Ephesians tells us in the words of Paul how he was boldly and confidently facing the powers of evil. Paul is in prison for the gospel. He asks his Christians to pray that he may have the courage to speak out for the gospel and he himself prompts the faithful to stand strong in the face of evil.
Jesus is warned by apparently sympathetic Pharisees that Herod may kill him. Jesus replies that he has already faced evil spirits and will continue on his way to Jerusalem, – “I must continue on my way” where death awaits him “today, tomorrow, and the next day,” that is, soon. Are we people marked by courage? Let us pray to the Lord for strength.
to have an aim, a purpose,
a sure destiny to go to,
even at the cost of sacrifice and pain,
is very reassuring in all its uncertainty.
Keep us going on our way in faith and trust,
without fear or hesitation,
for we are sure that nothing can harm us
and that no prison made by human hands or minds
can deprive us from the inner freedom
which you have given us
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20
Brothers and sisters: Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armour of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armour of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 144:1b, 2, 9-10
R. (1b) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war. R.
My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me. R.
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword. R.
Alleluia cf. Luke 19:38; 2:14
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 13:31-35
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’ “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned. But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The author of Ephesians uses military imagery to describe the Christian state of preparedness to deal with the present conflict. The struggle is not with human powers but the full array of evil. This includes supernatural powers and the evil rulers of the present time.
Only with the armour of God are we able to cope. Our loins must be girded in the truth; righteousness as our breastplate. Our feet, well shod in footwear suitable for preachers of the gospel of peace. We bear the helmet of our salvation; our sword, the word of God. In addition, our prayers must go up for the whole community and for Paul to have a boldness of speech to proclaim the gospel, for which he is currently an ambassador in chains.
With the apostle, we too pray for the courage to speak. The ministry of Jesus was characterized by the compassion and understanding of today’s Gospel. But he also spoke unhesitatingly the gospel of conversion in the presence of hardness of heart. Conviction does not back off in the face of hostility. We must always speak the truth in love. Religious leaders in Jerusalem refused his call to conversion. They were then left to reap the results of their hostility.
Compassion and understanding are not to be confused with a laissez-faire attitude. We show the greatest love for another when we speak the truth in love. Our words may sometimes hurt as they prod the conscience. But they are only spoken because we care. If the wayward person sees our genuine concern, our words may prove fruitful indeed.
– For all who are persecuted for their faith, that Jesus may give them the strength to remain faithful, we pray:
– For couples whose roads in marriage passes through difficult moments, that their love may not fail, we pray:
– For all of us, that through questions, doubts and difficulties God may help our faith grow, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus accepted
to go all the way to his destiny
of suffering and death
because he believed in your love.
By this bread and this wine
keep us believing in your victory
over evil and death
and let them become for us
the source of strength and courage
in our struggle for all that is good.
We ask you this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
we overcome evil with your Son
when we opt for integrity and truth,
for patience and forgiveness.
Keep us going on our way
And strengthen in us the conviction
that the reality of evil and sin
within us and in the world
can never be victorious,
for all that is good cannot die
since your Son rose from the dead,
and he is our Lord for ever. Amen!
We must be on our way with the Lord, consistently, even in the difficulties of life. We know our goal: love of God and of people, and nothing should stop us. We know we are in the hands of God. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!