Thus says the Lord GOD,
the Holy One of Israel:
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem,
no more will you weep;
He will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The Lord will give you the bread you need
and the water for which you thirst.
No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or to the left.
He will give rain for the seed
that you sow in the ground,
And the wheat that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your flock will be given pasture
and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows;
The oxen and the asses that till the ground
will eat silage tossed to them
with shovel and pitchfork.
Upon every high mountain and lofty hill
there will be streams of running water.
On the day of the great slaughter,
when the towers fall,
The light of the moon will be like that of the sun
and the light of the sun will be seven times greater
like the light of seven days.
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows.
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
I. THEME: God has prepared everything for His people.
In life, if we would like to know who truthfully loves us, we only need to concentrate on what he has done for us, because a true love must be expressed in deeds. In order to recognize those deeds, we need time to reflect our past; we also need to hear others’ sharing of their experience through their writings or preachings.
Today readings help people to recognize God’s love, expressed through what He has done and will do for human beings. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah wanted to show people that God loved them even when He punished them. The purpose of punishment isn’t to destroy, to shame, or to torture; but to purify and to help people to recognize their sins before they can return to God’s true love. In the Gospel, Jesus not only teached and healed people, but also selected and trained disciples, gave them power, and sent them to places where Jesus didn’t come yet. His disciples, and their succeeding ones in the Church, continued to do what Jesus did, that are: to preach the truth, to heal, and to win people back for God.
1/ Reading I: God loves, punishes, and prepares for His people’s future.
1.1/ God punished people out of love: Many people have a difficulty to accept the fact “to punish out of love;” but parents know very well this fact. One of the oriental proverb advised parents, “love is to educate and to give children some whiping, hate is to let them do what they like.” A child with immature mind can’t fathom this educational way. He might think his parents punished him out of hatred; but when he grows up, he will understand benefits of punishment. If his parents let him do what he wanted, he might not be successful as he is today, and might endure all bad results such as: prison, addictions and failures.
The prophet Isaiah foresaw bad things which were going to rain down on the Israelites because they refused to obey God’s will. He also understood the Israelites’ thought when they must face hardship and suffering. He consoled and explained for the people the purpose of God’s punishments and His love for people: “Yea, O people in Zion who dwell at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.”
The Lord God must give people “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” through their enemies in order for people to recognize their sins. When these things happened, the Israelites thought God has forsaken them; but Isaiah encouraged them that God didn’t forsake people. If they recognize their sins and repent, God will continue to care for them.
1.2/ All will be taught by God: “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Both prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah foresaw the day “all people will be taught by God” (cf. Isa 54:13, Jer 31:33). The Fourth Gospel also implied this prophecy was fulfilled by Christ (Jn 6:45), and the Holy Spirit (1 Jn 2:27). Christ’s words and the Holy Spirit will enlighten people to know the truth and to walk in a right path.
1.3/ After rain, the sky will light: The whole Israel was completely destroyed by Assyrian and Babylonian armies; but God will permit the Jewish loyal remnant who were on exile, to return to rebuild the country more prosperous than before. The prophet Isaiah predicted this day as follows: “He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your cattle will graze in large pastures; and the oxen and the asses that till the ground will eat salted provender, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. And upon every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the hurt of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.”
2/ Gospel: Jesus loves and cares for his people.
2.1/ He cared for his people both soul and body: All what Jesus did to show his caring for the people were reported by all the evangelists.
(1) He taught people all the truth: “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”
(2) He healed people from every disease and every infirmity.
(3) He prepared food for people to eat: He multiplied food from five loaves and two fishes to feed five thousand men alone. He also instituted the Eucharist to nourish people’s souls.
2.2/ Jesus cared for his people’s future: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” The Church continues Jesus’ mission by invitation, selection, training, and sending out leader to instruct future generations.
“He called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.”
The reason why Jesus sent the Twelve to come first to Israel’s lost sheep because they are God’s chosen one. Later, they would come and preach to all nations. Another reason for it is to be successful, one must start from a small group, and gradually spread to a bigger crowd.
Faith is the priceless gift, is given free of charge by God and missionaries’ preaching; therefore, those who received the faith must also give free of charge their time, health, talent for the proclamation of the Good News.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– By making observation all phenomena happened in the world, by reading Scripture and historical documents, and by reviewing our past, we recognized God’s love for us.
– God must punish us out of love. If He didn’t do so and let us have freedom to do what we want, we might separate from God and not reach our ultimate goal.
– God uses punishment not to destroy, but to purify us. It helps us to recognize our sins and to return to God’s true love.