Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-first Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 21 OTC

 

Readings: Isa 66:18-21; Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30.

1/ Reading I: RSV Isaiah 66:18 "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

2/ Reading II: RSV Hebrews 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? -- "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 13:22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, 24 "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.' 26 Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' 27 But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' 28 There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."



I. THEME: The necessity of discipline and punishment

            Are discipline and punishment necessary for human education? Some say “No!” because people are wise, free and mature enough to behave. The only thing they need is that someone to explain what is good thing they should do. Many say they are needed because people don’t always act according to the good thing they know due to the human weakness. History and experience show people don’t always do what they think are good, but do what they think are evil. All nations of the earth have laws and punishments for those who violate the law.

            Today readings emphasize the importance of discipline and correction. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah recognized the importance of the Israelites’ exiles; they helped the remnant of the Israelites to recognize their sins and to return to God’s love. They also caused the salvation to be extended to all people of the earth; it is no longer limited only in the circle of the Israelites. In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews ascertained that the correction by God is necessary for all people to receive the salvation. If God doesn’t correct, people are in danger to be separated from God forever. In the Gospel, Jesus confirmed that it isn’t easy for people to enter the kingdom of heaven; but it is only reserved for those who live according to the requirements of the Gospel. The Christians only in name and those who like to live an easy and licentious life shall not be entered the kingdom of heaven.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “I will set a sign among them; and from them I will send survivors to the nations.”

1.1/ Salvation is only for those who are purified and extended to all nations.

            The falls and the exiles of the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, must happen because the Israelites turned their back to God to worship foreign gods and didn’t keep His commandments; though the prophets warned them many times. If God didn’t punish, they shall die in their sins. God’s punishments are to purify the Israelites, not to destroy them; though the stubborn must still die in their sins. When the Israelites must terribly suffer in the exiles, a remnant recognized their sins and God’s love for them, they repented and returned to God’s true love and were saved.

            The exiles were also the opportunities for God’s salvation to be extended to all nations of the earth. The prophet Isaiah might be the first one to recognize the universality of the salvation. God saves not only the Israelites but He also used the remnant to bring the Good News of salvation to the nations where they lived. When these people recognized the true God of Israel, they shall also become the preachers of the Good News for others.

            The locations which are mentioned in today passage, “Tarshish, Put, Lut, Tuval, Giavan,” are strange locations which were only mentioned once in Genesis 10:2-6. All these nations are never heard about the Lord, or seen His glory; but they shall also receive the Good News of the salvation and preach it to other nations.

1.2/ The way of worshipping God shall be changed.

            (1) The offerings for God are no longer animals, but the people who believe and love God, as the author wrote in today passage, “And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.”

            (2) The people who work in the temple are no longer be only the Levites, because “some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.” The priesthood of the New Testament is opened up to all nations.

            All what were announced by the prophet Isaiah became the reality when Christ came. Though the heavenly Jerusalem is still the center of all nations; but the places for worshipping God are opened everywhere in all nations, no longer be limited in Jerusalem of the Israelites.

2/ Reading II: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him.”

2.1/ The necessity of the correction: Teaching and punishing are two necessary elements of the education, because people aren’t always recognizing the truth from all falsities; and don’t always do good even they know it. When a father must punish his child, he does it, not out of hating, nor satisfying his anger; but out of love for him. He doesn’t want his child to have more painful sufferings in the future, or to prevent him from the danger of death which might happen later.

            Correcting is the sign of the father’s love for his child; not correcting them shows the father’s irresponsibility. Many children resented their father for not correcting them when they are young, so now they ended up in addiction or being confined in prison.

            St. Paul recognized the value of correction, so he advised the faithful these words when they are corrected, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”

           

2.2/ The results of the correction: We can divide in two:

            (1) The near result: The child can be angry and hate his father at the time of punishment. This can be understood because people don’t want to be surrounded with disciplines and punishments; but they like an easy and free life.

            (2) The far result: The child shall thank his father when he is successful and harvests many accomplishments in his life.

            St. Paul explained this process as follows, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

            On the way to be perfected, sufferings can’t be lacked for the faithful due to the following reasons:

            (1) Sufferings help people to have a firm faith in God: “Gold is tested by fire and virtue by suffering.” Without suffering, how could one proves his faith in God? Every time the faithful is suffered, his faith shall be stronger.

            (2) Sufferings are the opportunities to train virtues: When people live in suffering, their charity shall increase because they learn to have compassion for those who are in the same situation; for example, to suffer a disease. Suffering also helps people to train the virtue of patience; the one who persevered in suffering is more likely to be successful.

            (3) Sufferings heal the spiritual wounds which are sins: When people are suffered, they have time to examine their conscience, to recognize their sins and to return to God to receive His forgiveness.

            So, the author advised his faithful, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

 

3/ Gospel: "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

           

3.1/ Whether it is easy or difficult to enter the heavenly kingdom? There are at least three opinions:

            (1) Some explained since God is the merciful Father; He doesn’t want any person to be lost, so He sent His only son to die for all people’s sins. Therefore, they concluded God shall save all people. This is the Universalism. The Church condemns this doctrine, because, though salvation is offered to all, but not all people accept it. God shall not save those who don’t want to be saved. If God forces people to accept the salvation, He violates their freedom.

            (2) Many assume that they only need to believe in Christ, as Paul taught in the Letters to the Romans and Galatians. Since good deeds have no power to bring salvation, so they don’t need to do them. If these people read these two letters correctly and objectively, they shall recognize that Paul required both faith and good deeds.

            (3) Many times in the Gospels, Jesus insisted the difficulty of the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, such as: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 19:24). Or, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). Or in today passage, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” In other words, if a person doesn’t live according to the requirements of the Gospel, he shall not be saved.

            Since people have a tendency to like what is easy, they could accept the first and the second opinion without difficulty; but they must be careful because they have to pay for this gamble. Each of us has only one life to live, because according to today Gospel, “When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.'”

           

3.2/ The entrance to heaven isn’t based on the knowledge of God or His teaching; but on doing them.

            Jesus continues, “Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’”

            The Christians only by name or those practice their religion by outside observances shall never achieve salvation. The household’s answer didn’t mention of knowing him; but emphasized on doing the works of iniquity.

            Salvation isn’t based on power or position; but it is extended to all who sincerely believe in God and practice what He teaches. Therefore, we shouldn’t take our pride on power, fame, position or richness of this world, because, “Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Nothing is more important than reaching the eternal life; we shouldn’t let anything to prevent us to reach this goal.

            - God is the merciful Father; He shall use all possible ways to help us to live with Him forever, including punishments. We should wisely recognize them, endure sufferings, and correct all of our sins.

            - The name “Christian” isn’t enough for us to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must respond to the requirements of the Gospel. We shouldn’t easily fall into the devil’s trap by selecting the religion which doesn’t require keeping the laws; has fewer laws; or requires only believing in heart.

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