Daily Scripture Analysis

Sunday of the 5 OTB

Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7; I Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39.

 

1/ First Reading: RSV Job 7:1 "Has not man a hard service upon earth, and are not his days like the days of a hireling? 2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hireling who looks for his wages, 3 so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. 4 When I lie down I say, `When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn. 6 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to their end without hope. 7 "Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.”

 

2/ Second Reading: RSV 1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel. 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Mark 1:29 And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. 32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, 37 and they found him and said to him, "Every one is searching for you." 38 And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out." 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.



I. THEME: What is the meaning of life?

            The most important question that bothers many people is, “What is the meaning of life?” Depending on the answer for this question, people have two different viewpoints for their life, either optimistic hope or pessimistic despair. These viewpoints will lead them how to correspondingly live their life, either untiredly working to reach the ultimate goal or doing nothing and waiting for death to liberate them from a meaningless life.

            Today readings concentrate on finding the answer for this question. In the first reading, Job felt life has no meaning because he didn’t know what is the meaning of his life. The reason why he had this feeling is that God was testing him to see if he is still faithful when He took away all of his children and possession. Job didn’t understand why he was suffered when he committed no wrong doings. In the second reading, once St. Paul recognized the importance of preaching the Gospel for the salvation of souls, he was ready to sacrifice his life for this purpose. He eagerly preached the Gospel to all, and readily became all things to all men so that he can win some souls for God. In the Gospel, St. Mark presented a typical day of Jesus: to preach the Good News, to heal all sickness, to expel demons, and to communicate with God in prayer.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: The meaningless of life

           

1.1/ Suffering in life is a reality which everyone must face: The Buddhism says life is an ocean of sufferings and framed in a vicious cycle of the four elements: birth, old age, sickness and death. Suffering can come from all the circle of life. The first action of a newborn baby is crying, not laughing. Then, he must spend his young age for education and preparing to work. Next, he must work the main portion of his life to earn living and to raise his family. Finally, he retires from work, not because he wants to, but he doesn’t have strength to continue. Beside all of these, diseases can penetrate his body at anytime, especially when he grows old. The last phase of his life is death when none can escape. The author of Job highlighted some of these sufferings as follows:

            (1) Suffering comes from hard works: “Has not man a hard service upon earth, and are not his days like the days of a hireling?Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hireling who looks for his wages, so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me.” If human life has no other meaning, he is worse than animals, because they don’t have to work hard like him to earn a living.

            (2) Suffering comes from the monotone of time: The author of Ecclessiastes said: “There is no new under the sun.” The author of Job expressed the same feeling: “When I lie down I say, `When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.”

            (3) Suffering comes from sickness: This is the next suffering which Job must suffer, when Satan caused him to have a skin disease.

            (4) Suffering comes from wrong understanding: Job suffered from wrong accusations of his friends and his inability to understand the meaning of suffering.

           

1.2/ Life without hope is death: Men can live with suffering, but can’t live without hope. The author of Job said: “My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to their end without hope."Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.””

            To understand Job’s situation, we must understand his understanding about the meaning of life. According to Jewish tradition at that time, happiness is only limited in earthly life. When people died, that is the end of human life. Even though God revealed about the next life in many books of the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms, but people didn’t correctly understand it. To the people who lived according to God’s law, they believed that God would grant them a happy life on earth with many children, richness and a long life. In Job’s case, he lived according to God’s law; he couldn’t understand why God took away all what he had. Neither He understood that suffering is used to test his faith in God. The author confirmed his belief according to Jewish tradition when he concluded his book with God’s multiplied blessings on Job. The concept of the next and eternal life happened late in the Books of Daniel and Maccabees, about second century BC, and was clear with Jesus’ confirmation (Jn 6:39-40, 11:25).

 

2/ Reading II: I became all things to all men.

           

2.1/ Preaching the Gospel is a duty: The event of his conversion on the way to Damascus always enlightened all of St. Paul’s thinking. He was on the way to persecute Christians, not to preach the Gospel; but God had His own plan, He made Paul to be the preacher of the Gentiles. Therefore, Paul ascertained in today passage: “For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission.”

