Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Saturday of the 3rd Lent

 

Readings: Hos 5:15c-6:6; Lk 18:9-14.

1/ First Reading: NAB Hosea 5:15 I will go back to my place until they pay for their guilt and seek my presence. 6:1 In their affliction, they shall look for me: "Come, let us return to the LORD, for it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds. 2 He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence. 3 Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD; as certain as the dawn is his coming, and his judgment shines forth like the light of day! He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth." 4 What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away. 5 For this reason I smote them through the prophets, I slew them by the words of my mouth. 6 For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.

2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 18:9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 "Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity-- greedy, dishonest, adulterous-- or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.' 13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P. 

 

I. THEME: We must learn to know God and ourselves.

           

            In order to live in harmony with others, we need to know who they are and who we are; our relation with them, similarities and differences; what they like and dislike; etc. Similarly when we come to God, we need to know who God is and who we are; similarities and differences between God and us; what He likes or dislikes. If we do that, the relationship shall be good; we shall not hurt but help each other to be happy.

            Today readings center on human relationship with God. In the first reading, the prophet Hosea warned the Israelites that they can’t fool God by their superficial lifestyle. They came to the temple to offer their sacrifices without having sincere relationships with God and with one another. God can see through their soul; He needs no sacrifices from them because all things in the universe belong to Him. The prophet clearly declared to the Israelites what He wants from them: “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.” In the Gospel, there were two persons who went up to the temple to pray, one Pharisees and one tax-collector. The Pharisees thought God has no memory so he reminded God what he has done. He thought God has no wisdom to judge so he helped God by comparing his life with the tax-collector’s. In opposition, the tax-collector knew that God knows and understands all things so he beat up his chest and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”The result was declared by Jesus: “I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God desires human love and their knowledge of Him.

1.1/ The benefit of punishments: Punishments aren’t needed for the children who always obey their parents. The reality shows that children don’t always obey their parents because of their laziness or distractions; so punishments are necessary to keep them straight. Punishments are compared as medicines, though they are bitter but necessary to heal people’s sickness. Similarly for the Israelites, God teaches them many good things; but they didn’t pay attention and observe, so as their Father, He must correct by let them suffer with the hope that they shall recognize their sins, repent and become better.

            (1) Mercy after punishments: God punishes people out of His love for them, not out of hatred, as a Vietnamese proverb said: “To love is to give scourges, to hate is to give sweet talking.” A parents who don’t correct their children must take responsibility for their lost. A child can be sad or angry when he is chastised; but later, he shall recognize their mistake and his parents’ love. Same thing happened for the Israelites, they recognized their sins and God’s love during the exile, as the prophet encouraged them: “Come, let us return to the Lord, for it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.”

            (2) God causes death and salvation: The prophet continued: “He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.” The theme that people shall receive their salvation on the third day frequently happened in the Old Testament (Cf. Gen 42:18, Exo 19:10-11, Jos 3:2, Hos 6:2, Jon 2:1, Ezr 8:15, Est 5:1, Luk 13:32). Jesus confirmes this belief by resurrected from his death on the third day.

1.2/ Two basic things God desires from people.

            (1) They must make an effort to learn about Him: Children used to give expensive gifts to their parents because they think their parents shall be delighted; but the things that the parents shall be delighted more are their children’s good relationships with God, parents, siblings and others. The prophet teaches people what delights God: “Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord; as certain as the dawn is his coming, and his judgment shines forth like the light of day! He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth.” We must learn about God before we know what He likes; if not, we can’t do anything to please Him. God confirmed: I desire “knowledge of God rather than holocausts.”

            (2) They must love Him above all: God loves people so much; that is the only reason for everything that He does for human beings. The only thing people can do for God is to return their love and to obey His teaching. There is no gift in the world that can substitute for human love, as He reveals today, “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice.”

 

2/ Gospel: Two different attitudes when praying

            To pray is to talk to God. People need to know who God is and what He likes; at the same time, people need to know who they are and what they desire. Therefore, people need to prepare their soul and have proper attitude before praying. To illustrate the proper attitude which people need to have, Jesus cited a story.

            (1) The Pharisee’s attitude: The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity-- greedy, dishonest, adulterous-- or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.” There are many wrong things that happened in this way of praying: The outside acts express one’s inside disposition. His position showed that he thought he is the righteous; and if it is so, he doesn’t need God. His words also confirmed his attitude; he compared himself with sinners and saw that he was so good! He didn’t even know what he wanted to ask of God.

            (2) The tax-collector’s attitude: But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”His action and words showed he knew that he is a sinner and has a need of God’s compassion. He knew he didn’t need to talk much because God understands all things.

            (3) The result of their prayers: Jesus clearly declared the results: “I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." The tax-collector received what he was looking for, that is God’s forgiveness. The Pharisees didn’t know what he wanted; he also received more sins for himself.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We need to make an effort to learn about God before we can live a right relationship with Him. Understanding of Scripture shall help us to know what God has done for us and increase our love for Him.

            - God must punish us out of His love for us. We need to overcome our pride so that we can recognize our sins, repent and return to Him.

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