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Thursday – Fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 12:18-19, 21-24; Mk 6:7-13.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 12:18 You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm 19 and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them, 21 Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.” 22 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, 23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, 24 and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick– no food, no sack, no money in their belts. 9 They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” 12 So they went off and preached repentance. 13 They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Sacrifice for the preaching of the Gospel
In order to to accept sufferings, one needs to have a goal to follow. For examples, a farmer accepts the scorching heat and the cold rain because he knows that the harvest shall come; or a student sacrifices all pleasures to do homework because he hopes that he shall graduate and have a good career.
Today readings concentrate on the ultimate goal of a Christian. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminded his faithful of the day when they shall participate in the joyful festival with God, Christ, all the angels, the forefathers and all other Christians in the heavenly Jerusalem. In the Gospel, Jesus sent the Twelve out to preach the Gospel. He commanded them not paying attention to worldly materials and profits, so that they have time for the preaching of the Gospel and the healing of many people.
1/ Reading I: The differences between the two covenants
The author compared the new from the old covenant and recognized their differences as follows:
1.1/ The old covenant on Mt. Sinai: The author reminded the faithful of the event which God met His people on this mountain (Exo 19:16-23) “You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and stormand a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them,Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.”” The author wanted to stress on three things from this passage:
(1) God has power over people: There is a great difference between God and people: He is so powerful and holy while people are so small, weak and sinful.
(2) God is separated from people: Whoever sees or approaches God, he must die. He only talked to people through his mediator, Moses. He gave people the Ten Commandments and commanded them to practice them.
(3) People are afraid and terrified: They couldn’t see God’s power or listen to Him.
1.2/ The new covenant on Mt. Zion: “No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering,and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.”
(1) God’s family live in the heavenly Jerusalem: Mt. Zion is the great king’s city, but only a type of the heavenly Jerusalem. The author listed out members of God’s family:
– The angels: are God’s messengers. They unceasingly praise God’s glory day and night.
– God’s firstborn sons: are those whose names are written in heaven. The firstborn son is the one who is inherited his father’s inheritance. When this title is used in singular, it indicates Jesus’ special title: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15). Or, “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent” (Col 1:18). The author might use this title in plural to indicate the righteous of the Old Testament whom he metioned in chapter 11; these people inherited God’s blessing promise (Heb 6:12).
– The souls of the righteous who became perfect: are all other Christians who are in heaven.
(2) God lives with men: Jesus is the mediator between God and human beings. He is the new covenant and reconciles people with God. He is both the High Priest and the perfect sacrifice. Because of these, he made the relationship between God and people to become nearer by his pouring out of blood on the cross.
(3) God loves people: He sacrificed His Only Son to redeem people’s sins. The author compared Abel’s with Jesus’ blood. Abel’s blood calls out the vengeance (Gen 4:10) while Jesus’ blood brings forgiveness for all sins and people to God (Heb 10:19). His sacrifice is the reason why people are shared in God’s glory.
2/ Gospel: Jesus sent the Twelve on their mission with two commands.
2.1/ The things which they can and can’t bring on their journey: Mark reported, “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick– no food, no sack, no money in their belts.They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.”
There exist many interpretations of this command. The main concern of this command is that the apostles must use all of their time and efforts for the preaching of the Gospel, not too concern or depend on material living. Jesus invited them to believe in God’s providence because “workers are worthy of their reward.” God shall take care of their living through the love of those who are permeated with the Gospel’s values. Moreover, if they don’t carry with them heavy luggage, they are easy to travel everywhere they are sent. Lastly, the preaching without influence of material things is more effective.
2.2/ The preachers’ attitudes: Jesus said to his disciples, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”
Similar to the above explanation, the apostle is sent out to preach the Gospel, not to find vainglory, power or material propfits. If the apostle aims at the latter, he shall easily be discouraged and moves to places where he can find more profit. On the side of those whom the Gospel is preached to, they must open their heart to receive and to care for those who work for God, so that both the sowers and the harvesters are joyful in the harvest.
The preachers’ main activities are: Firstly, to preach the Gospel and to lead people to repentance. Secondly, to liberate them from being slavery to the devil and sins and to live a holy life as the Gospel requires. Thirdly, to anoint the sick and to heal them from all sickness, body and soul.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We have the ultimate goal which is to be united with God and all other faithful for ever. In order to reach this goal, we must sacrifice and accept all sufferings for the preaching of the Gospel.
– We need to avoid the attitude of catching fish with both hands; that is, to share in God’s glory and to enjoy all worldly pleasures. Those who have this attitude can lose all they have.