devastating.
The First Reading today expresses such deep sentiments of loss and sorrow. St. Paul, who himself was a die-hard observant of the Torah and Jewish customs and traditions, and who was vehemently opposed to the Christian religion and to Christ, at a point in his life, found the same Christ whose disciples he was persecuting, on the road to Damascus. That singular experience was the turning point in his entire eventful life.
Paul was sorrowful because of the chosen people's rejection of the Messiah God had sent to them. Paul spoke to them about his own personal convictions about our Lord and wanted them to come to see and accept these same convictions. Paul would readily have undergone the most terrible fate if that would make them come to the acceptance of the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ.
The depth of Paul's sorrow was seen in the fact that he recognized that this was a people towards whom God had shown and demonstrated seven great prerogatives: that of sonship (Ex4,22; Deut14,1); Yahweh's glorious presence (Ex16,10); various covenants (Gen15,18, Ex24,7-8); the Torah or law (Ex20,1-17); the worship or cult that no other nation had or was given like the chosen people; the promises (Gen12,2); the Patriarchs. The greatest of these privileges and prerogatives was the Christ Himself, the Messiah sent by God who unfortunately was not recognized by the people to whom He was sent.
The call of His people and their choice was gratuitous and totally unmerited. That choice and election make His claims and rights over them and the expression of His sovereign will permanent and unchangeable. The people had the responsibility to respond to this call and especially to accept the Messiah that Yahweh sent to them. This unfortunately was not the case and was the cause of deep anguish and sorrow for all those who knew the great opportunities for salvation that the coming of the Messiah presented.
This were also some of the perplexities of our Lord during His earthly ministry. Our Lord was always at a loss at the people's depth of rejection of His Person and message. He was at a loss and could not understand how they could abandon the essentials to go after the unimportant and inconsequential. This was the case when He healed the man afflicted with dropsy on the Sabbath. The unessential fact here was the fact that one should not work on the Sabbath. The essential here was the fact that a life needed to be saved, liberated, set free to enjoy the freedom of the children of God.
As believers, it is important to reflect on the word today. By virtue of our baptism, we too are privileged people and have been given great prerogatives by our loving God and Father. We could never have merited these privileges in any way. This is why we need to value what God has done for us and celebrate it. That celebration consists essentially in the way we apply ourselves to the tasks He has called us to.
The celebration consists in our readiness to do His will at all times and in all circumstances. We must never forget the warnings of our Lord that to whom much is given in trust, much will be expected in return. This is why the word today challenges us to consider our call and election and ask ourselves how faithful we have been in our overall response to the One who chose us in His Son.
St. Martin de Potresti, whose memory we celebrate today, give us wonderful example on how best to respond to God's call. He dedicated his life to tending and caring for the poor and the sick. He was a man blessed with extraordinary spiritual gifts whose life made a profound impact on all those he encountered. He led a life of penance, prayer and deep humility. May he intercede for us.
Let us pray: O God our heavenly Father, we thank you for the coming of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for the great privilege of being called to be His disciples. Grant us the grace we are in need of to be faithful to our calling and thus come to eternal life you have prepared for us. May we follow the radiant example of the life of St. Martin and through the path of humility that he showed to us, reach your glory in heaven. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.