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Wednesday – Sixth Week – OT2
Readings: Jam 1:19-27; Mk 8:22-26.
Reading 1 (Jam 1:19-27):
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
for anger does not accomplish
the righteousness of God.
Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess
and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.
Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets
what he looked like.
But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres,
and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts;
such a one shall be blessed in what he does.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Gospel (Mk 8:22-26):
When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked,
“Do you see anything?”
Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly;
his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.
Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”
I. THEME: The need to be patient on all things.
A bad habit in human beings is to immediately look for the result. If they don’t see a good result, they are discouraged and want to terminate their effort. People forget that to have a good result, time is needed. If they are so hurry, they won’t reach their desired result. Moreover, the harder of the result they set, the more waiting time is needed. For examples, in order to graduate from college, one needs at least 16 years through different periods: elementary, intermediate, high school and college. At the end of each period, a student must pass all exams to enter a new period. Similarly in training virtues, people need to be patient with themselves and others; they must begin with an easy virue, then to more difficult ones before they can easily live a virtuous life.
Today readings emphasize the theme that people need to be patient in all things. In the first reading, the author of the Letter of James advised the faithful to be patient in training of virtues, especially the virtue of controlling one’s tongue. In the Gospel, Jesus healed a blind through two periods. First, the blind could only see people like trees walking. Secondly, he clearly saw everything.
1/ Reading I: If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain.
2.1/ A virtuous man needs to control everything in himself: The author advised his faithful: “Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
(1) Controlling one’s tongue: is a sign of the wise. The fool is the one who likes to talk all the time, quick to talk and slow to listen. He is afraid of people talking more than him. Since the fool talks without thinking, people can easily recognize his weakness to attack. He also has tendencies to exaggerate, to talk behind people’s back, and talk about everything without connection. Someone said God is so wise when He creates people with two eyes, two ears, but one mouth and one tongue. The wise is the one who carefully listens and observes before he voices his opinion. All the Books of Wisdom gave many wise advises about the necessary of controlling one’s tongue to avoid terrible results that can happen.
(2) Controlling one’s anger (orgê): The author gave a reason, “for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” The Greek word he used is orgê; it isn’t the anger when one sees something isn’t right, but the anger that exceeds human wisdom and control – anger without a right cause. God is the only One who can be angry with people, but He is patient for people to change and gives them many opportunities for repentance.
2.2/ Put God’s words into practice: God’s words have potentiality to help people to give up sins and to acquire virtues so that they can become more holy everyday. To achieve these, people need to be prepared, to humbly receive God’s words and to put them to practice. The parable of the sower and four areas in which the seeds are fallen, helps us to understand this. Therefore, the author advised his faithful: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” He gave two practical applications of God’s words.
(1) God’s word is a mirror that helps people to recognize their sins: “For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
As everyone of us look in a mirror daily before we get out of our houses, we must also look in the mirror of God’s words daily to recognize our true identity. When looking into a mirror, we don’t perfunctorily look but carefully wash dirty marks and correct what are out of order in the whole body. Similarly, we can’t superficially read or listen to God’s words, but we must let them to permeate, to judge and to purify bad habits in our soul.
(2) God’s word brings life to people: The author of James paid a special attention to the application of God’s words. To him, if someone just listened to God’s words and forgot about them, he shall not have any benefit from them: “If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain.” “But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.” The law doesn’t limit one’s freedom, but helps people to recognize the dangers of sins and to avoid to be slaves for them. Therefore, the practice of law helps people to be truly free and successful in all their works.
The true religion isn’t about outside ceremonies, but must be beneficial for oneself and others. Loving God must be shown by loving people, especially by “visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
2/ Gospel: Jesus healed a blind through two periods.
2.1/ Characteristics of the miracle: This miracle was reported only by Mark. In all miracles, it is rare that Jesus took a patient out of his place as in today report when Jesus healed a deaf and dumb. Mark didn’t give us reasons why Jesus led him out of the village, may be for the patient’s benefit. The blind, who was in dark many years, is very sensitive to light. Jesus healed him through two periods.
(1) Jesus took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.”
(2) Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. And he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
2.2/ The patient journey in recognizing the Messiah: If comparing this miracle with the man born blind in the Gospel of John, we find similarity and difference. The similarity is that Jesus used his saliva. The difference is that Jesus put his hand in the blind’s eye in Mark; but he sent the blind to wash his eye at Siloam pool in John.
John’s report emphasized the progressing of the blind’s faith through different periods. In each period, he proclaimed Jesus by different names according to the fuller truth. The first time when he was asked by his neighbors, he proclaimed the one who healed him as “the one whose name is Jesus.” The second time when he was investigated by rulers, he proclaimed “Jesus must be a prophet.” The third time when he was questioned by the Pharisees, he proclaimed “Jesus must come from God.” Lastly, when he was asked by Jesus, he proclaimed him as “the Messiah.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Time is the enemy of some people. Many are tired of waiting for a result and they terminate their works half way through; but Jesus taught his disciple: “who are persevered to the end, they shall be saved.”
– To guarantee a success, we shouldn’t quickly aim at the goal, but divide the goal to many small goals for different periods. The patient one, though he is slow, shall reach the goal end.