July 18, 2009
Saturday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time
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."
Introductory Prayer: God our Father, you gave us your Son to make us your children. I believe, and I am hoping to be raised to full maturity in him through the school of the Gospel. Thank you for your unconditional love. I offer you my love in return, knowing you welcome it as a parent does a small child.
Petition: Jesus, like you, make my heart attentive to the needs of others.
1. When Jesus Realized This, He Withdrew from That Place
There is a great lesson for us here: It is not yet his "hour," so Jesus does not force the issue. Jesus does not taunt the Pharisees or provoke an unnecessary clash. Whenever Jesus challenges a person it is in order to lead that person to a deeper self-reflection and ultimately to a conversion of heart and of life. He did this on several occasions with the same Scribes and Pharisees. Yet this is not the time to engage them intellectually; their hearts are closed and they are unwilling to listen. When at times we find ourselves in a disagreement (perhaps even with a loved one), once the emotions are roused and it becomes clear that one or both parties are not ready for the truth, the prudent, loving and humble thing to do is withdraw from the situation until the moment our hearts are more open to listening.
2. A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
Matthew's comment in this section of the Gospel is quite revealing: "Many people followed him, and he cured them all." We must not imagine that all of the healings were physical. So "meek and humble" is Jesus that every person felt he could approach him. If a bruised reed comes to Jesus – a person battered by life, trials and his own sin – his first and only inclination is to heal that soul. Even to this very day Jesus continually takes what is broken and makes it whole. He is the master physician who binds up wounds so that the person may be healed. In light of this attitude we recognize the contrast between the Pharisees, who seek to kill, and Jesus, who continues to give life to all who come to him.
3. A Smoldering Wick He Will Not Quench
All Jesus needs is the slightest ember of faith and hope to change a person's life. For instance, we cannot force a person to love us or to trust us. Likewise, God himself respects the very freedom he entrusted to us. Nonetheless, our Lord does give the human person a searching mind and heart. That is why we can say that the human person is religious by nature from the beginning. Atheists are not born; they are made by their choices. Within the human soul God already provides us with the kindling for faith, hope and love. Once we are baptized, that kindling can become an unquenchable fire. Yet it can also be extinguished if we carelessly expose it to the winds and waves of unbridled selfishness, secularism, skepticism and systematic doubt . No matter how far we think we may have drifted, if we will simply turn to Jesus, we will find that he is already looking at us.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you see and know what I am to become if I will keep close to you in faith, hope and love. Deepen within me the desire to remain united to you in prayer so as to imitate you in love. Help me become with you what I can never become without you. Mother Most Pure, make my heart only for Jesus.
Resolution: Today I will contact someone who needs to be encouraged and listened to.
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