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Thursday – Seventeenth week – OT1
Readings: Exo 40:16-21, 34-38; Mt 13:47-53.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 40:16 Thus did Moses; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. 17 And in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars; 19 and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 20 And he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above on the ark; 21 and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; 37 but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. 38 For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 51 “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there.
I. THEME: Be ready to adapt with all changes of life according to God’s will.
Facing changes in life, people used to have two tendencies. On the one side is the conservative tendency. People who follow this tendency think they must protect their tradition and nothing can be changed. These people like to live with their glorious past more than to adapt with changes of present time. On the other side is the radical tendency. People who follow this tendency think they must wipe away all their past to run after new things. These people like to change everything to follow advancements of the society. Both tendencies are extreme. The wise is the one who has a matured mind to keep what are the excellences of their tradition and to change what need to be changed to keep up with advancements of the society.
Today readings emphasize this wise tendency. In the first reading, Moses ordered the Israelites to build the Ark and the Tabernacle according to God’s instruction. The purpose of this building is for the Israelites to always realize God’s presence among their midst through the guidance of the pillar of cloud before the Tabernacle. In the Gospel, Jesus explained for his disciples that the reason why they could understand the mystery of the heavenly kingdom is because they already had the basic knowledge of the Law and the prophets. In the present time, God wants both the good and the evil to live together; but in the Last Day, His angels shall separate them and destroy the evil forever.
1/ Reading I: God is always with people.
1.1/ Building the Ark and the Tabernacle: God can be with people without the Ark or the Tabernacle because He is invisible; but the people need these things because they are visible, to ascertain that God is with them. We still remember the event which the Israelites ordered Aaron to make for them a golden calf to worship because they didn’t see either God or Moses for a long time, when he went up to the mountain to converse with God and to prepare the Ten Commandments for people. What is visible has power to remind people not to forget God’s presence and love for people.
This is the reason why Moses exactly did what God commanded him, “In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected.Moses erected the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars;and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses.And he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above on the ark;and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony; as the Lord had commanded Moses.”
Later, when entered into the Promise Land, the Israelites still kept the habit to let the Ark inside the Tabernacle, until King Solomon replaced the Tabernacle with the temple and put the Ark in the most holy place in the temple. In the New Testament, the temple is replaced by the churches everywhere and the Ark is replaced by the sacred Body of Christ.
1.2/ God guided the Israelites during their forty years in the deserts: God isn’t only present among the Israelites, He also guided them during their wandering in the deserts. To know when God wants them to stop or to be on their way, Moses and the Israelites looked at the pillar of cloud.
– When the pillar of cloud flies over the Tabernacle, they roll up their tents and go.
– When the pillar of cloud doesn’t fly up, they camp until the day it flies up. “For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.”
2/ Gospel: “The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.”
2.1/ “The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteousand throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
Jesus used the image of a fisherman who sit and select fish to remind people this truth, no fisherman is unwise to put both good and bad fish together. In reverse, he shall select good fish and put them into a container and throw bad fish out. Similarly, on the Last Day, God shall send out His angels to gather all of them, they shall let the righteous enter the kingdom of heaven and throw the wicked into a fiery furnace, they will be wailing and grinding of teeth. If people know that they can’t enter heaven if they are full of sins, they must repent, return and practice to be better persons.
2.2/ “The kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
Jesus used the image of the scribe after he was fluently learned about the kingdom of heaven. He was like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old. Jesus wanted to show people that the kingdom of heaven isn’t contained only the old, nor only the new; but both the old and the new. This can be applied to Jesus because he taught us both the old and the new teaching, both the Old and the New Testament. He came to fulfill what the Old Testament mentioned about him and to clarify what are still obscured in the Old Testament.
A very danger attitude of the modern people is to discard the old and to keep only the new. These people think that they must get rid of all the old or at least to re-examine all past beliefs and to start anew. They forget that not all the old are bad and not all the new are good; the new aren’t certainly better than the old and many times, the new are the perfection of the old. The advancement of science shouldn’t make people to live far away from God; but must be the reason for men to get closer to God because He gives people wisdom to discover orders which He hides them in the universe.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should have a wise attitude to keep what can’t be changed such as faith and love; at the same time to change what can’t be changed according to God’s will and the advancements of the society.
– If we stubbornly keep all our traditions, we shall be eliminated by time; and if we completely adapt, we shall be like a tree without root or dry stream without its source.