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Thirteenth Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 13 OTC

 

Readings: 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21; Gal 4:31b-5:1, 13-18; Lk 9:51-62.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV 1 Kings 19:16 You shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him. 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" 21 And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.

2/ Reading II: RSV Galatians 4:31 So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; 53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." 59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."



I. THEME: Our vocation and its requirements

 

            God let us exist in this world for a reason, because He doesn’t do useless thing. He chose the Blessed Mary to give birth for His Son, John Baptist to prepare the way for Christ, the pastor of Ars to bring sinners back to Him, Mother Teresa to help the poor, Teresa of Infant Jesus to pray for the Church, etc. Each one of us has a different vocation which is important and connected with our existence. We should ask the Holy Spirit to help us to find out our vocation and to fulfill it.

            Today readings want to emphasize people’s different vocation and the necessary requirements to fulfill it. In the first reading, the prophet Elijah obeyed God to find Elisha and anointed him to be his replacement as God’s prophet. When Elisha recognized his prophetic vocation, he asked for permission to go home to say good bye to his parents, “took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people” to eat; and then came and followed Elijah. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Galatian faithful to realize their vocation as Christians. When they were baptized, they are called to sacrifice for others, to die for their flesh and to live under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In the Gospel, Jesus listed out the basic requirements of his disciples under different circumstances. They are invited to live in love, not to worry about material things or too concern for their parents and family.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Elisha arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.”

1.1/ Elijah chose Elisha to be his replacement according to God’s commandment.

            Today passage reported Elisha’s vocation. After hearing God’s instruction, the prophet Elijah went out to look for Elisha; when he found him, he anointed him to be his replacement. Twelve yokes of oxen show Elisha belonged to a very rich family because a rich family has only one or two oxen. When Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha, the latter understood right away this act. It is corresponding to the Vestition ceremony and the beginning the postulant year in religious orders today. Elisha’ request is normal because he needed to say good bye to his parent. Elijah’s answer is difficult to understand; he might want to say that I didn’t prevent you to do that.

  

1.2/ Elisha’s determined actions: His actions are heroic and courage; he didn’t regret his properties because he knew they are God’s blessing for his family. He “took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate.” This action showed he is ready to terminate his career to follow the prophet Elijah to learn about his new ministry. He didn’t ask Elijah about where to live and what to eat before he follows him, but believed in God’s providence for him.

            We should learn from Elisha’ heroic actions; once we determine to follow God, we must determine and courageously give up all, such as: parent, career, properties, etc. If we aren’t determined, we shall be tempted to return to our formal life. An attitude of “half in and half out” shall not help us to follow God until the end.  

2/ Reading II: The Christian vocation: to serve others with love

  

2.1/ Christians are called to be children of freedom.

            St. Paul wrote, “So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

            St. Paul’s concept of freedom is difficult to understand because it relates to the Law. In his Letter to the Romans, he explained more clearly: Christ came to liberate us from slavery for the Law, sin and death. These three things have a close connection with each other: In order for an act to be a sin, there must be a law to prohibit it; and if one intentionally violates the Law, he must be put to death.

            Many people have a wrong definition of freedom; they said, “Freedom is to do whatever one wants to do,” and then use their freedom to live according to their passion. They forget that once they become slavery for their flesh, they shall no longer have freedom. For example, people have freedom to gamble; but when they are addicted to gambling, they no longer have freedom to say no to gamble. They know it is wrong to use the money to pay mortgage or to buy food for his family; but they can’t control their bad habit of gambling. The bad results which can be happened are: their house is confiscated, their family is separated, their career is lost and their name is ruined.

            The true freedom must lead people to the truth, love, good and life. If one uses the name of freedom to freely fighting and killing each other, that person becomes a slave for his flesh, sin and death.

           

2.2/ Christians are called to live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

            St. Paul taught the Galatian faithful, “But I say, live by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.”

