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Monday – Thirty-fourth Week – OT2
Readings: Rev 14:1-13, 4b-5; Lk 21:1-4.
Reading 1 (Rev 14:1-3, 4b-5):
I, John, looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion,
and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand
who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
I heard a sound from heaven
like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder.
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
They were singing what seemed to be a new hymn before the throne,
before the four living creatures and the elders.
No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand
who had been ransomed from the earth.
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
They have been ransomed as the first fruits
of the human race for God and the Lamb.
On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.
Gospel (Lk 21:1-4):
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: To be loyal and to sacrifice our life for God.
In last days of the liturgical year, the liturgy of the Word centers around three topics: Firstly, the passing of worldly values and the lasting values of the life to come such as: the soul’s immortality, the resurrection and the eternal life. Secondly, the exemplars and the sacrifices of people before us like: Christ, the courageous mother and the seven Maccabees’ brothers and the holy martyrs of Vietnam. Lastly, it motivates us to imitate them to live a heroic life, to witness for Christ and to sacrifice all things for the heavenly kingdom.
Today readings also lead us in that direction. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation reported the vision of the Lamb and his one hundred and forty-four thousand companions. They loyally followed the Lamb wherever he goes. In the Gospel, Jesus praised the contribution of a widow who put only two small coins in the offering box for the temple’s expenses. He said: “This poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
1/ Reading I: Wherever the Lamb goes, the faithful also follow him.
1.1/ The vision of the Lamb together with his one hundred forty-four thousand companions on Mt. Zion: The author reported, “Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
(1) The Lamb’s companions: Mt. Zion was called God’s throne (Mic 4:7, Isa 24:23), the holy mountain, the royal city of the great king (Psa 2:6) and the dwelling place of the living God (Heb 12:22). The Lamb undoubtly is Christ. Who is the one hundred forty-four thousand companions of the Lamb? They are people who were sealed on their foreheads by the angels from the twelve tribes of Israel, each tribe has twelve thousand people (Rev 7:4-8). The seal has the name of the Lamb and his Father (Rev 7:3). Those who have the seal on their foreheads show they are sanctified for God’s services. The Lamb’s companions were separated from the beast’s companions, who were also sealed for his service (Rev 13:16, 14:11).
(2) The new song: The author continued to report, “I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth.” The new song was described by many Scripture’s familiar names such as: the rushing water (Rev 1:15, 9:16, Eze 43:2); the loud peal of thunder (Exo 19:16, Eze 1:7) and the harp’s sound (Rev 5:8, 15:2).
1.2/ The required conditions to follow the Lamb:
(1) Must be virgins: Since one hundred and forty-four thousand people were oppositely described with those who worshipped the beast; they must be the people who denied to follow the beast. This number is only a symbolic number that represents for all the faithful, not the number of people who are saved. The noun “virgins” can’t be understood according to its narrow meaning, but to the meaning of many prophets in the Old Testament (Cf. Hos 2:14-21, Jer 2:2-3, 32, Zeph 3:9-13). To them, virginity is the symbol of the loyalty to God while idols worshipping is considered as prostitution, not loyal to God (Cf. Rev 2:14, Eze 16, 23). Babylon was liken as a prostitute (Rev 14:8, 17:4-6) while the Church is liken as the Lamb’s bride (Rev 19:7, 21:2-9).
(2) Be loyal to the Lamb: “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb.”
(3) Live truthfully: “On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.” Those who lied are called the devil’s children, the devil is called the father’s liars (Jn 8:44). Those who follow the Lamb are required not only to speak the truth but also to live according to the truth so that they become the unblemished offering for God (Rom 12:1).
2/ Gospel: “She out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
2.1/ The standard used to determine the amount of donation: can’t be based on the amount alone, but also on the amount which the donator has. For example, one gives 5,000 dollars, but the amount he has is one million, the ratio he gives is 1/200, a small amount compared to his possession. Meanwhile, a poor man gives out two pennies, but his possession is four pennies, the ratio is ½; he gives half of his possession.
Jesus was probably sit on the “the court of women” in the Temple. He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
In the people’s eyes, most of them will give a wrong evaluation. They will love the rich’s donation and despise the poor widow’s contribution. They probably think they can’t do anything with two copper coins, it is better to throw them out than to add them up in their book keeping. But to Jesus’ keenly eyes, he warned his disciples: Don’t evaluate according to outside value, but according to inside ability.
2.2/ Faith in God’s providence and His love: Her generous contribution demanded her to have a firm faith in God’s providence and His love. Without this faith, she would keep that amount to support her life as many would do so. She believed in God’s love that He will not let her to be hungry to death. God loves her more than beasts of the field or birds of the air.
Money is the lowest thing to give; outside of money, a Christ’s disciple must also give many more difficult gifts, such as: will, love, time, talent and health. Jesus demands his disciples: “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; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:37-39).
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– The reason of our existence in this world is to show our loyalty for God by sacrificing all things to witness for Him.
– As Christ’s disciples, we must imitate his life and follow him wherever he goes so that we can enjoy a happy life with him.
– We can’t be selective by chosing only a few of God’s commandments to live, but must choose and live according to all of His commandments.