Daily Readings Reflection for 7/12/10

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Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: July 12, Lectionary 389. Isaiah 1:10-17. Psalm
50:8-9.16-17.21.23. Matthew 10:34-11:1:

Sometimes the liturgical readings are overpowering. Today is an example of
this where we hear hard and tough words from Isaiah, the Psalmist, and then
Jesus with his tour de force! They are not as some other texts in the
Bible are “Texts of Terror” but they are “hard sayings.” Each one of us
has to dedicate considerable time to make them applicable to our own
situation in life as we journey with Jesus. We may classify the hard
sayings in today’s Gospel as the “cost of our discipleship.” Total
self-giving, unconditional love, and permanent commitment. Those words are
hard enough in themselves to have Jesus’ bombarding us with his on a
Sunday!

Isaiah, the priestly and noble prophet, waxes strong in the selection of
the first reading. He warns us not to trust in our sacrificial offerings,
our observing of celebrations, and our self-proclamation of how good we are
in our relationship to God. “Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” All of the prophets from the
time of Amos, Hosea, and now Isaiah are pushing us to be dedicated
intensely to social justice more than we are to our devotions.

Psalm 50 does not leave us off the hook. God’s reprimands come in loud and
clear in the same spirit that Isaiah has. We are commanded to do what is
right. “He that offers praise glorifies me; and to him that goes the right
way I will show the salvation of God.” (Our Psalm response from verse 23).
Arthur Weiser in his book on the Psalms tells us, “The point of the whole
psalm is the powerful experience of man’s encounter with God and the
conclusions that are to be drawn therefrom.” (p.394).

In the Gospel Jesus hits us with some of his hardest sayings and even says,
“I have come not to bring peace, but the sword.” This refers to the great
division this will cause even among relatives, brothers, sisters, spouses
etc. Perhaps, Matthew is addressing these words to his own followers who
are being cut off from their former ties to their families because of their
conversion to Christianity. When we read these words we realize the great
price of discipleship weighs upon us. We need to assess ourselves each day
as we carry our own crosses. Priorities that give us a true experience of
Christ are demanded no matter what. We are not to rationalize away our
faults and sins. This is not easy to take but does lead us to a deeper
commitment to Jesus and an encounter with him through the liturgy and the
readings. We are however brought to union with him through the Eucharist.
That gift balances any of these hard sayings of the Lord. Then we can hear
the meaning of the words of Jesus, ” He who will not take up his cross and
come after me is not worthy of me. He who thinks only of himself brings
himself to ruin.”

We need much time for deeper prayer and reflection on such passages as we
have today. Our experience of who Jesus is for us is being tested by the
sayings. Our hearts and ears are astonished by them. We pray, “Lord,
increase our faith.” Amen.

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