            These are teachings which must be correctly explained. Many people condemned Paul of convincing people to disregard the Law which he himself confessed it is good because it was given by God through Moses. Is it true that when the faithful were baptized, they no longer have to keep the Law? St. Paul wanted us to differentiate two ways of living:

            (1) According to the flesh: This is the way of life in which people live according to falsities, commit sins, hate others; and this way shall lead to death. As said above, sin and the Law have a close connection; if we live according to the Law, we live according to the flesh. For example, the Law only requires people to meet the minimum requirement, such as; to confess once a year or to attend Mass once a week. If we only do the minimum requirement, how can we advance in virtue and in the way of perfection? The Law requires only justice; but if we do things only as justice requires, where is charity?

            (2) According to the Holy Spirit: This is the way of life in which people live according to the truth, do good deeds, love others; and this way shall foster life. When we live according to charity, we do not only the minimum that the Law requires, but also things that beyond the Law. This is the reason why Jesus teaches his disciples the way to perfection in the Gospel according to Matthews, chapter five, “You have heard that it (the Law) was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt 5:38-39).

            Therefore, if one lives according to the Spirit, that one fulfilled all the Law because he did good things that it doesn’t require.

 

3/ Gospel: The vocation of being Jesus’ disciples: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

3.1/ The purpose of following Jesus

            If people want to go to Jerusalem from Galilee, there are three ways: First, they can follow the coast of the Mediterranean Sea; this way is easy but they must climb up to Jerusalem at the high of 3,600 feet. Secondly, they can cross the Samarian villages; this way is the shortest but the Jews shall meet opposition from the Samaritans as Jesus and his disciples met in today passage. Lastly, they can travel along the Jordan River to Jericho, and from there climb up to Jerusalem; this way is easier than the first way because the slope isn’t as steep as the first way.

            Two disciples, James and John only remained at justice, they love those who love them and hate those who hate them. If they stop at the justice, how can they preach the Gospel for all people? This is the reason why Jesus rebuked them; he trains them to bring people to God, not to condemn people.

           

3.2/ The requirements of Christ’s disciples:

            (1) Not too concern about material needs: In the ancient time, a preacher must go from one city to another; the most popular and cheap way is to preach during walking. A preacher can’t build a place wherever he preaches because it is time consuming and he has no money to do it.

            Jesus didn’t hide anything from those who want to be his disciples: They must accept the itinerant way and can’t be fixed in one place. They should accept the simple life because they can’t bring many things with them on the way; the one with the least luggage shall travel the furthest. They must believe that God shall take care of those who work for Him. If they carefully plan out, they can’t be on the way. These are reasons why Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”

            (2) Not too concern about their parent: First of all we need to determine that Jesus doesn’t teach people to dishonor their parent because this opposes with the fourth of the Ten Commandments; Jesus himself didn’t do that. He handed his mother for John to take care of her when he no longer lives in the world. What Jesus wants to emphasize here is the urgency of the preaching of the Gospel in order for God’s kingdom to quickly come.

            Jesus said to the one who wanted to first bury his father, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” We can’t literally understand this verse because the one who died can’t bury the one who had just died. What Jesus wanted to emphasize is that if the burying of one’s parent prevents the preaching of the Gospel, the preacher shouldn’t try to come home. God shall prepare to have other person to do it for him. Moreover, to the people who have faith, they can do many better things for their parents, such as: celebrating or offering a Mass, praying or doing good deeds with intentions for their parents. If one is afraid of “dishonoring” and comes home to bury his parents, he is not worthy to be Christ’s disciple.

            (3) Once followed God, they must determine to follow until the end: Once again, God doesn’t encourage “dishonoring parent.” If one’s family is near – only taking a short distance as in Elisha’s case in the first reading, God shall not prohibit. What Jesus prohibited here is for the one who lives far away and the one who is still hesitated to follow Jesus. In the first case, he must spend lots of time; in the second case, he could be prevented by his family. Once he decided to follow Jesus, he must imitate Elisha to kill his oxen, to break the yoke and burn the oxen. If he is hesitated and keeps them in case of coming back, it is very difficult for him to overcome all obstacles to follow him until the end.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - God let us exist in this world for a purpose. We must find out what is it and do His will.

            - The basic vocation is the vocation of Christians. This vocation requires us to live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to have the true freedom.

