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Wednesday – Third Week – OT2
Readings: 2 Sam 7:4-17; Mk 4:1-20.
1/ First Reading: RSV 2 Samuel 7:4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, `Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”‘ 8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David, `Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established forever.'” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
I. THEME: The word of God has potential to give unlimited benefits for people.
Our ancestors say, “To be successful, all these three elements must exist: God’s will, opportunities and human harmony.” Or, “there must be four rights: people, thing, place and time.” If one of them doesn’t exist, we shall not be successful or reach the desired result.
Today readings are centered on the co-operation between God and human beings. In the first reading, although King David wanted to build a house for God, but God didn’t want it. In opposition, He promises to build an eternal generation for David’s house. In the Gospel, the word of God is compared like a seed which has potential to bring countless benefits for people; but whether that seed can actually bring benefits or not, it depends on the place where the seed is sown on. In other words, it depends on the positive co-operation of people.
1/ Reading I: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established forever.”
1.1/ It isn’t David who shall build a house for the Lord: Building a church to worship God is good in itself; but the intention to build it must be clearly understood.
(1) God doesn’t need people to build for Him a house because He lives in all places: This is obvious because people can’t limit God or confine Him in a certain place. The reason why God wants to present in the Tabernacle or a church is to give people a certain sign that they might know God is present with them. He reminded Nathan about the Israelites’ journey to the Promise Land and His presence amongst them, “I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?””
(2) The Temple isn’t for God’s but for people’s benefits: People need to be taught, protected and helped by God. The temple and churches are places where people are gathered to listen and to learn God’s teaching; without learning them, people shall not know how to behave correctly. They are also places where God gives graces for people: either His forgiveness through the Old Testament’s sacrifices or graces through the New Testament’s sacrifices. Therefore, what people need to avoid when building a church is their pride—thinking they build a place for God to dwell. Rather, they build a place for their own benefits.
1.2/ God Himself shall build “a house” for David: In the relationship between God and people, God is always the one who takes initiative in all things; people are only the ones who respond to God’s love and grace. On God’s part, He is always firm and loyal; on the people’s part, they change and betray easily. In today passage, God lists out what He did, is doing and shall do for David and his descendants.
(1) What God has done for David: He said, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel;and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you.”
(2) What God shall do for David?
– For David himself, “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth… and I will give you rest from all your enemies.”
– For people a fixed place to dwell, “And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly,from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel.”
– For Solomon, David’s son and successor: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men;but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.”
– For David’s descendants: David’s kingship shall last forever, “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” This means all the kings of Israel shall come from David’s lineage. This includes Christ, God’s son. He comes from David’s descendants and he shall be the king who governs all nations forever.
God has achieved all His promises, even though people must wait for a long time because of their deeds and shallow decisions.
2/ Gospel: The result depends on the place which the seed is felt into.
Today parable wanted to emphasize two main points: First, the seed is God’s word, it has potential to benefit people as all other seeds. Secondly, the place where the seed is sowed into is the human mind. Whether the seed can benefit or how many can it yield depending on people’s preparation.
2.1/ The four places where God’s word is sowed into:
(1) On the path: Jesus said: “Some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.” He explained: “These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.” They are indifferent people; they regard God’s word as unimportant for their life.
(2) On rocky ground: Jesus said: “Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.” Jesus explained: “These are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” These people don’t take time to deepen and to live God’s word, so it is easy for them to quit after a short time.
(3) Among throny bushes: Jesus said: “Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.” Jesus explained: “Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people, who hear the word,but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.” Though they listened to God’s word, but don’t practice it. In addition to it, they chase after the attract of temporal glory or the pleasure of flesh.
(4) On fertile land: Jesus said: “And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” Jesus explained: “But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” They are those who listened, understood and put it into practice. Depending on their preparation, they profit thirty, sixty or one hundredfold.
2.2/ The secret of the mystery of the Kingdom: When Jesus was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables.He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables,so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'”
When first hearing of these words, one can conclude that the mystery of the kingdom of God is only given to those who belong to God, and easily believes in the Predestination theory which states that whoever is predestined to be saved, God shall help them to understand and the reverse is also true. Such an understanding is incorrect because of the two following reasons:
(1) Mark illustrated Isaiah 6:10 of the LXX, but not the whole sentence, which said, “You are to make the heart of this people sluggish, to dull their ears and close their eyes; else their eyes will see, their ears hear, their heart understand, and they will turn and be healed.” The LXX used the first verb at aorist passive, “their heart was become sluggish,” and wanted to understand as such for two next expression, “their ears were become dull and their eyes closed.” This means the ones who are responsible for these results are people, not God. The MT text used the verbs at command voice: God said, “Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” This MT version seems to have God as the responsible one.
(2) If we pay attention to the context of the whole Scripture, this is only the Jewish way to express because they believe that all that happen in the world is under God’s providence. However, if we study Jesus and Isaiah’s life of preaching, we can see that even both of them tried to preach for people, but if people don’t open their heart to receive, their ears to hear and their eyes to see, how can they understand and practice their teaching? And if they don’t understand, how can they bear fruits? This is the goal which today passage aimed at.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God is still loyal in loving people and giving them graces. The problem is always on our part: Do we recognize His love and co-operate with Him to bear fruits for us and others? We can’t do anything for God’s profit.
– God’s word has a potential to give unlimited benefits for us; however, it belongs completely on our attitude and ability to co-operate with Him.
– We need to prepare our mind to listen to God’s word. We also need to spend time to study, to meditate, and to let God’s word guide us through all thick and thin of our life.