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Friday – Third Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 10:32-39; Mk 4:26-34.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 10:32 Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. 33 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated. 34 You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. 36 You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised. 37 “For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay. 38 But my just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him.” 39 We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 4:26 He said,”This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land 27 and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. 28 Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” 30 He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. 32 But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. 34 Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: The righteous lives by faith.
In life, there are many things that exceed our human understanding. For examples, we can’t explain life or faith because they come from God.
Today readings show us the relationship between faith and life. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised his faithful to firmly hold on to their beginning faith and must perseverdly live their faith until they reach the eternal life. In the Gospel, Jesus compared the kingdom of God like the seed that is sown in the ground; no matter if people know it or not, it still grows up, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear and is ready for harvesting. He also compared the kingdom of God like a mustard seed, though it is the smallest of all seeds, but has potential to be a big tree which birds of heaven can come and build their net.
1/ Reading I: Do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense.
1.1/ Must hold firm to one’s faith: The author reminded his faithful of their beginning experience after they received their faith, “Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated. You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense.”
People are more easily facing difficulties than with prosperity because difficulties push people to try harder and to overcome them, while an easy life always pulls them down. Moreover, when people live in a poor situation, they are easily hope in God and live in charity with others. A Vietnamese adage says this well, “richness makes people to change their friends and prosperity their wife.” The desired wish is how to help people to hold firm to their faith and their first love.
1.2/ Must be patience to wait for God’s promise: The author continued, “You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised. “For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay. But my just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back, I take no pleasure in him.” We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.” The author stressed two things that help people to persevere in their faith and love:
(1) The Last Day shall happen: In this Day, God shall fulfill what He promised for those who loyally keep what He teaches.
(2) We must firmly hope on this Day: People easily lose their patience and chase after the worldly allurement and forget about what more precious and lasting value in the life is to come. Nothing in this world can compare with the eternal life and happiness which people shall receive.
2/ Gospel: Faith, the potential of divine life, comes from God.
The kingdom of God was explained by Jesus through two examples. Jesus wanted to say two things: First, the kingdom of God strongly grows by God’s power; not by human effort. Secondly, the kingdom of God starts small; but it has potential to expand through all parts of the world.
2.1/ The kingdom of God is likened as a seed which has the potential of life: Through the parable, Jesus wanted to emphasize on three points:
(1) Man isn’t the author of life: Life comes from God, and it is given to all creatures. In God’s creation, a seed has the potential of life in itself. Men don’t give life to the seed, but they can help the seed to grow and to give a better result. Similarly, the kingdom of God comes from God, and has the potential to grow. Men don’t form the kingdom of God, but they can help it to grow and to reach its perfection.
(2) The characters of the kingdom of God:
– Its growth can’t be understood: People can see the growth of the seed; but they can’t explain how it grows. Similarly, people can see the kingdom of God develops; but they can’t explain the reason of this development.
– Its growth is gradually developed: Human development isn’t consistent, sometimes increasing, sometimes decreasing; the development of the seed and the kingdom of God gradually develop and constantly increase.
(3) The harvest shall come: When the seed is sown to the ground, people are waiting for a harvest. Similarly, when God has begun His kingdom, He is waiting for a glorious harvest. People need to be patient and to properly prepare for that Day.
2.2/ The potentiality of life doesn’t depend on its outside appearance: The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, but it has potential to become a big tree. The Palestine’s mustard seed can become a tree, not vegetable as our mustard seed. In the ancient world, the empire was likened as a tree, and its vassals were likening as its branches. Jesus wanted to imply that the kingdom of God was begun with a small group of the Jews; but has potential to become a big kingdom so that people of all nations shall come and find their dwelling places. This can be demonstrated by more than half population of the world believed in Christ.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Faith is the most precious gift which God gives it to people. We must greatly value, develop and hold firm to our faith.
– We live by faith and our hope in Christ. If we don’t put our trust in faith, we shall have no hope to live eternally.
– Faith has potential to greatly grow and to do things that exceed human power. Therefore, when we can’t achieve what God requires. It is because our faith is weak. We need to ask God to strengthen our faith.