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The Story of Israel is Our Story

First Reading: Micah 6:1-4, 6-8

Hear what the LORD says:
Arise, present your plea before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice!
Hear, O mountains, the plea of the LORD,
pay attention, O foundations of the earth!
For the LORD has a plea against his people,
and he enters into trial with Israel.

The story of Israel  my people, what have I done to you,
or how have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
from the place of slavery I released you;
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.

With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow before God most high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my first-born for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O man, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do the right and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50:5-6, 8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here.”

NAB

DEV_JU18

One of the classes I took as an elective in graduate school was on the Old Testament prophets. One day in class, a question was brought up by one of my classmates: What was the point of the prophets?

Our professor responded, “While the Egyptians no longer lived in Egypt, all the prophets were constantly trying to break Egypt out of Israel’s heart.” The role of a prophet is to remind, challenge, and help break the things inside us that are not of God or His plan for our lives.

Micah ministered to the people of Israel in a time of political upheaval between Israel and Judah. Assyria was threatening the borders of Israel and Syria, and those two countries began to bully Judah to make an alliance together. It was also a time of great confusion. While Jotham did his best to be a good king, he still permitted idolatry under his reign and that obviously caused problems.

Micah, like all the other prophets, confronted the people of their patterns of sin, and called them to repentance in their hearts. Reminding them how one kind of idolatry leads to another, which we see throughout the Old Testament.

In the First Reading Micah reminds the people what God asks of them in this covenant relationship: do the right, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God. Just as God released Israel from the place of slavery in Egypt, He sent His Son into this world to set us free, to bring freedom to all people.

We really aren’t that much different than Israel. Their story is each of our story. God is clear on how we are to live our lives to experience His freedom. But how we respond is our choice alone.

Where in our lives does God need to break the Egypt out of our hearts? Where are we not living in the true freedom God desires for us?

photo credit

Patty Hubbard is a runner, youth minister ordinaire, and recovering know-it-all. When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to find grace in all things. You can find out more about her here.

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