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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Gen 21:5.8-20): Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Isaac grew, and on the day of the child’s weaning Abraham held a great feast. Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing with her son Isaac; so she demanded of Abraham: «Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!». Abraham was greatly distressed, especially on account of his son Ishmael.

But God said to Abraham: «Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring». Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away. As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, the water in the skin was used up. So she put the child down under a shrub, and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, «Let me not watch to see the child die». As she sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry.

God heard the boy’s cry, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven: «What is the matter, Hagar? Don’t be afraid; God has heard the boy’s cry in this plight of his. Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation». Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink. God was with the boy as he grew up.
Responsorial Psalm: 33
R/. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
When the poor one called out, the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for naught is lacking to those who fear him. The great grow poor and hungry; but those who seek the Lord want for no good thing.

Come, children, hear me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Which of you desires life, and takes delight in prosperous days?
Versicle before the Gospel (Jas 1:18): Alleluia. The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 8,28-34): When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

«They begged him to leave their district»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we are given to contemplate a sad contrast. “Contrast” because we admire the power and divine majesty of Jesus Christ, to whom the demons submit voluntarily (a certain sign of the arrival of the Kingdom of heaven). But, at the same time, we deplore the narrowness and stinginess which the human heart is capable of, when refusing the bearer of Good News: “The whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district” (Mt 8:34). And “sad” because “The true light, which enlightens everyone (...) came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:9-11).

More contrast and more confusion when we pay attention to the fact that man is free and this freedom has the “power to halt” God's infinite power. In other words: the infinite divine power can go as far as our “powerful” freedom allows. And this is so because God loves us mainly with a Father's love. As a Father, we should not be surprised that He is so respectful of our freedom: He does not impose his love upon us; He just proposes it to us.

God, with infinite wisdom and goodness, providentially rules the Universe while respecting our freedom; even when this freedom turns its back on Him and does not want to accept his will. Contrary to what it may seem, He does not let the world out of his hands: God always brings everything to a good conclusion, despite all hindrances we can raise against him. In fact, these hindrances are, first of all, turning against us.

However, we can affirm: «before human freedom God has wanted to become “powerless”. And it can also be said that God pays for the great gift [our freedom] given to a being created in his image and likeness [man]» (Saint John Paul II). God pays! If we throw Him out, He obeys and goes away. He pays, but we lose. On the other hand, we come out winning when we respond like the Virgin Mary: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).