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Thursday – Tenth week – OT1
Readings: 2 Cor 3:15-18, 4:1, 3-6; Mt 5:20-26.
1/ First Reading: RSV 2 Corinthians 3:15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 21 “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; 26 truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.
I. THEME: People should recognize God’s love and believe in Christ.
The most important thing of this life and shall remain in the next life is charity (agape). This love originates from God and is given to people as one of the three theological virtues. People must use this love to love God and others.
Today readings help us to recognize good results for those who have and live according to this love. In the first reading, St. Paul confirmed God’s love which is given to people through Christ; it can transform people to be new creatures. After being permeated with this love, people shall know how to correctly respond to God’s love for them and to love others as God’s children and as members of Christ’s body. In the Gospel, Jesus gives two results of God’s love: Jesus’ disciples must forgive others and live in harmony with all people.
1/ Reading I: “When a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed.”
1.1/ People should believe in Christ: If people only believe in Moses’ Law, they understand God’s glory dimly as though through a veil, as St. Paul confirmed: “Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds.” This fact is based on the Book of Exodus: Since the Israelites couldn’t stand when God reveals His power, so they asked God to talk to them through Moses, and he shall convey what God said to them. Even after Moses conversed with God, he came down from the mountain to talk to the Israelites; they couldn’t see Moses’ face because of God’s glory on his face. So, they asked Moses to wear a veil to prevent of hurting people’s eyes.
This veil also has a history in the temple. There is a long curtain which extends from the top to the bottom, to separate the most holy where the Most High dwells from the holy place. No one can come to the most holy place except the high priest and he can only enter it once a year on the Yom Kippur day, to sacrifice first for his sins and then for the sins of people. When Christ gave up his last breadth on the cross, all the Synoptists’ reported that this curtain was torn from the top to the bottom (Cf. Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Lk 23:45). The author of the Hebrews commented about this event as follows: Because of Christ, from now on, people can directly come to God without waiting for the Yom Kippur day or going to the Jerusalem temple.
St. Paul likens this fact with those who read the Old Testament without accepting Christ’s revelation as reading through a veil; they can dimly understand God’s mysteries and glory. When they believe in Christ’s revelation, this veil is taken away and they can clearly understand God’s mysteries and glory. He declared to his faithful: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
1.2/ The disciples’ difficulties when preaching about Christ: To bring people to God is a difficult task and demands patience because they must face the devil’s and worldly powers. St. Paul let us know his experience: “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.”
However, the disciples must strongly believe that Christ’s power can overcome all the devil’s and worldly powers. If they are sincere looking for the truth, love others and have patience t o live a unified life with Christ, God shall bestow on them necessary blessings so that they might bring many people to Him.
2/ Gospel: “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Whoever wants to be a disciple of any teacher or master, he must ready to say and act as his master. Jesus’ disciples must also talk and act as Christ teaches them. Today passage emphasizes on two main things which are the results when one had God’s love.
2.1/ They can’t be angry with others: Jesus differentiates the requirements of the Law and of love; at the same time, he challenges them to live according to the requirements of love: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”
The Law can’t condemn what happens inside a man because people can’t see or read it. The Law doesn’t condemn when people revile others because it is human temporal passion. It only condemns people when it has a clear proof such as: killing, causing injury or taking away other’ property, etc. But to God who can see all things that happen in people’s mind and heart and know all damages for both the violent and the violated, he requires his disciples to advance further on the progress of being perfected.
2.2/ They must live in harmony with all people: Jesus gives two reasons why his disciples must live in harmony with all people.
(1) Their relationship with God can’t be separated from their relationship with others: According to Jewish tradition, every time when a person sins, he must offer a sacrifice to ask God to forgive his sin. In the case of sinning against people, they must make peace with each other before they can be reconciled to God. The theology of the sacrament of Reconciliation also requires the sinner to forgive for the one who sins against him as God forgives him.
(2) To live in harmony with others helps one to avoid many headaches in life: Our ancestors advised us, “Living in harmony shall be loved by others.” In opposition, the grumble and the annoyed shall take on themselves hatred, contention and war. Jesus teaches his disciples: “Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must feel God’s love before we can return His love, and love others as God loves us.
– We have God’s love through our union and remaining in Christ. If we don’t have Christ’s love, we can’t love God and others as required.
– To respond to the vocation of being Christ’s disciple, we can’t only keep the Law but also treat others with the divine love.