Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Wednesday in the twenty-first week of the Ordinary Time1

Wednesday of the 21 OT1

 

Readings: I Thes 2:9-13; Mt 23:27-32.

1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Thessalonians 2:9 For you remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers; 11 for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you 12 to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31 Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.”


I. THEME: Outside deed and inside intention must be identical.

            People can choose two ways of life: either the hypocritical or the truthful way. Those who follow the first way can deceive people by words or deeds. They can deceive people by words as Nguyen Du said in Kieu story, “A person can talk and laugh with his enemy; but inside, he is calculating to kill him without a knife.” They can deceive others by their outside deeds; for examples, to pray long hours in public place so others might praise them as the devotional or to put on a sad face so others might know they are fasting. Those who follow the truthful way simply live what they think. This is the way of living according truth and love; not only by words but also by deeds; and sincerely treating others.

            Today readings give us these two kinds of people. In the first reading, St. Paul wanted to show the Thessalonian faithful that he truly loves them as the father loves his children, not by the hypocritical love as some of the Jews, out of jealousy, accused him of. In the Gospel, Jesus accused the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the scribes. They paid attention only to outside appearances as the death’s tombs. They are looked good and righteous from outside, but inside them are full of wicked plots, trick and calculated insolence.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers.”

           

1.1/ The deeds show one’s love: There are some prudent people who only need to look at one’s attitudes and deeds, they know right away if he is sincere or not. To these people, no one can deceive them. But there are also those who are innocent and naïve, easily be taking advantage of or deceiving by others. The Jews used these people to oppose St. Paul. They said that the reason why Paul eagerly preached the Gospel for the Thessalonians is their profits.

            When Paul knew there was such rumor, he wrote his Letter to advise the Thessalonians that they must be wise and remember what he did for them when he lived with them, “You remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God.You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers.”

            Paul is very proud about his working for a living. His career is tent-making; things can’t be lacked for the nomads. Paul often said to his faithful that though he can legally ask to be supported like other apostles, because he is also the preacher of the Gospel like them; but he chose to be independent, so he might not be a burden to anyone. His working for a living is the proof to accuse the Jews that their accusation against him is without proof.

           

1.2/ Paul isn’t shameful before God: There are preachers who preach the Gospel to fulfill his mission; but there are also ardent preachers who preach to bring others to God. Paul wanted to show that he is the latter one. He said, “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged youto lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

            One more thing Paul wanted the Thessalonian faithful to recognize is the substance of the Gospel. God’s word itself can help the faithful to recognize the truth from all falsities, as the two edges sword can penetrate all souls. Paul said, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers."

2/ Gospel: Pharisees and scribes live a hypocritical life to deceive others and to hide their sins.

 

2.1/ A hypocritical life: Jesus accused the Pharisees and the scribes, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

            - Hypocrisy, "hypokritês" has three meanings: First is the one who answer, or a translator who only knows what both sides want to speak, but not their intentions. Secondly, it is an actor or anyone who has a role in the play. An actor or an actress must express what the play writer wants them to express. The well-known actor must be the one who exactly expresses the role of the person he plays; for examples, he can easily cry while deep down inside he doesn’t want to cry, or laugh while his soul has many things to worry about. Lastly, it is a hypocrite, the one who acts out to hide what he really wants.

        - White-painted tombs: To keep people from being unclean, the Israelites paint white all the tombs so people might recognize and avoid them. However, no matter how white are the tombs, they can’t hide what are inside: full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

            - The Pharisees and the scribes’ hypocrisy: They wear phylacteries, prayer boxes and long tassels, together with all their pious acts. All these can only deceive those innocent and naïve, not the wise and the experience. They never can deceive God, who fathoms all their intentions and plans.

2.2/ They persecute the prophets: Jesus continues, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,saying, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.”

            Most of God’s prophets were maltreated, persecuted and killed by the Jews. The reasons for these are they obeyed God and said what people didn’t want to hear, or to accuse the king or people’s sins. The Pharisees and the scribes wanted to build or to paint the righteous’ tombs to show that they aren’t like their ancestors. Jesus seems to tell them if they sincerely want that, they should change their attitude and receive prophets. In contrast, they are finding ways to persecute and to seize Jesus, the most important of all prophets.

            Today, there are still people like the Pharisees and the scribes. There are some faithful who didn’t visit or care for their parents when they are alive; but when their parents died, they lamented and wailed to show people how much love they have for their parents. They organized a big funeral and built beautiful tombs to hide their ungrateful to their parents. A Vietnamese adage describes these people as follows, “When alive, they don’t feed; when pass away, they offer their funeral oration for flies.”

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

 

            - We should learn to sincerely live with God, others and ourselves. Do not live a hypocritical life as actors or actresses on stage and forget what is truthful.      

            - When we live a truthful life, we shall have peace, no worry what we are hiding shall be revealed, and especially, no fear when we have to be before God’s judgment.

Donation (credit card)

Thanks for your supporting.

Amount: