18th Week, Friday, Aug 7

Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7 / Matthew 16:24-25
God speaks through Nahum: The city was doomed.

The Book of Nahum is one of the shortest books in the Bible. It celebrates the fall of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, Judah’s ancient enemy. Nothing is known of Nahum (ca. 650 B.C.), except what we find in this brief book.

Two things stand out as we read it. First, Nahum possesses great poetic talent. His style is filled with vivid images. Second, Nahum’s message is extremely clear: No lasting kingdom can be built on fraud and force.
God will not tolerate such a kingdom, as the destruction of Assyria shows. What can be said of kingdoms can also be said of persons. The unrepentant sinner is doomed to die.
How aware are we of the sin in our lives? What are we doing to root it out of our lives? “Our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God.” Thomas D. Bernard
For an empire to last about 1500 can be said to be quite remarkable by modern standards. But even in the ancient world, for an empire to last that long is certainly impressive. The Assyrian empire lasted for more than 1500 years and its capital Nineveh was in modern day Iraq. The empire started to collapse in 612BC with the rise of the Babylonian empire.

The 1st reading is taken from the prophet Nahum. His name means "comforter". He prophesied about the end of the Assyrian empire and the destruction of its capital Nineveh.

He proclaimed peace to Judah and to celebrate their feast because Assyria will fall and be destroyed, as how he prophesied in the 1st reading.

But for the people of Judah, it would take a lot of faith and courage to believe that prophesy because they had seen how Assyria annihilated Samaria in 722BC and deported all its inhabitants such that the Northern Kingdom of Israel ceased to exist. And so the Southern Kingdom of Judah was waiting in fear of their turn.

So as with the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires, the Assyrian empire fell and what is left of it now are some artefacts of a bygone kingdom.

It only reiterates what Jesus said about what does a main gain by winning the whole world but losing his life and what can a man offer in exchange for his life.

All our achievements and accomplishments and awards would come to nothing and mean nothing if it is not done according to the will of God.

The will of God is for us to renounce ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus. In the cross is our comfort and also our glory. No material gains can be offered in exchange for that. It is in the cross that we find our peace and our salvation.
Friday of 18th Week of Ordinary Time


In poetic language, the prophet Nahum announces the fall of the city of Nineveh with its cruel oppression of the nations of the region. For God is the master of history. This is good news to the people of Judah.
In the Gospel, Jesus presents the Christian life by means of three equivalent expressions. It means: to renounce oneself – that is, to accept God’s way of thinking and acting rather than one’s own; to take up the cross – that is, to take the risk of undergoing the fate of the Master and give up personal security; and to follow Jesus – that is, to accept the guidance of Jesus, his Gospel, not only in theory but also in practice. Are we ready to do this? Is this what the Christian life means for us?

Opening Prayer
Lord, our God,
we know that following your Son means
to let someone else lead us,
where we perhaps were not intending to go.
But it is your Son who leads us and goes with us.
And so, we say: We are willing to go with him,
but help us Lord, when our hearts grow faint,
that we may keep going with him
who is our Lord for ever.

The prophets are masters at showing both sides of the coin. Yes, Israel has paid a dear price for its wanton disregard of Yahweh’s will. But it is not the end of the plan. “Good tidings” are announced by Nahum: the restoration of Jacob, the end of invasion, and the punishment of invaders. And what will become of the dreaded Assyrians? God’s wrath will fall upon its charging cavalry, the bearers of death and destruction. And Nineveh will be without mourners. As an empire, she cast a long shadow; now she will receive her just dessert.
The Christian life too has its light and shadows. It requires a dying and a rising, from which there is no escape. God did not have to become man to achieve redemption; there are other paths he could have chosen. But if we were to be convinced of his unparalleled love, it had to take a striking form.
And then Jesus reminds us that it can be no different for us. No two Christians endure the same denial of self. But without showing preference to the needs of others and of giving God his due, then life is not lost. But when there is a death to self, the new life gives joy and satisfaction and leads to an eternity of love.

Points to Ponder
The permanence of God’s love
The response to God’s love
Dying and rising in daily life

– Lord Jesus, for those who follow you on the way to the cross as they are persecuted for believing in you, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, for those who follow you on the way of the cross as they make self-renunciation to dedicate themselves to take care of lonely and sick people, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, for those who bear their sufferings in patience with you, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Bread and wine,
Lord our God,
are our strength and joy on the road of life.
Let your Son break for us the better bread
and pour for us the better wine of himself,
that keep us going, and when needed,
even climbing the mountain of suffering
and of apparent defeat.
For we trust in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
you know how much we are afraid
of taking risks and committing ourselves
to the new and the unknown.
But you beckon us through your Son
and you let him be our strength.
And so, we pray you:
Keep calling us out of our enclosures
and give us the courage to go all the way
to you and to one another
without fear or compromise.
Let the Gospel of Jesus
become good news of happiness and joy
to fill our lives, for ever and ever.

“Take up your cross and follow me.” We must take up the cross demanded by faithfulness to the Gospel, our Christian community, our family, our task in life, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.