Daily Scripture Analysis

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Twenty-ninth Sunday - Year B - Ordinary Time

Readings: Isa 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45.

 

Reading 1 (Isa 53:10-11): The LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.

Reading 2 (Heb 4:14-16):

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Gospel (Mk 10:35-45):

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
"Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?"
They answered him, "Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left."
Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
They said to him, "We can."
Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared."
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
"You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Written by: Fr. Tien M. Dinh, OP.

 

I. THEME: The meaning and the value of sufferings 

            People want to have power to rule, to get respect and to be served. This ambition leads to jealousy, contention and destruction because no one wants to be lesser than others. A Christ’s disciple is taught to be a humble servant and to serve others. This model leads to love, unity and building up a community. Looking into the results of these two models, one can recognize right away which model shall be better for both individual and community. Because of selfishness and individual greed, many people deviated from Christ’s way.

            All today readings concentrate on Christ, the model for humility and serving others. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah foretold what shall happen for God’s Suffering Servant. He shall be trampled with sufferings to redeem people’s sins and to fulfill God’s will. In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminded the faithful to imitate and to come to Christ every time they suffer because Christ went through all human sufferings so he knows how to help them to overcome sufferings. In the Gospel, when the two brothers, James and John came and asked Jesus a favor which is to let them sit one on his right and one on his left when he reigns in his kingdom. Christ warned them that they don’t know what they are asking for. Other apostles were indignant with the two brothers because they wanted to have that favor too. Jesus gathered them up and taught them: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many.”

1.1/ The Suffering Servant sacrificed himself as an offering: God and human beings, when they must choose something they do it for a purpose. If the Suffering Servant chooses the suffering way, by sacrificing himself to be the sin offering, three following benefits shall happen:

            (1) The benefit for God: “God’s will shall be done.” God’s will is His plan of salvation for people. He doesn’t want people to die but for them to inherit salvation. Because of his love for his Father and people, the Suffering Servants is ready to suffer for God’s will to be fulfilled and to bring people back to God.

            (2) The benefit for others: Isaiah wrote, ''Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.'' Everyone sins, and as a result, they must die. The Suffering Servant wants to take people’s sins and punishments on himself so that people’s sins are forgiven and they shall be justified before God. The result of people being justified is the everlasting life for human beings.

            (3) The benefit for himself: The prophet Isaiah listed out: ''If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life... Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days.” Christ’s descendants are those whom he saved. In the Last Day, he shall reign over them anh his kingship shall have no end. Since he foresees the result, the Suffering Servant wants to accept all sufferings. He knows temporal sufferings can’t be compared with eternal happiness.

            With these three great benefits, the Suffering Servant was ready to sacrifice himself, to endure all sufferings to fulfill God’s will.

1.2/ What shall happen if the Suffering Servant rejects sufferings?

            (1) God’s will shall not be done. This can’t be happened because there is a perfect communion between the Father and the Son.

            (2) Human beings, God’s beloved creature, shall be lost forever.

            (3) He shall not see a great descendants being saved, and he can’t be their king forever.

2/ Reading II: Jesus Christ, who has been tested in every way, yet without sin.

2.1/ God chose the suffering way.

            (1) Christ went through all sufferings of a human life: Many of us are easily discouraged and blame on God when we must face sufferings; but we shouldn’t forget that this is the way which God chose for Himself and His Son to bring salvation for us. We suffer because of our sins; but God has no sin to suffer these sufferings. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised the faithful to completely put their trust in Christ, “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”

            (2) Sufferings can be overcome: One important thing that helped Christ to overcome sufferings because he knows sufferings are only temporal and can’t be compared with the glory which he shall possess. Christ came and lived in the world for only thirty-three years; he went through his public mission for only three years and his Passion and Death lasted only a week. After that is the glorious victory. We should learn this point from him to overcome suffering. We shouldn’t let worldly temporal glory prevent us from reaching the eternal life. Each time we are hurt by suffering, we should look at him on the cross, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”

2.2/ We need to learn how to suffer as Christ:

            (1) The purpose of life must guide our life: Like Christ who always knows how to unite with his Father, especially in the most suffered moment of his life, he always asked for his Father’s will is fulfilled. Similarly to us, we must be sure that the purpose which God wants us to live in this world is to work for our and others’ salvation. If we lose this purpose, we shall easily fall into the traps of the individual enjoyment and the devil’s temptation.

