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Friday – Eleventh week – OT1
Readings: 2 Cor 11:18, 21-30; Mt 6:19-23.
1/ First Reading: RSV 2 Corinthians 11:18 since many boast of worldly things, I too will boast. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever any one dares to boast of — I am speaking as a fool — I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one — I am talking like a madman — with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
I. THEME: One must have clear eyes and a wise intellect to recognize the truth.
Eyes are used to observe people or things around us; but if we only use eyes to observe and to come up with a conclusion right away, we shall be deceived because there are hidden things inside people and things which we can’t see. To reach a wise conclusion, we need to use our intellect to carefully reason about what we see. It isn’t true that if one has eyes, then he shall see; or mind that he shall know how to wisely select. Many are proud of their wisdom and insight, but deceived by other and lost all they have. Many parents are proud of their wisdom and experience; but when it comes to choose a spouse for their child, they choose the one that doesn’t bring happiness for their child.
Today readings emphasize on two main things: First, one must make a thorough observation to see everything; secondly, one must have wisdom to choose lasting things instead of temporal and gaudy appearances. In the first reading, Paul must use the way he doesn’t want, that is: boasting, to help the Corinthian faithful to recognize who is a truly preacher and lover from false teachers. The latter might use their sweet talk as a cunning fox to take away the weak faithful from Paul and Christ’s hand. In the Gospel, Jesus advised his disciples to use their clear eyes and wisdom to recognize what are the lasting values to follow; and what are the gaudy values to avoid.
1/ Reading I: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
1.1/ Boasting to glorify what God has done in him: The reason for today passage is because some Jews, even the Jewish Catholic, always followed Paul to destroy his works. Every time when Paul came to preach the Gospel, to establish a local church there and to leave for other city, these people followed Paul to annoy him by criticizing, backbiting and using the faith of believers to get material gains.
The Corinthian faithful are young and weak in faith, they didn’t recognize these people’ wicked intention and some of them felt in their trap. Paul didn’t want to pride on himself or to cite his achievements, but he had to do it to draw the faithful to his side. He felt awful and shameful to do these things. We can classify what Paul said in three main categories:
(1) His original nationality: Paul’s enemies might regard him as a foreigner or a half-bred Jews because he was born and grew up at Tarsus in Asia Minor, not a true Israelite. He defended himself, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.”
(2) His sufferings on the way of preaching the Gospel: Paul said, “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one — I am talking like a madman — with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea;on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren;in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” All these are true. Paul wanted to say these things to prove that he is sincere in preaching of Christ’s Gospel.
(3) His anxiety for the Church to grow: “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.” One special thing we should learn from Paul is that he always came back to the churches he established when it is possible; if not, he wrote to them. His purpose was to know about their faith, to provide doctrinal teachings and to encourage them to live better. Paul wanted for the Church to extend everywhere, to Rome and to Europe. His opponents couldn’t deny his works about these things.
1.2/ Paul’s purpose of boasting: First, Paul wanted the faithful to know why he must speak these things: First, it is for the Corinthians to recognize his love for them. Secondly, he could endure all sufferings, not by his strength but by Christ’s strength and the Holy Spirit’s working in him. Lastly, it is a spiritual advice for the faithful. If they let Christ and the Holy Spirit work in them, they also have power to overcome their weakness and limitation.
2/ Gospel: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
2.1/ Store up for yourself the heavenly treasure: Human beings have a tendency to store up things for their future; but they must be wise to store what is imperishable and in a safe place that no one can touch them. Jesus invited his disciples to compare between earthly with heavenly treasure.
(1) The earthly treasure: Many people think money is the most convenient and light thing to keep; some carefully covered their money and buried it underground. When they need them, they dug them out but their money became rotten and valueless. Others think they must always have something to eat the rest of their life, so they built big barns to store food, such as: rice, wheat, or potatoes. Few years later, their barns are destroyed by mice, their rice and wheat are full of moths. Others learned from these experiences and conclude: nothing is more precious than gold and silver, they aren’t depreciated and destroyed by moths; so they stored up gold and hid them. But they couldn’t hide them from everyone, thieves and robbers came and stole their valuable possession.
(2) The heavenly treasure: What can people do and store them up in heavenly treasure? First, they are good deeds which are abbreviated in the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy.
– Seven corporal works of mercy are: To feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to ransom the captive; and to bury the dead.
– Seven spiritual works of mercy are: To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted; and to pray for the living and the dead.
Next are our understanding of God and our love for Him. These two things can’t be separated because we can’t love the unknown. The knowledge about God shall help us to increase our love. Lastly, God creates us in His image and likeness, and He invited us to be perfect like Him. The progress to be perfect requires us not only to give up our sins but also to practice necessary virtues.
2.2/ If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light: Jesus taught his disciples: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”
A sound eye helps one to see; a diseased eye prevents people to see the thing as it is. The blind greatly suffers because the whole world to him is dark. Wherever he goes, he needs someone to guide him; if not, he shall fall because of obstacles in front of him.
As a sound eye is needed for one’s body, wisdom is also needed for one’s mind. Not many people pay attention to the blindness of their mind and soul; but its effect on them is even greater than the blindness on their body. The blind can be saved if they have a firm faith in Christ, as Bartimaeus, the blind of Jericho, or the man born blind in chapter nine of the Fourth Gospel.
To understand Jesus’ meaning, let meditate the story in which Jesus healed the man born blind. The Pharisees and some Jews thought that they have sound eyes and minds; but didn’t recognize Jesus as their Savior. Since they had taken pride in themselves, they didn’t receive salvation as the man born blind. If we have sound eyes but don’t recognize the truth and get lost in temptation and worldly allurement, our sound eyes don’t benefit us!
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must use our eyes to carefully observe all that happen in the universe. A neglected observation shall not give us enough information to make a wise decision.
– We must use our mind to reason and to learn Scripture, so we might know how to differentiate truths from the falsities, lasting from temporal values, true lovers from those who only look for the sheep’s fur or meat.