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Friday – Second Week – Advent
Readings: Isa 48:17-19; Mt 11:16-19.
Reading 1 (Isa 48:17-19):
Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.
Gospel (Mt 11:16-19):
Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
“We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.”
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
“He is possessed by a demon.”
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
“Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”
I. THEME: Don’t expect others to do everything according to our will.
God created everyone different in many ways, such as: thinking, sentimentality, hobby. These differences lead people to have different vocation, way of life, and manner of working. The reason why God didn’t create people in uniform because He wanted people to compensate, to unite and to rely on each other. The conflictions happen when there are dictators who force others to follow their way of thinking, living, and working. God, who alone can force people, let people free to act; while some people want others, even God, to do their will.
Today readings center on this problem. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah advised the Israelites that they had to follow God’s teaching in order to have God’s blessings. In the Gospel, Jesus showed people’s clueless criticism: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `he has a demon’; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
1/ Reading I: Blessed are those who walk in God’s way.
1.1/ People must obey God’s teaching: The prophet Isaiah said to the Israelites: “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. O that you had hearkened to my commandments!” To obey God is the sign of a wise man since none in this world has wisdom as God has. He created people and He knows what is good or bad for them.
1.2/ Benefits for those who act according to God’s will: There are many benefits, but Isaiah listed out three main ones.
(1) Have a peace of mind: Who do God’s will have inner peace, because they know they do the right thing. They can also expect good result, as the prophet described: “O that you had hearkened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”
(2) Have many descendants: “Your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains.” Our ancestors think children are God’s gifts; but today parents didn’t think like that. They are afraid of having many children. This mentality needs to be corrected since God’s words are never wrong.
(3) Be remembered by God for ever: “Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.” Those who didn’t listen to God’s words took their names out of the list of God’s children. God always pays attention to those who pray to Him and walk in His path.
2/ Gospel: The imperfection of human ways
God respects human freedom, He won’t force people to do what they don’t want to do. The way God works is that He shows people the truth and let them choose if they want to follow His way; whoever chooses to follow, will enjoy good result from it; whoever refuses to follow, must endure bad result. In opposition to God’s way, many people who have neither truth nor grace, but they force others to do their will and in their manner. Jesus condemned these two bad habits of his contemporaries.
2.1/ Those who force others to follow their will: Jesus said to his audience: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates,`We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’”
(1) They want everything to be done in their way: A dictator isn’t concerned with the others’ ways; to them, his way is always the best. He forgets that he must follow God’s way; and depending on different situations, he must follow the way of the responsible people.
(2) They want everyone to follow their will: Whatever people do must be proper according to time and place. A dictator wants everyone to do his will right away regardless of others’ will or availabity. He forgets that God created people with intellect and will, not as a robot nor a cartoon so that he can manipulate people whatever way he wants. In today’s passage, Jesus wanted to show his contemporaries’ dictatorship: they were in the market places; they couldn’t dance as you wanted as in a wedding! There were all living people in the maket; they couldn’t weep as you wanted as in a funeral!
2.2/ Those who like to criticize others: The contemporaries criticized both John the Baptist’s austere life and Jesus’ social life. Their criticism was concisely described by Jesus as follows: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon’; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” People like to criticize others because of many reasons:
(1) They want to show off what they have: Many like to criticize others to show that they have a vast knowledge or they don’t want to accept the others’ good. These people forget that there always have many people who are better than them and they need to learn from others.
(2) They are jealous because they don’t want others to be better than them: Many criticized because they’re worry they will loose their influenced on people. This reason was true for the scribes and the Pharisees. They didn’t want to accept Jesus’ teaching, not because that they didn’t now it is the truth, but because they were worry that they would loose their influences on people. They wanted to kill Jesus because they were afraid people won’t listen to them.
(3) They don’t want to accept the truth in order not to practice it: This reason used to happen to many atheists. They don’t believe in God, not because that they didn’t recognize Him, but because if they believe in Him, they must practice His teaching.
2.3/ The wisdom is verified by its result: To know what way is wise, people need to see its result. If the result is good, that way is wise; if the result is bad, that way is foolish. Many people flocked to John the Baptist because they knew he was a holy man and he prepared for people to meet the Messiah. Many people came to Jesus because they knew Jesus had power to heal, God’s wisdom, and truly loved them, not as the scribes and the Pharisees who only used them.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must study to find out God’s standards and ways; after that, we must have courage to live according to them. We also need to examine human standards and ways, and to recognize all of their hidden agendas.
– When we live according to God’s way, we will have a true inner peace, lasting results, and were always protected by God.