Opening Our Hearts
July 16th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel passage occurs immediately after Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, seeing Him do this, accused Christ of breaking the Sabbath and conspired to kill Him. At this, the Gospel says that Jesus “withdrew from that place.”
We are familiar with Jesus’ words to His disciples throughout the Gospels to shake the dust from their feet and leave a place that did not welcome them (cf. Mat 10:14). In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to be doing just that. He knew the Pharisees had no intention of accepting Him or His teachings; therefore, He withdrew, causing many people to follow Him to the place. These people did not harden their hearts to His voice, but followed Him into the countryside with faith and open hearts. In return, we read that Jesus “cured them all.”
St. Matthew then quotes the Prophet Isaias, who wrote that the Messiah “will not contend or cry out,” but rather, will give hope to the Gentiles through His humility. Man has been given free will, which he can use to either accept or reject God. Our Lord never forces man into following Him; while He desires union with all men, He wants it to be a union of love, rather than one of coercion filled with resentment. He perpetually extends His grace toward each soul, but it is up to the individual to choose whether or not to accept this grace.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus saw that the Pharisees did not wish to accept His words and the grace which He freely offered to them. Those who followed Him into the countryside, on the other hand, went with open hearts eager to hear and accept His Word. It is for this reason that Jesus cured all of them; their faith had saved them (cf. Mt 9:22). On this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, let us ask our Blessed Mother to open our hearts, that we may accept God’s Word. Her Son knocks on the door to our hearts; may we not be like the Pharisees, but instead open the door so that He may enter and fill us with His grace.
Missio Dei is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.