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Saturday – Twenty-fifth Week – OT2
Readings: Eccl 11:9-12:8; Lk 9:43-45.
1/ First Reading: NAB Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes; yet understand that as regards all this God will bring you to judgment. 10 Ward off grief from your heart and put away trouble from your presence, though the dawn of youth is fleeting. 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years approach of which you will say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 Before the sun is darkened, and the light, and the moon, and the stars, while the clouds return after the rain. 3 When the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders are idle because they are few, and they who look through the windows grow blind. 4 When the doors to the street are shut, and the sound of the mill is low; when one waits for the chirp of a bird, but all the daughters of song are suppressed; 5 and one fears heights, and perils in the street. When the almond tree blooms, and the locust grows sluggish and the caper berry is without effect, because man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets. 6 Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, And the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the broken pulley falls into the well, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, all things are vanity!
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 9:43 And all were astonished by the majesty of God. While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, 44 “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
I. THEME: Live present moment with a future goal.
In La Fontaine’s fables, there is a story which illustrates two living attitudes in life. One of the cicada who only lives the present moment without caring for what the future shall be; the other one of the ant who lives the present moment but always prepares for the future. When the winter comes, the cicada runs out of food and comes to the ant’s house to borrow some food. Similarly to human life, there are many people who only live their present moment without thinking or caring for their future. In contrast, there are some people who, though happily live the present moment but always prepare for their future. This must be the attitude of the faithful as Jesus warned his disciples about the Last Day, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mk 13:32-33).
Today readings advise people to always prepare for what shall come; don’t let the future catch them as “a thief in the night.” In the first reading, the author of Qohelet advised young people to fully live their present life without forgetting their future, because they shall have to face death and to answer before God for all of their acts which they did when they still live in the world. In the Gospel, Jesus carefully prepared for his disciples to face his Passion, Death and Resurrection by announcing it three times; but they didn’t want to understand or to accept them as reported in today Gospel.
1/ Reading I: Live the present life but don’t forget the future life.
When people are young and healthy, not many of them want to think about their old age, sickness or death. They are busy to enjoy their young life and to satisfy all passion of their flesh. The author of Qohelet didn’t prohibit them to enjoy their life, but wanted them to pay a special attention to the following four things:
(1) They must be responsible for all their acts: They must present before God and He shall judge all what they did, and nothing shall be left unchecked. Youth is the age of arrogant and reckless; whatever they want, they shall do it. They don’t want to listen to anyone who prevents them to do it, and have little regard for authority. Moreover, they must also endure the results of their acts even in this life, either on themselves or on their family and community, such as: sickness, prison or death.
(2) They can enjoy life but should revere the One who creates them; don’t wait for their old age to do it. Many young people think since God is compassionate and merciful, He shall forgive all of their sins if they repent; so they can recklessly enjoy their life and wait until they lie on their deathbed, at that time they shall repent as the good thief on the right side of Jesus’ cross. They forget that death can happen for anyone at anytime; there are many who died at very young age. Moreover, it isn’t easy to repent on the deathbed, once they are so deep in their sins, once the devil takes possession of their life, they shall have no strength to return to God. These are only negative factors; but when people know and revere God in their youth, they still can both enjoy their life and walk in God’s righteous way.
(3) They must face their old age: When people are young, they have no idea of what they shall become when they are old. The best way to prepare for their old age is to care for their parents or relatives. They shall see and feel all vulnerabilities of the old ages: psychologically such as: loneliness, fearness, worriness; physically such as: forgetfulness, blindness, deafness, lacking of coordination, etc. The author of Qohelet poetically described the old age as follows: “When the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders are idle because they are few, and they who look through the windows grow blind. When the doors to the street are shut, and the sound of the mill is low; when one waits for the chirp of a bird, but all the daughters of song are suppressed; and one fears heights, and perils in the street. When the almond tree blooms, and the locust grows sluggish and the caper berry is without effect, because man goes to his lasting home, and mourners go about the streets.”
(4) They must face death: This is a certain fact and no one can escape it; after the death is the Judgment Day as mentioned above. Therefore, everybody must prepare for death when they are still living. The author advised: “Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the broken pulley falls into the well, and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.”
2/ Gospel: All are astonished about Jesus’ power.
Luke’s short report about Jesus’ foretelling of his Passion for the second time happened after the Transfiguration and the healing of the little boy possessed by devil which Jesus’ disciple could not heal (Cf. Lk 9:28-43). The first foretelling happened right after Peter’s confession of Jesus’ true identity at Caesarea Philippi.
2.1/ Jesus must endure sufferings: Jesus declared to his disciples: “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” The purpose of Jesus’ Tranfiguration happened right after Jesus’ first revelation is to empower his disciples so that they might overcome what will happen to them at his Passion. Jesus knew that if his disciples don’t have hope in him, they will easily give up when they face his Passion and Death on the cross.
2.2/ His disciples are not willing to accept the way of sufferings.
(1) The disciples did not understand what Jesus said: Luke said that the disciples “did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them.” The disciples are also like many of us: we cannot understand why a glorified God who has power over devils and all sickness, doesn’t choose a powerful way to save, but chooses the way of suffering to redeem people!
(2) The disciples were afraid to ask him about that: They did not dare to ask him because they were afraid to face a truth that they don’t want to accept. They wanted Jesus to accept their way of salvation, they don’t want to accept Jesus’ way of salvation. This can be seen in Peter’s attitude when he took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Mt 16:22).
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must live our present life and prepare for our future life. We enjoy our young age but also prepare to face our old age.
– We must practice to have a firm faith when we are still young so we can face the reality of the old age with all kinds of sickness and death.
– When we are prepared and ready, we shall not be surprised when what we expected come, and know how to successfully solve them.