Weekdays in July, August and September 2021

These reflections on the weekday Bible readings are by Canon Mervyn Tower, parish priest of Corpus Christi, Headington, Oxford.

Thursday 1 July
Week 13 in Ordinary Time
Genesis 22.1–19
Psalm 114
Matthew 9.1–8
The climax of the story of the faith of Abraham is the near-sacrifice of Isaac, the son of the promise. Like many of the accounts of Genesis, the story is an aetiological legend, giving the origin and purpose of a command, custom or name. Here it is the prohibition of child sacrifice and the basis of its substitution by animals. All is described through the lens of the command of God and the instant obedience of Abraham, illustrated by his initial response ‘Here I am’, which is then elaborated in the sequence of events. As always, it is necessary to understand the various levels of the account to discern the truths being proclaimed (First Reading: Gen. 22.1–19). Matthew groups together ten miracles of the Lord and one of the most elaborate is the cure of the paralytic. Jesus deliberately initiates the argument about the ‘forgiveness of sins’, showing his total superiority to his opponents (Gospel: Mt 9. 1–8).

Friday 2 July
Genesis 23.1–4,19; 24.1–8,62–67
Psalm 105
Matthew 9.9–13
We are given but a few verses here of two delightful stories from Genesis that deepen the reality of the promise of the land. The first is the death of the first matriarch Sarah with the bargaining by Abraham to buy the cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. It is crucial that this is bought, not accepted as a gift, so that the bodies of the patriarchs mingle with the totally legitimately purchased soil of the land. The second story continues the promise of the Land as Abraham’s servant swears to bring Isaac back after finding a bride among their kinsfolk. After the wooing of Rebekah, Isaac indeed returns with her, and the stories continue (First Reading: Gen. 23.1–4,19; 24.1–8,62–67). The call of Matthew consists of the ‘bare-bones’ – the command of the Lord and the immediate response. More important are the following verses explaining the whole rationale of Jesus’ ministry (Gospel: Mt 9.9–13).

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