In this week's Gospel, Jesus heals a man who is deaf and dumb. When we read this account at the spiritual level, we see that he cures those who are deaf to the Word of God and hence unable to speak it clearly. How relevant this message is to our own time!
All of today's readings pertain to law. We Americans are a fairly litigious society. Lawyers are thick on the ground and many of our Founding Fathers were students of law. We have a kind of love-hate relationship with the law, like most people in history. Today's readings offer a key lesson: whenever we reverence something, we surround it with laws. Laws protect the integrity of good things. And for the saints, the law of God is planted within their hearts.
Today's first reading personifies Wisdom as a woman who invites people to a feast, lavishly offering food and wine. In today's Psalm, we echo that invitation: "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." But to join the banquet of the Lord, we need to turn away from other food. We spend our whole lives eating from troughs that never satisfy our hunger - wealth, power, pleasure, honor. But in John 6, which is today's Gospel, Jesus invites us to feed on himself, Wisdom incarnate, the only food that will ultimately fulfill our hunger. Mass Readings Reading 1 - Proverbs 9:1-6 Psalm - Psalm 34:2-7 Reading 2 - Ephesians 5:15-20 Gospel - John 6:51-58
In our first reading today, Elijah is dejected and requests that the Lord take his life. But an angel touches him and orders him to get up and eat. Strengthened by food, he journeys to the mountain of God, Horeb. We're all acquainted with the need for physical food, like Elijah, but we also need spiritual food. If we don't feed our souls, we will become spiritually lethargic and unhealthy. Where do we find that nourishment? The answer comes in John 6, our Gospel reading for today.
The sixth chapter of John's Gospel, from which we will be reading these next several weeks, is a sustained meditation on the meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist. Our passage for today, when read symbolically, illumines the major movements of the Mass.
In today's first reading, God announces that he himself will shepherd his people. Yet a few sentences later, he suggests that he will raise up a righteous human king to reign and govern wisely. So which is it—will God become king or will he establish a human king? The answer, which the Gospel reading unfolds, is both. In the person of Jesus, the divine shepherd, the scattered people of God find their way home.
For many people in the West, liberty seems to trump everything. We avatars of the egodrama, we worshippers at the altar of freedom, say that our choice is supreme. We don't want anyone to constrain our pursuit of money, success, power, influence, safety, or physical health. But what matters in the end is not to place our wills in the position of ultimate concern. Everything in nature, history, science, and our careers is, in the end, summed up in Christ.
This week's Scriptures illuminate the identity and mission of a prophet—a calling that belongs to all the baptized by virtue of our Baptism. God appoints the prophets to a specific mission. This mission is to speak God's word of truth. God's word of truth is not a private or personal opinion, but the Word of God communicated through human words. The prophet speaks God's word of truth to those within and those outside the Church. Prophets do not seek to proclaim a message that is easy to be accepted, but seek to speak God's word of truth, no matter how hard it might be to hear and accept. Christ is the paradigmatic example of the identity and mission of the prophet.