God had assured the house of David that he would protect it. We hear Isaiah scold the king and the people that they have not enough trust in him and do not see the signs of God’s nearness; even in the moment of a great threat by the powerful nation of Assyria they should keep relying on God.
The poor and the oppressed are often more open to salvation than the self-satisfied, sophisticated city dwellers; the latter are often in the Bible the image of rationalistic and corrupt people, also among the Jews. As they are more individualistic, they do not easily form a community of salvation. In the noise and bustle of a busy life, they do not see the signs of God’s presence.
Lord our God,
we are often blind and insensitive
to the wonderful things you do among us
and to the love people show us.
Open our minds and hearts
to see the signs of your presence
in the good people do to one another and to us.
Make us also see the presence of our crucified Lord
in people who suffer.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
1 Reading: Isaiah 7:1-9
In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah, king of Israel, son of Remaliah, went up to attack Jerusalem, but they were not able to conquer it. When word came to the house of David that Aram was encamped in Ephraim, the heart of the king and the heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind. Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field, and say to him: Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans, and of the son Remaliah, because of the mischief that Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, plots against you, saying, “Let us go up and tear Judah asunder, make it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there.” Thus says the LORD: This shall not stand, it shall not be! Damascus is the capital of Aram, and Rezin is the head of Damascus; Samaria is the capital of Ephraim, and Remaliah’s son the head of Samaria. But within sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!
Responsorial Psalm 48:2-3A, 3B-4, 5-6, 7-8
R. (cf. 9d) God upholds his city for ever.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth. R.
Mount Zion, “the recesses of the North,”
is the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
renowned is he as a stronghold. R.
For lo! the kings assemble,
they come on together;
They also see, and at once are stunned,
terrified, routed. R.
Quaking seizes them there;
anguish, like a woman’s in labor,
As though a wind from the east
were shattering ships of Tarshish. R.
Alleluia: Psalm 95:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24
Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
“Do not fear” are the words of Isaiah to Ahaz, king of Judah, who stood in fear of a stronger northern coalition. Within a determined period of time the threat from the north will pass, but Judah is forewarned. If they do not remain strong in faith, they too will suffer the consequences.
The scriptures today address at least two different types of response. The cities of Jesus’ time were simply lacking in faith; despite the wonders they had seen. Before Jesus they remained unmoved. Judah held to a belief but it proved weak and untested. It lacked the firmness Isaiah saw as necessary.
Our faith is real but it often remains untested. We seldom suffer the ultimate cost of discipleship. Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, at great personal cost, preached the gospel fearlessly and paid for it with his life. We have countless examples in the history of the church.
We are grateful for our faith. At the same time, we never want to see faith imposed on anyone. We pray that we always remain strong.
– For men and women who have lowly and depressing jobs, that we may appreciate them, we pray:
– For all who have been baptized in the saving waters of baptism, that they may remain faithful to their baptismal promises, we pray:
– For all those who see the good deeds done by believing people, that they may discover the Lord Jesus who inspires these good people, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
let this bread and wine we bring before you
become to us clear signs
of how you make yourself near to us
in Jesus Christ your Son.
Give us a deep faith to discover
the love you constantly show us in him
and to respond eagerly to it
with deeds of compassion and service
for all those who need us.
Grant us this through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
we deserve the harsh words
which Jesus spoke to us today
to prompt us to seek conversion.
Make us accept these words
spoken out of deep concern
for those he loves.
Give us an open attitude
that makes us see how you care for us
and how you are near to us in everyday life.
Help us to respond to your loving care
through Christ our Lord.
Repent. Perhaps we think that these words of the Lord do not apply to us. If we are open-minded, we will probably notice that there are many things in us that we wish to change. Perfection is not of this world. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!