Daily Scripture Analysis

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Twenty-first Sunday - Year B - Ordinary Time

Readings: Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6:60-69.

 

Reading 1 (Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b):

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges, and their officers.
When they stood in ranks before God,
Joshua addressed all the people:
"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

But the people answered,
"Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery.
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey
and among the peoples through whom we passed.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

Reading 2 (Eph 5:21-32):

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Gospel (Jn 6:60-69):

Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said,
"This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, "Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe."
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
"For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father."

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: The most important decision of our life

            People frequently make decisions in their life; many aren’t very important such as to eat, to drink or to wear; but some are very important because they affect all of their life such as to choose a career, to marry with someone or to believe in a religion. When people make a decision, they must be responsible for and receive all the related results; therefore they must know how to wisely decide. In order to do that, people need to learn and to think about all possible results which can happen.

            Today readings illustrate the cases which people made a wise decision. In the first reading, the leader Joshua gathered people in a big meeting at Shechem to convince the Israelites to make a decisive decision: either to worship the One God or the foreign gods. They chose to worship the One God. In the second reading, the married couple must choose for themselves a model to follow in order to be happy and loyal to each other to the end. St. Paul gave them an ideal model about the union between Christ and his Church. According to this model, a wife needs to obey her husband in all things as the Church obeys Christ; and in exchange, a husband must love his wife as his own body as Christ loves and sacrifices for the Church. In the Gospel, after Jesus worked two big miracles, taught and revealed for people about the sacrament of the Eucharist, two opposite reactions happened: Some chose to leave him because they couldn’t accept “to eat his flesh and to drink his blood” to live. But Peter represented for the Twelve chose to remain and to proclaim their faith in Jesus: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

1.1/ You have freedom to choose a god for yourselves to worship: After conquered all surrounded nations and settled the Israelites in the Promise Land, Joshua knew that he had fulfilled God’s given mission and is ready to go to his ancestors, he gave an order to gather all the tribes of Israel, the elders, the leaders, the judges and the scribes at Shechem. They came and stood before God’s presence.

            Then Joshua said these words to all the Israelites: "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: In times past your fathers, down to Terah, father of Abraham and Nahor, dwelt beyond the River and served other gods. If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

1.2/ We choose to worship God: Before making their decision, the Israelites reflected their past to recognize what God has done for them during the Exodus and accompanied them forty years in deserts. They didn’t know about the gods which their ancestors worshipped beyond the River (probably Euphrates river) because they belong to a younger generation and no one mentioned these gods to them, nor the gods of the Amorites because they have just made a short contact with these people.

            So, they responded: “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods. For it was the Lord, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed.”

2/ Reading II: “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.”

            To protect their happiness and safety, both husband and wife must decide to do the necessary things because only one of them shall not be enough to protect it. St. Paul gave us an ideal model which is deeper and more universal to describe the relationship between husband and wife.

2.1/ The wife’s duty: He said, "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything." The purpose of obedience is for the unity in the family and the Church. If one body can’t have two heads, a family, a nation or the Church can’t have two leaders or two gods.

2.2/ The husband’s duty: St. Paul continued, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” Three main things Christ did to express his love for the Church.

            (1) Jesus sacrifices himself for the Church: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends” (Jn 15:13). Christ sacrificed himself to redeem sins and for the Church not to die, but to live.

            (2) Jesus purifies and sanctifies the Church by water and the eternal word: Since Christ wants to have the Church “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish,” he used water to purify the Church from sins, words to teach and to correct, and the grace of the sacraments to sanctify all members of the Church.

            (3) Jesus nourishes and cares for the Church as his own body: Similarly, “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,because we are members of his body.”

3/ Gospel: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

            Christ’s teaching about the sacrament of the Eucharist led people to the two opposite decisions.

3.1/ Many disciples withdrew and no longer followed Jesus: “Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

            Why did the disciples withdrew and no longer followed Jesus? Below are some possible reasons:

            (1) They didn’t recognize Jesus’ identity: because if they recognized, they shouldn’t leave him. They didn’t think that Jesus is the only solution for their life. Jesus realized this is his most important mission so he did everything to light up the faith in people.

