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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading 1 (Isa 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8)

When Hezekiah was mortally ill,
the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him:
"Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order,
for you are about to die; you shall not recover."
Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD:

"O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly
I conducted myself in your presence,
doing what was pleasing to you!"
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: "Go, tell Hezekiah:
Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David:
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.
I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD's temple;
I will add fifteen years to your life.
I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria;
I will be a shield to this city."

Isaiah then ordered a poultice of figs to be taken
and applied to the boil, that he might recover.
Then Hezekiah asked,
"What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?"

Isaiah answered:
"This will be the sign for you from the LORD
that he will do what he has promised:
See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun
on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz
go back the ten steps it has advanced."
So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.

Gospel (Mt 12:1-8)

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
"See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath."
He said to the them, "Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: God controls all days.

            God not only creates all things, but He also controls all things according to orders which He desires. One of orders is the change of time which is based on the rotation of the sun and the moon; this order also helps people to differentiate between day and night. He can change the rotation of the sun and the moon and count the living days of each person. People can’t change, they can only accept and obey orders which God has established.

            Today readings pay a special attention to God’s power in controlling everything of the universe. In the first reading, when Isaiah let king Hezekiah know that the king must prepare for his death, the king cried out to God and asked Him to change his fate. God heard his prayer, He let the king live fifteen more years and protected Jerusalem from Assyrian invasion. In the Gospel, when the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of violating the Sabbath because they picked the heads of grain and ate them, Jesus answered them that he is the Lord of the Sabbath too. The law of the Sabbath only applies to human beings.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced.”

           

1.1/ Hezekiah repented and believed in God’s power: King Sennacherib of Assyria sent his messengers to king Hezekiah with a purpose to advise him to surrender because of the two following reasons. First, the power of Egyptian army can’t save Judah because the power of Assyrian army were much stronger. Secondly, because you turned your back to the Lord of Israel to worship foreign gods, He shall no longer protect you; moreover, He also gave an order for Sennacherib to fight with you.

            Besides Sennacherib’s threaten words, king Hezekiah also heard the prophet Isaiah to announce: “Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.”

            King Hezekiah, on the one hand must face his terminal disease, on the other hand was surrounded by Sennacherib’s threaten words and the prophet Isaiah’s announcement, chose to repent and to believe in God. He turned his face to the wall and prayed to God as follows, “O Lord, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you!" And Hezekiah wept bitterly.”

1.2/ God heard king Hezekiah’s prayer so He healed him and protected Jerusalem from Assyrian invasion.

            + Textual criticism: The two verses, 21-22, at the end of the chapter had no relation with what happened before them. According to 2 Kings 20:1-9, these two verses shouldn’t be put between Isa 38:6 và 7, so that today passage, Isa 38:1-9 shall be clearer.

            + The Lord let Hezekiah live 15 years longer and He also promised to protect the Judahites from Assyrian army. This might be the only case in which God added more years to a person’s lifespan and said in a determined way which was to live fifteen more years. Many cases which God let people live longer, as David’s case, but He didn’t say how long.

            + When king Hezekiah asked for a sign to guarantee God’s promise, He gave him a sign, “This will be the sign for you from the Lord that he will do what he has promised: See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced." So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.”

            + We can’t explain the fact “the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced;” but this event can be done in God’s power. In the Book of Joshua 10:13, there was a similar case: “The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.”

2/ Gospel: For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.

2.1/ The purpose of the Sabbath: Argument about the Sabbath is one of main conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees and the scribes.

            The Book of Leviticus clearly declared: “For six days work may be done; but the seventh day is the Sabbath rest, a day for sacred assembly, on which you shall do no work. The Sabbath shall belong to the Lord wherever you dwell” (Lv 23:3). The third law of the Decalogue also declared, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Exo 20:8; Deut 5:12). Therefore, the two reasons for the Sabbath are for people to rest and to worship the Lord.

            People’s body needs to be rested, and God, who creates people, commanded people not to work on the Sabbath. Besides, human experience also shows that it is necessary for people to pay attention to their spiritual dimension on this day. Without them, people shall be tired and have no power to face difficulties of life.

            God only gave the principle which stated: “The seventh day is the Sabbath rest, a day for sacred assembly, on which you shall do no work.” He didn’t give all detailed laws about this day; all detailed laws came from people. They determined what kinds of work and how heavy does one person carry, shall violate the Sabbath. Some even said that people can’t go to restroom on the Sabbath!

            Can people fight on the Sabbath? The Israelites’ enemies knew that the Jews won’t fight on the Sabbath, so they attacked them on this day and killed many of them. After a while, the law permitted them to fight for their protection on the Sabbath.

2.2/ Those who are exempted on the Sabbath:

            (1) The priests who serve in the temple: If the priests keep the Sabbath, there shall be none to serve in the temple. Therefore, Jesus pointed out for them to see that there are someone who are exempted, they can be rested on other day.

            (2) Those who must protect their life: Jesus’ disciples picked the heads of grain and ate them because they were hungry. Jesus reminded them the event which David and his companions during their flee from Saul, ate even the Bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat (1 Sam 21:1-6). Jesus wanted to say that when people must protect their life, they must find something to eat even on the Sabbath.

            (3) The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath: The law of the Sabbath is only applied to human beings, not to God who gives law and doesn’t depend on human laws.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - The principle guides the law. The principle of the Sabbath is for people to recover their health and to cultivate their relationship with God, not to confine people.

            - Law is made to protect people. When there is a danger to life, such as: hungry, disease, war, etc., people can violate the law to protect their life.

            - God is the One who controls the Sabbath and all the days of life. Can we imagine what shall happen to the universe if God doesn’t control the Sabbath?

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