Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Twenty-third Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 23 OTC

 

Readings: Wis 9:13-18; Plm 1:9b-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25-33.

1/ Reading I: RSV Wisdom 9:13 for what man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills? 14 For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail, 15 for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind. 16 We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has traced out what is in the heavens? 17 Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy Holy Spirit from on high? 18 And thus the paths of those on earth were set right, and men were taught what pleases thee, and were saved by wisdom.

2/ Reading II: RSV Philemon 1:9 Yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you -- I, Paul, an ambassador and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus -- 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment. 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.



I. THEME: People need to have God’s wisdom.

            Wisdom is the word that causes many misunderstandings because of its many uses. For examples: A wise God, a wise scientist, a wise goldsmith who can make fake gold looking like real, a wise burglar who can trick homeowners. What is the difference of the adjective “wise” which is applied for these people?       

            First of all, we need to make a difference between wisdom and understanding. Wisdom can only be used for God because He comprehends everything; while understanding should be used for human beings because of their limitation. Understanding can be divided in two: a general understanding for all areas is called “knowledge,” or in a special area is called “science.”

            Today readings pay a special attention to God’s wisdom and its necessary in human life; it helps people to live in a way that pleases God and to reach the ultimate goal of their life. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Wisdom analyzed the differences between God’s wisdom and human understanding, and the benefits of God’s wisdom. In the second reading, St. Paul wanted Philemon to recognize a big difference when a person lives according to God’s wisdom. He can transform a useless to be a useful person for others. In the Gospel, Jesus demands people to have God’s wisdom in order to meet the requirements to be his disciples. If a person only lives according to the worldly understanding, he can never become his disciple.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “What man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills?

           

1.1/ God’s wisdom and human understanding: First of all, the author recognized the difference between God’s wisdom and human understanding when he said, “For what man can learn the counsel of God? Or who can discern what the Lord wills?” There are many reasons for the limitation of human understanding. First, the human mind is limited because, people are mortals and “the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail.” The soul is influenced by its body; and the body is influenced by climate, eating and drinking, living condition, and especially by fleshy desire. Secondly, people can only understand what belong to the visible, not the invisible world. The author stated, “We can hardly guess at what is on earth, and what is at hand we find with labor; but who has traced out what is in the heavens?” That is the reality, a smart one can understand best what belong to his field; for examples, the medical field is divided into special fields, such as: neurology, cardiology, pulmonology, osteology, dermatology; the engineer field is also divided into special fields, such as: electric, electronic, civil, mechanic engineer. A person can’t understand everything that happens in this world.

  

1.2/ People need God to bestow His wisdom.

            (1) According to the author, wisdom is the gift which God gives to people while understanding is acquired by human effort or experience.

            God’s wisdom isn’t depended on human mind, because there are many intellectual people who have no God’s wisdom while there are many simple people but have God’s wisdom. Besides, there are also intellectual people who possess God’s wisdom and many simple people who have not God’s wisdom. Christ himself recognized this fact and he prayed with his Father, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Mt 11:25-27). In reality, God reveals His wisdom for all human beings, the reason why some people don’t recognize God’s wisdom is because they are so prideful; they think they don’t need God’s wisdom which are His revelation and teachings.

            (2) The benefits which God’s wisdom can bring to people: The author listed out three main profits: First, they are pleased by God; secondly, they know how to live according to God’s providence and this helps them to be successful and to have peace. Lastly, they attain salvation which is the eternal life.

2/ Reading II: “If you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.”

2.1/ St. Paul trained Onesimus according to God’s way.

            Onesimus is a slave of Philemon who lives at Colossae. Because of an unknown reason, he fled his owner to Rome and met Paul when he was in prison. After a short time living with Paul and be trained by him, he completely changed and was baptized by Paul. The Roman law is very strict for a slave who fled his owner like him, he could be killed. Paul, though wanted to keep Onesimus with him during his old age and prison, he didn’t want to do anything without Philemon’s agreement because he is Onesimus’ owner.

