Posts from Fr. Hall
Saturday July 11th pm
Sunday 15th Week – Is. 55:10-11; Rom. 8:18-23 & Mt. 13:1-23
The greatest catastrophe to come upon the people of Israel in Ancient Times was the Exile in Babylon. How could their God let this happen
to them, that they be forced away from the Promised Land and have the great Temple of Solomon razed to the ground? The Second Isaiah, who wrote our First Reading, offers hope and consolation of return to the land. Such was the shattering blow of Exile, however, that all confidence has evaporated, and so the Prophet has to keep on insisting that God’s promise of return will be fulfilled. Just as surely as rain
and snow water the earth, so will God’s word bear fruit.
The Letter to the Romans is one of the most mature reflections on the core of the Gospel message in the New Testament. Today’s passage
in our Second Reading is an extraordinarily rich source for meditation on different aspects of that message, but perhaps we might home
in on one theme: creation. Due to its sinfulness humankind lost its sense of harmony with the rest of the created world, but all of it is part
of God’s work. Now that creation has been renewed in Christ’ Death and Resurrection, mutual freedom leading to a renewed harmony is
once again possible. The call to care for our common home – in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, for example – is something about
which we are called to take action in that renewed freedom. True freedom is not about having many choices set before us, but rather
it is the ability (the freedom from coercion) to do the right thing.
Chapter 13 of St Matthew’s Gospel is his third discourse which gather together elements of Jesus’ teaching. In this case it is a collection of parables, many of which are about growth. He is writing his Gospel for a small, rather beleaguered community who had been marginalised
by both fellow, former pagan, Christians and by their former co-religionists, the Jews. As we saw in our First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, one of Matthew’s aims is to confirm his community in their faith. This is at the core of many of these parables about seeds and plants:
the beginning might seem very precarious – seed is scattered into the most unpromising of places – but the ultimate outcome of a harvest beyond imagining is never in doubt! This will also be true of those who remain faithful to the Gospel, even when the situation around
does not seem very hopeful.
Saturday July 11th
Saturday Week 14 – Feast of St Benedict, Patron of Europe, Father of Western Monasticism - Is. 6:1-8 & Mt. 10:24-33.
Today we are introduced to the Prophet Isaiah, from whose writings our First Readings will come throughout next week. His are the
best-known prophetic writings among Christians. In our Lectionary they dominate the early part of Advent and recur time and time again across the year in all seasons. In the following week we will hear from that part of his writings that come before the Fall of Jerusalem and the Exile in Babylon. A man from the upper echelons of society in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, today we are told of Isaiah’s calling while at prayer in the Temple itself. The words of part of the conversation with the seraph are familiar to us from one of our modern hymns,
“’Whom shall I send?’... ‘Here I am, send me.’”
The most frequently cited commandment in the Bible is not about worshipping God, nor is it about behaving well. It is, in fact, “Do not be afraid!” Fear paralyses. It stifles all initiative and hope for the future. In some ways it is the opposite of love, which frees up people to be and
do the best they can. In today’s Gospel, the final extract of Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve about their forthcoming mission, he tells them not to be paralysed by fear of something that ultimately cannot harm them. The Father loves them and will always look out for them, even if they are being persecuted (as indeed the people for whom Matthew wrote his Gospel were!).
Friday July 10th
Friday Week 14 – Hos. 14:2-10 & Mt. 10:16-23
This is our final extract from the writings of Hosea. The call to the People is a simple one: repent, come back to the Lord who is always faithful and who will always welcome back the sinner, “I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them with all my heart.” This passage is full of images of beauty: lilies in bloom; the beauty of the olive tree; the fragrance of Lebanon; corn that flourishes; and good wine that is renowned everywhere. The final word of God is always of hope and of life for the repentant sinner.
Jesus’ words of warning about being delivered into the hands of hostile authorities, even by friends and relations, given in today’s Gospel are linked in the other two Synoptic Gospels with preaching the message of the Kingdom after Jesus’ death. Here, in Matthew’s Gospel, they are presented in connection even with this first, trial mission. Jesus pulls no punches in outlining precisely what the missionary disciple may well have to face in their task.