            - If God call us to dedicate our whole life for Him, we must give up everything: our own will, material things, parents, to pay attention only to preach the Gospel and to bring many people to Him.

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

Reading 1 (Acts 12:1-11)

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
"It was the feast of Unleavened Bread."
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
"Get up quickly."
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals."
He did so.
Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me."
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
"Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting."

Reading 2 (1 Tim 4:6-8, 17-18)

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel (Mt 16:13-19)

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
 


 

I. THEME: Be a loyal witness for God until the end.

            The early Church was firmly built upon the two poles, Peter and Paul, because if it was built only up on one pole, it would not be firm, as a person stands in one foot. Peter preached to the Jews, Paul preached to the Gentiles. Peter organized and protected the Church, Paul developed and extended the Church.

            Today readings emphasize God’s selection, protection and bestowing of grace for both of them. In the first reading, the author of the Acts reported the miracle in which God liberated Peter from prison. Peter only knew that he was set free when the angel left him. In the second reading, Paul confirmed that by God’s power, he has competed well; has finished the race; and has kept the faith. In the Gospel, after Peter was enlightened by God to recognize and to proclaim his faith in Christ, Jesus officially established the Church on the foundation of Peter; and he has promised to protect the Church against all worldly and devilish powers.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The angel liberated Peter from prison.

1.1/ The Church was persecuted: Jesus forewarned his disciples that “Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). After Jesus’ ascension, the Jerusalem Church was greatly persecuted, beginning with the first martyr of the deacon Stephen. Today passage reported king Herode’s persecution as follows: “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them.He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.He had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.”

            Jesus said to his disciples: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed” (Mt 26:31). Peter, James and John were considered as Jesus’ closed apostles; and now James was killed, Peter was imprisoned. Therefore, the Church was fervently praying to God on his behalf.

1.2/ The angel liberated Peter from prison: Christ knew that sufferings by persecution and prison are necessary to train the apostles’ faith and to extend faith, so he let persecution happen. But he also knew that his Church needs Peter’s leadership, so he sent an angel to liberate him out of the prison, as he shall do the same with Paul later.

            (1) The chains and the soldiers are ineffective before God’s power: The Acts reported: “On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, "Get up quickly." The chains fell from his wrists.”

            (2) Peter unconsciously do everything as the angel commanded: “The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me."So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him.” All these things happened when the soldiers were guarding and the prison doors were locking.

            (3) Peter consciously knew that he was set free: “Then Peter recovered his senses and said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”” When God wants, He rendered ineffective all worldly powers.

2/ Reading II: The crown of righteousness awaits me.

2.1/ Fighting for the ideal goal: Like Jesus, when he is going to leave this world to go back to God, he spent sometimes to review what he did; to survey what is going to happen; and the glory he shall achieve in the future (cf. Jn 17). St. Paul also spent sometimes to review his life in this passage.

            (1) Review the past: Paul said: "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."

            + “I have competed well”: The world is a battle field to test people’s faith. Look back at the past, Paul knew that he tried the best to overcome all sufferings and to fulfill the mission which Christ gave it to him. Paul can proudly say: “I have competed well.”

            + “I have finished the race”: Life can be compared with a marathon which has an origin from Greek. This is a lengthy running race which requires a runner to have a healthy condition to finish. Many people who register, not to aim at the reward, but only to see if they have healthy condition to finish the race. Many people can’t finish the race.

            God let us enter this world to run the race of our life and He waits for us at the finished line. Many people can’t finish the race and ended their life earlier than it should be due to many reasons.

            + “I have kept the faith”: This is the condition to get the reward from Christ. If anyone finishes the race, but lost his faith, he shall not receive the reward.

            (2) Survey the present: Paul knew that what is going to happen for him. He says: "For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand." Christ appeared to Paul and let him know that he shall be seized by the Jews at Jerusalem to be a witness for him. Not only that, Paul shall also witness for him at Rome. Many faithful wept and prevented him to go to Jerusalem, but he courageously went to Jerusalem to be persecuted as Christ did.

