Monday – Sixth Week – OT2.mp3
Readings: Jam 1:1-11; Mk 8:11-13.
1/ First Reading: RSV James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting. 2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, 8 unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 8:11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, and getting into the boat again he departed to the other side.
I. THEME: People need to be humble before God.
God doesn’t own men anything; in opposition, men owed everything from God. When people trust in God, they don’t add anything to what He has; but the faith in God shall help people to reach the eternal life. Similarly, when people worship God through Mass, prayers and offering, they don’t add anything to God; but they will get many benefits from their worship.
Today readings want to show human wrong understanding in their relationship with God. In the first reading, the author of the Letter of James confirmed that faith needs to be tested. The more it is tested the more it shall be firm, perfect and nothing can shake it. In the Gospel, the scribes challenged Jesus to work more miracles so that they might believe him coming from God. Jesus discouraged because of their attitude; he refused to do any more miracles for them to witness.
1/ Reading I: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
1.1/ Faith needs to be tested: Like an athlete in his training needs to be tested by failures, or a student in his learning needs to be tested by exams, human faith also needs to be tested by trials and sufferings. The purpose of testing one’s faith isn’t meant to destroy him, but:
(1) To causesteadfastness: The author encouraged his faithful: “To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting. Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Patience is the first virtue which people need to have; it is the mother of all human virtues because when one possessed this virtue, it will help him to acquire other virtues more easily.
(2) To perfect one’s faith: Though faith is a gift that God bestows on men; but to make it perfect, people need to be patiently trained so that he can bring it to perfection, as Jame desired for his faithful: “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The goal of the training of one’s faith is to have a perfect faith which is firm, perfect, lacking of nothing. When one possesses such a faith, he can overcome all obstacles in his life.
1.2/ To perfect his faith, one needs to have God’s grace: When people face trial and suffering, they have a tendency to avoid or to pray to God so He can take them away. To keep oneself from this kind of attitude, the author advised: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.” Wisdom helps people to recognize trials are necessary to form the perfect faith. However, when one prays to God to have wisdom, he must have a firm faith. James continued: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.”
When God granted him wisdom to recognize that he must overcome trials, he should bravely go forth. Don’t change his mind and pray to God to take them away.
One of the faith’s trials is the up and down of human life. The author advised people to boast in God, both when he is raised up and when is thrown down: “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”
2/ Gospel: The true faith
2.1/ Faith that is based on miracles: Each nation on earth has its own traits. St. Paul correctly said about one of the Jews’ traits: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:22-23).
The Jewish tradition already had a model for their Messiah: He is powerful, able to do miracles. He is the Lord of the Jews only; he will help them to expel foreigners, and they shall dominate the world. With this model in their mind, the Pharisees came to Jesus and challenged him to perform some miracles so they might believe in him.
2.2/ Faith that is based on the true knowledge of God: Why did Jesus refuse to perform miracles for them. There are at least three reasons.
(1) He did many miracles already. In the Gospel according to Mark, there were so many miracles done by Jesus. These Pharisees must witness or hear about these miracles.
(2) Miracle is only needed to light up one’s faith from beginning; once one already had faith, miracle is no longer needed. When Jesus healed the sick, he reminded them what the prophet Isaiah foretold about the Messiah, was now fulfilled in him. His purpose is to help them to believe in him. Moreover, the faith which is based on miracles isn’t a firm faith, because people will loose their faith when they no longer see miracles. They need to acquire a firm understanding about God and His providence for the world, not a model of God according to their imagination.
(3) Lastly,Jesus didn’t want people to control God. People have a tendency to think that when they need something, God has a duty to do miracle to grant them that thing, no matter if it is good or bad!
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to be humble in order to know ourselves in our relationship with God. All the worship we do are for our own benefits, not to add a single thing for God’s glory.
– The faith which God bestows on us has an unlimited potential; but it can be lost if we don’t treasure it. We need to take advantage of all opportunities which happen in our life to train our faith, so that we might have a firm and perfect faith.
– When we didn’t receive what we asked from God, we must review to see if what we ask is according to God’s will. We need to absolutely avoid improper attitude by apostasy or by persecuting those who believe in God.