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Thursday – Fourth Week – OT2
Readings: I Kgs 2:1-4, 10-12; Mk 6:7-13.
1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Kings 2:1 When David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the Lord may establish his word which he spoke concerning me, saying, `If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel.’ 10 Then David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. 11 And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was firmly established.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 6:7 And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.
I. THEME: Obeying God’s teaching shall bring great results for people.
In order for people to accept suffering, they need to have a clear goal to follow. For examples, a farmer is ready to accept working under sun and rain because he expects a harvest to come. Similarly, a student accepts to sacrifice his pleasure for studying day and night because he knows the day of his graduation and finding a good job shall follow.
Today readings center on the ultimate goal of human beings. In the first reading, King David, after has going through all thick and thin of his life, wants to teach Solomon, his son, two most important things: to fear the Lord and to keep what He teaches. In the Gospel, Jesus called the Twelve and sent them out to preach the gospel. He commanded them not paying too much attention to material gains and worldly allurements so that they shall have more time to heal people and to preach the gospel.
1/ Reading I: “Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes.”
1.1/ People must fear the Lord and keep His commands.
(1) Parents’ experience is the priceless inheritance: Vietnamese has an adage, “Unsalted fish easily goes bad and indocile children easily go wrong.” When parents teach this sentence, they used both their glorious and painful experience to transmit a precious lesson for children out of their love for them. When the faithful hear about King David’s life through last week’s readings, they recognized King David had too many experience, both glorious and painful, in his life. When the king lived according to God’s way, he harvested so many glorious results. When he lived according to his way and passion, countless painful results happened for his individual, familial and nation. Now, as he is going to depart from this world, he wants to transmit all of his experience to Solomon, his son. He hopes that his son shall not have to go through his sinful life; but always fear and obey God’s will.
(2) False understandings about God’s and parents’ teachings: Many shallow people think that if they follow God’s or their parents’ teaching, they debase themselves or their freedom shall be limited; but experience teaches them that if they don’t, they shall have to pay a dearly price to learn their parents’ experience. God gives people the Ten Commandments because He loves and wants to protect them. The law is likened as a firm fence to protect people from outside dangers. If people go beyond this fence, suffering and death shall certainly happen to people. God’s law doesn’t limit people’s freedom; but protects and warns them from falling into the devil’s trap and being slaves for them.
1.2/ Obeying God’s command shall bring countless benefits for people.
(1) Successes in everything people do: God is the only One who can see all the future. This is the reason why He commands people to do things to guarantee success and to avoid danger. If people obey God, they might be “prosper in all that they do and wherever they turn.” If they disobey God’s command and do their will, suffering and bad results shall certainly happen, as they happened to King David and all historical persons. Today passage ends up with the sentence, “So Solomon sat upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was firmly established,” as the guarantee for Solomon if he obeys David, his father, and walks according to God’s way.
(2) God’s promise shall never be ineffective: In the Old Testament, God made many covenants with our forefathers and He never violates any covenant. In His covenant with King David, He promises, “If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel.” These covenants were violated from people’s side because they didn’t do what God commanded. Though people violated these covenants many times, God’s love still exceeds human sins; He always looks for opportunities to bring people back and for the covenants to be continued in effective.
2/ Gospel: Jesus sent the Twelve on their mission with two commands.
2.1/ The things which they can and can’t bring on their journey: Mark reported, “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick–no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.”
There exist many interpretations of this command. The main concern of this command is that the apostles must use all of their time and efforts for the preaching of the Gospel, not too concern or depend on material living. Jesus invited them to believe in God’s providence because “workers are worthy of their reward.” God shall take care of their living through the love of those who are permeated with the Gospel’s values. Moreover, if they don’t carry with them heavy luggage, they are easy to travel everywhere they are sent. Lastly, the preaching without influence of material things is more effective.
2.2/ The preachers’ attitudes: Jesus said to his disciples, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”
Similar to the above explanation, the apostle is sent out to preach the Gospel, not to find vainglory, power or material profits. If the apostle aims at the latter, he shall easily be discouraged and moves to places where he can find more profit. On the side of those whom the Gospel is preached to, they must open their heart to receive and to care for those who work for God, so that both the sowers and the harvesters are joyful in the harvest.
The preachers’ main activities are: Firstly, to preach the Gospel and to lead people to repentance. Secondly, to liberate them from being slavery to the devil and sins and to live a holy life as the Gospel requires. Thirdly, to anoint the sick and to heal them from all sickness, body and soul.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We have the ultimate goal to follow which is to live with God and all the faithful in heaven and forever. To attain this goal, we need to sacrifice and to accept all sufferings to preach and to live according to the gospel’s teachings. We can’t catch fish with both hands—to inherit eternal life with God in heaven and to enjoy this life to the fullest. Those who catch fish with both hands run the danger of losing everything.
– God’s word is the light for us to see all dangers of life. We should never despise it so that we shall not fall into the devil’s temptations and become a slave for sins. The parents’ and others’ experiences are precious lessons for us to learn, so that we don’t have to pay to learn their painful experiences.