DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY: “NO DISCIPLE IS ABOVE HIS TEACHER”
Gospel of Saturday, 14th week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his Apostles: “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!
“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission)
24-25 Jesus said to his Apostles: “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!
- Jesus uses these two proverbs to hint at the future that awaits his disciples: their greatest glory will consist in imitating the Master, being identified with him, even if this means being despised and persecuted as he was before them: his example is what guides a Christian; as he himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).
- Beelzebul (cf. Lk 11:15) was the name of the idol of the ancient Philistine city of Ekron.
- The Jews later used the word to describe the devil or the prince of devils (cf. Mt 12:24), and their hatred of Jesus led them to the extreme of applying it to him.
- To equip them for the persecution and misunderstanding which Christians will suffer (Jn 15:18), Jesus encourages them by promising to stay close to them. Towards the end of his life he will call them his friends (Jn 15:15) and little children (Jn 13:33).
26-27 Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those w
- Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid of calumny and detraction.
- A day will come when everyone will come to know the whole truth about everyone else, their real intentions, the true dispositions of their souls.
- In the meantime, those who belong to God may be misrepresented by those who resort to lies, out of malice or passion. These are the hidden things which will be made known.
- Christ also tells the Apostles to speak out clearly. Jesus’ divine teaching method led him to speak to the crowds in parables so that they came to discover his true personality by easy stages. After the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:8), the Apostles would have to preach from the rooftops about what Jesus had taught them.
- We too have to make Christ’s doctrine known in its entirety, without any ambiguity, without being influenced by false prudence or fear of the consequences.
28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
- Using this and other Gospel texts (Mt 5:22, 29; 18:9; Mk 9:4 3, 45, 47; Lk 12:5), the Church teaches that hell exists; there those who die in mortal sin suffer eternal punishment (cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent I, 6, 3), in a manner not known to us in this life (cf. St Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 32). See notes on Lk 16:19-31).
- Therefore, our Lord warns his disciples against false fear.
- We should not fear those who can only kill the body. Only God can cast body and soul into hell.
- Therefore God is the only one we should fear and respect; he is our Prince and Supreme Judge — not men.
- The martyrs have obeyed this precept of the Lord in the fullest way, well aware that eternal life is worth much more than earthly life.
29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows
- An “as” (translated here as “penny”) was a small coin of very little value.
- Christ uses it to illustrate how much God loves his creatures.
- As St Jerome says (Comm. in Matth., 10:29-31): “If little birds, which are so little value, still come under the providence and care of God, how is it that you, who given the nature of your soul are immortal, can fear that you are not looked after carefully by him whom you respect as your Father?” Jesus again teaches us about the fatherly providence of God, which he spoke about at length in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 6:19-34).
32-33 Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
- Here Jesus tells us that public confession of our faith in him — whatever the consequences — is an indispensable condition for eternal salvation.
- After the Judgment, Christ will welcome those who have given testimony of their faith and condemn those whom fear caused to be ashamed of him (cf. Mt 7:23; 25:41; Rev 2 1:8).
- The Church honours as “confessors” those saints who have not undergone physical martyrdom but whose lives bore witness to the Catholic faith. Although every Christian should be ready to die for his faith, most Christians are called to be confessors of the faith.
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: When you are overwhelmed by problems, are you assured by God’s words: “Do not be afraid?”
Today’s gospel has Jesus telling his disciples not to be afraid. His words assure – “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” He values even the smallest creatures, down even to two little sparrows. That is how much He cares for all of us.
When times are difficult, when we are afflicted with an illness that can snuff the life out of us, when people around us can be so cruel and when life becomes so unforgiving with the weight of its problems on our shoulders, He tells us not to be afraid.
Even if we have faith, the problems may come in torrents and may overwhelm us. He repeats to us His words, “Do not be afraid.” He knows us so well, even to the number of strands of hair that we have, that we must not doubt His words. We just need to keep on acknowledging and proclaiming Him to others.
Depending on the source, there are between 170 to 365 times that the phrase “do not be afraid appears” or reference to it is made in the Bible. That means that the Lord is reminding us, at least every other day, not to be afraid and to trust Him completely that He will see us through.
If we are worth more than the sparrows which Jesus says God cares for lovingly, we must be so assured and comforted to respond with peace, calm and confidence. Sit quietly for a few minutes and just soak in the presence of Jesus. He reminds us in Psalm 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God.” When we just bask in His presence, our minds will be emptied for Him to enter and fill us with His assurance.
We can only be grateful no matter what happens because we trust God is in control.
TOPIC 2: IS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO FORGIVE?
In today’s first reading, the brothers of Joseph become fearful of his revenge upon their father Jacob’s death. They beg Joseph to forgive them and express readiness to become his slave. Joseph responds with forgiveness. The story of Joseph in its entirety is the story of our lives.
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