15th Week, Tuesday, Jul 14

Isaiah 7:1-9 / Matthew 11:20-24 
God speaks through Isaiah: “If your faith is firm, you’ll be firm.”

Tennessee Williams wrote a play called The Night of the Iguana. In one scene Hannah Jelkes is talking to Mr. Shannon, who seems to have a drinking problem. Hannah says, “Liquor isn’t your problem, Mr. Shannon.” And, of course, Mr. Shannon says to Hannah, “Then what is my problem?” Hannah says, “The oldest one in the world—the need to believe in something or in someone—almost anyone— almost anything . . . something.”
Faith is to our lives what a solid foundation is to a house. It is something firm to build on. If our faith is firm, our lives will be firm. If our faith is shaky, our lives will be shaky.
How do we nourish our faith and keep it firm? What part does prayer play in this process? “If we believe in absurdities, we will commit atrocities (Francis Marie Voltaire)
When faced with a hungry person, it is utterly useless to preach to him about the love of God. The most sensible thing to do is to give him some food and that will indeed show him the love of God. Hunger has no logic and hence people will not listen to whatever promises of food that will be coming. The hunger has to be addressed immediately.

If hunger has no logic, then fear can cause panic. In the face of mortal danger, fear can make people hysterical. In the 1st reading, we heard that the hearts of king Ahaz and the people of Judah shuddered when they got the news that the enemy was approaching to attack them. The immediate thing to do would be to run away and save themselves and to each his own. For those remaining, they could panic and be hysterical as they wait for death to fall on them.

Yet in all that chaos, the Lord spoke. And He assured His people that what the enemy planned to do won't come true; it would not be. But on one condition: But if you do not stand by me, you will not stand at all. The people will have to decide - either to stand by the words of the Lord, or give in to fear and panic.

Yet in the gospel, the story was quite the opposite. The people had seen the miracles of Jesus, and yet they refused to repent. And as it is, those places mentioned in the gospel now lie in ruins.

And for us, we have heard the words of the Lord; we have seen His love for us in the Eucharist. We now have to make the decision - either we stand by Him, or we won't stand at all.

Tuesday July 14

Tuesday of 15th Week in Ordinary Time

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.

Opening Prayer
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.

“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.

Points to Ponder
Hardness of heart
An untested faith
Courage in faith

– 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
Lord God,
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.