            Since preaching is Pauls’ duty, he tried to find a way to earn the reward from the preaching of the Gospel: “What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the Gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the Gospel.” Like Jesus, Paul emphasized many times on workers should be rewarded for his work. He refused to take the reward from men, not that he wasn’t deserved, but to get the reward from God. In Paul’s life, he worked with his hands to support his preaching of the Gospel, though he could ask for support from his faithful. He intentionally did this to get God’s reward.

           

2.2/ Paul sacrificed everything for the preaching of the Gospel: Once Paul recognized God’s plan of salvation and his vocation to preach for the Gentiles, he was ready to sacrifice all he had to fulfill his vocation. Since the salvation of souls is the most important task, all methods must be used to achieve this goal. Paul’s efficient method is “to become all things to all people.”

            He explained his method: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

            Preachers must not be afraid to reach areas where no one plant their feet yet. He shouldn’t be hesitated to enter prisons, brothels, robbers’ den if there are people who have not yet to hear the Gospel. Jesus and Paul are indeed the exemplars for us to follow. 

 

3/ Gospel: A busy and typical day of Jesus’ life on earth.

           

3.1/ Preaching of the Good News: Today passage reported Jesus’ preaching in the Capernaum’s synagogue in the Sabbath day. During Jesus’ life on earth, he didn’t limit his preaching in the synagogue, but expanded to all places: on mountains, along the roads, in a boat, along the seashores... wherever it had audiences. What are the contents of Jesus’ preaching? First, the kingdom of God has come. Jesus wanted to say that God’s kingdom has come with his appearance. Everyone can enter to enjoy a happy life with God from now on. Secondly, he is the hope of humankind. Through him, all human sins are forgiven and human beings are reconciled with God. Lastly, he invited people to repent and to believe what he preached because he is God’s wisdom. He comes to reveal God’s mystery for men. People need to know these fundamental points before they can believe in him and hope in what he promises. These can also help them to change their life according to requirements of the Gospel.

           

3.2/ Healing of all diseases: No one can escape diseases, from normal disease as fever to serious disease as ulcers. Jesus had compassion on all those who are sick and he healed many of them.

            (1) Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law: Peter’s house isn’t too far from the synagogue so he might invite Jesus and other apostles to come to his mother-in-law’s house to have a lunch. He thought meal is ready to eat; but when they came, they didn’t see food but his mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. Immediately they told him of her.Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.

            We can learn a lesson of patience from this situation. Many times, we feel pain and desperate because sickness prevents the works and plans which we are doing; but we must learn how to go along with God’s will, even in our sickness. Once we are healed, we can continue to work as Peter’s mother-in-law joyfully served Jesus and his disciples.

            (2) Jesus healed all the sick and those who were possessed by demons in Capernaum: Mark briefly reported: “That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.And the whole city was gathered together about the door.And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”

            They must wait until the sun came down because it is illegal to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus healed all. People suffer because of all sickness in body; but they suffer even more from being possessed by demons. Jesus cast out demons and gave power to his disciples so they can liberate people from being slaves to demons.

           

3.3/ Communicating with God in prayer: Though Jesus was so busy during the day to preach and to heal; he could still find time to communicate with his Father in prayer. According to Mark, “And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.” A new day with all its challenges, Jesus knew he needs God’s wisdom and power to meet its challenges. This teaches us that we can’t meet challenges of life without communicating with God in prayer. We must balance between our prayer life and apostolic works.

            When Jesus was still in prayer, Simon and those who were with him pursued him,and they found him and said to him, "Every one is searching for you."But Jesus said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out."And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. Jesus had only three years to complete his mission and he wanted the Good News to reach as many as possible.

            One temptation which is always happened to a preacher is to settle in one place after he has built up his local connection. He forgot the urgency of preaching of the Gospel for the salvation. A true preacher must always be on the road to preach and to win souls for God until the time God takes him away.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

                     

            - Life has a meaning or not depending on if we can understand or not.

            - The meaning of life isn’t come from human being, but from God. He creates and predestines them for a happy and eternal life with Him in the heaven.

            - Life on earth is the opportunity for us to show our faith in God. We must spend all of our time and effort to show people the ultimate goal of life, and help them to reach this goal.

