Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Saturday – First Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 4:12-16; Mk 2:13-17.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 4:12 Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. 16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 2:13 Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. 14 As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 15 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16 Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 Jesus heard this and said to them (that), “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: The effect of God’s word
According to Jewish thinking, when a word comes from a human mouth, it can independently exists. It is not only a sound with a meaning, but it also has a power to complete the speaker’s will. For example, many wonderful works are results of kings and great people’s commands in the world. This is even more true with God’s word. According to the prophet Isaiah: “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).
Today readings emphasize on the importance of God’s word. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compared God’s word with the two-edges sword; it has an ability to penetrate all human hidden places. In the Gospel, Jesus’ word had power to attract Matthew, a tax-collector, to give up everything to become his ardent disciples.
1/ Reading I: God’s word incarnated in a human body.
1.1/ The importance of God’s word: The author described its ability as follows, “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” An analysis of words will help us to understand the importance of God’s word.
– Living: God’s word isn’t a literature or philosophical work, even a best one; but it is still a living and necessary book for people in all places and at all time. This is the reason why there isn’t a single book in human history which has so many readers as the Scripture.
– Effective: When people decide to live according to God’s word, they completely become new people. The converse of St. Matthew who gave up everything to follow Jesus is a typical example.
– Penetrating: God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword. The Greeks think a human being is the combination of the three main things: firstly, the soul which makes people as a living being; secondly, the spirit which helps people to think and to reason; lastly, the body. The author wanted to say that God’s word tests both human physical and spiritual life.
– Discerning: God’s word criticizes reflections and thoughts of the heart. Thoughts of the heart belong to human passions while reflections to human intellect.
In short, “No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.” People can’t hide or cover up anything before God’s word; all people must appear face-to face before God and answer with him for all works which they didn’t follow God’s word.
1.2/ Jesus’ experience: This is a completely new doctrine and a religious revolution because most of religions at that time believed God and sufferings can’t be together. To Judaism, a powerful God can’t be suffered. To the Stoics, God must be insensitive (apatheia); if He is sensitive, he shall be convinced and used by people. To the Epicureans, God must be separated from the world. He is completely happy and has no need to concern about human world. Christianity opposes all these religions in believing that Christ who had all experiences in heaven and also on earth to understand, to have compassion and to help people.
(1) Heavenly experience: “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”
(2) Earthly experience: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
Since having all heavenly and earthly experience, Jesus knows how to bring God to men and men to God. There are two main things which Jesus can help human beings:
– Compassion: There is no suffering which a man must pass through and Jesus didn’t, and he suffered even more than that. When people are suffered, they don’t want to come to an insensitive God of Hebrews and Greeks, but to the one who passed through the same suffering as them to be sympathized.
– Help: The one who can effectively help others is the one who passed through all trials and sufferings and was victorious. People need to come to him to receive help from him.
2/ Gospel: “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
2.1/ Jesus called Levi, a tax-collector: St. Mark reported St. Matthew’s conversion as follows, “As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.”
The Jews think a tax-collector as Levi is a public sinner because he acted in collusion with Romans to exploit people. He is forbidden to enter the temple, and classified as the same type with prostitutes and robbers. Not only Jesus chose Matthew but also publicly had a meal at his house with other tax-collectors. Matthew’s attitude is very courageous and conclusive because when he gives up his career, he loses all material things. In compensation, he receives many spiritual things: peace because from now on he shall not be looked down; becoming Jesus’ disciples and evangelist to preach God’s word.
2.2/ The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees: There are two main reactions in Matthew’s conversion.
(1) The scribes and the Pharisees: When they saw Jesus sitting in the same table with Matthew and his friends, they criticized him, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
(2) Jesus answered and sai to them: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
In opposition with human reaction, God doesn’t hold back human sinful past; He constantly invites people to give up their sinful past to orient themselves to the future. As an experienced doctor, not only Jesus knew that he can heal Matthew, but also to use his given talent to write and to preach the Good News.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God’s word can help people to do impossible things.
– God’s word can change sinful people to the holy ones.
– We must give God’s word the highest position in our life by taking our time to learn and to put it into practice.