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Monday – Fifteenth week – OT1
Readings: Exo 1:1-14, 22; Mt 10:34-11:1.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 1:1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the offspring of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation. 7 But the descendants of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong; so that the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befalls us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigor. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” 11:1 And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
I. THEME: People divide because they are afraid of the truth.
In life, most of people want to be better than and control others; therefore, they are afraid when they see other people have higher positions and are more successful than them. Instead of learning the reason why others are successful, some people used wicked scheme and evil plan to destroy and to harm those who are better than them.
Today readings give us some concrete examples to illustrate why people were discorded and separated. In the first reading, when Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, saw the Israelites greatly increased their population, he felt that his safety is threatened. Instead of encouraging his people to increase the rate of population to balance with the Israelites’ rate, he used the wicked scheme to destroy the Israelites. He made them to work hard and even gave a decree to kill all the Israelites’ newborn sons. In the Gospel, Jesus warned his disciples that they shall be opposed even from their own family’s members. The reason for this is people aren’t easily accepted the way of truth which Jesus demands them to preach.
1/ Reading I: Division happens because of fear.
1.1/ The Egyptian king discriminated the Israelites: In the past as well as today, the strong nations always find a reason to fight with the weak nations so that the latter nations must pay tributes and be slavery for them. Today event in the Book of Exodus is a typical example.
(1) Jacob’s descendants were spreading through all the Egyptian land: God commands people to be fruitful and to fill the land of the earth (Gen 1:28). The Israelites obeyed God’s command; they married and gave birth to many children. The patriarch Jacob had twelve sons; they are: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun by Leah; Joseph and Benjamin by Rachel; Dan and Naphtali by Rachel’s maidservant; Gad and Aser by Leah’s maidservant. There were seventy of Jacob’s descendants who came to live in Egypt by the time of Joseph; excluding four members of Joseph’s family who already lived in Egypt. When Joseph and all of his brothers passed away, the descendants of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong; so that the land was filled with them.
(2) The Egyptian king’s fear: Like today people, the Egyptians wanted to have the birth-control; but they are worry when they saw the Israelites gave births more than them. Today passage reported, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befalls us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.””
The Egyptian king, like most of today parents, thought he had a plan that is better and wiser than God’s plan. He wanted both the birth-control and safely governing of others. Reality shows that one can’t choose both. If one doesn’t have enough people of his own race, other race shall take over his government.
1.2/ The shrewd ways which Pharaoh used to control the Israelites: To reduce the Israel’s population, the Egyptian king issued the following wicked ways:
(1) To physically maltreat them: He ordered to “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses.But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.”
(2) To kill the Isrelites’ newborn sons: When the king saw his plan wasn’t successful to reduce the Israel’s population, he gave another wicked order for all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
Many people criticized God that He is so protected the Israelites that He sent His angels to kill all the Egyptian’s firstborn sons and to sink all their armies in the Red Sea. These people forget about their maltreatment and killing of the Israelites’ firstborn sons by the Egyptian king and his people!
2/ Gospel: God’s requirements aren’t always in agree with human interests.
2.1/ War and peace: The noun “mákairan” in Greek has two meamings: sword and war. The meaning “sword” isn’t proper here. The meaning “war” is better and oppose with “peace.” The question is asked by many that why Jesus, known as “the prince of peace” according to the prophet Isaiah, brings war?
The answer is that God’s thought and way are different with human thought and way. The world doesn’t accept the truth. If a person always speaks and lives the truth, he shall cause division at home because not all members of his household want to speak and to live the truth. For examples, parents prevent their children to marry a Gentile because they are afraid that their children shall neglect to practice their faith. Parents don’t want their child to become a priest because they want to have a descendant. The wife doesn’t want her husband to force their child to go to a church because she wants him to go to a temple, etc. In these situations, should a person be courage to stand for the truth which he believe, or be silent so that his family can be at peace?
2.2/ God’s standards: Conflicts happen not only in thought but also in way of living of a disciple. Jesus demanded his disciples to live according to the heavenly standards while people only want to live according to the worldly standards. Few examples shall illustrate this conflict according to today passage:
– Jesus demands his disciples to put God over their parents, wife and children, brothers and sisters while these people want to be put first.
– Jesus demands his disciples to give up everything to follow him because “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it;” while the social fashion advertises the way of life that put the individual above all.
– Jesus teaches the faithful to welcome special people, such as: the prophet and the righteous so that they shall share the same reward which they receive, while these people aren’t always received by worldly people.
– Jesus teaches his disciples to help the poor because when they do anything for them, they do for God Himself; while worldly people only help those who bring profits for them.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should have courage to face and to witness for the truth. Don’t lie, go around or use wicked trick to smear, to seize or to destroy those who speak and witness for the truth.
– If we humbly accept God’s truth and change our life according to His teaching, we are guaranteed to have peace and happiness in both the present and the next life. But if we are stubborn in our human thinking and way of life, we must surely pay a costly price; because nothing we try to keep secret that shall be not displayed in light.