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Wednesday – Seventeenth week – OT1
Readings: Exo 34:29-35; Mt 13:44-46.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses would put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
I. THEME: The best part is to listen and to converse with God.
When dealing with a busy life, many people don’t know which ones to choose and which ones to discard. Many chose the not important and discarded the very important ones. Some people didn’t know how to choose so they choose whatever comes first. Such reaction is not wise because all things have their priority in our life. Many times I mentioned the three-feet standing which we must stand firm on it. Here is its priority which we must choose where there is a conflict: First we must choose God above all things as clearly stated in the first of the Ten Commandments. Secondly, we must value human beings more than material things. Last shall be the material things. According to the order of the Ten Commandments and the three-feet standing, the relationship between God and human beings must have the first priority in our life. We must worship and love God above all people and all things.
Today readings emphasize the importance of this order and point out who chose the best part. In the first reading, Moses was given a priviledge: to see God face-to-face and to converse with Him. Because of this priviledge, God’s glory is reflected in his face to the point that the Israelites feared to look on his face. He must wear a veil to reduce this glory. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches people about the importance of God’s kingdom by citing two examples: the first example is a hidden treasure which a person accidentally discovered it in a field and the second example is the precious pearl which a merchant found it. In both examples, Jesus said that both persons went home and sold everything they have to buy what they found.
1/ Reading I: God’s glory shone on Moses’ face.
1.1/ The reason for the shining: The Vietnamese has an adage, “Near ink one shall be darken, and near light one shall be shone.” This adage means when one makes friend with those who are good and holy, he shall be shone by learning good habits from them. In opposition, if one makes friend with those who are bad and evil, he shall be darken by learning bad habits from them. Since Moses was near to God and often conversed with Him, God’s glory shone on his face and all the Israelites recognized this light on his face and they feared him.
In Jesus’ Transfiguration on Thabor mountain, the evangelists also reported Jesus’ face shone as the sun and his dress became white as snow. This teaches us that we must let God’s glory shine on our life through praying, paticipating in the Mass and uniting closely with God; if not, the devil’s darkness shall cover our life. We shall fear and avoid the children of light as the Israelites avoided Moses. If they feared to look on Moses’ face which is only a reflection of God’s glory, how they are dared to look on God’s face, the source of glory as the sun?
1.2/ God talked to people through His leader: The passage reported, “But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the people of Israel came near; and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.”
Beside the glory on his face, Moses was also enlightened in his soul to understand God’s mysteries which no one can know if God doesn’t reveal. Moses certainly knew how important is the Ten Commandments for the people. Therefore, we need to respect and to come to God’s holy leaders to learn about God. They take God’s place to educate and to reveal God’s mysteries for us.
2/ Gospel: “Out of joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
In order to make a correct decision about the spiritual values, people need to go through two important steps:
2.1/ They need to know the value of the kingdom of heaven: Before one chooses one thing over others, he needs to know the real value of what he decides to choose. If he doesn’t know its real value, that thing shall not attract him. Jesus gives us a good teaching on this when he said, “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you” (Mt 7:6). The dogs don’t know if things are holy or not; the swines don’t know the value of pearls; all their concern is food. Similarly, if we teach spiritual values for those who only care about material things, they can’t grasp them. In some cases, they also attack us because we live a different standard with them.
What is the value of the kingdom of God? Jesus clearly revealed the value of God’s kingdom when he revealed God’s will for human beings which is to live an eternal and happy life with Him in heaven (Jn 6:39-40). Therefore, the purpose of our life is to attain the kingdom of heaven, all other things are supplemental, such as: to become rich, to reach the highest position or to have beautiful wife and smart kids, etc.
Why does the kingdom of heaven have a higher value than all worldly values? There are many reasons, we only cite some main reasons here.
(1) The kingdom of heaven is everlasting: All things of this world are only temporal and shall pass away when people are dead. The only thing shall not pass away is the human soul; it is created to be united with God and to live an eternal life with Him.
(2) The kingdom of heaven is perfect: All things of this world are imperfect because we always desire something more perfect and better, but we can’t find them in this world. Only when we reach God’s kingdom, we shall lack nothing. When we have God, we have everything.
(3) The kingdom of heaven is complete: In this world, happiness is temporal because we are always threatened by war, sickness, separation, etc. Only in heaven shall we find a complete happiness with God.
2.2/ People must sacrifice all things for the kingdom of heaven: How can one reach the kingdom of heaven? Jesus answered: “Sells all that he has and buys that.”
First, people’s temptation is to have both the kingdom of God and worldly things. One danger of catching fish with both hands is that if we don’t sell all what we have, we shall be tempted by what we keep; and then, instead of to buy the kingdom of heaven, we are content with what we have in this world.
If we want to reach the kingdom of heaven, Jesus requires us to listen and to do God’s teaching. This isn’t easy to do because God’s thought and way are very different with human thought and way. To live according to God’s standard, we must accept lost, suffering, opposition and even death.
But we don’t fight alone, God shall fight with us by the strength of His grace. He shall help us to overcome all obstacles and promises to give victory for those who are loyal to follow His way. Living according to the kingdom of heaven’s standards not only brings us the eternal and everlasting in the next life but also gives us joy and peace in the present life.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God is our most precious treasure, we should not put anything above Him.
– In order to have God, we must sacrifice all other things that belong to this world. We must sacrifice so we would have time to converse with Him and to learn wisdom from Him.