AD SENSE

22nd Week, Friday, Sept 4

1 Cor  4: 1-5 / Luke 5:33-39
Paul talks about judgment: Don't pass judgment ahead of time. 

There's a trial scene in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. When all is ready, the king says, "Read the accusation against the accused, the Knave of Hearts." With that, White Rabbit blows three loud blasts on the trumpet. then Rabbit unrolls a huge parchment scroll and reads the accusation. he finishes and rolls the scroll back up. Then the king turns to the jury and asks, "What is your verdict?" White Rabbit jumps up and says, "No, your Highness, we're not ready for that yet. There's a great deal we must do before we pass judgment." Like the king, we too are prone to pass judgment before it is time. This is also Paul's point in today's reading. 

**** 
We would be mentally so much more healthy and would have so much more peace of mind, if only we made this sentence of Paul our conviction and principle of life: "It does not make the slightest difference to me whether you, or any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself" (verse 3) and he adds: "The Lord alone is my judge" (verse 4). It does not make a difference to him what he feels. It makes no difference to him what he thinks and does. He thinks himself an administrator. The quality of an administrator is faithfulness. He has to be objective; he deals with facts; neither subjective judgement nor hurt feelings should influence his administration. The trust he administers is the mysteries of God. He will judge, reward and praise the faithful steward.

****
How judgmental are we of people? "Do not judge others, and God will not judge you." Luke 6:37 
****
We like to have new things. It feels good to be the first owner of something new, and as it is said "A new broom sweeps clean". But as with all things new, we need to also get used to it. A new phone needs to be customized. A pair of new shoes needs to "break in" before it can be comfortable. New clothes need to be washed and worn before we can get used to it. In other words, new things need to get "seasoned" before they become part of us and then we won't want to part with them. As we might know for ourselves, some of us have got new shirts in the cupboard, but we still keep wearing the same few shirts until they are thread-bare and we still don't want to change them. (It happens more with men than with women. With women it is always not enough dresses to change!) Yes, when we get used to things, we will use them season in and season out, until we are so "seasoned" with them.

But in the gospel parable, the lesson is about prayer and fasting.They            are of great importance for every Christian but especially for an apostle of Christ. An apostle is a man of prayer and mortification. The essential expressions of the spiritual life are prayer, mortification and love. As with faith and hope, the greatest among them is love. The purpose of prayer and fasting is the union with Christ. This is what religion is about. The apostles live in the presence of Christ and share with him all the hardship he demands. Prayer is meant for us to live our lives out of the presence of God and fasting should make us able to give him all that helps us to give him a better service.

Jesus said that nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. Because when the new wine was initially put into the new skins, the fermentation process would have "seasoned" the skins, and they can't be used again to put in new wine. So, it is always new wine into new skins. So, when new challenges come our way, we also need to have new ways to handle them so that there will be a renewal in ourselves, a renewal of mind and heart. Yet we can be so used and "seasoned" in our old ways that we tend to think that what worked in the past should work now, and we don't think of new ways to meet new challenges. It often happens with the way parents handle their children. Children grow up and change fast, but the parents may still be using outdated ways of handling their children, and hence the generation gap grows wider. As we come for the First Friday Mass and Devotion to the Sacred Heart, Jesus wants to renew our hearts so that we will be like new wineskins ready for the new wine. It could be that we are praying for a particular intention and our prayer doesn't seem to get anywhere. Then it is time to change and to ask Jesus to renew our hearts so that we will be open to the promptings of a new direction so that we can see that Jesus is answering our prayer.

Yes, let us pray for a renewal of our hearts so that Jesus can pour the new sweet wine into our lives.
****
Reflection: The lesson is about prayer and fasting.  They are of great importance for every Christian but especially for an apostle of Christ. An apostle is a man of prayer and mortification. The essential expressions of the spiritual life are prayer, mortification and love. As with faith and hope, the greatest among them is love. The purpose of prayer and fasting is the union with Christ. This is what religion is about. The apostles live in the presence of Christ and share with him all the hardship he demands. Prayer is meant for us to live our lives out of the presence of God and fasting should make us able to give him all that helps us to give him a better service. It would be foolish to buy the new cloth and use it to repair an old one or to pour fermenting wine into old wine skins. It is not a thousand prayers that unite us to Christ, but to accept him wherever we find him. It is not fasting till the bones rattle that gives God the best service but love that serves.. 

***
Let us Pray
Faithful God of tenderness and mercy, you want us to be your people on the march with Jesus your Son toward a new future of justice and love. Do not allow us to suffocate in being contented with old habits and sluggish ways. Help us to accept the pain of leaving the familiar behind us and open us to the challenge of the gospel to become more like your Son who guides our faltering steps, Jesus Christ our Lord.
****