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Thursday – Ninth Week – OT2
Readings: 2 Tm 2:8-15; Mk 12:28-34
Reading 1 (2 Tm 2:8-15):
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.
Remind people of these things
and charge them before God to stop disputing about words.
This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.
Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God,
a workman who causes no disgrace,
imparting the word of truth without deviation.
Gospel: (Mk 12:28-34)
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: The conditions to enter God’s kingdom.
When people did something wrong; instead of accepting their weakness and correcting it, they try to find excuses for their sin. One of these excuses to argue about the meaning of words. For example, in the wedding day, two persons were fully of freedom, hold hands and vowed before God that they shall be loyal to each other all the days of their life, in prosperity and in poverty, in healthy and in sickness. They knew that they can’t find any reason to divorce. Few years later, one of the two or both went to the civil court to ask for the dissolution of their marriage with some reasons such as: “They can’t stand each other anymore!” or “No one can be loyal to one person all of his/her life!” or “It isn’t my fault!” or “If both of them aren’t happy, separation is better!”
Today readings emphasize on the practicing of God’s words as the condition to enter His kingdom. In the first reading, St. Paul reminded Timothy, his beloved disciple, to be loyal in preaching the Good News even in persecution and in chain, to bring salvation for himself and others, not to argue on words to defend his disloyalty. In the Gospel, Jesus recognized the scribe’s sincerity in searching for the truth when he came and asked him, “What commandment is the most important?” Jesus answered him: “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
1/ Reading I: “If we persevere we shall also reign with him.”
1.1/ I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen.
(1) To endure sufferings for the salvation of others: One of Pauline theology is to imitate him as he imitated Jesus Christ. Jesus committed no sin but he suffered to redeem people’s sins and to bring salvation for all people. St. Paul imitated Jesus by suffered even to the point of chains like a criminal, because of preaching the Good News. His purpose is: “I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory.” St. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy while he was chained in prison at Rome to advised Timothy that he must be ready to suffer for the preaching of the Good News.
The important point we recognized both in Christ and in Paul is that they put the salvation of souls as the first priority in their life on earth. Imitated Christ, Paul preached the Good News even he must suffer the pain of prison. He advised Timothy to imitate him by not chaining the Word of God. The world can confine preachers; they can’t confine God’s words because they shall be last for ever.
(2) To endure sufferings to show one’s loyalty to God: People can only find out who are their true friends in suffering; those who ran away from them when they were suffered aren’t true friends. Jesus said to his disciples, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10:32-33). St. Paul repeated this point with different words: “This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”
1.2/ Pay attention to the content of the doctrines, not on sophistry!
(1) Stop disputing about words: Paul advised Timothy: “Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.” The important point which Paul wanted to advise is to pay attention to the truth behind words. The truth here is to perservere in sufferings to bring salvation to others and to demonstrate one’s fidelity to God. The ones who likes to dispute about words can reason that they also love God and cause no damages to others; but Jesus shall say to them: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21).
(2) Preach the truth: Paul continued to advise Timothy: “Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.” The tested ones are those who suffered and are still loyal to God. The workers who labor for the glory of God’s kingdom have nothing to be ashamed of. The preachers who truthfully preach the word of God aren’t afraid of any accusation because they know that the truth shall set them free.
2/ Gospel: To love God above all things and to love others as oneself.
2.1/ Some wrong intentions of asking question: The Gospel in last few days illustrated some kinds of people who questioned Jesus with their different intentions.
(1) Questioning to find one’s fault: Some Pharisees and those belong to Herodian party asked Jesus, “Should we pay tax for Caesar or not?” Their intention was to find a cause to seize him, either Jesus says “Yes” or “No.” This dirty trick is still happening for religious leaders.
(2) Questioning to prove the falsehood: The Sadducees asked Jesus: “At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.” These Sadducees didn’t want to believe in the eternal life so that they could enjoy their life in this world, even though they could find proves for eternal life in Scripture. Today, there still exist many people like them, they don’t want to believe in God so that they don’t have to keep His teachings or to live at peace in their darkness!
(3) Questioning to show one’s knowledge: Some ask a question to see that if their opponents know what they know. Their purpose are to insult others or to display their knowledge.
2.2/ Searching for the truth: Those kinds of people might hide their wicked intentions from people, but can’t hide themselves from God because He sees through their mind. He knows who is sincerely searching for the truth. To those who have wicked intentions, Jesus displayed their falsity. To those who are sincerely looking for truth as the scribe in today passage, Jesus revealed the truth to him which can be abbreviated as “to love God above all and to love others.”
The scribe agreed with Jesus. He recognized the principle which stands behind the two commandments is the love people have for God and others, expressed by concrete acts such as: to keep God’s commandments and to help others. Whoever understand the principle and do it, they aren’t far away from God’s kingdom.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– If we are sincere in searching for the truth, God shall show us the truth. Once we know the truth, we should have courage to live and to witness for the truth.
– Suffering is the mean which God uses to test our loyalty. Only those who persevered in suffering can demonstrate that they are truly Christ’s friends.
– We should find out the principle behind God’s words. Don’t pay too much attention on disputing of words, because words are used to explain the truth, they themselves aren’t the truth.