The readings and the Psalm for July 7, the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, have a noticeably common characteristic – such that it wakened wonder, "This bears looking into."
Reason said, "Some event occurred in history on July 7 and the glow in the readings for this day commemorates it. But what?"
Current technology has such power and accessibility that in many instances, the mere act of asking a question puts an array of answers at one's very fingertips. Until now, on the rare occasions that July 7 came to mind, it seemed like a nothing special day.
No steaming catastrophes in history, no striking moments of human accomplishment or acts of mindless cruelty marked it. But the modern refrain of "Look it up on the Internet" would not permit such a mindless escape.
'Blessed be God because he has not rejected my prayer.'
According to the records in the vast electronic memory of Google, things did happen on that date. Sliced bread first appeared on the market on July 7 in 1928; Pope Pius XII canonized Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini on July 7, 1946; Canada adopted two official languages on July 7 in 1969; in 2006 authorities declared the Western Black Rhino extinct.
Evidently, further research would reveal a record of accident, heroism and folly for July 7 not unlike that of most other days of the year.
Nevertheless no religious feast of the grandeur of Easter, Christmas or the Ascension coincides with July 7, nor any secular or civic celebration either. Nor did an investigation of the significance of the designation, "14th Sunday in Ordinary Time" find anything particularly notable about the date.
How then to account for the spirit of joy so buoyant, abundant and shining in the texts before us?
The First Reading from Isaiah, for example uses the word "rejoice" three times; it includes a poetry of peace, consolation and happiness bestowed on Jerusalem – a Jerusalem that has apparently experienced a tough time and whose people needed comforting – a need of people in many places at most times.
Psalm 66 enjoins us to revel in the goodness of God and his steadfast nature. Chants of joy, rejoicing and blessedness make happy these verses.
In his reflections to the Galatians, a seemingly serene St. Paul describes what his work in preaching the Gospel has done to him.
The trials which marked his ministry have served only to strengthen his identity with Jesus, the source of his joy and self-assurance.
Luke's Gospel tells of the 70 returning from the mission given them by Jesus: bear his gifts of comfort; know the people; cure the sick; bless them with "Peace to this house; the kingdom of God has come near to you."
As Luke says they came back jubilant. Jesus urged them to rejoice; their names are enrolled in heaven.
Accordingly our readings delight us with expressions of the endearing human virtue of confidence earned in the service of the Lord. "May God grant it to us all."
(Ralph Himsl: firstname.lastname@example.org)