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8th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A. 

Commentary Theme for this Sunday:

“God Is Father And Mother”.

The first reading and the Gospel complement each other.

In the first reading God is compared to a mother, while in the Gospel he is compared to a father who provides all that his children need. Can a person be so foolish as to abandon God who is so good, in order to follow idols? Can money give us more comfort and pleasure and at what cost? True happiness can only be achieved by doing the will of the Father.

The second reading is also linked to this theme, because Paul tells us that a ‘good steward’ is faithful and can be relied upon. Like Paul, we need to be keepers of the mysteries and place all our faith and trust in God.

We as Christians working for a better world should never feel alone and should never think that everything depends on our own efforts. We will meet with success or failure and find ourselves up against many difficulties but be assured that God is always at our side. 

Introductory Note:

It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.

These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.

These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.

‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator. 

“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.

In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.

Saint Augustine.

 

Commentaries:

Isaiah 49:14-15.                                                                                                                                                       In Israel it was customary that if a man had disowned his wife, he could not take her back anymore, and if a father had chased his son away from home, he was no longer allowed to accept him back as a member of the family. In Babylon, Israel was feeling just like a wife that had been disowned by her husband and like a son that had been chased away from home by his father.

The people of Israel were aware of their many crimes, and knew that they had behaved like an unfaithful wife or a lawless son. This is what the people of Israel were thinking: “Yahweh has abandoned us” (14), these are the first words of the reading of today. God’s reply is wonderful: “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? “Even if she were to forget, I shall not forget you” (15).  We are always running the risk of assuming that the heart of God is like our own. We think he has our feelings and our human logic, our way of judging, our emotions and our reactions. We picture to ourselves somebody who is greater than we are, more intelligent and just, but this is not God. We are often convinced that we are worshipping the true God, while instead we are just worshipping something made up by our own imagination and judgment.

The reading of today questions this image of God that we have thought up for ourselves. The reading invites us to accept a God whose love is gratuitous. A mother does not love her son because he is good but because he is her son. Did you ever hear in your youth days: “Be good, so the Lord will love you”? Does it mean that God loves less those who are not good? We unfortunately live in a world where parents do abandon their children, where fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, where the pledge between and employer and employee can be pink-slipped into history tomorrow.  Nothing stays, and few relationships it seems can be counted on for the long haul. As the poet William Stafford wrote, “Oh friends, where can one find a partner for the long dance over the fields?” Only in God can we find such a partner, let the dance begin!

Psalm 62:2-3, 6-9.

The Psalm is a very personal song of thanksgiving, perhaps celebrating recovery from sickness, and a consciousness of sins forgiven, but like every good prayer, it is God-centered, using the same language of the covenant virtues of God as Hosea and the other prophets (Jl 2:13).

1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

Paul says the first task of a steward is to be trustworthy. You cannot be a cheat, lazy or unreliable. God’s the one who is the judge of how well you do so don’t worry about how others judge your performance. You do have to concern yourself with God’s judgment, because it is not only coming but it is also final.

Those who proclaim the Gospel should have only one thing in mind: to transmit the message of the Master faithfully, without adding to or subtracting anything from it. The Master will not ask them if they have converted many people or if they have drawn the sympathy or applause of their listeners or if they have shown special abilities. He will only ask them if they have been faithful, all the rest (even the conversions) do not depend on them. Those who preach must have the courage to announce the Gospel in its integrity, even when what they have to say is not to the liking of their listeners. Can God rely on our stewardship for the long haul?

Matthew 6:24-34.

In the famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Mt 5-7), Matthew has put together for his readers the teachings Jesus gave on various matters and on different occasions. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the need of choosing to serve God whole-heartedly. God must come before everything else, such as money, clothes and food. It is only in a spirit of complete trust in God that the believer can do what Jesus demands. In life we are constantly called upon to make choices and live by them. Jesus today puts before his hearers the implications of choosing to follow him. He uses the example of money and God. Jesus insists that the first place in the life of a Christian belongs to God. When money becomes increasingly the most important thing in life, little by little, God begins to take a second place and in the end God may have no place at all in your life.

