Wednesday – Thirty-third Week – OT1
Reading 1: It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage, she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
“I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”
Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
“Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”
She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
“What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king’s command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God.”
Gospel: While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘”We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.'”
After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
I. THEME: We must return to God both the principal and the interest.
The end of the year is the time to do book keeping in corporations, companies, schools… to find out what are profit and strong points needed to develop further and what are loss and weak points needed to omit. This is also the time for each of us to examine our life with God, to find out if we build up or cause damage for the kingdom of God this year. What is good we need to develop it more, what is bad we must terminate it right away.
Today readings show us many good and bad examples of ancient people when they used God’s gifts. In the first reading, a very courageous mother has advised her children and witnessed seven sons who accepted their death to witness for God; while the king Antiochus misused his power to kill God’s chidren. In the Gospel, a master after a long absence called his servants to settle their accounts with him.
1/ Reading I: Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again with your brothers.
1.1/ A pious mother and seven heroic sons: There were seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh.
(1) The mother’s advises: Blessings come from a pious mother. Children know how to revere God is the result of their mother’s instruction and advises. The mother of seven sons of Maccabees showed a strong faith and a firm hope in God when she advised her sons: “I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws.”
(2) The young son’s brave spirit: After witnessed painful deaths of his brothers, heard all of the king’s promises and his mother’s wise advises, the young son said to the king and his soldiers: “What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our fathers through Moses. But you, who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the hands of God.”
1.2/ Antiochus’ plan of persecuting the Jews: In opposing to the faith of the mother and the seven Maccabees’ sons, the eccentric and absurd king Antiochus believed he had power over human life. He thought he could change people’s faith in God by threat, wicked persecution, reward, ranking and death; but he miserably failed because they chose to be loyal to God. They also warned him about what would be waiting for him in the next life.
2/ Gospel: The Day of Judgment
This parable is similar as Matthew’s parable (Mt 25:14-30). The differences between them are in Luke, we know the reason why a nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom, and the people’s attitude: “But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.’” This is a historical event which was reported in the Jewish history. After king Herode the Great died, he divided his kingdom into three territories for his three sons: Antipas, the Galilee region; Philip, the Jordan region, and Archelaus, the Judah region. This decision must be approved by the emperor Augustus of Rome. When Archelaus went to Rome to ask for the emperor’s approval, the Jews also sent a delegation of 50 people to Rome to voice their will: “We do not want this man to reign over us.” The result happened is the emperor Augustus approved Archelaus to be a king governed Judah. Jesus’ audience knew about this historical event.
This parable wanted to emphasize three things:
(1) God believes in men: The nobleman didn’t set an amount of profit; he let his servants to determine that amount depending on their ability. He was not present to check on them or to give advises; he traveled far away so they were completely free to decide and to work.
(2) Men must settle their accounts with God: Money is given to have a profit, not to be wasted. The more important point is for his servant to show their ability. When the nobleman returned, “having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’ And he said to him, `Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, `Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ And he said to him, `And you are to be over five cities.’”
“Then another came, saying, `Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, `I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, `Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, `Lord, he has ten pounds!’) `I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’”
(3) Reward and punishment: The result showed the servants’ ability and the master’s evaluation. Whoever shows he lived worthy of God’s trust as the first and the second servant, God will trust and give him more responsibilities since He knows that one will fulfill his duty. But if someone didn’t lived worthy of God’s trust, and also found a reason to cover his laziness by blaming on Him as the third person, how can God trust him and give him more responsibility? He will take back all that was given to him and give to those who know how to make a profit for Him. Experience is a proof for Jesus’ point: If people didn’t practice what they had learned, they will gradually lose them; but if they put them into practice, they will acquire more knowledge and have more experience.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God creates human beings and all things in the cosmos. He gave all to men so that they can govern the cosmos with Him. Men are not owners, they are just stewards and must settle their accounts with God in the Day of Judgment.
– We need to know the reason God sent each of us into this life that is for us to show our faith and love for Him through what we do for ourselves and others.