Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time2
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time2

Reading 1: (Am 7:10-17)

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam,
king of Israel:
"Amos has conspired against you here within Israel;
the country cannot endure all his words.
For this is what Amos says:
Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land."

To Amos, Amaziah said:
"Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."
Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'
Now hear the word of the LORD!"

You say: prophesy not against Israel,
preach not against the house of Isaac.
Now thus says the LORD:
Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city,
and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword;
Your land shall be divided by measuring line,
and you yourself shall die in an unclean land;
Israel shall be exiled far from its land.

Gospel: (Mt 9:1-8)

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
"Courage, child, your sins are forgiven."
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
"This man is blaspheming."
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
"Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise and walk?'
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins?"
he then said to the paralytic,
"Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.


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

 

I. THEME: We must carefully meditate God’s words.

            The word which comes out from God’s mouth shall not come back to Him without achieving the result for which God sent it (Isa 55:11). When people listen to God’s word, either by God Himself or by the prophets, they must have a humble and respectful attitude. Then, they need to meditate and practice what God said in order to benefit for themselves and to avoid damages which shall happen in the future.

            Today readings illustrate two examples for those who didn’t carefully listen and insulted God’s word. In the first reading, the priest Amaziah insulted Amos’ prophetic mission. He sent his messenger to the king and asked him to send Amos back to his native land. Because of this insulted act, Amaziah must receive an oracle from Amos which predicted damages for himself, his family and the country. In the Gospel, some of the scribes quickly condemned Jesus of blasphemy because he forgave sins, an exclusive right of God. Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to explain for them that if he could heal, he could also take away sins which are the cause of sickness. Therefore, they must accept him as God because he could do things which only God can do.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

1.1/ " Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land."

            Prophets shall be hated by people because he says things which people don’t want to hear. The passage reported the priest Amaziah’s attitude toward the prophet Amos as follows: “Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos has conspired against you here within Israel; the country cannot endure all his words. For this is what Amos says: Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land."”

            When people hear the prophet’s word, they can have one of these two attitudes: either they humbly welcome them and examine their conscience to repent of their sins or arrogantly blame the prophet and find a way to get rid of him. The priest Amaziah chose the latter. He thought that God talks to himself too and he wanted to please the king and people by saying what they want to listen.

            Amos was born at Tekoa, a city of Judah; but God commanded him to prophesy in Northern kingdom. This was the reason why Amaziah said to Amos: "Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."

            Amos responded to Amaziah: "I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel." Amos wanted to tell Amaziah that his prophetic vocation came from God. If He didn’t call him, he would not come to Northern kingdom to prophesy for God.

1.2/ Persecution of the prophet can’t nullify God’s oracle: The audience must know that a prophet is only the carrier of God’s message or God’s mouthpiece. God is the One who pronounces the message. If the audience don’t want to accept the result, they can choose one of the two resolutions. Either they choose to destroy the One who pronounces the message which no one can do it, or they carefully listen to the message and reform their life. To be angry and to destroy the prophet only increase their sins and speed up God’s punishment.

            Amos pronounced God’s oracle to Amaziah, not out of his personal envy, but in the name of God. He said: “Now hear the word of the Lord! You say: prophesy not against Israel, preach not against the house of Isaac. Now thus says the Lord: Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by measuring line, and you yourself shall die in an unclean land; Israel shall be exiled far from its land.”

2/ Gospel: "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven."

2.1/ The scribes questioned Jesus’ power to forgive sins: Matthews reported: “And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven."”

            (1) The scribes’ reaction: Some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." The Jewish tradition rightly believe that only God can forgive sins.

            (2) Jesus’ reaction: “Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?”

            Of course it is easier to say “Your sins are forgiven!” because no one can verify the result. The more difficult is to said to the paralytic, “Rise and walk!” because everybody can verify the one who said has power to heal or not. To verify that he has both, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." The paralytic rose and went home.

2.2/ The right to forgive sins closely connects with the power to heal:

            (1) Jesus has the right to forgive sins: The Jewish tradition believes that disease is the result of sin (Eze 18:2; Jn 9:1-2). Jesus wanted to show them that when he healed the paralytic, he took away his sins which is the cause of his disease. Jesus wanted to use the healing to demonstrate that he has power to forgive sins.

            (2) Jesus is God: The Jewish tradition also rightly believes that only God can forgive sins. Jesus wanted to show them that if he can forgive sins, they must accept him as God. Therefore, their condemnation, “This man is blaspheming” is wrong.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We should have a respectful and humble attitude everytime we read or listen to God’s words because these words shall be a proof to condemn us.

            - We should never insult, criticize and cause damages for prophets because of their preaching. If we do, we shall add more sins to ourselves and not escape God’s punishment. It is better for us to carefully find out what these words want to say to us and quickly do them.

            - God’s word isn’t easy to understand; therefore, we must spend lots of time to study and to meditate before we could understand it.

            - Neglecting of God’s word is to accept all bad results.

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