Daily Readings Reflection for 7/26/10

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

Today’s Readings

Scripture: July 26, Lectionary # 401. Jeremiah 13:1-11. Deuteronomy
32:18-19.20.21. Matthew 13:31-35:

There is no hint of triumphalism or the Church Militant in the two parables
we hear today.  The Mustard seed parable is found in all three of the
Synoptics (remember John does not have parables as such but developed
figures of speech);  the yeast or leaven is not found in Mark but is in the
apocryphal Gospel called the Sayings Gospel of Thomas Didymus, the twin.
They contrast the earthly way of looking at kingdoms with the simple and
direct appreciation of the Kingdom of God or of Heaven in Jesus’ simple
manner of telling us great truths about the meaning of life or more
precisely the purpose for our own following him as our Lord and teacher.
Both parables are closely related to their Palestinian background of life
in the first century of the common era.

Ordinarily power, authority, force and military strength are suggested by
the word kingdom. It is not that way with the Kingdom of God or as Matthew
says with the Kingdom of Heaven thus showing his reverence for the holy
name of God even when speaking of the things that are God’s.  Jesus
compares it to a tiny seed which was considered the smallest in that
culture and climate. The same analogy is seen in the yeast that is used to
raise the bread once it is baked.  God’s kingdom is for the singleminded in
heart and those who have a childlike trust in God’s word.  The least in the
kingdom of Heaven is the greatest compared to those on earth according to
the Gospel.

We all have a chance and have hope to become totally associated with the
Kingdom of Heaven by our listening to Jesus and following his example.
“Unless you become like little children you will not enter into the kingdom
of God.”  We see such participation in the women who surrounded Jesus and
especially in his mother who understood her place when she compares herself
to God and God’s realm.  “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices
in God my Savior.”  Her honesty, truthfulness and humility show us that she
is among the holiest of those responding to the word of the Lord. The fact
that the parable leads us to see great growth in the end result of a well
planted mustard seed and a tremendous amount of bread issuing from the
dough and leaven shows us that Jesus is transcending with his imagery the
ordinary limits of such simple things as dough and a mustard seed.  The
parable deals with the growth of the early church and also with the final
goal of its members–union with God and Jesus in the afterlife, that is, in
Heaven. The birds of the air may signify the coming of the Gentiles into
the Church by being associated with the mustard seed become the “tree.” The
parable thus has both an ecclesiological meaning and an eschatological one.
But such terms get us away from the simple language of the Lord Jesus,
don’t they?

Our first reading is strikingly contrasted with what the parables say.
Jesus shows us the good, Jeremiah’s carrying out the symbolic action given
him by God suggests the failure to listen and to do what the Lord requires
of his people Israel or what the Lord requires of us as the Church.  The
loin cloth is attached to Jeremiah’s body– it is his Armour underwear–
and is taken off and put in the ground after the trip that Jeremiah makes
to the place indicated by the Lord.  Naturally it will take on the smell of
rotting cloth in wet ground, then dry ground, then all that surrounds it in
its burial place. It is an ugly metaphor compared to the parables of good
growth.  You get the point of the contrast.  The prophetic voice of
Jeremiah was not listened to and this graphic symbolic action shows us how
God feels about his people leaving their attachment to Him.

The Psalm is taken from Deuteronomy, the beautiful scroll that is the last
of five in the Torah.  It is about our covenant with God and the beauty of
it which is so similar to the kingdom of God.  When we forget to live out
our covenants with God we are like the dirty underwear buried in putrid
ground.  Our own control mechanisms and our rash judgment of others leads
us away from those brothers and sisters who listen and heed both the voice
of Jesus and that of the prophets.  Listening, perseverance, patience, and
humility are signs of belonging to the covenant and to the kingdom of
Heaven. Amen.

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