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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading 1 (Mic 2:1-5)

Woe to those who plan iniquity,
and work out evil on their couches;
In the morning light they accomplish it
when it lies within their power.
They covet fields, and seize them;
houses, and they take them;
They cheat an owner of his house,
a man of his inheritance.
Therefore thus says the LORD:
Behold, I am planning against this race an evil
from which you shall not withdraw your necks;
Nor shall you walk with head high,
for it will be a time of evil.

On that day a satire shall be sung over you,
and there shall be a plaintive chant:
"Our ruin is complete,
our fields are portioned out among our captors,
The fields of my people are measured out,
and no one can get them back!"
Thus you shall have no one
to mark out boundaries by lot
in the assembly of the LORD.

Gospel (Mt 12:14-21)

The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus
to put him to death.

When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place.
Many people followed him, and he cured them all,
but he warned them not to make him known.
This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: Leadership in justice and love

            Prophet Micah, is the contemporary with Isaiah, Amos and Hosea (before the exile, 721 BC). In opposing with Amos who carried his mission in the north, Micah carried his mission in the south, Judah region. He is a peasant, born at Moresheth, near Lakish, about 25 miles SW of Jerusalem, the boundary between Judah and Gaza now. Some people think that he is Isaiah’s disciple because many of his messages are similar with those of Isaiah; for example, Isa 2:2-4 and Mic 4:1-3 are completely similar. He might be the first one who prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah (Mic 1:9, 12). Micah is also the one who mentioned the Messiah’s exact birthplace (Mic 5:2). When the Messiah comes, he shall destroy all the injustice and recover Jerusalem and Israel (Mic 5:4). The difference between him and Isaiah is that he carried his mission in the midst of lowly people while Isaiah in the royal class.

            His life closely connected with land and he witnessed many of exploiting and seizing the poor’s properties as we heard in the first reading. The major point of Micah’s message was that people must respect social justice and return land to the poor. In the Gospel, Matthew identified Jesus with the Lord’s Suffering Servant. He came to govern people in love and justice.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Micah accused all social injustice.

1.1/ The leaders abused their power: The Greek noun for justice is “krisis,” which comes from Hebrew “mishpat.” This adjective, or more correct, participle comes from the verb, “shapat” which means to judge or to govern, and the noun “shopet” means a judge, a governor, a lawmaker, a leader or a king. This person has the power to make law (legistative), to execute law (executive) and to judge those who violate law (judiciary); not to separate as three branches and to have different people as the modern government.

            People come to them for judgment when they have a litigation and hope that they shall be judged correctly or with justice. The abuse of power to judge unjustly shall happen when a judge wants to protect his right or he is already bribed by one party. To hide unjustice, a judge must think about other law or to find a loophole of law. This is why the prophet Micah condemned the Israel leaders, “Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches; in the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and they take them; they cheat an owner of his house, a man of his inheritance.” They use law and power to take away the poor’s properties and put in prison those who dare to oppose them.

1.2/ The leaders must face God’s judgment: Power comes from God. He gives power so that people co-govern with Him; therefore, all leaders must be responsible before God about their government. If a leader governs people in justice and love, He shall let him continue to govern; if not, He shall take it back and give to other. The prophet Micah, after witnessed so many injustice from the Judah’s king and officers, he was sent by God to announce that the punishment shall come, Judah and Jerusalem shall be completely destroyed; the king and his officers shall be on exile. All the land and houses which they seized from the poor shall be in the enemy’s hand.

2/ Gospel: Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight.

2.1/ Two opposite attitudes: Today passage of Matthew continues the two events which the Pharisees argued with Jesus about keeping the Sabbath, Jesus healed the one with withered hand in the synagogue and the disciples picked the heads of grain and ate them. Matthew recorded two attitudes:

            (1) The Pharisees’ attitude to destroy life: “But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him to put him to death.” There are many reasons for the Pharisees to kill Jesus. First, they were losen face with people. Before these events, there weren’t many people who dare to oppose the Pharisees, but Jesus, an unknown figure, had the audacity to oppose them right in the synagogue. Secondly, they wanted to protect their power. When they saw people coming to Jesus to listen to his teaching and to be healed, they felt that they were going to lose their power. In the Fourth Gospel, they talked to each other, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after him” (Jn 12:19). Lastly, they thought that they can abuse power to acquire material gain and to destroy people. Being the ones who know the law and having high positions in the society, they can find a loophole in the law and interpret the law according to their way; but Jesus pointed out their evil intentions and people were no longer to believe in them.

            (2) Jesus’ attitude to protect life: “When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known.” We can recognize an extremely irrational act here, while the Creator of life wandered around to heal and to protect life for all, the selfish group of Pharisees gathered together to plot a plan to destroy the Giver of life and the Healer! Material gains have power to blind people so that they no longer saw the sacredness of life.

            Because life is so sacred, so there is time that a person must hide away from those who want to destroy his life, not to oppose to them all the time to get kill. Jesus hid from them, not because he feared them, but he was having so many things to be accomplished before he leaves this world to return to the Father. When time comes, Jesus shall be courage to pour out his blood for the truth. Jesus prohibited people to reveal his origin so that he could easily come and go to carry out his mission. Advertising his presence and power only benefit those who want to destroy him.

2.2/ The Lord’s Suffering Servant: Matthew looked at Jesus’ mission as the fulfillment of the Suffering Servant’s mission which Isaiah mentioned in the first song (Isa 42:1-4). Some important description about the Suffering Servant was fulfilled in Christ.

            First, Jesus was chosen, beloved and delight by God. In Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan river, there is the Father’s voice from heaven which witnessed for Jesus, “His is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). Secondly, Jesus’ mission is to announce justice before all humandkind. People are justified by their faith in Christ. Jesus shall bring justice to victory because all people shall put their hope in his name. Lastly is the way which Jesus carried out his mission. It is different with the Pharisees who always concerned with fame, power, position and material gains, Jesus didn’t fight, shout or scream in the city. The Jews expect a powerful Messiah who shall liberate them by power; Jesus used the suffering way to set people free from sins and death.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Each one of us is called to participate in leadership with God. Our duty is to imitate the Good Shepherd to lead God’s people in justice and love.

            - We saw the danger of abusing power to protect right and to be bribed. If we lead people like that, we shall certainly be responsible before God. 

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