Apostol: 1 Corinthians 4:9-16
Gospel: Matthew 17:14-23
I think one of the most important things to be aware of in reading this passage is that St. Paul is being ironic (ICSB note to 1 Cor 4:8-13). This may not come out so clearly when the reading is read in church.
We need to be mindful of those who were in Christ before us. We can look to the saints for models of holiness, models which often include great suffering, being "poorly clothed and buffeted and homeless" (1 Cor 4:11). Few are the saints (if there are any!) who did not have sufferings in this life!
Moreover, we can now look to the plight of those lands who received the Gospel before us. Our brethren in the Middle East are again being called to give the supreme witness to Christ. We should pray for them, that their plight may be eased and that they may be strengthened for martyrdom while awaiting their deliverance.
Today's Gospel reading follows directly on St. Matthew's account of the Transfiguration. It takes us from the shining splendor of God on the mountain back to the humdrum reality of daily life. Very often it may happen that we come back from a retreat or pilgrimage with a spiritual high, only to run into the brick wall of mundanity. On retreat, all seems well; back in ordinary life, though, we see how much there is still to do.
But the story doesn't end there, for Christ again displays His power by casting out the demon. If we have faith in Him, we too will do extraordinary things, even though we may not see His glory on Tabor's height.
So it was in this episode. On the mountain the disciples saw the glory of Christ; coming down from the mountain they were again confronted with the fact that all was not well in the world. Not only that, but although their fellow disciples tried (at least, it seems to me that the man refers to the disciples who didn't go up the mountain in 17:16, though I could be wrong), they couldn't cast out the demon! Disappointing for those who had just seen the glory of God.
Readings for next week: 1 Corinthians 9:2-12 and Matthew 18:23-35 (11th Sunday after Pentecost).
Also, tomorrow, August 15, is a holy day of obligation (Dormition of the Theotokos).