Saturday of the 4 OT1

Readings: Heb 13:15-17, 20-21; Mk 6:30-34.

1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 13:15 Through him (then) let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. 17 Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you. 20 May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, 21 furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever (and ever). Amen.

2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. 32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. 33 People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. 34 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P. 

                                
I. THEME: The relationship between the pastor and his sheep

           

            In life, no one is an isle and can live by himself. He needs help from others and must provide help for them in return. For example, a newborn child can’t live by himself. On material aspect, he needs his parents’ love and care until he can provide for himself. On intellectual aspect, he needs to be educated in his family and in school so that he can have necessary knowledge to think, to behave, to reason and to interact with others. On spiritual aspect, he needs to be guided to recognize the Creator and to live his relationship with Him.

            Today readings emphasize on the special relationship between the pastor and his sheep. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote about the duties of both sides: the pastor must help his sheep and the sheep must respect and obey their pastor. In the Gospel, though Jesus wanted his disciples to value time to rest and to live their relationship with God, however he couldn’t prevent his compassion when he saw people wandered as sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: We must help each other to do God’s will.

1.1/ The duties of the faithful: The purpose of the religion is to lead people to God. To achieve this goal, people must do three things:

            (1) To worship and to praise God through Christ: The author said, “Through him (then) let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Worshipping God is our first duty and can be done either by individual or communal worship.

            (2) To lead others to God: Religion isn’t purely in words; but must also be in deeds. The author continued, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.”

            (3) To obey and to help spiritual leaders: According to the Church’s structure, the spiritual leaders in a local area such as the bishop and the priests are those who have a direct duty for the faithful. The author advised the faithful to obey these spiritual leaders, “Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

            Beside obedience, the faithful should express their gratitude more positively by praying and caring for the material need of their spiritual leaders so that they might have time and health to serve the sheep. Helping them is to help themselves.

1.2/ We must help each other to do God’s will: This must be our main purpose in life because all things which God creates are for a purpose. What is God’s purpose or will for human beings? The author of the Letter clearly described: that is to share in God’s happiness. So, though it is God’s will, but for the sake of people; therefore, God’s will must also be our will.

            (1) Christ fulfilled God’s will: To achieve God’s will, Christ obeyed God in all things, even accepted death to fulfill God’s will, as the author said: “The God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant.”

            (2) We must also be loyal in doing God’s will: If Christ was ready to pour out blood for us to live, we shouldn’t let his precious blood be ineffective in us. The author prayed for the faithful: “May Jesus our Lord,furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever (and ever). Amen.”

2/ Gospel: : "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while."

2.1/ An apostle needs tranquility to rest and to refresh: An apostle is easily to get high when he sees the results of his apostolic works and is praised by people. These shall lead him to try harder, even ready to sacrifice his time of eating and drinking, resting and recreating, to satisfy people’s need. However, Jesus wisely reminded them: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." There are many reasons of this wise advise:

            - Human body has its own limitation: When people works hard and are tired, they need to be rested and recouperated. If they don’t, they shall be burdened and their future works shall not be effective.

            - The apostolic works must be balanced by the prayer life: If an apostle doesn’t spend time to pray, he shall not have spiritual power to meet requirements of the apostolic life. St. Dominic wisely established the Dominican Order that balances these two dimensions: to do apostolic works in daytime and to communicate with God in night time.

2.2/ People are thirsting for the Gospel: Though Jesus and his disciples got on a boat to be away from people and rested for a while, but when Jesus got out of the boat, “he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” The need to care for people is always urgent because:

            (1) Sheep without a shepherd don’t know the way: The shepherd needs to show his people the way to God, the ultimate goal of their life. Without this goal, people are led astray and easy to be led into immoral activities of the devils and the world.

            (2) Sheep without a shepherd can’t find nutritous food: The shepherd needs to provide spiritual food for his people through God’s words, sacraments and a prayer life with God.

            (3) Sheep without a shepherd will be preys for wolves: The shepherd needs to early recognize signs of danger and traps to warn his people, such as: individualism, materialism, divorce, abortion, wrong understanding of freedom, etc.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:            

            - The relationship between the pastor and his sheep requires both dimensions: The pastor loves and cares for his sheep and the sheep obey and help the pastor to fulfill his duty.