            (2) They didn’t understand Jesus’ revelation and teaching: First, they didn’t understand God’s plan of salvation. Secondly, they didn’t know about the ultimate goal of life and how to achieve that goal. Lastly, they didn’t understand why they must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood to have life and to attain eternal life.

            (3) They completely depended on human reason and didn’t know human beings have limitations: They think that they only believe what they can understand and refuse to believe what exceeds their understanding. Jesus clearly said faith and the mystery of the Eucharist exceed human understanding; they can only understand them with God’s grace (6:37, 44, 65).

            (4) They didn’t know or didn’t understand or misunderstood Scripture: Jesus corrected them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven” (6:32); and this is the figure of what he was talking to them about the Eucharist. He fulfilled what the prophets prophecized (Isa 54:13, Jer 31:33-34) when he sit in their midst to teach them what belong to God.

3.2/ Peter represented for the twelve proclaimed his faith in Jesus: Finally, “Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

            - The Fourth Gospel didn’t mention Peter’s declaration of faith at Caersarea Philippi; but replaced it by his proclamation in today passage.

            - "The Holy One of God:" can be compared to “the Messiah” or “the Anointed” in the Synoptists. There are only three persons who were called the Holy One in the Fourth Gospel: the Father (17:11), Christ (6:69), and the Holy Spirit (1:33, 14:26, 20:33). Since the Trinity is holy by nature, they can sanctify people.

            Let examine the possible reasons which Peter might use to proclaim his faith in Jesus:

            (1) Peter witnessed at least two Jesus’ miracles from the beginning of chapter 6: The Multiplication of the Loaves to feed five thousand men and Jesus’ Walking on the Sea. The purpose of miracles is to light up the faith. Witnessed these two big miracles, Peter recognized Jesus possessed God’s power.

            (2) Peter has heard Jesus’ revelation and his wise teaching; especially the revelation about the ultimate goal of human life (Jn 6:39-40). People live in this world for a purpose which is to attain the eternal happiness with God. In order to attain this purpose, people need to believe in Christ.

            (3) Peter listened to Jesus when he explained Scripture: Many people read Scripture, but it isn’t meant that they also understand it. Jesus explained about manna and the necessary connection with the mystery of the Eucharist; and about the Isaiah and Jeremiah’s prophecies, “all shall be taught by God.” Jesus pointed out for people to see that he comes to fulfill these prophecies when he sit in their midst to teach them about God’s mysteries.

            (4) Peter listened to Jesus’ conversation with the Jews: These conversations are necessary to recognize truth from falsity. The Jewish misunderstanding was corrected by Christ’s wise and firm arguments.

            (5) Peter knew God, himself and human limitations: Peter confessed the truth, “Only God can have the words of eternal life.” People don’t invent the truth, but to learn the truth from God. When people don’t understand the truth, it isn’t meant that the truth isn’t existed; but because the human ability is limited and poor.

            (6) Peter knew how to summarize all of the above to come up to his final conclusion is to declare his faith in Jesus. This is the important step because many, though they well understood each part, don’t know how to put everything together or come to the true conclusion.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must spend much time to learn in order to make a wise decision. If we don’t want to learn, we shall easily make an immature or wrong decision.

            - “If it is wrong an inch, the result shall be wrong a mile.” A wrong decision shall lead us to great damages and prevent us to attain the ultimate goal of our life.

            - The sacrament of the Eucharist is very important for our life. A wrong understanding about this sacrament shall cause many damages for our life and prevent us attain the eternal life. 

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Saturday - Twentieth week - OT1

Readings: Ruth 2:1-3, 8-11, 4:13-17; Mt 23:1-12.

