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Tuesday – Third Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 10:1-10; Mk 3:31-35.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 10:1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. 2 Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, 4 for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. 5 For this reason, when he came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. 7 Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.'” 8 First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law. 9 Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 3:31 His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. 32 A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers (and your sisters) are outside asking for you.” 33 But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and (my) brothers?” 34 And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35 (For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: Doing God’s will.
There is a story that illustrates the importance of doing God’s will as following: There is a king who wants to leave his inheritance for his sons; but to teach them a lesson that they must avoid the showy display, he put the precious gifts in the plain boxes and the plain gifts in the showy boxes. Then, he calls up all his children and let them choose the boxes, beginning with the oldest. Most of the princes chose the showy boxes. When it is the youngest’s turn to choose, he hesitated for a moment, then whispers in his father’s ear, “I don’t know how to choose, please choose for me.” The king chose the best gift for him.
Today readings center on the importance of doing God’s will. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews continued to compare between the two offerings, the animal’s blood of the old and Christ’s blood of the new covenant. He said that since the animal’s blood can’t purify all sins for people, it must be repeated every year. Christ’s blood only needs to be poured out once to purify all people’s sins because it is the blood of the one who volunteers to do God’s will. In the Gospel, Jesus declared that the relationship between God and human beings isn’t based on bloody relation, but on doing God’s will, as Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
1/ Reading I: Here am I, Lord! I come to do your will.
1.1/ The law and the sacrifices: The author said, “The law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year.” The main thing the author wanted to say is that in God’s providence, the perfection shall come after and replace the imperfection. The law with its sacrifices is only a shadow of the better things which Christ shall bring to people.
The author reasoned: If the sacrifices which the law requires can take away people’s sins, they don’t need to repeat every year. Or if the blood of oxen or goats really purify sins in people’s mind, they shall no longer be conscious of their sins. Moreover, the yearly sacrifice remind people their consciousness of sin. Therefore, people need to have a more perfected sacrifice.
1.2/ What really pleases God: The author illustrated Psalm 40:6-9 with some changes, as he said, “For this reason, when he came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”
What God isn’t please is what the law prescribed. Not only the author of the Letter to the Hebrews believed this point but many other authors of the Old Testament also wrote about the imperfection of the sacrifices and emphasized on other important points. For examples, Samuel said, “Does the Lord so delight in holocausts and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22). Or as the prophet Hosea said, “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts” (Hos 6:6).
The author emphasized that God gave Jesus a body so that he can suffer and offer it as the sin offering for people. At the same time, he also emphasized on the obedience of doing God’s will as the words of Psalm 40: 9, “To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!” When people sin, they disobey God’s will. How can they make animals to pour out blood to wipe out their sins? To wipe out people’s sin of disobedience, Christ, the son of God voluntarily incarnated in a human body and poured out his own blood. Only this voluntary and perfect sacrifice can wipe out people’s sins and reconcile them to God.
2/ Gospel: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
2.1/ People must love God above all: When one reads over today passage, he can come to a conclusion that Jesus insulted his mother, brothers and sisters, and he didn’t keep the fourth commandment! Did Jesus actually violate this commandment?
One of Jesus’ missions on earth is to correct misunderstanding. In today passage, Jesus didn’t go beyond two important commandments which are: first, to love God above all things; and second, to love people as oneself. Jesus wanted to emphasize the order of these two commandments which people reversed it many times. Jesus was preaching the Good News, this meant he was doing God’s will. This task must be important than any other tasks. He can’t sacrifice his preaching to talk with his relatives. However, when he doesn’t preach, he still can find time to love and to care for his mother as he gave Mary to his beloved disciple at the foot of the Cross.
2.2/ To love God is to do His will: The second lesson Jesus wanted to teach people that true love must be expressed in action. People used to think they show their love to God by words or external acts like attending Mass, saying prayers or praying to Him. These are good, but not as important as doing God’s will.
Jesus’ life is the perfect example for people to learn how to love God. He wanted to be incarnated to execute God’s plan of salvation. During his life on earth, God’s will be the motivation for his living, and he gave us his sayings which should be the compass of our life, such as: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (Jn 4:34). “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 5:30b). “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:40). Jesus’ last hours in Gethsemane was a tension between his fear of suffering and God’s will, but he said to his Father at the end: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done” (Mt 26:42).
2.3/ Jesus’ relatives are those who do God’s will: Jesus clearly declared there is only one way to become his relatives when he said: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Jesus discarded all other reasons which people can rely on to say they belong to God’s household and kept only one reason which is to do God’s will. Of course, Mary and his disciples are members of God’s household because they always do God’s will.
Doing God’s wills are not about doing magnificent works, but fulfilling the duties He gave us in our daily life. In other words, the duty of Jesus’ disciple is outlined: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 26:14).
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God isn’t please with our offerings and sacrifices, but with our effort to find out and to do His will.
– God’s will, in general, is to work for our and others’ salvation.
– To know God’s will, we must learn Scripture to understand God’s plan of salvation; and then, to do all we can to bring this salvation to people.