Monday of 15th Week of the Year, July 13, 2020

One of the themes strong and dear with Isaiah is that outward cultic practices of religion are of no value to the individual or the community unless their everyday life conforms to the commandments of God, which are the people’s response of God.
Christ could bring us life and grace because he suffered for us. He could rise because he was crucified and died on a cross. No easy life is promised to his disciples. Suffering, the cross is their share too. In God’s plan, this is the way to life. It’s not too comfortable, but these are God’s terms.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
we have accepted your invitation
to follow your Son Jesus as his disciples.
Let your Spirit give us the wisdom and strength
to take our faith seriously
and to accept our task in life with all its consequences.
Let your Spirit help us to follow your Son
without fear or discouragement,
for we are certain that Jesus will lead us to you,
our loving God, for ever and ever.

1 Reading: Isaiah 1:10-17
Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure. When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you? Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me. New moon and Sabbath, calling of assemblies, octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear. Your new moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Responsorial Psalm 50:8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23
R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.” R.

“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?” R.

“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think you that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.” R.

Alleluia Matthew 5:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Matthew 10:34-11:1
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple–amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

For some people, religion is largely identified with ritual, the proper way to worship. Every aspect of worship must be executed with correctness. It is true that a proper way of worship is as important as many other aspects of life, but it is by no means the heart of our belief.
The prophets repeatedly inveigh against ritualism, as Isaiah does today. Yahweh makes it eminently clear that his concern is not with animal offerings, calendar observance, or the worth of offerings. Of these things he stands in no need.
In all this concern with ritual observance, the important things are forgotten. Orphans and widows are the special responsibility of the community, since they have been left with no male provider. They are neglected by the community. And yet this is at the heart of a true worship of God. Today’s Gospel stresses the importance of even a cold glass of water extended to a disciple. Such counts for more than any carefully planned sacrifice.
It happens in life that we meet people who are continually giving of themselves in the service of others. And yet they never darken a church door. One has the distinct feeling that they are not far from the kingdom of God.

– That those whom the Lord calls to special ministries in the Church may follow him resolutely; that all of us may unwaveringly commit ourselves to Jesus and to people as Jesus commits himself to us, we pray:
– That the leaders of nations may be committed to the good of their people, in justice and a spirit of service, we pray:
– That our prayers and worship of the Lord may commit us more to the causes we pray for, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
in these gifts of bread and wine
we bring ourselves before you
and you let your Son give himself to us.
May we learn from him to make ourselves free
for people and for you
and to seek your will in all we do.
May we follow in his trials and in his glory
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
in this Eucharist you have enlightened us
with the word and wisdom of your Son
and given us his nourishing, strong bread
to follow him without hesitation.
Fill us with the wisdom and power of your Spirit
to go with Jesus without hesitation
through the desert of pain and the cross
for the sake of bringing his life and joy
to our brothers and sisters in need
and for giving glory to you, now and for ever.

Be free. Be true and honest with yourselves, be honest with God and faithful to Jesus and his message, even if it causes conflicts with people dearest to you. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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