Monday in the seventeenth week of the Ordinary Time1
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday in the seventeenth week of the Ordinary Time1

Monday of the 17 OT1

 

Readings: Exo 32:15-24, 30-34; Mt 13:31-35.

1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 32:15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hands, tables that were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, "There is a noise of war in the camp." 18 But he said, "It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear." 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it. 21 And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?" 22 And Aaron said, "Let not the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, `Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' 24 And I said to them, `Let any who have gold take it off'; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and there came out this calf." 30 On the morrow Moses said to the people, "You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." 31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -- and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." 33 But the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them."

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 13:31 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." 33 He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened." 34 All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world."


I. THEME: A strong faith is needed to help us overcoming trials and temptations.

            In life, many real stories show that the more people are prosperous and successful, the easier for people to turn their back to God and to run after the three enemies’ temptations which are the devil, the world and their own flesh. So, people must learn how to control their passion before they face success. Two very important instruments that help people to control their life are faith and love in God.

            Today readings show us the importance of faith in confronting temptations. In the first reading, the Israelites forsook God to make for themselves a golden calf to worship while God was preparing the Ten Commandments to help them to control their life. According to these commandments, faith and love in God and people are important. In the Gospel, Jesus cited two parables to illustrate the necessary of strengthening ones’ faith so that people might help themselves before they could help others.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: You shall not have any other gods beside me.

1.1/ The Israelites made for themselves a golden calf to worship.

            (1) God wants to educate people through the Ten Commandments: Had just used His power to lead the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, God also wants to educate them by giving them the Ten Commandments through Moses, their leader. The author reported, “Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hands, tables that were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.”

            When Moses and Joshua approached the foot of the mountain, Joshua heard some noise, so he said to Moses, “"There is a noise of war in the camp."But Moses said, "It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear."As soon as they came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.AndMoses “took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it.””

            Moses had at least two reasons to be angry with the Israelites: First, the Israelites blindly turned their back to God, who loved and did many wonderful things for them, to chase after a senseless calf, which has no relationship with them. Secondly, the Israelites are so stupid; while God is worry to build up for them a glorious future, they were chasing after a product of human hand which has no power at all.

            (2) Moses found out the reason of making the calf: Moses questioned Aaron, the one who remained with the people when Moses was on the top of the mountain with God, “"What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?"And Aaron said, "Let not the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people that they are set on evil.For they said to me, `Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And I said to them, `Let any who have gold take it off'; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and there came out this calf."”

            The Vietnamese has an adage to describe the Israelites in this case, “When people are full, they think of senseless things to do.” In opposition, when people are hungry and have to work hard, they often come to God to pray for their need and to worship Him. Many people are questioned that how Aaron could make a golden calf in the desert without the instruments. The purpose of the author isn’t about the making of the golden calf; but the bad tendencies of people once they were satisfied with material needs.

1.2/ People must pay for their sin.

            (1) Moses interceded with God for people: Though Moses was angry and very determined in punishing the Israelites, he had compassion for them. So the next morning he gathered and told them, "You have committed a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." This must be a necessary of a leader in the Church and of the parents; they must both absolutely follow the truth in correction sins and show loving forgiveness for sinners when they repented. Moses returned and pleaded to God, “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold.But now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Moses was ready to die for the Israelites to live.

            (2) God is just: But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.But now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

            Whoever commits a sin; that one shall have to pay; Moses can’t endure punishment for him. God shall punish the Israelites but He still gives them chances to repent and to correct their sins. If they are insistent in their sins, they already separate themselves from God right at this world, without a need to wait for the next one. Many Israelites were killed by fiery serpents later.

2/ Gospel: The mystery of the kingdom of heaven is compared as:

2.1/ A mustard seed: In Palestine, a seed of mustard can become a 3 or 4 meters tree, not like a mustard seed of the Oriental region which can only become vegetable. The main point which Jesus wanted to emphasize is that though it is the smallest in all seeds but it has potential to become a big tree so that birds of the sky can make their nests in its branches.

            Our faith is liken as a mustard seed by Jesus (Mt 17:20), though small but with God’s strength, it can move a mountain. Nothing is impossible to the one who has a strong faith in God. The kingdom of heaven is compared as many small mustard seeds which could be many trees and give many seeds for many more trees, etc. There shall be a day when the earth is full of mustard trees. Like that, the kingdom of heaven begins with the faith of one person, and then is spread out to many until the earth is full of believers.

2.2/ A yeast for flour: Three measures of wheat flour are enough to feed one family.

            To bakers, they can recognize the importance of yeast. If they bake flour without yeast, the flour shall turn out like “fortune cookies” which can feed only a person; but if they use yeast and let the flour to rise to the maximum before baking, they shall become loaves which can feed a whole family.

            Like the parable of the mustard seed, the kingdom of heaven is compared like a hand of yeast, though began with a small number of apostles and disciples, but when it is spread out, it becomes numerous and immeasurable. The number of believers today is about half of the population of the world.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We are always facing daily temptations. If we don’t have a strong faith, it is easy for us to forsake God and to chase after our three enemies.

            - A strong faith is the result of our daily practicing of God’s word through praying, participating in the Mass and studying of the Scripture.