18th Sunday of the Year C

Work for the hereafter

 

Word of God, Sunday Gospel, 18th Sunday of the Year C
Paul, the Apostle of the nations, writes to the Colossians: “You have put on the new man, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian…”. Greeks and Romans used to call the foreigner “barbarian”, especially those who did not know respectively Greek and Latin.

As mentioned in the letter to the Galatians (3 : 26-28 ),  through faith in Christ Jesus, among all baptized in Christ there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek , male and female (who were separated through circumcision)…  Jesus cancelled every racial and “religious” discrimination , as He “bought men for God of every race, language, people and nation” (Revelation 5 : 9).

One immediately observes the term  “Scythian” which is a Barbarian nation whose origin comes from the plains of southern Russia. Its ignorance, regression and lack of civilization became proverbial.  A group of Scythian mercenaries camped in Bissan in the year 254 before B.C. and therefore the city was named “Scythopolis”.  Later it became the capital of the Decapolis  (the ten cities).  It adhered to Christianity and became an Episcopal See, as  capital of “the second capital  Palestine”.  Local Christian communities remained there until  1948 when the Paleastinian Faithful had to flee. Since then, the parish church remained  closed.

In the New Testament (Luc 12: 13 – 21), Christ gives us the parable of a  wealthy man who plans for material things and forgets the soul, works for the present life and not for the hereafter.  He looks like many of us:  we tend to think about material tangible things like food, beverage and garments.  We work hard to obtain them and worry if we are deprived of them for any reason.   If we become rich, we hurry and purchase expensive garments and spend money lavishly to show off.  Likewise we purchase realties and deposit money in saving accounts, in order to have a more secure future in case of hardships.  We must care for our soul : its purity and eternal fate; and for our spiritual life in the light of grace, knowledge and love “the bond of perfection”  because “piety and devotion hold the promises of this life and of the one to come” ( 1 Timothy 4: 8).

Among the treasures we should long for is first “the fear of God, beginning of all wisdom”. We should be content with God’s gifts to us. An Arabic proverb states : “Contentment is an imperishable treasure”.  It is our duty and our legitimate right to work for our survival and actually we request this in Our Lord’s prayer: “Give us today our substantial bread”.   But materialism should not dominate our minds and hearts and we should not worship money, yet we should accomplish our  glorious Lord’s teaching:  “Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on His righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Matthew  6: 33).

Fr. Peter H. Madros

English version by Antoine D. Nesnas

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