Mass Readings: July 20

First: Exodus 16:1-5,9-15
Resp: Psalm 78:18-19,23-28
Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9
Reprinted from Presentation Ministries, a lay association of the Catholic Church that focuses on evangelization and discipleship through Bible teaching, daily Mass, the charisms of the Holy Spirit, and Small Christian Community.

THE COST OF FREEDOM

"Would that we had died at the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!" –Exodus 16:3

The Israelites had been freed from slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, so oppressed them that he had their foremen beaten for not producing their quota of bricks, although Pharaoh did not provide the straw needed to make bricks (Ex 5:14ff). Pharaoh also commanded that every Israelite baby boy be thrown into the river (Ex 1:22). Pharaoh so hardened his heart that he still pursued the Israelites even after every Egyptian first-born male was killed (Ex 12:29).

Obviously, slavery under Pharaoh was a living hell. However, the Israelites wanted to return to slavery because they liked the food. So God gave the Israelites manna from heaven – "bread from heaven, ready to hand, untoiled-for, endowed with all delights and conforming to every taste" (Wis 16:20). Yet, the Israelites wanted meat on their manna sandwiches, so the Lord sent them quail (Ex 16:13).

However, the people were still dissatisfied. Food was more important to them than freedom. "Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame. I am talking about those who are set upon the things of this world" (Phil 3:19). We too may have put greater value on the things of the world than on freedom in Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, may I "live in freedom – but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh" (Gal 5:13).
PROMISE: "Part of it, finally, landed on good soil and yielded grain a hundred- or sixty- or thirtyfold. Let everyone heed what he hears!" –Mt 13:8-9
PRAISE: St. Apollinarius defended the Faith as bishop during the persecutions of the Second Century. He fought to his death by martyrdom for the freedom of people from pagan practices.