Tuesday of Week 16 of Ordinary Time – First Reading

Commentary on Micah 7:14-15, 18-20

Today’s third and final selection from Micah consists of a lovely prayer from a people aware of their great needs which only God can remedy. The prophet begs God to lead his people to richer pastures, for the people of Israel are his very inheritance.

Right now “they live in a forest with meadow land all around”. Literally the prophet says they are living “in the midst of a garden”. The idea is that the nation is living isolated in a land that is unproductive, in the sense that they are living in a situation of desolation and hardship after their return to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon.

They now long for the days when they could pasture in Bashan and Gilead, for the days when they came up out of Egypt and were the witnesses to all God’s wonders on their behalf. And, as in the days after they left Egypt, they long for more wonderful signs of Yahweh’s love and power.

The prophet then appeals to God’s very nature to come to their aid. “What God can compare with you?” This prayer is a psalm of which similar examples occur in the prophetic writings. He is not the kind of god that others believe in, a god who instils terror and fear. This God takes faults away and pardons crime. This God is not a vindictive God who does not cherish anger for ever but delights in showing mercy and compassion.

Micah begs his God to have pity on his people in spite of all that they have done. “Tread down our faults, to the bottom of the sea throw all our sins.” He appeals to God to remember and to implement the covenants of old that were made with Abraham and Jacob, covenants of faithfulness and mercy.

Perhaps we, too, feel now or have felt at other times that our lives were being lived in a kind of desert. We ask God to lead us to richer pastures where we can experience joy and peace. We, too, know that we have a God beyond compare, made known to us through the life and death of Jesus. Through Jesus, he has given us a new life in a new covenant. We, too, beg our God to wipe out all our sins and help us to turn totally to him in love and fidelity.

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