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Tuesday – Eighth week – OT1
Readings: Sir 35:1-12; Mk 10:28-31.
1/ First Reading: RSV Sirach 35:1 He who keeps the law makes many offerings; he who heeds the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. 2 He who returns a kindness offers fine flour, and he who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering. 3 To keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is atonement. 4 Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed, 5 for all these things are to be done because of the commandment. 6 The offering of a righteous man anoints the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High. 7 The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten. 8 Glorify the Lord generously, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands. 9 With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. 10 Give to the Most High as he has given, and as generously as your hand has found. 11 For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold. 12 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality.
2/ Gospel: NAU Mark 10:28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
I. THEME: God properly rewards those who generously give to Him and others.
People are very calculated in behaving with each other. They think “if they give others something, others must also give back something which has equal value or more.” For example, if I gave your children one hundred dollars in their wedding, you must also give back at least one hundred dollars for my child’s wedding. If he only receives fifty dollars or nothing at all, I can’t continually have my relationship with you!
Today readings concentrate on people’s manner with God. People need to recognize countless blessings which God has given them before they know how to properly behave to Him. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach describes different ways which people can do to return God’s favors to them, and the generous and sincere attitude they need to have when they offer their sacrifices to Him. In the Gospel, Peter directly asked Jesus what he shall receive after he forfeits everything to be his disciples.
1/ Reading I: God, the One who rewards, shall return to you seven times more than what you did.
1.1/ There are many different ways of offering which please God: The author of Sirach suggests four things which people can do to please God besides the material offerings:
(1) To hear and to keep God’s commandments: The author said, “He who keeps the law makes many offerings; he who heeds the commandments sacrifices a peace offering.” God shall not certainly receive sacrifices of those who violated the law; He pleases because of those who walk in His way more than those who offer many sacrifices, but don’t live according to the law.
(2) To thank God because of many things He has done for them in their life: Many people, though are poor, but recognize and thank God, are considered as “offer fine flour.”
(3) To help the poor: God considers what we do for others as being done to Him. He regards him “who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering.”
(4) To avoid evil and injustice: When offering sacrifices, God requires the ones who offer must have “clean hands and pure heart.” Without these, their sacrifices shall not be accepted by God. God considers those “keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is atonement.”
1.2/ The proper attitude when one offers his sacrifices: The most popular reasons which the Jews often have are to thank and to atone for their sins. The author of the Book of Sirach describes the necessary obligation and attitude of those who offer their sacrifices:
(1) Obligation: “Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed,for all these things are to be done because of the commandment.The offering of a righteous man anoints the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High.The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten.” The law clearly describes everyone’s duty to God: They must offer all of their firstfruits to God in order to receive His blessing. The author advises, “do not stint the first fruits of your hands.” The law also commands people to offer the percentage tax, that is, ten percent of their gross income.
(2) Attitude: When people offer their sacrifices to God, they must have a joyful and generous attitude as the author advises: “With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness.Give to the Most High as he has given, and as generously as your hand has found.” In the history, God welcomes Abel’s more than Cain’s sacrifice because Abel offered his sacrifice with joy and generosity. Abel knew God sees through men’s mind and heart.
1.3/ The reward for those who offer their sacrifices: God never has less generosity than men, as the author states, “For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.” If each time we offer a sacrifice to God, we shall receive sevenfold, why don’t we offer for God more, why should we keep something for ourselves? The important attitude when we offer our sacrifices to God is to have a sincere disposal: to thank God of all blessings we receive from Him, not to do it as a bribe as the author stresses, “Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality.” People must not offer their sacrifices to ask God for lottery or to be successful in unlawful business.
2/ Gospel: Those who generously offer their life to God shall receive one hundredfold.
Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” When Peter said this, he wanted to know that what shall he get by giving up everything to follow Christ. Jesus’ answer has two parts:
2.1/ The disciples’ rewards both in this life and the next life: First, Jesus promised that those who faithful followed him shall be rewarded for both lives.
(1) Rewards in the present life: Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospelwho will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands.” Those who faithfully followed Christ, clearly experienced this promise. For example, in St. Paul’s case, when he was converted to be Christ’s disciple, he is considered as one of Jesus’ apostles and given the special mission to preach for the Gentiles. Whenever he went, he established local churches there; they treated him as their father and he considered them as his children whom he conceived in Christ.
(2) Rewards in the next life: The eternal life is the ultimate reward which Jesus shall give to those who faithfully followed him. When one possesses this reward, he shall lack of nothing.
2.2/ The disciples’ obligation: Naturally, if there is a reward, there must also be duties. Jesus wanted his disciples to do two things:
(1) To accept maltreatment: Jesus didn’t hide anything from his disciples, he clearly told them that if they were his disciples, they shall be maltreated by the world. He explained this in John’s Gospel: This is obvious because the disciples’ values and standards are completely different with the world’s values and standards; and the world hates those who aren’t like them (cf. Jn 17:14). The maltreatment is a sure sign of a true disciple. St. Paul also challenged the Corinthians, “Is there any prophet sent by God and the world didn’t persecute?” The disciples should be joyful when they are maltreated because they were shared their master’s suffering.
(2) To humbly serve: “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.” This is an adage which was often repeated in the Gospels. The disciples are called to serve all people and this is the manner which they practive their given mission.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should be wise to recognize all things God has done for us in order to properly compensate them.
– We should never be selfish and calculated with God because He is the merciful Father. He shall give us a hundredfold than what we offer to him or to help others.