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Wednesday – Eighth week – OT1
Readings: Sir 36:1, 4-5a, 10-17; Mk 10:32-45
1/ First Reading: RSV Sirach 36:1 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, the God of all, and look upon us, 4 As in us thou hast been sanctified before them, so in them be thou magnified before us; 5 and let them know thee, as we have known that there is not God but thee, O Lord. 10 Crush the heads of the rulers of the enemy, who say, “There is no one but ourselves.” 11 Gather all the tribes of Jacob, and give them their inheritance, as at the beginning. 12 Have mercy, O Lord, upon the people called by thy name, upon Israel, whom thou hast likened to a first-born son. 13 Have pity on the city of thy sanctuary, Jerusalem, the place of thy rest. 14 Fill Zion with the celebration of thy wondrous deeds, and thy temple with thy glory. 15 Bear witness to those whom thou didst create in the beginning, and fulfill the prophecies spoken in thy name. 16 Reward those who wait for thee, and let thy prophets be found trustworthy. 17 Hearken, O Lord, to the prayer of thy servants, according to the blessing of Aaron for thy people, and all who are on the earth will know that thou art the Lord, the God of the ages.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 10:32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise.” 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I. THEME: God’s immense versus human calculated love
We can’t compare God’s immense and unlimited love with human selfish and calculated love. God loves and does everything for human beings in gratis because people can add nothing to God, even a smallest thing. In reverse, people receive so many graces from God through creation, redemption and sanctification. People need to learn so that they might feel God’s love for them and never demand anything from God.
Today readings help us to recognize and to feel God’s love by comparing God’s immense with human selfish love. In the first reading, although God showed countless of His faithful and forgiving love for the Israelites, they still have a tendency to ask Him to repeat that love, so that they and other nations might recognize and believe in Him. In the Gospel, when Jesus continues his last journey to Jerusalem to endure his coming Passion, Death and Resurrection, the two apostles, James and John had courage to ask for both of them to seat one on the right and the other on the left of Jesus in his kingdom. This petition made other ten felt so indignant because all of them also wanted that. Jesus must gather them and teach them what the true leadership should be.
1/ Reading I: “All who are on the earth will know that thou art the Lord, the God of the ages.”
1.1/ People must recognize God’s compassionate love: In the history of the Old Testament, God’s love for the Israelites was expressed through countless miracles that made all nations surrounded them to fear everytime they hear of His name. The event of Exodus from Egypt and the leading of the Israelites to the Promise Land are examples of God’s immense love. Through these events, the Israelites should have no doubt of God’s love and power.
The event of the Israelites’ exils to Babylon and Assyria and their coming back to re-establish their nation and to rebuild the Jerusalem temple are the other examples of God’s loyal and forgiving love. When looking back to these events, the Israelites must recognize God’s loyal love for them though they are no worthy of His love. They ask Him, “Hearken, O Lord, to the prayer of thy servants, according to the blessing of Aaron for thy people, and all who are on the earth will know that thou art the Lord, the God of the ages.”
1.2/ Let ask God’s love to be overflowed on all people: The Israelites remembered God’s love for their forefathers. They regretted David’s glorious reign when all the twelve tribes were unified and their boundary was expanded furthest. They remembered the glory of the Jerusalem Temple and God’s presence in their midst. They ask God to repeat all these things so that they might feel and witness God’s love for them again.
Though it is right for them to ask these for future generations and other nations, they can’t continue to ask for God’s love forever without the returning of love on their part. They should know that when God signs His covemant, He completely and voluntarily does it out of His love for them; the Israelites couldn’t do anything for God. In opposition, they themselves violated the covenant so that God signs another new and perfect covenant with them. This covenant is signed by Christ’s blood, but many of them refused to believe in the new covenant.
The Israelites and us have no right to ask anything more from God. In reverse, all must open their eyes to recognize what God did, is doing and shall do for us to feel deeply God’s immense love for all. Lastly, we must respond to God’s love by loyally keeping God’s commandments and by preaching God’s love to all people so that they might also recognize His love for them and believe in Him.
2/ Gospel: “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”
This is the third time Mark reported that Jesus foretold what shall happen to him in Jerusalem: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentileswho will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.” After the first time of Jesus’ prediction, Peter advised him to forfeit his plan to go up to Jerusalem. After the second time of Jesus’ prediction, the apostles argued to see who shall be the most important person among them when Jesus reigns.
2.1/ The worldly way: Like most of human beings, Jesus’ apostles were influenced by the worldly way which can be outlined as follows:
(1) Thirsting for power and fame: After Jesus’ third time prediction, two of Zebedee’s sons, John and James went up to Jesus and said, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” They desired power because they wanted to be famous and served. However, they were ready to share in Jesus’ Passion, not only his glory.
(2) Causing jealousy and contention: When people desire something and don’t get it, they are jealous of those who have it. Mark reported this reaction from the apostles: “When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.” The became indignant because all of them wanted the same thing. If James and John possess the two most important seats, where shall they seat? They also gave up everything to follow Jesus!
(3) Leading to failure and division: Jesus foresees what shall happen if his apostles keep fighting for power and position. They shall be divided and not remember to preach the Good News, his mission shall come to an end and salvation shall not be reached to all people.
2.2/ The way of Christ’s disciples: Jesus summoned them and taught them three important lessons:
(1) Not to follow the worldly way: “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you.”
(2) Serve others: “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”
(3) Imitate Christ: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to learn Scripture to know what God has done for us before we can feel His love for us.
– Our duty is to return His love for us, not to continually ask God to keep showing His love for us, nor to ask Him to do something before we respond to His love.