Vol: 45, No.41 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME ( B) July 22 2018  
The oracle in the First Reading regarding the future of Judah was given during the reign of Zedekiah. It was a turbulent time in the history of Judah which culminated in the Babylonian exile and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
In 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar had deported Jehoiachin and most of the leading citizens to Babylon and appointed Zedekiah whose original name was Mattaniah as king. As a result the new king lacked experienced advisers. Zedekiah is portrayed in the book of Jeremiah as too weak to do what he knows is right: three times during the Babylonian siege Zedekiah approaches Jeremiah, but faced with the opposition of officials, courtiers, and people, the king feels unable to follow the prophet's advice and to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.
After ten years of siege the Babylonians finally captured Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar who was at the time stationed at Riblah, passed sentence upon Zedekiah for rebelling against Babylon. His sons were killed in front of him and he himself was blinded. He was then taken in chains to Babylon and put in prison. He was confined in the 'house of the mill,' where he had to perform degrading task of grinding with a hand-mill. He died in captivity. The prophecy of Jeremiah was thus fulfilled.
Of the five kings of Judah under whom Jeremiah worked only Josiah was a good and righteous king; all others, Jehoahaz II, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah were all bad kings. According to the Deuteronomist historian they all did evil in the sight of God. Given the above background we can understand the anguish of Jeremiah. The kings who were to represent God were not doing their duties. They were not shepherding their flock well. If the kings were honest and willing to listen to the prophets, and in this case if Zedekiah had listened to
Jeremiah who advised him to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, then the destruction of Jerusalem along with its Temple might not have happened. The sad plight of the king whose eyes were plucked out and made to work in the flour mill would have been avoided. In any case, God does not leave his people to their plight. He will continue to work with the people taken to Babylon and promise them a bright future.
The passage from Ephesians takes us to the very heart of Paul's understanding of the gospel of reconciliation. Jesus is our peace because he joined the two great divisions of humanity, namely, the Jews and the Gentiles into one. The barrier was the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law with its detailed holiness code made it impossible for faithful Jews to live in close proximity with the Gentiles. The Temple in Jerusalem is a typical example of the distinction between Jews and Gentiles.
Paul emphasizes that the change is brought about by Christ through his death on the cross. What ultimately matters is a new humanity consisting of Jews and Gentiles. Behind the language of creating one new humanity lies the Jewish hope that at the end God will recreate the world more wonderfully even than his first creation before the fall. Christ's resurrection points to that.
The Gospel of today centres on the theme of the sheep and the shepherd; the shepherds do not care for the sheep. The eagerness of people to get closer to Jesus is amazing. They run to get close to him. When Jesus sees the crowd the first thing he does is to teach them. Of course, the story continues to say that he also provides food for them. With proper guidance and teaching much of humanity's woes can be avoided. Let the right teaching be imparted through our Churches and institutions.
- AK
July 2018 Readings (16th Week in Ordinary Time)) Psalter Week 4
23 Mon (W) St Bridget of Sweden, Mic 6:1-4,6-8/ Ps 50:5-6, 8-9, 16-17, 21, 23/ Mt 12:38-42
24 Tue (G) Mic 7:14-15, 18-20/ Ps 85:2-8/ Mt 12 46-50
25 Wed (R) ST JAMES, Ap, Feast, 2 Cor 4:7-15/ Ps 126:1-6/ Mt 20:20-28
26 Thu (W) Sts Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Virgin Mary,
Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13/ Ps 36:6-11/ Mt 13:10-17
27 Fri (G) Jer 3:14-17/ Jer 31:10-13/ Mt 13:18-23
28 Sat (G) St Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, Jer 7:1-11/ Ps 84:3-6, 8, 11/ Mt 13:24-30
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