 

1/ First Reading: RSV Ruth 2:1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Let me go to the field, and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor." And she said to her, "Go, my daughter." 3 So she set forth and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my maidens. 9 Let your eyes be upon the field which they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn." 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?" 11 But Boaz answered her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.RSV Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next of kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him." 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Naomi." They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

 

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 23:1 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. 4 They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. 11 He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; 12 whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.



I. THEME: God looks down on those who humbly serve others. 

            Many people desire power, fame and authority, so when they have to do something, they like to do them before a crowd, to be praised and selected in high positions. In opposition, God loves the poor, the humble and those who serve others, as the Magnificat which we used to pray in the evening prayer, “(God)has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away” (Lk 1:52-53). The Blessed Virgin’s case is a typical exemplar: from a lowly maidservant, God raises her to be the Queen of both heaven and earth.

            Today readings compare these two kinds of people. In the first reading, out of her loving service for her mother-in-law, Ruth was ready to accept sacrifice by gleaning among the ears of grain to find food for both of them. This lowly service couldn’t be hidden from Boaz and God. Boaz made it easy for her to find lots of grain, and God urged Boaz to take her as his wife so that Ruth and her mother-in-law might have a place to dwell and a son to continue Ebimelech’s descendant. In the Gospel, Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees; not because of their teaching but of their hypocrisy when they do their good deeds.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: “He shall be to you a restorer of life and a provider of your old age.”

 

1.1/ God loves the humble: When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, Naomi had a rich relative who belongs to the house of Ebimelech, Naomi’s husband; his name is Boaz.

            (1) Ruth wanted to glean grain to find food for both of them: Since both of them are widows and had just returned from a foreign country, they don’t know how to earn their living, so Ruth, the Moabite, said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field, and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor." And Naomi said to her, "Go, my daughter."So Ruth “set forth and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.”

            Boaz, the owner of the field, said to Ruth when he met her, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my maidens. Let your eyes be upon the field which they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

            (2) The reason for Boaz’s special treatment: When Ruth recognized Boaz’s special care for her, she bowed her head to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?" Boaz answered her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.”

 

1.2/ God arranged and blessed Ruth’s second marriage: The author is very brief on the relationship between Boaz and Ruth, “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.”

            There are many details we need to pay attention in Ruth’s second marriage:

            (1) Boaz is a relative with Ebimelech, Naomi’s husband: According to Jewish custom, he could marry Ruth to continue Ebimelech’s descendant.

            (2) Some commentators said that either Naomi or Ruth intentionally chose Boaz’s field to glean grain. This is possible; but Boaz could decline to marry Ruth because he is rich and Ruth is so poor. Moreover, Ruth is also a foreigner.

            (3) Whatever happened, God must be the One who wisely arranged for Ruth’s second marriage so they might have a person who cares for them in their poverty and Naomi’s old ages, especially for them to have a son to continue their linage. The women came and said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next of kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel!He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”

            (4) In God’s providence, this child belongs to the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David (cf. Mt 1:5). In today passage, the author reported, “They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

 

2/ Gospel: “Listen to their teaching but don’t do what they do.”

 

2.1/ The limited value of pure knowledge: A Vietnamese proverb says, “Talking can make people to think, but practicing can draw them to do it.” This proverb means that talking can show people the truth, but practicing what one talked can attract people to do the truth. The perfect leaders are the ones who know how to use both their words and deeds to motivate others to do what they want. However, if one can’t find such leaders, the leaders in words also have their limited effect as Jesus pointed out today: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.”

 

2.2/ The scribes and the Pharisees’ bad habits: Jesus accused them of the followings:

            (1) They are both lawmakers and judges to punish those who violate the law. They promulgated so many unnecessary laws, such as: washing hands before eating and paying tax for growing mint leaves, etc. Jesus accused them that “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.”

            (2) They do good deeds in front of people: All the religious deeds they do, not because of God but for people to see and to praise them. Though wearing phylacteries and tassels during prayer are obligatory to remind them that they must continually remember that God is their only One (phylacteries, Exo 13:16, x/c Deut 6:8, 11:18; tassels: Num 15:37-41, Deut 22:12); but they expanded their phylacteries bigger and their tassels longer to attract people’s attention.

