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Monday – Ninth week – OT1
Readings: Tob 1:3, 2:1-9; Mk 12:1-12.
1/ First Reading: RSV Tobit 1:3 I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life, and I performed many acts of charity to my brethren and countrymen who went with me into the land of the Assyrians, to Nineveh.2:1 When I arrived home and my wife Anna and my son Tobias were restored to me, at the feast of Pentecost, which is the sacred festival of the seven weeks, a good dinner was prepared for me and I sat down to eat. 2 Upon seeing the abundance of food I said to my son, “Go and bring whatever poor man of our brethren you may find who is mindful of the Lord, and I will wait for you.” 3 But he came back and said, “Father, one of our people has been strangled and thrown into the market place.” 4 So before I tasted anything I sprang up and removed the body to a place of shelter until sunset. 5 And when I returned, I washed myself and ate my food in sorrow. 6 Then I remembered the prophecy of Amos, how he said, “Your feasts shall be turned into mourning, and all your festivities into lamentation.” And I wept. 7 When the sun had set I went and dug a grave and buried the body. 8 And my neighbors laughed at me and said, “He is no longer afraid that he will be put to death for doing this; he once ran away, and here he is burying the dead again!” 9 On the same night I returned from burying him, and because I was defiled, I slept by the wall of the courtyard, and my face was uncovered.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 12:1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. 2 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, `They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this scripture: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; 11 this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” 12 And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away.
I. THEME: Is there a need to live according to the truth all the days of one’s life?
Many people say “No,” because of the following reasons:
(1) From the practical: God’s demand is too difficult; He demands thing that exceeds human power. They are living in the world, not in heaven! If they do it, they already become saints, not normal people.
These people forget God’s invitation, “Be holy for I am holy” (Lev 11:45). Moreover, God never demands what is exceeding human power without giving them grace to do it. If God demands it without grace, He is no longer God because He forces people to do impossible thing.
(2) From the pretentious humble: They are living in a society which no one lives like that. They don’t want to be different with others; they just want to live a humble life which no one pays attention to them.
But Jesus demands them, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16). If they don’t want to be Jesus’ witnesses for the world, how could they receive the witnesses’ reward?
(3) From the businesspeople: Whatever they do, it must have a profit. When they live a good life, does God take notice? If He does, shall He reward them?
A wise businessman doesn’t pay attention to temporal but lasting gains. In reality, they can never be just to God because He gives them things that exceeds what they can see. Moreover, they don’t see the reward of those who live according to God’s way in the future.
(4) From the ones who pay attention only to God’s mercy: They reason God knows people’ weakness and He is ready to forgive; therefore, they can live their way. When it is convenient, they shall confess all their sins. If God demands so much, no one can enter God’s kingdom.
1/ Reading I: Living in exile, Tobit’s family still reveres God and keeps His law.
1.1/ Tobit teaches his son, Tobia, to feed the hungry: Tobit is a Jew in exile at Nineveh, Babylon. Living a hard life in exile, the majority blamed on God and no longer kept His law; but Tobit still tried to live according to God’s way. He is very generous to his people, those who lived with him in exile. Under the reign of king Esarhaddon, he was permitted to go home. People gave back his wife, Anna, and Tonia, his son. During the feast of Weeks, they serve him a delicious meal.
(1) Tobit’s reaction: When he saw that meal he said to Tobia, his son, “Go and bring whatever poor man of our brethren you may find who is mindful of the Lord, and I will wait for you.”
– Tobit had experience of lacking food in exile, so he thought about the poor and wanted them to share the delicious food with him.
– He reveres God and wants to practice God’s teaching, that is, to share food with the poor. In the Gospel, Jesus also teaches his audience: “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Lk 14:12-14).
(2) Most of people’s reaction shall be:
– Don’t act as such because they have to wait and can’t enjoy the food which is still hot. They should eat them right away.
– Don’t act as such because they have to go out and look for the poor. They should eat the meal and later give some money to the poor.
– Don’t act as such because to have a good meal, besides good food they also need to have good friends and a fine place. The poor are strangers, they don’t know about their temperament! Moreover, they also have to smell the odor of the poor; if they smell it, they might lose the will to eat!
1.2/ Tobit teaches his son to bury the dead: Tobia obeyed his father and looked for the poor, but he came back and said to him, “Father, one of our people has been strangled and thrown into the marketplace.”
(1) Tobit’s reaction: Before he tasted anything, he sprang up and removed the body to a place of shelter until sunset. When he returned, he washed himself and ate his food in sorrow. Then he remembered the Amos’ prophecy “Your feasts shall be turned into mourning, and all your festivities into lamentation.” He wept. When the sun had set he went and dug a grave and buried the body.
(2) People’s reaction: Tobit’s neighbors laughed at him and said, “He is no longer afraid that he will be put to death for doing this; he once ran away, and here he is burying the dead again!” Even knowing that by burying the dead, he can be put in prison again, Tobit isn’t afraid of its consequence, but still doing what God wants him to do.
2/ Gospel: “The owner shall destroy the wicked tenants and lend the vineyard to others.”
2.1/ Two parables of the vineyard:
(1) The vineyard of the Old Testament according to Isaiah 5:1-7: This parable is familiar to all the Jews. When Jesus gave his parable, he used the old parable which all were familiar with and added some details to adapt to his and the audience’s circumstances. In the parable of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord was angry when He came to harvest the grape, He found only wild and sour grape. Isaiah explained the meaning of the parable as follows: “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his cherished plant; He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! For justice, but hark, the outcry!” (Isa 5:7).
(2) The vineyard of the New Testament according to St. Mark in today passage: The owner was angry because the tenants didn’t return some of the produce of the vineyard, they also caused many more damages for him. We can explain the meaning of the parable as follows:
– The owner of the vineyard is God;
– The vineyard is Israel;
– The owner’s servants who were persecuted and killed are God’s prophets through all generations;
– The owner’s son is Christ;
– The wicked tenants are the bad leaders of the Israelites.
2.2/ The reactions of the wicked tenants and the owner of the vineyard:
(1) The wicked tenants: Five times the owner sent his members to ask for a profit, five times they treated the owner’s members worse and graver. The first time, they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. The second time, they beat over the head and treated shamefully. The third time, they killed the servant. The fourth time, some they beat, others they killed. Last time, “the owner had one other to send, his beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So, they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.”
(2) The owner of the vineyard: Jesus put out a question to his audience: “What then will the owner of the vineyard do?” Almost everyone can immediately answer, “He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others.” Even the Jewish leaders also understood Jesus’ intention: he said this parable to imply them as the wicked tenants. Understand so, they still wanted to seize Jesus, but were afraid of people. If the plain people could judge the wicked tenants as such, God shall not forgive those who killed His son and didn’t repent. He shall not only destroy them but also use “the stone that the builders rejected” which is Christ, as the cornerstone to build up the new temple which is the Church.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must try to live according to the truth all the days of our life. When we can’t do it because of our human weakness, God understands our effort. Moreover, we must aim at the good and the joy which is the result of doing God’s will.
– Make an effort to live according to the truth is the way we witness for God and change the world. If we live according to the world’s fashion, we are assimilated by them.