Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Reading 1: (Isa 40:1-11) 

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, "Cry out!"
I answer, "What shall I cry out?"
"All flesh is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever."

Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Gospel: (Mt 18:12-14)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost."


I. THEME: Forgiveness

            We have a tendency to love those who are good and to discard those who are bad or have nothing to love; but if we follow this tendency, sooner or later, we have no one to love because human beings are the combination of good and bad qualities. A true love requires one to accept people as they are and to forgive them as God loves and forgives us.

            Today readings rotate around the themes of love and of forgiveness. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah compared God as the Good Shepherd, who “will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” In the Gospel, Jesus proved himself as the Good Shepherd by putting out the question: “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” A lost sheep couldn’t be a concern for men, but is a concern for God. Jesus came to this world to look for sinners and brings them back to God.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: All have sinned against God.

1.1/ The reason of the exile: God was torn between either to let the enemies completely destroyed the Israelites because of their sins, or to punish them on exile with a hope that some of them will recognize their sins and come back to Him. To completely destroy them is so easy to do; but to patiently instruct them is hard to do because it requires time, effort, and His dependence on human beings. Out of His love, God chose the second solution, He must punish them but will forgive if they repent. Before the exile, God sent His prophets to them to reveal their sins and to threaten them with war, famine, and exile. During the exile, He changed His tactics by sending His prophets to console and to encourage people so that they won’t loose their hope.

            Jerusalem is personified to indicate the Israelites. The prophet’s duty is to comfort, not to threaten them anymore. This duty isn’t easy to do for the prophet after he witnessed what the Israelites did to God and to him. The prophet must comfort people with tender words, not harsh words as before the exile. God’s way of educating people requires both hard and tender words, both punishment and forgiveness. The prophet must announced three things: first, her warfare is ended; second, her iniquity is pardoned; and third, she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The last thing isn’t clear to understand: some understand as God punished the Israelites twice as much of her sins. This understanding violates God’s justice. Matthew Henry understands as the coming Messiah will forgive not only people’s past sins but also their future sins.

1.2/ Sins will be forgiven if people repented.

            (1) People must prepare a way for God to come to them: God left people because they sinned against Him. In order for God to come back, people must be purified from all of their sins; beacuse God is the Most Holy One, He can’t live in a sinful soul. God sent His prophets to the exile people to call people to repent and to help them to prepare a way for God to come back. The prophet Isaiah proposed a proper way for people to follow: “make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” We already explained this way in details on the second Sunday of Advent.

            (2) The most serious sin is not to love and to revere God above all things: In all Wisdom Books, the authors declared many times this sentence: “To fear God is the source of all wisdom.” Therefore, to despite God is the source of all foolishness. The prophet Isaiah reminded the Israelites of their foolishness in this passage: “A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.”

            People are flowers and grass, they depend on God’s rain. People have this absurd thought when they think they can live without God. From the beginning, God condemned such a thought: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand"” (Isa 1:2-3).

1.3/ God will receive the Israelites back if they sincerely repent: The exile was necessary time for the Israelites to examine their conscience and to recognize that they couldn’t live without God’s presence. When they repented and obeyed God, He will do two things for them which they never dare to think about them:

            (1) In the close future: God will set them free from the exile and let them to return to their country to rebuilt the Temple and to establish their nation.

            (2) In the distant future: God will send His Messiah to govern His people: “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

2/ Gospel: “It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

            Many people ask “How can God know and care for all people of this world?” Only in three short sentences of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus showed God’s power and concern for all.

2.1/ God always looks for lost sheep, even only one: Jesus put out this question to his audience: “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” To a man, a lost sheep is nothing, since he still has other ninety-nine sheep; especially if the one who intentionally got lost. To God, He will let ninety-nine there and look for the lost one until He will find it.

2.2/ God is happy when He found the lost sheep: God isn’t only looking for the lost sheep; “and if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

         

            - The modern world esteems individualism, they only concern with what will benefit them and discard what are heavy burden for them, such as: the elders, the terminated diseases, and the enemy. If God behaves the same, we won’t have a chance to be saved.

            - We pray the Our Father everyday which said: “Forgive us as we also forgive those who sinned against us.” We must forgive others in order to receive God’s forgiveness.

            - The best way to forgive is to often receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. Everytime we examine our conscience, we recognize many bad habits in ourselves. This will help us to see others’ sins with compassion, since they are also weak like us. Those who don’t often examine their conscience easily condemn others because they think they have no weakness. 

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