Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time (2)

Monday of the 18 OT2

 

Readings: Jer 28:1-17; Mt 14:22-36

1/ Reading I: RSV Jeremiah 28:1 In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, 2 "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4 I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon." 5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6 and the prophet Jeremiah said, "Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words which you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7 Yet hear now this word which I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet." 10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, and broke them. 11 And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, "Thus says the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years." But Jeremiah the prophet went his way. 12 Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 "Go, tell Hananiah, `Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but I will make in their place bars of iron. 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke of servitude to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.'" 15 And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, "Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: `Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.'" 17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 14:22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." 28 And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." 29 He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30 but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." 34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to him all that were sick, 36 and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.

I. THEME: A good leader must have plenty of pluck.

            We have many leaders during the course of our life, but not all of them are good leaders. Some of them become leaders by taking advantage of good opportunities when they come. Some take advantage of people’s innocence or lacking of wisdom. Some become leaders after a long struggle and enduring many sufferings. The first two classes of leaders shall not survive when they have to face hardship because they don’t have courage to stand for the truth and to protect people’s rights.

            Today readings show us different kinds of leaders. In the first reading, there was a confrontation between God’s true and false prophet, Jeremiah and Hananiah. People had a tendency to follow Hananiah since he told them what they wanted to hear: peace shall be restored; all precious vessels in the Lord’s house which the Babylonian king took shall be returned to the temple; and Judah’s king, Jeconiah, shall be released to return and to govern people. Jeremiah knew those aren’t the truth—what God really wants to say, so he courageously spoke against him and the people of Judah. In the Gospel, Jesus showed people and taught his disciples that he performed the miracle to feed people, not to become their king but to care for their need. Later, when his disciples must confront the fierce storm during the night, Jesus appeared to calm them down and permitted Peter to walk upon water to come to him. When he put complete trust in Jesus, he could walk safely; but when his trust was wavering, he starts to sink. Jesus rebuked him as the man of little faith.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The confrontation between the two prophets, Jeremiah and Hananiah

1.1/ What is the true message? The background of the confrontation between the two prophets in today passage is the first exile of the Judah kingdom, after the Babylonian King conquered Jerusalem, seized all precious vessels of the temple and brought the Judah King and many officers on exile; but not completely destroyed the temple yet. Living in such situation, Hananiah, the false prophet, knew exactly what people of Judah wanted to hear, so he prophesied as follows: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”

            Facing this false prophecy, Jeremiah, though only by himself, courageously spoke against Hananiah and warned them, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words which you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. Yet hear now this word which I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people.”

            Jeremiah wisely pointed out for people the way to recognize the truth. Everyone can prophesize; but in order to know if he is the true prophet, people must wait to see if his prophecy is fulfilled. Jeremiah also pointed out the popularity—what people want to hear, isn’t the standard to verify the truth, by saying to Hananiah, “The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

1.2/ Time will tell who is the true prophet: After heard Jeremiah’s explanation, Hananiah angrily took away the yoke, which Jeremiah put on his neck as the symbol of exile, and broke it and prophesized, “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.”

            Jeremiah patiently withdrew and took God’s counsel. After that, he met Hananiah and told him God’s truth, “You have broken wooden bars, but I will make in their place bars of iron. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke of servitude to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.”

            And Jeremiah declared God’s punishment for Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: `Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.'" In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died. This fact proves Hananiah is the false prophet and Jeremiah is God’s true prophet. Jeremiah completely believed in God, not afraid to tell the truth and patiently educated people.

2/ Gospel: “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

           

2.1/ The apostles feared when they were confronted a great storm: After performing a great miracle to feed more than five thousand people, Jesus commanded his apostles to cross the sea to other side first while he dispersed the crowd. After that, Jesus climbed up to a mountain to pray. The evening came, Jesus still remained there alone while his apostles’ boat was far away from the shore, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them.

            Some people wonder why this miracle is reported right after the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” by all the evangelists. Some commentators say it is because Jesus wanted to test his disciples’ faith to see if they absolutely believe in his power. Other opinion said that Jesus wanted to show he has power over all natural powers such as storms and waves.

            From the mountain, Jesus can clearly see what happened for his apostles on the sea. When he saw them struggled against wind and waves, he decided to walk on the sea to came to them. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But Jesus immediately spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."  

2.2/ The result of doubting: Seeing Jesus walking on the sea, Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."

            Peter could walk on the surface of the sea because he completely believed in Jesus, having no doubt in his power. Similarly with our life, when we completely believe in God, He shall use His power to guide our life. The one who has faith can do things that exceed human ability, because he is assisted by God’s power and guidance. Peter’s doubt began to happen when he paid attention to surrounding dangers and forgot to look at Jesus; therefore, he feared and started to sink. Jesus himself rebuked him when he reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

            Doubting is the most dangerous enemy of faith. When people doubt God’s power, they shall believe in their power or the worldly powers; therefore, they begin to live far away from Him. Some people even said that why do they need to ask for God’s help when they can do everything by themselves, such as: to earn money for their living and to try hard to be successful in their life. These people shall recognize the importance of faith when they must face sufferings, failures, diseases and all other dangers when their effort isn’t enough to overcome them. At such time, it is too late for them to look for a strong faith.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

            - To preach and to witness for the truth demand us to sacrifice and to have courage because people aren’t always willing to hear God’s message.

            - To fulfill our prophetic duty, we must say to people what God commands us to say, not what we want to say or what people would like to listen. Once we don’t speak what God’s command, we are no longer His prophets.

            - If we fail to preach and to witness for the truth, we must be responsible for people’s destruction and face God’s punishment because He shall tell us, “I don’t know who you are! Be away from me!”  

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