            (2) Our strength is in Christ: He left us his teaching in Scripture and his treasure of grace through his established sacraments. The author of this Letter advised us, “So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Sacraments are only the source of grace for our life: with grace we can overcome any kind of suffering; without grace, there is no way for us to overcome. Neglecting of the sacraments is the main reason why people can’t overcome sufferings.

 

3/ Gospel: If we share in his suffering, we shall also share in his glory.

3.1/ Human ambition: Jesus’ apostles are also human beings, though being called and guided by Jesus; they still had selfishness and ambition to exceed others. Today passage reported their reactions when Jesus foretold his Passion the third time. “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?"They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left."”

3.2/ If they share in his suffering, they shall also share in his glory: Jesus used this moment to teach his disciples about the value of sufferings and the condition to have glory.

            (1) Glory through suffering: Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"They said to him, "We can." Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized."

            The cup which Jesus is about to drink is his Passion and Death; his baptism is the baptism in blood. The two brothers might not clearly understand it; but because their desire to have power is so strong, they said “yes” for Jesus’ question. This is also a prophecy for what shall happen to them in the future that they shall also pass through the way of suffering as Christ. James becomes the first martyr among the apostles in Jerusalem. John, though isn’t a martyr according to the tradition; but must pass through all kinds of suffering and live a long life.

            (2) Glory is given by God: Jesus continued to tell them: ''But to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared." We don’t know how heaven is organized, but according to Jesus, the ruler is the one who has love and serves others.

3.3/ Other apostles’ jealous reactions: According to human standpoint, there are only two most important places in heaven; but the two sons of Zebedee asked for them; therefore, the other ten apostles became indignant with James and John. We can see that this pattern often happens in human beings: beginning with a desire to be greatest, and then finding all possible way to attain this desire. When they can’t attain, they shall find all possible ways to contend with others. This leads to quarrel, unrest and separation. If the apostles keep fighting, they can’t attain salvation even for themselves, they can’t help others to attain their salvation. Jesus used this opportunity to teach them the followings:

            (1) He differentiated between the purpose of his disciples and of the Gentile leaders:

            + The purpose of Gentile leaders: Jesus said to them: "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.'' Since the Gentile leaders don’t believe in salvation for the next life, they pay attention to the power in this world. They want to be respected, to give order and to be served by others.

            + The purpose of Christ’s disciples: “But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.'' The purpose of Christ’s disciples is to attain salvation for themselves and others, so if they must sacrifice all for this purpose, they should be ready to do it.

            (2) Christ sets a good example for his disciples: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'' Christ not only taught this, but also carried his cross to set an example for others to follow.

 

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Today world has so many selfish people who thirst for power, fame and material gains; it needs more Christ’s disciples such as: St. Vincent de Paul, the pastor of Ars, Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II.

            - As Christ’s disciple, we must imitate him to humbly serve others to bring life for others and to develop our community. If everyone wants to be worldly leaders, who shall serve the poor, the sick and the unfortunate?

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Saturday - Twenty-eighth week - OT1

 

Readings: Rom 4:13, 16-18; Lk 12:8-12.

 

Reading 1 (Rom 4:13, 16-18): Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.

 

Gospel (Lk 12:8-12): Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.

"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."


I. THEME: Let believe in what God promised and be a witness for Him.

            Many people used what happened for them to apply to God; for example, they love people who did good for them, so they think God loves only people who keep God’s law, go to church, and preach the Good News. The truth is God loves people when they are still sinners, weak, and full of shortcomings. People have no merit of God’s love and grace; the only thing they can do is to believe in God’s love and power. If they do that, they will be justified and inherited all of God’s grace.

            Today readings want to make clear this truth. In the first reading, St. Paul argued with the Jews and gave a clear reason why the grandfather Abraham was inherited God’s promise to become the father of many nations: not of his keeping of the Law; but of his absolute faith in God’s power and love. In the Gospel, Jesus wanted his disciples to completely believe in him and in his Spirit, especially when they must confront the wrong and witness for the truth.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Because of his faith, Abraham was inherited God’s promise.

1.1/ The Law have no power to justify people.

            (1) It is not by the Law Abraham was inherited God’s promise: The Law which God gave to people through Moses happened 430 years after Abraham’s death; therefore, one cannot say by the law Abraham was inherited God’s promise; but it was his faith in God. St. Paul declared that “It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith.”

