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Monday – Twelfth week – OT1
Readings: Gen 12:1-9; Mt 7:1-5.
1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
I. THEME: Judge no one and completely believe in God.
People like to judge because it is an opportunity to increase their value and to diminish others’ worth. Not only judging others, they also doubt God’s power and judge His providence by questioning or complaining about their suffering. These people do not often examine of their conscience; therefore, they think they are good and look down on others. If they take time to carefully examine their life, they will see that they are also full of sins and weaknesses, and don’t dare to judge others. Another reason that makes people to judge others is because they think nobody has time to scrutinize their judgment; but if they know God fathoms all things, even the hidden thought in their mind, they shall be very careful of their judging.
Today readings teach us two most important lessons of our life. In the first reading, our ancestor Abram set an excellent example for us to completely trust in God. When God commanded him to leave his country, relatives and fatherland to go to a foreign land which He shall show him, Abram believed in God and immediately set forth because he completely trust in God. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches people that they must not judge others so that they might not be judged because they aren’t perfect to judge others.
1/ Reading I: Abram completely trust in God.
1.1/ Abram courageously obeyed God and on the way to build up his future at seventy-five years old.
(1) God’s promise to Abram: The Lord said to him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” The RSV doesn’t correctly translate the last sentence, because both MT and LXX versions have the verb at the future passive which should be translated as “by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This is the promise that begins God’s plan of salvation and be fulfilled by Christ; it required about two thousand years to be achieved.
(2) Abram’s trust and obedience in God: Abram had no second thought about his unknown future; he departed as the Lord said to him. He was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. “Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan.” There are many reasons that prevent Abram to do God’s will: his old ages, health, relatives, fatherland and an infinite future; but the only reason that helped him to overcome all obstacles is his faith in God. He strongly believes that what God promises He shall fulfill.
1.2/ God promises three things for Abram and his descendants: Then God appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” If we combine this promise with the first one, there are three things that God promises either to Abram or his descendants—a great nation, the Promise Land and blessing. The Promised Land belonged to the Canaanites when God promised to Abram; this land only belongs to Abram’s descendants when they escaped from Egypt and Joshua led them to conquer the Canaanites and divided the land for the Israelites’ twelve tribes. At that time, Abram is no longer present in the world. Even that Abram also measured the land which his descendants shall own later, “So, he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.”
2/ Gospel: “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”
2.1/ Don’t judge: Jesus commanded his disciples, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” There are at least three reasons that prevent people to judge others:
(1) People don’t know all the related circumstances and facts: People are easy to wrongly judge because they only observe from outside; in order to rightly judge, they must put themselves in other’s circumstance. For example, a hungry man must steal food to protect his life; it is the right thing to do, not all stealings are bad. In the “Kieu’s” story of the author Nguyen-Du, the main character “Kieu” must sell her body to redeem her father; it is the right thing to do, not all prostitutions should be condemned.
(2) People are greatly affected by prejudices, such as: languages, nations, skin colors, social classes, relations, rights, etc. Once people had prejudice, it is difficult for them to fairly judge others. The Greeks used to judge in a dark room to avoid prejudice; but both parties can still hear others’ voices and recognize others’ identity.
(3) People aren’t free of sins to judge: In the story of “the adulterous woman” according to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus challenged those who condemned the adulterous women, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (Jn 8:7-11).
There are cases which people must judge others, such as: superiors, judges, parents, etc. In these cases, Jesus demanded people to generously judge, to have all the facts and to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, because if they don’t, they shall have to endure the consequence: “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”
2.2/ Let examine ourselves first: One way that helps people not to judge others is to often examine of themselves. When people examine themselves, they find out that they are also full of sins and weaknesses which might be bigger than others’. When people do that, they shall be compassionate and not judge others. If people don’t often do that, they are easy to judge others because they think they have no sin. Jesus gave an example to warn this kind of people: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must completely trust in God and should never question God’s providence for us.
– We need to practice so that we should never judge others because it is not our duty. In the cases that we have a duty, we should follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, have all the related facts, understand the accused’s situation and generously judge him.