Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: July 13, Lectionary # 390. Isaiah 7:1-9. Psalm
48:2-3.3-4.5-6.7-8. Matthew 11:20-24.
Place names of biblical locations of cities, towns, villages and shrines
are important. Geography is the fifth Gospel according to some scholars.
In fact, in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary large sections are dedicated
to geography and archaelogy in the Bible (Sections 73 and 74). Fr. Robert
North, S.J. taught biblical geography for many years at the Pontifical
Biblical Institute and together with Fr. Raymond Brown, SS. wrote the
section on geography in the Bible. We get a better understanding of the
Bible if we know about these locations and sites. It helps us appreciate
the countries of the Bible and the settings for historical events. We may
take note that the readings today are filled with such locations. Those
who have visited the regions of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria come to
apprecitate the Bible much better. We are given the background for the time
of Isaiah and the kings of Israel and Judah in the first reading (King
Pekah for Israel; King Ahaz for Judah; set within the time frame of
prophets and kings ( 760-720 B.C.).
Biblical knowledge is explosive because of modern science and technology.
Archaeology and geograpy are fields where this ever-expanding knowledge is
ours to enjoy. There are periodicals such as Bible Today and Biblical
Archaeology Review which keep us informed and are worthwhile for studying
the Bible in this rich area of information. The Bible is certainly a
library for history and culture for almost three thousand years. Without
the Bible we would be deprived of much of the history of the ancient world.
This not only is true of geography and history but also of the fine arts
and poetry that rely on much of the biblical world in this extended arena
We learn of the North North West villages and towns of Galilee today. What
Jesus says continues his strong and hard pronouncements about the cities of
Capernaum and Chorazin and Bethsaida. They are compared to Sodom. Jesus
not only knew of these places but actually saw them. He probably spent
some time at the home of Peter situated in Capernaum. Today it is worth a
visit. The Franciscans are taking care of it. Possibly the synagogue where
Jesus first read the Scriptures was located there.
We can pray about these places by reading the Psalm that forms our response
after the reading of Isaiah. It focuses on another holy site–Mount Zion
and the city of Jerusalem. God protects this holy city and it is God’s
dwelling place in the sanctuary where the ark of the covenant was during
the ministry of Jesus to his people. This psalm encapsulates the wonder,
the awe, and the majesty of God who is king over all of Israel. Hostile
powers are overwhelmed at the fortifications and towers of Jerusalem and
are afraid of the presence of the God of Israel. They flee. Our response
for the Liturgy of the Word is “God upholds his city forever.” Amen.