            (3) Hope in the future: People fight for a purpose. Like an athlete who wins the marathon race and is given a victorious wreath, Paul expects that he shall have a similar victorious wreath. He said: “From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day.” Paul used his personal experience to encourage his disciples, “and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” If Timothy, Titus, or any faithful who is loyal to keep his faith until the end, he shall receive the same reward from Christ.

2.2/ Paul could conquer all things by God’s power: He knew his weaknesses, especially through the Damascus event in which he was fallen from the horse and blinded; but he also knew God’s strength at work to support his weaknesses. Paul confirmed this faith many times in his writings, and repeated in today passage, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.”

3/ Gospel: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

3.1/ The disciples must know well about his master:

            (1) Knowledge about Christ: When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

            King Herode thought that Jesus is John Baptist who comes alive from death. Elijah is a prophet who worked many miracles as Christ. The Jewish tradition believes Elijah shall come back before the Messiah’s coming because he didn’t die. Jeremiah is a very courageous prophet who talked and witnessed for the truth without fear of any power. All these characters can describe some Christ’s qualities, but not his true identity.

            (2) The relationship between a disciple and Christ: Jesus wasn’t pleased with his disciples’ knowledge of him through others; he wanted to know what they think of him, so he asked them: "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

            This is the answer which Jesus wanted to hear. He is the Messiah whom the prophet foretold; at the same time, he is also the only son of the living God. Only when Jesus heard this declaration from his disciples, he fulfilled his mission of revelation.

3.2/ The Church is built on the foundation of Peter: Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” St. Paul explained this point clearer: None can declare that Christ is God without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit is sent to the apostles by Jesus’ intercession with the Father.

            Recognizing Peter’s true faith, Jesus established the Church when he said to Peter: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” In Scripture, when God changes someone’s name, He believes and gives a mission to thet person. For examples, Abraham from Abram; Paul from Saul; Peter from Simon; etc. Christ wanted to give the right of leading the Church for Peter and his successors. The rock here isn’t Peter’s weakness with his three times of denying Jesus; but it is his firm faith in Christ after many times of failures and sufferings.

            The Church’s faith is based on the foundation of the apostles’ faith. This faith is liken as the “rock,” which means firm and not changes with time. Many people criticize the Church old-fashion, firm, not changing according to time, etc. But it is this very reason which the Church is established. If the Church also changes so that people will accept, compromises and yields before worldly and devil pressures, the Church shall not remain till today.

            Jesus gave the key of the heaven kingdom to signify the right to hold and to forgive people’s sins: "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The function of a key is to open and to lock up, to give permission to enter or to deny. The Church uses this right to forgive or to hold people’s sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Christ needs both Peter and Paul. He wanted both of them to work together to confirm, to protect and to develop the Church. We must co-operate with others in extending God’s kingdom.

            - In order to work for Christ and to protect the Church, we must not only know Christ but also live our relationship with him.

            - The Church isn’t only the Pope and his priestly members, but all the faithful in everywhere. All the faithful have a duty in protection and expansion of God’s kingdom.

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in the Ordinary Time1

Thursday of the 12 OT1

 

Readings: Gen 16:1-12, 15-16; Mt 7:21-29.

1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar; 2 and Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my maid to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!" 6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, "Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai." 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her." 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, "I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude." 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." 15 And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' 24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it." 28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.


I. THEME: Practice God’s words.

            People often break their promise and breach their trust; God is always faithful. People are easily changed; God never changes. People think in order to survive, they must destroy others; God shows He has power to make all to exist together. Judaism, Christianity and Islamism are blessed by God and can be existed together. In order for God’s words to benefit, people need not only to listen, but also to practice what God’s teaches. If people only know God’s words and don’t practice them, how can God’s words benefit them?

            Today readings point out the differences between God and men, between God’s and human manners. In the first reading, when Sarai sees that God doesn’t give her a child, she offered her maidservant, Hagar, for Abram so he might have an heir. But when Hagar had a child with Abram, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Sarai got angry and maltreated Hagar to the point she must run away with her child; but God sends an angel to announce to her that God shall also bless the descendants of Ismael, her son. In the Gospel, Jesus declared that the kingdom of God is only for those who hear and keep God’s words.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: "I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude."

