Friday – First Week – OT1

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Friday – First Week – OT1

Readings: Heb 4:1-5, 11; Mk 2:1-12.

1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. 2 For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. 3 For we who believed enter into (that) rest, just as he has said: “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest,'” and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. 4 For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”; 5 and again, in the previously mentioned place, “They shall not enter into my rest.” 11 Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 2:1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. 2 Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” 8 Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”– 11 he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” 12 He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”


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

I. THEME: We need to listen, to understand and to put God’s words in practice.           

            God constantly teaches and guides people in all things, both in time past and at present; but not many people will to listen, to understand and to practice them. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise when people continue to greatly suffer due to their sins.

            Today readings concentrate on the listening and the responding to God’s words. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews emphasized on the fact that if people don’t obey God’s command, they shall not be able to enter into His rest. In the Gospel, Jesus used his power to heal to prove that he has the power to forgive sins; and as a result, he came from God.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Try to enter into His rest.

1.1/ God’s rest: The author of the Letter to the Hebrews used the noun, “rest” to indicate two realities:

            (1) The Promise Land: God promised the Israelites that He shall give them the Promise Land after their forty years journey in the desert. The condition to enter into this land is to listen and to obey God in order for them to overcome all obstacles during their journey. Not all of them can enter the Promise Land, many of them died on the road because they didn’t obey God (cf. Num 13 – 14), to the point God swore in His anger, “They shall not enter into my rest” (Psa 95:11). At the end of the journey, only a loyal and obedient remnant was guided by Joshua to enter into the Promise Land to settle in a land which is full of “milk and honey.” According to the author of Hebrews, the event of the Promise Land had passed; but the sentence, “They shall not enter into my rest” is still in effective. This is the reason why he tried to look for another event which this sentence is still applied.

            (2) God rests on the Sabbath after His creation of the universe in six days: The author returned to God’s account of creation in the Book of Genesis to find out God’s “rest,” and he said, “For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”” (cf. Gen 1 – 2). Some Rabbis commented on this event as follows: In six days of creation, the author of Genesis concluded each day with these words, “Thus evening came, and morning followed;” but the seventh day which God rests, didn’t have these words. Because of this, God’s rest doesn’t have a limit. The rest isn’t only limited in the Promise Land but is extended to God’s rest which the author of Psalm 95 called, “My rest.”

            If understanding this way, God’s word is still effective as the author applied it in the preaching of the Gospel: “Therefore, let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. For we who believed enter into (that) rest, just as he has said: “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest,'” and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world.”

1.2/ The condition to enter into God’s rest: Listening to the preaching of the Gospel is to lead one to faith, not for anything else. There are many ways of people’s hearing: Some hear God’s words as water pour on a duck’s head; some as a duck listening to a thunder; some as passing from one ear to another; some to find faults of preachers and some to learn. The correct way of hearing God’s words is to carefully listen, to understand their meaning, and then to apply them in one’s life in order to achieve God’s will. If one only perfunctorily hears, how can he understand its meaning; and if one doesn’t understand it, how can he put it in practice? Therefore, he can’t enter into God’s rest.

2/ Gospel: Jesus is God because he did what only God can do.

2.1/ Jesus has power to heal: Mark reported the event as follows, “When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.” The roof of a Jewish house isn’t slanted in two sides as most of houses, but as a rectangular so people can use it as a place to catch some wind. Therefore, the taking out of the roof is also simple and less damage. When Jesus saw their way of expressing faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

2.2/ Jesus has authority to forgive sins:

            (1) Sin and punishment: According to Jewish tradition, punishment is the result of sin, it can be from one’s parent or individual sin (Job 4:7, Jn 9:2). The Rabbi has the sentence: “No one can be healed until all of his sins are forgiven.”

            (2) Jesus’ argument: When he forgives punishment through the healing, he forgives sin which is the cause of the punishment.

            (3) The scribes’ argument: In the crowd, there are many scribes who came not to listen to Jesus’ teaching but to find faults so that they can condemn Jesus. They thought that they found a reason to condemn him as a blasphemer, saying: “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”

            (4) Jesus used the scribes’ argument and the healing to show that he is God: “Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?” Of course, the easier thing is to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” because no one can verify it. The more difficult thing is to say, “Rise, pick up your mat and walk,” because everyone can verify it.

            “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”– he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            – To listen to God’s words is to lead us to faith or to strengthen our faith, not to perfunctorily hear. Both the preacher and the faithful must respect God’s words.

            – If we despise or don’t carefully prepare, we waste time of both the preacher and the listeners; especially we shall not achieve the goal of God’s will, the eternal life.

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