16 July. Saturday, Week 15

1st Reading: Micah 2:1-5

When rich people covet and steal the lands of others, their own land will fall to their captors

Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress householder and house, people and their inheritance.

Therefore thus says the Lord: Now, I am devising against this family an evil from which you cannot remove your necks; and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time. On that day they shall take up a taunt song against you, and wail with bitter lamentation, and say, “We are utterly ruined; the Lord alters the inheritance of my people; how he removes it from me! Among our captors he parcels out our fields.” Therefore you will have no one to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 12:14-21

While the Pharisees plot to kill him, Jesus continues to cure the sick, as God’s faithful servant

The Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy Jesus. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”


People of mixed ancestry

To retain the privilege of being God’s special people, called to be his very own, we need to practise kindness, compassion and a healthy humility. Micah saw his people needing deep reform. Instead of sleeping at night, they now “work out evil on their couches” coveting fields and seizing them, cheating others of their inheritance. Land-hungry people were reversing the purpose of the exodus. God’s people were meant to live in a homeland where each family passed its property from one generation to the next (Lev 25:3-28). But many were reducing others again to slavery. As punishment, gentiles will seize all the land for themselves. As in other prophecies, we note how foreigners have a role in God’s plans.

Matthew quotes Isaiah about the Suffering Servant, the specially chosen one of God. The purpose of Jesus is well prophecied by this passage, written during the Babylonian exile. Isaiah’s message was rejected in his own day, as his attitude towards the gentiles seemed too mild, too hopeful for their acceptance by God and their ultimate salvation. The personality of Jesus is described in advance, as “my servant whom I have chosen, my loved one in whom I delight.. He will not contend nor cry out.. The bruised reed he will not crush.. In his name the gentiles will find hope.” If we Christians disregard our neighbour in time of sickness and trouble, we do not deserve the name of Christian, for, like Jesus we are called to cure and heal, quietly, without ostentation. We cannot disregard the outsider without being called to account by God.

As we open our hearts to people of mixed race and ancestry, according to the example of Jesus, we will be apostles of hope, proclaiming hope, not just for others but also for ourselves. In many ways, others can teach us how to be God’s chosen people.

He will not break the bruised reed

What a contrast in this gospel between those who plot to destroy Jesus and the attitude of Jesus himself who has not come to destroy but to cure and to heal. From early on in his ministry, many were out to bring death to Jesus, whereas Jesus himself was always in the business of bringing life to others, a share in God’s own life. This is why St Matthew applies to Jesus a text about God’s servant in the book of Isaiah which says, ‘he will not break the bruised reed, nor put out the smouldering wick.’ The bruised reed and the smouldering wick refer to those who are broken in body and depressed in spirit. It is very easy to break a bruised reed and put out a smouldering wick. Those who are broken in body or depressed in spirit tend to be very vulnerable.

Matthew shows Jesus as one who is sensitive to those who are vulnerable. He can restore the bruised reed and fan into a living flame the smouldering wick. There are times when we need to come before the Lord in our brokenness and vulnerability and ask him to renew and strengthen us. Such a prayer to the Lord could take the form of that wonderful prayer for the Holy Spirit we say on Pentecost Sunday, ‘Come thou Father of the poor… Heal our wounds, our strength renew, on our dryness pour thy dew.’ When we are touched by the power of Jesus, the Life-giver, we in turn can be sources of life and healing for others. [MH]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel optional memorial)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were hermits living on Mount Carmel in Galilee during the 12th and 13th century. They built a chapel betwen their hermitages which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The Carmelites see in the Blessed Virgin Mary a perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation to which Carmelites aspire, a model of virtue and the one who was closest in life to Jesus Christ

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