1.1/ People easily change: Jewish and most of Asian traditions disparage the wife who can’t have a son for her husband to continue his descendants (1 Sam 1:5-6). In such case, the wife shall sacrifice by letting her husband to live with her maidservant or other woman in order for him to have a son.

            (1) Sarai’s reactions: Today passage is an example. The author reported, “Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar;and Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.He went in to Hagar and she conceived. When Hagar saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.”

            Sarai was angry with her maidservant due to the following two reasons: First, when Abram showed his love for Hagar. This can be understood because Sarai didn’t wants to share her husband’s love with other. Secondly, Hagar looked down on her. Whatever happened, Sarai was wrong because she should know these things could happen.

            (2) Hagar’s reactions: Her action can be understood because it is the reaction of the majority of people -- disparaging a wife who has no child. Moreover, she, as a maidservant, now becomes Abram’s concubine and is loved by him because she gave him a son. This is the main reason why Hagar looked down on her mistress. Hagar was shrewd but not good. If she recognized the love which both Sarai and Abram had for her and humbly responded to them, she might not be chased out of their house.

            (3) Abram’s reactions: He recognized his wife’s concern and Hagar’s insulted attitude on her, but got stuck in the middle; he can’t stand on either side. When he heard Sarai’s complaint, he said to her, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

1.2/ God’s promise for Ismael’s descendants: God’s manner is completely different with human manner. He could bless both Sarai and Hagar and their descendants. God sends His angel to Hagar and advises her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” About her descendants, God promises to her, “I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude."And the angel of the Lord said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord has given heed to your affliction.He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen."

            This promise shows both Judaism and Islamism are in God’s plan of salvation. Ismael is the forefather of the Muslims and also blessed by God. Isaac, the son whom God shall give to Abram later, is the forefather of the Israelites and blessed by God through Abram. God’s promises are fulfilling because Abram’s descendants which include Judaism, Islamism and Christianity are now more than half of the world’s population; and the enmity between Judaism and Islamism continues to happen.         

2/ Gospel: The kingdom of God is only for the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

2.1/ The kingdom of God isn’t for the one who says he loves God:

            (1) Jesus clearly differentiated between two things: words and deeds; and the kingdom of God is only for those who do God’s will. An innocent people can believe in sweet talking, but none can deceive God by his praises in words because God fathoms all his intentions.

            (2) False prophets or priests can use the name of God to preach, to expel demons or to heal. Their works have some success, not because of their efforts, but because of God’s power. But if they don’t keep God’s commandments and cause damages to others, they shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

            (3) Chapter 25 of the Gospel according to Matthews clearly declared that God’s standard to judge is whatever we do to the least is we do to Him; and only people who practice charity shall enter the kingdom of God.

            (4) Therefore, true love must be expressed in words and deeds. The true lover is the one who is ready to sacrifice for his loved one, not only loves in words. A true lover of God is the one who tries to find out His will and do it. A concrete way is to help all people both spiritually and materially.

2.2/ We must build our life on the foundation of Christ’s teaching: To illustrate the importance of God’s words, Jesus used a concrete example which all can understand is to build a house. There are two ways to build a house:

            (1) Building the house on the rock: Though it is difficult in the beginning, but shall endure all the changes of weather, such as: heavy rain, torrent of water or thunderstorm. Similarly for those who built their life on a firm foundation which is God’s words. First, they must spend time to learn God’s words. Secondly, they must use all opportunities to apply them in their life.

            (2) Building the house on sand: Though it is easy in the beginning, but can’t endure all threats of weather. Only a small storm is enough to wipe out that house. Many people built their house on a foundation which is not God’s words, such as: gold or silver, fame, power, beauty, etc. When they have to face sufferings or catastrophes, they can’t withstand them. Many people destroyed their life because they can’t overcome the worldly temptations and the devil’s traps.

