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Monday – Twenty-fifth Week – OT1
Readings: Ezr 1:1-6; Lk 8:16-18.
Reading 1 (Ezr 1:1-6):
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia,
in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah,
the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia
to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom,
both by word of mouth and in writing:
“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia:
‘All the kingdoms of the earth
the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me,
and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem,
which is in Judah.
Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people,
let him go up, and may his God be with him!
Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt,
be assisted by the people of that place
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle,
together with free-will offerings
for the house of God in Jerusalem.'”
Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin
and the priests and Levites-
everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so-
prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.
All their neighbors gave them help in every way,
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle,
and with many precious gifts
besides all their free-will offerings.
Gospel (Lk 8:16-18):
Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: God has power to control human mind from inside.
To change human mind and temperament are impossible to human; but is possible to God, because He has power to control human mind from inside.
Today readings want to emphasize God’s power on human mind. In the first reading, Ezra reports the event of Cyrus, the Persian king, who was controlled by God, gave a decree to release Israelites from their exile, so that they can return to their country and rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem in Judah. Not only that, he also found a mean for them to rebuild it. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples they must live truthfully and set good examples for others to follow because God knows everything that happen in human mind.
1/ Reading I: The Lord, God of heaven, has given me all nations on earth.
1.1/ The Lord controlled Cyrus’ mind: The prophet Jeremiah has foretold the time of the Exile is 70 years (Jer 25:12; 29:10). What Cyrus, the Persian king, decreed is to fulfill the Jeremiah’s prophecy before the Exile. This shows everything happen in the world are in God’s providence.
Today Ezra’s report gives us an insight how God controls a human being: He controls human mind. He did it by sending His Spirit into Cyrus’ mind to enlighten him and to make him to do what God wants. Be enlighten by the Spirit, the king gave a decree to his kingdom as follows: “All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”
The king Cyrus recognized that the God of Israel is the Lord of heaven, and Cyrus’ victory over the Babylon kingdom was set up by the Lord God. The king received God’s will to do, that is to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. Why must the Temple be built in Jerusalem, and not in any place of his kingdom? The answer is because of God’s will, so that Jeremiah’s prophecy might be fulfilled. There is no power on earth can control the mind of this Gentile king who never knew God before, and made him to do according to God’s will, except God’s power which controls him from the inside.
1.2/ All who were acted on their mind by God, raise up and rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem.
The decree of Cyrus could not be done if God was not acted on the minds of many people.
(1) The Israelites must desire to go back to Jerusalem: Even though they had to suffered on exile, if God did not act on their minds, not many want to come back to rebuild the Temple, because it requires much sacrifices and efforts. Cyrus knew this and he encouraged them with these words: “The family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites – everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so – prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.”
(2) There must be also financial mean to rebuild the Temple: Rebuilding the Temple is a very hard work and requiring a huge amount of money. From where the exile people can find money? Cyrus did not only release the Israelites, he also provided the mean for them to fulfill their duty. The king decreed that “Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, together with free-will offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.” This reminds us of what happened before the Exodus’ event, the Egyptians were also acted in their minds by God, so that they offered many material things to the Israelites before their journey. These kind acts were also foretold to Moses by God. Now, God also acted on Persians so that they were willing to give the Israelites what they need to fulfill God’s project.
2/ Gospel: The Christian life
This short Gospel gives us three main ideas corresponding to three sentences.
2.1/ The Christian life must be an exemplary for all people: We can preach the Good News by words or by our model life. The most desire way is both, our words and action, as a Vietnamese idiom, “words must be accompanied by action.” If one must choose between the two ways, preaching by action is more effective, since “people pay attention to words, but are convinced by action.” Some protest that we should not do good actions before men because Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of scribes and Pharisees. It is corrected, but there is a difference between doing good deeds in silence and in making noisy sounds to draw others’ attention.
2.2/ The Christian life must be according to the truth: Christians have to live a truthful life “for there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” There are three cases that people wants to hide:
(1) People can hide themselves by not accepting the truth. For example, they know they are sinful; but they still try to find an excuse or consider it as not sinful.
(2) People try to hide their secret from others; but they are not at peace because they are constantly worry to be found out.
(3) Some think they can hide their sins from God as the case of Cain. He denied that he is not the brother’s keeper.
2.3/ The Christian lile is a continual effort to be perfect: “Anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” This can be applied in many cases.
– In the area of foreign languages: If one tries to exercise everyday, his ability of languages will be improved daily; but if he doesn’t use them, his ability of foreign languages will gradually be disappeared and lost.
– In the area of faith: Jesus compares the listening and practicing God’s words like one built his house on a stony ground. If one tries to live according to God’s word, his faith will gradually be strengthen, and he can overcome all hardships of life; but if he does not practice God’s words, his faith will be weaken and destroyed as one built his house on sand.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God governs all that happen in the world. He governs not only from outside, but also from inside, human mind. We should be ready to obey and to do what He commands.
– We have received the lighten candle on our baptismal day and promised before the Church to keep it always be lighten up until the day we welcome Christ when he returns. The lighten candle is our faith. It must give light to all surround us by a good and truthful life. Our faith also have to increase daily so it can help us to withstand all hardships of life.