Like A Tree Planted by the Waters
- Reading I: Malachi 3:13-20
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
- Gospel Reading: Luke 11:5-13
The Wicked Rich and the Miserable Just
The problem of the rich and the poor can also be formulated as "why is it that the wicked grow rich while the just remain poor?" The selection from Malachi 3:13-20b puts the problem in perspective — that is from God’s perspective with some help from His devotees (v. 16). A day will be reserved when it will be plain to everyone how different are the Lord’s devotees from those who are wicked. That day will come with fire that will set all ablaze: the wicked will be burned, but the just will feel it as the warmth of the sun.
The Lord’s fire will have two effects, just as the sun’s heat will have two different effects on either clay or ice cream. As clay will harden up and ice cream will melt under the sun, so the Lord’s fire will burn up the wicked but will be the "sun of justice" for the just.
The responsorial psalm (Psalm 1) reiterates in verse what Malachi’s oracle expresses: the devout will be like a tree that yields fruit at the proper season, the wicked will be like chaff after the burning.
A Lesson in Prayer
Luke’s catechism on prayer continues. Verses 5-13 can be subdivided for clarity’s sake into 5-8 (A "Who among you…" saying that illustrates persistence in prayer);9-10 (A saying about persistence in prayer) 11-13a (Another "Who among you" saying that drives home the point that God will not refuse the one who prays.
What I have called "Who-among-you" sayings are rhetorical devices that should be distinguished from parables. While a parable is meant to make the listener think (or rethink), "Who-among-you" sayings are meant to induce the listener to accept a subsequent argument as necessarily true. These sayings are so constructed that they make a direct appeal to what the audience would think would happen given a particular situation or circumstance. The appeal however is at the same time couched in narrative form to which the audience must agree on absolutely (otherwise, the appeal won’t be effective). Once the situation has been established, the whole point of the saying is expressed. In other words, the "Who-among-you" sayings prepare for the main idea, in this case, verses 9-10, and 13b.
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