            (3) They love places of honor at banquets and seats of honor in synagogues: At banquets, they expect the most important seats; for example, to seat on the right or on the left of the host or in the same table with important persons. In Jewish synagogues, the front seats are preserved for the elders and the important people. They want these seats to show people that they are important and for others to pay attention to what they wear and the things they do.

            (4) They like to be greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation “Rabbi.” The scribes and the Pharisees want people to treat them as the primary citizens, more than parents of people. They explained that the parents of people are physical benefactors (giving them a body) while they are spiritual benefactor, and spiritual is more important than physical value.

            Why did Jesus prevent his disciples to call other “Rabbi, father or leader?” Jesus intended to remind his disciple not to idolize anyone as their god, except God only. Jesus didn’t prohibit to call our earthly father as “father;” but don’t consider them as equal to God. Lastly, Jesus taught his disciples about the standard of God’s judging of value: “The greatest among you must be your servant.Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                  

            - We must sincerely love God and others. God always looks down and blesses those who wholeheartedly love and serve others.

            - To effectively witness for God and others, our words must always be backed up with our deeds. We should avoid saying without doing.

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Friday - Twentieth week - OT1

 

Readings: Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; Mt 22:34-40.

1/ First Reading: RSV Ruth 1:1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years; 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband. 6 Then she started with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." 16 But Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."


I. THEME: Love God and people

            In Vietnam and in times past, the daughter-in-law is fearful of her mother-in law and to serve her husband’s family because there are many harsh mothers-in-law. They think they must be hard on their daughter-in-law, because they were maltreated as such by their mother-in-law. Today, especially in European and American countries, the mother-in-law is fearful of her daughter-in-law, some even call their daughter-in-law as the “mother-in law!” They fear their daughter-in-law shall invent reasons to put them in the nursing home; especially fear that they shall divorce their son. Both extremities must be avoided, and both mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law need to change. When they treat each other as such, they didn’t keep two most important commandments as Jesus teaches, “Love God and others.” Moreover, by acting as such, they put their son or husband in a difficult situation to choose “either mother or wife.” He can’t choose either one because God commands him to choose both.

            Today readings provide materials for all people to meditate, especially mothers and daughters-in-law. In the first reading, the author gives us an excellent exemplar about the relationship between Naomi, the mother-in-law and Ruth, her daughter-in-law. Naomi must treat Ruth in a generous way so that even when her son passed away, Ruth could still said to her, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” In the Gospel, when a scribe came and tested Jesus with the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law”? Jesus clearly declared to him: to love God above all and to love neighbors as yourself.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

1.1/ Naomi’s difficult situation: The author reported her difficult situation as follows, “In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years; and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband.”

            Naomi can’t live as a widow in a foreign land, so she decided to leave Moab to return to Bethlehem, her native country because she heard that God visited His people and gave them bread there.

1.2/ Ruth’s love and reverence for Naomi, her mother-in-law.

            (1) Naomi’s advice for her two daughters-in-law: Before returning to her country, Naomi called her two daughters-in-law and said to them that since her two sons passed away, and she has no other son for them to marry, so they have no obligation to follow her. They can stay back in Moab, their country, and remarry if they would like to.

            (2) The reactions of two foreign daughters-in-law: Both of them “lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” Naomi said to Ruth, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." But Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

            This is the statement which is deserved to put in the historical book by the Israelites due to the following reasons:

            - A special relationship between the mother and the daughter-in-law: This kind of relationship used to be bitter. In order for Ruth to say these words, especially when her husband no longer lives, Naomi must gain Ruth’s special sympathy.

            - A good relationship between the Israelites and the Moabites: Jewish tradition has a habit of insulting other nations; they don’t want to have any relation with the Gentiles. In order for Ruth to say, “Your people are my people,” required Naomi to treat her daughter-in-law as a Jew. Moreover, this is also a prophecy which predicts that when the Messiah comes, there shall no longer a separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, as Paul described.

