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Saturday – Seventh Week – OT2
Readings: Jam 5:13-20; Mk 10:13-16.
1/ Reading I: RSV James 5:13 Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. 17 Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. 19 My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 10:13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.
I. THEME: Believe and trust our life in God’s hand.
We are worrying too much with disease, job, family, children; but our worries can’t solve anything because they are out of our hands. Many who worry so much lose their sleep and acquire more sicknesses; others who constantly worry nag their spouse and children day and night, this attitude cause their family losing their happiness.
Today readings teach us to believe and trust our life in God’s hand as children in their parents. In the first reading, St. James advised the faithful what they need to do when they are happy or sad, healthy or sick; especially to co-operate with God to bring back sinners for God. In the Gospel, since Jesus’ disciples were too worried that he has no time to rest, they chased away children when they want to come to Jesus. He felt indignant and said to them that let the children come to him because the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like them.
1/ Reading I: People should believe in God’s providence.
1.1/ What the faithful need to do in all situations: Many people don’t know what to do when they face critical situations in their life. St. James advised them to always think about God and then act accordingly. He advised the faithful to do three things in today passage:
(1) To pray in suffering and sickness: “Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray… Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” The Catholic Church based on this sentence to establish the sacrament of Anointing of the sick. The priest anoints the Oil of Infirmity on the patient’s head and two hands and prays for the patience’s recovery. It isn’t guaranteed the patient shall recover. The patient must obey God’s will: if God wants him to live, He shall let him recover; if God wants to take him away, the priest asks for a blessing death.
St. James emphasized on both physical sickness: “The prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up” and the spiritual sickness: “If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
(2) To sing praise in happiness: St. Paul also advises his faithful to sing holy songs, hymns and psalms (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). The purpose of singing is to praise and to thank for all the blessings which one received from God.
(3) To confess sins with one another: He wrote: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” The Dominican Order has the time for their friars to confess their sins and to do fraternal correction. If these were done correctly and with humility, they shall help both the individuals and the community.
1.2/ To co-operate with God to bring back sinners: This must be the second most important thing to do after the working for one’s own salvation. St. James revealed an important reward for those who do it, “If any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” When one sincerely confesses with a priest, his sins shall be forgiven; but to compensate for his sins, he must do some satisfactions. The satisfaction which is given by a priest is only symbolical. Helping sinners to return to God or doing any of the fourteen works of mercy shall compensate for our punishments.
2/ Gospel: “Wwhoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
2.1/ The problem with children: Not only Jesus’ disciples had the problem with children, but also many today couples don’t want to have any child or only one or two children. Some of their excuses are:
(1) Too burdensome: Children make lots of mess, they don’t want to clean up after them. Children are so noisy; they need quiet time to be peaceful. Children cry at night; they need time to sleep, etc.
(2) Having no time for themselves: Children can’t take care themselves, they rely completely on adults. Many couples are afraid that they don’t have enough time for themselves or travelling.
(3) Educating children is a tough job: Many reason if they know their children shall turn out bad, it is better not to have them.
2.2/ The children’s good habits: We shall firstly find out the good habits which children have, and then apply them on those who look for God’s kingdom. We only examine the common cases for children, not some exceptional cases.
(1) Truthfulness: Whatever children see they tell as such; they don’t hide the truth and pay no attention to others’ displeasure. A Vietnamese adage describes this children’s good habit, “Ask the elder before you are on the way, and ask children when you are back at home.” This adage means when you go out of your house, you should learn experience from the elder; but when you come back, you should ask children to know all things that happened at home when you are absent. Jesus also teaches us to have this good habit in all relationships, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil” (Mt 5:37).
(2) Humility: Children wants to learn because everything seem new for them. They ask a lots of foolish questions without fearing of others’ jeer at them. They ashamed when are praised by others. They are easily to harmonize and to make friend with others; for example, when they come to other’s house, it only takes them a while to make friend with children in that house. The adults behave differently, they need to carefully know others and take a long time to make friend with others.
(3) Obedience: Children are easy to obey their parents, older brothers and sisters and teachers; whatever these people say they shall do as such. They don’t reason nor talk back nor find out why they have to do like that. The adults don’t act as such, they always find out the reason to do; and many times, the reason for not to do it.
(4) Trust: Children completely trust their parents but not the outsiders. To them, whatever their parents say, they believe in them, even some legendary stories such as: Santa Claus, the Snow Princess and the seven dwarfs, etc. God also wants us to completely trust in Him because all what He promises to men, He shall do them; and all what He says, shall happen.
(5) Love: Children don’t get revenge, they love their parents and all those who do good for them. If they get angry, they shall quickly reconcile and easy to forget. The adults aren’t easy to forgive others. There are some violations they shall never forget; and to forgive, they demand many conditions.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
Jesus requires us to have all the above children’s virtues in our relationships with him and others in order to enter the heaven. To acquire them, we must understand God’s love and His providence. The fear of danger and losing cause us to be reserved in our relationships; but once we trust God who always care and protect us, we shall no longer fear and be confident more in our relationship with others.