Saturday, 31 August 2013
Saturday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
[A Word in Season, Readings for the Liturgy Hours VI].
The Letter of Paul to Philemon
Responsorv Gal 3:26-28
You are all children of God through faith. Baptized into Christ, you have clothed yourselves in Christ. + There are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, the slave and the free, male and female.
V. You are all one in Christ Jesus. + There are no more ...
From a commentary on Psalm 118 by Ambrose
Ambrose, Exositio in Psalmum 118, XIV, 24-26, CSEL 62 313-316
It makes a big difference whether you do what is pleasing to God willingly or from necessity. The Apostle was completely free; but freely, not from necessity, he became the servant of all in order to win over as many people as possible. He became everything to everyone not because of any legal requirement but of his own free will. He has shown me the loftiness of his intention in the letter he wrote to Philemon. Because he wished another person to be like himself, he made it clear that it was out of no necessity but of his own free will that he had returned the slave Onesimus to his master. Interceding for Onesimus, he says: "Receive him as my own heart. I should have liked to keep him with me to serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that your goodness might not be from compulsion but of your own free will."
How eagerly he endeavours to persuade! He was God's chosen instrument, yet he did not disdain to share his thoughts with another, because he did not want to do him out of his reward for doing something freely.
The Lord looks for voluntary servants. In the book of Isaiah he says: "Whom shall I send?" He could certainly have commanded his servant, whom he had found worthy of being sent, but he preferred not to do him out of his reward for making a spontaneous offering. He waited for him to offer himself; although he knew his good will, God still awaited his words so that he might earn a greater recompense. Thus it was that Isaiah volunteered, saying: "Here am I, send me," and so was sent to the people.
Jeremiah excused himself saying: "Lord God, I am not a good speaker; I am too young. " The Lord said to him: "You shall go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you to say." The prophet made his age an excuse out of diffidence, fearing that because of his youth he would be unable to carry out the divine commands. But God judged that age should be considered in terms of character rather than years, and discerned beforehand in his youthful servant the maturity of robust wisdom. He said therefore: "Do not say you are too young." In other words, he was not to judge his powers by thinking of his lack of years, for faith had given him the grey .hairs of wisdom. And again, when the same prophet said later: "Lord, you have deceived me, and I have been deceived." And I said: "I will not mention his name, or say anything else in his name," he added: "and there rose in my heart a burning like fire blazing in my bones, and I was completely broken and unable to bear it."
We see then that even if some have reason to think they should be excused from their office, or should refuse to undertake it, our Lord nevertheless either persuades them to think better of it, or inspires them with a desire for prophetic revelation, wishing them to undertake the office freely, not from necessity, so that they may receive a greater recompense for their total dedication.
Responsory 2 Cor 9:7.6
Each one should make up his or her own mind what to give and not be reluctant or feel under compulsion, + for God loves a cheerful giver.
V. Thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow the more you will reap,+ for God loves ...