            If it is correct for Abraham, it is also correct for all of us: “For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us, as it is written, I have made you father of many nations.”

            (2) God changed the name for Abraham: When he was still living at Urs, his name was Abram which is meant “the father was honored.” God changed his name to Abraham which is meant “the father of many nations” (Gen 17:5). St. Paul repeated this fact as follows: “As it is written, I have made you father of many nations. He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist.”

1.2/ Trust God in all situations: God promised to give Abraham as many descendants as stars in heaven and as sand on seashore; but in reality, Abraham had only two sons: Isaac and Ismael. How could Abraham become the father of many nations with his only two sons? In human eyes, this is impossible; but in the eyes of Abraham’s faith, he believed God has power to fulfill what he promised. St. Paul explained: “He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become the father of many nations, according to what was said, thus shall your descendants be.”           

            Some commentators thought God could let Abraham to forsee Christ’s birthday in his linear when they did an exegesis on John 8:56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” Because people will believe in Christ, Abraham will become the father of many nations.

2/ Gospel: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.”

2.1/ The witness is necessary to arouse faith in people: Two things that help people to believe in Christ are the preaching and the preacher’s witness. The latter sometimes attracts people more than the earlier, because “words call people’ attention, but deeds make people to believe.” Gandhi, the leader of the Indian non-violent movement, said: “If all Christians live what Jesus taught, the whole world might already believed in Christ.” In order to live what Christ taught, Christians need to learn the Gospel where the evangelists recorded all Christ’s teachings. If one does not want to learn, how can he know what to do?

            Our purpose of life is to be a witness for God by preaching and good deeds. The purpose of the Church’s existence is also to bring the Good News to all people. If we don’t fulfill this duty, how can we reach the eternal life which Christ has prepared for us? In today Gospel, Christ declared the results for those who did and did not fulfill their duty: “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.”

2.2/ What is the sin against the Holy Spirit? Generally, it is the sin of those who don’t believe in Christ and his teachings. The mission of the Holy Spirit is to help us to know the truth, the sin against him is to refuse to follow his guidance. In the Gospel of Matthew and of Mark, both mentioned the sin against the Holy Spirit when some Jews said to Jesus: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons” (Mt 12:31-32, Mk 3:28-29).

            Why can it not be forgiven? When one lost his sensitivity of the truth to the point that one believed the falsity is the truth or reverse; or like the Jews who believed Jesus is a member of Beelzebul, how can they believe in Christ in order to have salvation? Similarly, when one lost his sensitivity of sin to the point that nothing is sinful to them, he won’t need forgiveness. Therefore, when one denied to follow the Holy Spirit’s instruction to know the truth, he has no hope to inherit the salvation.   

2.3/ The Holy Spirit’s role in time of witness: Jesus declared the Holy Spirit’s role to his disciples: “When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” The Holy Spirit was called the Advocate in the Fourth Gospel, and the duty of the Advocate is to speak on behalf of the accused. It is the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and power which made many fragile and simple people to become courageous martyrs and gave us many of their wise sayings.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - To believe in God’s promise is the condition to become righteous and to inherit God’s grace and the reverse is also true.

            - The mission of the Holy Spirit is to lead people to understand Christ’s revelations and teachings. We need to pray to him everytime we hear and learn Scripture.

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Friday - Twenty-eighth Week - OT1

Readings: Rom 4:1-8; Lk 12:1-7.

  

Reading 1 (Rom 4:1-8): Brothers and sisters:
What can we say that Abraham found,
our ancestor according to the flesh?
Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works,
he has reason to boast;
but this was not so in the sight of God.
For what does the Scripture say?
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
A worker's wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due.
But when one does not work,
yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is credited as righteousness.  
So also David declares the blessedness of the person
to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven
and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not record.

Gospel (Lk 12:1-7): At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
"Beware of the leaven'that is, the hypocrisy'of the Pharisees.

"There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.


 

I. THEME: People are justified by their faith in Christ.

            Many people are so arrogant when they said that what they are having is completely their effort. They ignored God’s grace, their parents’ sacrifice, and many contributions of generations before them. Same thing happens in religion, many people believed they can be good and saved by their own effort.

            Today readings center on God’s grace and human faith on Him. In the first reading, St. Paul used Scripture and his experience to demonstrate that one becomes righteous is completely by his faith in Christ; not by keeping the Law nor having good deeds. In the Gospel, Jesus adviced his disciples to put their trust in God in deeds by living a truthful life, not fearing of any power except God’s power, and believing firmly in God’s providence.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Faith makes people to become righteous.

