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Friday – Twenty-eighth Week – OT2
Readings: Eph 1:11-14; Lk 12:1-7.
1/ First Reading: NAB Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, 12 so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. 13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, 14 which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 12:1 Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven– that is, the hypocrisy– of the Pharisees. 2 “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. 4 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. 5 I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. 7 Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
I. THEME: Believe in God’s providence.
In our life, we are confused and fear to act if we don’t know what shall happen in the future; but if we can foresee what shall happen, we shall not be fear and are confident to go forward; for example, not many people want to make their decision in today undetermined economy. Similarly in human life, if people don’t know their ultimate goal of life and what shall happen after death, they shall easily be confused and feared of everything; but if they know these things, they shall not fear and ready to accept everything that happen in their life, even death.
Today readings reveal God’s providence and His plan of salvation to help us to completely put our faith in God and to know how to act when dealing with adversities and sufferings. In the first reading, St. Paul explained two different periods of God’s plan of salvation. Although the Gentiles are called later, they have the same right as the Jews in attaining their salvation. In the Gospel, Jesus advised his audience to avoid the Pharisees’ leaven of hypocrisy because it is against God’s providence and love.
1/ Reading I: Believe in God’s plan of salvation.
Today passage still belongs to the hymn which we analyzed yesterday (Eph 1:1-14). Two important things we need to pay attention when we read this passage. First, when Paul used the subject “we,” he meant the Jewish Christians; and when he used the subject “you,” he wanted to imply the Gentile Christians. Secondly, the main thing Paul wanted to pay attention to is that there are two main periods in God’s plan of salvation. In the first period, God chose the Jews as His people. In the second period, with the coming of Christ, He opens His salvation to all people and nation.
1.1/ God chose the Jews first: According to experience and in most of human plans, if people want to be successful, they must start with a small number of people as the core group, then they shall extent to a larger group. The reason for that is training of a small number is easier than a crowd; and this small number, after getting trained, shall be key persons to help the extension. Similarly in God’s plan of salvation, He chose the Jews as His people and used them to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They were first generation of people who put their faith in Christ. Most of Jesus’ apostles and disciples were the Jews.
1.2/ God opens up His salvation to the Gentiles: After Jesus chose and trained his apostles and disciples, he sent them to other Jews and the Gentiles. Their duty is to help others to recognize God and to believe in His plan of salvation by doing the two things:
(1) Through preaching of the Gospel: This is the only way that helps people to know God and His plan. All what God wanted people to know, have been revealed by Christ for his disciples. They preach to the Gentiles all what they have learned from Christ as the author wrote, “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him.”
(2) Through the Holy Spirit’s seal: After hearing and learning about God and His plan of salvation, people have freedom to believe or not. If they proclaim their faith in God and in Christ, they shall be sealed with the Holy Spirit through sacrament of Baptism and officially become God’s children. The seal of the Holy Spirit demonstrates two things: God wants people to believe in Him and they can do this only with the Holy Spirit’s help, as Paul said, “No one can proclaim Christ as God without Holy Spirit’s grace.” Secondly, when people proclaim their faith in Christ and be sealed with the Holy Spirit, they are guaranteed to inherit all God’s grace and inheritance. Paul explained, “(He) is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.” The first installment (arrabon) can be likened as the deposit when one puts down to buy a house. Once he puts his deposit, the house belongs to him even though he didn’t pay all money for the house yet.
2/ Gospel: Faith must be expressed in deeds.
People become righteous when they are still sinners; but when they became righteous, they must be renewed in order to live a better life than before. Many people think good works are unnecessary; but to say such a thing is to misunderstand Paul and Jesus’ teachings.
2.1/ Let express the faith in God by living according to the truth: Although the scribes are those who knew God and declared their faith in Him; but their hypocrisy did not express their knowledge and faith on Him. If they really know that God knows everything, they shouldn’t hide their hypocrisy from Him.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of the leaven, that is, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Such a hypocrisy is to deceive God, others, and themselves. How can they reach the eternal life?
2.2/ Let believe and fear God: Human nature is to yearn for life and to fear death; but if people understand what will happen after death, they will be more ready to accept death. Jesus taught his disciples: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.”
Therefore, if one must accept death to be a witness for God, one must do because he will receive back his life in God’s kingdom. The martyrs are also weak people like us; but their faith together with God’s grace, made them courageous to accept death to witness for God.
2.3/ Let firmly believe in God’s providence: Beside death, people are also worried about lacking necessary things for life and all kind of diseases. Jesus taught his disciples not to be worried but to trust completely in God’s providence for them: “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Having no knowledge, lacking and having wrong knowledge are the causes of fear and confusion. We need to learn to understand God’s providence and His plan of salvation.
– There are many things which happen in God’s providence but outside of human control such as: sickness, old age and death. Even if we are worried about these, we can’t avoid them. The best way is to completely trust in God’s merciful love and His plan of salvation.