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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time2

Monday of the 13 OT2

 

Readings: Amo 2:6-10, 13-16; Mt 8:18-22.

1/ First Reading: NAB Amos 2:6 Thus says the LORD: For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. 7 They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way. Son and father go to the same prostitute, profaning my holy name. 8 Upon garments taken in pledge they recline beside any altar; and the wine of those who have been fined they drink in the house of their god. 9 Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorites before them, who were as tall as the cedars, and as strong as the oak trees. I destroyed their fruit above, and their roots beneath. 10 It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and who led you through the desert for forty years, to occupy the land of the Amorites: 13 Beware, I will crush you into the ground as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves. 14 Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong man shall not retain his strength; The warrior shall not save his life, 15 nor the bowman stand his ground; The swift of foot shall not escape, nor the horseman save his life. 16 And the most stouthearted of warriors shall flee naked on that day, says the LORD.

2/ Gospel: NAB Matthew 8:18 When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. 19 A scribe approached and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." 20 Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." 21 Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." 22 But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead."


I. THEME: We must honor God and respect people.

             

            In theory, if one must choose the prior order between God, human being and material thing, he can easily choose God first, than human being, and lastly the material thing. In practice, not everybody will choose according to that order. Money is created for human beings to use, but many times it is the reason for people to dishonor God and to insult others.

            Today readings illustrate examples which people didn’t choose according to the right order. In the first reading, the prophet Amos, known as the prophet of justice, accused the injustice of the Israel’s leaders for the poor and their dishonor for God. He declared God’s oracle to the Israel kingdom: God shall destroy them because of these sins. In the Gospel, Jesus gave two conditions for those who want to follow him: They can’t value material things more than the salvation of others and they can’t put their duty to human beings above their duty to God.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “They sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals.”

1.1/ The sins of the Israel’s leaders and the rich are the cause of God’s anger: The prophet Amos listed out the four sins of the Israel’s leaders:

            (1) Persecution of the righteous: “They sell the just man for silver” can be understood as to sell the poor as slaves or the judges received glove money of the rich to treat the poor unjustly. “Sell and the poor man for a pair of sandals” can also be understood as the judges’ sins as above, or a pawn broker seized a poor as his slave because he couldn’t pay him back a small loan. In general, it is the sins of the rich or the judges who had no concern of justly treatment for the poor.

            According to an ancient custom, the act of giving “a pair of sandals” to the lender is a symbol of the act of borrowing (Rut 4:7). The contract between the two parties is certified by the borrower’s giving “a pair of sandals” to the lender, an act means the borrower lost his right. It might be that in seizing of land, “a pair of sandals” is used as a proof. The poor can be unfairly treated but it is protected by the law.

            (2) Unjustly treatment of the poor: “They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way.” The poor “anawim” knew that they were unjustly treated, but had no one to turn to for help. They only knew to cry out to God. The hymn “Magnificat” is a reflection of this point, saying: “He has cast down the mighty from their throne, and lifted up the lowly (anawim).”

            (3) Sexual immorality: “Son and father go to the same prostitute, profaning my holy name.” This sentence may imply a sexual relation of both father and son with a same prostitute; especially with a temple prostitute. God’s name expresses Himself; all the acts that are against His law are the insults of His holy name.

            (4) Steaing others’ property: “Upon garments taken in pledge they recline beside any altar.” The law prohibits the lender to keep the borrower’s coat overnight. They must return it to the borrower before the sunset because it is his blanket for the cold weather (Exo 22:25-26; Deut 24:12-13). To loan a coat may be a symbolic action, its value isn’t proportional with the borrowed amount of money. “And the wine of those who have been fined they drink in the house of their god.” The wine given to the lender could be from the borrower or the lender calculated the amount of money into wine. Drinking wine is celebrated in holy meals and often badly used. The prophet Amos wanted to say that to pay honor to God by drinking wine which unjustly seized from others isn’t a right devotion.

           

1.2/ When God punishes, no one can escape.

            (1) God had mercy many times on the Israelites: Amos reminded them of their past when God liberated them from their slavery to the Egyptians and brought them to the Promise Land of the Amorites. Amos wanted the Israel’s leaders to know that they must return God’s favor by treating others with charity; instead of with injustice. Emorites is the other word for the Canaanites.

            (2) None can escape God’s wrath: When God decided to punish people, none of the wisest or the strongest could escape. No one should think that he could escape God’s wrath or God shall not remember his sins. Amos declared to them, “Beware, I will crush you into the ground as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves. Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong man shall not retain his strength; the warrior shall not save his life, nor the bowman stand his ground; The swift of foot shall not escape, nor the horseman save his life. And the most stouthearted of warriors shall flee naked on that day, says the Lord.”

 

2/ Gospel: "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead."

2.1/ The cost of the discipleship: Jesus was very realistic. He talked to his disciples about the reward which they shall have, and he didn’t hide from them the cost they must endure for their discipleship. This makes a disciple to carefully think: If he accepts glory through the way of suffering, he must give up everything, carry the cross daily and follow Jesus to the end. If he thinks that he can’t follow, he must have courage to decide it from the beginning, so that he shall not give up half way through, and loose both this life and the life to come. Jesus wanted the scribe to recognize two things:

            (1) Must accept an unstable future: The preacher of the Good News must constantly move, not to live in one place as a majority of people. When he fulfills his mission in one place, he must come to other place and start anew.

            (2) Must live simply: The preacher doesn’t have a house or property, but completely live according to God’s providence for him.

2.2/ A disciple must respect God above all others: Jesus’ saying: “Let the dead bury their dead” isn’t easy to understand. Many think that Jesus taught people to dishonor their parents!

            According to Oriental tradition, one of two things is considered as ungrateful when a child lives far away from his parent at their old age. Children, especially the firstborn son, must live with his parents to care for them when they are old; especially to bury them before he can think about his future.

            Jesus required a disciple to do God’s will above all other wills, including his parents’ will as he taught, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt 6:33). When one must choose between to follow God or stay at home to care for one’s parents, he must choose God as the first commandment teaches. However, God never let his follower without help, He shall arrange so that there is somebody who shall take care of them. Moreover, God wants people to seize the opportunity and to immediately do it. He knows that if one doesn’t do His will right away, he shall hardly do it.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We must treat others with justice and temper with mercy. To sin against others is to sin against God.

            - We must sacrifice all for the preaching of the Good News so that God’s kingdome can quickly come to all people.

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