            - Both of them must help each other to do God’s will and to reach the salvation which Jesus, the good pastor, has prepared for them.

            - The apostolic works need to be balanced with the prayer life. An apostolic life without prayer shall easily be disoriented and fell into hopelessness.

Friday of the 4 OT1

 

Readings: Heb 13:1-8; Mk 6:14-29.

1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 13:1 Let mutual love continue. 2 Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. 3 Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. 5 Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never forsake you or abandon you." 6 Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" 7 Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:14 King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." 15 Others were saying, "He is Elijah"; still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets." 16 But when Herod learned of it, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up." 17 Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. 18 John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 20 Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. 21 She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 Herodias's own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." 23 He even swore (many things) to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." 24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." 25 The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." 26 The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. 27 So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. 28 He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.

 

I. THEME: We must faithfully live according to the truth.

           

            For people who have no faith in God, they don’t believe in the absolute truth, all truths are relative for them—they are only true in certain time and environment. Therefore, they think that in order to be successful in life, they need to live according to changes of their time as a Vietnamese adage says, “Cover wherever the wind is.” But to those who have faith, Christ is the truth as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Moreover, the success in the world doesn’t guarantee the same success in the future. Therefore, to reach the ultimate goal of life, people can’t live according to time, but the truth.

            Today readings gave examples of people who lived according to different lifestyles. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised the faithful to live according to the truth, what God commands them to do. The reason for this lifestyle is because Jesus was victorious over sins and death, the faithful are guaranteed to have an eternal life. In the Gospel, St. Mark reported the examples of those who didn’t live according to the truth, but only to please others such as: king Herode, queen Herodia and Salome, her daughter; while John Baptist lived and died for the truth.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

            After showed Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, who purified people’s sins by his blood and brings salvation for human beings, the author advised the faithful to keep seven following things:

            (1) Live fraternal charity: “Let mutual love continue.” This is one of the two most basic commandments of the Catholic religion which are: “To love God and to love others.” St. John gave the reason why this commandment is necessary, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

            (2) Always have the spirit of hospitality: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” In the Old Testament, God used the angels to announce good news for people: for Abraham and Sarah (Gen 18), for Sampson’s parents (Judg 13), and for Tobit (Tob 3:17). We never know if the ones we help are God’s angels.

            (3) Console prisonners: “Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.” This advise is proper with Pauline theology of the body: All of us are members of the one body, the Church, with Christ as the head.

            (4) Practice chastity: “Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.” The reason why all must practice chastity is because only the pure can see God (the sixth beatitude).

            (5) Faithfully believe in God: “Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never forsake you or abandon you."Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" St. Paul said, “He who did not spare His own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32). God doesn’t give us a surplus because it causes more damages than benefits for us.

            (6) Imitate the exemplars of faith in the past: “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The faithful have no lack of the exemplars of faith to imitate: Above all is Jesus, then our forefathers, prophets, holy men and women of all generation. Last of all are our parents, pastor, brothers and sisters who are our contemporaries.

            (7) Don’t live according to the wrong principles of the world: The truth never changes as the author confimed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

2/ Gospel: When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.

2.1/ Herode’s family: When one studies the background of Herode’s family, one can see the devil’s influence upon this family. Herode the Great had 5 wives (Cleopatra of Jerusalem, Doris, Mariamne of Hasmonean, Mariamne of Boethusian, and Malthake). He killed his three sons: Antipater, a son with Doris; Alexander and Aristobulus, by Mariamne of Hasmomean. Some jokely said, “it is safe to be Herode’s dog than to be his sons.” The incest happened when Herodias, Aristobulus’ daughter, married Philip, her uncle; and wanted to marry with Herode Antipas, Philip’s brother, as reported by Mark in today passage. Another incest happened when Salome, Herodias’ daughter wanted to marry Philip, Cleopatra’s son.

 

2.2/ Different lifestyles:

            (1) King Herode Antipas: was influenced by his father’s immoral and wicked life; he didn’t respect the truth. He had sent soldiers to seize John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her.For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."His wavering attitude to the truth was described by Mark: “When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.”

