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Saturday – Eighteenth week – OT1
Readings: Deut 6:4-13; Mt 17:14-20.
1/ First Reading: RSV Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; 5 and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 10 “And when the LORD your God brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities, which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, 12 then take heed lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 13 You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his name.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 17:14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
I. THEME: Believe and love God with all our mind and heart to bring benefits for ourselves and others.
St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order, is the exemplar for us by his life: he went out and preached the Gospel by day and returned home to pray for people all night. He taught his brothers to contemplate and to hand to others the fruit of their contemplation. To him, the most important thing to do in life is the salvation of all people by cultivating in them a strong faith and love for God.
Today readings concentrate on the first and most important commandment, that is, to love god above all things. In the first reading, Moses commanded the Israelites that they must find all possible ways to memorize this important commandment and to transmit it to their children. In the Gospel, the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t expel the demon out of the little boy; Jesus reminded them that because their faith is still weak.
1/ Reading I: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
1.1/ Must do all possible ways to memorize this most important commandment: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord;and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Two important duties we can draw out from this commandment: First, there is only one God; people can’t worship any other god. Secondly, people must love God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength. They can’t put anyone or anything above god.
People are easy to forget and always be tempted by enemies; so to help people to always remember this commandment, Moses commanded the Israelites to do the following things, and many Jews still keep them to this day.
(1) Must carve it in their mind and heart: To memorize something, the best way is to keep repeating it until it becomes a habit. For examples, some faithful have a habit of pray the morning and the evening prayer; the monk and the religious have a habit of praying every three hours: three, six, nine, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, twenty-one and twenty-four.
(2) Must transmit it to their children and grand-children: Moses continued, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The first and important duty of parents is to propagate their faith to their children. If parents fulfill all other duties and their children have no faith, parents fail and shall be responsible before God. The Vietnamese tradition has a habit of praying with all members of their family; some even have a habit of doing the same in the early morning. These habits must be kept. Besides, parents must use all opportunities to help their children to know and to love God more.
(3) Must advertise this commandment everywhere: The results of the modern advertising prove its effects. Moses, though living about four thousand years ago, might be the forerunner of the advertisement when he commanded the Israelites:
– Must tie this commandment in their arm and wear it on their forehead: The Israelites used to have two little boxes which contain this commandment (Shema); they used to wear these two boxes in their arms when they pray. Besides, they also have it writing on the frontlet and wear it on their forehead.
– Must write this commandment on their doorpost and gate: The door is the place where all members of the family enter and get out; each time they do that, they must look on it and shall remember this commandment. Similarly with the gate of the city, each time people enter and went out of the gate, they must also read and shall remember it.
1.2/ Must remember what God has done for them: Moses wanted the Israelites to never forget what happened in the Exodus event because God clearly revealed His love and power for people. He reminded people two important things:
(1) God led them to the Promise Land: Moses said, “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities, which you did not build,and houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full.” The Vietnamese refugees had the same experience when they were received in the third country after the April 30, 1975 event. Moreover, the world is also a giant inheritance which contains God’s countless gifts for people.
(2) God set them free from being slaves for the Egyptians: Moses said, “Then take heed lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The danger of being slaves in body of the Israelites for the Egyptians can’t be compared with being slaves in soul for the devil; that are: sins. Christ came to liberate people from being slaves for sins. This gift is more valuable and needs to be returned with our faith and love.
2/ Gospel: Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
2.1/ The strong faith of the boy’s father: Like the Canaanite woman who persevered in her faith and overcame all obstacles in order to receive Jesus’ healing for her daughter, the father who had a lunatic son, also acted the same. First, he brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but they couldn’t heal him. Next, he wasn’t discouraged, he tried to find an opportunity to meet Jesus himself because he firmly believed that Jesus can heal his son.
2.2/ The weak faith of Jesus’ disciples: When Jesus heard the man said, “I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him;“Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.”
Why did Jesus speak these words? It isn’t certainly because the father’s lack of faith, but the disciples’ lack of faith. Jesus taught them too many things and did too many miracles before them; these weren’t enough for them to put their complete trust in him.
When they brought the boy to Jesus, he rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured.Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Our most important duties are to preach God’s word and to care for the souls of others. The most important people are our children and those under our guidance.
– We can’t give to others what we don’t have. Therefore, the most necessary for us to do is to practice so that we could have an unshakable faith in God.