Reflection on the Daily Readings for 7/13/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Mon. of 15th week. Exodus 1:8-14, 22. Psalm 124:1-3,4-6. 7-8.
Matthew 10:34-11:1. Lectionary # 389

Harsh times are seen in the first reading and harsh words from Jesus in the
Gospel.  The Psalm captures the tension and persecution that awaits the
Israelites while the Gospel shows us how radical the call from Jesus is
when it comes to the demands of the realm of God, God's kingdom that Jesus

Joseph has died and so has the friendly disposition of the Pharaoh of the
time after Joseph. Verse 8 captures the dramatic change in this manner,"A
new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt." The
Israelites are now slaves who do hard labor for their masters, and whose
baby boys are to be done away with. It is definitely a reversalo of fortune
for the Israelites once Genesis concludes with the death of Joseph.  Exodus
means " a way out" and the narrative of the story will unfold in the days
ahead in the first reading.

The Psalm is seen as referring to the Exodus in which the Israelites were
delivered by the waters of both the Red (Reed) Sea and the Jordan river.It
expresses four striking examples of the perils coming from the enemies of
Israel: their wrath is like a burning fire; flood waters threaten the
people with drowning; the monsters of death are eager to consume Israel;
traps and nets used for catching prey are now used against the people of
Israel. Yet, Israel cries out "Our help is in the name of the Lord." (Psalm
124:8).  They describe their situation, "When men rose up against us they
would have swallowed us alive, when their fury was inflamed against us."

Jesus expresses his mission as one that will divide his own people and not
bring about the peace that he and they desire.  The description of
separation and tension within family relationships is especially sharp and
difficult for us to listen to. This is unusual for the Lord Jesus. How do
we handle the difficult and harsh passages of the Gospels? It seems to
contrary to what we hope for and expect from the Lord. Separation and
renunciation are very difficult for each one of us. Jesus is uncomprimising
when it comes to the proclamation of the kingdom and the demands of
discipleship.  Perhaps, we are sensing what Jesus sees and feels happening
aroung him. Or maybe the community that Matthew is writing for is one that
is threating to divide the membership between Jewish and Gentile
Christians. Is their a lesson for us in this reading that would help us do
away with the harshness of Jesus?  We each have to struggle not only with
the comforting words of the Scriptures but also those that make us cringe.
Jesus also said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God and all the rest will
be granted you."  Is there a middle ground for understanding these harsh
sayings and situations that Jesus proposes to us?  Some questions are
unanswered and we live with them.  One writer claims that Jesus asked about
one hundred questions of us but answers only three!  Father Viviano gives
us this possible way of thinking about the text, "Rather his radical
demands are necessitated by the urgent priority of the kingdom of God, and,
in his social context (the Jewish family of that day), he could safely
presuppose that most family life would go on undisturbed. Such cultures
have such an extreme family loyalty that sociologists speak of them as
suffering from amoral familism." (New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p.652).