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Wednesday – Fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 12:4-7, 11-15; Mk 6:1-6.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. 5 You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; 6 for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” 7 Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? 11 At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. 12 So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. 13 Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:1 He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” 5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.
I. THEME: Respecting those who belong to our clan.
People are affected by prejudices, such as: race, class, career, village and family. These prejudices have an effect on one’s thinking and manner with other. To have an objective attitude, people must overcome these prejudices before they can see the good of those who are in their family, community or country.
Today readings concentrate on one’s relationships with others. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compared one’s relationship to God as the relationship between a father and his son. As a father who must correct and punish his children, God must do the same with people. The purpose of the punishment is not out of anger or hatred, but to help one’s faith to become firm so that he can face trials and sufferings of his life. In the Gospel, St. Mark reported the insulted attitude of Jesus’ fellow-country men. They couldn’t overcome their prejudices about Jesus’ family and career to believe in his wisdom and power. Jesus forewarned his disciples the three places where they shall be insulted: their family, among their relatives and their country.
1/ Reading I: A father must instruct and punish because he is worry about his children’s future.
1.1/ Two models of education: People are torn between the two models of education:
(1) The modern type of education: They think that parents or educators shouldn’t use any violent punishment with children, such as: rebuking, threatening and scourging. If a child does something wrong, he needs to be isolated by let him standing in one place or by temporarily preventing him to participate in any communal activities so that he can recognize his wrong doing. Are these ways effective for all children?
(2) The biblical model of education: The author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised, “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?” The Greek verb used in this passage is “mastigóein” which can have three meanings: to scourge, to discipline or to punish. One can argue that all three meanings can be fitted here. In Books of Wisdom and Prophet, the punishments which God used for those who disobeyed Him, not simply the ways that help people to recognize their sins; but many times the authors mentioned “the rod” (Pro 10:13, 13:24, Isa 9:4), shedding blood and even death. The oriental tradition also follows the biblical tradition when saying, “A father uses a rod is the one who loves his child, he hates him when he uses sweet treatments.”
An irresponsible father is the one who doesn’t educate and correct his children, he let them do whatever they like it. An untrained child can’t successful in the future. Similarly, the most painful suffering happens when God let people do whatever they want. Once God let that happen, the devil shall enter and control such people; and they shall be slaves for him.
1.2/ The reaction of those who are corrected: Most of human beings don’t want to be rebuked, corrected or punished. The author knew this reaction when he said, “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” The purpose of being corrected is for people’s future. For example, the motto for training soldiers is “to sweat in military school than to pour out blood in battlefield.” Similarly in the training of one’s faith, as the author said, “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.” In order to overcome all obstacles in life, human faith needs to be tested as gold is tested by fire.
Moreover, the correction and punishment aim at not only the individual, but also for the common good and those who shall be affected by that individual. The author said, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.”
2/ Gospel: Jesus was insulted by people of his village.
2.1/ People recognized Jesus’ wisdom and power: When people of Nazareth heard Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue and witnessed his miracles, they were astonished and said, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands?”
If they sincerely searched for the answers of these questions, they might recognize Jesus’ divinity and believe in him; instead they let fixed ideas and discrimination affect their judgment and criticism. Moreover, some deeper reasons why they didn’t want to look for the truth are pride and jealousy. They didn’t want to accept anyone who is better than them, especially those who are younger and have lower position than them.
2.2/ They insulted Jesus due to two following reasons.
(1) Career: Jesus is the son of Joseph, a carpenter. Like most of the apostles’ career which is fisherman, the carpenter is considered as a manual labor and less educated. They thought the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching couldn’t come from a son of such family. They believed as a Vietnamese fable: “The son of a king shall be king; the son of a gardener shall continue to sweep leaves.”
(2) A plain family: They questioned about Jesus’ background: “Is not this one, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”
The mentioned names were probably Jesus’ cousins. They wanted to imply that because Jesus was born from a such plain family, he couldn’t perform such miracles. However, they didn’t give the answers for the questions, “From where did he receive such wisdom and power?”
2.3/ A prophet shall be maltreated in three places: The Vietnamese believe “when one becomes a high rank officer, his whole house shall be benefited.” In today passage, the village weren’t benefited, not because of Jesus’ indifference to them, but because their disregard of him. Jesus came to his village to teach and to heal his relatives and neighbors; but because of their insult, “he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” Jesus taught all prophets a realistic lesson, they shall be maltreated at three places: in their nation, among their relatives and in their family.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– To be successful, we need to be corrected and punished for our mistakes. Same thing happens in the area of faith, God needs to correct us when we sin so that we can overcome our trials in future.
– Prejudices make us blind and unjustly treat others. To protect justice, we need to discard prejudices and pay attention to only what other do or have. We need to have this attitude, first of all, with people in our family and community.