No one had understood God's plan. David, Nathan, Solomon, the kings of Israel had not understood it. All had put their dreams in opposition to God and expected from him only the help to achieve them. Mary does not behave like them; she does not put her plan in opposition to God. She only asks what is the role God intends to entrust to her and joyously welcomes his initiative.
News in Homilies
In the Gospels we encounter people with sad faces: the rich young man who has not the courage to detach his heart from his possesions (Mt 19:22), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:17). But an atmosphere of joy pervades in all the pages of the Gospel, from the promise of a son to Zechariah "he will bring joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth" (Lk 1:14), to the "great joy" announced to the shepherds (Lk 2:10-11), to the joy of Zacchaeus who receives the Lord in his house (Lk 19:6), until the disciples’ sheer joy on the day of Passover (Jn 20:20).
The Baptist had a mission to fulfill: to prepare the way for this encounter of love. The strange clothing that distinguished him was that of the prophets (Zec 13:4) and, in particular, of Elijah who, like John, “wore a mantle of fur with a leather belt around his waist” (2 Kgs 1:8). The content of the Baptist’s preaching (vv. 7-8) was the announcement of the coming of one, stronger than he, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception—defined by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854—has been formulated with a language linked to the philosophical and theological categories of time, a difficult to understand language for the twenty-first-century man and woman. If the dogma wants to have something to say to us today, we must re-read it in the light of biblical revelation.
“The doorkeeper” who has to be more vigilant than others indicates those that, in the Christian community, are responsible for carrying out the most important services, those on which the life of the church depends: the proclamation of the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments, the support of the disciples who are wavering in their faith.
The conclusion of the parable is a popular proverb that reflects an easily verifiable fact: wealth tends to accumulate and the rich becomes richer. Invoked in this parable, this saying meant to signify that, with the riches of God’s kingdom, the same thing happens: the community that is generous and attentive to the signs of the times progress and is gaining greater vitality, while those who prefer to withdraw into themselves grow old, lapse and no one will be surprised to see them one day disappear.
The last words of today's Gospel reproduce at a glance all the displayed message: "Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and who ever humbles himself shall be made great" (v. 11).
The word saint indicates the presence in certain people of a divine and beneficial force that allows one to stand out, to distance oneself from what is imperfect, weak, ephemeral. Among the people who appeared in this world, only Christ has possessed the fullness of this force of goodness and only he can be declared saint, as we sing in the Gloria: “You alone are holy.” But we, too, can rise up to him and become partakers of his holiness.
Any promotion, any growth of man realizes God’s plan. “So let us love one another since he loved us first. If you say, ‘I love God’ while you hate you brother or sister, you are a liar. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother or sister who you see? We have received from him this commandment: let those who love God also love their brothers and sisters”
, in the Christian calendar, is the Feast of All Saints; it's when Christians remember all who have gone before us in space and time. They were holy, kind, humble, respectful, obedient, loving, caring, brave, etc.... "All for the glory of God" was their ultimate goal.
The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ preaching. He begins his public life by announcing: “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15). Then, using many parables, he gradually reveals “the mysteries” (Mt 13). That one of the last hour workers (Mt 20:1-16) is certainly the most puzzling. Jesus told it to emphasize both the gratuitousness of the call and the commitment required of one who enters the kingdom of God.
¡Christ and his gospel are "the stone" hurled by God against this monstrous structure. They are “the stone" that shatters the logic of this world, the tricks, cunning and above all the foolish images men made for themselves of God. The stone is intended to shatter the plans of the wicked and smash their children. The wicked will no have offsprings, will remain without posterity, and no future because God will vanish all doers of iniquity. This is the good news.
The parable of today's gospel depicts three characters: a father and two sons.
No, even when he had said yes, he was not at all in accord with the program of his father. He had only spoken words, empty words. It recalls another saying of Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father” (Mt 7:21).
The dialogue between God and man is established only where there is a free encounter, free gift, unconditional reciproal love. Who loves claims nothing and expects nothing but to see the loved one smile and rejoice. "Your salvation is manifested in this: you are merciful to those who have no treasure of good works.” Jesus made this righteousness of God his own.
What does God expect from us? His very own “compassion”: He wants that we do not keep the brother a slave of his past. He claims that we do not take his breath away while he desperately tries to rise up from the chasm. God asks us to help him seventy times seven, renouncing to any recourse against him. The children of the kingdom of God are “merciful as the heavenly Father” (Lk 6:36) and they understood that “love does not delight in wrong, excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:5-7).
For Jesus: “the small ones” are at the center of his community’s attention. They are God's treasure, the precious pearl for which it is worth to scour every corner of the world; the jewel that brings overflowing joy to whoever finds it (Mt 13:44-46). The rabbis said: "The Lord rejoices in the resurrection of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked." The God of Jesus is more pleased when a sinner returns than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Mt 18:13).
In our day we are also tempted to live in the dynamics of the conservation of our own humanity, our own ego, in short, our own interests. This is living from human logic. Today, more than ever, we are tempted to commit crime, to settle, to easily abandon our convictions; To sell the word - speaking to each person what he wants to hear - without being witnesses of the truth of Christ.
It is not enough to learn what others, even apostles, say about the Teacher. One could write an encyclopedia about the Christ and still not be a card-carrying Christian. To each baptized, Jesus leans over and whispers, "But YOU...who do YOU say I am?" That question will never go away.
The message is as timely as ever. The church is called to be sign that all discriminations related to gender, membership to a race, to a people or to an institution are ended. Paul declares: “In Christ Jesus, all of you are sons and daughters of God through faith. Here there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman; but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Faith Matures in Moments of Crisis. "Come to me now—the Risen Lord repeats to every disciple. Do not be afraid of losing your life. If you hesitate, death will make you afraid. If you trust my word, the waters of death will not scare you, and you will cross over and catch up with me in the resurrection.”