25th Week, Tuesday, Sept 22

Proverbs 21:1-6. 10-13 / Luke 8:19-21

Proverbs talks about the poor: If you ignore them, you will be ignored.  

John R. Coleman, former president of Haverford College, wanted to get a first-hand feel for the plight of New York City's homeless. So, he spent ten days on the streets without money or shelter. A diary of those ten days was published in the New Yorker magazine.

One entry reads: "I walk much more slowly. I no longer see a need to beat the traffic light. Force of habit still makes me look at my wrist. But there's no watch there, and it wouldn't make any difference if there was. The thermometer has become much more important. I go back to the heated grate on 47th Street. The man who was there last night is already in place." Coleman's experience affected his attitudes toward the homeless in a dramatic way. 


How do we deal with our neighbor? Justice is more important than sacrifice, and we should hear the cries of the poor. How responsive are we to the needy? "Poverty . . . teaches men to do evil." Euripides


The Old Testament is divided into a few sections. There is the Pentateuch or the Torah which is the first five books of the Bible. Then there are the historical books, the prophetic writings and the wisdom books or wisdom literature. The wisdom books consist of the Book of Wisdom, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), and Sirach. 

Proverbs highlights the choices of the wicked and those of the good. Proper conduct has more value than the execution of ritual. Pride and arrogance lead to ruin. Diligence and care reap benefits; haste leads to loss. The proud and haughty person proceeds with little care for his neighbor. He who shows no concern for the cry of the poor will one day be unheard himself.

Transposed to a slightly higher key, the conduct of the just person as found in the Wisdom literature is also that of the true family of Christ, highlighted in today’s Gospel. The brother and sister of Christ work for the good of their neighbor, avoid arrogance and pride, are sensitive to the needs of the poor. We can all profit by the Old Testament ethic and, as we read the books of Wisdom, make our own examination of conscience.
Today’s Gospel carries us back to another Lucan narrative (in chapter 2), the loss of Jesus for three days during the family visit to Jerusalem. Jesus remains respectful of Mary and Joseph but also emphasizes the priority to be given to his Father’s concerns. There are times in our own lives when the concerns of God take precedence over the best of human interests.@


As we can see from the 1st reading, the truths of life are clearly and simply spelt out - act virtuously and with justice, be hardworking, be compassionate and charitable.

Yet, what is clear and simple may not necessarily be easy to carry out, as we are often fooled into thinking that what is simple is easy.

After his parables on the sower of the word and of the lamp, Luke, using the incident of Mary and Jesus’ relatives seeking him out in the crowd, sums up by saying that Jesus’ new family is made up of those who hear the word of God and live accordingly. Accepting the gospel transcends family ties. This is no direct rebuke to Mary, as we know that she received and responded to the word of God and pondered it in her heart. Like her, do we put it into practice? 

Some of the lessons which apostles have to learn, are not so easy. An apostle has to give up his family. His work, the people crowd   the family out. His first care is God and his Kingdom. His relatives come for help and to make use of his influence. In a country where nepotism is rampant, it is doubly hard. Jesus does not reject his family. He takes more into it. To his family belong all who hear the word of God and make it their own. The word family gives way to familiarity. This quality he expects in all Christians and especially his apostles.  Familiarity means to know God more intimately, to do his will more perfectly and to work zealously. Familiarity with God makes us also more one with each other. Sharing our union with God unites. We think and act in the same way. It makes the preacher and the teacher convincing, when people detect in him familiarity with God.  

Jesus said that those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice are the ones who are closest to Him. Yes, reading and hearing about the wisdom of life is one thing. Putting it into practice is another thing. Certainly, we want to live a meaningful and a God-centered life with the wisdom that is already found in the Bible. May we become what we read, and in doing so may we become more and more Christ-like to others. 


Let us Pray: Lord our God, you have called all who listen to the Word of your Son and put it into practice to be the new family you love. Address each of us personally, that we may understand your word, receive it with ready hearts, like Mary, and let it become flesh and blood in all our actions. We ask this through Christ our Lord.