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Scripture Reflections
Sunday, 27 October 2019 20:56

Prayer powers mission - Oct 28

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The liturgy continues the series of feasts of the apostles, reminding us today of two who are almost unknown and whose relics are venerated in the Basilica of St. Peter, near the altar of St. Joseph.

When I arrived in Rome for further studies in September 1960 I heard the story several times from fellow Americans how one of their number asked an Italian if he was a Catholic and the man said “yes”.

The teaching of Jesus in today’s Gospel begins with a story that is reported to him by some people about a group of Galileans massacred by Pilate while offering a sacrifice in the Temple.

Mention was made above of Paul’s assertion that the Law was a reason for the proliferation of sin, and of the criticisms brought against Paul by his adversaries.

The biblical texts of this liturgy offer a common theme: the freedom granted by God to every human person, the use that we make of it, and the responsibilities that follow from it.

Throughout his Letter to the Romans, Paul maintains that it is useless to rely on the Law of Moses, since it does not free humanity, but rather enslaves and condemns humanity.

The passage from Paul offered in today’s liturgy is at the very heart of his Letter to the Romans. Behind the statement that the human person needs to be redeemed, there is the conviction that guilt taints our relationship with God.

The common thread in the Scripture readings for today is the great theme of life. To Abraham – at the sunset of his earthly journey according to the story of Genesis, without hope of seeing the promise of a descendant realized - God confirms that biological barriers will not get in the way of his divine plan.

For those who watch the Olympics, one of the so-called “blue ribbon” or glamour events is the 100-metre dash. It is a race where most of the time it will be over in about 10 seconds. However, equally important is the Marathon.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus foresees the various contexts in which his apostles will be witnesses to him, including the possibility that they will encounter hostile reactions.

On this Feast of St Luke, we listen to Paul’s letter to his trusted emissary Timothy, in which he complains that he has no one to travel with, except for Luke.

Paul brings his presentation in Rom 1:18-3:20 to a close with a dramatic statement: “Jews and Greeks alike … are all under the domination of sin” (Rom 3:9).

In the first reading, Paul, addressing the believers of Rome, insists that the Jews, like the pagans, commit evil. Indeed, he points to how easily the Jews accuse the pagans of immortality, basking in the conviction of being better than others because of their total observance of the Law.

In the first reading, the loss to which humanity has condemned itself against the will of God is re-read by St. Paul through a sort of history of sin that he offers to the believers of Rome. Created by God for truth and justice, the human person turned to impiety and injustice.

The Liturgy of the Word today focuses on the power of the proclamation of the Gospel. The proclaimed word of God is pregnant with salvation; we must be willing to welcome it and to listen to it.

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