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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it.
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that "looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand." ‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.
In my view it was to Mary that the blessed prophet Joel was speaking when he exclaimed: “Fear not, O land! Exult and rejoice! For the Lord has done great things in you” (2,21). For Mary is a land: that ground on which Moses, the man of God, heard the command to remove his sandals (Ex 3,5), an image of the Law now replaced by grace. She is also that land on which, through the Holy Spirit, he was built up of whom we sing that he “fixed the earth on its foundations” (Ps 104,5). She is a land which, without being sown, brings forth the fruit that feeds all flesh (Ps 136,25). A land on which the thorns of sin have never sprung up; to the contrary, she has given birth to him who pulled it up by the roots. And she is a land that is not cursed as the first one was to bring forth a harvest of thorns and thistles (Gn 3,18), but on whom rests the Lord's blessing and who bears in her breast a “blessed fruit” as holy scripture says (Lk 1,42)... Rejoice, O Mary, house of the Lord, earth trodden by the footsteps of God... Rejoice, O paradise more happy than the garden of Eden, where every virtue has been seeded and where the tree of Life has grown.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith.
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! ‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but it finds none. Then it says, "I will return to my house from which I came." When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.’
After all the signs our Lord had given these blind men, who could see nothing, said to him: “We wish to see a sign from you”. Our Lord left aside his witnesses, the kings and prophets, and appealed to the Ninivites... Jonah had prophesied the destruction of the Ninivites; he had put fear into them and sown consternation among them. They, in return, gave him a harvest of contrition and the fruits of repentance. Thus the Gentiles were chosen and the uncircumcised drew near to God; the pagans were given life and sinners converted... “They asked him for a sign from heaven” (Lk 11,16), like thunder, for example, as for Samuel (cf.1Sam 7,10)...They had heard preaching from on high and had not believed it, which is why this preaching rose up form below...: “The Son of Man ... Jonah rose up out of the sea and preached to the Ninivites, who repented and were saved. Even so our Lord, when he had raised his body from the dwellings of the dead, sent out his apostles among the nations. These were completely converted and received the fullness of life.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’ We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 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, "Let me take the speck out of your eye", while the log is 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. ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
If by God's will you are a father... then this is so that, in giving life yourself, you might also know what it means to feel a father's love and thus, just as you feel affectionately towards your own children, can experience in yourself the love of your Creator ... So if you believe in God, and if you confess him as father, then everything he ordains, everything he decides with respect to you, believe that this is for your salvation, your life. We cannot cancel out the gifts of a mother, we cannot challenge the warnings of a father. Even if his fatherly demands seem to be strict, in reality they are saving and life-giving. So Abraham, once he had understood that God was father, did not linger over the difficult and demanding aspects of the commandments, but made his glory in what our heavenly Father ordains... Since it is God who commands, he entrusted himself wholly to his love... Why, when one knows God, argue with his Fatherly gifts instead of welcoming them as good and beneficial, whereas little ones and those who are innocent expect everything from their father? Let us look more closely at the comparison our Lord uses in his Gospel: “What father among you” he says to us, “would give a stone to his son who asks for bread?” Christ came for the sons, that is to say for his chosen people – even if he regretted having fathered them and cried out: “Sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me!” (Is 1,2). So he came on behalf of the sons, he, the true bread from heaven, who said: “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6,41).