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Wednesday – Seventh Week – OT2
Readings: Jam 4:13b-18; Mk 9:37-39.
1/ Reading I: RSV James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain”; 14 whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 9:37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.”
I. THEME: God’s providence
Human beings weave many dreams for their life, but not many their dreams become reality. Many things which people don’t dream, they happened. When children are born, many parents wish them to be this or that, but their children rarely achieve what they want them to be.
Today readings want us to recognize a basic truth: our lives are controlled by God and we should walk in His way. In the first reading, St. James advised the faithful not to boast about what they should do to become rich because they don’t know what their future shall be. Instead, they must be humble and trust their life in God who gives life for them and controls it. In the Gospel, the apostle John was irritated and forbade a man who exorcized demons because that one doesn’t belong to Jesus’ disciples. Jesus rebuked and explained for him that if a person can exorcize demons he must have faith in God and belong to his disciples.
1/ Reading I: Our life is in God’s hand.
1.1/ Never boast before God: The dream to be rich is very popular to many people. There are some college students, though are not graduated yet, try to figure out how much they shall earn a year after their graduation. They don’t know with the present state of economy, it is difficult to find a job! There are some farmers, though not sowing seeds yet, try to figure out how much they shall harvest so that they can make enough barns to store them. They don’t take into account the fact that if God doesn’t send out rain, there shall be no harvest! The people in today passage also dream, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town, and spend a year there and trade and get gain.”
People don’t know what their future shall be because they depend on many factors. First of all, their life is depended on God; He can take away their life anytime. Like the author of the Book of Ecclesiates, St. James compared a human like with a vapor, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” The author of Psalm 103 likens a human life with a flower, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psa. 103:15-16). Next is their arrival point. Are they sure they shall reach the destination? Many things can happen on the way such as: sickness, accidents or war. Lastly, doing business also depends on many factors: customers, product, location and economy. Not all business people are successful. Not all investments shall bring out profit. Many people have grand openings for their stores and quietly close them out. Many people invested their savings into the stock markets, the housing and the land with a hope that they shall retire early, ended up with a complete bankruptcy. All of their savings are gone and they must start anew from the beginning.
1.2/ The wise are those who put their life in God’s providence: To avoid the bankruptcy, St. James advised them to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” First of all, they must know if they shall live long enough to do such a thing. The truth is if God let them live, they shall live; if God wants to take away their life, they can’t oppose him even a second. Next, they must carefully examine if what they plan is according to God’s will. If it is according to His will, He shall bring it to successful; if not, no matter how hard they try, they can never be successful.
Therefore, people must avoid the habit of boasting and arrogance before God and human beings. There is one marked event in the Book of Genesis which should be a valuable experience for people, the Babel Tower. People at that time wanted to construct a tower having its feet on earth and its top to heaven; their purpose is to see if God exists! When they had just begun, God let them speak different languages. They can’t understand others’ language to make a common decision; therefore, they decide to part their ways. Our ancestors understood well this principle and left us the principle, “To plan is human; to bring to success belongs to God.”
We can plan and execute our dreams, but we must see if what we plan is according to God’s will. If we know it isn’t and still go ahead and do it, failure is certainly happened, and we commit the sin against God’s will.
2/ Gospel: We should open up ourselves to all people.
We can recognize two complete opposite tendencies in the conversation between Jesus and his disciples.
2.1/ The narrow tendency which only concerns for oneself and his group: St. Mark gave the reason why John prevented others from using Jesus’ name to expel demons, that is: “they don’t belong to our group.” This is the worldly wisdom of people who think they must monopolize and keep secret the exorcized power for their own benefits. They are afraid of others to be better than or equal to them. This monopolized attitude doesn’t want anybody to have that power save him and his group so they can control others. This attitude also leads one to think that he or his group is the best, and to despise people of other groups.
2.2/ The wide tendency which opens up to welcome all others: In opposition with human selfish and calculated attitude is God’s wisdom; He wants people to freely give what they freely receive. Let all people know and share what one has to all. Jesus welcomes others who expel demons in his name since he wants everyone to know his holy name. He hopes that when they see the power of his name, they shall also believe in him.
Jesus taught his disciples to wisely behave, “For he who is not against us is for us.” If the disciples must fear, they should fear their opposed party because the neutral are easily to convince than the opposed party.
Moreover, a concise understanding of life shall help us to easily give and to better welcome others. The ultimate goal of life is to live in a way that we could happily live with God forever. Power, authority, fame and material gains are only the means which people use when they are living in this world. Therefore, people must use all God’s given means to help people to know God and to believe in him so that they might receive their salvation. If we don’t know how to wisely use them, these means shall become the goals to prevent us and others from coming to God’s house.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must humbly know our relationships with God and others. Do not be arrogant and act according to our own will so we shall not have to endure bad results.
– Whatever we acquire in this world is God’s gift for us. We shouldn’t boast of the gift but use it to benefit for God and others.