Anyone can develop a “poor me” syndrome. Perhaps the liturgy can help the Faithful cope with `the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,’ past, present, and future. The idea behind these readings is twofold: (I.) when the Faithful let the truth of God’s politics determine what the Faithful accept as true, life is ever-new, positive, and exciting, because God, our Creator, is faithful and does love the Faithful; (II.) peace, not peace at any price, but peace at the price of doing what God wants delivers an unrequited joy, even with the Cross.
Verse 7c he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!
The Nova Vulgata (NV) has et exspectavi, ut faceret judicium, et ecce iniquitas, et justitiam, et ecce nequitia. When the Lectionary has judgment, as in the verse above, the Lectionary means justice, with the implication that bloodshed and outcry bespeak neither correct judgment nor justice.
The Faithful need to think positive, that when the Faithful strive to do what is right, the Faithful enjoy both the peace of God and the God of peace, even if not at the surface level.
One scholar writes:
in Isaiah there is found a description of the people of Israel under the
metaphor of some sprout or tree of righteousness which has been planted by God
(Isa 60:21; 61:3, 11). Of course, the
metaphor of the people of Israel as a tree or vine which is planted firmly
around the mountain of God (e.g., Exod 15:17; 2 Sam 7:10; Isa 5:1-7; Ezek 17:22-24; Amos 9:15; Psalm 80:7-13), but
which may be uprooted or replanted (e.g., Jer 1:10), is a frequent occurrence
in the Bible; this plant metaphor had its own distinctive origins and history
of development, unrelated to our motif of planting peace. The metaphor of
Writing about the Gospel of Mark, one scholar brings in Isaiah 5, and then goes on:
… attributes the presence of commerce in the courtyard to self-interest on the part of Jerusalem’s religious leaders, who are acting as if the covenant existed for their benefit alone; hence they limit the area of the temple accessible to Gentiles and reject or kill any prophet who demands of them righteousness (“fruit”) that the covenant was meant to produce. They think that by killing the Messiah or “heir apparent” of the house of Israel, they will be free to keep the benefits and blessings of the covenant relationship for themselves. Ironically, the measures taken by these leaders to preserve their monopoly culminate in the loss of everything they sought to preserve: the covenant, the temple, the city, and their own positions as leaders and overseers of these things.
My experience has been that giving up aggrandizement, if not monopoly, I have gained everything I seek to preserve: the covenant, the temple of my own soul, the city of complexities in my own life, and my own position as a leader and overseer of these things, as a scholar. Let the Faithful pray a war on Iraq has the same ending.
Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20
Verse 20 … restore us …
The NV has converte nos, in other words, convert us. The Lectionary reading is positive, upbeat, and a petition, recognizing that if the Faithful do any good at all, that good is due to God’s grace. This part of the psalm is in the first person, asking God directly for the grace to do the right thing.
Verse 6 with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.
In other words, it is all right to ask things of God, but ask them positively, with thanksgiving for the grace that is already there, even in the asking.
Verse 7 … the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Verse 8 … whatever is true … think about these things.
Therefore, the Faithful are supposed to think, about whatever is true. This must mean thinking about depressing matters in non-depressing ways.
Verse 9 … the God of peace will be with you.
[no comment here]
Anyone following these personal notes may recall the following observation made for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 18, 2002.
have sought to explain
The positive side is that
One scholar has a whole section titled “The Theological Significance of the Jewishness of Matthew:”
Underlying the passionate debate
regarding the Jewishness of Matthew is the issue of anti-Semitism. Saldarini observes that Matthew has become “an
embarrassment for Christians well disposed toward Judaism because of the way
his polemics against his contemporaries have been used against the Jews” and
expresses the hope that his book will relieve this embarrassment by
demonstrating that Matthew’s polemic is not anti-Jewish but anti-Pharisaic; the
reflection of a conflict within Israel. Similarly,
Harrington warns that “without attention to its historical setting Matthew
becomes a dangerous text, capable of giving encouragement to anti-Semites.” Like Saldarini,
I heartily agree with Saldarini,
Verse 43 “…Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
In the continuing battle against anti-Semitism,
it may or may not be helpful to remind modern readers that
This faithfulness of God helps keep the Faithful upbeat and positive, no matter what, even against something as deadly and disastrous as anti-Semitism.
Nova Vulgata: Bibliorum Sacrorum
Editio: Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II ratione habita Iussu Pauli
PP, VI Recognita Auctoritate Joannis Pauli PP, II Promulgata Editio Typica
 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Roman Missal Restored by Decree of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican and Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition: Volume I: Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and Saints (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998)
 W. R. G. Loader, “Son of David, Blindness, Possession, and Duality in Matthew,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 4 (October 1982) 571.