            - The special relationship between them led Ruth to believe in Naomi’s God, “Your God is my God.” Naomi’s life became an exemplar for Ruth to believe in God.

2/ Gospel: Two most important commandments

 

2.1/ Love God above all: “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law"? And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

            This is the first of the Ten Commandments which God gave to the Israelites through Moses on Sinai Mountain. The Israelites calls this commandment “Shema.” To help them to remember it, they write it on paper and wear it as the phylactery on their forehead, or put them into two little boxes and wear them on their arms every time they pray. Moreover, they also put it on the doorposts and the city gates to remind all people who pass by it. Such an important commandment which is put everywhere and the scribes and Pharisees still asked Jesus! There is no reason other than they insulted Jesus.

            This commandment, though is easily remembered, but is difficult to fulfill for both the Israelites and the Christians today. The Israelites knew they must love God above all, but still made a golden calf to worship or to chase after foreign gods. Many of today Christians still put other things above God, such as: money, fame, position and pleasure. They can skip Sunday worship to work, to see football games or to be on cruises.

 

2.2/ To love neighbors as yourself: Jesus continues, “And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

            These two important commandments can’t be separated but depended on each other; whoever loves God, also loves his neighbors; the reverse is also true. St. John clearly stated, “If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20).

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - When the daughter-in-law loves her mother-in-law, she loves her husband. The fourth of the Ten Commandments teaches her to honor both her parents and her husband’s parents.

            - When the mother-in-law loves her daughter-in-law, she loves her own son. A mother shouldn’t put her son in difficult situation which is to choose either his mother or his wife. God wants him to both honor his parent and be loyal to his wife until death.

            - To love God means to love others and to keep all His commandments.

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Thursday - Twentieth week - OT1

 

Readings: Judg 11:29-39a; Mt 22:1-14.

1/ First Reading: RSV Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, "If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the LORD's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering." 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33 And he smote them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abelkeramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. 34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow." 36 And she said to him, "My father, if you have opened your mouth to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites." 37 And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions." 38 And he said, "Go." And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man. And it became a custom in Israel.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, `Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' 5 But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."


I. THEME: Be faithful to keep what we promised.

            Today people try to find all possible reasons so they don’t have to keep what they swore; for examples, because they don’t know the future, the difficult situation they are in, the others or their family. The faithful are the ones who keep what they swore because once “a word comes from one’s mouth, even four horses can’t catch it.” To keep what we swore, we need to have heroic virtues to overcome all obstacles that prevent us to be faithful with our oath.

            Today readings show two kinds of people: those who are loyal to their promise and those who are not. In the first reading, the Book of Judges reported Jephthah’s fidelity and courage; he dared to kill his only child to fulfill what he promised with God. In the Gospel, Jesus told a parable to illustrate people’s infidelity with God. In the parable, the king was angry because many guests, who accepted his invitation to attend his son’s marriage feast, didn’t come when the feast is ready. He sent his servants out to destroy all of them and to come to all roads to invite people to his son’s marriage feast.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Jephthah kept what he promised to God.

  

1.1/ Jephthah’s strange promise to God: He is the leader of the Israelites and on the way to fight with the Ammonites. He promised to God, “If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand,then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering."So, “Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. And he smote them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abelkeramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.”

  

1.2/ Jephthah killed his daughter to fulfill his vow with God.

            (1) Jephthah didn’t foresee what he promised: When “Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow."”

            God wants to see the faith of Jephthah. It is so easy to sacrifice the other who has no relation with him; but it is very difficult when he had to sacrifice his daughter, the only child he has. God didn’t command Jephthah to make a vow; but once he freely made a vow to God, he must keep it at all costs.

            (2) The heroic virtue of Jephthah’s daughter: This is her father’s vow, not hers. She could refuse, by not co-operating with her father to execute the vow; but she reveres God, so she courageously said to her father, “My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the Lord has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites."

