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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading 1 (Isa 7:1-9)

In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah,
Rezin, king of Aram,
and Pekah, king of Israel, son of Remaliah,
went up to attack Jerusalem,
but they were not able to conquer it.
When word came to the house of David that Aram
was encamped in Ephraim,
the heart of the king and the heart of the people trembled,
as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.

Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz,
you and your son Shear-jashub,
at the end of the conduit of the upper pool,
on the highway of the fuller's field, and say to him:
Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear;
let not your courage fail
before these two stumps of smoldering brands
the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans,
and of the son Remaliah,
because of the mischief that
Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah,
plots against you, saying,
"Let us go up and tear Judah asunder, make it our own by force,
and appoint the son of Tabeel king there."

Thus says the LORD:
This shall not stand, it shall not be!
Damascus is the capital of Aram,
and Rezin is the head of Damascus;
Samaria is the capital of Ephraim,
and Remaliah's son the head of Samaria.

But within sixty years and five,
Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation.
Unless your faith is firm
you shall not be firm!

Gospel (Mt 11:20-24)

Jesus began to reproach the towns
where most of his mighty deeds had been done,
since they had not repented.
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum:

Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the nether world.

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom,
it would have remained until this day.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Miracles and faith

            The Jews like miracles, the Vietnameses like them too. For example, there was a source which announced that the Blessed Virgin Mary shall appear on the sky of Houston on the night of June 13. Many people spent all night to look up into heaven. The result was that no one saw her! When were questioned, those who announced that news said: because the Houstonians didn’t have enough faith! In the Gospel, Jesus worked miracles to light up the faith. When people already had faith, miracles are no longer needed. To the ones who are hard to believe, no matter how many miracles they saw, they are still unbelieved.

            Today readings illustrate the relation between faith and miracles. In the first reading, when the king of Judah faced the power of Syro-Israel association, “the heart of the king and heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.” The Lord sent both Isaiah and his son to confirm the king. Isaiah advised him not to be afraid of their power; if he believes in God’s power, the Judah kingdom shall stand firm. In the Gospel, Jesus compared people of certain cities with each other to illustrate a truth which is, to often listen to Jesus’ teaching and to frequently watch his miracles didn’t always lead to faith. He also warned his audience that whoever enjoyed more priviledges, shall be judged more heavily.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!

1.1/ Syro-Israel association: The history illustrated that people of the same origin didn’t always love and protect one another. Because of the political ambition, the Israel king associated with the king of Syria to fight against the Judah kingdom. When the Judah king faced their power, “the heart of the king and heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.”

1.2/ They need to show a firm faith in God: In the time of trouble, it is the time for people to show their firm faith in God. The Lord sent the prophet Isaiah and his son, Shearjashub, to the Judah king to confirm of his faith. The prophet said to him, “Do not be afraid, believe in God.” The Lord also showed him the consequence, “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!”

            The Lord called the Israel king and the Syrian king, “two stumps of smoldering brands.” This means that they shall not last long. History showed that both of them were felt to the Assyrian empire before 721 BC. The prophet wanted to say to Ahaz, the Judah king, that the Lord controls everything in the world. He shall protect the one who puts his complete faith in Him.

2/ Gospel: “If the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”

2.1/ Jesus compared Chorazin and Bethsaida with Tyre and Sidon: “Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

            (1) Chorazin and Bethsaida: Chorazin was identified by the archeologists with the modern Kerazeh, about 2.5 miles from Capernaum to the North. Bethsaida is a village of Galilee regions, locates to the west of the lake Tiberias, in the "strip land of Gennesaret." Bethsaida is the native place of Peter, Andrew and Philip; and the place that Jesus frequently comes and goes. Two miracles which Jesus did and reported in details are the miracles which Jesus healed the blind at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22) and the miracle “the multiplication of the loaves” to feed the five thousand people at Bethsaida (Lk 9:10-17). Besides, Lucas also reported that Jesus taught and healed many people at this place.

            (2) Tyre and Sidon: are two big commercial harbors of the Phoenecians (Lebanon today), lie on the coast of Mediterranean sea. Tyre locates about 23 miles to the north of Arco, and is about 20 miles from Sidon to the South. Jesus rarely went out the Palestinian territory. The evangelists reported only one time which Jesus came to Tyre and Sidon when a Canaanite woman begged him to heal her daughter from a demon. Jesus seriously tested her faith by saying to her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” (Mt 15:26) before he healed her daughter.

2.2/ Jesus compared Capernaum with Sodom: Jesus said, “And as for you, Capernaum: 'Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.' For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.”

            (1) Capernaum: can be said as “Jesus city” because he frequently came to teach and to work miracles here. St. John reported Jesus’ first miracle when he changed water into wine at a wedding at Cana (Jn 2:12) and the healing of an officer’s servant (Jn 4:46). St. Matthew reported Jesus healed the Roman centurion’s servant (Mt 8:5). St. Mark reported Jesus healed a paralytic which was strolled down by ropes from the roof of a house (Mk 2:1). St. Luke reported Jesus expelled a demon (Lk 9:33). Mark reported Jesus preached in the Capernaum synagogue (Mk 1:21) and John clearly recorded Jesus’ preaching of the Eucharist after he fed five thousand people and people’s reactions (Jn 6).

            (2) Sodom: We knew about this city in the Book of Genesis when God commanded fire from heaven to burn out this city because of their terrible sins they committed against him, especially the sexual immorality as the name of the city is called (Gen 18:16-33, 19:1-29). This city is lied opposite with Zoar, toward the south-west of the Dead Sea.

            During Jesus’ three years of public ministry, he spent most of his time to preach around the Galilee regions, rarely went out from Galilee and Jerusalem. Therefore, all Gentile cities, such as Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, etc. almost had no opportunity to hear his preaching or to witness his miracles. When bringing out the comparison between the cities, Jesus wanted to emphasize an important point: whoever have more opportunities to repent, shall be judged more heavily. Bethsaida and Capernaum shall certainly be judged more heavily than Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - To enjoy more priviledges isn’t necessary to lead to faith and love. In opposition, as Jesus warned, “no prophet is loved in his own place.”

            - Whoever has more opportunities shall be judged in a heavy manner.

            - Our challege: Do too many opportunities make us to love God more and to be firm in faith? 

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