            An opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.When Herodias' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it."He vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom."She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer."And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. The king immediately sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.

            (2) Herodia and Salome: lived and witnessed against the truth. Herodia was angry with John Baptist because he prevented her to marry Herode Antipas. She tried to find a way to get rid of him. When the opportunity came, she wasn’t hesitated and ordered Salome, her daughter, to ask for his head on a platter.

            (3) John Baptist: always lived and witnessed for the truth. He didn’t pay attention to material gains, fame or power; but he courageously lived a simple life and spent all of his time to fulfill his mission.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:            

            - We must faithfully live according to the truth. A life according to changes of the world shall never bring us to the ultimate goal of our life.

            - We may pay a dearly price to live according to the truth, but it shall bring us joy and help us to unite with God and all the witnessess of the truth.

Thursday of the 4 OT1

 

Readings: Heb 12:18-19, 21-24; Mk 6:7-13.

1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 12:18 You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm 19 and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, 21 Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, "I am terrified and trembling." 22 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, 23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, 24 and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick-- no food, no sack, no money in their belts. 9 They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. 10 He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." 12 So they went off and preached repentance. 13 They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P. 

                                          
I. THEME: Sacrifice for the preaching of the Gospel

           

            In order to to accept sufferings, one needs to have a goal to follow. For examples, a farmer accepts the scorching heat and the cold rain because he knows that the harvest shall come; or a student sacrifices all pleasures to do homeworks because he hopes that he shall graduate and have a good career.

            Today readings concentrate on the ultimate goal of a Christian. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminded his faithful of the day when they shall participate in the joyful festival with God, Christ, all the angels, the forefathers and all other Christians in the heavenly Jerusalem. In the Gospel, Jesus sent the Twelve out to preach the Gospel. He commanded them not paying attention to worldly materials and profits, so that they have time for the preaching of the Gospel and the healing of many people.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The differences between the two covenants

            The author compared the new from the old covenant and recognized their differences as follows:

1.1/ The old covenant on Mt. Sinai: The author reminded the faithful of the event which God met His people on this mountain (Exo 19:16-23) “You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and stormand a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them,Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, "I am terrified and trembling."” The author wanted to stress on three things from this passage:

            (1) God has power over people: There is a great difference between God and people: He is so powerful and holy while people are so small, weak and sinful.

            (2) God is separated from people: Whoever sees or approaches God, he must die. He only talked to people through his mediator, Moses. He gave people the Ten Commandments and commanded them to practice them.

            (3) People are afraid and terrified: They couldn’t see God’s power or listen to Him.

1.2/ The new covenant on Mt. Zion: “No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering,and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.”

            (1) God’s family live in the heavenly Jerusalem: Mt. Zion is the great king’s city, but only a type of the heavenly Jerusalem. The author listed out members of God’s family:

            - The angels: are God’s messengers. They unceasingly praise God’s glory day and night.

            - God’s firstborn sons: are those whose names are written in heaven. The firstborn son is the one who is inherited his father’s inheritance. When this title is used in singular, it indicates Jesus’ special title: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15). Or, “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent” (Col 1:18). The author might use this title in plural to indicate the righteous of the Old Testament whom he metioned in chapter 11; these people inherited God’s blessing promise (Heb 6:12).

            - The souls of the righteous who became perfect: are all other Christians who are in heaven.

            (2) God lives with men: Jesus is the mediator between God and human beings. He is the new covenant and reconciles people with God. He is both the High Priest and the perfect sacrifice. Because of these, he made the relationship between God and people to become nearer by his pouring out of blood on the cross.

            (3) God loves people: He sacrificed His Only Son to redeem people’s sins. The author compared Abel’s with Jesus’ blood. Abel’s blood calls out the vengeance (Gen 4:10) while Jesus’ blood brings forgiveness for all sins and people to God (Heb 10:19). His sacrifice is the reason why people are shared in God’s glory.

 

2/ Gospel: Jesus sent the Twelve on their mission with two commands.

2.1/ The things which they can and can’t bring on their journey: Mark reported, “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick-- no food, no sack, no money in their belts.They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.”

