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Friday – Thirtieth week – OT1
Readings: Rom 9:1-5; Lk 14:1-6.
1/ Reading I (Rom 9:1-5):
KJV Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
2/ Gospel (Lk 14:1-6):
KJV Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things.
I. THEME: Use our intellect to recognize the one who really loves us.
In our life, there is no greater pain than to be denied in love; and there is also no greater fool than the one who denied the true love to chase after the false and deceived love. For examples, how painful it is when parents are working hard to find money for their children’s education but discover that their children didn’t study but hung around with their worthless friends! How painful it is for the wife when her husband spent all what she has saving for gambling!
Today readings want to urge people to use their clear intellect to recognize who truly loves us. In the first reading, St. Paul is sincerely ready to accept all sufferings, even to the point being accursed from Christ, in order for his people, the Jews, to recognize the true love which Christ has for them. Paul couldn’t figure out why the Jews refused God’s love for them through his giving of his own son to die to save them. In the Gospel, Jesus prepared to sacrifice and to accept the Pharisees’ opposition to heal a dropsy in the Sabbath. He also corrected their false understanding about the Sabbath; but they didn’t understand his true love and intention.
1/ Reading I:St. Paul’s sincere love for his people, the Jews.
1.1/ Paul’s desire for the Jews is that they recognize and believe in Christ:
In three chapters, Rom. 9-11, Paul was struggled to find out the reason why so many Jews didn’t believe in Christ even though they possess all proofs and many priviledges to believe in him.
His intention is very sincere when he wrote to them, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
When one truly loves someone, he wishes all the best for that person. Paul truly loves his people, this is why he wished for all the Israelites to believe in Christ for their salvation, even to the point that he must pay the price for this wish to happen—to be accursed from Christ, who he loves above all things. St. Paul, even though he is reserved by Christ to preach the Gospel for the Gentiles, always finds all opportunities to argue and to preach for the Jews too. The Letter to the Romans is one perfect example. His sincere intention needs to be appreciated more because many Jews, instead of believing, always found faults and ways to destroy what he was building up for Gentiles’ communities.
1.2/ The Jews have all kinds of priviledges to help them to believe in Christ: When Paul looked backed to the history of God’s salvation, he is surprised to recognize all priviledges which God has given to the Israelites. Below are some of them:
– They are the Israelites who are chosen by God to be His own people;
– They are chosen by God to be His children;
– They saw God’s glory, i.e. at Sinai’s mountain;
– God made many covenants with their forefathers: with Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.;
– God gave them the law, the worship and many promises;
– They are the forefathers’ descendants;
– Finally, Christ, according to flesh and blood, belongs to their own generation. He is God who exceeds all things and will remain forever. Amen.
Paul is exceedingly surprised because a nation whom God has given all priviledges, especially sent all prophets to prepare for the Messiah’s coming, refused to accept him when he appears. This is why Paul used three chapters in this Letter to find out the reason for their refusal.
2/ Gospel: Is it permissible to heal on the Sabbath?
2.1/ The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees: St. Luke reported two very different attitudes:
(1) The attitude of the leader of the Pharisees: He invited Jesus to have the dinner and set up a dropsy as a trap to condemn Jesus if he will heal him on the Sabbath!
(2) The attitude of Jesus: Though Jesus clearly knew their bad intention, he still accepted their invitation because he wanted to give them an opportunity to recognize the truth and to change their hypocritical life.
2.2/ Jesus presents the truth and heals the dropsy: Without any hesitation, Jesus actively leads the discussion by putting the question for the scribes and the Pharisees: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” But they were silent and didn’t answer his question. The reasons for their silence can be:
(1) don’t know the answer;
(2) pretend that question isn’t related to them. The scribes and the Pharisees might be in this situation.
Without fearing, Jesus touched the dropsy, healed him and let lim go home. Then he continued his discussion with them, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”
Open pits are often seen in Israel and the cause for people and animals to fall down (cf. Exo 21:33). When a mishap happens, no one questions if that person or animal should be saved by pulling out of the pit; they all know that it is necessary to do so. Same thing should be done when Jesus heals a dropsy on the Sabbath; that is the necessary thing to do. Why do they make a big deal out of it?
2.3/ The hypocrisy of the scibes and the Pharisees: Jesus invited them to dialogue to find out the truth, but they kept silence. He quetioned them about their double standards: one standard for their relatives and belongings, the other standard for innocent people; but they couldn’t answer his question. St. Luke didn’t report the last reaction of these scribes and Pharisees; but many times in his Gospel, he reported that they became more angry and found the way to persecute him.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must know how to use our intellect to think, to judge and to recognize who truly love us from those who only want to use us. Once we recognize the true love, we should have courage to respond to that love by living according to the truth and to properly compensate it.
– If we insistently chase after all false and deceived love, soon or later we must pay the price for this blindness.