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Wednesday – Fourth Week – OT2
Readings: 2 Sam 2: 9-17; Mk 6:1-6
Reading 1 (2 Sam 2, 9-17):
King David said to Joab and the leaders of the army who were with him,
Tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba
and register the people, that I may know their number.
Joab then reported to the king the number of people registered:
in Israel, eight hundred thousand men fit for military service;
in Judah, five hundred thousand.
Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people,
and said to the LORD:
I have sinned grievously in what I have done.
But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant,
for I have been very foolish.
When David rose in the morning,
the LORD had spoken to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying:
“Go and say to David, ‘This is what the LORD says:
I offer you three alternatives;
choose one of them, and I will inflict it on you.'”
Gad then went to David to inform him.
He asked: “Do you want a three years’ famine to come upon your land,
or to flee from your enemy three months while he pursues you,
or to have a three days’ pestilence in your land?
Now consider and decide what I must reply to him who sent me.”
David answered Gad: “I am in very serious difficulty.
Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful;
but let me not fall by the hand of man.”
Thus David chose the pestilence.
Now it was the time of the wheat harvest
when the plague broke out among the people.
The LORD then sent a pestilence over Israel
from morning until the time appointed,
and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba died.
But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it,
the LORD regretted the calamity
and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people,
“Enough now! Stay your hand.”
The angel of the LORD was then standing
at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking the people,
he said to the LORD: “It is I who have sinned;
it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong.
But these are sheep; what have they done?
Punish me and my kindred.”
Gospel (Mk 6:1-6):
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
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!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
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.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
I. THEME: Three bad habits that prevent people to recognize the truth.
People used to be controlled by three bad habits: pride, stubborness and jealousy. Pride makes people to think that they are better than others, and thus, refuse to accept the truth from others. Stubborness makes people to hang on to what they do and to reject others’ way; even though they are better. Jealousy makes people to feel bad about others’ good and it can lead people to cause harm to others, either by words or deeds.
Today readings center on these three bad habits that prevent people to recognize the truth. In the first reading, God must punish David because of his pride. King David ordered Joab, his commander-in chief, to count the number of soldiers he had with an intention to show how he has built up a powerful nation. He forgot about the One who empowered him to be as such is God. In the Gospel, St. Mark reported the insult and jealousy of Jesus’ native people; they couldn’t overcome their fixed ideas about Jesus’ career and family to believe in his divine wisdom and power. Jesus warned prophets about the three places that they shall be insulted, that are: their family, relatives and own nation.
1/ Reading I: “I have sinned greatly in what I have done.”
1.1/ King David regretted of his counting of soldiers: The counting of soldiers itself isn’t bad; but David’s intention of counting is sinful before God. King David thought he was the reason for the nation’s power and prosperity. Later, David recognized his evil attention of the counting and said to God: “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, I pray thee, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.”
What happened to David is also occurred many times to all people. They think that they become rich, famous or powerful because of their own talent and effort; they forget about the main reason why they become as such is God’s power and love.
When people commits sin, they must endure punishments. God let David choose one of the three punishments: “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land?” King David didn’t know what to choose; therefore he said to Gad, God’s prophet: “I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
1.2/ David asked God to punish him instead of the people: So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time; and there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men. When David saw so many his people were killed, David spoke to the Lord, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let thy hand, I pray thee, be against me and against my father’s house.”
Many of us shall agree with David because whoever committed sin, he must endure punishments, why did God punish the innocents? We forget that both sins and good works have the communal dimension besides the individual dimension. If everyone were affected by the original sin, all were benefited by Christ’s Incarnation, Passion and Death. The sin of pride causes damages, not only for the sinner but also for the unity of his family and community. God wanted David and us to recognize this communal dimension of sin, so that we must think about what our sin shall affect others’ common good. It also encourages us to work for the common good by realizing that our sacrifice shall benefit many people.
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 question, 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, “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 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:
– Pride is the first in the “seven root sins.” We must be humble to recognize and to find a way to destroy this danger sin. Pride causes damaged not only to individual but also to family and community.
– Pride and jealousy make us blind to the truth and unjustly treat others. To protect justice, we need to expel them from our life and be joyful with others’ success. We need to have this attitude, especially to those who are in our family and community.