Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

St. Dominic

St. Dominic

 

St. Dominic, the Founder of the Dominican Order

Readings: Isa 52:7-10; 2 Tim 4:1-8; Mt 5:13-19. 

1/ First Reading: NAB Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, "Your God is King!" 8 Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, For they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion. 9 Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. 10 The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God. 

2/ Second Reading: NAB 2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: 2 proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers 4 and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. 5 But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 8 From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. 

3/ Gospel: NAB Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 


 

I. THEME: Preaching the Good News to lead souls to God

 

            St. Dominic’s life can be abbreviated on the theme “Preaching the Good News to lead souls to God.” He loves God above all things and wants to bring all souls to Him, and his way is to preach the Gospel. The maxim he used to lead his life is “only talk with God or about Him.” He talks to God in prayer and when he talks about Him, he is preaching to people. St. Dominic united two dimensions of the consecrated life which are contemplation and pastoral services. A Dominican friar is a contemplative and brings what he contemplated to share with people.

            The way of using the Gospel to lead souls to God is based upon today three readings. In the first reading, God let the prophet Isaiah foresee the day God shall save His people; and in order for this good news is announced, the prophet felt the goodness of the one who brings the good tidings. Nothing is more beautiful than the preacher’ steps that bring the Good News for God’s people who are suffering. In the second reading, St. Paul advised Timothy, his disciple, to persevere in preaching because there are many difficulties in preaching the Gospel. The preachers must be patient to overcome all obstacles to lead souls to God. In the Gospel, to fulfill successfully the mission of preaching, the preacher must unite with God, listen to His voice and practice God’s teaching before he can announce this teaching for God’s people.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings!”

 

1.1/ God shall lead people back to Zion from all exiled places: This passage is taken from the Second Book of Isaiah when the Israelites were on exile. The author foresaw the day God shall liberate them from the exile back to Jerusalem, he wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, "Your God is King!" Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion.” The one who brings the Good News must announce three things which are related with each other, each thing speaks out one aspect of the salvation:

            (1) Announcing peace: Peace is the word that Isaiah used the most; it isn’t meant the absence of war, but is God’s gift for people. They are reconciled with God, therefore they have peace.

            (2) Bearing good news: The good news comes from God, the Good One. He bestows His blessings on people, especially forgives their sins and let them inherit the salvation.

            (3) Announcing salvation: The salvation comes from God. The salvation isn’t limited only in liberating the Israelites from the Babylon exile, but also included the liberating them from sins and bringing back for them all goods and peace.

            God shall be their king, He shall guide people. The watchmen of Jerusalem, the holy city, shall see God and cry out for joy. God shall govern people in peace and let them enjoy all the goods and salvation.

 

1.2/ All people shall see God’s liberating of Jerusalem: The event in which God liberated the Israelites from Babylon exile and brought them back to Jerusalem is the miracle which all surrounding nations knew: not by military power nor by the Israelites’ efforts, but by Cyrus’ faith, the Persian king in God. Similarly, when Christ liberated people from sins by his death on the cross in Jerusalem, the Israelites were still under the Roman Emperor’s governance.

 

2/ Reading II: “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.”  

 

2.1/ There are many difficulties which the preacher must face in preaching the Gospel.

            (1) The preacher must be faithful: Paul commanded Timothy to be faithful in preaching the Gospel due to the two following reasons: First, Christ shall judge the living and the dead; no action of a human being can avoid his judgment. Secondly, Christ shall appear and govern; at that time, he shall return to each person according to what he has done. Therefore, Paul advised Timothy, “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”

            Many people insist, “Cover wherever the wind is.” When the social surroundings change, they must also change to adapt; if they don’t, they shall be hated by others and become unpopular. Therefore, many preachers have a tendency to change the messages they preach: they only preach what people like to hear and avoid mentioning sins which the audience have in them. The prophet Jeremiah heavily condemned these false prophets: They must be responsible for their audience’s destruction!

            (2) People frequently change: Paul also warned Timothy about the audience’s change, “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” This isn’t new, because of human habits, they don’t like anyone who disturbs what they are carried in their heart; but like those who praise their faults or entertain them with jokes. The true preacher can’t please the audience’s curiosity as Paul advised his disciple, “But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.”

 

2.2/ The preacher must aim at the indestructible prize: An important question which all people must find out the correct answer is, “Whom do they want to please, God or people? Do they want to please God to receive the indestructible prize which is the eternal life or to please people to get the destructible prizes? St. Paul gave us the exemplar to imitate; he said, “For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand.I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.”

