Tuesday, July 9, 2013
1) Opening prayer
through the obedience of Jesus,
your servant and your Son,
you raised a fallen world.
Free us from sin
and bring us the joy that lasts for ever.
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 9,32-38
A man was brought to Jesus, a dumb demoniac. And when the devil was driven out, the dumb man spoke and the people were amazed and said, 'Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.' But the Pharisees said, 'It is through the prince of devils that he drives out devils.' Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and all kinds of illness. And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers to his harvest.'
• Today’s Gospel presents two facts: (1) the cure of a possessed dumb person (Mt 9, 32-34) and (2) a summary of the activity of Jesus (Mt 9, 35-38). These two episodes end the narrative part of chapters 8 and 9 of the Gospel of Matthew in which the Evangelist seeks to indicate how Jesus put into practice the teachings given in the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5 and 7). In chapter 10, the meditation which begins in the Gospel of tomorrow, we see the second great discourse of Jesus: The Discourse of the Mission (Mt 10, 1-42).
• Matthew 9, 32-33a: The cure of a dumb. In one only verse Matthew describes the arrival of the possessed person before Jesus, the expulsion of the demon and the attitude of Jesus, which in the fourth Gospel there is the attention and affection of Jesus with sick persons. The illnesses were many, social security non existent. The illnesses were not only deficiencies of the body: deafness, blindness, paralysis, leprosy and so many other sicknesses. In fact, these illnesses were nothing else than a manifestation of a much deeper and vast evil which undermined the health of persons, and that is the total abandonment and the depressing and inhuman state in which they were obliged to live. The activity and the cures of Jesus were directed not only against physical sickness, but also and above all against this greater evil of material and spiritual abandonment, in which people were obliged to live the few years of life. Then, in addition to the economic exploitation which stole half of the family stipend, the official religion of that time, instead of helping people to find strength in God, to resist and have hope, taught that sickness was a punishment from God for sin. This increased in them the sentiment of exclusion and condemnation. Jesus did all the contrary. The acceptance full of tenderness of Jesus and the cure of the sick form part of the effort to knit together again the human relationship among persons and to re-establish community and fraternal living in the villages of Galilee, his land. Matthew 9, 33b-34: The twofold interpretation of the cure of the dumb man. Before the cure of the possessed dumb man, the reaction of the people is one of admiration and of gratitude: “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” The reaction of the Pharisee is one of mistrust and malice: “It is through the prince of devils that he driver out devils!” They were not able to deny the facts which cause admiration in the people, the only way which the Pharisees find to neutralize the influence of Jesus before the people is to attribute the expulsion to the power of the evil one. Mark presents an extensive argument of Jesus to demonstrate the lack of coherence and the malice of the interpretation given by the Pharisees (Mk 3, 22-27). Matthew does not present any response of Jesus to the interpretation of the Pharisees, because when malice is evident, truth shines by itself.
• Matthew 9, 35: Tireless, Jesus goes through the villages. The description of the tireless activity of Jesus is beautiful, in which emerges the double concern to which we referred: the acceptance full of tenderness and the cure of the sick: “Jesus went through all the towns, teaching in their Synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and all kinds of illness”. In the previous chapters, Matthew had already referred several times to this itinerant activity of Jesus in the villages and towns of Galilee (Mt 4, 23-24; 8, 16).
• Matthew 9, 36: The compassion of Jesus. “Seeing the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd”. Those who should be shepherds were not shepherds; they did not take care of the flock. Jesus tries to be the shepherd (Jn 10,11-14). In this, Matthew sees the realization of the Prophecy of the Servant of Yahweh, who took upon himself our sickness, and bore our infirmities” (Mt 8, 17 and Is 53, 4). As it was for Jesus, the great concern of the Servant was “to find a word of comfort for those who were discouraged”. (Is 50, 4). Jesus shows the same compassion toward the abandoned crowd, on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves: they are like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 15, 32). The Gospel of Matthew has a constant concern in revealing to the converted Jews of the communities of Galilee and of Syria that Jesus is the Messiah announced by the Prophets. For this reason, frequently, he shows that in Jesus’ activity the prophecies are fulfilled (cf. Mt 1, 23; 2, 5.15.17. 23; 3, 3; 4, 14-16; etc.).
• Matthew 9, 37-38: The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few. Jesus transmits to the disciples the concern and the compassion which are within him: “The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few! Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers to his harvest!”
4) Personal questions
• Compassion for the tired and hungry crowds. In the history of humanity, there have never been so many tired and hungry people as today. Television diffuses the facts, but does not offer any responses. De we, Christians, succeed to have the same compassion of Jesus and to communicate it to others?
• The goodness of Jesus toward the poor disturbed the Pharisees. They have recourse to malice to neutralize the discomfort caused by Jesus. Are there many good attitudes in the persons who disturb me? How do I interpret them: with pleasant admiration as the crowds or with malice as the Pharisees?
5) Concluding Prayer
Sing to him, make music for him,
recount all his wonders!
Glory in his holy name,
let the hearts that seek Yahweh rejoice! (Ps 105,2-3)