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Thursday – Eleventh week – OT1
Readings: 2 Cor 11:1-11; Mt 6:7-15.
1/ First Reading: RSV 2 Corinthians 11:1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. 5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 7 Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel without cost to you? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 6:7 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread; 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; 13 and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
I. THEME: Put the ultimate purpose of your life above all material gains.
The main goal of our life is to achieve the salvation for ourselves and others. Therefore, we must spend time and effort to achieve this goal. Reality shows we didn’t do this. Some use all their time and effort to find money and to enjoy life. Some put their individual needs above the extending of God’s kingdom. Some even use the preaching of Gospel for their individual profits.
Today readings provide us some concrete examples to see what we have done to achieve the ultimate goal of our life. In the first reading, Paul wanted to show the Corinthian faithful that he prepared all necessary things for them to live their relationship with Christ, not to pay attention to the returning of their material things as his enemies accused him. In the Gospel, Jesus wanted his disciples to put the glorifying of God, the extending of God’s kingdom and the doing of God’s will before the need of having their daily bread and other needs.
1/ Reading I: “I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.”
1.1/ Paul paid attention to the Corinthian faithful’s soul above all things.
(1) Paul sincerely loves the Corinthian church: St. Paul’s purpose in preaching the Gospel for the Corinthians is to bring salvation to them. His worry is to prepare them for an intimate relationship with Christ which no worldly temptation can attract them. Because of his love for Christ and the faithful, Paul wanted to unite both of them in the marriage which the prophet Isaiah, Hosea and the author of the Song of Songs used. He writes, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.”
(2) Paul feared the Corinthian faithful were deceived by false preachers: He saw the signs of betrayal in the Corinthians faithful, so he warned them, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
Paul wanted them to pay attention to the three truths: Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Gospel, there is only one for each of them. He writes, “For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.”
1.2/ Paul’s self-defense: To help the Corinthian faithful to recognize the truth, Paul wanted to use his works – what he has done for the Corinthian church – to show them the wicked plan of his enemies who accused him as “the impostor.” He hopes the faithful can verify what he said.
(1) About knowledge: Paul writes, “I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles.Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.” Paul’s enemies accused him that he is not a real apostle, one of the Twelve whom Christ chose to be his apostles. Paul counters this accusation by saying he was chosen to be an apostle by the Resurrected Christ and sent to be the apostle of the Gentiles. The most important proof is his knowledge about God and Christ which was revealed to him during his three years in the Arabian deserts.
(2) About his preaching in gratis: The enemies accused Paul preached to the Corinthian faithful because he aimed at their financial support. He counters this accusation with the two facts: He didn’t receive any of their financial support but worked for his living by making tents and he received other churches’ support to preach the Gospel to them. Paul explained to them, “Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel without cost to you? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia. So, I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.”
(3) About his love for the Corinthian faithful: Paul wants to tell them that not because of other churches’ rejection that Paul came to establish the Corinthian church; but because of his true love for them. He wanted them to clearly understand this point by saying, “As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!”
2/ Gospel: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
2.1/ First and above all, we must concern about what belong to God: In our relationship with each other, we don’t like those who abuse our good heart by asking for favors all the time. A Vietnamese adage advises us for courtesy, “if we receive a gift, we should return a gift.” We can’t keep receiving without giving.
Similarly in our relationship with God, He is the Father and we are His children. Our duties, first of all, are to glorify His name by making it known to many by our preaching and doing good works. Next, we must pray for His kingdom to come by praying for more people to believe in Him everyday. Lastly, we must pray for all people to recognize God’s will and do according to it, at least for ourselves.
2.2/ Then, we must live our life according to God’s will: After concerning God’s works, we can ask Him to look down on our life. There are four petitions which Jesus taught us to pay attention and to ask for.
(1) We should only ask for “our daily food.” Don’t ask to be rich because richness shall make us to live far away from God and to rely only on ourselves.
(2) We should ask, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” If we have courage to ask for God’s forgiveness, we must also have courage to forgive others who committed sins against us. If we don’t forgive others, God shall not forgive us.
(3) Next, we need to realize that we must fight against three enemies every minute and second which are our own flesh, the world and the devil. All of them are dangerous. If we don’t have God’s grace, we can’t overcome them. Therefore, we should say this prayer often, “Do not subject us to the final test,” especially during temptation.
(4) Lastly, the evils are always near to us and can happen anytime, such as: diseases, war, catastrophes, etc. We need to pray “deliver us from the evil one,” if it is God’s will.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God let us live in this world to work for our salvation and the salvation of others, not to work for money and to enjoy our life. He constantly reminds us, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt 16:26).
– We must spend time and effort to glorify God, to extend God’s kingdom and to achieve God’s will, not to use God’s given time and blessing for material profits.