Saturday – Eighth week – OT1

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Saturday – Eighth week – OT1

 

Readings: Sir 51:12c-20; Mk 11:27-33.

1/ First Reading: RSV Sirach 51:12 Therefore I will give thanks to thee and praise thee, and I will bless the name of the Lord. 13 While I was still young, before I went on my travels, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer. 14 Before the temple I asked for her, and I will search for her to the last. 15 From blossom to ripening grape my heart delighted in her; my foot entered upon the straight path; from my youth I followed her steps. 16 I inclined my ear a little and received her, and I found for myself much instruction. 17 I made progress therein; to him who gives wisdom I will give glory. 18 For I resolved to live according to wisdom, and I was zealous for the good; and I shall never be put to shame. 19 My soul grappled with wisdom, and in my conduct I was strict; I spread out my hands to the heavens, and lamented my ignorance of her. 20 I directed my soul to her, and through purification I found her. I gained understanding with her from the first, therefore I will not be forsaken.

2/ Gospel: NAU Mark 11:27 They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do these things?” 29 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer me.” 31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘then why did you not believe him?’ 32 “But shall we say, ‘From men ‘?”– they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. 33 Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”


I. THEME: To live according to wisdom is to live the truth.

            Wisdom is one of the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts which he gives to the faithful when they receive the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation. Like all the virtues, wisdom is liken to a seed with its full of potentialities; people must practice to develop it. If people don’t practice, they can lose it. The virtue of wisdom helps people to recognize God’s truth before they can practice them.          

            Today readings concentrate on the virtue of wisdom—how to possess and to practice it. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach gives a deep understanding of the virtue of wisdom: it is the process of the whole life; people must pray to have it; people must practice what they learn, to keep God’s commandments, and especially to have a pure mind in order to possess the virtue of wisdom. In the Gospel, the high priests, the scribes and the elders gathered together and questioned Jesus why he chased all merchants from the temple. Instead of answering their question, Jesus posed for them a question to see if they are sincere in searching for the truth; but when he recognized they persisted in their falsity, he refused to let them know the truth, the reason why he purified the temple.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: When I keep myself pure, I find wisdom.

1.1/ The truth about wisdom: First of all, wisdom comes from God, not from human beings; therefore, to possess wisdom, people must sincerely pray so that God might bestow His wisdom on them. The author mentions his experience as follows, “While I was still young, before I went on my travels, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer.Before the temple I asked for her, and I will search for her to the last.”

            Wisdom isn’t given to people at one time, but it is a progress of one’s life; therefore, people must learn wisdom everyday. The author said, “From blossom to ripening grape my heart delighted in her; my foot entered upon the straight path; from my youth I followed her steps.I made progress therein; to him who gives wisdom I will give glory.”

1.2/ How to acquire wisdom: The author gives his audience important advises to acquire wisdom:

            (1) Listening more than talking: “I inclined my ear a little and received her, and I found for myself much instruction.” This is easy to understand since when hearing, people gather in others’ knowledge; when talking, people give out their knowledge. If a person gives out more than he receives in, how can they acquire others’ wisdom?

            (2) To live according what wisdom teaches: “For I resolved to live according to wisdom, and I was zealous for the good; and I shall never be put to shame.” To have benefits from wisdom, one must not only know wisdom but also practice it; if one only knows it, he can’t have its benefits. When practicing it, people must overcome shame, criticism and persecution from those who don’t know wisdom.

            (3) To keep the law: “My soul grappled with wisdom, and in my conduct I was strict; I spread out my hands to the heavens, and lamented my ignorance of her.” This is obvious because the law comes from God who is the origin of all wisdom. Since people don’t know all, so God Himself gave them the Ten Commandments through Moses, to help people to live in a way that shall bring happiness for them.

            (4) To keep oneself pure: “I directed my soul to her, and through purification I found her. I gained understanding with her from the first, therefore I will not be forsaken.” Jesus also teaches, “Blessed are those who are pure of heart for they shall see God” (the six Beatitude). St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas also teach: the virtue of chastity is necessary in the journey of learning wisdom and looking for God. Those who are impure can’t contemplate God, the most wise and holy One.

2/ Gospel: The mental fighting between Jesus and the Jewish leaders

            The background of the mental fighting is Jesus’ purification of the Jerusalem temple which was reported yesterday. The high priests, scribes and elders questioned Jesus, not out of their concern for God’s temple, but to have a cause to condemn him.

2.1/ The question was asked by the high priests, scribes and elders: They asked Jesus: “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus knew well that if he answers by God’s power, they shall condemn him of blasphemy; but if he answers by human power, they shall condemn him of destroying the temple. Whatever he answers, they shall have a reason to seize him. Instead of directly answering them, Jesus put out a question as the condition which they must provide before he gives his answer. Jesus asked them, “Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin?” If they carefully paid attention to Jesus’ question, they shall know it is the answer for them!

2.2/ Two reactions:

            (1) Of the high priests, scribes and elders: Mark reported, “They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”– They feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet.So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.””

            (2) Of Jesus: Since they didn’t satisfy Jesus’ condition, so he said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            – Wisdom originates from God; He only gives it to those who sincerely pray and patiently study. Therefore, we must pray to the Holy Spirit when we begin to learn the divine wisdom.

            – To learn wisdom is the progress of our whole life, not only by hearing it in a few minutes in the weekend’s homily or attending some basic class. We must learn wisdom in all events of our life.

            – To possess wisdom, we learn not only to know it, but also to find opportunities to practice it to gain its benefits. If we know and don’t practice it, we shall gradually lose it.

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