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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 (2 Kgs 22:8-13, 23:1-3)

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan,
"I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD."
Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.
Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported,
"Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple and have consigned them to the master workmen
in the temple of the LORD."
The scribe Shaphan also informed the king
that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book,
and then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the contents of the book of the law,
he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, son of Shaphan,
Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan,
and the king's servant Asaiah:
"Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah,
about the stipulations of this book that has been found,
for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us, because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations."

The king then had all the elders of Judah
and of Jerusalem summoned together before him.
The king went up to the temple of the LORD with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great.
He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant
that had been found in the temple of the LORD, read out to them.
Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the LORD
that they would follow him
and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees
with their whole hearts and souls,
thus reviving the terms of the covenant
which were written in this book.
And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Gospel (Mt 7:15-20)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them."


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

I. THEME: Let live suitably according to the name we carry.

            According to the “living according to your name” principle of Confucius, a king must care for his people to be well-fed, warmly clad and peaceful; a citizen must follow the law and fulfill his duty; a father must love and educate his children; and a child must obey and was respectful to his parents. If every citizen of a nation and every child of a family lives according to their name, nation shall be prosperous and peaceful; family shall be joyful and happy.

            Today readings want to give the exemplars so that people can examine their conscience and see if they are living according to their names. In the first reading, during the repair of the temple, the high priest Hilkiah found the Book of the Law which has been forgotten for a long time. He gave the Book for the king’s scribe, Saphan, and the scribe presented the Book to the king. When king Josiah read the Book, he was afraid due to its teaching. He commanded the high priest to renew the whole kingdom according to the Book’s teaching. Because of his action, the king saved his kingdom from God’s anger. In the Gospel, Jesus warned people to watch for false prophets; they come to people in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. To recognize them, Jesus advised people not to evaluate people according to the clothes they wear, but by the deeds they do because a bad tree can’t yield good fruits or reverse.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations.”

1.1/ God’s Law was forgotten: This is the Book of Deuteronomy which most of scholars agreed, one of the first five books of the Scripture. How could such an important book be forgotten so that the high priest Hilkiah was surprised when he found it during the repair of the temple?

            The author reported the finding of the book as follows: “The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan, "I have found the book of the law in the temple of the Lord." Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported, "Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple and have consigned them to the master workmen in the temple of the Lord." The scribe Shaphan also informed the king that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book, and then read it aloud to the king.”

            When the king had heard the contents of the book of the law, he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, son of Shaphan, Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan, and the king's servant Asaiah: "Go, consult the Lord for me, for the people, for all Judah, about the stipulations of this book that has been found, for the anger of the Lord has been set furiously ablaze against us, because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations."

           

1.2/ King Josiah renewed his nation according to what the Book prescribed: Josiah is a God fearer, so the king commanded “all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned together before him. The king went up to the temple of the Lord with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great. He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant that had been found in the temple of the Lord, read out to them. Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the Lord that they would follow him and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees with their whole hearts and souls, thus reviving the terms of the covenant which were written in this book. And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.”

            Due to king Josiah’s reverence for the Book and his on time innovation for the country, God stopped His punishment for Judah.

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 appearance: 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:                     

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

            - We should never evaluate others according to what they wear and what they have, but to look at what they do.

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