July 24. Tuesday of Week Sixteen
Mic 7:14ff. Israel prays for a renewal of the time of Moses and its wonderful signs, for God’s fidelity in renewing the covenant.
Matt. 12:46ff. Jesus extended his hand towards the crowd and said: Behold my brother and sister and mother- whoever does the will of my heavenly Father.
Widen the Family Circle
The final prayer in Micah tells of Israel’s liberation and journey towards the Promised Land, and stresses Israel’s separateness from all other nations. Matthew, on the contrary, sees Jesus forming a new family of outsiders, based on “whoever does the will of my Father.” This qualification enables Christianity to form a chosen people from among all nations and races, with no exclusivity.
The Old Testament often seems restrictive and biased, yet we remember that unless we first rally together in a strong family bond, we will have little to share with others. Only a loving family can open its doors freely to neighbours and outsiders. Wisely, the Church reveres both Testaments, the Old and the New, as forming one Bible of God’s inspired word.
In today’s reading God is trusted to “show faithfulness to Jacob, and grace to Abraham.” This prayer, tacked on to Micah’s prophecy, was composed after Israel returned from the Babylonian exile, with the people still reeling from this traumatic event. They beg for a renewal of the days of Moses, and for the wonderful signs God showed to their ancestors. But in this period of regrouping they felt it necessary to exclude all outsiders. Verses 16 and 17, omitted from today’s reading, are harsh towards the foreigners; for Israel first had to recover its identity in order to later open its doors and have something worthwhile to share.
Jesus opened the doors, heroically and at great cost even to his mother Mary. When his mother and brothers were seeking to speak with him, Jesus seems to pass them by. Extending his hands to the circle of his disciples, he said, “These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me.”
First Reading: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock that belongs to you, which lives alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old. As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, show us marvellous things.
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency. He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.
Gospel: Matthew 12:46-50
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”