13TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 4 / (Green/White)
St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest
Ps 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13
The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
1st Reading: Gen 21:5, 8-20a
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. The child grew and on the day Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a great feast. Sarah saw the child that Hagar, the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, mocking her son and she said to Abraham, “Send this slave girl and her son away; the child of this slave must not share the inheritance with my son, Isaac.“
This matter distressed Abraham because it concerned his son, but God said to him, “Don’t be worried about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to Sarah and do whatever she says, because the race which is called by your name will spring from Isaac. But from the son of your servant I will also form a nation, for he too is your offspring.“ Abraham rose early next morning and gave bread and a skin bag of water to Hagar. He put the child on her back and sent her away. She went off and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. When there was no more water in the skin, she pushed the boy under one of the bushes, and then went and sat down about a hundred yards away, for she thought, “I cannot bear to see my son die.“ But as she sat there, the child began to wail. God heard him and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said, “What is the matter, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy crying. Get up, pick the boy up and hold him safely, for I will make him into a great nation.“ God then opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin and gave the boy a drink.
God was with the boy. He grew up and made his home in the wilderness and became an expert archer.
Gospel: Mt 8:28-34
When Jesus reached Gadara, on the other side, he was met by two men, possessed by devils, who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?“
Some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged him, “If you drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.“ Jesus ordered them, “Go!“ So the demons left the men and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and was drowned. The men in charge of the pigs ran off to the town, where they told the whole story; and also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. The whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
Today’s Gospel reading tells the story of how Jesus healed two possessed men at the expense of some pigs. The exorcism is meant to accentuate the power of Jesus in his ministry–that he has authority over the Evil One. This power continues to reside in His Church even today and will remain in her until the end of time. It surely is consoling to know that in spite of the abundant evidence of the destructive forces of evil in our world we are not to give in to fear because the power of God is far greater than the power of evil.
Surprisingly, this demonstration of power in exorcising the demons that possessed the two men did not elicit faith among the people. They were scared of Jesus and saw him as a threat to their local economy. They wanted him to leave their locality because they are angry at the loss of their pigs. Apparently they preferred the demons and swine to the presence of Jesus. They did not recognize what a big blunder in failing to recognize that for Jesus the lives and well-being of two people are more important than a thousand pigs.
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Biblical Texts are taken from Christian Community Bible, Catholic Pastoral Edition (57th Edition) The New English Translation for the ROMAN MISSAL
With permission from the EPISCOPAL COMMISION ON LITURGY of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
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