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Tuesday – Seventeenth week – OT1
Readings: Exo 33:7-11, 34:5-9, 28; Mt 13:35-43.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 33:7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose up, and every man stood at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he had gone into the tent. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent. RSV Exodus 34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8 And Moses made haste to bow his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 And he said, “If now I have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in the midst of us, although it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thy inheritance.” 28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 13:35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” 36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
I. THEME: God shall return to people according to their deeds.
No one can deny the presence of the evil spirits which we simply call them “the devil and his companions” in our life. While people of good will always try to rise up, there is always a power which tries to pull them down. St. Paul described these two opposed tendencies as followed, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Rom 7:19). Many worry that the evil spirits are winning and they shall dominate this world one day.
Today readings want to highlight the contrast between God’s love for people and the devil’s will to destroy people. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Exodus reported the presence of God among the Israelites through “the pillar of cloud” before their meeting tent, to converse with Moses as with a friend to reveal His will for the Israelites; while the devil always tries to rouse up people to turn their back to God and their leader. In the Gospel, Jesus explained the parable of the weeds for his disciples. God always sows the good seeds in human souls while the devil always sows the weeds in them. God shall be patient to wait until the Last Day when His angels shall gather the devil and all of his companions and destroy them forever.
1/ Reading I: “When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.”
1.1/ God was presented among the Israelites under many different forms: During their forty years wandering in the deserts, God chose many forms to present with the Israelites.
(1) The meeting tent and the pillar of cloud: The author reported these signs as follows, “Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp.Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose up, and every man stood at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he had gone into the tent.When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door.”
Today, God is still present with people under many different forms, especially in the Tabernacle where He waits for people to visit and to converse with Him. Like the Israelites, we must have a respectful attitude before God’s presence everytime when we come to visit Him in the church.
(2) God speaks to the Israelites through Moses: According to today passage, “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
This is a priviledge which God gave to Moses to converse with him face-to-face without being dead. This is only a human way of speaking because God doesn’t have a human face like us. This is also the highest hope for us, to see God face-to-face as He is in the beatific vision. According to the sixth beatitude, only those who are pure could see God. Moses must have a pure soul.
God is still speaking to us through His leaders such as: the pope, the bishops, the priests, teachers and our parents; through them, we can see more clearly what He wants for us.
1.2/ God is always faithful and just: In today vision, God revealed for Moses the truths about Him, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
(1) Sin and punishment: Since God is gracious and merciful, He shall forgive all sinners who repent; but they still have to receive their punishment according to their deeds. The punishment could be what sinners caused for themselves; for example, those who committed the sin of pride shall be avoided by others. It could also be caused by God and others; for example, one must endure three years in prison because he caused material damages for others.
(2) Moses interceded with Gof for the Israelites: Moses bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped God andsaid, “If now I have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in the midst of us, although it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thy inheritance.”
Like Abraham, the patriarch, interceded for the Sodomites, Moses also interceded for the Israelites. He asked God to always present with them, to forgive their sins and to receive them as His own people. Only the one who is considered as God’s friend can do as Moses did.
2/ Gospel: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
2.1/ The allegorical meaning of the parable of the weeds: The evangelist reported, “Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”” There aren’t many parables who had so many allegorical meanings as the parable of the weeds which was explained by Jesus himself.
(1) The One who sows good seeds: is the Son of Man, Christ himself.
(2) The one who sows bad seeds: is the devil who opposes God.
(3) The field: is the world. Many people compared the world as the battlefield between good and evil.
(4) The good seeds: are God’s children who want to live according to the truth and the good.
(5) The weeds: are the devil’s children who refuse to live according to God’s teaching.
(6) The harvest: As the harvest shall come to farmers, the Last Day shall certain come to human beings.
(7) The harvesters: are angels.
2.2/ The Last Day shall come: The main point in the parable of the weeds is the devil’s presense in human life. They compete with God to draw people to themselves; but they only can do that until the Last Day. In that Day, the devil and his children shall be destroyed for ever, as Jesus declared today: “Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.”
(1) The fate of the devil and his children: “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
(2) The fate of God’s children: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We shall be responsible for all the deeds which we did when we live in this world. Therefore, we must try the best to do them according to God’s teaching
– The Last Day shall certainly come as the harvest of farmers. In that Day, the devil and evil people shall be rooted out and destroyed as the weeds; and the righteous shall be gathered into God’s kingdom to live a happy life with Him forever. We should not be foolish to live as the devil’s temptations if we don’t want to be destroyed forever.