Lectio Divina: Matthew 12:14-21
1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
Your light of truth
guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow Him
reject what is contrary to the Gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 12:14-21
The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet: Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.
• The Gospel today has two parts: (a) describes the various reactions of the Pharisees and of the people who listen to the preaching of Jesus; and (b) describes what Matthew sees in these reactions: the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Servant of Yahweh, announced by Isaiah.
• Matthew 12:14: The reaction of the Pharisees: they decide to kill Jesus. This verse is the conclusion of the previous episode, in which Jesus challenges the malice of the Pharisees, by curing the man who had a withered hand (Mt 12:9-14). The reaction of the Pharisees was to hold a Council meeting against Jesus. Thus, they come to the breaking of the relationship between the religious authority and Jesus. In Mark, this episode is much more explicit and provocative (Mk 3:1-6). He says that the decision to kill Jesus was not only that of the Pharisees, but also of the Herodians (Mk 3:6). Altar and throne joined together against Jesus.
• Matthew 12:15-16: The reaction of the people: to follow Jesus. When Jesus learned the decision of the Pharisees, He went away from the place where He was. People follow Him. Even knowing that the religious authority has decided to kill Jesus, the people do not go away from Jesus, but rather they follow Him. Many followed Him and He cured them all, but warned them not to make Him known. People know how to discern. Jesus asks them not to spread the news, not to say what He is doing. A great contrast! On the one side, the conflict of life and death, between Jesus and the religious authority, and on the other the movement of the people who were desirous of encountering Jesus! They were, above all, the marginalized and the excluded who presented themselves to Jesus with their illness and their infirmities. They, who were not accepted in society or in the religious field, were accepted by Jesus.
• Matthew 12:17: The concern of Matthew: Jesus is our Messiah. This reaction, different from that of the Pharisees and of the people, moved Matthew to see here the realization of the prophecy of the Suffering Servant. On the one hand, the Servant was persecuted by the authority which insulted Him and spat on His face, but He does not turn back. He presents His face hard as a rock, knowing that He will not be disappointed (Is 50:5-7). On the other hand, the Servant is sought and expected by the people. The crowd coming from far is waiting for His teaching (Is 42:4). This is exactly what is happening to Jesus.
• Matthew 12:18-21: Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the Servant. Matthew presents the entire first Canticle of the Servant. Read the text slowly, thinking of Jesus and the poor who today are excluded:
“Look! My Servant whom I have chosen;
My beloved in whom My soul delights,
I will send My Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations;
He will not brawl or cry out; His voice is not heard in the streets,
He will not break a bruised reed, or snuff the faltering wick.
Until he has made justice victorious; in him the nations will put their hope.”
4) Personal questions
• Do you know of any case in which the religious authority, in the name of religion, decided to persecute and kill people who, like Jesus, did good to people?
• In our community are we servants of God for the people? What do we lack?
5) Concluding Prayer
How precious, God, is Your faithful love.
So the children of Adam take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the bounty of Your house,
You let them drink from Your delicious streams. (Ps 36:7-8)