Fifth Sunday of Denha

Click play to listen the Evangalion (gospel reading) of the day.

The first reading from the Bible in today’s Eucharistic Liturgy is Deuteronomy 18:9-22. In verses 9-14 of this reading the Israelites are forbidden to imitate the abhorrent practices of the land of Canaan such as child sacrifices and burning these victims in fire, divining or practicing magic to know future etc. This warning is to make the People of Israel loyal to Yahweh when they enter and occupy the land of Canaan. In verses 15-22 the main theme is regarding the promise of the origin of a new prophet in Israel like Moses. Many commentators believe that this promise ultimately refers to Jesus Christ, the future Redeemer who would be King in the spiritual realm, Prophet as well as Priest. But many believe that in the immediate context the expression a Prophet like me (=Moses) means true prophets who are to be distinguished from false prophets who would be many in the history of Israel. The people are given here the criterion to discern a false prophet. A false prophet could be easily detected by examining whether something happens according to his prophecy or not.


The second reading is from the Book of Isaiah 48:12-20. These words are addressed to the People of Israel during their exile in Babylon. God is the first and last. There is no god besides Him. He is the creator. He will punish Babylon. He is the Redeemer of Israel. He teaches them for their own good. He appeals to them to observe His commandments for their prosperity. He asks them to proclaim their return from the exile of Babylon because God has redeemed Israel.


The third reading is from the epistle to the Hebrews 6:9-7:3. The author at first encourages the faithful to continue in their service to their fellow Christians whom he calls saints. He exhorts them not to be sluggish but to be imitators of those who through Faith and patience inherit the promises. Next, the author mentions the promise of God with oath to Abraham who obtained it having patiently endured. Abraham is set as a role model to the faithful to hold fast to the hope in Christian life anchored on Jesus Christ, our High Priest, who entered into the Holy of holies of heaven. The author goes on to explain the encounter of Abraham with Melchisedek (Cf.Gen.14:17-20): The Priesthood of Jesus is compared to that of Melchisedek who was king and priest.


The fourth reading is from the Gospel according to St. John 3:1-21. It tells us the story of the encounter of the open-minded Jewish Pharisee Nicodemus with Jesus. The scene is depicted by St. John as beginning in the form of a dialogue and ending up in the form of a monologue by Jesus.


In those days people who wanted to consult a Rabbi or Jewish teacher would go to him by night and carry on the consultation. That is why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The visitor starts with the positive assertion that the miracles worked by Jesus prove that God is with Him. The reply of Jesus is an outright assertion of the need of a re-birth for each human being to enter the kingdom of heaven. The primitive Church understood this re-birth as Baptism. Naturally, Nicodemus does not understand what Jesus means. He misunderstands it as physical re-birth which is impossible. But Jesus means spiritual re-birth through water and spirit in Baptism. Despite the fact that Nicodemus misunderstands the words of Jesus, the very same thing is again asserted by Jesus along with the mention of the means of re-birth through water and Spirit, which the faithful understand as Christian Baptism. Still Nicodemus does not understand how it takes place. Here Jesus asks him why he does not understand this, being a great teacher in Israel. After this the words of Jesus drift into a monologue by which St. John depicts God’s love for the world and the essential quality of those who accept Christ and believe in Him. The belief in Jesus and His message are stressed. The crucifixion of Jesus is shown as prefigured in the Bronze serpent event of the Old Testament (Cf.Num.21:6-9). Again it is stated that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. God sent His Son to the word not to condemn it but to save it. Those who do not believe are automatically condemned. Jesus came to the world as light, but people loved darkness because their deeds were evil. Those who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light. Such people are condemned. But those who do what is true come to the light and it becomes plain that their deeds are godly.


This brief sketch of the essential quality of believers recorded by St. John should be borne in mind by each Christian.


Credits: Father Thomas Kalayil, CMI <thomas 'dot' kalayil 'at' cmi 'dot' in>


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