21 July 2007 Saturday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 12, 14-21 The Smoldering Wick and the Bruised Reed
The Gospel lays down for us some characteristics of Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah. God calls Jesus, “my beloved in whom my soul finds delight!
First, God said that He will bring to the nations justice. For the Greeks, justice means giving to God and fellow people what is due to them. Remember Jesus laid out for us the proper place of God and people. He said, “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength” (first commandment); and, “love your neighbors as you love yourself” (2nd commandment). The second commandment flows from the first. Our loving our neighbors flows from our love of God. In other words we cannot say, “I love my friends, thus I love God.” Not necessarily. Loving God entails having time for Him too. Those who love God first and foremost will have a different lifestyle. They would see the importance of retreats and recollections. They would talk sincerely about their personal devotions. They would spend time listening to God, than just spontaneously talking and talking and talking without giving God the space to speak to us too (and giving ourselves the option to listen). On the other hand, there are philanthropists, scientists and issue-oriented people who are genuinely concerned about global warming, gender equality, poverty and other issues that affect us. But their way of living will be different.
Second, the Gospel says, “He will not strive, nor cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.” This second characteristic is pertinent for us today whose conflict management style is solving disagreements by shouting each other down. Ang mahina ang boses talo. The loudest voice (yes, booming, screaming, screeching voice) wins. You see, the phrase for “cry aloud” is the Greek word used for the barking of a dog, the croaking of a frog, the bawling of the drunk, and the uproar of discontented mob. Jesus is the exact opposite. In an argument, he first listens to what the other person is saying, empathizing and understanding his point. He does not shout, bark, croak, screech, scream, bawls, and uproars.
Third, the Gospel says, “He does not break the bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick.” This is important for many of us who may be too critical, negative or insensitive. Sometimes our comments add gasoline to the fire. There are times when we are crushed, hurting and bruised; and some people just have the talent to amplify our hurt, make mountains out of molehills, and aggravate our pain. There are times when our spirit is just smoldering especially when we experience a series of failures. When we fail in our exams, for example, we know why. And in the midst of this disappointment and our spirit is down, our parents would blame us with a litany of our faults. All we need is a shoulder to cry on or an encouraging word from them. There are more occasions that we don’t need a lecture, because we already know. What we need is sympathy, encouragement and perhaps a warm embrace.
Jesus came for the bruised reed and the smoldering wick. He heals the bruised reed, and makes sure it does not break. And most importantly, he encourages a smoldering wick. That those who experiences Him suddenly becomes passionate and on fire.