1.1/ Abraham became righteous by believing in God: The Jewish people are very proud of their grandfather Abraham because he was considered God’s faithful friend. What St. Paul wanted to argue with the Jews in today reading is the reason why Abraham was reckoned as a righteous person.

            (1) The Jews’ position: They said the reason was what Abraham had done, such as: his faithful keeping of the Law (but the Law was not given until 500 years later); his decision to leave his ancestral land to come to a land which God will lead him to; or his ready to sacrifice Isaac, his only son during old ages.

            (2) St. Paul’s position: He said the reason simply was his complete faith in God. Paul explained: “What can we say that Abraham found, our ancestor according to the flesh? Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6).

1.2/ People become righteous because of God’s love: St. Paul based on Scripture and his experience to show that people were justified completely by God’s love; not by human works.

            (1) Abraham’s case: Abraham did not know God and His law (is revealed 500 years later) when he was still living with his father at Urs. God called him and revealed to him His plan, that is, to make him to become the father of all nations. This is completely God’s will, and Abraham believed and responded to His call. St. Paul reasoned: “A worker's wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due. But when one does not work, yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

            (2) David’s case: The king was no worthy of God after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and used his trick plan to kill Uriah, her husband (cf. 2 Kgs 11). King David clearly knew his sins and thought he was deserved to die; but the king was forgiven because God had mercy on him. St. Paul illustrated David’s case to show that God forgave David when he was still the sinner: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not record” (Psa 32:1-2).

2/ Gospel: Faith must be expressed in deeds.

            People become righteous when they were still sinners; but once they become righteous, they must be renewed in order to live a better life than before. Many people think good works, to St. Paul, are unnecessary; but to say such thing is to misunderstand Paul and Jesus’ teachings.

2.1/ Let express the faith in God by living according to the truth: Although the scribes are those who knew God and declared their faith in Him; but their hypocrisy did not express their knowledge and faith on Him. If they knew God knows everything, why did they hide their hypocrisy from Him?

            Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of the leaven, that is, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Such a hypocrisy is to deceive God, others, and themselves. How can they reach the eternal life?

2.2/ Let believe and fear God: Human nature is to yearn for life and to fear death; but if people understand what will happen after death, they will be more ready to accept death. Jesus taught his disciples: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.”

            Therefore, if one must accept death to be a witness for God, one must do because he will receive back his life in God’s kingdom. The martyrs are also weak people like us; but their faith together with God’s grace, made them courageous to accept death to witness for God.

2.3/ Let firmly believe in God’s providence: Beside death, people are also worry about lacking necessary things for life and all kind of diseases. Jesus taught his disciples not to be worry but to trust completely in God’s providence for them: “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We are justified by our faith in Christ who was died for our sins. Once we become righteous, we need to express our faith in God by good deeds to benefit ourselves and to make contribution in proclaiming of the Good News.

            - We need to study to understand God’s providence and His plan of salvation. There are many things happened in life which are in God’s providence but out of human control, such as: diseases, old age, death... Even if we are worry about them, we cannot escape them. It is better for us to put completely trust in God’s love and providence.

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Thursday - Twenty-eighth week - OT1

 

Readings: Rom 3:21-30; Lk 11:47-54.

Reading 1: RSV Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. 28 For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith.

 

Gospel (Lk 11:47-54): The Lord said:
"Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
"I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute”
that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter."
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.



I. THEME: The Law has no power to justify us.

            One of the main topics which Jesus and St. Paul often argued with the Jews is the role of the Law in God’s plan of salvation. Many Jews have believed they can become righteous by keeping carefully the Law. Jesus and St. Paul said the Law cannot justify poeple, because no one can keep perfectly the Law. To become righteous, all people, Jews and Gentiles, need to believe in Christ. If the Law has power to justify, God did not need to send His Son to the world to redeem and to justify people.             

            Today readings would like us to recognize human imperfection in keeping God’s Law. In the first reading, St. Paul gave us his observation: having the Law or not, both the Jews and the Gentiles, have sinned; therefore, to have salvation, all must believe in Christ: “Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” In the Gospel, Jesus accused the scribes who misused the Law to seize and to kill prophets whom God continuously sent to people. They also used their laws to bend the truth and to prevent people to come to God.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: People are justified by their faith in Jesus Christ.

