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Tuesday – Twenty-second week – OT1
Readings: I Thes 5:1-6, 9-11; Lk 4:31-37.
1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Thessalonians 5:1 But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 4:31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37 And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
I. THEME: To break off with sins and to live for God
Sin is a reality which confines and destroys people. Many people, though living in sins, no longer recognize dangers of sins because they are so used to them. Christ came to remind people to realize the reality of sins and the dangers are caused by them. He came to destroy sins and death by accepting his death on the cross, to purify and to bring eternal life for people.
Today readings remind people to recognize the reality of sins and to always prepare for their last day. In the first reading, St. Paul advised the Thessalonian faithful to prepare for the Last Day by always being ready and awake. The best way to prepare for the Last Day is to live as though today is our last day. In the Gospel, when Jesus entered a synagogue to teach, the evil spirits declared he is the Holy One of God, and begged him not to destroy them by teaching people. Jesus straightforwardly expelled them and taught people that they must take caution so that they might not become slaves for sins and the devil.
1/ Reading I: The Last Day shall certainly come.
1.1/ People must be prepared for Christ’s second coming: People only live a short period of time in this world, then they shall leave this world to return to God. The Last Day could be the Judgment Day of the whole world, or it can be the last day of each individual.
(1) God visits people at the unexpected time: No one knows when is the last day of their life on earth; many think they must be old or have a terminal disease to die, but the reality shows otherwise. There are many parents who have to lament their child’s death, “The yellow leaf is still on the tree while the green leaf is already fallen down, O my God!” St. Paul also recognized the unexpectedness of God’s visitation, so he advised the Thessalonians, “But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you.For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape.”
(2) People must always be prepared: Since no one foreknows their last day, so the best way is to always be ready; live as though today is their last day. St. Paul had this advice for the Thessalonians, “But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief.For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.” Night and darkness are the favorable time for thieves; if we always live in light, they shall have no chance to steal anything from us.
1.2/ Be always sober and alert: How can a person be always prepared? The Thessalonians prepared for the Last Day by doing nothing, they only sit and waited for that Day to come. St. Paul criticized this kind of preparation. He offered to them a better way, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
First of all, we must often remind each other to prepare for this day. Secondly, we must live temperately: We must moderately and wisely use what God gives to us for living; do not be slavery for any kind of addiction that leads us far away from His salvation. Lastly, we should live a closed relationship with Christ, obey what he teaches and imitate what he did, unite with him through prayer and his given grace through sacraments, especially the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
2/ Gospel: The Holy Spirit sanctifies the faithful.
2.1/ Christ’s word has power because it is guided by the Holy Spirit: When people listen to preachers, they shall recognize the value of their words depending on knowledge they possessed. The more the audience have knowlege the more understanding what preachers want to say. In today passage, when Jesus came to Capernaum, a major town of Galilee, to teach people on the Sabbath, people were astonished of his teaching because his words have power.
2.2/ The reaction of the unclean spirit: In oppose to the Holy Spirit’s presence is the devil’s presence. If the Holy Spirit helps people to fathom God’s mysteries, the devil finds ways to prevent people from undestanding these mysteries. The Egyptians believe that there are thirty-six kinds of devils who are alsways waiting to enter people through human senses to cause damages for people, such as: the mute, the deaf, the immoral, the lecherous, etc. The unclean spirit in today passage might be the lecherous demon; they were afraid of Jesus’ power when they said, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
First of all, we need to believe that the devil only has power on people, never on God and on those protected by God. Jesus destroys the devil’s power by two ways:
(1) By God’s power: In today passage, St. Luke reported that Jesus rebuked the demon, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm.
(2) By God’s words: In the Old Testament, especially in calling prophets, God destroyed the uncleanness by putting His word in Jeremiah’s mouth (Jer 1:9), or by commanding Ezekiel to open his mouth and swallowing His word (Eze 3:2). Once they have God’s word, they also have God’s presence and power. In the New Testament, Jesus’ disciples were also purified by God’s word. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father, he prayed so that the Father may sanctify his disciples in truth, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17:17-19).
Once they have these words, they also have the Holy Spirit’s presence and power so that they can expel demons by these words. In today passage, people were astonished of Jesus’ expulsion of demon, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Sins make people to become slaves for the devil, and prevent people to inherit God’s salvation. We should find all possible ways to eradicate all sins.
– We should learn Scripture so God’s words might enlighten us to recognize our sins. We should apply God’s words in our life and often receive sacraments so we might have strength to destroy our sins.