Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: July 17. Lectionary # 394. Micah 2:1-5. Psalm 10:1-2.3-4.7-8.14.
Another prophet is read today who is contemporaneous with Isaiah. Micah
has the same chronological setting as Isaiah 1-39 which is considered the
prophecies of the classic Isaiah. Within a few chapters we will be hearing
from II Isaiah, and then nearing the end of the prophetic words we have III
Isaiah. The themes and key ideas reflect the original prophet Isaiah. In
Micah, the prophecy is directed to the Jerusalemites and his first prophecy
is contained in chapter 1:2-2:13 where divine judgment is proclaimed
against those hurting the poor, the oppressed, and the orphans and widows.
Despite the strong emphasis on the punishment to be meted out there is also
hope for the future in Micah’s prophecy. It is interesting to note that
the document on the Church called Lumen Gentium has Micah cited in the
section about the Daughter of Zion, Mary the Mother of Jesus. (Lumen
Gentium, 55). The reference applies to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Micah is
concerned about the ‘Anawim (the poor) whom he always calls “my people.”
His prophecy is thus similar to Hosea and Amos in respect to social
justice. We remember and know this famous citation from Micah: “He (God)
has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Our Psalm matches Micah’s words for the entire text concerns how God will
bring about justice against the godless with the body of Israel who are
oppressing their weaker members especially the poor.
There are threats against Jesus in today’s Gospel that makes him more
cautious in where he heals and preaches. He wants nothing to be known of
his miracles. In this sense Matthew may, at times, be borrowing from the
Messianic Secret theme found in Mark’s Gospel. Matthew then helps us to
reread the words and actions of Jesus by referring to the prophet Isaiah
especially Isaiah II which gives us the Servant Songs. We read it as
applied to an individual–Jesus. The Jews read it as a corporate symbol for
the people of Israel. The citation is from Isaiah 42:1-4 and is the ninth
citation from Matthew that leads us to the Old Testament references. This
shows us the Bible is to be seen as a unity comprising both Old and New
Testament. The better both Jews and Christians read both parts, the more
likely they will be open to dialog and development in their relationships.
From the beginning the Church resisted any taking away of the Jewish parts
of the New Testament and rejection or negativity toward the Old Testament.
The early theologians, fathers and mothers of the Church always saw the
unity of both testaments.
Our passage leads us to hope again just as Micah does. As we end the
citation we see that Isaiah and Matthew’s use of it express the hope of the
Gentiles coming to see the plan of God in their lives through the
Scriptures and the salvation history that is God’s story for us all. Amen.