15th Week, Friday, Jul 17

Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8 / Matthew 12:1-8
Hezekiah prays to God: God answered his prayer.

Alexis Carrel was a French physician who did much of his work in the United States. He eventually won the Nobel prize for his contributions to the field of medicine. After a period of religious doubt and skepticism, Carrel underwent a profound conversion.
He also became a great man of prayer. He wrote in an article for the Reader’s Digest:“Too many people regard prayer . . . as a refuge for weaklings or a childish petition for material things. Properly understood, prayer is a mature activity indispensable to the fullest development of personality.”
How do we look upon prayer? What role does prayer play in our daily lives? “When we pray, we link ourselves with the inexhaustible motive power that spins the universe. We ask that a part of this power be apportioned to our needs.” Alexis Carrel
We may wonder what it is like to have a close shave with death. From the little that we might have read, it is like one's whole life would flash before one's eyes or something like that. Whatever it may be, a close shave with death would certainly jolt us and make us think about life and not to take it for granted, besides the fact that it will also make us think about death. For king Hezekiah, he did not have a close shave with death. He fell ill and was at the point of death. And the prophet Isaiah came to confirm for him that his time was running out and to put his affairs in order. King Hezekiah was not ready for death and he pleaded to the Lord God for his life and he shed many tears. Maybe he also had not put his affairs in order yet. But the Lord God heard his prayer and cured his illness and even gave him another fifteen years of life. It was not just to give him time to put his affairs in order, but the Lord God also had things for him to do.

We do not know when our time on earth will be up or when the Lord will call us home. But we don't need close shaves with death to remind us that we need to always put our affairs in order. More importantly, while we still have life with us, let us know what the Lord God wants of us. Our affairs must the affairs of the Lord and our life must be at the service of the Lord.

Jesus is not just the Master of the Sabbath; He is the Master of our life and we must do what He wants of us. Otherwise we will live in fear and become slaves of death.
Friday July 17

Friday of 15th Week in Ordinary Time


In response to the insistent prayer of King Hezekiah God heals the king and postpones his death so that he can finish what he intended to do in the service of his people.
Laws are not above the service to people, for the service of God does not contradict the love and mercy to be shown to people. Laws, commandments are based on the freedom God has brought to us in Christ.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
you want us to seek security
not in observing the letter of the law
but to seek the insecurity
of committing ourselves to you and to people
in mercy and service.
Give us the courage to take the risk
and, like Jesus, to make the sacrifice
of giving ourselves to you
in our neighbor in need,
of sharing in their joys and sorrows,
their problems and their protests,
that we may know and serve them
as you know and serve us
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Law is necessary for life in any well-ordered society. But laws are not all of equal value; at times they can even be bypassed for good reason. They may be divine or human, social or ritual, some having greater value than others. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ opponents object that his disciples are violating the Sabbath by plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath.
Jesus objects. The law of necessity has greater value than a law of abstinence. There are other exceptions to the abstinence law that are found even in the scriptures. Moreover, the overriding issue is rooted in the person of Jesus. The Son of Man as God’s personal emissary has authority over the Sabbath laws.
It is well to keep the lesson in mind. We at times feel a certain conflict in the law. But the overriding law is that of love. If the urgent needs of my neighbor require that I miss Sunday Mass, there is certainly no sin involved.
This may seem quite clear, but many Catholics fail to see the difference. How often people confess that they missed Mass because they were ill. This is not and cannot be a sin.
Hezekiah, repenting of his sins, is told that in three days he shall go up to the temple. But he wants even further assurance. We trust in the word of our God. “Say but the word and my soul shall be healed.” That word has been said; we must have confidence in it.

Points to Ponder
Distinguishing types of law
The supreme law of love
Christ as lord of the Sabbath

– That people everywhere be given the time to rest, to recover from the pressure of their work, and have the opportunity to worship God, we pray:
– That the faithful who go to Mass on Sundays will behave as Christians also on weekdays, we pray:
– That Sunday may be to all of us a special occasion to grow in love for those who are dear to us, to visit the sick and to serve the needy, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
this bread and this wine will become
the Lamb of God, Jesus, your Son.
We remember that he shed his blood
that our sins may be forgiven.
Let him be our food and drink today
that we may pass with him from death to life
and that we may truly be your people,
born to be free
and to make one another free
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord, God of the living,
we have eaten the Passover meal
of your people of the new covenant.
Let Jesus help us to live
the great commandment of love
not so much as an order to be obeyed
but as a free gift to people
of our time, our attention and our very selves,
by the strength of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Of course, there are commandments. But the Lord himself tells us that they may never stand in the way of mercy and of the loving service of people. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.