Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

 

Reading 1

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, by a sudden blow
I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes,
but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears.
Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead,
bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet,
do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread.
That evening my wife died,
and the next morning I did as I had been commanded.
Then the people asked me, "Will you not tell us what all these things
that you are doing mean for us?"
I therefore spoke to the people that morning, saying to them:
Thus the word of the LORD came to me:
Say to the house of Israel:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride,
the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul.
The sons and daughters you left behind shall fall by the sword.
Ezekiel shall be a sign for you:
all that he did you shall do when it happens.
Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
You shall do as I have done,
not covering your beards nor eating the customary bread.
Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet.
You shall not mourn or weep,
but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.


Gospel

A young man approached Jesus and said,
"Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"
He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."
He asked him, "Which ones?"
And Jesus replied, "You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The young man said to him,
"All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?"
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me."
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.


 

 

Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: The condition to become perfect

 

            To understand today and this week readings, we need to remember the basic and important principle about the order of life in guiding all human acts. According to this principle, the most important thing is to love God above all; secondly, to love others as ourselves; and lastly, to love material things. This basic principle isn’t difficult to accept by the Christians because they are the basic teachings of both the Old and the New Testament. According to this principle, when there is a confliction between human acts, people must choose and act according to their priority: God must be chosen above all; next is human beings and last is material things. We shall recognize that most of our sins happen because of our reverse of this order.

            Based on this principle, let we enter in today readings to see who chose right or wrong in these readings. In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel chose to do according to what God commanded him; he didn’t express his love for his passing wife by outside mourning but only only inside grieving. The Israelites chose wrong, because they chose to love the temple Jerusalem instead the One who dwells in it. In the Gospel, when a young man came and asked Jesus how to become perfect, Jesus advised him to come home, to sell all what he has and to distribute them to the poor. By doing that, he shall inherit a treasure in heaven; and then come and follow Jesus. He sadly went away because he has many properties. He chose wrong because he preferred material things more than God and others.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: The passing away of Ezekiel’s wife was compared with the temple Jerusalem.

 

            1.1/ The prophet Ezekiel correctly chose to act according to God’s command: The Lord said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears. Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead, bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet, do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread. That evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I had been commanded.”

            There is nothing more precious than one’s loving wife; but God commanded the prophet that he can’t mourn or weep, nor followed customs which people do for the dead, nor shed any tears, only groan in silence. The prophet chose to do God’s will more than his will and the will of others which follow worldly custom.

 

            1.2/ The meaning of the prophet’s act: is to teach the Israelites a lesson. When the people asked him, “Will you not tell us what all these things that you are doing mean for us?" The prophet, therefore, spoke to the people that morning, saying to them: “Thus the word of the Lord came to me: Say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord God: I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul. The sons and daughters you left behind shall fall by the sword. You shall do as I have done, not covering your beards nor eating the customary bread. Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet. You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another. Ezekiel shall be a sign for you: all that he did you shall do when it happens. Thus you shall know that I am the Lord.”

 

            The house of Israel wrongly chose and they were punished by God. Instead choosing the following order: first, to love God, secondly to love others as themselves, and lastly, to like the temple; they chose to turn their back to God to worship foreign gods. They used their power to take away the poor’s houses and properties; to kill prophets and the innocents. It is useless to hang on the third thing which is the temple while to ignore the first more important things. God chose to teach them a lesson by destroying the temple.

 

2/ Gospel: What good must I do to gain eternal life?.

 

            2.1/ Jesus’ first answer: Now someone approached him and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?" He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."

            While Mark and Luke reported Jesus’ first answer to the man that Why do you call me good? (Mk 10:18, Lk 18:19), Matthews reported: "Why do you ask me about the good?” Both questions could happen but Matthews paid attention to action more than more than knowledge. Jesus’ answer in Matthew “There is only One who is good” is proper for the young man’s question in Mark and Luke too. Then, Jesus continued his answer, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

            The young man asked him "Which ones?" And Jesus replied, "'You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother'; and 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

            Jesus intentionally mentioned the second half of the Ten Commandments which relates to human beings; not to the its first half, which relates to God. The reason is that Jesus wanted to pay attention to what relates from people to people before from people to God. He also reversed the Fourth Commandment to the end.

 

            2.2/ Jesus’ second answer: The young man said to him, "All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

            If a person isn’t perfect in his behavior to men, how can he hope to be perfect in his behavior to God? Jesus told him to sell all what he has and to distribute to the poor which means to choose to love others than material things. The young man was sad and went away without doing anything because he chose to value material things than others! If he can’t leave his material things, he can’t also sacrifice his will to carry the cross and to follow God.

 

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

 

            - The condition to become perfect is that we must choose and live according to the basic principle.

            - Many times in our life, we chose to reverse the order of this principle; not only so, but we also find a way to protect our wrong choice.

            - If we don’t sacrifice for others who live closely to us, how can we sacrifice for God who has no figure?

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