                  She only made a request to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions."Her father granted her request, “He sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man.”

            Her heroic act becomes the exemplar for the Israelites, so every year they spend this day to memorize her; and it becomes a custom in Israel.

2/ Gospel: The heavenly banquet

2.1/ God prepared a heavenly banquet for people: Same thought as the first reading, Jesus wanted to tell the Jews that God gives them a priviledge to listen to the Gospel first; but because of their hardness, the Gospel are preached to the Gentiles. To help them to understand this point, Jesus chose to tell them a parable as follows: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast."’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.”

            According to Jewish tradition at that time, they have a habit of coming to all the guests’ house to invite them to a feast. The host shall announce to his guests the reason, place and hour of the banquet. The guests must tell the host if they are able to attend or not. When the host knew how many guests shall come, he shall prepare the plates for that amount; then send out his servants again to gather the guests to come to the banquet.

            Since those who were invited, refused to attend, so their priviledge were revoked. The king gave an order to invite all people to attend his banquet, even the passer-by, “'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.' The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.”

2.2/ The condition to attend the banquet: Many people have a reason to question that how can a passer-by have the wedding costume to wear as the king required? The king can counter with his argument that one ccould refuse to attend; but when one agreed to come, he must properly have the wedding costume. Moreover, there is only one who didn’t have the wedding costume. This means that whoever wants to enter the kingdom of heaven must meet the required conditions.

            The last words of the passage are a warning statement for those who insult God’s blessings and priviledges: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” If they don’t know how to properly use God’s grace, He shall take them away and give to those who know how to benefit from them.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We must carefully consider before we make a vow to God, both in the consecrated and the married life. God wants us to be loyal to what we vowed.

            - We shall certainly be confronted with difficulties and obstacles, but we must try to overcome them. God shall give us enough grace so we could fulfill our vow.

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Wednesday - Twentieth week - OT1

 

Readings: Jdg 9:6; Mt 20:1.

 

1/ First Reading: RSV Judges 9:6 And all the citizens of Shechem came together, and all Bethmillo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem. 7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and cried aloud and said to them, "Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8 The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them; and they said to the olive tree, `Reign over us.' 9 But the olive tree said to them, `Shall I leave my fatness, by which gods and men are honored, and go to sway over the trees?' 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, `Come you, and reign over us.' 11 But the fig tree said to them, `Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to sway over the trees?' 12 And the trees said to the vine, `Come you, and reign over us.' 13 But the vine said to them, `Shall I leave my wine which cheers gods and men, and go to sway over the trees?' 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, `Come you, and reign over us.' 15 And the bramble said to the trees, `If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?' 7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.' 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' 13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' 16 So the last will be first, and the first last."


I. THEME: The difference between the heavenly and the worldly king.

            Worldly leaders promised many things with people before they are elected; but once they were elected, they forget all of their promises; if they remember them, there isn’t many. In opposition, God is loyal in all what He promises to people, even they aren’t faithful to what they promised to Him. Moreover, He always finds a way to help the poor, the sinful and the weak.

            Today readings show the difference between God and the worldly leaders. In the first reading, Abimelech returned to his native place to campaign among his fellow-country men so he could rely on them later because he knew that they have a tendency to elect the one from their native place. Once he became a king, Abimelech forgot all of his promises and oppressed without mercy those who elected him. In the Gospel, Jesus compares the heavenly kingdom as the landowner who hikes labors to work in his vineyard. He negotiated with his workers that he shall pay them a dennarius for a day; this is the wage of a labor per day. Later, he went out and hired more labors to work in his vineyard at different hours. When the evening comes, he pays wages for them. Those who worked at the earliest hour complained because they received the same wage as those who worked at the later hour. The landowner declared that he doesn’t commit unjustice to them because he paid what he and they were negotiated; they have no right to prevent him to have mercy for those who worked later.

           

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: "Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you.”

