Friday – Second week – OT1

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Friday – Second week – OT1

 

Readings: Heb 8:6-13; Mk 3:13-19.

1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 8:6 Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one. 8 But he finds fault with them and says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they did not stand by my covenant and I ignored them, says the Lord. 10 But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kinsman, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from least to greatest. 12 For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.” 13 When he speaks of a “new” covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing.

2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 3:13 He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons: 16 (he appointed the twelve:) Simon, whom he named Peter; 17 James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, 19 and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.


 

I. THEME: Christ is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.             

            Today readings center on what Jesus has done for human beings. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compared two covenants which God established with people. Since the old covenant is imperfect, there is a need for a new one. The new covenant is more perfect than the old one because it is based on God’s better promises. In the Gospel, Jesus established the Twelve so that they remain with him and are trained by him before he sends them out to preach the Gospel and to continue his mission on earth.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Christ is mediator of a better covenant.

1.1/ The concept of covenant: Usually, a covenant is an agreement between two parties about some things which both sides agreed to keep. If one side doesn’t keep even only one thing, the covenant is rendered ineffective. The Greek noun used for covenant is “sunthếkê.” What important in this passage is that the author didn’t use “sunthếkê,” but “diathếkê.” This noun is used to indicate the promise of a higher ranked person with a lower one. In the covenant between God and people, God is the origin and the cause of promises. 

1.2/ The old and the new covenant:

            (1) The old covenant: is the covenant which God established with the Israelites through the mediator of Moses on Sinai Mountain. According to this covenant, God promised to love and to protect the Israelites if they keep His commandments (Deut 4:23).

            (2) The new covenant:

            – Its characteristics: It is better than the old one. The author quoted Jeremiah 31:31-32 which said: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the Lord.” The author used the adjective “kainos” to indicate the newness in both time and quality, “Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.”

            – The reason for its existence is because of the imperfection of the old covenant: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one.” The author reasoned: “When he speaks of a “new” covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing.”

            – The differences between the two covenants: The Ten Commandments of the old covenant were inscribed on two stony tablets while the law of the new covenant is said by God, “I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” People shall keep the law, not because of their obligation, but because their love for God.

            – All shall know God, not be confined in the limit of the Israelites, “And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kinsman, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from least to greatest.”

            – God shall completely forgive all people’s sins: “For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.”

2/ Gospel: Jesus chose twelve imperfect men to train them to be his apostles.

2.1/ The mission of the Twelve: Why did Jesus form the Twelve?

            (1) To continue his mission of preaching the Good News: Jesus knew well what shall happen to him in the near future; therefore, he needs to train someone to continue his mission on earth. The good leader is the one who can foresee the future and train people to replace him. If he doesn’t, no matter how good is his mission, sooner or later his good ideas shall be forgotten.

            (2) To spread the Good News to all people on earth: The only way to spread the Good News at Jesus’ time was by mouth, and the popular way for transportation is walking. Jesus certainly concerned how to spread the Good News to all people, and there was no better way than to invite many to come to him, to get training, and to send them out to preach. That is why he chose not only the Twelve apostles but also seventy-two disciples. This must be a lesson for us, to spread the Good News to all, we need the co-operation of many people, not only limited to those who have talents and knowledge.

            (3) To train them to be his witnessess for people: The most effective way to train disciples is to let them live with the master. The disciples have many opportunities to learn from their master, not only wisdom and knowledge but also his manner. It is also good for the master to observe his disciples and to correct their bad habits.

2.2/ The members of the Twelve: Looking into the list of the Twelve, one might have the following observations:

            (1) None was stand-out based on fame, power or knowledge. In opposition, the majority of them are fishermen. This shows God’s power working in them. Jesus can train these men to be his faithful witnesses and preachers to transform the world.

            (2) All were sinners and had many shortcomings: Matthew was a tax-collector and regarded as a public and permanent sinner. Judah Iscariot was the one who betrayed him. Two Zebedee’s sons, James and John, were those who wanted to be “one on the right and one on the left of Jesus” when he became a king. Peter denied Jesus three times on his Passion. Most of the apostles ran away from him when he died on the cross. These facts show us that the training of people isn’t easy.

            (3) Their temperaments were very different: Simon belonged to the group called Zealots. These people hated those who were allied with foreigners to exploit their own people as Matthew, the tax-collector. Jesus chose both and let them live together. They must endure each other for the common purpose of preaching the Good News. Peter who was very quick to talk must live with John, a thinker.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

            – Let us firmly believe in Christ for he is mediator of a better covenant which is based on God’s better promises.

            – Let us co-operate with each other in spreading of the Gospel so that God’s word can reach to every people on earth.

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