Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 (Amo 8:4-6, 9-12)

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
"When will the new moon be over," you ask,
"that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?"
We will diminish the containers for measuring,
add to the weights,
and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly man for silver,
and the poor man for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"

On that day, says the Lord GOD,
I will make the sun set at midday
and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentations.
I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth
and make every head bald.
I will make them mourn as for an only son,
and bring their day to a bitter end.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD,
when I will send famine upon the land:
Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water,
but for hearing the word of the LORD.
Then shall they wander from sea to sea
and rove from the north to the east
In search of the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.

Gospel (Mt 9:9-13)

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
He heard this and said,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."


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

I. THEME: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

             

            Many faithful think that religion is confined only in their participation on the Mass every weekend in the church. When they go out of the church, they return to their secular life, they must fight to earn their living without a concern for others. They don’t know that there is a connection between the Mass they celebrated in the church and the life they live outside with people. They must find opportunities to practice what God taught them in the Church, such as: to bring the Good News to all people and to serve all those who are needing of their care.

            Today readings emphasize that people must replace their superficial worship with a sincere repentance. In the first reading, the prophet Amos accused the Israelites of their superficial worship of God. Though they kept the law of the Sabbath, but inside of their mind, they only wanted for that day to be over soon so that they can making money by maltreating of the poor. The prophet Amos reminded them that they must thirst for God’s word and a righteous life, not reluctantly keeping of the law while their mind planned countless ways to exploit the poor. In the Gospel, the Pharisees evaluated Jesus through the outside act when he sit in the same table with tax-collectors and sinners. Jesus reminded them that what pleases God is their love for others, not by superficial keeping of the law.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord.”

1.1/ If the sinners don’t repent, they must receive the corresponding punishment: The prophet Amos accused the Israelites of their two main sins:

            (1) Disrespect in their worship: They reluctantly attended liturgy, while their body were in front of God, their mind wandered around all the places. They thought of what they are going to do to earn money, and wished the Sabbath quickly ends so that they can do them. They worshipped God by their mouth and thought that it was enough to please God by keeping outside ceremonies. They never think that they must reform their life and change their unjust life toward others. This proved that “they worshipped God only outside but their mind were far away from God.” They don’t care about the two basic laws: to love God and others.  

            (2) Violate justice: They devised ways to get rich by unjustly treating the poor, such as:

            - Improper trade: Amos accused them, “We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating!” Ephah is the standard measure for wheat, and can be made smaller by twisting it. Shekel is used in balance scales, can be made heavier by putting more lead on its base. The handle of a balance can be cheated by adjusting the balancing point. In brief, they had countless point to become rich without concerning for the buyers’ situation, whether they are widows or poor people.

            - Value money more than human dignity: Amos accused them, they “buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals.” When the borrowers couldn’t pay their debt, they seized them as slaves.

            - Deceiving: To deceive buyers, they put good wheat on the top of the container while put bad wheat underneath it.

            Both these sins are against God because whatever they do to others they do to God.

            (2) The corresponding punishments: Amos told them that God’s punishments shall quickly happen and they shall have no time to prepare for them, “On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations. I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald. I will make them mourn as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end.”

1.2/ Thirst for God’s words: People have a tendency to be afraid of physical hungry and thirsty, but never think of a spiritual famine. If we consider damages, a spiritual famine is more severe because it makes people to live in falsehood, without a purpose, and specially, they shall be dead for ever. The prophet Amos declared, “Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east in search of the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.”

            The Israelites were listened to God’s words through prophets. If there are no prophets, they shall have no chance to listen to God’s words. The history of the Old Testament showed the fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy because after the prophet Malachi (about 5th BC), the Israelites didn’t see any prophets in their nation about 500 years. If the spiritual life of the Israelites with the prophets’ presence were that bad; when there were no prophets, the spiritual life of the future generations shall be beyond human imagination!

2/ Gospel: "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.”

           

2.1/ The Pharisees’ reaction: To them, the tax-collector like Matthew was considered as a public sinner as a prostitute because he helped the Roman emperor to exploit his own people. Therefore, when they saw Jesus sit on the same table with Matthew and his companions, they said to Jesus’ disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

            If we consider only human aspect, they had a reason to criticize Jesus because like most of Vietnamese parents, they often teach their children: “If you live near the ink you shall be dark; and if you live near the lamp you shall be as light.” But this consideration can’t be true to the experience, the righteous and especially to Jesus.

2.2/ Jesus’ reaction: He answered them: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

            Physically, if a doctor is afraid of catching a disease from a patient, he can’t come close to a patient to heal him. Jesus compared him like the healer of spiritual sickness, though he hates sins; but he must be close to sinners and find ways to lead them back. Jesus invited them to examine of two things: First, God loves those who have mercy more than of their sacrifice, because sacrifices are animals without souls; but mercy brings back to God His children. Secondly, if the Pharisees carefully examined of their conscience, they shall find out they are also those who need of God’s mercy because all are sinners. Only because of pride and self-labelling themselves as the righteous, they shall not receive God’s mercy.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We can’t live our religion by only participating in superficial worhip through outside ceremonies, but we must truly repent of our soul, expressed by a life of justice and love.

            - We shouldn’t evaluate others through their position or outside acts, but through their desire to know the truth and to want to live a better life. 

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