Wednesday – Ninth week – OT1

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Wednesday – Ninth week – OT1

 

Readings: Tob 3:1-11, 16; Mk 12:18-27.

1/ First Reading: RSV Tobit 3:1 Then in my grief I wept, and I prayed in anguish, saying, 2 “Righteous art thou, O Lord; all thy deeds and all they ways are mercy and truth, and thou dost render true and righteous judgment for ever. 3 Remember me and look favorably upon me; do not punish me for my sins and for my unwitting offences and those which my fathers committed before thee. 4 For they disobeyed thy commandments, and thou gavest us over to plunder, captivity, and death; thou madest us a byword of reproach in all the nations among which we have been dispersed. 5 And now thy many judgments are true in exacting penalty from me for my sins and those of my fathers, because we did not keep thy commandments. For we did not walk in truth before thee. 6 And now deal with me according to thy pleasure; command my spirit to be taken up, that I may depart and become dust. For it is better for me to die than to live, because I have heard false reproaches, and great is the sorrow within me. Command that I now be released from my distress to go to the eternal abode; do not turn thy face away from me.”

                    7 On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media, it also happened that Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, was reproached by her father’s maids, 8 because she had been given to seven husbands, and the evil demon Asmodeus had slain each of them before he had been with her as his wife. So the maids said to her, “Do you not know that you strangle your husbands? You already have had seven and have had no benefit from any of them. 9 Why do you beat us? If they are dead, go with them! May we never see a son or daughter of yours!” 10 When she heard these things she was deeply grieved, even to the thought of hanging herself. But she said, “I am the only child of my father; if I do this, it will be a disgrace to him, and I shall bring his old age down in sorrow to the grave. 11 So she prayed by her window and said, “Blessed art thou, O Lord my God, and blessed is thy holy and honored name for ever. May all thy works praise thee forever. 16 The prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God.

2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 12:18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; 21 and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22 and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”


I. THEME: Are there the resurrection and the eternal life?           

            The resurrection and the eternal life are two gradual revelations. Though they are hidden in the Old Testament, but only with Christ’s teaching and his resurrection, these two revelations are more clearly and firmly revealed.

            Today readings show us people’s confusion and suffering when they don’t understand these two revelations. In the first reading, both Tobit and Sarah prayed for their death because they can’t stand sufferings and insults which happened in their life. In the Gospel, when the Sadducees wanted to use of the law to demonstrate that there is no resurrection, Jesus clearly reveals the resurrection through God’s saying to Moses in Exodus 3:6; the resurrected body isn’t affected by physical principles and people shall live like angels in heaven.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God’s providence for people

1.1/ In Tobit’s case:

            (1) He endured too many sufferings: There are three reasons that lead to Tobit’s despair: First of all, he was maltreated by his enemies and lost all his properties during the exile. Secondly, he was blinded after he returned from burying the dead. Lastly, he was insulted by his wife from being too piety. He didn’t complain to God because he knew they are the results of sins from his forefathers’ and his own sins, as he confessed: “Do not punish me for my sins and for my unwitting offenses and those which my fathers committed before Thee.For they disobeyed Thy commandments, and Thou gavest us over to plunder, captivity, and death; Thou madest us a byword of reproach in all the nations among which we have been dispersed.And now Thy many judgments are true in exacting penalty from me for my sins and those of my fathers, because we did not keep thy commandments; for we did not walk in truth before Thee.”

            (2) Since Tobit doesn’t believe in resurrection and the eternal life, he found no reason for continuing to live amidst of sufferings and insults; so he thought of only one way to end all these sufferings by ending his life. He prayed to God: “And now deal with me according to Thy pleasure; command my spirit to be taken up, that I may depart and become dust. For it is better for me to die than to live, because I have heard false reproaches, and great is the sorrow within me. Command that I now be released from my distress to go to the eternal abode; do not turn Thy face away from me.”

1.2/ In Sarah’s case:

            (1) There are two reasons that cause Sarah’s despair: Firstly, she married seven times, but all were dead by the devil Asmodeus after they lived with her. Secondly, she was reproached by her father’s maids, “Do you not know that you strangle your husbands? You already have had seven and have had no benefit from any of them.Why do you beat us? If they are dead, go with them! May we never see a son or daughter of yours!”

            (2) Since Sarah had no idea about resurrection and eternal life, she was deeply grieved, even to the thought of hanging herself. But she said, “I am the only child of my father; if I do this, it will be a disgrace to him, and I shall bring his old age down in sorrow to the grave.So she prayed by her window and said, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord my God, and blessed is Thy holy and honored name for ever. May all thy works praise thee for ever.”

            God’s wondrous providence: “The prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God.” He had a plan to help both of them as we shall find out at the end of the Book of Tobit.

2/ Gospel: “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

            The Sadducees used Scripture to demonstrate that there is no resurrection and eternal life. Jesus also used Scripture to prove that there must be the resurrection and the eternal life.

           

2.1/ When people rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage: Today passage reported Jesus’ dialogue with the Sadducees. These people don’t believe in resurrection. They belonged to the leadership class and were rich; many of them were priests and high priests. These people don’t think they need a next life because they already have everything in this life.

            They relied on the law to prove to Jesus that there is no resurrection, because the wife can’t belong to all seven brothers if there is resurrection according to the law, “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel” (Deut 25:5-6). But Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God?When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven” (Cf. Lk 20:35-36).

2.2/ He is not God of the dead but of the living: Jesus said to the Sadducees that they don’t correctly understand the Scripture because it mentioned the resurrection.

            (1) When God promised to Abraham that He shall give him descendants and the promise land, He promised to Abraham, not to his descendants. Abraham must live to see his descendants and to possess the land. If not, how can Abraham know God’s promise is fulfilled? Similarly for God’s promises to Isaac, Jacob and king David.

            (2) In today passage, Jesus illustrated God’s words to Moses in the passage about the burning bush: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” The verb “to be” is used at the present time to indicate that He is always God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This means that these forefathers must be living. And Jesus concluded: “He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.”

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            – We need to learn to clearly understand God’s revelation so that our faith might be firm. A dimly understanding shall lead us to confuse, to easily give our faith and to live without a purpose.

            – We know God shall justly judge and pay to each one according to good and bad deeds we do in this present life. Our duty is to make an effort to find out God’s will for us and to live truthfully all the days of our life.

            – The faith in the resurrection and in the eternal life are two basic and important principles of the Catholic faith. These revelations are hidden in the Old Testament, but are clearly revealed by Christ in the New Testament.

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