Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading 1 (Isa 10:5-7, 13b-16)

Thus says the LORD:
Woe to Assyria! My rod in anger,
my staff in wrath.
Against an impious nation I send him,
and against a people under my wrath I order him
To seize plunder, carry off loot,
and tread them down like the mud of the streets.
But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
Rather, it is in his heart to destroy,
to make an end of nations not a few.

For he says:
"By my own power I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples,
their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned.
My hand has seized like a nest
the riches of nations;
As one takes eggs left alone,
so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing,
or opened a mouth, or chirped!"

Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it?
As if a rod could sway him who lifts it,
or a staff him who is not wood!
Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts,
will send among his fat ones leanness,
And instead of his glory there will be kindling
like the kindling of fire.

Gospel (Mt 11:25-27)

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: God reveals the mystery of heaven for the humble.

            The more people become rich, advanced and civilized, the more they live far away from God. The existential philosopher, F. Nietzsch, in The Gay Science, Section 125, declared: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” K. Marx, the founder of Communism declared, “Religion is opium of people.” From the French revolution to now, since science has help the humankind many advancements such as: cars, planes, telephones, computers, etc. many people think that they need to re-examine all areas of human aspects, even faith. Many people gave up their faith because they think that science can explain all phenomena which happen in the universe, without the need of the faith in God’s existence as ancient people believe.

            Today readings want to show people that who have that thinking are imaginary and deceived of themselves. In the first reading, Isaiah wanted people to recognize the truth: God controls everything in the universe. He could use Assyria as a rod to punish the Israelites. After the rod has fulfilled God’s purpose, He could break the rod by using Babylonian empire to destroy Assyrian empire, and so on. All nations are only like rods in God’s hand; they can’t understand God’s purpose and boast against Him who used them. In the Gospel, Jesus prayed to the Father with a purpose to educate his disciples: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Will the axe boast against him who hews with it? Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it?”

1.1/ Assyria didn’t understand God’s providence: The prophet Isaiah foresaw the day that God uses Assyria as a rod to punish the Israelites, because they turned their back to Him and didn’t keep what He teaches them.

            Assyria didn’t understand God’s providence; they thought that they conquered Israel and other nations because of their military power. Therefore, they were very proud and declared, “By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd. I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged, and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned. My hand has seized like a nest the riches of nations; as one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth; no one fluttered a wing, or opened a mouth, or chirped!”

1.2/ God shall use Babylon to destroy Assyria: The prophet Isaiah regarded Assyria’s pride as imaginary; he compared Assyria’s attitude as the axe in the user’s hand or the saw in the sawyer. He put out a question for them, “Will the axe boast against him who hews with it? Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it? As if a rod could sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wood!” They must open their eyes to recognize that they are only a rod which God used to punish the Israelites.

            Because of their pride and wickedness, God shall break the rod which they used. He shall use Babylon to destroy Assyria. The prophet forewarned that Babylon shall “be kindling like the kindling of fire” to burn out Assyria. Both don’t recognize God’s providence. The king of Babylon also thinks that they conquered Assyria because of their military prowess.

2/ Gospel: Why the little can understand the mystery of the heaven.

2.1/ God likes to reveal for the little: There are several special words which we need to understand before we can understand Jesus’ meaning:

            - To hide (krýptô): There are two meanings: First, to hide something so others can’t see it; for example, to hide gold in a field. Secondly, to hide a secret so others can’t discover it; for example, to hide one’s origin or secret. Jesus wanted to talk about the second case.

            - To reveal (apokalýptô) means to make a secret to be known, to bring to light what is in darkness or to help a person to understand what they don’t know or only know little.

            - The little (nếpios): can indicate a child or those who don’t come to an age as the law determines (for example, 18 years old).

            (1) St. Paul compared the immaturity of the Corinthian faithful as the little because they still saw spiritual things with the little’s eyes. They were still needed to feed by milk, not by the mature’s food for those who has been grown up (téleios) (1 Cor 3:1).

            (2) Jesus compared between the wise and the intelligent (sophós and synetós) with the little (nếpios) to tell the audience that they need to have the child’s attitude: believed, humble and eager to learn so that he can teach them knowledge about God. A prideful and suspected attitude shall prevent them to recognize what he wanted to reveal to them. When people receive knowledge about God, they must have the child’s attitude: all are new to them.

2.2/ Knowledge about God: Jesus said, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

            (1) Jesus is the one who knows the Father more than anyone else: The Greek verb which was used here is “epiginốskô,” means to know a person or a thing as he is or it is. People understand about God with a different degree; only Jesus understands about God in a perfect degree. This is no surprise because he is the word (lógos) or God’s mind. He and the Father are one.

            (2) People know about God through Jesus’ revelation: If God doesn’t choose to reveal Himself to men, they can never know Him. Christ is God’s revelation; he came to reveal the Father for people as he declared to his disciples, “who sees me, sees the Father.” Moreover, in order for people to understand Jesus’ revelation, they need the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, to guide them.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - To understand the mystery of heaven, we need to be humble, to completely rely on God, not on ourselves.

            - Faith is higher than intellect, not depend on the intellect; but intellect can lighten up faith. Instead of simplifying a powerful and wise God to a narrow intellect, people must pray to God so that He helps them to understand partly of His unlimited wisdom. When a person can’t understand a God’s mystery, it is not that it is absurd, but that person has no wisdom to understand it.

            - We can’t understand the mystery of heaven if Christ, God’s son, didn’t reveal to us. 

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