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Tuesday – Twenty-third week – OT1
Readings: Col 2:6-15; Lk 6:12-19.
1/ First Reading: RSV Colossians 2:6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 6:12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.
I. THEME: Christ is the key that brings salvation for all people.
In ancient time as also as today, the faithful who live in the world are often tempted by many false thoughts and doctrines which aim to disconnect them from God’s truth. If the faithful aren’t deeply rooted in truth, their faith shall easily be shaken or changed by these doctrines.
Today readings help people to recognize the principle things which bring salvation for them. In the first reading, St. Paul confirmed that Christ and his teachings are the main principles that help people to attain salvation. The faithful need to pray, to deeply unite with him, to learn and to do what he teaches. They shouldn’t let any doctrine confuse or convince them to live far away from his teachings. In the Gospel, Jesus prayed all night long with God so he could select his apostles who want to sacrifice their life for the Church which he is going to establish. After the selection, he lets them stay with him so he could teach them and bestow the necessary grace for them to fulfill their mission.
1/ Reading I: Root deeply and build our life on the foundation which is Christ.
1.1/ What the faithful must do: Today passage belongs to the doctrinal section of the Letter to the Colossians. The faithful are tempted from many directions: The Jewish doctrine requires them to be circumcised and keeping the law to inherit salvation. The Gnosticism promises that they have the secret knowledge which could help their soul to escape their body to be with God forever. Other religion teaches that Christ is only one in many gods; the faithful must worship many other gods, such as: the sun, the moon, the star and carefully observe days, months and years. St. Paul teaches the faithful must avoid these false doctrines, center their life on Christ and do the following things:
(1) “You received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him”: The faithful unite with Christ by participating in the sacrament of the Eucharist and by a life of prayer.
(2) “Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith”: Learning and living according to the Scripture is the foundation of the faithful’s life.
(3) “Just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”: The faithful should let their faith to guide their life and not worry about anything.
(4) “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ”: To prevent themselves from false teachings, the faithful are required to know Christ’s true teachings.
In a word, the faithful don’t need any god except Christ to attain salvation, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
1.2/ Christ’s baptism is enough to bring salvation for men: Next, Paul talked about the importance of the sacrament of Baptism; it is needed to bring salvation for the faithful, to oppose the requirement to be circumcised of some Jews, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
When receiving the sacrament of Baptism, the faithful are buried together with Christ and also resurrected like him, because they believe in the power of God who raised him from dead. Moreover, before Baptism, people are considered as dead because of their sins; but after this sacrament, the faithful are permitted to live with Christ by God since He forgives all of their sins.
St. Paul confirmed that the Law isn’t enough to save people; this is the reason why God destroyed the Old Covenant, “Having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” He also declared that no knowledge can liberate people, except Christ’s knowledge.
2/ Gospel: Jesus chose the twelve apostles who shall sacrifice to build up the Church.
At Caesarea Philip, Jesus chose Simon Peter as the rock to build up the Church which he is going to establish. However, Peter alone shall not be enough to lead a great crowd, so Jesus chose eleven other apostles, together with Peter to lead the Church. Some important things we can learn from Jesus about his selection of the Twelve.
2.1/ The way Christ chose his apostles: He didn’t choose anyone new, but from his disciples. We need to differentiate between the two nouns, apostle and disciple. According to the Greeks, the noun “disciple” comes from the verb, to learn; a disciple is a learner from his master; while the noun “apostle” comes from the verb, to send out; an apostle is the one who is sent out. Jesus himself gave the Church a structure which includes disciples and apostles, Peter and his successors. Not everyone who can be sent out and not everyone who has a right to decide.
He awoke all night to converse with his Father to choose the apostles according to the divine standard, not the human standard. Looking at the list of those who were chosen, we didn’t see any distinguished character on them according to human standard, such as: wisdom, religion, fame, power or richess. In opposition, they were people who are weak, sinful and different temperament. For examples, Peter is weak, talking without careful thinking. He professed that he shall never leave Jesus alone even others leave him, but denied Jesus three times in the same night. Matthew who is a tax-collector, a sinner and a Jews’ enemy, was chosen by Jesus to stay with Simon the Jealous. The reason why he had that title is because he was conservative, hated the Roman Empire and all those who work for them. If not for Jesus, these two people can kill each other. And Judah Iscarioth whom he foreknew that shall become a betrayer. Jesus chose these people to live with him, to be trained before he shall send them out. Once were chosen, Jesus shall train and give them grace so they can become good instrument to build up the Church.
2.2/ Christ prepared them to continue his mission on earth: After he chose them, Jesus began to train them by his teaching and good examples. They must sacrifice their career and family to follow Jesus and to live with each other. They learn his teaching and he gave them power to expel demons and to heal.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– To preserve our faith, we need to unite deeply with Christ in prayer and often receiving the sacraments.
– To fight against worldly heresies, we need to learn the truth which Christ teaches and apply them to our life.