Prayers this week:
I call upon You, God, for You will answer me; bend Your ear and hear my prayer. Guard me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shade of Your wings. (Psalm 16: 6.8) Amen.
Almighty and Ever-Living God, our source of power and inspiration, give us strength and joy in serving You as followers of Christ. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Luke the Evangelist
St. Luke wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him "our beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). His Gospel was probably written between A.D. 70 and 85. Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion. "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes (2 Timothy 4:11). Luke wrote as a Gentile for Gentile Christians. This Gospel reveals Luke's expertise in classic Greek style as well as his knowledge of Jewish sources. The character of Luke may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles: (1) The Gospel of Mercy: Luke emphasizes Jesus' compassion and patience with the sinners and the suffering. He has a broadminded openness to all, showing concern for Samaritans, lepers, publicans, soldiers, public sinners, unlettered shepherds, the poor. Luke alone records the stories of the sinful woman, the lost sheep and coin, the prodigal son, the good thief. (2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation: Jesus died for all. He is the son of Adam, not just of David, and Gentiles are his friends too. (3) The Gospel of the Poor: "Little people" are prominent—Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, Simeon and the elderly widow, Anna. He is also concerned with what we now call "evangelical poverty." (4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation: He stresses the need for total dedication to Christ. (5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit: He shows Jesus at prayer before every important step of his ministry. The Spirit is bringing the Church to its final perfection. (6) The Gospel of Joy: Luke succeeds in portraying the joy of salvation that permeated the primitive Church. (Luke 24:50-53).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark (10.35-45)
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him. "Teacher", they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask." "What do you want Me to do for you?", He asked. They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?" "We can", they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with, but to sit at my right or left is not for Me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared." When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials impose authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His Life as a ransom for many."
The common good
(Homily by Fr. E.J. Tyler)
I once watched a Vietnamese movie portraying the terrible sufferings of many Vietnamese in communist re-education camps. At great threat to their lives many attempted to escape, at times succeeding. Once scene showed a conversation between the young and brutal commander and a badly treated inmate. The commander accused the inmate of not appreciating the freedom and liberation that communism had brought to the country. The weakened inmate replied that he had no freedom at all - and, with that perceived insult, the commander proceeded to beat him savagely. Powerful and aggressive ideologies of the last couple of centuries have had as their goal the improvement of society - that is, the common good. Robert Owen (1771–1858) was one of the founders of the socialist movement and had as his aim the alleviation of poverty. He laid it down that no one is responsible for his own will and behaviour, and is entirely formed by his external factors. So, he decided, the common good of society involved shaping individuals by a properly constructed environment. Of course, in such a view of the common good it is a short step towards tyranny. With the appearance of Karl Marx’s master work, Das Kapital (1848), the sad story of communism began. The common good - in its Marxist understanding - was the prize ahead, and untold suffering for untold numbers resulted. But there was at this time a very different notion of the common good. Capitalism understood itself as based on full freedom, especially in the use of one’s goods. It held that each person has the right to own and use his property as he deems fit and the state ought desist from interference. Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) held that rational self-interest in a free-market economy leads to economic well-being. Economic development was best fostered in an environment of free competition. But so bad did the practical result of this view become during the Industrial Revolution, that untold numbers of workers lived lives of terrible misery. They were at the mercy of those who had complete freedom in the use of their capital. All that mattered was production and profit. The great papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) was in large measure a rebuttal of this laissez-faire capitalism. I say all this as an introduction to what our Lord teaches in today’s Gospel, for it has direct implications for our understanding of the common good and the way society is to attain it. The result of so much of social and economic theory and practice of the last two and a half centuries has been the denial of the proper fulfilment of very many groups and individuals. It has resulted in tremendous abuses of authority and power, bringing misery and the denial of rights to those groups and individuals. Indeed, those groups have at times constituted the majority of the state. Russia was a religious nation, and nearly a century ago the Bolsheviks, with their notion of what was good for society - the common good, that is - seized power and over the course of decades wreaked great violence on the adherents of religion. We read that Jesus called his disciples together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials impose authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” The common good is attained by a profound spirit of service. By the common good is meant the total of those conditions of social life which allow people as groups and individuals to reach their proper fulfilment. It involves respect for and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person, the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of persons and of society, and it involves the peace and security of all. All men and women according to the place that they occupy participate in promoting this common good. They do this by respecting just laws and taking charge of the areas for which they have personal responsibility - such as the care of their own family and the commitment to their own work. They are also called, and should be free to, take an active part in public life as far as possible. All of this constitutes the true common good. For all of this, society needs a proper understanding of man and a model of service to man. Now, where is this understanding and this model to be found? Jesus Christ is the model for every man of what it is to live a life of service. As we heard in the Gospel, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His Life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10: 35-45). How far from the example of Jesus Christ have been very many theories of society and of the common good! Let us take Jesus Christ and what He has revealed of the nature and destiny of man as our inspiration for our service to society and our understanding of the common good. The implications for the common good of Christ’s Person and Teaching are extensively developed in the Church’s great social teaching, extending from Rerum Novarum already mentioned, through the various social Encyclicals since then, and including Caritas in Veritate of Benedict XVI. In our concern for the common good of society let us make it our business to be imbued with the Person and example of Jesus Christ and nourished by the Church’s teaching.