Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 (1 Kgs 17:7-16)

The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry,
because no rain had fallen in the land.
So the LORD said to Elijah:
"Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.
I have designated a widow there to provide for you."
He left and went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
"Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
"Please bring along a bit of bread."
She answered, "As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked;
there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die."
Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
'The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'"
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Gospel (Mt 5:13-16)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father."


 

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

 

I. THEME: The faithful must set good examples for others.

            A person or a thing is only useful when that person or that thing does what he or it supposes to do. For examples, a student must study; a police must protect people; a dog must watch over his owner’s house; a tree must yield its fruit; a hoe must loosen soil. If they don’t do what they are supposed to do, they become useless. People shall discard them and replace with other person or thing.

            Today readings emphasize the faithful’s duty of setting good examples for those who don’t believe in God yet so they can believe in Him. In the first reading, the author of the First Book of Kings reported a Gentile and widow’s faith in God and the prophet Elijah while the king and all the Israelites lost their faith in them. In the Gospel, Jesus gave his disciples two images of light and salt as two qualities which they must have. His purpose is to remind them of their duty to help others to recognize and to believe in God. If not, they are useless and shall be taken away to provide opportunity for others to benefit Him.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Gentile and widow’s faith in God and the prophet Elijah.

1.1/ "As the LORD, your God, lives," she answered, "I have nothing baked:” God wanted the prophet Elijah to witness a Gentile’s faith so He commanded him, “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.”

            The strange thing in the story is that the one who fed the prophet is a poor widow who was collecting firewood and suffered the same fate as other Israelites. Water is scarce because there was a famine; but when the prophet asked for water, she went and returned to give him some to drink. When Elijah asked for bread, she sincerely told him her miserable circumstance: “"As the LORD, your God, lives," she answered, "I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die."”

            Elijah said to her: "Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.'”

1.2/ The strong faith of the Zarephath’s widow: “She left and did as Elijah had said.” The circumstance and the way she expressed her faith in God and the prophet must be the exemplar for all the faithful due to the following reasons: First, she was a Gentile who didn’t profess her faith in God. She might hear people talking about the Israelites’ God but she didn’t know Him. Secondly, she didn’t know Elijah was the prophet. She only knew that he was a Jew who was suffering a same fate like her. Lastly, water and bread were the most precious things to protect human life in famine, especially in her circumstance: she is a widow and must care for her son!

            She believed in Elijah’s words and his God; she was ready to share her last bread with him. God compensated for her incredible faith by giving her a miracle, “She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well. The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.”

            Jesus used this story to remind the Jews that they must be ashamed of their faith and the way of expressing faith; they didn’t listen to him but also “drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong” (Lk 4:29). In the time of Elijah, Jesus and even in our time, there are many people who have the title “Christians” only in name, but the way they express their faith is worse than a Gentile who never knows about Him, as in the case of this poor widow!

2/ Gospel: “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

            Religion isn’t confined only in knowing God and ceremonies done in the church, but must be permeated in all aspects of the faithful’s life by applying what God has taught us. Jesus gave his disciples two images which are very familiar and necessary for human life, and invited us to reflect.

2.1/ The function of salt: There is nothing which is basic and cheap as salt, but it has many useful applications for human beings.

            (1) Salt represents what is clean and pure because it is formed by sunlight and sea water. Christians are those who are purified by Christ’s blood and sanctified by the Holy Spirit’s grace; they must be pure and holy as salt before they can benefit others.

            (2) Salt prevents food from spoiling: Because of its quality, salt is used to preserve food: Meat and fish need salt to stay longer; vegetables also need salt to last longer; even fruits also need salt to keep its favor. The Vietnamese adage used the image of fish needing salt to teach children the need to obey their parent, “Fish without salt shall be spoiled; children who disobey their parent surely shall be spoiled.” If this is true in educating children, obedience to Christ’s teaching is more important for the Christians. If the faithful have no religious qualities, how can they preserve themselves and others? Jesus reminded his disciples a reality, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

            (3) Salt increases taste for food: Salt can’t be lacked in cooking; no matter how good and fresh is the food, it shall be tasteless without salt; fish sauce is also made with salt. The Christians are equipped to become the salt of the earth. One thing we need to pay attention in this sentence is that our Lord used the verb “to be” at the present time. This means that the Christians always have this character. They, by nature, have good characters to help the world to be better.

2.2/ The function of light: This image is more familiar to human beings than salt. Light has many functions:

            (1) Light is used to shine: When the sun sets, people need light to avoid falling and to find things. The Christians have the truth as light to avoid falsehood.

            (2) Light is used to warm up: When the weather becomes cold, people need heat from the sun or fire or heaters to keep themselves warm. The Christians have the Holy Spirit to warm them up from loneliness and sorrow.

            (3) Light is used to protect people from dangers: Sins or crimes used to happen in dark places. Sinners and criminals hate the light because it displays their wicked deeds.

            Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must always be the spiritual salt to increase virtues in others and the light of truth to guide others to God.

            - If we don’t do these two tasks, we are useless and shall be discarded in order to provide opportunities for others.

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