Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 (1 Kgs 18:41-46)

Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink,
for there is the sound of a heavy rain."
So Ahab went up to eat and drink,
while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel,
crouched down to the earth,
and put his head between his knees.
"Climb up and look out to sea," he directed his servant,
who went up and looked, but reported, "There is nothing."
Seven times he said, "Go, look again!"
And the seventh time the youth reported,
"There is a cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea."
Elijah said, "Go and say to Ahab,
'Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.'"
In a trice the sky grew dark with clouds and wind,
and a heavy rain fell.
Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel.
But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah,
who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab
as far as the approaches to Jezreel.

Gospel (Mt 5:20-26)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, "You fool," will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."


 

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

 

I. THEME: Let be patient in leading others to God.

            People live far away from God due to many reasons: They have no opportunity to hear God’s words; they live in a family in which the parent didn’t live their faith; they live in a society which highly pays attention to material things and opposes religious values, etc. It is easy for us to condemn them and to choose the ignorant attitude, “everyone has his own life to live.” Christ didn’t let his disciples to easily condemn others as such, he wanted them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world to lead the waywards back to God.

            Today readings give some concrete examples for the faithful to imitate. In the first reading, the prophet Elijah, after demonstrated for the Israelites to know the true God by the miracle in which he asked God to send fire from heaven to consume the offering, commanded king Ahab and all the Israelites fasting to show their repentance before he prayed for rain to end the famine. In the Gospel, Jesus condemned all forms of anger, insult and condemnation. Instead of these, his disciples must always have forgiveness and live in harmony with others.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God punishes people of their sins and then has mercy on His people.

1.1/ People must repent from their sins: God punishes people out of His love for them, not out of anger or hatredness. If He doesn’t punish, they shall not recognize their sins and return to Him. After the Israelites recognized their sin of worshipping Baal, the prophet Elijah had asked king Ahab and all the Israelites fasting to show their repentance before he prayed to God for rain to end the famine. When the fasting period ended, the prophet said to king Ahab: “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." So Ahab went up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, crouched down to the earth, and put his head between his knees.”

            Carmel is a high mountain near to Sidon and on the coast of Mediterranean Sea. From here, Elijah could see the dark clouds that bring rain from the sea. The position of Elijah when he prayed, expressed his ardent and humiliated attitude in asking for God’s favor. On the top of this mountain, there still exists a chapel today, built in memory of this event, and at the place which the prophet Elijah prayed for rain. On a nice day, the pilgrims can clearly see from this mountain to the southeast the plain of Jezreel all the way to Galilean sea.

1.2/ The famine was ended: “"Climb up and look out to sea," he directed his servant, who went up and looked, but reported, "There is nothing." Seven times he said, "Go look again!" And the seventh time the youth reported, "There is a cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea." Elijah said, "Go and say to Ahab, 'Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.'" In a trice, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain fell. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel.”

            In the mean time, “the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel.” This is the symbol of the victory because God helped Elijah to conquer both the Israelites’ faith and the famine.

2/ Gospel: Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

            Jesus warned his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” We need to remember that chapter five of the Gospel according to Matthews begins with the Beatitudes. These are Jesus’ teaching to help his disciples to become perfect as their Father in heaven. In this chapter, Jesus often used the formula: “You have heard that it was said ... But I say to you” (cf. Mt 5:27-28). In today passage, Jesus demanded his disciples to be good and righteous than the scribes in two areas:

2.1/ In respecting others’ dignity: Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna."

            Jesus wanted his disciples to know that there are many ways to kill people, not only to physically kill them. People can kill others by:

            - Anger: There are two words for anger in Greek: “thurmos” is used for the anger which is easy come and gone, and “orgê” for the anger which lasts for a long time, all of a person’s life. Jesus prohibited his disciples to be angry, “orgízô” according to the second sense, the anger that lasts for a long time.

            - Insult: “Raqa” is a Greek word which is difficult to translate. In can be translated as “fool” or “dumb” according to the intellectual aspect. Jesus said, “whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin.” The basis for this condemnation is that all people are created by God; to insult them is to insult the Creator.

            - Condemnation: “Moros” in Greek means foolish in the moral sense. It can be used for an atheist or a debauched person. Jesus warned his disciples, “whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” This is the most serious of the three acts because its punishment is the fiery Gehenna. The disciples’ duty is to patiently lead them to God, not to be angry, to insult or to condemn others.

2.2/ In forgiving each other: The Jewish tradition and Christian teaching believe that a person’s vertical relationship to God is proportional with his horizontal relationship with others; therefore, he must forgive others if he wants to be forgiven by God. According to Jewish tradition, when one unintentionally sins, the sinner must offer his offering to ask God to forgive his sin. In a case that relates to his relationship with other, he must reconciliate with that one before he can reconciliate with God. The theology of the sacrament of Reconciliation also demands a sinner must forgive others who sinned against him as God forgives him.

            Besides, to live in harmony with others helps people to avoid conflicts in life. Our ancestors taught us that the meek and gentle shall be loved by all. In opposition, the angry and mean shall be hated by people and accumulated for himself hatredness, contention and discord. Jesus advised his disciples, “Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

                       

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We can’t be angry, insult or condemn others; we must give others opportunities to repent and to return to God.

            - To be perfect is a progress which requires time and effort. We need to be patient to forgive, to educate and to encourage sinners on their journey back to God.

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