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Monday – Twenty-fifth Week – OT2
Readings: Pro 3:27-34; Lk 8:16-18.
Reading 1 (Pro 3:27-34):
Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.
Plot no evil against your neighbor,
against one who lives at peace with you.
Quarrel not with a man without cause,
with one who has done you no harm.
Envy not the lawless man
and choose none of his ways:
To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination,
but with the upright is his friendship.
The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just he blesses.
When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern,
but to the humble he shows kindness.
Gospel (Lk 8:16-18):
Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Sins and virtues
St. Thomas Aquinas had a full and systematic treatment about the moral life, starting with God’s creation of human body and soul, he pointed out all important powers which reside in a human being and are sources of human action. Next, he studied about human act and passion. He recognized that human always acts for a purpose and the whole human life is also acted for a purpose which is the eternal life. Then he studied habits which are human acts repeated many times and pointed out that sin is a bad habit while virtue is a good habit. To get rid of a bad habit, people must replace it with a corresponding virtue, for examples, charity for selfishness, temperance for gluttony or inebriation or adultery.
Today readings help us to recognize that our life has an ultimate purpose which is a happy and eternal life with God in heaven. In order to attain this purpose, we must live according to the basic principle of human life which is “to do good and to avoid evil.” All of our human acts shall be judged by God in the Last Day, not a single human act shall be overlooked. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Proverbs points out some important virtues which people must have, such as: charity, religious and piety; and some serious sins which people must avoid, such as: plot no evil against your neighbor nor quarrel with a man without cause.
1/ Reading I: The virtues need to be acquired and the sins need to be avoided.
The Book of Proverbs is a collection of proverbs about human wisdom in all generations and at everywhere through their life experience. The Book is written in Greek, after the Babylon exile, about 500 BC during which the Persian culture dominated the Ancient Near East. The author(s) collected all human sayings but put them under God’s wise providence. This can be understood because through the eyes of faith, all human wisdom comes from God. Therefore, to understand the Book, people can’t read them only through experience of life, but must also compare them with God’s teaching.
1.1/ The virtues need to be acquired: Mercy is the center of most Oriental religions. Buddhism is called the “religion of mercy.” Though they don’t believe in God but believe that “if they live a good life, they shall be blessed by the heaven.” A Vietnamese adage advises, “love others as oneself.” The Book of Proverb taught: “Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.” The reason why one must immediately give because people have a tendency to keep; if he doesn’t, he shall find many reasons in order not to give.
People must also have a good relationship with God and others. The author(s) mentioned two important virtues:
(1) To live truthfully and righteously with God and others: “To the Lord the perverse man is an abomination, but with the upright is his friendship. When he is dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness.”
(2) Humility is to recognize oneself in the relation to God and to others. The humble recognizes all what he has is God’s blessing and never dares to insult others because he knows: “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just he blesses.”
1.2/ The sins need to be avoided: Paralleling to do good to others, people must make an effort not to cause any damage to others. The Book of Proverbs taught: “Plot no evil against your neighbor, against him who lives at peace with you. Quarrel not with a man without cause, with one who has done you no harm. Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways.”
To peacefully live with the surrounded people is the condition for oneself to be happy and at peace. Once one disturbed their peace, they shall not let him to be at peace. To the lawless, the best way is to avoid them because they can cause damages and disturb people’s life.
2/ Gospel: The Christian life
This short passage of Gospel gives us three main ideas corresponding to three sentences.
2.1/ The Christian life must be an exemplary for all people: We can preach the Good News by words or our good life. The best way is both, our words and action, as a Vietnamese idiom said, “words must be accompanied by action.” If one must choose between the two ways, preaching by action is more effective, since “people pay attention to words, but are convinced by action.” Some protest that we should not do good actions before men because Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of scribes and Pharisees. It is corrected, but there is a difference between doing good deeds in silence and in making noisy sound to draw others’ attention.
2.2/ The Christian life must be according to the truth: Christians have to live a truthful life, “for there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” There are three cases that people want to hide:
(1) People can hide themselves by not accepting the truth. For example, they know they are sinful; but they still try to find an excuse or consider it as not sinful.
(2) People try to hide their secret from others; but they are not at peace because they are constantly worry their secret to be found out.
(3) Some think they can hide their sins from God as the case of Cain. He denied that he is not the brother’s keeper.
2.3/ The Christian life is a continual effort to be perfect: “Anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” This can be applied in many cases.
– In the area of foreign languages: If one tries to exercise every day, his ability of languages will be improved daily; but if he doesn’t use them, his ability of foreign languages will gradually be disappeared and lost.
– In the area of faith: Jesus compares the listening and practicing God’s words like one built his house on a stony ground. If one tries to live according to God’s word, his faith will gradually be strengthened, and he can overcome all hardships of life; but if he does not practice God’s words, his faith will weaken and destroyed as one built his house on sand.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– The basic principle of our moral life is “to do good and to avoid evil” in our living with others. We must practice having a habit of doing good and to avoid a habit of doing evil so that we might have a peace of mind and become a friend of God.
– We received a lighted candle in our Baptism and promised before the Church that we shall keep it burning until the day we meet Christ when he will be back. The burning light is the symbol of our faith, it must always shine for people around us by a good and truthful life. It must always grow daily so that we can stand firm before all trials and sufferings of our life.