Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday in the twenty-first week of the Ordinary Time1

Tuesday of the 21 OT1

 

Readings: I Thes 2:1-8; Mt 23:23-26.

1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Thessalonians 2:1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our visit to you was not in vain; 2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the face of great opposition. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never used either words of flattery, as you know, or a cloak for greed, as God is witness; 6 nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.


I. THEME: Our words must be accompanied by our deeds.

 

            Many people pay attention only to what are outside because they think others can only evaluate them on outside appearances. These people are wrong because they can’t deceive those who are wise and experienced; and especially, they can’t deceive God Who fathoms all secrets in their heart.

            Today readings invite us to pass by outside appearances and to concentrate on inside values. In the first reading, since some Jews were so used to evaluate according to outside appearances, they used their trick to accuse Paul of having a double life—using the Gospel to get profits for him. Therefore, Paul must write to advise the Thessalonians to be careful in judging. His life when he lived with them is a clear proof for what he preaches. In the Gospel, Jesus displayed the hypocritical life of the Pharisees because they paid too much attention to details and forgot about the law’s principle and purpose which are the truth, the compassion and the fidelity. They also concentrated too much on outside appearances and forgot about the necessary of the soul’s purification and holiness.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The necessary attitudes of the preacher of the Good News

 

1.1/ The important attitudes of the preachers when preaching the Gospel: The preachers are God’s prophets who are chosen and sent by God to speak for Him; they don’t volunteer to become prophets. Therefore, they need to fulfill their following duties:

            (1) For God’s glory: St. Paul clearly declared, “We had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the face of great opposition.”

            (2) For the salvation of others: To love God is to love others, the salvation of others must be the most precious of all. St. Paul said to the Thessalonians, "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us."

            (3) To preach the truth: The prophet’s mission is to preach the truth which he received from God, not his own words. St. Paul said to the Thessalonians, “For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile;but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

 

1.2/ The preachers must avoid these attitudes when preaching the Gospel:

            (1) To please the audience: This is the tendency to please others when preaching, to make people laughing instead of aiming at their conversion. Those who have this tendency like to tell jokes or to pay attention only to literature, instead of aiming to deepen God’s words. In general, the audience likes to laugh, not to seriously think; they don’t want anyone to make them feeling guilty. The preachers can’t satisfy their preferences. The audience has only fifteen minutes for Sunday homily or about an hour for their retreat to hear the preacher talking with them about God; the preacher must know the importance of these times. If the audience likes to hear jokes, they can hear them at home by turning on television, or they can come to theaters to see plays, the churches are not places for these kinds of relaxation. The preachers aren’t actors nor comedians; but the workers who bring people to God. If the audience is destroyed because they don’t have a chance to hear God’s words, the preachers must be responsible for their destruction (Eze 3:18).

            (2) Fear to displease the audience: The prophet who is afraid to displease the audience, shall not dare to preach the truth. For example, he shall not dare to preach about the dangers of marijuana when he knew some of his audiences are growing them, or to preach about the loyalty in marriage when some of them are in divorce or separation.

            (3) Preaching for individual profits: St. Paul defended himself, “For we never used either words of flattery, as you know, or a cloak for greed, as God is witness.” The prophet has this tendency shall use preaching to talk about himself instead for God’s glory. He shall preach with intention to get a high position as false prophets in the Old Testament, to raise funds or to sell his products.

            (4) Preaching for worldly praises: St. Paul straightforwardly declared, "Nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ." Those who have this tendency shall only preach before a crowded audience and for intellectual people only.

2/ Gospel: If they worry too much about little things, they shall forget about important ones.

            Jesus continued to reprimand scribes and Pharisees about their hypocrisy and concern for small things so that they forgot about the more important things: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. (But) these you should have done, without neglecting the others.”

2.1/ People should pay attention to important tasks: The mints which the Jews used in their daily meals are too small for paying tax. They used to grow them around their house so they can have them when they need, not to grow them for commercial use in big green houses as we have today. Jesus reminded scribes and Pharisees to pay attention to the weightier things in the law which they ignored such as: justice, mercy and fidelity. These are the three important things which God shall use to judge people on the Last Day, not to count how many mints people have to collect tax from them.

            Jesus condemned them, “Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” Both of them, gnats and carmels, are dirty animals to the Jews. When a gnat falls into the container of water which used for purity, they shall strain the water to get it out. The main thing which Jesus wanted to highlight here is the contrast about size. A carmel is a big animal while a gnat is a very small insect. Scribes and Pharisees paid too much attention to small things such as to collect tax on mints and forgot about other very important things of the law which are justice, mercy and fidelity.

2.2/ People should pay attention to inside purity: Jesus also rebuked them of their hypocrisy: they paid too much attention to outside ceremonies and forgot about cultivating their inside virtues: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

            Washing hands before eating is a right thing to do, but it isn’t important than the purification of sins in their heart. We heard what Jesus explained before that not what are from outside defile people, but what are from inside defile them, such as: “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy (Mt 15:19).

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We should live a truthful life with God, others and ourselves. We can’t hide anything from God who shall judge us.

            - When preaching the Gospel, we should tell people what God teaches truthfully and in gratis (free of charge); if not, we shall be responsible before God.

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