Eighth Sunday of Denha

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The first reading prescribed for today’s Eucharistic Liturgy is Ex. 15:22-26. This passage speaks about the episode of turning the bitter water of Marah into drinkable water during the journey of the Israelites under the leadership of Moses through the desert of Sinai after their exodus from Egypt. The following points may be noted in this connection: The murmuring of the People against Moses on account of the bitter and non-drinkable water of Marah; the prayer of Moses to God; God’s intervention to turn the bitter water into drinkable water through the medium of the log of a tree thrown into the water; the exhortation given by God there.

 

The murmuring of the People signifies their lack of gratitude for the benefits hitherto received as well as the lack of trust and hope in God who was kindly leading them under the leadership of Moses. This phenomenon is recurring also in the case of the faithful living today whenever they are ungrateful and forgetful of the past benefits received from God as well as when they manifest lack of trust and hope in divine providence. The log thrown into the bitter water was a thing created by God and it shows that God usually provides for us through created things and not making a freak of nature every time. This log may be compared to the gooseberry planks lowered into the bottom of wells and ponds in our country to render sour water drinkable. The bitter water of this story may signify sour water. The Hebrew word Marah means bitter. The exhortation given by God here is very important and is applicable to us too: “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD your healer”(Ex.15:26).

 

The next reading is Isaiah 44:13-45:3. The prophet is speaking the word of God to the Israelites who were exiles in Babylon. In verses 13 to 20 of chapter 44 the prophet demonstrates the folly of worshipping idols carved out of wood which is also used as firewood to cook food. The remaining verses 21 to 28 express an appeal to the People of Israel to acknowledge Yahweh as the sole God who is the Creator of everything and Sustainer of Israel. He will cause the exiles to go back to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem, their favourite City. Verses 1 to 3 of chapter 45 are the words of Yahweh addressed to Cyrus, the Persian king, promising him victory in his military campaigns. Cyrus is mentioned here because it was he who gave freedom to the Israelites to go back to their homeland from the Babylonian exile.

 

The third reading for today is Eph. 1:15-2:7. In verses 15 to 23 of the first chapter St Paul is admiring the faith of the Ephesians and thanks God for it. Then he prays that God the Father may give them a spirit of wisdom and of revelation regarding the knowledge of God. The Christian hope will make known to them the heavenly riches that they will inherit with the saints. Through the sufferings, death and resurrection Jesus has been exalted by God the Father above all things. God made him to sit at His right hand putting everything under his feet. Christ is the head over all things for the Church which is his body. In verses 1 to 7 of the second chapter St Paul describes the abject state from which God the Father elevated the faithful with Jesus Christ and enabled them to sit in heavenly places. In the coming ages He will show the immeasurable riches of His Grace in kindness toward them in Christ Jesus.

 

The Gospel passage Mk.1:1-11 takes us to the scene of the baptism of Jesus. Today being the last Sunday of the Denha Season, the Church is bringing to our mind the scene of Jesus’ baptism before He started His public ministry. At first we see John the Baptist preaching the baptism of repentance. A reference to Isaiah 40:3 is made by the Evangelist here and he shows that it has been verified in the preaching of John the Baptist. The Baptist foretells that the one who is to come after him is greater than himself who baptizes with water, but the one who comes after him will administer baptism with the Holy Spirit. The coming of Jesus to John the Baptist is depicted next. The Baptist recognizes Him and says that he needs to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus insists on receiving baptism from John so that He may become one with the people before starting His public ministry. At Jesus’ baptism the manifestation of the Holy Trinity is made. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father “Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am well pleased” is heard from heaven.

 

With this remembrance the Denha, the Dawn, of Jesus as the Light of the world is stressed once more. Let us look at this Light which will make our passage to heaven safe.

 

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

 

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