1.1/ The reason why people of Shechem anointed Abimelech as a king: Abimelech is the son of Gideon with a maidservant which we heard from yesterday reading. Since Gideon had many wives, so he also had many children, more than seventy children. His mother was born in Shechem. This is the reason why Abimelech returned to his native place to convince his fellow-country men to anoint him as a king with these following words, “Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon) rule over you, or that one rule over you? Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh” (Jdg 9:2).

            Abimelech is very shrewd; he knew the people of Shechem shall elect him to be a king with a hope that he shall give them benefits later. Then, all the people of Shechem, together with people of Bethmillo gathered; they came to anoint Abimelech as a king, near to the oak, before the stone at Shechem. Abimelech used the money which he collected from his fellow country men at Shechem to hire vagrants to kill all his brothers at Ophrah, all seventy brothers on the same stone; only Jotham, Gideon’s youngest son escaped.

1.2/ Jotham pointed out the danger of this anointing: When people brought this news to Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, called out and said to people who anointed Abimelech as a king, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you.” Then he told them a parable of all the trees on the way to anoint a king to rule over them. The parable only tells an important thing. In this parable, Jotham wanted to imply that the worthless king was Abimelech and all the trees were the people of Shechem. Abimelech was compared as a “bramble,” meaning a worthless and wicked person, isn’t deserved to be a king. He was anointed as a king when all other trees refused to be it. Jotham forewarned dangers which the people of Shechem shall be received from Abimelech in the parable when the bramble said to all the trees, “If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”

            After Abimelech became a king, he maltreated the people of Shechem without mercy, and they also gathered to oppose him.

2/ Gospel: The good shepherd cares for all of his sheep.

  

2.1/ The sign of a good leader: The main point in today parable isn’t about social justice or injustice, that is: if you work a little, you shall eat a little or if you work hard, you shall eat more; but about everyone has enough to eat. A good leader is the one who knows how to arrange works so that everyone has a job to earn a living worthy of their dignity. The passage begins with Jesus’ introduction to the parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.”

            The Gospel didn’t give us reasons for those who worked late; but there are many unexpected things can happen in life. Instead of spending our effort to find out why they didn’t go to work as those who worked from the beginning, we can group them as those who don’t have many opportunities (untalented, diseased, even lazy ones). A good leader can find opportunities for these kinds of people.

            Jesus continued his parable, “Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise.Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'”

            To the last kind of people, we know the reason why they stood around. These people worked only one hour since at the end of the sixth hour is the end of a working day.

  

2.2/ A strange way to pay wages: The compensation for a working day in Palestine at this time was one denarius, and the owner made a contract with them from the beginning. The owner didn’t unfairly treat any group so they had no reason to rebuke him. When the evening came, “the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.'When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage.So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage.”

            Jealousy is one of people’s bad habit; people don’t want those who worked less hours than them to have the same money as them. So, on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner,saying, “These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.”

            Why did the landowner do such a thing? His answer showed he is a good shepherd; he had both justice and mercy. He arranged so that all could have works and money for their living. He answered to those who grumbled against him, "My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - God is always loyal to His promise; we should put our complete trust in Him. Do not put our trust in leaders who can’t save anyone as Abimelech.

            - We shouldn’t apply worldly standard for God; let God be Him when He generously gives grace for all people.

            - God is just, but also very merciful. We should rely on God’s mercy more than His justice.

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Tuesday - Twentieth week - OT1

 

Readings: Judg 6:11-24a; Mt 19:23-30.

 

1/ First Reading: RSV Judges 6:11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor." 13 And Gideon said to him, "Pray, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his wonderful deeds which our fathers recounted to us, saying, `Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian." 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?" 15 And he said to him, "Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." 16 And the LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man." 17 And he said to him, "If now I have found favor with thee, then show me a sign that it is thou who speakest with me. 18 Do not depart from here, I pray thee, until I come to thee, and bring out my present, and set it before thee." And he said, "I will stay till you return." 19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the oak and presented them. 20 And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and there sprang up fire from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD; and Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." 23 But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die." 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 19:23 And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27 Then Peter said in reply, "Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?" 28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.


