Weekly readings July/August/September 2019

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

Monday 1 July
Week 13 in Ordinary time
Genesis 18.16-33
Psalm 102
Matthew 8.18-22
After the visit of the Lord to Abraham and the annunciation of the birth of Isaac, there follows the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As always, Catholic hermeneutics seeks the truth for our salvation of the narratives rather than being focused on their historical veracity. The truth that is communicated in the text today is the power of the prayer of intercession. In the manner of oriental bargaining, Abraham succeeds initially in persuading the Lord, depicted as he is in human terms (First Reading: Gen. 18.16-33). Jesus would seem to need to escape from the crowds, and as he goes, there are two examples of the hardship and immediacy of the discipleship that he demands. He uses Semitic hyperbole to explain these, but there is no indication of whether the two men follow him or not (Gospel: Mt. 8.18-22).

Tuesday 2 July
Genesis 19.15-29
Psalm 25
Matthew 8.23-27
The second part of the story begun yesterday is that of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This could be an aetiological (trying to get to the origins) legend, to explain why settlements built at the Southern end of the Dead Sea were unstable. The Lord urges Lot and his family to escape, but they go to nearby Zoar instead of to the hills. One of the strange and wonderful salt formations in the area is still pointed out as Lot’s wife. The narrative emphasises the Lord’s protection and guidance of both Abraham and Lot (First Reading: Gen. 19.15-29). The storm on Lake Galilee is found in all the Gospels. In Matthew’s account, Jesus is less harsh on his disciples than in Mark. The ‘no faith’ of the latter is turned into ‘little faith’ in Matthew. But both Gospels are indicating the fact that the disciples have not yet understood who Jesus is – the one who is the Lord of the storm (Gospel: Mt. 8.23-27).

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Breaking the Word - Weekdays

The weekday readings can sometimes seem a little ‘bread and butter’ compared to the liturgical feast of Sunday. That said, the sustained nourishment, the ‘daily bread’ of the weekday mysteries connotes the Manna that sustained the Israelites on their journey through the desert. These readings are from the Ordo for the Archdiocese of Westminster. Tarcisius Mukuka is a lecturer in Biblical Studies & Exegesis, and Anthony Towey is the Director of the Aquinas Centre in the School of Education, Theology and Leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.