            Those who built their house on sand can be compared to crusts (little crabs) which try to build their caves on sand when the tide is low; but when the tide is high or the sea is disturbed, water shall wipe out all their caves. They continue to build their caves and keep being to wipe out. If people aren’t wiser than these crusts, they shall have no opportunity to live a safe life in their present house, not to mention a happy life with God in the next life.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE

 

            - We should use God’s love to treat others in all circumstances: in richness and in poverty; in healthy and in sickness; in glory and in suffering. This is God’s commandment.

            - Our words must be accompanied by our deeds. If we don’t practice what God teaches, His words shall not benefit us no matter how wise are they. But if we patiently put God’s words in practice, they shall greatly benefit us.          

The Most Sacred Heart of JesusC

Sacred Heart of Jesus YearC

Readings: Eze 34:11-16; Rom 5:5-11; Lk 15:3-7.

 

1/ Reading I: RSV Ezekiel 34:11 "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.

 

2/ Reading II: RSV Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. 6 While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 15:3 So he told them this parable: 4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.


I. THEME: God’s immense love for human beings

 

            The image of a shepherd and his sheep is one of images, used by Scriptural authors to express God’s love for human beings. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus used this image in chapter ten. He said that he is the door to the sheepfold which all true shepherds must enter and go out. He is also the Good Shepherd because he knows his sheep and cares for each one. The special character which no shepherd has is that he is ready to sacrifice his own life to protect his sheep. Christ did sacrifice his body to protect his flock.

            All the readings of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart remind God’s immense love for us and encourage us to properly respond for this love. In the first reading, when God sees His flock scattered as sheep without a shepherd, He decides that He Himself shall come to take care of His flock. He shall care for each one and gather all of them into the one flock. In the second reading, St. Paul highlights God’s love through the event which Jesus died for human beings when they are still sinners, to reconcile them with God and to bring salvation for them. In the Gospel, God’s love for people isn’t collective but individual. God Himself shall look for each lost sheep and joyfully celebrate when He finds each one.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Lord worries when He sees His sheep being scattered everywhere.

1.1/ The situation and the fate of the flock before the Messiah comes.

            Reviewing of His flock in the hand of the Israel’s leader after nearly two thousand years, the Lord recognizes the following things.

            (1) The leaders’ imperfections:

            - The Israel’s kings and leaders didn’t concern for the fate of their flock. There were some good shepherds; but most of them only concerned for their needs.

            - The spiritual leaders didn’t educate the flock according to God’s way; therefore, their flock easily follows worldly temptations.

            - The Israel’s kings heard their foreign wives to establish altars for their foreign gods and to force the flock to do the same. They also persecuted and kill true shepherds which are prophets, sent by God.

            (2) The flock’s sufferings

           - Since the sheep was not educated according to God’s way, they no longer recognized God is their true God. They live either by the false teaching or by their own reasoning.

            - The flock were scattered around on exiles, maltreated and suffered in the foreign lands.

            - The sheep became good baits for kings, thieves, robbers and wild animals.

1.2/ God’s plan of gathering the flock

            Facing all these dangers for the flock, the Lord has a plan to change and to save His flock as the prophet Ezekiel outlined the changes as follow:

            (1) The Lord Himself shall seek out His flock and gather them into one flock: The prophet Ezekiel said, “For thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.”

            (2) The Lord Himself shall take care of His flock: The prophet continued, “I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God.”

            (3) The Lord Himself shall care for each sheep: Leaders in the past paid attention to the group, but the Lord’s way shall pay attention to each sheep, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.” Only by this way, the flock shall be healthy and avoid all dangers. This Good Shepherd is Christ of the New Testament.

 

2/ Reading II: “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

 

2.1/ Christ died for us when we are still sinners.

            The quality that separates Christ, the Good Shepherd, with other shepherds is that he loves all the sheep, not only the good and the healthy. St. Paul had his experience about Christ’s love for him on the way to Damascus, so he confirmed that Christ died for us when we are still sinners, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

           

2.2/ Christ reconciled people with God.

            When people sinned, they can’t reconcile with God or become righteous. This is the reason for Jesus’ coming into the world. He incarnated to have a human body, and with this body he can be died to take away people’s sins. Once he takes away of their sins, they can be reconciled with God. This is the only reason for people to become righteous. Leaving to people’s effort, they can’t become righteous before all of them sinned.