I. THEME: God chooses the humble and the poor.

            God’s standard of choosing is completely different with human standard. While people choose the talent, the healthy and the rich; God chooses the illiterate, the weak and the poor. Moreover, Christ revealed for us God’s standard of judging on the Last Day, “Many first ones shall be last, and many last ones shall be first.”

            Today readings show God’s way of selection. In the first reading, God chose Gideon to be the judge of the Israelites, the youngest one in his family; he also belongs to the smallest tribe of the Israelites, Manasseh, to liberate them from the Midianites’ hands. In the Gospel, Jesus chose the twelve apostles; most of them were poor, weak and illiterate, to train them to become the preachers of the Gospel. This selection shows all the apostles’ success and glory are by God’s power and strength, not by their human efforts.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God chose Gideon to be the judge to save people from the Midianites’ hand.

  

1.1/ God’s selection: When the Israelites turned their back to God and worshipped the foreign gods, they were no longer protected by God. He let them to be slaves for the Midianites, their enemies. But when they cried out to Him, He has compassion for them and wants to choose a judge, to lead and to liberate them from their slavery to enemies.

            Today passage reported the conversation between God’s messenger and Gideon as follows, “Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites.And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor."And Gideon said to him, "Pray, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his wonderful deeds which our fathers recounted to us, saying, `Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian."”

            Gideon has a reason to doubt because he only heard the previous generations talked about what God did for the Israelites; but he never sees God’s power; instead, what he sees is the Israelites’ slavery for the Midianites.

            The Lord continues to say, ““Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?" And he said to him, "Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." And the Lord said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man.””

  

1.2/ Gideon asked the Lord for a sign to surely know that it is God’s selection: Gideon asked the Lord, “If now I have found favor with thee, then show me a sign that it is thou who speak with me.Do not depart from here, I pray thee, until I come to thee, and bring out my present, and set it before thee." And he said, "I will stay till you return."

                  So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the oak and presented them.And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." And he did so.”

            Then, “the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and there sprang up fire from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord; and Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face." But the Lord said to him, "Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it.”

                      

2/ Gospel: : The richness pauses an obstacle for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

            After the young man walked away, then Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." We try to find out the reasons why the richness prevents people to enter the heaven.

2.1/ The richness makes people to live far away from God: Like the first reading, the richness makes people to completely believe in themselves to the point that they think they are gods. To these people, they think that their money can buy everything and control anyone they want. They don’t pay attention to justice; they use money to bribe government and to do whatever they want.

            Next, ichness makes people to forget the purpose of life. Jesus warned his disciples, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Lk 12:34). Once they think that they are happy with their life in this world, they won’t bother to worry about the next life. Instead of responding to Jesus’ invitation which is to sell everything to buy the kingdom of heaven, they are content with what they have in this world. When people already have everything, it is very difficult for them to leave everything to follow God. We can see this fact through the decrease of the priesthood and the religious vocation in Europe and North America. In a word, once people become rich, it is very hard for them to leave them.

2.2/ The poverty helps people to put their hope in God: Some of the rich say that they become rich to have the money to help the poor. We don’t deny that there are some of them who used their richness to help others; but the majority of them follows the normal way which is human greed has no limit, the richer they are the more greedy they become. The reality shows that donation mostly comes from the average people, not from the rich. Moreover, because they want to become rich quickly, many use the time which they should use for God and their family to work for money.

            “Then Peter said to him in reply, "We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

            If people share Jesus’ suffering, they shall also share his glory in the eternal life. Jesus’ disciples correctly chose the right order of the basic principle which we mentioned yesterday. They put God first when they left everything to follow Jesus, and because of him, they preached the Good News and helped others.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We need to be familiar with and to live according to God’s standards instead of living according to worldly standard.

            - To enter the kingdom of heaven isn’t by human effort and power, but by God’s love and grace. Therefore, we need to be humble to receive and to live according to God’s teaching.