            There exist many interpretations of this command. The main concern of this command is that the apostles must use all of their time and efforts for the preaching of the Gospel, not too concern or depend on material living. Jesus invited them to believe in God’s providence because “workers are worthy of their reward.” God shall take care of their living through the love of those who are permeated with the Gospel’s values. Moreover, if they don’t carry with them heavy luggages, they are easy to travel everywhere they are sent. Lastly, the preaching without influence of material things is more effective.

2.2/ The preachers’ attitudes: Jesus said to his disciples, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”

            Similar to the above explanation, the apostle is sent out to preach the Gospel, not to find vainglory, power or material propfits. If the apostle aims at the latter, he shall easily be discouraged and moves to places where he can find more profit. On the side of those whom the Gospel is preached to, they must open their heart to receive and to care for those who work for God, so that both the sowers and the harvesters are joyful in the harvest.

            The preachers’ main activities are: Firstly, to preach the Gospel and to lead people to repentance. Secondly, to liberate them from being slavery to the devil and sins and to live a holy life as the Gospel requires. Thirdly, to anoint the sick and to heal them from all sickness, body and soul.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE

           

            - We have the ultimate goal which is to be united with God and all other faithful for ever. In order to reach this goal, we must sacrifice and accept all sufferings for the preaching of the Gospel.

            - We need to avoid the attitude of catching fish with both hands; that is, to share in God’s glory and to enjoy all worldly pleasures. Those who have this attitude can lose all they have.

Wednesday of the fourth week in Ordinary Time, Year I 

 

Readings: Heb 12:4-7, 11-15; Mk 6:1-6.

 

1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. 5 You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; 6 for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." 7 Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? 11 At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. 12 So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. 13 Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.

2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:1 He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." 5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.


                                                        
I. THEME: Respecting those who belong to our clan.

            People are affected by prejudices, such as: race, class, career, village and family. These prejudices have an effect on one’s thinking and manner with other. To have an objective attitude, people must overcome these prejudices before they can see the good of those who are in their family, community or country.

            Today readings concentrate on one’s relationships with others. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compared one’s relationship to God as the relationship between a father and his son. As a father who must correct and punish his children, God must do the same with people. The purpose of the punishment is not out of anger or hatred, but to help one’s faith to become firm so that he can face trials and sufferings of his life. In the Gospel, St. Mark reported the insulted attitude of Jesus’ fellow-country men. They couldn’t overcome their prejudices about Jesus’ family and career to believe in his wisdom and power. Jesus forewarned his disciples the three places where they shall be insulted: their family, among their relatives and their country.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: A father must instruct and punish because he is worry about his children’s future.

           

1.1/ Two models of education: People are torn between the two models of education:

            (1) The modern type of education: They think that parents or educators shouldn’t use any violent punishment with children, such as: rebuking, threatening and scourging. If a child does something wrong, he needs to be isolated by let him standing in one place or by temporarily preventing him to participate in any communal activities so that he can recognize his wrong doing. Are these ways effective for all children?

            (2) The biblical model of education: The author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised, “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline?” The Greek verb used in this passage is “mastigóein” which can have three meanings: to scourge, to discipline or to punish. One can argue that all three meanings can be fitted here. In Books of Wisdom and Prophet, the punishments which God used for those who disobeyed Him, not simply the ways that help people to recognize their sins; but many times the authors mentioned “the rod” (Pro 10:13, 13:24, Isa 9:4), shedding blood and even death. The oriental tradition also follows the biblical tradition when saying, “A father uses a rod is the one who loves his child, he hates him when he uses sweet treatments.”

            An irresponsible father is the one who doesn’t educate and correct his children, he let them do whatever they like it. An untrained child can’t successful in the future. Similarly, the most painful suffering happens when God let people do whatever they want. Once God let that happen, the devil shall enter and control such people; and they shall be slaves for him.

           

1.2/ The reaction of those who are corrected: Most of human beings don’t want to be rebuked, corrected or punished. The author knew this reaction when he said, At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.The purpose of being corrected is for people’s future. For example, the motto for training soldiers is “to sweat in military school than to pour out blood in battlefield.” Similarly in the training of one’s faith, as the author said, “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.” In order to overcome all obstacles in life, human faith needs to be tested as gold is tested by fire.

