Official Biblical, Liturgical, "Good News" readings.

February 17, 2017


The Tower of Babel:
Monument to Confused Speech


Reading 1 - GN 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
While the people were migrating in the east,
they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another,
"Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire."
They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth."

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower
that they had built.
Then the LORD said: "If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language,
they have started to do this,
nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do.
Let us then go down and there confuse their language,
so that one will not understand what another says."
Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth,
and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.
It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm - PS 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia - JN 15:15B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel - MK 8:34—9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

He also said to them,
"Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power."

Reflection

What was the sin surrounded by the infamous Tower of Babel? There are clues that we can find especially in the the fourth sentence of our First Reading. There are four major troubling areas: 1) They desire to build a city. 2) They desire to build a tower in the city that reaches to the heavens. 3) They desire to make a name for themselves. 4) They do not want to be spread over the whole earth. Numbers #1 & 2 correspond to numbers #3 & 4. Building a city is the way one avoids being dispersed over the whole earth and building a tower as high as the sky is at least one way people make themselves famous, thinking they are as great as God and giving in to the obsessive need of being praised.  The city and tower are the outward expressions of their inward sinfulness. These are selfishness, arrogant egoism, and the want to live without the help of God trying to fend for themselves.

God’s will for us is not found in what others think or care about us but simply in knowing and trusting that God knows and loves and cares for each and everyone of us. Our safety and security are found in loving and praising Him all the days of our life.  Keep in mind that this happens after experience of Noah and the flood, which was a clear and dramatic warning for all humanity. What we sadly read is that there is still so much more confusion, just as existed before the Great Flood. In fact, it appears that humanity is no better since the emergence of Original Sin with Adam and Eve. We clearly need help from the surmounting and infectious confusion that has invaded our society.

Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, clears up the confusion. Let us hear again what He said to us in the Gospel:

"Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

The only way to rise and shine above the darkness and confusion is to bear witness to Christ, live in His amazing grace and be ready to ask forgiveness and impart it to others in this life.

With this in mind, we are strengthened by The Word of God and fed with the Bread of the Eucharist. This is the only way to greatness that Jesus has died for us to share and eternally enjoy. We can then agree and sing with His beautiful words found in today's Alleluia Verse:

"I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me."
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