11TH JULY 2022
MEMORIAL OF SAINT BENEDICT, ABBOT
1ST READING: Isaiah 1:10-17
RESP. PSALM: Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21,23
GOSPEL: Matthew 10:34-11:1
THEME: CEASE DOING EVIL; DO GOOD!
FIRST READING: In transmitting the words of the Lord in the form of warning to Israel, Prophet Isaiah spoke about their sins committed against God. God warned them that their sins were known to Him, and those sins would be their undoing unless they turned away from them and repented of them. The Lord referred to Sodom, which in fact by that time had been a wasteland for a long time since it was destroyed in the rain of brimstone from Heaven, together with Gomorrah. This reference was in fact a reference to the sins of the people, which are just like the sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in the past. In fact, Prophet Isaiah does not fail to speak the Truth when he noticed a moral decadence in his time. Part of what God asked him to say as characteristics of true religion are: “Take your wrong-doing out of my sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow.” The truth was so apt and direct!
The GOSPEL: Our Blessed Lord presented to His disciples the reality of His coming into the world and how the disciples might have to face sufferings, hardships and persecutions much as how the prophets had faced in the past. In context, the people expected that the Messiah, the Son of David would be the One to lead them all in a great campaign and rebellion to free them from the tyranny, wickedness and dominion of their Roman oppressors and overlords. They expected the Messiah to be a new King over them, ruling over the restored Kingdom of Israel. But the reality is such that, the Lord’s coming would in fact create divisions and tribulations for His followers, all because of the stubbornness and the same resistance that the world had often shown Him and His messengers. The expected Prince of Peace rather comes with division and with a sword – division. This division extends into the most pivotal spheres of relationships: the family. If we find these words difficult and harsh, we are not alone. Jesus’ original audience (the Jews) would also have been disturbed by them.
AS CHRISTIANS: How do we understand this project of Christ? He says, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth... The imagery of “sword”, in today's Text does not imply bloodshed. It is a reference to the fact that the word of God is “sharper than any double-edged sword”; it “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” as illustrated in Hebrews 4:12. God’s truth is a sword which divides truth from falsity, right from wrong, good from evil, and much else. It confronts us and requires us to make decisions. The way we make such decisions can divide us. Hence, each and every one of us is reminded of the fact that being a Christian is not something that is trivial or easily done. There may often be a lot of sacrifices and efforts needed for us to be truly faithful to God. That is why we are called to be truly faithful to God and not just merely paying lip service or formality, just as the Israelites in Judah had done by the time of the prophet Isaiah.
We need to be hospitable and generous. Hospitality allows us to encounter the presence of God in others, usually in those in whom we least expect to find Him, and to share our love with them. We become fully alive as Christians through the generous giving of ourselves to others. We need to commit ourselves to a new life dedicated to God, and in our everyday actions and deeds, we need to be genuinely filled with the desire to love God and with the desire to embrace His methods and ways. All of us ought to be exemplary in our lives and actions at all times. We are all called to be genuine Christians and true disciples of the Lord.
Let today’s message be our point of reference throughout the course of this week; and may the good Lord grant us the grace of standing by and for the Truth, even if it would entail “standing alone.” Amen!