1.1/ Both the Jews and the Gentiles must believe in Jesus Christ: After presented on the Gentiles’ sins (Rom 1:18-32) and the Jews’ sins, St. Paul concluded that both have been governed by sins and need to believe in Christ to be justified. He said: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom 3:21-25).

            To give an illustration of the law, Paul used Genesis 15:6: “Abraham believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3). Paul also explained God’s promise with Abraham about his descendants will be many as stars in heaven and as sand on seashore. This promise can only be fulfilled by the faith in Christ: All who believe in Christ are Abraham descendants because Christ belongs also to Abraham’s linear (Rom 4:18-25). To give an illustration of the prophets, Paul used Habbakuk: “The righteous lives by his faith” (Hab 2:4).

            To protect God’s righteousness, He has to punish sinners; and to save sinners from death, Christ was sent to die in the place of people to reconcile them to God. St. Paul explained: “They are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in His divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; 26 it was to prove at the present time that He himself is righteous and that He justifies him who has faith in Jesus.”

1.2/ St. Paul argued with the Jews about two things:

            (1) The role of the Law: The Jews are proud of the Law which God gave to them through Moses; but the Law is only useful for them when they keep it. If they don’t keep it, the Law will become the proof to accuse them. St. Paul asked them: “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. 28 For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.”

            (2) God’s salvation plan: Jewish people were chosen by God before the Gentiles to prepare for the coming of Christ; when Christ comes, salvation is opened to all people because all are God’s children. St. Paul continued to ask: “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith.”

2/ Gospel: The Pharisees and the scribes destroyed the truth in the name of their laws.

2.1/ They used their law to kill prophets and apostles: Jesus accused the scribes: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building.”

            They only paid respect to prophets when they died; but persecuted them when they were living. God, out of His compassion, always sent His prophets to call people to repent and to come back to Him; but the scribes always opposed, persecuted, and killed them. Jesus said to them: “Therefore, the wisdom of God said, "I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute,” that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!”

            A particular example for this happened when Jesus is saying these words to them: they are looking to seize Jesus, the Prophet of all prophets, as the Gospel told us: “When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.”  

2.2/ The scribes used their law to bend the truth: Jesus accused them, “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” The law’s purpose is to protect justice to all; they used the law to maltreat people and to take away others’ properties. The law’s purpose is to bring people close to God; they used the law to make people to run away from God. The law’s purpose is to bring happiness to people; the way they explained the law made people to feel irritated and burden.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - God’s laws are good and can bring people to happiness if we live according to them. But we are weak and cannot keep them perfectly. This is the reason why we need Christ and his grace.

            - We must respect, live and witness for the truth. We should not despise or persecute anyone who live and witness for the truth.

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Wednesday - Twenty-eighth week - OT1

Readings: Rom 2:1-11; Lk 11:42-46.

 

Reading 1 (Rom 2:1-11):

You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.
For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.
We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things
and yet do them yourself,
that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience
in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God
would lead you to repentance?
By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,
you are storing up wrath for yourself
for the day of wrath and revelation
of the just judgment of God,
who will repay everyone according to his works,
eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,
but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth  and obey wickedness.
Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyone
who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone
who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
There is no partiality with God.

Gospel (Lk 11:42-46):

The Lord said: "Woe to you Pharisees!
You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,  but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.
These you should have done, without overlooking the others.
Woe to you Pharisees!
You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces.
Woe to you!
You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk."

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
"Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too."
And he said, "Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."



I. THEME: Judge yourself before judging others.

 

            Many people have a habit of judging others but seldom judge themselves. To avoid this habit, the Church advices Christians to frequently examine their conscience and to make  confessions. When people frequently examine themselves, beside to receive God’s forgiveness, but also to have compassion with others’ weakness and shortcoming. They realize that all human beings are weak and prone to sins; if they have courage to ask God for His forgiveness, they also have to forgive those who sinned against them. If people don’t often examine themselves, they think they are perfect and easily to debase and to condemn others.

            Today readings help us to be very careful in judging others. In the first reading, St.Paul warned the Jews that they should examine themselves and were careful in passing their judgment on the Gentiles because God has no partiality for a nation or a class. He will judge according to the truth those who do wrong things, Jews or Gentiles. In the Gospel, Jesus warned the Pharisees when they paid so much attention to tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, and no attention to justice and to love for God. When the scribes said to Jesus that he was insulting them too, he scolded them also for using the Law for their own benefits. The scribes behaved unjustly to people in their interpreting of the Law. They imposed on people burdens hard to carry,  but they themselves didn’t lift one finger to touch them.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: “You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.