The more money we have, the more we want. We manage to find all sorts of good reasons to justify our desire to have more and more money. The real reason most of the time is our desire to be self-sufficient and to lack nothing; worldly wisdom says that this is ‘providing for a rainy day’. Many biblical passages emphasize the folly of riches and call for total trust in God. Jesus challenges us in this Gospel to ask ourselves the questions: ‘who or what gives meaning to my life? Can I trust God sufficiently to put all worries about tomorrow into his hands?’ For Jesus the answer can only be God and only God can be trusted.

We need to recognize that today is more important than yesterday and tomorrow.  Many people worry about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. This makes it very difficult to be fully alive to the present moment and to live life to the full. Here again Jesus challenges us to look at the present moment and live it as time given by God. Today is the moment of grace and this is what counts. We should only look back at yesterday to appreciate how God worked in the past in order to appreciate what he doing for us right now. We look into the future with hope and trust that God will continue to show us his goodness. Concern about the present moment is so important in Matthew’s Gospel, that in his version of the ‘Our Father’, the version used by the Church, he has us ask only for the gift of bread for today (Mt 6:11). There is no indication of worry or concern about tomorrow. This complete trust is what Jesus asks of his disciples, a trust that the God who has taken care of us today will do so tomorrow too.

It is hard to accept in this age of consumerism that life is more than food, more than car payments, the second bond or mortgage, college or university fund savings, the annual vacation, the debts from last Christmas and recent birthdays and keeping aging parents in frail care. All of this is real and sometimes becomes overwhelming. Life is full of things to become anxious about, and most of them are connected to money and worldly things.

Jesus does not mean to belittle our concerns. He is not saying these things are not important or worth our attention. He does say that we have to know, resolutely, what is truly important in our lives and where our allegiance lies; because if it is with stuff, we will be disappointed when the stuff is no more and turns to dust. Set your hearts on God and his Kingdom first, and on fulfilling his will, and all these other things that you truly need shall be given to you as well.

Make your choice; you cannot be the slave both of God and money.

‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.

Reflections for each day this Week:

           Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, we reflect on …

Sun.   … The point of today’s short first reading is very clear and unforgettably moving: it is absurd to think that a mother could forget her infant. The idea of God forgetting Zion (Jerusalem) is even more absurd than that. In this passage, God’s word is teaching us that his love surpasses the deepest of all human affections.

Mon. … Alone in Babylon the people of Israel were deeply anxious and afraid were believing now that God had abandoned them and forgotten them. We can take consolation in the second part of the last verse, “I will never forget you”. 

Tue.   … It may well be that God allows separation and suffering to afflict his people in order to develop in them certain strengths required for their faith journey. We may think that in our hurt, sorrow and pain that God has abandoned us, but it may be that we have simply not yet been able to grasp fully the infinity of his love for us, a love that can exceed all pain and sorrow and disappointments and fear.

Wed.  … We have already received the commission to stewardship in our baptism, so now it is time to do the job. We need to be obedient to God’s will, faithful and creative with our commission and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the world will come to know God’s mysteries in the way we live our lives.

Thur. … Are we trying to be the slaves of two masters? Today we need to make a definite and lasting choice: Who or what do I serve? God must be the undisputed Master of our lives. “For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart”.

Frid.  … We need to put our total trust in God. Each reading today conveys the same message: “God will never overlook us”. He cannot, because he loves us so much.  

Sat.    …“By their fruits you shall know them” – Where life is based on material values, people are insecure, fretful and anxious. Today we have more money but less contentment, bigger houses and smaller families, more options open but less fidelity. We produce too much food for the market but not enough to feed the hungry. We can e-mail in seconds to any country on the other side of the world but may not know our next-door neighbour. We have more labour saving devices but less time for each other. We can solve the secrets of the universe but not of family life. We can reach outer space but are out of touch with inner space.

 

Prayer after the Daily Reflection.

Father, help us to share in Jesus’ vision of what life would be like if we truly belonged to Your Kingdom. Help us to set our hearts on things of true value such as gratuitous love, righteousness, justice, and hope in salvation and trust in our Creator.

This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.

Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.

                “Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.

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