Reading 1: From daily reading
Let no one have contempt for your youth,
but set an example for those who believe,
in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.
Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you through the prophetic word
with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.
Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them,
so that your progress may be evident to everyone.
Attend to yourself and to your teaching;
persevere in both tasks,
for by doing so you will save
both yourself and those who listen to you.
Gospel (Jn 19:25-27)
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Be faithful until the end.
Be faithful until the end is not easy, many people gave up when they faced difficulties and sufferings; for examples: many couples, even Catholics, chose divorces even though they took the vow before God that they will be faithful until the end; many religious brothers and sisters and priests chose to break their vows to return to their former lives.
Today readings give us advices and ways to be faithful. In the first reading, St. Paul adviced Timothy to live worthy with his episcopos’ vocation which God has called him and the Church bestowed on him. He must live in a way that people will trust him in words and deeds, must build everything on the foundation of God’s words, and be always conscious about the mission he has to accomplish. In the Gospel, Jesus does not only say he loves people, but he shows them the depth of his love by being nailed to the cross. He is faithful to carry out his Father’s plan until the end to redeem people. Beside Jesus, there are Mary, his mother, the beloved disciple, and many other women who followed him until he gives up his spirit on the cross.
1/ Reading I: The important virtues of catholic leaders
1.1/ He must be mature: When choosing a leader, people have a tendency to select the one who is old aged, mature, and experienced. The case of Timothy is exceptional; he became an episcopos when he is still young. Therefore, St. Paul advises him: “Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe.” To achieve this, Timothy needs to train himself to become a trustful person:
(1) In words: He must be careful in speaking in order for others believing what he said. Do not say one thing and do other thing; do not quickly promise, if he promised, he must keep his word; do not say useless things; do not say things that cannot be backed up by arguments. In a word, he must speak the truth.
(2) In ways to behave: He must behave rightly to all, respect elders, yield to younger, and be careful in contact with women.
(3) In charity, faith, and chastity: He must love all people, be faithful in his vocation and relationships, and has a pure mind.
1.2/ He must build his life and community on the foundation of God’s words: Every science or career has an area to learn and to deepen. The proper area of catholic leaders is the Scripture.
(1) Pay attention to learn Scripture: Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of God (St. Jerome). If a pastor does not know Scripture, how can he talk about God to his people? When the pastor did not know well Scripture, he has tendency to talk about other things he knew and these things has no relation to God’s word.
(2) Use Scripture to teach and to correct: When preaching, the preacher must preach God’s words, not his words or other people’s words. He must give God’s word an ultimate place, because only God’s word has power to save and to set people free.
(3) Use Scripture to solve people’s problems: A catholic leader is not a psychologist or a socialist. Although knowledge of these fields can help in solving problems, but first and foremost, a catholic leader must use God’s word to help people to solve their problems.
1.3/ Be conscious about one’s vocation: An often reflection will help a catholic leader to know:
(1) He was sanctified for God: St. Paul says: “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.” A catholic leader must try to sanctify oneself, before he can help to sanctify others.
(2) He must be jealous with his vocation: St. Paul advises Timothy: “Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone.” A catholic leader must often examine oneself to see if he still has the eagerness of the beginning, since time and confrontations easily wear out his eagerness.
(3) He must set a good example and fulfill his duties: “Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” Word is just drawing attention; deed is what making people to believe. A life of witness is a powerful sign for a catholic leader to witness for God.
2/ Gospel: This is your beloved mother
2.1/ Those who are faithful standing at the foot of the cross.
(1) The four women: At the foot of the cross, there were only four women; and three of them have the name Mary. Let us try to identify these four persons. First is the blessed Mary whom the evangelist called her “his mother.” Second, the author called her “his mother’s sister,” but not identified her name. If we compare with the Synoptics, this person is Salome, the mother of James the younger and Joseph (Mk 15:30, 16:1). The third one was called “Mary the wife of Clopas.” Some identified this Clopas with Cleopas, one of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24:18); but this hypothesis is not well supported. The last one was called “Mary Magdalene.” She came from the town called Magdala whom Jesus healed from seven devils (Lk 8:2).
(2) There is only one stood by the cross with the four women whom the author called “the disciple whom he (Jesus) loved.” Who is this disciple? There are at least two opinions. Some say this one is John, his disciple. Why the author wants to conceal his identity? It may because he is humble. This opinion is accepted by the most. Some say it can be any one who recognized Christ, is loved by him. The purpose why John writes his gospel is for everyone to recognize Christ and believe in him; therefore, he would like to express the idiom “the disciple there whom he loved,” to indicate anyone who is loved by Jesus. There are not many who accepted this opinion.
Why is there only one stood at the foot of the cross? Many think because all other disciples were too scared for their safety, so they ran away. Other think the reason why there are four women at the foot of the cross because Rome and the Sandherin were not worry about women as in many other nations. This opinion makes sense; but the true reason is these persons loved Jesus more than others. They stayed because they loved Jesus and would like to be with him at the last moment of his life on earth.
2.2/ The mystical exchange at the foot of the cross: Jesus did not worry about his death, he concerned about those who are still living in the world. This is the reason he arranged the mystical exchange at the foot of the cross.
(1) Jesus gave his mother to men: He said to his mother: “Woman, behold, your son.” Some say because Jesus no longer took care of his mother, he found for her the disciple who can take care of her for him. This is not the main reason. Jesus would like his mother to become the mother of all humankind; the disciple is only the representative of all. The blessed Mary is not only the disciple’s mother; she is also the mother of all humankind.
(2) Jesus set Mary as the mother of all: He said to the disciple: “Behold, your mother.” Jesus does not only want Mary to be the mother of all, he also wants all accept Mary as their mother, because if both sides agree to the exchange, both will benefit from it. To show his agreement, the disciple welcomed her to his house from that time on.
If one thinks according to the human standard, the exchange will benefit Mary more, because she has the disciple to take care of her. But if one thinks according to the spiritual standard, Mary will be the sorrowful mother all of her life. From that time on, Mary must endure all sufferings of humankind. Many say that is the reason why the blessed mother always cried, not smiled, when she appeared in most of her apparition.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should not take vow to God so easily and quickly. Once we did, we must be loyal to our vow until the end even we must accept pain, suffering, even death.
– In order to be loyal, we must learn Scripture to find out and to live according to God’s standard, not worldly standards.
– Everyone has a mission from God to accomplish. We must find out what is it and try the best to complete this mission. If we are faithful to God, He is also faithful to us.