16Jul 16th July. Wednesday, Week 15.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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.

First 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.)

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 ax 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 the mystery of salvation to those who become as simple as children.)

At that time Jesus said, “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

The gospel lets us eavesdrop on a secret moment of realization on the part of Our Lord. Here we are not told simply that Jesus went away to spend time in prayer; we get a rare opportunity to hear the actual words of his prayer. Whereas Isaiah evokes the mammoth military machine of ancient Assyria, whose kings ruled an empire that lasted three hundred years, Matthew speaks of a power very different from such military might, as 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 Son, Jesus knows only 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 discipline the child whom they love (Prov 3:12). Assyria became a rod of God’s anger, to punish, correct and restore Israel to just and moral living. Yet when Assyria 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 hews with it?.. As if a rod could wield the one who lifts it..” The lesson is to remain humble and open as a child to God’s life-giving direction. Then we can achieve creative and life-giving results, such as those accomplished by Moses, Isaiah and Jesus.