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Monday – Eighth week – OT1
Readings: Sir 17:20-24; Mk 10:17-27.
1/ First Reading: RSV Sirach 17:20 Their iniquities are not hidden from him, and all their sins are before the Lord. 21 22 A man’s almsgiving is like a signet with the Lord and he will keep a person’s kindness like the apple of his eye. 23 Afterward he will arise and requite them, and he will bring their recompense on their heads. 24 Yet to those who repent he grants a return, and he encourages those whose endurance is failing.
2/ Gospel: NAU Mark 10:17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 “You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
I. THEME: Do good things to help people.
Most of main religions teaches “to do good and to avoid evil,” because they believe people shall be responsible for their deeds. The Buddhism teaches, “even if one built a nine-stories tower, it isn’t equal to help a person in need.” This adage is meant to help of a person is more important than to build a nine stories tower for Buddha. Jesus let us know by what standard he shall use to judge us on the Last Day, that is, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
Today readings concentrate on the importance of helping others. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach shows us the reason why we must do good and avoid to do evil because God sees everything. He remembers all good things we do and shall properly rewards us. In the second reading, when a young man comes to Jesus to ask him the way to perfection, he told him, “Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The young man sadly went away because he has so many properties.
1/ Reading I: “A man’s almsgiving is like a signet with the Lord.”
1.1/ God sees all things that people do for others: The Oriental people believe, “the highest heaven has eyes.” The author of the Book of Sirach believes that nothing which people do which can be hidden from God. He teaches, “Their iniquities are not hidden from Him, and all their sins are before the Lord.A man’s almsgiving is like a signet with the Lord and He will keep a person’s kindness like the apple of His eye.”
If a person believes God sees everything, he must make efforts to do good and to avoid evil; if not, he must pay a dearly price for every evil thing they do.
1.2/ God shall properly reward for those who do good to others: Most religions believe “those who treat others kindly shall be rewarded with many blessings.” Some people, though don’t believe in the next life, still believe “the heaven” shall protects and rewards those who do good for the poor. These people shall be blessed all the days of their life, have many descendants and live for a long time. The author of the Book of Sirach also teaches the reward which God shall bestow on those who helped others in need, “Afterward he will arise and requite them, and he will bring their recompense on their heads.”
Moreover, the Jewish tradition also believes that whoever does good deeds, shall recompense their sins. The author of Sirach also believes this as he says, “Yet to those who repent he grants a return, and he encourages those whose endurance is failing.”
2/ Gospel: “Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
2.1/ “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The important background of Jesus’ conversation with the young man is “what a person needs do to inherit eternal life.” The young man believes in the eternal life and he wants to know how to achieve it. After questioning him about important commandments, Jesus went to the main thing by telling him: “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Jesus demands him to choose one of the two: the eternal or the present life. Mark reported his attitude, “But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” He wants to choose both this present and the next life.
2.2/ It is very hard for the rich to enter God’s kingdom: After the young man went away, Jesus casts his eyes on all his audience and said to his disciples, “”How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.””
First, we need to clear out the cloud: Jesus didn’t condemn the rich. He didn’t say that the rich can’t enter the kingdom of God; but he only says “it is very hard for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.” There are three main reasons why it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God:
(1) Riches make people to forget their ultimate goal of life: Knowing it or not, God destines for people to reach their ultimate goal of life which is a happy and eternal life with God in heaven. Richess make people to forget this goal in order to concentrate all of their time and effort in hoarding material gains for enjoyment.
(2) Riches make people to evaluate all things based on wealth and to forget about the spiritual or everlasting values. For example, the material people only spend times on what bring about material gains, not on studying Scripture to know about God and His wise teachings.
(3) Riches make people to be prideful, arrogant and contemptible toward God and others. The rich forget about the basic principle “everything exists in this world belong to all who live in this world.” Everyone has a right to use God’s creation as a mean for living in this present life. The rich can’t hoard all things while others are hungry; they can’t steal God’s blessings and despise others.
2.3/ Why Jesus’ disciples are amazed and astonished: There are twice in the passage that the author mentioned the disciples’ amazement of Jesus’ teaching, they asked each other, “Then who can be saved?”
They are astonished because the Jewish tradition believes that richess is the sign of God’s blessings for those who revere God and live a good life; together with other blessings such as having many descendants and living a long life. If prosperity is a sign of the good relationship between people and God, why did Jesus inverse the traditional faith? Jesus certainly didn’t mention richness that comes from God’s blessing; he wants to mention richness that comes from people’s hoarding or injustice. He also wants to mention that people must know how to distribute things which God gives to them.
Therefore, people shall be judged of their accumulation of material gains, just or unjust, and their spending, right or wrong. God is the sole owner of all properties, men are only stewards. The more people are given, the more they shall be judged by God. If they don’t know how to spend, their richess shall cause more damages for them than benefits.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should make efforts to do good to compensate for our sins, since they are God’s given opportunities and He counts what we do for others we do for Him.
– We need to believe in God’s providence so that we should not hoard so much material gains for us or our family. We should be content with what God has given and learn how to use them to benefit for God. – Let use our time given by God to pay attention to the values which are more important than material values, such as: love, understanding, eternal life and the preaching of Good News.