Sunday Bible Reflections
Our God is coming. The time of exile— the long separation of humankind from God due to sin—is about to end. This is the good news proclaimed in today’s liturgy.
Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s future release and return from captivity and exile. But as today’s Gospel shows, Israel’s historic deliverance was meant to herald an even greater saving act by God—the coming of Jesus to set Israel and all nations free from bondage to sin, to gather them up and carry them back to God.
Mercy and forgiveness should be at the heart of the Christian life.
Yet, as today’s First Reading wisely reminds us, often we cherish our wrath, nourish our anger, refuse mercy to those who have done us wrong. Jesus, too, strikes close to home in today’s Gospel with His realistic portrayal of the wicked servant who won’t forgive a fellow servant’s debt, even though his own slate has just been wiped clean by their master.
As Ezekiel is appointed watchman over the house of Israel in today’s first Reading, so Jesus in the Gospel today establishes His disciples as guardians of the new Israel of God, the Church (see Galatians 6:16).
He also puts in place procedures for dealing with sin and breaches of the faith, building on rules of discipline prescribed by Moses for Israel (see Leviticus 19:17–20; Deuteronomy 19:13). The heads of the new Israel, however, receive extraordinary powers—similar to those given to Peter (see Matthew 16:19). They have the power to bind and loose, to forgive sins and to reconcile sinners in His name (see John 20:21–23).
Today’s First Reading catches the prophet Jeremiah in a moment of weakness. His intimate lamentation contains some of the strongest language of doubt found in the Bible. Following God’s call, he feels abandoned. Preaching His Word has brought him only derision and reproach.
But God does not deceive—and Jeremiah knows this. God tests the just (see Jeremiah 20:11–12), and disciplines His children through their sufferings and trials (see Hebrews 12:5–7).
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” Paul exclaims in today’s Epistle. Today’s Psalm, too, takes up the triumphant note of joy and thanksgiving. Why? Because in the
Gospel, the heavenly Father reveals the mystery of His kingdom to Peter.
With Peter, we rejoice that Jesus is the anointed Son promised to David, the one prophesied to build God’s temple and reign over an everlasting kingdom (see 2 Samuel 7).
Most of us are the foreigners, the non-Israelites, about whom today’s First Reading prophesies.
Coming to worship the God of Israel, we stand in the line of faith epitomized by the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel. Calling to Jesus as Lord and Son of David, this foreigner shows her great faith in God’s covenant with Israel.
How do we find God in the storms and struggles of our lives, in the trials we encounter in trying to do His will?
God commands Elijah in today’s First Reading to stand on the mountain and await His passing by. And in the Gospel, Jesus makes the disciples set out across the waters to meet Him.