Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: July 19, Lectionary 395. Micah 6:1-4.6-8. Psalm
50:5-6,8-9.16-17.21.23. Matthew 12:38:42.
Matthew’s Gospel is frequently centered on the judgment of God upon those
unfaithful to his words and covenants. Today’s passage is especially rich
for those who are exegetes. There are different interpretations possible
and the use of different methods help these scholars of the Scriptural
texts. The bottom line of the passage has a both…and type of message for
the reader. The “sign”asked for is a spectacular miracle that the
opponents of Jesus want him to perform here and now to prove he has
authority to preach and teach as he does. They may also be aware that he
has healed many and done exorcisms.
Verse 40 is possibly a later canonical addition added to the pericope and
it is this verse that speaks of Jesus being in the tomb for three days as
Jonah was in the belly of the whale; there is a reading of this passage
without verse 40 as did Saint Justin Martyr about 70 years after the death
of Jesus. For him the message is that of Jonah leading the people to
repent and turn to the Lord. For the Christian hearers it is the
proclamation of the Gospel–the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and
believe. This is especially meant for the Gentiles who will come into the
Matthean community. Both interpretations are within the historical
traditions of interpretation and thus it is a both…and type of passage.
Taking the text as it is (canonical) and looking at the passages of the
Scriptures in the Bible that may help interpret it we come to see that only
John’s Gospel uses the word “sign” for the miracles of Jesus and they are
given only to lead one to believe in Jesus without any reserves and no
ands, ifs, or buts! Source criticism allows us to go back to Jonah and to
the reference about the Queen of Sheba where Gentiles are involved in
coming to conversion, belief, and wisdom with amazement. One of the more
complete commentaries on the passage from the New Jerome Biblical
Commentary is worthwhile for seeing the gold mine this is for the exegetes
and spiritual writers.
Our reading from Micah is his most famous and popular one today. It comes
at the end of the reading: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and
what the Lord requires of you–only to do the right and to love goodness
and to walk humbly with your God.” Being open to Jesus’ words in the above
passage from the Gospel would be one way of living out this great citation.
The other, of course, is our being aware of the needs of the poor and of
the helpless. This would be a spectacular sign to everyone of Christian
and Jew would dedicate a couple of minutes each day to this call of the