REFLECTION OF THE HEART
20th Sunday In Ordinary Time (year C)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
FIRST READING: JEREMIAH 38:4-6,8-10
In those days, the princes said to the king:
“Jeremiah ought to be put to death;
he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city,
and all the people, by speaking such things to them;
he is not interested in the welfare of our people,
but in their ruin.”
King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”;
for the king could do nothing with them.
And so they took Jeremiah
and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah,
which was in the quarters of the guard,
letting him down with ropes.
There was no water in the cistern, only mud,
and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
Ebed-melech, a court official,
went there from the palace and said to him:
“My lord king,
these men have been at fault
in all, they have done to the prophet Jeremiah,
casting him into the cistern.
He will die of famine on the spot,
for there is no more food in the city.”
Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Cushite
to take three men along with him,
and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before
he should die.
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: PSALM 40:2,3,4,18
RESPONSE: LORD, MAKE HASTE TO HELP ME.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me.
R/ Lord, make haste to help me.
The LORD heard my cry.
He drew me out of the pit of destruction,
out of the mud of the swamp;
he set my feet upon a crag;
he made firm my steps.
R/Lord, make haste to help me.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
Many shall look on in awe
and trust in the LORD.
R/ Lord, make haste to help me,
Though I am afflicted and poor,
yet the LORD thinks of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, hold not back!
R/ Lord, make haste to help me.
SECOND READING: HEBREWS 12:1-4
Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
he endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin,
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.
GOSPEL: LUKE 12:49-53
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise Be To You Lord Jesus Christ
Today’s Gospel text should be read with extra care. We do not interpret this literally. We need to know the scriptural background of this particular text in order to have a clearer understanding of its message. We also need to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. For instance, we know Jesus’ heart to be a harbinger of peace. He always greets his disciples with his peace. That is why we call him Prince of Peace. On his birth, the Angels sing “Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of goodwill.” But ironically in today’s Gospel Jesus said “Do you think that I come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” What does Jesus mean by bringing ‘division and not peace.’ Obviously, here we really need to contemplate in order to deeply understand what Jesus was trying to tell us here. We could see that Jesus was trying to shock his listeners. He wants to get their attention. No one wants strife and conflict, so why was Jesus talking about division. When Jesus said, “I have come to bring not peace but division,” it does not literally mean that he is the one bringing such division. The division that he was talking about is caused by the message that he brings. Of course, he comes to bring us the message of peace. But Jesus’ message has never been easy to obey and follow. This struggle to heed to the message of Christ is what really causes the division among the people. Some people will faithfully obey his commands, other’s will ignore and rebel to his commands. That is where conflicts will arise. Even among the disciples, we could see this division. Remember when Jesus was talking about him being the bread of life most of his listeners could not accept his teachings. They murmured among themselves, “this is a hard teaching,” and one by one they abandoned our Lord Jesus. However, the apostles remained faithful though they may find his teachings hard to understand too for they said to Jesus – “You have the word of eternal life.” The Gospel of today, therefore, calls for fidelity to Christ and his words. We may not fully comprehend his teachings. We may struggle at times to heed his commands but we need to put our complete trust in him. Jesus has the word of eternal life.
Story: THE SON
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart, and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice shouted angrily, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still, the auctioneer continued, “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD FOR $10!”
A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now, let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.” “What about the paintings?” “I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
God gave his Son 2000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?” Because you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.
– Author Unknown –
This is what Jesus meant when he says “I came not to bring peace but division.” He came to bring truth but the truth was not easily accepted. He came to bring love but his love was rejected and not reciprocated. He came to offer himself as a sacrifice on the cross but his sacrifice was unappreciated.
When our faith is severely tested, would we still remain faithful to Christ? Some will easily lose heart and will simply abandon our Lord. But others will remain faithful despite the hardships and the challenges for their hearts are focus to Christ. The choice is ours. Our choice will determine the depth of our love for Jesus.