3/ Gospel: “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

 

3.1/ The function of salt: There is nothing which is basic and cheap as salt, but it has many useful applications for human beings.

            From the ancient time until now, salt is the thing which can’t be lacked in the human life. Salt is very valuable for the ancient people; there was time that one kilogram of salt is equivalent with one kilogram of gold. Workers’ salaries were paid with salt (sal-ary). Sal is the Latin word for salt. Taxes could be paid by salt (Cf. 1 Mac 10:29, 11:35).

            (1) Salt represents for what is clean, unchanged, indestructible and pure, because it is formed by the sunlight and the sea water. Since Christians are are purified by Christ’s blood and sanctified by the Holy Spirit’s grace; they must be pure and holy as salt before they can benefit others. It represents for things which are and pure. The law commands to put salt in the cereal offering; this represents for the covenant between God and men (x/c Num 18:19). God’s covenant is called the salt covenant (2 Chr 13:5). In liturgy, when the priest blesses the water, he also adds a little salt in it. It also represents for the truth (Col 4:6) and love and peace (Mk 9:50).

            (2) Salt prevents food from spoiling: Because of its quality, salt is used to preserve food: Meat and fish need salt to stay longer; vegetables also need salt to last longer; even fruits also need salt to keep its favor. The Vietnamese adage used the image of fish needing salt to teach children the need to obey their parent, “Fish without salt shall be spoiled; children who disobey their parent surely shall be spoiled.” If this is true in educating children, obedience to Christ’s teaching is more important for the Christians. If the faithful have no virtues, how can they preserve themselves and others? Jesus reminded his disciples a reality, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

            (3) Salt increases taste for food: Salt can’t be lacked in cooking; no matter how good and fresh is the food, it shall be tasteless without salt; fish sauce is also made with salt. The Christians are equipped to become the salt of the earth. One thing we need to pay attention in this sentence is that our Lord used the verb “to be” at the present time. This means that the Christians always have this character. They, by nature, have good characters to help the world to be better.           

 

3.2/ The function of light: This image is more familiar to human beings than salt. Light has many functions:

            (1) Light is used to shine: When the sun sets, people need light to avoid falling and to find things. The Christians have the truth as the light to avoid falsehood.

            (2) Light is used to warm up: When the weather becomes cold, people need heat from the sun or fire or heaters to keep themselves warm. The Christians have the Holy Spirit to warm them up from loneliness. They use their love to warm up others’ unhappiness and sorrow.

            (3) Light is used to protect people from dangers: Sins or crimes used to happen in dark places. Sinners and criminals hate the light because it displays their wicked deeds.

            (4) Light gives life: All living things need the sunlight; without it, there is no life (Science calls this “photo-synthesis”). Jesus calls himself “the light that gives life.” He is both “light” and “life.” Without him, people have no light and life (Jn 1:4).

            Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” The purpose for our shinning is for people to see God’s glory and to praise Him. It isn’t for our glory; if we do good works for our own glory, we already receive the reward which is people’s praise and God doesn’t have to compensate us.

 

3.3/ “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill”: All God’s laws and words are good and unchanged because they originate from God and have power to help people to live a good life; the problems are always from people. Here are some reasons that cause people to misunderstand God’s laws:

            (1) They don’t understand the principles of the laws and interpret them according to their own thinking; for example, the Sabbath laws. The principle is for people to rest and to worship God; not to argue about the problems related to life, such as: Should people be healed on the Sabbath? Should people pluck wheat and eat them? These problems belong to the area that preserves people’s life.

            (2) They create many other laws: The Jewish leaders promulgated about 615 more laws from the Law which God gave to Moses, not counting the oral laws. These laws were made by people; they can be changed or abolished.

            When Christ discussed about things related to the law, he wanted people to recognize the divine from the human laws. The scribes who argued with God wanted to deceive people to condemn Christ as the one who abolish God’s law. He also wanted them to recognize the principle behind which is God’s love for human being, not keeping the law because of the law.      

 

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                

 

            - The most important thing of our life is for us and all people to reach the ultimate end which is the eternal life with God, not to accumulate material things of this life.

            - We must learn and live God’s teaching before we can preach that teaching for others.

            - We should imitate St. Dominic’s way to attain the goal end by learning, preaching and living the truth. Not knowing the truth is the reason that leads people off the track to their final goal.

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