           

1.1/ Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Today periscope continues Jewish condemnation of the Gentiles. St. Paul wanted the Jews to carefully examine their sins; not just to condemn the Gentile’s sins. He wanted them to pay attention to three things.

            (1) Examining of themselves: St. Paul said to the Jews: “You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” When one judges other, he put himself in the place of a judge to condemn other. If he does that he knows that is a sin and should never commit such sin. But if he still commits that sin, he cannot make any excuse because he already gives a sentence for himself. For example, a Jew condemned a Gentile who did not believe and worship God to die; he must also be dead if he did not worship God and keep His commandments.

            (2) God justly judges all: Many Jews think God have two standards to judge people, one for them and one for the Gentiles. St. Paul absolutely rejected this thinking and defended God’s justice. He said: “We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true. Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Human can judge according to two standards; but God never does such thing. When one enjoyed a privilege as a Jew or a Christian, he should live a better life than an unbeliever.

            (3) Don’t misuse God’s love: Possessed God’s immense love, one can have one of two following attitudes: either he feels ashame and repents or he takes advantage of God’s love to continually be in sins, with a hope that God will forgive him all. This latter attitude is one of the two sins against the Holy Spirit and will not be forgiven. St. Paul put a question to the Jews: “Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patiencein low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance? By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation.”

           

1.2/ God will judge people according to their deeds: There are many who wrongly explained what Paul said: “one becomes righteous only by his faith in God” (sola fides) (Rom 3:21-22). Before Paul said such thing, he declared the necessary of always doing good deeds in today passage: “God, who will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truthand obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyonewho does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.There is no partiality with God.

 

2/ Gospel: Judge yourself before judging others.

           

2.1/ You pay no attention to justice and to love for God: Be spiritual leaders the Pharisees supposed to know the way and to set good examples for people to follow; but they did not do that. Jesus invited them to examine three things:

            (1) To distinguish between necessary and suplementary thing: “"Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others.

            (2) To avoid vainglory: “Woe to you Pharisees!You love the seat of honor in synagogues  and greetings in marketplaces.

            (3) To avoid hypocrisy: “Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.

           

2.2/ You imposed on people burdens hard to carry: One of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, "Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too." And he said, "Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."

            The scribes are those who knows the Law. They should find opportunities to teach people to understand and to keep the Law; instead, they use the Law for their material gains. They are also ones who make laws for others to keep; but they themselves belong to exception laws and don’t have to keep common laws.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

                 

            - We should not judge those who are not belong to our right. Even when we have to judge those belong to ours, we should have necessary proofs and judge them with justice tempered with mercy; because by the measure we judge people, God will judge us the same measure.

            - If we demand others to do good deeds, we should also do the same. We should never have two standards, one for ourselves and one for others.

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Tuesday - Twenty-eighth week - OT1

Readings: Rom 1:16-25; Lk 11:37-41.

  

Reading 1 (Rom 1:16-25): Brothers and sisters:I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;
as it is written, "The one who is righteous by faith will live."

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven
against every impiety and wickedness
of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
For what can be known about God is evident to them,
because God made it evident to them.
Ever since the creation of the world,
his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity
have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.
As a result, they have no excuse;
for although they knew God
they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.
Instead, they became vain in their reasoning,
and their senseless minds were darkened.
While claiming to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for the likeness of an image of mortal man
or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.

Therefore, God handed them over to impurity
through the lusts of their hearts
for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie
and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.

Gospel (Lk 11:37-41):


After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,inside you are filled with plunder and evil.You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you."



I. THEME: The relationship between what is inside and what is outside of a man.

            What is outside of a man is a sign of what is in him, for “a mouth speaks what a heart is full of.” What is outside does not stand in itself but must be supported by what is inside; for example, helping the poor is a sign to indicate what is inside of a man; but if there is no love, it is a way to attract praise from others and will not last long.           

