Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 (Hos 11:1-4, 8c-9)

Thus says the LORD:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the farther they went from me,
Sacrificing to the Baals
and burning incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
who took them in my arms;
I drew them with human cords,
with bands of love;
I fostered them like one
who raises an infant to his cheeks;
Yet, though I stooped to feed my child,
they did not know that I was their healer.

My heart is overwhelmed,
my pity is stirred.
I will not give vent to my blazing anger,
I will not destroy Ephraim again;
For I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you;
I will not let the flames consume you.

Gospel (Mt 10:7-15)

Jesus said to his Apostles:
"As you go, make this proclamation:
'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic,
or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: God’s mercy overcomes all human ingratitude.

            Justice and mercy are two of God’s characteristics. Many people asked which one of the two is stronger in God? Some say God of the Old Testament is the God of justice while God of the New Testament is the God of mercy. In reality, God of the Old Testament is also God of the New Testament. The image of the God of mercy is still exceeded than the God of justice if we compare the proportion between more than two thousands years of the Old Testament with only thirty-three years of Jesus in the world. If God doesn’t have mercy to forgive our sins, human beings shall not survive until now!

            Today readings want us to recognize that God’s mercy is stronger than human sins and ingratitude. In the first reading, the prophet Hosea expressed God’s love for the Israelites as a father’s love for his son. His mercy overcame all of their sins and ingratitude. In the Gospel, Jesus’ concern for future generation is expressed through his forming of the apostles. He trained, bestowed power and sent them out to expel demons, to heal all sins and to bring the Gospel to all people free-of-charge.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “I am God, not a human being.”

1.1/ God cares for Israel as a father cares for his son. In the Exodus event, when God led the Israelites out of Egypt is the proof for them to know how much He loves them. He let them win over Pharaoh’s powerful army, He accompanied them during their forty years in the deserts and helped them to conquer all their enemies on the way to the Promise Land. The prophet Hosea expressed God’s love through the image of a father who cared for his children as follows: “When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks.”

1.2/ God’s mercy overcomes all things: Only fews years after the Israelites entered the Promise Land, they began to forget God and didn’t keep His commandments. The most serious sin and happened many times is the sin of forfeiting God and worshipping idols. Each time it happened, instead of completely destroying them, God sent prophets or judges to bring them back to Him.

            In today passage, Hosea used human language for the Israelites to understand God’s mercy. The question is put out by the prophet: Should God behave mercifully or justly to the Israelites? If God behaves justly with them, they can’t blame on God of anything because they sinned many times against Him. Each time when God wanted to punish the Israelites, He was greatly torn between the two sides. On the one hand, He must be justly to destroy them as He destroyed four Gentile cities: Admah, Zeboiim, Sodom and Gomorrha by fire from heaven (Deut 29:23). On the other hand is His mercy when He must see His children to die on the sea of fire. He spoke out these words: “How could I give you up, O Ephraim, or deliver you up, O Israel? How could I treat you as Admah, or make you like Zeboiim? My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; for I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.”

            To partly understand God’s suffering, we can compare His suffering with parents’ suffering in punishing their children. When their children are bad, they are already sad; when they must punish their children, they feel even worse; and when their children are ingratitude and maltreat them, their hearts are hurted as a knife comes through. Even so, parents’ suffering can’t be compared with God’s suffering because He has many children like that. God is still patient to wait for people to recognize their sins and to return to Him.

2/ Gospel: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

2.1/ The disciples’ duties: Jesus selected his apostles and trained them for a purpose. He knew that He is going to leave this world to be back to his Father, he trained them so that they can replace him to continue the mission of preaching Gospel to all people. The purpose of the preaching Gospel is for people to recognize God’s love for them. God wants people to believe in Christ to attain happiness with Him in heaven.

            (1) What they need to do: Their first duty was clearly spelled out by Jesus’ command: “As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” In order for people to believe in the apostles’ preaching, Jesus empowered them to heal all kinds of diseases, spiritually and physically: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” The purpose of healings is for people to recognize God’s power and to believe in Him, not to show-off or to have financial gains. Jesus also commaned them, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

            (2) What they shouldn’t do: Since Jesus knew that the material temptation can make his disciples to forget their duty to preach the Good News, so he commanded them:

            - Don’t look for gold or money: A loyal disciple of Christ is never permitted to search for these things. The day they look for these things, their preaching shall loose its effect and they are no longer Christ’s true disciples.

            - Don’t bring so many things with them: Many say this teaching isn’t practical because if preachers keep moving from place to place, and don’t bring with him necessary things, when they need them, where can they find? The main thing which Jesus wanted to teach us here is that a preacher must live a simple life. If he has so many things, how can be ready to move on to far away regions to preach the Good News? Moreover, Christ also wanted for his disciples to completely trust in God’s providence, because “the laborer deserves his keep.” God shall never let preachers of the Gospel die on their journey.

2.2/ Find the worthy’s house to dwell: In God’s providence, He continually urges the rich to have generosity so that they shall take care preachers’ material needs. This is why Jesus taught his disciples: “Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave.”

            (1) The rewards for those who welcome Jesus’ disciples: Jesus continued to teach them, “As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.”

            (2) The punishments for those who reject Jesus’ disciples: “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words-- go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We have a God who is compassionate and merciful than any parents of this world. We should come to Him and ask for His mercy.

            - When we are received God’s mercy, we must also have mercy on our brothers and sisters. We should never use the name of justice to destroy others.

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