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Tuesday – Second Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 6:10-20; Mk 2:23-28.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. 11 We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. 13 When God made the promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, “he swore by himself,” 14 and said, “I will indeed bless you and multiply” you. 15 And so, after patient waiting, he obtained the promise. 16 Human beings swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. 17 So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, 18 so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. 19 This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 2:23 As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. 24 At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” 25 He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? 26 How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. 28 That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: A human being is more valuable than the law.
Human dignity is valuable before God. The law which He gave is to protect and to serve human beings. In God’s providence, He never wants people to be slaves for the law and sins; but wants the law to serve people and to protect their life.
Today readings emphasize God’s concern for human beings. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised his faithful to be persevered in God’s promises. When God promises, He shall do it. The author gave an example, God’s promise to Abraham. This promise was achieved by Christ when he entered the Most Holy as a forerunner to open for people a direct way to God. In the Gospel, the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples that they violated the Sabbath’s law. Jesus protected his disciples by saying that they had a reason to do so to protect their life. He also reminded them that the law is given to serve people, not people for the law.
1/ Reading I: God’s promise is achieved through Christ.
1.1/ People must be patient when waiting for God to fulfill His promise: The author advised his faithful as follows, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for His name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end.” The author wanted to advise the faithful two things in this passage:
(1) Be not discouraged in dark moments of their life: They must be firm in their hope for God’s promise until it is fulfilled, because everyone must go through dark moments of their life. In such moments, the author wanted the faithful to firmly keep their faith and to do good deeds as they did and are doing. The darkness shall past, and God’s light shall continue to shine.
(2) Imitate Abraham’s faith: The author continued, “so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.” Abraham became God’s friend because of his faith; he completely trusted in God’s promise even though he sometimes had no reason to hope for. He got what God promised to him because he patiently waited for these promises to be fulfilled.
1.2/ God promised with Abraham: “I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore” (Gen 22:17).
(1) God’s promise is guaranteed by an oath: When swearing, people used to take the names of those who are higher than them to guarantee what they promise. When God promised with Abraham, He took His own name to swear because there is none who is higher than him. So, both the promise and the oath are immovable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we are those who take refuge in God, we are encouraged to hold firm to the hope which God gave to us.
(2) God’s promise is achieved through Christ: The author wrote, “This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
For sailors, the anchor is the necessary instrument, needed for surviving. Once they throw out the anchor, they shall not fear of a storm. In the ancient world, the anchor is the symbol of hope, as Pythagoras said, “Material things are a fragile anchor, fame is even worse. Wisdom, magnanimity and courage are the strong anchor which no storm can be buried it.” The author of the Letter wanted to say that the faithful have the greatest hope in the world which is God’s promise.
That hope is to enter the Most Holy after the curtain. In the temple, the Most Holy is the place that has the Ark, is covered by the curtain. This is God’s dwelling. There is only one person, the high priest who can enter this place, one a year, on the Atonement Day. The author wanted to say that Christ, now opens up the way to enter that place for all people everywhere and at all times. He used the word “prodromos” to indicate Jesus as the forerunner. Christ went first to open up the way to God’s dwelling, and he guarantees the safety for all those who follow him. In other words, before Christ’s coming, God was the Guest, strange and separated from people; there is only a small number of people can approach but always fear to lose their life. After Jesus’ coming, God becomes a friend of all; everyone can directly come to Him.
2/ Gospel: The Son of man is lord even of the Sabbath.
2.1/ The Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples that they violated the Sabbath’s rules: Mark briefly reported the reason of the Pharisees’ accusation: “One Sabbath he (Jesus) was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?””
There are 39 articles related to the keeping of the Sabbath. Jesus’ disciples violated four rules among them: First, they were condemned of harvesting on the Sabbath by plucking heads of grain. Secondly, they ground grains by rolling them in their hands. Thirdly, they winnowed grains when they blew the chaffs out of their hands. Lastly, they prepared food by making grains ready to eat. We can shake our head because of the tedium of their laws; but to the Rabbi, they are sins of the Sabbath, and they belong to the third commandment. These sins can lead to death. That is the reason why the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples.
2.2/ Jesus defended his disciples: First, Jesus gave them a special case which was reported in the Old Testament. Next, he reminded them of the principle that guides all the laws. Lastly, he clearly stated that Law is for people, not for God.
(1) King David’s special case (cf. 1 Sam 21:1-6): Jesus said to them: “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” What Jesus meant is that these people may violate the Law to protect their life. For example, when people are in danger of death, they can steal food to eat to protect their life.
(2) Sabbath’s principle: Jesus continued: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so, the Son of man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
The Law, in general, is given to serve and to protect people. The principle behind the third commandment is to help people to have time for God and to rest themselves. People need to use the Sabbath for their spiritual needs, such as: to worship, to pray and to learn Scripture. They also need to rest because their body can’t constantly work.
(3) The Law is for human beings, not for God: The Sabbath’s laws existed after God created the world and is only for human beings. Jesus is God and the laws have no effect on him.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We are very valuable before God. He sacrificed His own Son to liberate us from being slavery for the law, sin and death.
– Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can now come directly to God without a human mediator, anytime of the year, not have to wait for a fixed day.