Tuesday – Thirty-third Week – OT2

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Tuesday – Thirty-third Week – OT2

Readings: Rev 3:1-6, 14-22; Lk 19:1-10.

 

First Reading (Rev 3:1-6, 14-22):

I, John, heard the Lord saying to me:
“To the angel of the Church in Sardis, write this:

“‘The one who has the seven spirits of God
and the seven stars says this: “I know your works,
that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die,
for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent.
If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief,
and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you.
However, you have a few people in Sardis
who have not soiled their garments;
they will walk with me dressed in white,
because they are worthy.

“‘The victor will thus be dressed in white,
and I will never erase his name from the book of life
but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father
and of his angels.

“‘Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

“To the angel of the Church in Laodicea, write this:

“‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness,
the source of God’s creation, says this:
“I know your works;
I know that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’
and yet do not realize that you are wretched,
pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich,
and white garments to put on
so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed,
and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.
Be earnest, therefore, and repent.

“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
then I will enter his house and dine with him,
and he with me.
I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne,
as I myself first won the victory
and sit with my Father on his throne.

“‘Whoever has ears ought to hear
what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

Gospel (Lk 19:1-10): 

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: The danger of the lukewarm attitude           

            The Department of Food and Agriculture of many nations pays a special attention to the right temperature of the food which people consume. To them, the frozen food such as meat and seafood must be kept at a freezing temperature, and the hot food such as fried chicken or fish must be kept at a high temperature. The reason for this is because if vendors keep these food at room temperature, bacteria shall invade, quickly multiply and cause all kinds of sickness for consumers. Similarly, this image can also be used for people’s spiritual life. It is better for people to be holy as saints who eagerly follow God or to be sinful as tax-collectors and prostitute than to be lukewarm as scribes, Pharisees or the majority of people.

            Today readings give the dangerous reason to be lukewarm. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation reported Christ’s reprimand for the faithful of the Laodicean church: “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” In the Gospel, St. Luke reported the conversion of Zacchaeus, a tax-collector. Since he knew that he is a sinner, so he recognized Jesus’ love for him right away. He publicly confessed his sins and was ready to reconcile with those he sinned against. This is the reason why he received salvation while many people who considered themselves as the righteous didn’t recognize their sins to make a confession and therefore, are unworthy of salvation.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Christ’s words for the Sardis and Laodicea churches

           

1.1/ Christ’s words for the Sardis church: This was a well-known city for prodigality and immorality. Though they were conversed to Christianity, the faithful of this church were gradually fallen to the spiritual death because they didn’t practice their faith. In general, Christ didn’t praise this church but only had some kind encouragement for some good faithful.

            (1) Christ’s rebuke: emphasized on the faithful’s deeds of the Sardis church; they didn’t put in practice what God taught them. The author announced Christ’s word for them: “I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” To make correction, he advised them to memorize the first time of their conversion: “Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you.” 

            (2) Christ’s encouragement: As Abraham’s petition for Sodom, God shall not destroy the whole city of Sardis if there were few good people in the city, “You have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels.” White is the color for victory, those who dress in white are the victorious people.

           

1.2/ Christ’s words for the Laodicea church: This was the well-known city for commerce, banking and medical works. Laodicea was also the church who received Paul’s Letter to Colossea. Christ named himself as “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation.”

            (1) Christ’s rebuke: about their two attitudes:

            – The lukewarm attitude: “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

            – The prideful attitude on their richness: “For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” To heal this sickness, he advised them, “To buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.” The “gold refined by fire” is the strong faith which God gives to them. The ointment is God’s wisdom to help them to recognize that they are wretched and pitiful creature without God’s help.

            (2) The reward for those who are eagerly repented: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.”

2/ Gospel: Zachaeus, a rich tax-collector, returned to God.

            At Jericho, there is now a giant sycamore, encircled by chains, for all pilgrims to visit. People called this is the sycamore tree which Zacchaeus climbed up to see Jesus.

2.1/ The encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus: He was described as the head of all tax-collectors and a rich man. He sought to see who Jesus is, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way.” Jesus recognized him among many faces in the crowd. When he came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”

2.2/ Three different reactions from this encounter:

            (1) The crowd: They all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” To the Jews, tax-collectors and prostitutes are considered the public sinners. Whoever contact or make friend with them is also considered as a sinner.

            (2) Zacchaeus: When he has heard that Jesus wanted to stay in his house, he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. When he heard people’s murmuring and clearly realized he was a sinner, he said to Jesus: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

            This is an instant but sincere declaration coming from Zacchaeus’ heart. Jesus probably is the first Jew who doesn’t care about his sins and past. To the Zealots, Zacchaeus could lose his life because he joined the foreign force to exploit his people. He might hear people talked about Jesus and was curious to see him by climbing up the sycamore tree. He must be surprise very much when he heard Jesus correctly called out his name out of many people and treated him as a well-known friend. When Zacchaeus accepted Jesus’ invitation to return to God, he must be courage to forfeit his sinful life to begin a new life according to the standard of the gospel. When he made his promise, he could lose all things which he was possessing but this lost can’t compare with the joy of Jesus’ forgiveness and visitation.

            (3) Jesus: He said to him: ” Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” Though Jesus knew about all murmuring from people, he didn’t pay attention to them; the only thing he concerned is Zacchaeus because he wanted to bring him back to God. This is also the reason he came to the world.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                  

            – Those who are sinful as Zaccheaus easily return to God than those who consider themselves as the righteous. Actually, all of us are sinners before God and need of His forgiveness as Zacchaeus.

            – An adage that we should keep in mind, “Be wise and respecter or be artless and loved; but don’t be lukewarm and detested.” 

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