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Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Tuesday of the 1 Lent

Readings: Isa 55:10-11; Mt 6:5-17.

 

1/ First Reading: RSV Isaiah 55:10

 

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 6:5

 

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread; 12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P. 

I. THEME: Doing God’s will           

            Today people pay too much attention to their egos. They want others to do their will, and it is very difficult for them to do others’ will. But if they carefully think, they shall recognize the absurdity of always wanting others to do their will, because: Firstly, a hundred persons have a hundred wills; how can one person satisfy a hundred wills? Therefore, it is important to do the common will. Secondly, when there is a confliction of wills, people must follow the will of the most wise one. If we compare human will to divine will, the latter must always be wiser than the earlier. Therefore, it is so obvious that people must find out and do God’s will.

            Today readings centralize on the theme that people must always find out and solve their problems according to God’s will. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah ascertained the effect of God’s word: “My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciple the most appropriate prayer, the Our Father, after he warned them to avoid the selfish attitude in praying.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God’s word must bring good results for people.

           

1.1/ God’s word is compared as rain and snow: Isaiah declared God’s will, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.”

            Even though the seed already has the potentiality of life in itself, it still needs rain and snow to help to bring out the actuality of life, by growing, bearing fruits for people to eat, and giving more seeds to the sower.

           

1.2/ God’s word must be practiced to bring benefits for people: The prophet continued God’s will: “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

            As the seed has the potentiality of life, God’s word also has the potentiality of life and produce benefits for people. But what are God’s word included?

            (1) God’s word is Christ: St. John in his Prologue confirmed this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn 1:1-4).

            As rain and snow come down from heaven, the Word was also come down from heaven to be incarnated in a human being. The Word revealed for people all of God’s wills and fulfilled what God would like him to do in God’s plan of salvation. When he completed God’s will, he ascended to heaven as rain and snow. The Word also becomes bread to nourish people daily in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He is the perfect example for us to follow.

            (2) God’s word is recorded in Scripture: Not like human words, God’s word has the potentiality to bring life. Every time God’s word is announced, it starts a new cycle. God’s word enters the audience’s mind and begins a new process, it stimulates people to do God’s will. For example, every year when Lenten season comes, God’s word restarts a new cycle in the faithful’s mind. We listen again to God’s word, hear the preacher’s explannation, and meditate it day and night. This process helps us to recognize what we are still lacking in life, and make a determination to do God’s will so that we can fulfill our lacking.

2/ Gospel: The proper way to pray

2.1/ The proper attitude in praying: To pray is to raise our mind to God; therefore, we must avoid all distraction. Jesus mentioned two of distractions which we must avoid in today passage.

            (1) Praying for everyone to see: “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

            Is praying in a church prohibited by Jesus? We need to differentiate between two kinds of prayer: private and common. What Jesus advised us here is the private prayer. Jesus himself was also prayed in a loud voice before his disciples (Cf. Jn 17:1-26). Many times, he went up to the temple for prayer.

            (2) Praying for favors only: “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Making a petition is only a part of prayer. What shall we think when one person always asks for a favor everytime when he sees us?

2.2/ The most appropriate prayer: The Our Father has two main parts.

            (1) The first part concerns about God’s will: As God’s children, we must concern about our Father’s will, not selfishly concern only about our needs. The first three petitions express our concern for God: “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We have a duty to help people to recognize and to believe in God’s name. We need to pray for God’s kingdom to come by spreading the Gospel to all people. We pray for all people so that they want to do God’s will, not just to do their individual and selfish will.

            (2) The second part concerns about our daily life: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We need our daily bread to live, not to ask for food to store up. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” We have relationships not only vertically with God but also horizontally with others. In order to receive God’s forgiveness, we must forgive others, because “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” The last petition, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We are surrounded by the three big enemies, which are: the devil, the world and our own flesh. Without God’s grace, we can’t conquer any of these three enemies because they are much stronger than us.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - As rain and snow needed for plants to bring fruits and bread for human beings, God’s word is also needed to permeate our soul before it produces divine life in us.

            - To pray is not to seek praises from others nor to ask for favor; but to unite ourselves with God and to find out His will before we can execute it in our life.

            - Lent is convenient time for us to check our weaknessess and shortcomings, at the same time, to learn God’s word and to find out the ways to correct them.

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