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Monday – First Week – OT2
Readings: I Sam 1:1-8; Mk 1:14-20.
1/ Reading I: RSV 1 Samuel 1:1 There was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters; 5 and, although he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the LORD had closed her womb. 6 And her rival used to provoke her sorely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.
I. THEME: Working together
Vietnamese people are often successful when working alone; but are failure when working with others. The reasons are many: fearing of losing power, of others exceeding themselves or of sharing profits with others. In order to be able to work with others, we need to overcome these fears. We need to give those who work with us opportunities to show they are worthy of our trust; and to see benefits from working together more than to fear losing what we have.
Moreover, to benefit from working together, before giving others their duty, we must train them so that they know how to handle what we assign to them. When we give them a duty, we must also give them authority. Our co-workers are our representatives to solve problems. We need to let them know in advance the limits of their authority if there are and to provide them with all means so that they can fulfill their duty.
Today readings show us benefits of working together. In the first reading, the author highlights the opposite between the insult and the compassion with Hannah’s suffering. Peninnah, Elkanah’s second wife, always found opportunities to irritate and to insult Hannah, while Elkanah, her husband, always found opportunities to console and to love her. In the Gospel, after receiving the mission from the Father, Jesus invited the first four apostles to train them before sending them out to continue his mission on earth.
1/ Reading I: Two opposite attitudes before other’s suffering
1.1/ Peninnah’s insult and irritated attitude: The author reported that Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children while Hannah was childless. Every year, Elkanah brings his family to Shiloh to worship and to offer offerings to the Lord. After Elkanah’s offering, he often divides the offerings for Peninnah and her sons and daughters. For Hannah, he often gives her a special sharing because he loves her, though the Lord let her remaining childless.
Elkanah loved and treated all members of his family’s members justly and equally, but Peninnah wasn’t. She always looks for opportunities to irritate and to insult Hannah’s childlessness. This often happens for those who have many wives because they not only want to be loved by their husband but also for him to hate others.
1.2/ Elkanah’s compassion and consolation: When witnessed Hannah’s suffering, Elkanah knew that he can’t change Peninnah’s pride and jealousy, so he increased his love for Hannah. When he saw her wept and would not eat, Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
Being a wife and having no children is shameful for a woman. People use to attribute childless for a wicked life. That was the reason for Hannah’s distress. She knew that she was not living a wicked life as Peninnah’s insult, so she prayed more fervently with God. She promised that if God takes away her suffering and gives her a son, she shall offer him back to God so that he might serve Him all the days of his life; she shall not keep him for herself. God understood her suffering so He said to her through Eli, the high priest, that He shall grant her request.
2/ Gospel: Jesus called his first four apostles.
2.1/ I shall make you as fishers of men: Today passage reports the beginning of Jesus’ ministry after more than thirty hidden years at Nazareth. This is Jesus’ message for all people, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Two things which Jesus wanted to emphasize:
(1) The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: Like the Letter to the Hebrews, Mark emphasized the importance of Jesus’ appearance. There is still a continuation in God’s plan of salvation; but Jesus brought this plan to the fulfillment.
(2) Repent and believe in the gospel: This is the condition for people to inherit God’s salvation.
In order to find collaborators to spread the gospel, Jesus calls his first apostles. He isn’t strange with Lake Galilee and fishermen. He probably took many walks around it and talked to them; but today, he calls them to leave everything to follow him. Fishing is a hard job, requiring lots of patience. Fishermen must fish when they are looking for something to eat, not at any time they want to. The time to catch fish uses to be between darkness until dawn; it is the time for people to sleep.
Jesus only promised to them one thing, “I will make you become fishers of men.” In other words, he promised to train them to save people’s souls. He wants them to recognize the meaning of life by the work they are doing: To fish for a living isn’t important than to fish for souls of those who need their help.
2.2/ The attitudes of those who are called:
(1) Simon and Andrew: They immediately left their net and followed Jesus. Their attitudes were very courageous and determined. It is courageous because they terminated their job to earn their living. They didn’t question what they shall do for a living. It is determined because they decided quickly, had no need of a second thought.
(2) James and John: They left Zebedee, their father, on the boat with his workers and followed Jesus. They left not only their job but also their father. Jesus must have something that attracts them more than their profession and familial love.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God can do everything by Himself; but He wants people’s collaboration. He wants people to collaborate to live and to help with each other. In order to work with others, we need to trust, to understand, to help and to provide suitable opportunities for others to contribute on the common tasks.
– We need to avoid absolutely arrogant attitude, to insult others and to fear they shall be better than us. To achieve these things, we need to have a wider and positive view and benefits resulting from working together.
– We need to respond positively God’s call, especially in preaching of the Good News. We need to realize that God gives each person different gifts and environment to contribute to the bringing of gospel to all people.