            Moreover, the correction and punishment aim at not only the individual, but also for the common good and those who shall be affected by that individual. The author said, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.

2/ Gospel: Jesus was insulted by people of his village.

           

2.1/ People recognized Jesus’ wisdom and power: When people of Nazareth heard Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue and witnessed his miracles, they were astonished and said, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands?”

            If they sincerely searched for the answers of these questions, they might recognize Jesus’ divinity and believe in him; instead they let fixed ideas and discrimination affect their judgment and criticism. Moreover, some deeper reasons why they didn’t want to look for the truth are pride and jealousy. They didn’t want to accept anyone who is better than them, especially those who are younger and have lower position than them.

           

2.2/ They insulted Jesus due to two following reasons.

            (1) Career: Jesus is the son of Joseph, a carpenter. Like most of the apostles’ career which is fisherman, the carpenter is considered as a manual labor and less educated. They thought the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching couldn’t come from a son of such family. They believed as a Vietnamese fable: “The son of a king shall be king; the son of a gardener shall continue to sweep leaves.”

            (2) A plain family: They questioned about Jesus’ background: “Is not this one, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?

The mentioned names were probably Jesus’ cousins. They wanted to imply that because Jesus was born from a such plain family, he couldn’t perform such miracles. However, they didn’t give the answers for the questions, “From where did he receive such wisdom and power?”

           

2.3/ A prophet shall be maltreated in three places: The Vietnamese believe “when one becomes a high rank officer, his whole house shall be benefited.” In today passage, the village weren’t benefited, not because of Jesus’ indifference to them, but because their disregard of him. Jesus came to his village to teach and to heal his relatives and neighbors; but because of their insult, “he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” Jesus taught all prophets a realistic lesson, they shall be maltreated at three places: in their nation, among their relatives and in their family.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:           

            - To be successful, we need to be corrected and punished for our mistakes. Same thing happens in the area of faith, God needs to correct us when we sin so that we can overcome our trials in future.

            - Prejudices make us blind and unjustly treat others. To protect justice, we need to discard prejudices and pay attention to only what other do or have. We need to have this attitude, first of all, with people in our family and community.

The Presentation of the Lord (Feb 2)

 

Readings: Mal 3:1-4; Heb 2:14-18; Lk 2:22-32.

1/ First Reading: RSV Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

2/ Second Reading: RSV Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. 16 For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 2:22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation 31 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P. 

I. THEME: Jesus came to the temple to meet his people.

           

            The temple signifies God’s presence among His people. It begins with the Tabernacle when the Israelites were journeying forty years in the desert. After they settled down in the Promise Land, king Solomon built the First Temple in Jesusalem and moved the Ark into this temple so people could pray and offer their sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. When the First Temple was completely destroyed by Babylonians and people were on exile in 721 BC, God let Cyrus, the Persian king, set them free and came back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Second Temple, which was dedicated in 515 BC. When the Second Temple was agained demolished by the Roman armies in 70 AD, God’s presence was no longer limited at Jerusalem, but expanded to all churches in the world. Wherever there is a church, God’s presence is with people until the Last Day.

            Today readings emphasize God’s presence in the temple to welcome His people anytime they come to meet Him. In the first reading, the prophet Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, foresaw the Day that the Lord himself shall come to visit his people to purify them from all of their sins. A messenger shall come in advance to prepare a way for him. In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews described the manner of God’s presence: He shall be incarnated in human form to live among people; they can see him in human flesh. He shall go through all human suffering so that he can have compassion, help and take away all of their sins. In the Gospel, the elder Simeon was the first people to see the Lord in human form when Joseph and Mary brought him to the temple to meet his people. Simeon asked God to take him away because he has seen the salvation with his eyes as foretold by prophets.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.”

            The Book of Malachi was written after the Exile, about 515-400 BC. Like other prophets, Malachi believed the reign of the Messiah is near: “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”

            According to Malachi, a messenger shall come before the Messiah to prepare a way for him. When this messenger finishes his preparation, the Messiah shall come anytime.

