Friday, June 8, 2012
1) Opening prayer
your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger
and provide for all our needs.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 12,35-37
While teaching in the Temple, Jesus said, 'How can the scribes maintain that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, moved by the Holy Spirit, said: The Lord declared to my Lord, take your seat at my right hand till I have made your enemies your footstool. David himself calls him Lord; in what way then can he be his son?' And the great crowd listened to him with delight.
• In the Gospel of day before yesterday, Jesus criticizes the doctrine of the Sadducees (Mk 12, 24-27). In today’s Gospel, he criticizes the teaching of the doctors of the Law. And this time his criticism is not directed to the incoherence of their life, but to the teaching which they transmit to the people. On another occasion, Jesus had criticized their incoherence and had said to the people: “The Scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses: You must, therefore, do and observe what they tell you, but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not observe what they preach” (Mt 23.2-3). Now, he shows himself reserved in regard to those who taught the Messianic hope, and he bases his criticism on arguments taken from the Bible.
• Mark 12, 35-36: The teaching of the Doctors of the Law on the Messiah. The official propaganda both of the government as that of the Doctors of the Law said that the Messiah would have come as the Son of David. This was the way to teach that the Messiah would be a glorious king, strong and dominator. This is how the people shouted on Palm Sunday: “Blessed the Kingdom that is coming from our Father David!” (Mk 11,10). The blind man of Jericho also cried out in this same way: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!” (Mk 10, 47).
• Mark 12, 37: Jesus questions the teaching of the doctors about the Messiah. Jesus questions this teaching of the Scribes. He quotes a Psalm of David: “The Lord declared to my Lord, take your seat at my right hand, till I have made your enemies your footstool!” (Ps 110,1). And Jesus adds: “If David calls him Lord, how then can he be his son?” This signifies that Jesus was not completely in agreement with the idea of a Messiah, Glorious Lord, who would have come like a powerful king to dominate and to impose himself on all his enemies. Mark adds that people were pleased with the criticism of Jesus. In fact, history informs that the “poor of Yahweh” (anawim) were expecting a Messiah who was not a dominator, but the servant of God for humanity.
•The diverse forms of Messianic hope. Throughout the centuries, the Messianic hope grew, assuming diverse forms. Almost all the groups and movements of the time of Jesus were waiting for the coming of the Kingdom, but each one in his own way, the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Essenes, the Zealots, the Herodians, the Sadducees, the popular prophets, the disciples of John the Baptist, the poor of Yahweh. In the time of Jesus, three tendencies in the Messianic hope could be distinguished.
a) The Messiah personally sent by God: For some, the future Kingdom should arrive through one sent by God, called Messiah, or Christ. He would have been anointed so as to be able to carry out his mission (Is 61,1). Some expected that he would be a prophet; others, a king, a disciple or a priest. Malachi, for example, expects the prophet Elijah (Ml 3,23-24). Psalm 72 expects an ideal king, a new David. Isaiah expects now a disciple (Is 50,4), now a prophet (Is 61,1). The unclean spirit shouted: "I know who you are: the Holy One of God!” (Mc 1, 24). This was a sign that there were people who expected a Messiah who would be a priest (Holy or Sanctifier). The poor of Yahweh (anawim) expected the Messiah “Servant of God”, announced by Isaiah.
b) Messianism without the Messiah. For others, the future would have arrived suddenly, unexpected, without mediations, without help from anyone. God himself would have come in person to carry out the prophecies. There would not have been a Messiah, properly so called. There would be a messianism without a Messiah. Of this we are aware in the Book of Isaiah where God himself arrives with the victory in hand (Is 40, 9-10; 52, 7-8).
c) The Messiah has already come. There were also some groups which did not expect the Messiah. According to them the present situation should continue as it was, because they thought that the future had already arrived. These groups were not popular. For example the Sadducees did not expect the Messiah. The Herodians thought that Herod was a messianic king.
• The light of the Resurrection. The Resurrection of Jesus is the light which enlightens unexpectedly all the past. In the light of the Resurrection Christians would begin to read the Old Testament and would discover in it new meaning which before could not be discovered, because the light was missing (cf. 2 Co 3,15-16). They sought in the Old Testament the words to express the new life which they were living in Christ. There they found the majority of the titles of Jesus: Messiah (Ps 2, 2) Son of man (Dn 7, 13; Ez 2, 1), Son of God (Sl 2, 7; 2 S 7, 13), Servant of Yahweh (Is 42, 1; 41, 8), Redeemer (Is 41, 14; Ps 19, 15; Rt 4, 15), Lord (LXX) (almost 6000 times!). All the great themes of the Old Testament spring up in Jesus and find in him their full realization. In the Resurrection of Jesus springs up the seed and according to everything that has been said by the Fathers of the Church, the whole Old Testament becomes New Testament.
4) Personal questions
• Which is the hope for the future of today’s world in which we live?
• Does Faith in the Resurrection influence the way of living your life?
5) Concluding Prayer
I am waiting for your salvation, Yahweh,
I fulfil your commandments.
I observe your precepts, your judgements,
for all my ways are before you. (Ps 119:166,168)