19th July. Saturday, Week 15.
First Reading: Micah 2:1-5
(When the wealthy 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 him. 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 smodering 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 elect 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 purpose of Jesus is well described by this passage, written during the Babylonian exile. Its message was rejected in his own day, as its attitude towards the gentiles seemed too mild, even hopeful for their salvation. Jesus is described 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 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 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.