            Christ takes away not only our sins, but he also gives us his Holy Spirit, the principle of life for people. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can live a life as God’s children and become perfect as He is the perfect One.

3/ Gospel: “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

3.1/ A strange parable: Jesus told them this parable:"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

            (1) People’s reaction: There are many reasons for people not to seek for the lost sheep.

            - No one shall do that!

            - If I go out to look for the lost sheep, who shall take care of the remaining ninety-nine ones?

            - There should be no worry of one lost sheep because there shall be more sheep from the flock!

            - Statistically, ninety-nine percent is a very good result; why should one be worried of the lost sheep?

            (2) Jesus’ intention: He wanted them to carefully think about it before he leads them to the fact which they can’t avoid.

            - If Jesus replaces the word “sheep” with “child,” the audience shall be more careful to answer his question. For example, “What man of you, having ten children, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the nine children at home, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” According to Luke’s presentation, this is the first of three continuing parables to emphasize on God’s love and compassion; the other two are “the woman who lost one of her ten coins” and the wonderful parable of “the Prodigal Son,” or it should be called “the Wonderful Father.”

            - All children should be equally treated. Parents should love and care more for their sick children because they need more attention.

            - People should go out to look for the lost child because he/she is their own blood.

            - Jesus told these parables to reveal God’s immense love for people. He isn’t satisfied with the ninety-nine righteous in heaven, but shall look for the lost child until He finds him/her.

            - God loves people when they are still sinners because all of them are His children. Christ paid more attention to the publican and the prostitute because they need to be brought back to God. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, enlightens people’s mind so they can recognize their sins and repent. When they return, God is ready to forgive all of their sins and to recover their rights as God’s children. All of these points are beautifully displayed in the parable of “the Prodigal Son.”

           

3.2/ The joy of finding the lost sheep: Jesus continued his parable, “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.'”

            - As the parents are happy when they find their lost child or their sick child be healthy, God also rejoices as such when a sinner repents and being saved.

            - Each lost child is like a thorn in God’s heart. We shouldn’t let our Father’s heart is such pain without our repentance and return to Him.

            - Our Father’s pain must also be our pain. We should also go out and look for our lost brothers and sisters and bring them to God because they are also of our blood.

            - Christ gave us and all sinners a firm hope when he said: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Who should we believe to give our life for? Are we ready to accept Christ as our Good Shepherd?

            - As pastors and parents, we are also given the shepherds’ duty for our parishioners or children. Are we imitating Christ to love and to care for each of them?

            - Are we humble to recognize that we are also the lost sheep whom Christ are looking for or we proudly think that we are the good sheep?

            - Are our hearts sensitive and loving as Jesus’ heart or they are so hard to welcome God’s grace to forgive those who sinned against us?

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in the Ordinary Time1

Wednesday of the 12 OT1

Image result for christian

Readings: Gen 15:1-12, 17-18; Mt 7:15-20.

1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." 2 But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir." 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, "This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir." 5 And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." 6 And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 And he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess." 8 But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" 9 He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and lo, a dread and great darkness fell upon him. 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.”


I. THEME: Live according to your name.

            According to Confucius’ principle of living according to right name: If you’re a king, you must reign in a way to bring food, peace and happiness for your people; if you’re a citizen, you must keep the king’s orders and fulfill your duties; if you’re parents, you must love, educate and help your children to be good persons; If you are children, you must obey, honor and help your parents when they’re old. If everyone in a family and a country live according to their name, people shall live and work in peace, families shall live in joy and happiness.

            Today readings give some examples to help us to examine our conscience in order to see if we are living according to our name. In the first reading, the Lord God promises to give to Abram two things: descendants as many as stars in heaven and a large and fertile region that begins from Egypt to Euphrates River. God fulfilled His promise. On Abram’s part, he believed God’s promise though he didn’t see even a sign of His promise. In the Gospel, Jesus warned people not to believe in false prophets. They are wolves under shepherds’ appearances, waiting to kill or to plunder sheep. To help people to recognize them, Jesus advised people not to evaluate people by their clothing; but to look deep in their life because a good tree can’t bear bad fruits.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Abram believed the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

           

1.1/ The Lord promises descendants to Abraham.

