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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Exod 12:37-42): The children of Israel set out from Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the little ones. A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them, besides their livestock, very numerous flocks and herds. Since the dough they had brought out of Egypt was not leavened, they baked it into unleavened loaves. They had rushed out of Egypt and had no opportunity even to prepare food for the journey. The time the children of Israel had stayed in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. At the end of four hundred and thirty years, all the hosts of the Lord left the land of Egypt on this very date. This was a night of vigil for the Lord, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the children of Israel must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.
Responsorial Psalm: 135
R/. His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever; who remembered us in our abjection, for his mercy endures forever; and freed us from our foes, for his mercy endures forever.

Who smote the Egyptians in their first-born, for his mercy endures forever; and brought out Israel from their midst, for his mercy endures forever; with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, for his mercy endures forever.

Who split the Red Sea in twain, for his mercy endures forever; and led Israel through its midst, for his mercy endures forever; but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea, for his mercy endures forever.
Versicle before the Gospel (2Cor 5:19): Alleluia. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 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.”

”He cured them all”

Fr. Josep Mª MASSANA i Mola OFM (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel brings up a double message. On the one hand, Jesus calls us with a beautiful invitation to follow him: “Many people followed him, and he cured them all” (Mt 12:15). If we follow him we shall find the remedy for all the troubles of our journey, as we were reminded not long ago: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). On the other hand, we are shown the value of gentle love: “He will not contend or cry out” (Mt 12:19).

He knows we are burdened and weary because of the heaviness of our temperamental and physical weaknesses... and for this unexpected cross that has visited us with all its coarseness, with all our disagreements, disappointments, grief and sorrow. In fact, “the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus” (Mt 12:14) and... if we know the disciple is not above his teacher (cf. Mt 10:24), we should be conscious that we shall also have to suffer from incomprehension and persecution.

All in all, it is a heavy burden upon us, a bundle that strains us. And we feel as if Jesus would be saying: “Cast off your bundle at my feet, and I will take care of it; give me that heavy burden that crushes you, and I will carry it; unload your worries and turn them over to me...”

It is kind of funny: Jesus invites us to cast off our burden, while He is offering us another one: his yoke, with the promise, however, that it is a soft and light one. He wants to show us that we cannot go around the world without any burden upon us. We are to carry some kind of load, anyway. But, let it not be our bundle full of materialism; let it be, instead, his burden that does not encumber us.

In Africa, mothers and elder sisters carry their offspring on their back. A missionary, once, saw a girl carrying her little brother... And he asked her: “Are you sure he is not too heavy for you?” And she answered back without thinking twice: “He is not heavy, he is my little brother, and I love him.” Love, Jesus’ yoke, is not only light, but it also sets us free from all that overwhelms us.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others.” (Saint Augustine)

  • “Jesus, true God and true man, ‘stripped’ himself, emptied himself, assumed the likeness of men in all things save sin, so as to behave as a servant totally dedicated to serving others.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all in the ‘Servant songs’ (Cf. Isa 42:1-9) These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus' Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our ‘form as slave’ (Phil 2:7). Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 713)