1.1/ The messenger’s role: The Jewish tradition believes the Day when the Messiah comes shall be a terrible day for the wicked, but a hope for the remnant. The prophet Malachi foretold what shall happen in this day: “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap;he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord.”

            The messenger’s two main duties in preparing a way for the Messiah are to refine and to purify people’s mind so that they shall be ready for the Messiah’s coming. Two material things are used by the messeger are fire of the refiner and detergent of the fuller. Fire is used to find out real gold and to purify them from unclean mixture. Detergent is used to wipe out all dirt in clothing. What the messenger needs to purify and to refine are human minds so they can be firmed in their feet on the Lord’s day.

            Malachi accused the priests of their sins because they were lazy and despised God in worship. This is why God didn’t accept their offerings; He shall choose the more purified offering (Mal 1:1-2:17). Therefore, the main people that Malachi aimed to correct are the Levites: “He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord.Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”

1.2/ The prophet Elijah was the Messiah’s messenger: Malachi continued to reveal about this messenger: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse"(Mal 4:5-6). Luke took Malachi’s prophecy and applied to John Baptist in his Benedictus: “And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared" (Lk 1:16-17).

            The duty of people to God must be in parallel with their duties to neighbors, especially to those who are in their family. When their vertical relationship to God is neglected, their horizontal relationship with others is also suffered. God’s messenger must pay attention to the reconciliation between human beings in their family and community.

2/ Reading II: Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect.

            When Christianity was spread in the Roman and Hellenistic cultures, two difficult questions that the Church must explain for them to understand are:

            (1) Why must Jesus be incarnated? To the Greek, God is purely spirit; there is absolutely no material in Him. To liberate themselves and to unite with God, people must try to set them free from their body, a prison that confines human soul, by some kind of a secret knowledge. The Christianity is completely on the opposite: Jesus must take human form to liberate people from sins because people couldn’t do as the Greek advertised.

            (2) Why must Jesus be suffered? The Greek and the Jews don’t believe God must suffer; only people must endure suffering. To them, a God who suffers is no longer God. They reasoned: If God doesn’t have power to overcome suffering, how can He help people to overcome their suffering? Christianity is also opposed their belief in saying: Salvation can’t be achieved if Christ didn’t go through his Passion and die on the cross. The author of the Hebrews answers these two questions as follows:

2.1/ Jesus must be incarnated to take a human form: To destroy sins and death, Jesus must have a human body to die and to compensate for human sins; without a body, how can he die? The author reasoned: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham.” Jesus didn’t remain in death, he resurrected in glory and became the first fruit of all who were resurrected from their death. He is the forerunner who went first to open the way for his brothers and sisters to follow him on that way.

2.2/ Jesus must become a man in all respects: The author recognized the necessary of Jesus’ completely becoming a human being except sin: “Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.” The purposes of Jesus’ complete becoming a man are:

            (1) He can be really regarded as a man: To be a man is to suffer and to die.

            (2) He can understand and have compassion with human fate: If a person doesn’t go through suffering and death, he shall not completely understand and have compassion for those who are in that situation.

            (3) He can effectively help those who are in such situation: “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.”

            In short, God has authority in both life and death. He can let His Son to be incarnated, suffered, died and resurrected; nothing is impossible to God. The one thing we need to always remind ourselves is that: Let us never apply human way of thinking to God.

 

3/ Gospel: The examples of those who lived according to God’s way.

3.1/ The Holy Family kept God’s Law: Jerusalem temple is the center place of the Israelites. The Holy Family, though they were poor, kept the Law by fulfilling their obligation. So, when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

3.2/ Simeon believed in God’s promise and the Holy Spirit’s guidance: The reasons why Simeon was one of the first persons to encounter Jesus are because he frequently visited the temple and strongly desired to inherit God’s salvation. Mark described his characters as follows:

            (1) Simeon was righteous and devout. He was looking for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Inspired by the Spirit, he came into the temple to encounter the Lord.

            (2) When Jesus’ parents brought him in the temple to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Churches are places where people encounter God to pray, to be guided, and to receive necessary blessings for human life.

            - We need to prepare for our mind every time when we come to churches to meet God. If we come to there with an unprepared mind, hurry and disrespect, we can not encounter God and receive His blessings.