            Today readings want to show the relationship between an outside act with an inside feeling. In the first reading, St. Paul declared that by looking at God’s creation in the world, people can recognize God’s power and love so that they will believe in and worship Him. If not, they must receive bad results because they don’t follow their reasoning. In the Gospel, Jesus scolded at the Pharisees who paid too much attention to what is outside, the washing of hands. He invited us to pay more attention to the purity of heart, such as truth, compassion and justice; for God will judge people according to these elements.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: There are two ways of God’s revelation.

1.1/ Scripture reveals God’s mysteries: Men cannot understand God’s will by themselves because He exceeds human knowledge. God chose to reveal Himself to men through Scripture, especially through the Incarnation of Jesus, His only Begotten Son. Jesus Christ himself revealed to men God’s mysteries through the Gospel he preached, and the evangelists wrote this Gospel.

           St. Paul declared: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:for Jew first, and then Greek.For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;as it is written, "The one who is righteous by faith will live."” To believe in Christ itself is a mystery because a believer’s faith is not completely from human effort; it also depends on God’s help such as: opportunities to hear the Good News, preachers, and the Holy Spirit who leads men to Christ’s truth.           

1.2/ Nature reveals God’s existence and glory.

            (1) Human mind can recognize God’s existence: According to St. Paul, with a limited knowledge men can recognize God’s existence in nature, His creation. Paul said: “For what can be known about God is evident to them,because God made it evident to them.Ever since the creation of the world,his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinityhave been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse.”

            When a man cannot recognize God’s through nature, his mind is lesser than an animal’s estimation. The prophet Isaiah painfully wrote on this truth: “The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand” (Isa 1:3). According to human experience, a dog waives his tail when his owner gives him something to eat; a cat shows his feeling when he is caressed by his owner; why does a man not recognize and thank God through all what He has done for them. To this kind of people, Paul had these words: “although they knew Godthey did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.Instead, they became vain in their reasoning,and their senseless minds were darkened.While claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

            (2) When men don’t worship God, they must receive terrible results: “Therefore, God handed them over to impuritythrough the lusts of their heartsfor the mutual degradation of their bodies.They exchanged the truth of God for a lieand revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator.” Human experience also teaches us that without observing natural law, we must get a corresponding result. For example, in agriculture, if a landowner doesn’t sow at a certain time according to natural weather, he will have no harvest; or in architecture, if a builder doesn’t build according to its blueprints, a house can be felt down; or in traffic laws, if a driver doesn’t follow traffic laws, he can loose his life.

            We can forsee such a result for those who don’t want to follow God’s teachings, they will have to endure bad results both in this life and the life to come. This life, they will be led to all craziness: “they exchanged the glory of the immortal Godfor the likeness of an image of mortal manor of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes... Therefore, God handed them over to impuritythrough the lusts of their heartsfor the mutual degradation of their bodies.” Next life, they will not be able to live with God.

2/ Gospel: Pay more attention to the purity of mind.           

2.1/ The Pharisees pay attention to outside behaviors: To wash hands before eating is in the Jewish law. Jesus did not oppose the washing of hands before eating; but he wanted to stress more to the inside purity than outside ceremonies. The Pharisees might think no one can see through what is happening inside them; but only what is outside, and evaluate them accordingly.

Therefore, they pay attention to praying in publich places to heap praises from people; they fast with a sad face to let people know they are repenting; they make noise when they give alms to let people know they care for the poor.

            Jesus opposed these attitudes and taught his disciples to act in opposition: when praying, go to your room and close the doors; when fasting, put perfume on your head; when giving alms, don’t let your right knows what your left does. He opposed the evaluation based only on what is outside because it can be hypocrite and deceive others. It can also be dangerous to the one who performs because when he is so familiar with these hypocrite acts, he can no longer recognize what is true; he wears a mask and thinks it is his true face.           

2.2/ Jesus invited people to pay attention to human mind: A sincere heart is valuable before God for He can see through what people cannot see. St. Luke reminded those who wanted to deceive Him by their outside acts: “You fools!Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?But as to what is within, give alms,and behold, everything will be clean for you.” If one has the impurity of heart, he will express by his words and deeds. This is the one who sincerely loves God and others.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                   

           - God reveals Himself to us by many ways. To recognize Him, we need to have a humble heart, a jealous mind to learn and to value the truth.

            - When men deny God, they will be led to all worldly perversion. The results are an immoral life, a slavery to devils, and the loss of their ultimate goal of life.

            - We should live truthfully with God and others. A hypocrite and deceitful life will be discovered sooner or later; and it does not bring good results for us.