AD SENSE

28th Week, Friday, Oct 16

Ephesians 1:11-14 / Luke 12:1-7 

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit: We belong to Christ. 

The Greek word for “seal,” which Paul uses in today’s reading, is sphragis. This word designates the tattoo, brand, or mark which ancients put on their slaves, sheep, and other property they owned to show that it belonged to them. Military officers placed a similar mark on soldiers under their command.

Thus, Clement of Alexander told second-century Christians to use doves (Holy Spirit), fish (Jesus), and ships (Church) as marks of ownership on their property, rather than swords and figures from mythology. The seal Paul refers to is the sign of the cross, which was placed on the foreheads of Christians when they were baptized. It was a sign that they now belonged to Christ.

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Do we act as people who belong to Christ? “God himself . . .

has placed his mark of ownership upon us.” 1Cor 1:21-22

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When we can understand what hypocrisy really is, then we may also realize that it is not a private affair. Because the hypocrisy of the individual affects other people and it also distorts the opinion and impression of others. Hypocrisy not only comes in many disguises; it needs many disguises.  For example, indifference or contempt may masquerade as innocence when we say "I don't know" Legality wears the makeup of legitimacy when it is stated that abortion is legal. Opportunism puts on the apparel of kindness to cover up ulterior motives and vested interests. But hypocrisy can only survive as long as there is fear. 

Jesus tells us in today's gospel not to fear because fear causes anxiety and unrest. Fear also makes us blind and we can't see our self-worth before God, and it blocks us from receiving God's love. Let us offer our fears, our anxieties and worries to the Lord, so that what is covered will be uncovered and what is hidden will be made clear.

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When World Literature is taught and talk about Candide, there is a section in the book where the main character finds El Dorado, a utopia, a paradise on earth. When Candide asks about their religion, the priest says that of course they have a religion – it consists of thanking God constantly for everything they have been given. And he seems confused about the question – what else could a religion be? What else would be appropriate for people to do? I can’t disagree with that. What else is appropriate for people to do? We exist for the praise of his glory.

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Let us pray: Lord our God, we stand before you with empty hands. Our good intentions, the things we do are powerless to save us. God, help us to accept this truth, for it hurts our pride. Teach us to receive gratuitously your grace, your merciful love and also the help and love of our neighbor. Save us from ourselves and from sin by the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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 We should sing our thanks and praise to God, with a harp or lyre, or just our voices. I used to be a music minister. I really miss singing at Mass. I really miss going to Mass. I still sing at my house when I’m watching Mass on my tv, but I still miss it. And I love the song by Dan Schutte that is based on the psalm for today, “Like Cedars they Shall Stand.” It says, “I will greet the Lord with my song, I will sing of the ways of the Lord” and goes on, “To thank him for his love at dawn his faithfulness through night.” Even before I was Catholic I sang at church in my college choir and sang mass with my friends from school, so my very beginnings in the church I chose were praising God with my song. The music was what introduced me to the church and encouraged me to stay. I still feel most connected to God and to the church when I’m singing hymns.

These days there are a lot of hard things happening, and it can seem difficult to stay positive and to be grateful, but even in the midst of hardships there are still things to be thankful for. We can continue to praise God for the good things around us, “the Lord looks down he sees all.”