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Saturday – Fourth Week – OT2
Readings: 1 Kgs 3:4-13; Mk 6:30-34
Reading 1 (1 Kgs 3:4-13):
Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice there,
because that was the most renowned high place.
Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
“You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David,
because he behaved faithfully toward you,
with justice and an upright heart;
and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne.
O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant,
king to succeed my father David;
but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this?
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right?
I do as you requested.
I give you a heart so wise and understanding
that there has never been anyone like you up to now,
and after you there will come no one to equal you.
In addition, I give you what you have not asked for,
such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like.”
Gospel (Mk 6:30-34):
The Apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
I. THEME: The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep.
No one is an island; no body can live by himself. A person needs others’ help and he has an obligation to help others. For example, a baby can’t live by himself. Physically, he needs his parents to help him until he can feed himself. Intellectually, he needs to be guided by his parents and educated by his teachers so he can acquire necessary knowledge, reason, judge and make right decisions. Spiritually, he needs to be guided to recognize his Creator and to live his relationship with God.
Today readings emphasize these relations, especially the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. In the first reading, king Solomon asked God to give him only the wisdom so that he can govern his people in justice and love; because he knows if he has wisdom, he shall have everything. In the Gospel, even though Jesus would like his disciples to value silence to rest and to live their relationship with God; but he had compassion for people because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
1/ Reading I: “Give thy servant wisdom to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil.”
1.1/ A wise petition of king Solomon: The wise person is the one who knows God, himself and others. Solomon showed he was wise in making his petition even before he receives wisdom from God.
(1) Solomon knew how to learn from previous generation: Educated by David, his father, Solomon certainly acquired many virtues from him, such as: to revere God, to trust Him, to live justly, and to care for people under his authority. However, Solomon also learned of his father’s sins and all terrible punishments had happened to him, his family and nation. These were results of not having a right judgment.
God’s promise to Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you,” is a dangerous promise; because if Solomon doesn’t ask a right thing, it will come and hurt him later. For examples, it is not wise to ask for richness because it can destroy one’s family or lead one to live far away from God. It is also not wise to ask for a long life when one’s body is sick and no longer functions well.
(2) Solomon recognized his limit in governing his nation: A leader must be wise to lead and to show people a way. A blind people can’t lead others on the right way, as Jesus warned the Pharisees and the scribes: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39).
King Solomon realized his limitation and recognized the importance of wisdom in governing his nation, so he prayed to God: “O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people; that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern thy great people?”
1.2/ God pleased with Solomon’s petition and granted it to him.
(1) Solomon’s petition pleased God because he wasn’t concern of himself, but of the governing of His people. Therefore, God said to him: “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.”
(2) To have wisdom is to possess all things: Solomon foresaw what the wisdom can help him to achieve. If he knows how to govern his nation, people’s life shall be improved; nation shall be at peace and prosperous; he shall be glorified and inherited people’s richness. In opposition, if he doesn’t know how to govern his people, people’s life shall be suffered; nation shall be divided and poor; he shall be blamed and replaced by someone better than him. Therefore, Solomon’s petition of wisdom is the key to solve all things. Solomon’s reign is considered the most glorious and properous reign of the Israel’s history.
2/ Gospel: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”
2.1/ An apostle needs tranquility to rest and to refresh: An apostle is easily to get high when he sees the results of his apostolic works and is praised by people. These shall lead him to try harder, even ready to sacrifice his time of eating and drinking, resting and recreating, to satisfy people’s need. However, Jesus wisely reminded them: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” There are many reasons of this wise advise:
– Human body has its own limitation: When people works hard and are tired, they need to be rested and recovered. If they don’t, they shall be burdened and their future works shall not be effective.
– The apostolic works must be balanced by the prayer life: If an apostle doesn’t spend time to pray, he shall not have spiritual power to meet requirements of the apostolic life. St. Dominic wisely established the Dominican Order that balances these two dimensions: to do apostolic works in daytime and to communicate with God in night time.
2.2/ People are thirsting for the Gospel: Though Jesus and his disciples got on a boat to be away from people and rested for a while, but when Jesus got out of the boat, “he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” The need to care for people is always urgent because:
(1) Sheep without a shepherd don’t know the way: The shepherd needs to show his people the way to God, the ultimate goal of their life. Without this goal, people are led astray and easy to be led into immoral activities of the devils and the world.
(2) Sheep without a shepherd can’t find nutritious food: The shepherd needs to provide spiritual food for his people through God’s words, sacraments and a prayer life with God.
(3) Sheep without a shepherd will be preys for wolves: The shepherd needs to early recognize signs of danger and traps to warn his people, such as: individualism, materialism, divorce, abortion, wrong understanding of freedom, etc.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to ask God for His wisdom so that we know how to live and to guide people under our responsibility to live according to God’s way and to avoid all dangers.
– Our apostolic life must be balanced by our prayer life. An apostolic life without a prayer life shall be lost, and easily lead us to hopeless and desperation.