1st Reading – Isaiah 49:14-15
The second suffering servant song of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1-7) almost immediately precedes our first reading today. This song provides the setting for our reading: “1 Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. 2 He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. 3 You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. 4 Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. 5 For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! 6 It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. 7 Thus says the LORD, the redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, To the one despised, whom the nations abhor, the slave of rulers: When kings see you, they shall stand up, and princes shall prostrate themselves.” Commentators see the suffering servant as representing not only an individual, but a people as well; the people of Israel (the 12 tribes, not the northern kingdom). When David was king, the city of Jerusalem had come to represent the entire nation; much as Washington, D.C. represents the government and actions of the United States today. The name Zion refers to the mountain upon which Jerusalem is built.
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
As we finish our journey through 1st Corinthians for this cycle of readings, we are once again reminded by Saint Paul that divisions in the Church cannot be tolerated; we are all members of the one body. Because we all belong to the one body, we can’t judge other parts because in doing so we are judging ourselves. There is only one judge, Christ, and we must all answer to Him.
Gospel – Matthew 6:24-34
Our gospel reading for today comes from a collection of sayings of Jesus, sayings which are found in scattered contexts in Luke but are collected here in Matthew 6:19-34 and 7:1-27. The sayings in chapter six all have one common theme: singleness of purpose. The disciple should attend exclusively to the service of God and should not permit himself to be distracted from this concentration even by what men think are legitimate concerns. To place this is the full context, let’s look also at verses 19-23: “19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” This discussion of light and the eye reflects the physiological understanding at the time that there was a light within the eye which allowed a person to see and when that light was extinguished, blindness ensued. Likewise, if Christ, the Light of the World, does not shine within you, your soul is in darkness and evil is the result.