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Wednesday – Twenty-fourth week – OT1
Readings: 1 Tim 3:14-16; Lk 7:31-35.
1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Timothy 3:14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, 15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 7:31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, `He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
I. THEME: People must use the truth to examine them, not use them to examine the truth.
Some people think they are the center of the universe which all things must orient to; therefore, they use their thinking and standards to examine God and others. The result is they don’t have peace because they can never attain what they want. To have peace, they need to learn the truth; then using the truth to examine them; and especially, they must live according to the truth. Living according to the truth shall liberate people from all falsities and help them to attain their desired result.
Today readings remind people that they must live and act according to the truth; not use themselves to examine the truth. In the first reading, St. Paul advised Timothy, his disciple, that he must live according to Christ’s and the Church’s teaching. In the Gospel, Jesus rebuked the scribes and the Pharisees because they used themselves as the standards to criticize and to force others to follow them. When John Baptist came without normal eating and drinking, they labeled him, “He has a demon.”But when Jesus came with normal eating and drinking, they called him, “Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”
1/ Reading I: We must center our life on Christ.
1.1/ Living according to the Church’s teaching: Paul advised Timothy, “I am writing these instructions to you so that,if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
Paul often used the image of God’s temple, and the faithful are different parts of this temple (1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 8:10; 9:13; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21; 2 Thes 2:4). In today passage, Paul used four images to advise the faithful that they must know how to properly act in the temple.
(1) God’s house (oikos): is where all the faithful are living together, uniting and loving, because all have the same homeowner who is God.
(2) God’s living community (ekklesia): The Church is the community of those who want to respond to God’s invitation, to bring the Gospel which contains the truth to all people of the world.
(3) The pillar of truth (stylos): The pillar is the column that supports the temple. The pillar of truth is the essentials that support all the Church’s activities.
(4) The bulwark of truth (edaioma): A firm house must be built on a firm foundation. St. Paul called the foundation of God’s temple is the apostles and the prophets, with Christ is the cornerstone (Eph 2:20). In today passage, the foundation of the temple is the truth.
In other words, Paul wanted to advise the faithful must build their life on the foundation and pillars of truth, love all people and contribute their effort in preaching of the Gospel.
1.2/ Christ must be the center: St. Paul ascertained, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
Paul identified the truth and the mystery of the Church with Christ in a human body; through this mystery, he brings salvation for people.
(1) Christ is vindicated in the Spirit: St. Paul declares, “No one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). The faithful are purified, sanctified and justified by Christ and the Holy Spirit’s power (1 Cor 6:11). This concept is clearly expressed in the Fourth Gospel, “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me” (Jn 15:26).
(2) Christ is contemplated by the angels: The angels are the spiritual beings so they know for sure God’s plan of salvation, achieved through Christ. In Johannine Gospel, Jesus promised to Nathanael that he shall see God’s angels ascending and descending on the Son of man (Jn 1:51).
(3) Christ is preached to all nations, believed by the world and taken up in glory: St. Paul had lots of experience in preaching the Gospel and helping many people of different nations to know and to believe in Christ.
2/ Gospel: Jesus rebuked the scribe’s and the Pharisees’ habit of criticism.
2.1/ They behave like children: One of children’s traits is that they live according to their passion. When they want to eat, they eat; when they want to play, they play. They don’t analyze to see if their desire is reasonable or not, until their parents prohibit them and teach them to live according to a schedule. If they aren’t disciplined by their parents, they shall continue with those habits even when they become adults. Jesus likened scribes and Pharisees as these children because they refused to live according to God’s way, but stubbornly in their way: “They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’”
2.2/ They use themselves as the standard to judge others: Since the scribes and the Pharisees used themselves as the standard to criticize others, they weren’t satisfied with anyone who lived a different way with them. Jesus shows their selfishness for his disciples by a more concrete example.
(1) They displeased with John Baptist: They criticized John the Baptist as “possessed by a demon” because he didn’t eating food or drinking wine like them; while many people came to listen to him and to be baptized by him.
(2) They also displeased with Jesus: When Jesus comes, he is also eating and drinking and they said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
If one questions them, “Then, how can one be perfect?” They might not know how, but always want to look for a reason to criticize others because they don’t want to follow anyone. Jesus gives his disciples a key to choose the perfect way, “Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” The result shall show right way.
God’s plan doesn’t depend on them because there are still people who live according to God’s wisdom; there are still people who heard John’s preaching, they forfeit their sinful way and return to God. These people shall be forceful witnesses for God’s wisdom and plan. The scribes and the Pharisees can cause obstacles but can’t destroy God’s wisdom.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should learn the truth from God and use it as the standard to examine our conscience; not to use our thinking to criticize the truth.
– To learn the truth, we must study God’s and Christ’s teaching in the Scripture; not rely on the wisdom of our human flesh.