            St. Paul considers Onesimus as his own son, “whose father I have become in my imprisonment.” Paul asked Philemon to receive him back, not as a slave, but as his closed relative, a beloved brother in Christ. It can be said that Paul became a revolutionist when he petitioned to forgive Onesimus and to treat him not as a slave.

            Paul wants Philemon to be free in receiving back Onesimus, and also wants to keep him with Philemon’s agreement, by saying, “I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will.”

           

2.2/ The way Paul converted Onesimus from a slave to a beloved brother.

            Only in a short period of time, Paul converted Onesimus to the point that Paul could say to Philemon to receive him, “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

            This is a proof to show that the best way to educate people is to use the Christian way which is to love wholeheartedly and to live according to the truth. People shall respond when they are sincerely loved and respected according to their human dignity.

 

3/ Gospel: “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

           

3.1/ The requirements to be Christ’s disciples: Luke reported his passage as follows, “Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

            There are three requirements which Jesus demands people to do before they can become his disciples:

            (1) Hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters: Luke used the Greek verb “miséô” which renders to English “hate.” Does Jesus really teach people to hate their parents or familial members in order to follow him? Certainly not! Because he even teaches people to love their enemies. In Matthew’s parallel passage, it is better expressed Jesus’ intention, "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37). This is reasonable because when people must choose one over others, there must be a reason for it. According to the Ten Commandments, the fourth command, “to honor your parents” must be put after the first command, “to love God above all people and things.”

            To be Jesus’ disciple is to fulfill the mission of preaching the Gospel. If a disciple is too worry for his parents or family, he shall not have time to fulfill his given mission; therefore, Jesus’ requirement is reasonable. However, Jesus’ requirement isn’t meant a person must end all his familial relationships, but it demands one must be willing to sacrifice for a higher mission, especially when there is a conflict.

            (2) Hate his own life: Similarly, a person is required to do God’s will more than his own will. This might be the most difficult thing to do because he is required to give up his whole being to completely live according to God’s will. However, if a person understands that living according to God’s wisdom shall bring for him many benefits, especially the eternal life, the giving up of his own life is the necessary task to do.

            (3) Bear his own cross and come after me: People have a tendency to avoid suffering and to look for what are easy and fun. Christ’s disciple is required to live according to God’s wisdom to enter the heaven kingdom through a narrow door because a wide and easy road only leads to destruction.

           

3.2/ Two examples which illustrate the necessary of wisdom: To show the rationalization of the above requirements, Jesus gives us two examples:

            (1) Building a watch-tower: This is a project required lots of money; therefore, a person must sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough money to build it. If not, he can run out of money and leave the project half-way through. He shall be ashamed because people shall mock him, saying, “This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”

            (2) Preparing to fight against enemies: In ancient time as well as today, the military balance is the first thing to do before fighting. A competent leader is the one who knows how to spy to know his enemy’s power. If their military power is more than his, he shall have to be humble to send his ambassador to ask for peace to avoid the lost for himself, his soldiers and people. If he knows his military power is more than his enemy’s power, he shall safely fight and expect to be victorious.

            Similarly on the way to be Christ’s disciples, Jesus didn’t hide anything from those who want to be his disciples. He wants them to calculate in advance to see if they can follow him all the way or not. They are required to leave aside their human thinking and calculation to live according to God’s wisdom, expressed by the requirements. If they persist to live according to their own way, they shall leave him half-way and shall endure more suffering. And Jesus concluded, “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Human knowledge isn’t enough for people to attain salvation; we must pray for God’s wisdom to understand what belong to God. To have it, we need to be humble to recognize our limitation.

            - Let educate ourselves, our children and others according to God’s way and standard; that are, to wholeheartedly love and to live according to the truth.

            - We must leave aside all human selfish calculations to live according to Christ’s requirements to be his disciples.

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