            Jewish tradition believes having many descendants is one of the rewards God gives to those who revere Him. Abram advanced in ages but he still had no child; but in one vision, God promises “your reward shall be great.” Abram responded to God, “O Lord God, what wilt thou give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir." But the Lord said to him, "This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir." And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be.”

            Though he had no child in his old ages, Abram believed in the Lord; and God reckoned it to him as righteousness. We knew now that God gave Abram a son, Isaac, who had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Both of them have numerous descendants. Jacob had twelve sons and the Israel was formed from his children. When God promises, He doesn’t say when it shall be achieved. Abram’s obligation is to believe God’s promise though he doesn’t see it yet.

           

1.2/ The Lord promises to give the Promise Land to Abram’s descendants.

            God said to Abram again, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess." But Abram said, "O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" God said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." And Abram brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.”

            According to Jewish tradition, when people cut a covenant they used to have offering to guarantee their promises. The meaning of animals were cut in two is to say that if one party violates the covenant, he shall also be cut in two as such.

            God lets Abram know in advance that his descendants must live a slavery life under the Egyptians for four hundred years: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age” (Gen 15:13-15).

            The fact that Abram saw “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces” shows God’s ratifying of the covenant and He shall do what He promises. This also happened when Moses and Aaron obeyed God and led the Israelites out of Egypt. They wandered in the deserts for forty years before settled in the Promise Land which God promises.

2/ Gospel: Be careful of false prophets!

  

2.1/ True and false prophets: The Jewish history is full of these people as recorded many times in the Book of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. St. Paul also cautioned Timothy about these people, and called them “wolves” as Jesus called them in today passage, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” Today, the Church also has false priests who used their clothing to sow false doctrines and to find material gains. How can the faithful recognize false prophets? First, they must know what is a true prophet?

            (1) True prophets: According to the right definition, a prophet is the one who speaks what God wants to say, whether an oracle or a message, not the one who speaks what is going to happen in the future, though he can sometimes says so. A prophet is God’s mouthpiece, he must say what God wants to say to people. Today, a prophet must know God’s words and preach Scripture, not to preach literature or talk about politics. He must teach people of God’s law and courageously correct them when it is necessary.

            (2) False prophets: are those who don’t preach God’s words; instead, they say what they want or others’ words, and then say “these are God’s words.” They don’t teach people God’s words and law, because they themselves are lazy to learn them. They don’t dare to correct people because they are afraid of their displeasure and hatred. They like to say what people want to hear, such as: praising people, not telling them what to do, especially not to display people’s sins so that their conscience are disturbed.

2.2/ The ways to recognize false prophets: To help people to identify false prophets, Jesus taught them, “to see fruits is to recognize the tree; seeing their deeds is knowing who are they.” The faithful can observe their life to know whether they are true or false prophets. Two things we could learn from Jesus’ teaching:

            (1) Don’t evaluate them according to outside appearances: because the dress doesn’t make one a priest. Jesus described a hypocrite person as follows: “Be on guard against the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and love greetings in marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation” (Lk 20:46-47).

            (2) Evaluate them according to their deeds: because we can’t see their intentions. They aren’t worry about the faithful’s soul, only what the faithful can benefit them. A fews of characteristics of false prophets are:

            - They like material gains: They like money and gifts from the faithful.

            - They like to be famous: They use their title to build up their reputation. They only do works that build up their fame and reject unknown and lowly works.

            - They like power: They desire higher rank in the Church so that they shall have more power and fame, and are discouraged when the superiors don’t recognize their talent or importance.

            - They like to satisfy their flesh: They used the faith of women and children to satisfy their fleshy desire. This is the sin which Jesus hatred and condemned, “It would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk 9:42).

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We should live according to our name. If we are prophets, teach people to know God’s words and show them the way to God. If we are Christians, obey and do what God teaches.

            - We shouldn’t evaluate others according to their outside appearance, but look deep in their works.

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