Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Wednesday in the eighteenth week of the Ordinary Time1

Wednesday of the 18 OT1

 

Readings: Num 13:1-2, 25 -14:1, 26ª-29ª, 34-35; Mt 15:21-28.

1/ First Reading: RSV Numbers 13:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, every one a leader among them." 25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.14:1 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry; and the people wept that night. 26 And the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron, 27 "How long shall this wicked congregation murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel, which they murmur against me. 28 Say to them, `As I live,' says the LORD, `what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and of all your number, numbered from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me, 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.' 35 I, the LORD, have spoken; surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die."

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 15:21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." 24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." 26 And he answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 27 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." 28 Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.


I. THEME: We must patiently overcome trials and sufferings to be successful.

 

            Many people want to be successful; they dream and weave up their life with many splendid glories; for example, to become well-known persons in the history or the contemporary; but when they are out of the dream and must face sacrificial sufferings, their dream is shattered like waves of the ocean. They forget the reality which all people must experience: they must endure sacrificial sufferings before reaching their desired result.

            Today readings illustrate two opposite attitudes of humankind. In the first reading, the Israelites were very interesting when they heard their spies reporting their mission about the Promise Land in Canaan; but when they heard about the tall and strong soldiers and the firm security of that region, they no longer desired the Promise Land because they feared that they must pay the price with their suffering and death. They gathered together and cried out their repeated verse, “We want to return to Egypt” to oppose God and Moses. The Gospel reported a different attitude. There is a Canaanite woman who begged Jesus to heal her daughter from possessing by a demon. Though she was heavily tested by Jesus and his disciples, she decided to overcome all trials until she got what she wants. Jesus surprised at her expression of faith and gave to her what she asked for.

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: “How long shall this wicked congregation murmur against me?”

1.1/ The reason for the Israelites’ murmuring against God: There are two things God wants to do for the Israelites: First, He wants to set them free from being slavery to the Egyptians. Secondly, He wants to lead them to the Promise Land which He promised to their forefathers so they can become a great nation.

            To prepare them for prosperity, God said to Moses, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, everyone a leader among them."At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.” These spies reported to Moses and the whole congregation of Israel what they saw in that land. To understand what they reported, please read the Book of Numbers, chapter 13 and 14. In general, the Israelites’ eyes were widely opened when they heard about the land full of milk and honey, the bundles of grape which must be carried by two persons; but their eyes were darkened when they heard about the strong soldiers and their firm guarded walls. The fear of fighting and death loom large and overcame their dream of being settled in that land, so the whole congregation cried aloud and people wept that whole night. They wanted to return to Egypt or at least to live in the desserts so they could safely die!

            Hearing their laments, God said again to Moses and Aaron, “How long shall this wicked congregation murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel, which they murmur against me.”

 

1.2/ The results of their complaining: God commanded to Moses and Aaron: "Say to them, `As I live,' says the Lord, `what you have said in my hearing I will do to you:your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and of all your number, numbered from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me,according to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.'I, the Lord, have spoken; surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die."

            According to God’s words, the Israelites must endure the following punishments:

            (1) They must wander in the dessert for forty years even though the distance from the Red Sea where they got out of Egypt to Promise Land is only about some days. Forty days of spying became forty-years of exile in the desserts; and all the spies who told people to rebel shall be killed, except Caleb and Joshua because these two men didn’t rebel against God and Moses.

            (2)Their generation, from twenty years old and up, shall gradually be dead in the desserts according to their complaint; although Moses sincerely asked God to forgive them.

            (3) The generation of their descendants shall enter into the Promise Land because they didn’t rebel against God yet.

           

2/ Gospel: The solid faith of the Canaanite woman.

In three years of his active ministry, Jesus rarely went out of the Israel’s territory. All the Gospel reported only one time the event in which Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon, two very prosperous cites of the Ancient Near East which lie on the coast of the Mediterarenean Sea.

           

2.1/ The woman loved her daughter: She was hurt when she saw her possessed by the devil. Her immense love was the motivation for her to overcome all obstacles to come to Jesus and to cry out to him: “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

2.2/ The woman firmly believed in Jesus: Many obstacles which she must overcome; but she overcame all because she believed that only Jesus can heal her daughter.

            (1) The obstacle of being ignored by Jesus: She probably begged Jesus to heal her daughter many times; but Jesus ignored her. She overcame the obstacle of being ignored.

            (2) The obstacle of prejudice: Jesus and his disciples are Jews while she is from Phoenicia, a Canaanite region. According to the historian Josephus, the Canaanites are the Jews’ enemies; they want to do nothing with each other. When urged by his disciples to listen to her, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."Jesus answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman overcame the obstacle of prejudice.

            (3) The obstacle of heavy testing: Jesus seriously tested her faith when he said to her: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs."How many people have courage to stay when someone says these words to them! But the woman had courage not only to stay but also to humbly express her faith, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Faith is needed to be tested as gold is tried by faith to find out which one is the true gold. Many commentators tried to soften Jesus’ words by concentrating on the word “dog” and explained that it is the word for puppies or young dogs. They must accept the fact that faith must be tested by many different ways, either by attacking one’s dignity, possession or even life. The woman overcame the heavy testing of her dignity.

2.3/ Jesus had mercy on her and healed her daughter: After tested her faith, Jesus fathomed her mind. He saw a mother’s immense love for her sicked daughter and an unshakable faith over all obstacles; therefore, Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We must go through sufferings before reaching the glory of the heavenly kingdom. If we co-suffer with Jesus’ sufferings, we shall also co-govern with him in his kingdom.

            - We must obey Jesus to go through the narrow gate, because the wide and easy gate only leads to destruction. Our life is compared as the Israelites’ life during their forty years in the dessert. 

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