Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(for the Liturgical Year 2021)

Saturday, August 7 32021
Week 18 in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-13

The central commandment of Torah: Be faithful to God

Moses said to the people: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant, and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.

Responsorial: Psalm 17:2-4, 47, 51

R./: I love you, Lord, my strength

I love you, Lord, my strength,
  my rock, my fortress, my saviour. (R./)

My God is the rock where I take refuge;
  my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.
The Lord is worthy of all praise.
  When I call I am saved from my foes. (R./)

Long life to the Lord, my rock!
  Praised be the God who saves me.
He has given great victories to his king
  and shown his love for his anointed. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 17:14-20

Jesus casts out demons by the power of prayer

A man came up to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him." Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."

Faith and Routine

Today's texts balance faith with love, miracles with normal routine. A healthy spirituality needs to take account of all aspects of life. It cannot focus exclusively on any single side. Truth and fidelity must be enriched with love, human limitations with hope in divine intervention. Although we survive by living within our human resources, our life is meant to lead into the future life with God. We continue our reading from Deuteronomy with the Shema prayer, named from the initial Hebrew word, shema, "listen." This prayer is recited each day by every devout Jew and is the clarion call of Judaism: Listen, O Israel. The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Shema' yisra'el Yahweh 'elohenu Yahweh 'ehad.

Not only was a credo of absolute monotheism, but it demanded absolute, total devotion. Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. This devotion reaches into the home and into the market place: "Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad. Bind them at your wrist. Let them be a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your home." As with ourselves, the Jews could deal better with hopes than with fulfillment. Moses must warn them, "When you eat your fill, take care not to forget the Lord." They must never forget their role as servants of the living God.

The full power of faith is seen in the Gospel. Faith cures the sick, drives out demons and moves mountains. This is a metaphor to emphasise Jesus' final words, "Nothing will be impossible for you," if you have faith. He reminds us that our life is involved in a struggle between superhuman forces of good and evil. We are called to daily expressions of faith, faith that prompts us even to question God like Habakkuk, yet faith that nonetheless reaches beyond human expectations, into the world to come.

Little faith

When Jesus rebukes his disciples it's not for having no faith but for having little faith. They had failed in their efforts to heal a sick child, and Jesus blames it on their little faith. We find it easy to identify with the disciples. We have faith but our faith is not as strong as it could be. We don't trust the Lord enough.

In response comes this encouraging that if our faith was even as small as a mustard seed we could move mountains. He wanted his disciples to grow in faith; it is what he wants for all of us. In response we could make our own the prayer of the father of the sick child (as in Mark's version of this story): "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."