In the letter to the Thessalonians we continue to read Paul, who is very proud of the church he established in Thessalonica during the first period of his ministry. The tone of the letter is full of tenderness and love for this community.
FIRST READING – Malachi 1:14-2,2. 8-10
THE PROPHET MALACHI
Ø According to 1:1 the book is the “word of God to Israel through Malachi
Ø In the common opinion today, Malachi was not originally the proper name of the author, but the appellative “my messenger”.
Ø Therefore we have here an anonymous prophet. Some scholars have thought that his name might be the abbreviation of a Hebrew word whose meaning is “God is my messenger”. Others, like St. Jerome think that Malachi could be Esdras because both were reformers, but this thesis is not accepted.
Ø We know nothing about the author’s life, but from this small book we learn something of the kind of person he was.
Ø Despite his attack on priests 1:6-2:4
o he was favorable to the levitical priesthood 2:4-7
o he insisted on the people’s obligation to contribute to the expenses of the Temple, and support the personnel.
o He had a humane concern for the wife who suffers rejection, for the poor of Judah who wonder about God’s love for them.
o He would tell the people to remember what God has done for them along the history of their people Israel. He insists on the truth of God’s love.
o He did his ministry probably between 480 and 450 B.C.
Ø The book presents the message in 6 oracles:
o God’s preferencial love for Israel
o Cultic offenses
o Mixed marriages and divorces
o God will purify and justly judge
o Tithes for God, blessing for the people
o Those who fear God will come out ahead.
Ø FIRST READING
o The name of God is great
o The prophet, as the voice of God, rebukes the people for their worship
o Among the prophets of the preceding centuries, the accusations because of Israel’s worship was more aggressive.
o Malachi does it in a different way, he reminds the people of the intimate relationship that has to exist between the People and God in their worship.
o The reason to change the way to address the people, is because he has in front of him a people poor and humble, whose only identity is its loving relationship to God
o The question at the end of this reading is why are we divided, and thus violating the covenant of our fathers?
o This Reading demands more of us than last Sunday’s Reading: first and second commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.
o Today we are told that to violate the commandment to love our neighbor is to violate the covenant with God, and even more, to violate, to make void our worship.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM – Psalm 131: 1.2.3
This is the psalm of trust most beautiful of the whole psalter.
o The author uses the image of a baby in his or her mother’s arms, to explain his religious experience. It is a portrait of God as a mother, in other places we find the image of God as a father. In reality we find in God both, the love of a father and the love of a mother, because he is LOVE, and our love is only the image of his.
o This being secure in the arms of Yahweh makes the psalmist simple and humble, without fear, full of calm, close to the Lord as a baby in his mother’s arms.
o The psalmist ends this psalm with an invitation to Israel to trust in the Lord.
SECOND READING – Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
« Paul reminds the community of Thessalonica his tender love while he was among them
« He shared with them not only the good news, but also his own life, so much he loved them!
« He reminds them also how he worked with his own hands to provide for his needs in order not to be a burden for the community.
« He repeats how joyful he is that they received the message not as the word of man, but as the word of God that it is.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 23:1-12
§ We have here a very powerful gospel message: the accusation that those who preach the word(teachers of the law, priests, levites) do not live according to it.
§ Jesus tells his disciples to do what the teachers of the Law teach them, but not follow their example, since they do not live according to the law they preach.
§ He says that they bind up heavy loads, hard to carry, to lay on other men’s shoulders, while they themselves will not lift a finger to carry them.
§ They have transformed their service into a sign of honor. They have places of honor at the banquets. They have people called them Rabbi.
§ Jesus tells the disciples:
You shall not do these things, do not look for titles (teacher, father, leader) since all those titles belong only to God
o The greatest among you shall be the servant of all
o He ends up saying: WHOEVER PRAISES HIMSELF OR HERSELF WILL BE HUMILIATED; WHOEVER HUMBLES HIMSELF OR HERSELF WILL BE PRAISED.
§ Our teacher Jesus has done that during his life, he has humbled himself and thus God has exalted him and given to him a name above every other name, so that at Jesus’ name every knee shall bend in the heavens and on the earth
§ This is a powerful lesson which questions us about the way we live our faith, in relation with the worship and liturgy which we offer to our Father; it questions us also about our relationships with our brothers and sisters. Since we have only one Father, no one should be above any one, all equals around the family table, with the only distinction that comes from our ministries or services in the community.
Only the one, who knows the mutual sympathy of two hearts united by God for himself in the same spirit, can understand the pain that filled my soul in this most sad occasion. My suffering was equal to the love I had for her, because it was no less than a love fashioned by God, and I loved her as a part of my soul. So, I felt such pain with this separation as if my soul would be separated from my body. How many things afflicted my soul at the same time. Her irremediable loss! In an unknown country! My loneliness was complete!!! (María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 180.)
Besides the visitations and confirmations, I preached on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. I never failed to preach, no matter what part of the diocese I happened to be in at the time. Toward the beginning of June I left the city and went to Caney, to conclude the mission that Father Stephen and Father Currius had started and were very successfully carrying on. After confirming everyone, I preached the closing service of the mission.
(St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 516.