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Saturday – Twenty-fifth Week – OT1
Readings: Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a; Lk 9:43b-45.
Reading 1 (Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a):
I, Zechariah, raised my eyes and looked:
there was a man with a measuring line in his hand.
I asked, “Where are you going?”
He answered, “To measure Jerusalem,
to see how great is its width and how great its length.”
Then the angel who spoke with me advanced,
and another angel came out to meet him and said to him,
“Run, tell this to that young man:
People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country,
because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.
But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the LORD,
and I will be the glory in her midst.”
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you.
Gospel (Lk 9:43b-45):
While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples,
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: We must overcome sufferings to reach glory.
For the Vietnameses, the event of April 30, 1975 is considered the good opportunity to help many people to know how is to live by hope. When the Communism took over the country, many were put in prisons without knowing the day they will be free; many desperately tried to escape by small fishing boats even though they know they can be dead on sea or in hands of pirates. When they luckily reached refugee camps, they lived miserably and do not know when they will be welcomed by the third countries. When they were received by the third countries, they have to start to build up their life with two empty hands. They willingly accepted all sufferings with the hope that their life will be better. Many of them have been succeeded and they come to agree that glory and success are only for those who persevered in sufferings.
Today readings teach men that they have to courageously face sufferings and to find ways to overcome them. In the first reading, the Israelites had no courage to rebuild the Temple after coming back to their country, because they have to face many hardships of life and to start again from the beginning. The prophet Zechariah encourages them to bravely overcome harships to rebuild the Temple so that God’s presence will be among them; and to hope for the glories of the holy Temple will come in future. In the Gospel, the disciples had no courage to ask Jesus about his forewarning of sufferings and death, because they are afraid of that. But Jesus would like to draw their mind to his glorious resurrection after that.
1/ Reading I: Zechariah’s vision of Jerusalem’s future
The backgrounds of Zechariah’s vision are the Exile, the rebuilding of the Temple and the country. Like the prophet Haggai, Zechariah recognized the importance of the rebuilding of the Temple. The Israelites cannot live without the Temple because that is the place of God’s presence among them, as He has promised from the time of Exodus. God’s promise will be continued until the time of the Messiah.
1.1/ Jerusalem will become the great city: In 587 BC, the Holy City and the Temple were completely destroyed by the Babylon armies. When the Israelites were released by Persian kings to come back to their country to rebuild the Temple, they felt discourage because the rebuilding requires much time, effort and financial while they are not settle down yet. The Zechariah’ vision is to provide hope for the Israelites so that they have courage to rebuild the Temple: Jerusalem will become the great city.
Zechariah reports: “I, Zechariah, raised my eyes and looked: there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how great is its width and how great its length.” Then the angel who spoke with me advanced, and another angel came out to meet him and said to him, “Run, tell this to that young man: People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country, because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.”
1.2/ God himself will be in their midst to protect Jerusalem: The city’s wall is very important for the Holy City because it prevents attacks of armies. When the city’s wall is remained, the city is safe; but if the city’s wall is destroyed, the city and the Temple are also destroyed. The Israelites have to rebuild not only the Temple, but also the city’s wall to protect the Temple and its citizens. Zechariah remembers God’s protection of the Israelites in the Exodus’ event by the colum of fire and clouds. He reveals for Israelites God’s will: “But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
1.3/ All nations on earth will come to Jerusalem: Until the Exile, Jerusalem is exclusively considered the Israelites’ city; but many prophecies of prophets before and after the Exile foretold the expansion of Jerusalem to all nations. Zechariah’s oracle is an example. He says: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you.” Jerusalem is the symbol of God’s presence among men. The Gentiles come to Jerusalem because they also believe in God of the Israelites.
2/ Gospel: All are astonished about Jesus’ power.
Luke’s short report about Jesus’ Passion is the second time Jesus foretold it to his disciples after the Transfiguration and the healing of the little boy possessed by devil which Jesus’ disciple could not heal.
2.1/ Jesus must endure sufferings: After expulsing of devil out of the little boy, 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 is to empower his disciples so that they can overcome what will happen in his Passion. Jesus knows if his disciples don’t have hope, they will easily give up when they face his Passion and death on the cross.
2.2/ People are not willing to accept the way of sufferings.
(1) The disciples did not understand what Jesus said: 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, did not choose a powerful way to save, but chose the way of suffering to redeem people!
(2) The disciples were afraid to ask him about that: They did not dare to ask because they are afraid to face a truth that they don’t want to accept. They want 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:
– Christ wants us to give up our way to accept his way of suffering in order to become his disciples.
– We must patiently overcome all present sufferings before we can receive the glory which God has prepared for us in His kingdom.
– The sufferings we are endured now cannot be compared with the glory which Christ has bestowed on us. Therefore, instead of whinning and complaining, we should ask God to give us patience and fortitude to overcome all sufferings in our life.