Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading 1 (Mic 6:1-4, 6-8):

Hear what the LORD says:
Arise, present your plea before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice!
Hear, O mountains, the plea of the LORD,
pay attention, O foundations of the earth!
For the LORD has a plea against his people,
and he enters into trial with Israel.

O my people, what have I done to you,
or how have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
from the place of slavery I released you;
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.

With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow before God most high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my first-born for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O man, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do the right and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Gospel (Mt 12:38-42):

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you."
He said to them in reply,
"An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: No man is a hero to his valet.

            In the Old Testament, the prophet Jonah was mentioned in his Book and in 2 Kings 14:25. He is the son of Amittai, a Gathhepher. He carried out his prophetic mission under the reign of king Jeroboam II (early 8th BC), might be at the same time or earlier than Hosea and Amos; therefore, he was regarded as the earliest of the prophets who left behind their works. In the New Testament, Jonah was mentioned by both Matthew 12:38-41 and Luke 11:29-32.

            Some scholars want to comment the Book of Jonah only as parable or allegory, and discard its historicity because of the two reasons. First, the miracle was too big, it can’t be happened. Secondly, the style of the Book is narrative, not prophetic. In the Jewish liturgy, the Book of Jonah is read on the Yom Kippur, at noon prayer.

            One of the important theological points of Judaism is Teshuva which believes that people have a capacity to repent and to be forgiven. This is the main theological point of the Book of Jonah. The prophet didn’t want God to forgive his enemies, and therefore, he refused to preach repentance to the Ninevites; but God wanted the opposite. He doesn’t want a sinner to die, but to repent and to live.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “What the Lord requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

1.1/ God had a plea against the Israelites: God commanded the prophet Micah to tell the Israelites of His loyal love for them, with the witnesses of the mountains, hills and earth, “Hear, then, what the Lord says: Arise, present your plea before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice! Hear, O mountains, the plea of the Lord, pay attention, O foundations of the earth! For the Lord has a plea against his people, and he enters into trial with Israel.” Why did God need the witnesses of the mountains, hills and earth? Because people are easy to change and to forget; but the mountains, hills and earth don’t change much with time. They witnessed from the beginning what God has done for the Israelites. He brought them out of their slavery to the Egyptians and led them to the Promise Land, full of milk and honey. He sent them leaders and prophets to lead and to educate them, such as: Moses, Aaron và Miram.

            God never betrays or does anything bad to the Israelites, but they turned their back to Him. They made golden calves to worship and to say to them: This is the one that liberated us from Egypt!

1.2/ What does God want the Israelites to respond to His love? In worshipping God, the Israelites paid attention to superficial and outside ceremonies. They think that they shall please God by keeping the feast and offering holocausts with calves a year old, with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil or the first-born so that God shall forgive their sins.

            Micah declared that God doesn’t want these things because all belong to Him. What He wants was clearly said by the prophet, “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

           

2/ Gospel: Some of the scribes and Pharisees demanded some signs from Jesus before they believe in him.

2.1/ The sign of Jonah: The people who asked the question could witness the miracles which Jesus did in Israel, or at least they heard about his teaching and his miracles. Israel isn’t very big, people can know what happened by rumors. In today passage, they wanted to test Jesus by asking him to let them see a sign so that they can believe in him. Jesus denied to satisfy their request; but he promised to let them see a big one later.

            In the Book of Jonah, the prophet denied to preach repentance at Nineveh; instead, he went to buy a ticket to Tarsus. Something happened in the ship, he was thrown to the sea and swallowed by a whale. He stayed in the whale’s belly for three days and nights before the whale vomitted him out at the seashore. Jesus used this miracle to tell the scribes and Pharisees that they shall witness a big miracle in which Jesus shall stay three days and nights in the tomb before he shall resurrect and go out of it. This miracle, which they never hear of, is his death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

           

2.2/ No man is a hero to his valet: Jesus, the Son of God, incarnated and lived among people to reveal and to teach them God’s wisdom which they never heard before; at the same time, he let them see miracles which they never saw from the foundation of the world. But they still insulted and tested him as shown in today Gospel. Therefore, Jesus warned them:

            - People of Nineveh city shall accused them of hardness of heart because they repented when they heard Jonah’s preaching only once; while these people had heard Jesus’ preaching and seen his miracles many times, but they still didn’t believe him!

            - The queen of Sheba shall accused them too, because she must come from a far distance and bring many tributes to king Solomon in order to listen to his wisdom; while they didn’t have to travel from afar and pay a single coin, but they still refused to listen to the Son of God’s wisdom.

             Why “No man is a hero to his valet”? There are many reasons, some of the main ones are following:

            (1) Since they are so used to it, they think that it is natural for it to happen. When they heard Jesus’ preaching or witnessed his miracle for the first time, they might be surprise and believe; but when they heard and witnessed many times, they were bored with and lost their first faith.

            (2) Pride and prejudice: Many people have a habit of overvaluing of people from outside, those from outside are esteemed as good, those from their family, village and nation are insulted and degraded. For examples, Nathanael said to Philip: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46). These Pharisees, could see something which are different in Jesus, still insulted him, “Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” (Mt 13:55-56).

            (3) Jesus taught and told them to do what they didn’t like: People don’t like who tells them to discard habits which they so get used to them, especially accuses them of their sins. They have a tendency to like what is easy to do and what is comfortable to them.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must live our relationship with God, expressing through a righteous life and charity with others. All outside ceremonies shall be useless if we don’t live our relationships with God and others.

            - Only God who truly and unconditionally loves us; we should never betray His loyal love.

            - We must always revere God. He isn’t a person so that when we are tired of Him, we can avoid Him; He is the only God of our life. 

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