Scripture: Lectionary 389. July 16. Isaiah 1:10-17. Psalm 50:8-9.16-17.21,23. Matthew 10:34-11:1
All three readings are very challenging today. We are called to carry our cross after the example of Jesus and not to be attached to persons, places, and things! Ouch! That hurts. We start with the call to conversion and repentance by Isaiah. This priestly and highly talented prophet has fully accepted his call from God. He is intimately connected with the Temple and prophesies from that sacred place as we move through his first 39 chapters. His spirit of prophesy continues in II Isaiah and III Isaiah which are written later than he but are certainly within his school of prophesy. Isaiah prophesied between 740-700 B.C. and today’s prophecy probably took place around 700 B.C. He is contemporaneous with Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, and Micah—the great classical prophets. We hear from all of them but especially from Isaiah today the challenging voice of God summoning the people (us) to return again and face God. We are to renew and embrace once again the covenantal love that God has always been faithful to. The righteousness and justice we are called to put into action is the way we become holy servants of the Lord and fulfill the prophetic call to conversion and return. We listen with an open heart and attentive ears to the words of the prophet; to the words of God Isaiah delivers to us.
Psalm 50 is a prophetic psalm sung in the Temple thus complementing the call of Isaiah. It has the same content and spirit as Isaiah’s prophet and it was composed by one of the talented Levite who belonged to the guild of psalm composers called the followers of Asaph. His Psalms are this one and Psalms 73-83. Psalm 50 speaks of true sacrifice and calls us to listen to the authentic prophetic voice of the prophetic chant: “To the upright I will show the saving power of God.” Praise is the proper sacrifice to bring to God. When we sing our psalm it is a deepening of the spirit of prayer which is raised up to God and away from ourselves. We should always show our appreciation for the contemporary writers of sacred hymns and for those who put the psalms to chant and song. They help us to put some emotion and conviction in our prayers.
Jesus plunges all of us into the mystery of the cross with his difficult message today. We are to take up the cross daily (our cross) and follow the way of the cross that Jesus has paved for us.
The cross is a paradox, a mystery, and a source of humility for us. It is here that true sacrifice takes place—in the following of Jesus while carrying our cross (es). Despite its perplexing reality, it is the instrument of our salvation. We enter into the Passover Mysteries of Jesus the Messiah, King, and Prophet. The clear voice of Jesus cries out, “He who seeks himself is not worthy of me. He who will not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me.” Mark and Matthew us they are in agreement with Jesus’ words which are the cost of discipleship. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.