28 February 2019

'The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good.' Sunday Reflections, 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Blind Pensioner with a Stick, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Luke 6:39-45 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)   

Jesus told his disciples a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.'

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Peach Tree in Blossom, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

I have used this story before on Sunday Reflections. I heard it from the late Fr Giuseppe Raviolo SJ, an Italian Jesuit who worked in Mindanao for many years and was one of the founders, in 1985, of St John Vianney Theological Seminary in Cagayan de Oro City there. Nearly 40 years ago he and I and some other priests were on a team together giving a directed retreat to seminarians. We stayed in a dormitory that was far from being 'Five Star'. He reminded me very much of St Pope John XXIII in girth and in personality and was always a delight to be with. During prayer earlier today I found myself smiling while thinking of him and felt a great sense of gratitude to God for having known this wonderful man who lived his priesthood so joyfully.

Fr Giuseppe Raviolo SJ [Source]

During the Vietnam War Father Joe, as we called him, had been rector of the major seminary in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, when it was capital of the then South Vietnam. When the North Vietnamese army moved into Saigon the soldiers were divided into groups of three with a standing order that if any of the three tried to surrender the others were to kill him. One particular group of three found themselves surrounded by soldiers either of the American army or the army of South Vietnam, I forget which. One of them ran forward and surrendered and his two comrades did not shoot him. The three were captured. 

Later the other two asked the soldier who had surrendered why he had taken such a risk. He told them that he knew they were Christians and would not shoot. This man was a Buddhist and his two companions were Catholics. These two had discussed the order to kill and had decided that it would be wrong to do so. As Catholic Christians they saw that as murder. These were soldiers of a Communist army, without any chaplains.

Clearly they had been well formed as followers of Jesus despite living under a Communist regime that restricted the activities of the Church. Vietnam has a long history of persecution with figures of between 100,000 and 300,000 martyrs being given. The second-century theologian Tertullian wrote, The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Jesus says to us in today's gospel, No good tree bears bad fruit. The two Catholic Vietnamese soldiers were the fruit of the tree produced by the seed that was the countless martyrs among their ancestors.

And their Buddhist companion showed that he understood Jesus who said, The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good. He put his life in the hands of his two companions because he knew they were Christians. Would anyone do the same with me simply because I am a Christian?

Last Sunday I used the reflection of Pope Benedict XVI on the gospel of the day. I see some of those words being lived out in the incident involving the three North Vietnamese soldiers: One then understands that for Christians, non-violence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God's love and power that he is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone

The way of being of those two Catholic soldiers as followers of Jesus was evident to their Buddhist comrade. Is my way of being as a follower of Jesus evident to those around me? 

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good

Antiphona ad Communionem Communion Antiphon Ps 12[13]:6

Cantabo Domino, qui bona tribuit mihi,
I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me,
et psallam nomini Domini Altissimi.
sing psalms to the name of the Lord Most High.

1 comment:

Liam Hayden said...


Another O.C.S. icon gone to the Lord last week.Austin Gaffney was trained by Biddy Boylan in Primary school and attributed much of his success to her encouragement and training.I saw him in 'The Desert Song' in the Janua Coeli hall in the late 50s.His co-star was Arthur Agnew,another O.C.S. old boy who many years later joined the Morning Star praesidium and who I knew very well. Arthur was the father of David Agnew who recorded the theme song from 'The Mission' movie and who currently plays Oboe with the RTE Concert orchestra. Austin was 90 and Arthur died 3 years ago, aged 92.
Ar Dheis De go raibh a anamacha dhils

God bless,
Liam hayden