Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday in the nineteenth week of the Ordinary Time1

Saturday of the 19 OT1

 

Readings: Jos 24:14-29; Mt 19:13-15.

1/ First Reading: RSV Joshua 24:14 "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." 16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18 and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land; therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God." 19 But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good." 21 And the people said to Joshua, "Nay; but we will serve the Lord." 22 Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses." 23 He said, "Then put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel." 24 And the people said to Joshua, "The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey." 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God." 28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance. 29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 19:13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; 14 but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.


I. THEME: People need to put their complete trust in God. 

            The first commandment of the Ten Commandment is the basic and most important commandment. It is basic because all other commandments are built on it; if a person doesn’t revere and love God, he shall not keep His other commandments. It is the most important because it determines people’s future; whether or not they shall enjoy a happy life with God in heaven.

            Today readings want to highlight the importance for people to put their complete trust in God. In the first reading, the leader Joshua, like Moses before passing away, gathered all the Israelites to explain for them the importance of believing and loving God; then he commanded them to make a covenant and to swear that they shall sincerely walk in His way. In the Gospel, Jesus wasn’t pleased with his disciples because they prevented the children to come to him. Jesus declared to his disciples that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who live like children.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Everyone must be responsible for what they do.

1.1/ The dialogue between Joshua and the Israelites: A wise leader is the one who knows what is the core and the importance of people’s life. Like Moses on last Monday reading, the leader Joshua knew that believing in God and faithfully keeping His commandments are the foundation for the surviving of the Israelites. So, before his death, he gathered all the Israelites before God’s presence to repeat their oath. Joshua said to them, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

            People have freedom to make their decision as Joshua said to them, “And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.”

            The Israelites responded: "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods!” They wisely pointed out three reasons behind their decisions: First, what God did for them in Egypt, “For it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and who did those great signs in our sight.” Secondly, what He did for them during their forty years in the desserts, “And (He) preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed.” Lastly, what God did for them in the Promise Land, “And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land.” They stated their decision to Joshua, “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for He is our God."

1.2/ The punishments for betraying God: It is easy for people to say; but it is difficult for them to keep. In order to help the Israelites to keep their word, Joshua told them of punishments if they don’t keep their word; and made them solemnly swearing to remember it.

            (1) Listing out the punishments: Joshua said, “You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good." But the people said to Joshua, "Nay; but we will serve the Lord.”

            (2) Swearing before God: Joshua said to the Israelites, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses." He said, "Then put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel." And the people said to Joshua, "The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey." Two things people swore to do are to serve God and to obey Him.

            (3) Signing their covenant: On that day, Joshua made a covenant with the people, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord. Then, Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God."

2/ Gospel: “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these children.”

  

2.1/ Why did the disciples rebuke them? Children are often noisy and running around; their acts affect adult’s conversation and prevent them to sleep or to rest. The disciples noticed Jesus are so busy with his mission all day to teach and to heal people; wherever he went, a big crowd follows him, children are running around and causing all kinds of problem; so they prevented them to come to Jesus. Understanding the disciples’ good intention, Jesus didn’t rebuke them, only said to them, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

            Through this act, Jesus wanted to teach leaders an important lesson when facing of the crowd’s needs. When they choose to appear in public place, they choose to be with people. Don’t insult and avoid them because their mission and success largely depend on them. There are many leaders, after became well-known, protect themselves by avoiding people; so they gradually fade and not many people shall remember them.

            However, Jesus didn’t spend all of his time with the crowd and forget about praying and resting. He reminded his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat” (Mk 6:31). On another incident, Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds” (Mt 14:22). And many times, he left the crowd and the disciples to come to mountain to pray alone (Mt 14:23, Lk 9:18, Jn 6:15). Jesus knew how to control his time and to behave in all situations.

  

2.2/ What do the adult need to learn from the children? Jesus certainly didn’t require us to be like children in all aspects because the children also need to learn from the adult to become more matured. Some of the children’s characters are needed for the adults’ relationship with God, such as:

            (1) Children completely believe in their parents, not in themselves or others. We also need to completely believe in God, not in any worldly power nor ourselves.

            (2) Whatever their parents teach, they obey; they don’t rebel against their parents. We also need to have that kind of attitude when we listen to God’s teaching. Don’t argue or find a reason to protect our sinful act.

            (3) Whatever children need, they ask, whenever they run out, they ask for more; they don’t know how to store up. God asks us to do the same. We ask Him for our daily food, not for our lifetime. Don’t store up when many don’t have enough to eat.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Everyone must be responsible for their deeds and life. We shouldn’t blame on the previous generation nor depend on the good deeds of the next generation.

            - We need to have a firm faith in God as the children believe in their parents. Do not let the business of life make us to lose this faith.

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