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Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Eph. 1:1-10 & Lk. 11:47-54

If ever we wonder what life is about or why God created us, today's First Reading will enlighten us. Saint Paul lists four great truths that apply to each of us and which we often forget.

He praises God for having blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. How often do we reflect on the graces of faith, friendship, family, Christian teaching, a parish to attend, the sacraments and the ability to pray? These are often graces that go unnoticed.

St Paul then praises God for having chosen us before the world began to be holy. Whatever the circumstances of our birth, we were an idea in the mind of God before the world was created! This is an awesome thought. Sometimes we think of our life as being fortuitous. St Paul teaches us that we were chosen before the foundation of the world not only to be born but to be holy.

He then praises God for having destined us for adoption in Christ. We were not only intended to be holy but to be Christian. Even if we joined the Church later in life, God intended our spiritual journey to come where it has. From all eternity we were intended to be a member of Jesus Christ.

Finally, St Paul praises God for having made known to us His will which is the unity of the human race around Christ. Tension, division, animosity, wars and hostility are not part of God's plan. Promoting that unity puts us in concordance with God's will.

We each have a great dignity that we overlook. Each of us has been blessed by God with special graces. Each of us was intended by God to be a holy part of Creation before it began. Each of us was destined to be Christian and to know Christ Jesus. Each of us has received knowledge of God's will to unify the human race in Christ. These astounding truths show us God’s grand purposes for us – indeed His purposes for the whole Universe – and how we fit into them!

A Pharisee in today's Gospel reading has invited Jesus to dinner apparently to learn more about Him and His message. But He leaves after denouncing His host and all those with whom He associated by saying, "The blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, would be required of their generation.”

Just as the word of God clashes with the ideas of humanity, Jesus clashed with the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers whose hearts had grown cold to God. One of Saint Luke's central themes is to present Jesus as the culmination of all the prophets' words and activities. By contrast certain Pharisees (and other experts on the law) personified all the opposition to God's word throughout Israel's history. From the first to the last prophet, from Adam’s son Abel who was murdered because he sought to please God, to Zechariah whose murder is recounted in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, the Lord’s messengers were always vigorously attacked for speaking His words.

Whenever we seek to draw close to Jesus, we will encounter opposition. People might say we are being too extreme, too literal, too orthodox, or even too unorthodox. Just as others misunderstood Jesus, spoke out against Him, and thwarted His plans and actions, so it may be with us.

We must not be surprised or dismayed when we are spoken against. Our Father knows everything about our lives and cares deeply about every situation we encounter. He is all-powerful and all wise, but He will give us the wisdom and love to respond to opposition both in strength and humility, so that His life in us and His kingdom will grow. God is for us, so who can be against us?

Heavenly Father, help us to draw closer to You and receive Your forgiveness, so that we might obtain the wisdom of Jesus to meet the opposition we face as we serve you today.

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