10th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Kngs 18:20-39
Ahab sent to all the children of Israel and had the prophets assemble on Mount Carmel. Elijah appealed to all the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.” The people, however, did not answer him. So Elijah said to the people, “I am the only surviving prophet of the LORD, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Give us two young bulls. Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood, but start no fire. I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood, but shall start no fire. You shall call on your gods, and I will call on the LORD. The God who answers with fire is God.” All the people answered, “Agreed!” Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one young bull and prepare it first, for there are more of you. Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire.” Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it and called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, “Answer us, Baal!” But there was no sound, and no one answering. And they hopped around the altar they had prepared. When it was noon, Elijah taunted them: “Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until blood gushed over them. Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state until the time for offering sacrifice. But there was not a sound; no one answered, and no one was listening. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” When the people had done so, he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been destroyed. He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD had said, “Your name shall be Israel.” He built an altar in honor of the LORD with the stones, and made a trench around the altar large enough for two measures of grain. When he had arranged the wood, he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood. “Fill four jars with water,” he said, “and pour it over the burnt offering and over the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he said, and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar, and the trench was filled with the water. At the time for offering sacrifice, the prophet Elijah came forward and said, “LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things by your command. Answer me, LORD! Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to their senses.” The LORD’s fire came down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench. Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”
Gospel: Mt 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
I HAVE COME TO PERFECT THE LAW: The Gospel of Matthew is marked by a principle of continuity and a principle of rupture (or renewal). Writing in a Jewish context, Matthew presents Jesus as someone who is not really a revolutionary wanting to turn the Jewish world, or even the Roman world, upside down (applying a principle of rupture), nor is Jesus just another Jewish rabbi who only repeats what has always been said (applying a principle of continuity). Jesus is proposing a new agenda that includes an evolutionary process of growth, rather than a revolutionary drama. Jesus preserves continuity while challenging the status quo. In the Sermon on the Mount, He will continue to preach, “It was said…, but I tell you…” On our part too, it is so important to keep Jesus in the balance: as one who challenges us with his newness while preserving continuity!
Prayer: Lord, you invite me to embrace the newness in a process of evolution, without being revolutionary about it.
BEWARE OF MODERNISM: modernism is a radical break with the past and the concurrent search for new forms of expression. This philosophy finds itself at loggerheads with tradition. In the Christian context, there are unchangeable divine laws indispensable for the survival of the society. Today there are legislations and conventions that go against God’s eternal laws. Vocations to priestly and religious life also are affected in this trend. We have to imitate Jesus who comes not to abolish the law but to perfect them. Law is act of reason not of will (St. Thomas Aquinas), a principle that guides in safe path towards joy and success. So there is no contradiction between law and love. Those keep the law love and those who love respect the law.
OPT TO BE WITH JESUS: ‘Not to abolish the law or the prophets but to fulfil’ are the key words in today’s Gospel. At the time of the transfiguration Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophet) appear. This means that in Jesus the Law and the teaching of the Prophets are fulfilled. The law and the teachings of the prophets are all summed up in the greatest commandment; “Love for God and Love for the neighbour”. Love of God and of all people, surpass the consumerism that impoverishes and destroys humankind and the environment. Jesus teaches us how how this law is to be observed through acts of love to all in need. We are expected to follow suit by having acts of love- a smile, a word of consolation, and small helps… Let this day not pass without making Jesus operative.