13 July. Wednesday, Week 15

Saint Henry, optional memorial

1st Reading: Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16

Assyria was used to punish Israel but later was discarded for interfering with God’s plans for his people

The Lord says, “Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger, the club in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

But this is not what he intends, nor does he have this in mind; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few. For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones. My hand has found, like a nest, the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened its mouth, or chirped.”

Shall the axe vaunt itself over the one who wields it, or the saw magnify itself against the one who handles it? As if a rod should raise the one who lifts it up, or as if a staff should lift the one who is not wood! Therefore the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts, will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire.”

Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

Jesus praises the Father for revealing life to those who trust like children

Jesus exclaimed, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”


Instruments of God

Today the gospel lets us eavesdrop on a secret moment of deep realization on the part of our Lord. We are told not simply that Jesus went away to spend time in prayer; rather we get a rare glimpse into his actual prayer. Whereas Isaiah evokes the military power of ancient Assyria, whose kings ruled an empire that lasted three hundred years, Matthew speaks of a power very different from such military force when Jesus prays: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.”

This ability is known by children and is learned from one who is the Father’s first-born Son. As the Son of God, Jesus has special insight. He knows what his Father reveals within him; and he is commissioned to share this great revelation with other “children,” who are continuously begotten by God through faith. What is the mystery, known only by children, and especially by the most beloved of them, the Son who is Jesus? To know oneself as child is to realize our total dependence, our state of being begotten and receptive of life.

But parents must sometimes discipline the child whom they love (Prov 3:12). In Isaiah’s mind, Assyria was like the rod of God’s anger, sent to punish, correct and restore Israel to just and moral living. Yet when the Assyrian king arrogantly boasts, “By my own power I have done it,” and interferes with God’s plans, this “rod” will be tossed away. Isaiah asks, “Will the axe boast against one who chops with it? Could a rod wield the one who lifts it up?” The lesson is to remain humble and open as a child to God’s life-giving direction. Then in our own small ways we too can achieve creative and life-giving results, such as those accomplished by Moses, Isaiah and Jesus.

The heart of Christian prayer

Today we are given a priveleged glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. We are familiar with his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked, ‘Father, take this cup from me.’ The prayer of Jesus in this gospel is one of praise, beginning, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.’ Jesus praises God for the mysterious ways that God works, ways that seem paradoxical to human observation. Jesus blesses God for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. It is not the religious experts, the teachers of the Jewish Law, who are coming to know God as Jesus is revealing him. Rather, it is those who would have been considered religiously and theologically illiterate who are coming to know God in and through Jesus’ ministry. Those who claim to know are learning nothing about God from Jesus; those who are aware that they know little or nothing are receiving the revelation of God that Jesus brings. The gospel reminds us that it is those who are aware of their own need, their own poverty before God, who will be open to whatever God wants to communicate to us through his Son. [MH]

Saint Henry (972-1024)

Heinrich, Duke of Bavaria, became king of Germany in 1002 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1014.
A prayerful man, and generous to the poor, he founded schools, quelled rebellions and worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and to reform the Church while respecting its independence. He promoted missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a center for missions to Slavic countries. He was canonized in 1146 by Pope Eugene III.

One Comment

  1. stephen L Pragasam sj says:

    Thanks for your beautiful reflection on the daily readings. The Catholic church which is slowly changing into the world of digital in Asia is grateful to your service. I am one among a few who never miss the page before I go to my morning prayer. Prayers and thanks

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