Tb 13:2, 3-4a, 4befghn, 7-8
Blessed be God, who lives forever.
25TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 1 / (White)
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest
1st Reading: Ezra 9:5-9
I remained seated and dismayed until the evening sacrifice; and then, at the time for the evening offering, I rose from my fasting, and with my clothes and mantle torn, I knelt down, spreading out my hands to Yahweh, my God.
I said, “My God! I am ashamed and confused, my God, I do not dare raise my eyes to you for our sins have increased over our heads and our crimes reach up to the heavens.
From the days of our ancestors to this day, our guilt has been great. We, our kings and priests have been given into the hands of foreign kings because of our crimes; we have been delivered to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and put to shame as on this day. However, for a brief moment, the mercy of Yahweh, our God, has been shown to us. He made a remnant of our people survive, and allowed the survivor to settle once again in his Holy Place; he has given us joy and life, though we are in bondage. We are no more than slaves, but in the midst of our slavery, God has not abandoned us, he has extended a merciful hand over us to support us before the kings of Persia. He has revived our life, enabled us to rebuild the House of our God, and to have walls in Jerusalem and in the other cities of Judah.
Gospel: Lk 9:1-6
Then Jesus called his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Don’t take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver coins; and don’t even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they don’t welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet: it will be as a testimony against them.”
So they set out and went through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Today’s gospel reading is highly revealing. It reveals both what kind of man Jesus was and what kind of Church he wants us to be. For he sends his disciples on a missionary tour, yet does not tell them to perform religious activities! Their mission is not about teaching the Our Father, for example, or explaining new truths about God, or organizing prayer meetings. Their mission is to help people in their basic needs as human beings, above all, in curing their diseases. In this connection, it is remarkable that according to Jesus’ solemn teaching (cf. Mt 25:31-46), when they appear before the glorious Christ for the Last Judgment, people will be judged neither on the basis of their religious beliefs nor of their religious practices nor of their degree of faith. They will be judged on whether or not they have fed, housed, clothed, healed or consoled their neighbor in need. In the other words of James, “In the sight of God, pure and blameless religion lies in helping the orphans and widows in need and keeping oneself from the world’s corruption” (Jas 1:27). In other words, Christianity is not just limited to piety and prayer, but has a lot to do with service and help given to anybody in need.
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